Tag Archives: Paris

The Paris School and the Future

The phrase ‘Paris School’ (of Russian religious philosophy) is a vague phrase because many of its representatives ended up not living in Paris or even France and because it was such a very varied phenomenon. Thus, it included intellectuals mainly of Russian origin (but not all of them), who ended up living as far apart as the USA, England, Finland, Bulgaria (the anti-monarchist plotter, Fr George Shavelsky) and Constantinople (the philosopher Metr John Zisioulas). Some of these were close to Orthodoxy, others were in open heretical revolt against the Church and constructed anti-Church ideologies, others were simply harmless eccentrics who lived in the clouds.

A representative close to the Tradition, for example, was the academic theologian (and not philosopher!) Fr George Florovsky, who was ousted from St Vladimir’s Seminary by another much more Protestant-minded thinker of a Paris-born generation, Fr Alexander Schmemann. However, there were others like the notorious Fr Sergey Bulgakov, who founded a new heresy under the influence of the alcoholic Catholic occultist Vladimir Soloviov. The latter was the real founder of the School, who infected it with all its basic currents of Gnosticism, Origenism, liberalism and ecumenism and had a great influence on the enormous intellect of the polymath, Fr Paul Florensky.

Then in Paris there was also the esoteric philosopher Berdyayev, who was imbued with semi-Catholic mysticism and like Bulgakov never quite shook off his Marxism, but there was also the more Orthodox Fr Basil Zenkovsky who wrote a magisterial ‘History of Russian Philosophy’. Then there were Vladimir Lossky, trained in Scholasticism, but whose views were very close to the Tradition in many respects, but on the other hand, the fantasist Bishop John Kovalevsky or the recently deceased French ecumenists, the ex-pastor Elisabeth Behr-Sigel and Olivier Clement. Their views were respectively as close to Protestantism and Catholicism as is possible without lapsing.

In England there were other representatives of the Paris School. These included the late Metr Antony (Bloom), whose curious, personal views combined a theoretical conservatism with an extraordinary liberalism and influenced several convert followers, like the Jewish Fr Sergei Hackel. Then there was the late ex-Uniat Fr Lev Gillet, who appears to have died either as a Quaker or else a Buddhist (no-one is quite sure), or the Parisian artist and intellectual the late Fr Sophrony Sakharov, whose whole esoteric philosophy of Orthodoxy came to be shaped by the peasant St Silvanus whom he had met on the Holy Mountain, where he had been a librarian.

With such a variety of individuals, some much closer to Orthodox Tradition than others, some more renovationist than others, some more fantasist than others, what do they all have in common? Negatively speaking, it is how far most of them seemed to have stood from the saints of the Church in the emigration like St John of Shanghai (also who also lived for many years in Paris and often came to London) or St Seraphim of Sofia, or from the genuine Orthodox philosopher of the emigration Ivan Ilyin. These followed the wholeness of the ascetic Tradition of the Church, and not selected fragments of it, which is why the Paris School was opposed to authentic monasticism.

However, this was not the essence of the Paris School. Its essence was its intellectual pretentiousness, which contains the pride which is at the heart of all deviations from the Church, without exception. Not understanding that enlightenment comes from the grace of God that alone cleanses the repentant heart, they all mistakenly believed that enlightenment comes from the purification of the intellect and the imagination. This tragic mis-take meant that their views were intellectual, philosophical, more or less renovationist, more or less fantasist, disincarnate from reality and from ordinary Orthodox and Orthodoxy, and so ultimately they became sectarian and cultish.

The proof of this thesis is in the fact that when the time came for the gradual liberation of the Russian Church inside Russia from Sergianism and Renovationism after 1991, they refused to re-enter Her fold and glorify the New Martyrs and Confessors together with Her. They had not been longing to return all along, as had the faithful, but had instead been cultivating their own intellectualist philosophies outside the Orthodox Tradition. Thus, cultivating private, personality-driven sidelines, they failed to see the mainstream of Church catholicity and ended up isolating themselves in the worst sort of isolation – isolation from the real saints, the New Martyrs and Confessors.

This meant that they allied themselves only with the vestigial renovationist and sectarian elements on the fringes of the Russian Church inside Russia. It also meant that they sullied themselves with politics (under the pretence of being apolitical!, which is always political). Thus, they allied themselves with Russophobic elements in the Western world, for example, with the self-justifying neocon hawks and past-worshipping warmongers of NATO, who never wanted the Cold War to end and in their ethnocentricity arrogantly never understand that the vibrant values of Orthodox Christian Civilization are quite different from their dying anti-Christian Western culture.

