Tag Archives: Pastoral Matters

A Glimmer of Hope?

https://spzh.news/en/zashhita-very/75099-auditor-is-going-to-kyiv-on-the-arrival-of-phanar-delegation-to-ukraine

 

Five years ago, in December 2018, under US political and financial pressure, the once prestigious Patriarchate of Constantinople set out on a disastrous course of setting up a tiny new ‘Church’ of its own in the Ukraine. It called this the OCU. At once it created a schism with the Russian Church, to whom that territory had belonged for some 340 years, though until then it had been under Constantinople. There were no more concelebrations between the two and an extremist part of the Russian Church in the Diaspora began taking clergy and parishes from Constantinople without letters of release. (That extremist part then, in December 2019, created a schism with another part of the Russian Church, creating an internal schism, which problem has still not been dealt with by Moscow, but which has led to clergy leaving the schismatic part, in accordance with Canon XV of the First and Second Council). On top of this, in December 2021 the Russian Church then set up a Church on the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, allied to Constantinople, in Africa.

The spiral was out of control and now the only way of overcoming all these problems between Greeks and Russians is for Constantinople to repent for its initial action, which created the spiral in the first place. Today, having realised that the ‘Church’ that it set up in the Ukraine consists of villains, gangsters, men of violence and defrocked perverts, Constantinople has realised that it must do something. Metropolitan Savva of the Church of Poland, as well as all leaders of the other Local Churches which are politically free, has informed the Patriarch of Constantinople in conversations about this. Now comes the news that Metropolitan Emmanuel of Constantinople and a delegation of others are to visit the Ukraine to investigate the behaviour of those whom it has there promoted as the OCU. There is now a glimmer of light. If Metropolitan Emmanuel, who issued the ‘tomos’, the document that created its fake Church in the first place, were to rescind it, as is urgently and obviously required, the existence of this scandalous, fake American ‘Church’ would be over.

If, in a second phase, the Patriarch of Constantinople then reissued the ‘tomos’ and granted it to the authentic Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) under Metropolitan Onufry, that would solve all the problems. Metropolitan Onufry and his Church are canonical, they are not defrocked gangsters and perverts, they do not concelebrate with Roman Catholics and they observe the traditional Orthodox fixed calendar and not the Roman Catholic/Protestant calendar, as enthusiastically imposed on the fake OCU Church by US bureaucrats. Moreover, the UOC should have received autocephaly (independence) decades ago, and only because of Moscow’s Soviet-style imperialist centralism it did not. If Constantinople were to grant the UOC autocephaly, as it could do, other Local Churches would at once recognise it. Eventually, after all the others, Moscow