This is why, when at the end of 2016 the time of generational change had come for renewal in Russia and then, inspired by the Russian example, for the first glimmers of freedom and the hope of repentance in the West, the Paris School and its values stuck to the dead past. These last representatives were now aged, vestigial relics, whose rebellious and often absurd ideologies had been half-baked in the spiritual desert of the 1960s, which had been passed on to a few convert intellectuals in Russia who still had not caught up with the real world. As for the Church, we look as ever towards prophetic holiness and the dynamic restoration of the Tradition in the Holy Spirit that is happening now.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris to Open in the Autumn

Alexander Orlov, the Russian ambassador to France, announced on 14 March that the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris will at long last be opening officially this autumn, hopefully in October. After many years of delays, the news that a Cathedral is opening in the historic centre of the Russian emigration is welcome indeed. The official opening will take place in the presence of the Russian and French Presidents and His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill.

The 4,000 square metre plot of land in prestigious central Paris near the Alma Bridge will house not only the new Cathedral with its five cupolas (the dedication has not yet been announced), but also the Russian seminary, a library, a school for 150 pupils, meeting rooms, diocesan offices and gardens. The Russian ambassador stated that the Cathedral is seen as a pilot and that other similar cathedrals could be built in other Western capitals.

The opening of the new Cathedral is a step towards realizing the vision of the saintly Metr Pitirim of Saint Petersburg (1850-1920). One hundred years ago exactly his desire was to establish in his jurisdiction a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in every Western capital and translate the service books of the Church and Patristic literature into every Western language. Having lost one hundred years, we can only hope that this event will be a step towards that goal.

We pray that the missionary efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe will turn increasingly towards establishing a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia here. This was long the vision and hope of many of us in the twentieth century and it was confirmed by Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow in 2003, who foresaw that such a Metropolia would be the foundation stone of a future Local Church in the spiritual desert of contemporary Western Europe.

Обращение к священноначалию Русской Православной Церкви

Открытое письмо

«Передайте всем, что зло, которое в мире, будет еще сильнее, но не зло победит, а Любовь.»

Царь Николай II

С опозданием в несколько лет из-за трудностей с планированием, в новом году мы узнали о том, что на весну 2014 года намечена закладка фундамента нового русского православного кафедрального собора в Париже. В связи с этим мы хотели бы обратиться к Отделу Внешних Церковных Связей Русской Православной Церкви в Москве. Также надеемся, что в поддержку этого письма, возможно, будет составлено прошение. Это обращение посвящено тому, в честь кого будет освящен будущий кафедральный собор с прикрепленными к нему семинарией и духовно-культурным комплексом.

Вспомним, что новый собор будет построен в сердце Парижа – культурной столицы Западной Европы – и недалеко от самого красивого моста в Париже, который построен и назван в честь императора Александра III. Вспомним также, что Париж расположен в историческом сердце русской эмиграции в Западной Европе, и у нас есть все основания считать, что этот комплекс с семинарией станет центром будущей Русской Православной Митрополии в Европе, даже если оставшиеся храмы “Парижской юрисдикции” не пожелают возвращаться в лоно матери-церкви и к традициям Святой Руси. Новая митрополия будет включать в себя приходы Русской Православной Церкви за Границей, храмы в Каннах, Ментоне, Женеве, Лозанне, Брюсселе, в Лондоне и западной Германии, а также храмы, все еще зависимые от Московского Патриархата в Ницце, Мадриде, восточной Германии и других местах.

Но в честь кого будет освящен собор? В Париже уже есть православные храмы, освященные в честь таких известных святых, как Александр Невский и Сергий Радонежский. Некоторые могут подумать о преподобном Серафиме Саровском – еще более известном во всем мире святом и проповеднике покаяния. Но и в его честь в Париже уже освящен храм. Возможно, святому Серафиму следует посвятить одну из часовен нового собора. Другие могут подумать о самых известных святых Парижа – Дионисии и Женевьеве Парижских (последняя переписывалась в V веке с преподобным Симеоном Столпником). Однако оба угодника жили очень давно; хотя они великие святые, но не наши современники, и в их честь, вероятно, можно было бы освятить часовню при семинарии.

Мы считаем, что собор является настолько значимым проектом, что его следовало бы освятить в честь более чем одного русского православного святого. И это должны быть не местночтимые святые, а всемирно значимые и почитаемые всей церковью угодники. Наконец, мы предлагаем, чтобы новый собор был освящен в честь святых, живших в недавнее время, скорее всего – в честь угодников, пострадавших в сильнейшие за всю историю гонения, породившие новомучеников и исповедников. Нам думается, что наиболее очевидными, или, точнее, единственными претендентами здесь являются святые Царственные Страстотерпцы. Только они соответствуют вышеупомянутым критериям. Император Николай II, сын императора Александра III, уже увековеченного в Париже, был поистине международной фигурой, говорил на русском, английском, французском, немецком и датском языках, имел два высших образования – военное и юридическое, а царица Александра была внучкой королевы Виктории и воспитывалась в Гессене в Германии.

Было бы наиболее подобающим, если бы центр православной митрополии в Западной Европе был увенчан собором, освященным в честь царской семьи (которой неправославная Западная Европа не показала ничего, кроме “измены, трусости и обмана”). И для почти дехристианизированной Западной Европы, ставшей такой в результате «измены, трусости и обмана», семья из семи человек, все члены которой молились, держались вместе и стали святыми, является, несомненно, идеальным примером – иконой семьи, в которой мы сегодня нуждаемся. Весьма вероятно, что, ко времени постройки нового собора исполнится сто лет со дня героического и жертвенного мученичества Царственных Страстотерпцев в 1918 году. Ведь именно пример этой семьи вдохновил английского учителя их детей присоединиться к Русской Православной Церкви и стать архимандритом Николаем Гиббсом, а французского учителя, Пьера Жильяра, – написать такие слова:

“Царь и царица думали, что умирают за Россию, но они умирали за все человечество”.

Освящение нового собора в честь Царской Семьи может стать призывом Западной Европе к покаянию, отказу от всей лжи XX века и возвращению назад с нынешнего рокового пути, по которому она пошла в XXI веке.

A Plea to the Russian Orthodox Church Authorities

An Open Letter

Tell everyone that the evil that is in the world will grow even stronger, but that it is not evil that will triumph, but love’,

Tsar Nicholas II

After several years of delay caused by planning difficulties, news has reached us in this New Year that the foundation stone of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris is to be laid in spring 2014. It is in this connection that we wish to make a plea to the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and also hope that a petition might even be drawn up in support of this letter. This plea concerns the dedication of the future Cathedral with the seminary and spiritual and cultural complex attached to it.

Let us recall that the new Cathedral is to be built in the heart of Paris, the cultural capital of Western Europe, and not far from the most beautiful bridge in Paris which was constructed and named in honour of Tsar Alexander III. Let us recall that Paris is at the heart of the historic Russian emigration in Western Europe and if the complex is to be built with its seminary, there is every reason to think that it will become the centre of the future Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe (ROME), even if the remaining churches of the ‘Paris Jurisdiction’ do not wish to return to the Mother-Church and the Tradition of Holy Russia. Thus, such a new Metropolia will be based on the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, with churches in Cannes, Menton, Geneva, Lausanne, Brussels, London and in western Germany, as well as churches still dependent on the Church inside Russia, in Nice, Madrid, eastern Germany and elsewhere.

But who will this Cathedral be dedicated to? There are already dedications in Paris to such obvious saints as St Alexander Nevsky and St Sergius of Radonezh. Some may think of St Seraphim of Sarov, a better known saint internationally and preacher of repentance. But he too already has a church dedicated to him in Paris. Perhaps a side chapel in the new Cathedral could be dedicated to him. Others may think of the foremost saints of Paris, St Denis or St Genevieve of Paris, who in the 5th century corresponded with St Simeon the Stylite. However, these both lived long ago; although they are great saints, they are not contemporary – perhaps the chapel of the seminary could be dedicated to them.

It is our suggestion that the Cathedral is such an important project that it should be dedicated to more than one figure of Russian Orthodox holiness. Moreover, these figures should be not only locally venerated, but of international and universal significance and veneration. Finally, we suggest that the new Cathedral should be dedicated to saints who lived in recent times, most obviously figures from the greatest wave of persecution in history, which brought forth the New Martyrs and Confessors. It seems to us that the most obvious, indeed only obvious, figures are the Royal Martyrs. Only they meet all the above criteria. Tsar Nicholas, the son of Tsar Alexander III, already commemorated in Paris, was a highly international figure, speaking Russian, English, French, German and Danish, with a double education in both military affairs and law and Tsarina Alexandra was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and brought up in Hesse in Germany.

How appropriate that the Cathedral at the centre of the Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe might be crowned with a Cathedral dedicated to a family to whom Non-Orthodox Western Europe, allied with the Tsar’s Russia or not, showed only ‘treachery, cowardice and deceit’. And in the almost totally deChristianised Western Europe that resulted from treachery, cowardice and deceit, surely a family of seven who prayed together, stayed together and so became saints together, is the ideal example, a literal family icon, that we need today. Moreover, it is highly likely that by the time the new Cathedral is built, it will be the centenary of their heroic and sacrificial martyrdom of 1918. After all, it was their example that inspired their English tutor to join the Russian Orthodox Church and become Fr Nicholas Gibbes and their French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, to write of them:

‘The Tsar and the Tsarina thought that they were dying for Russia. In fact, they died for all mankind’.

To dedicate the new Cathedral to the Royal Martyrs would be a call to Western Europe to repent and renounce all the lies of the twentieth century and to turn back from the present fatal course which it has undertaken in the twenty-first century.

Rue Daru: The End-Game

Tragically, two fragments of the Russian Orthodox Church in the emigration have still not joined the reunited Russian Orthodox Church. Her recovered unity came into being in 2007, when the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally accepted all the conditions set it by the multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Since that time, over five years ago, the reunited Church has gone from strength to strength, whereas the two disunited fragments, isolated from their spiritual roots, have suffered profound internal troubles and dissension.

One of the fragments, called the OCA and based in North America, has gone from one financial and moral scandal to another and has sacked two Metropolitans within that time. Its behaviour, akin to that of a secular US corporation and not to a Church, has astounded the Orthodox world. The other émigré fragment, the Paris Exarchate, based in Rue Daru in Paris, has for over twenty years been deeply divided. Like the OCA, only even smaller, it has been riven by Russophobic Western nationalism and has desperately sought to survive in its schizophrenic, self-imposed isolation.

This Paris split resembles very closely that undergone by the Sourozh Diocese in Great Britain (though outside Russia, strangely enough in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia). The ignoring by the Sourozh bishop and clerical and convert elite of the wishes of the trampled faithful for 25 years, resulted in 2006 in a tragic schism. In this schism, 300 mainly ex-Anglican dissidents, including their bishop, left the Russian Church and its tens of thousands of faithful in Great Britain and transferred themselves to Rue Daru. Their motivation was their inability to accept Orthodoxy, wanting instead a Protestant-style sect.

Now we are seeing the same thing again in Rue Daru. The story here is that five members of the 12-strong Diocesan Council of the Paris Exarchate, at present under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, have fallen into disagreement with their own Archbishop Gabriel. The group of five (Deacon Ioann Drobot, Karin Wothe, Basil Tiesenhausen Victor Lupan, Vadim Tichonicky), backed by many of the faithful, have even filed a lawsuit against him, the only bishop of their grouping. This extraordinary action on the part of these well-respected and long-standing members of the Church has been motivated by a profound disagreement.

This disagreement has been going on for decades. The turning-point was undoubtedly the 1988 celebration of the Thousand Years of the Baptism of Russia. Then the Rue Daru authorities turned their backs on the Russian Church and the trampled faithful, preferring instead a celebration together with the Catholic Church, of which we are eyewitnesses. Superficially, the tragic dispute has come about because Archbishop Gabriel is ill with cancer and so has not appointed a warden for the Rue Daru Cathedral. However, in reality, the problem is the underlying very deep split between two groups.

The first group consists of the ever-growing multinational group in the Exarchate who are faithful to Orthodox Christian Tradition and want to return to the reunited Mother-Church. The second group consists of French-speaking modernists who wish to remain in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where they are free to continue to introduce modernistic innovations. The inaction of Archbishop Gabriel, whether through illness or otherwise, strangely resembles the situation of the Sourozh Diocese, where the governing elite had for 25 years also ignored the heartfelt protest of the multinational grassroots.

Twenty-one years after the fall of Communism and five years after the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), this tragedy is now unfolding in Paris. It comes at the same time as in North America the OCA is about to elect yet another Metropolitan (there are now three who have been sacked) to lead it. It would seem that both these fragments of the emigration need our urgent prayers, that they may split no more and at last seek the cement of the Mother-Church before it is too late and they are assimilated and disappear into the Non-Orthodox mass.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Colchester, England

23 October / 5 November 2012

Holy Apostle James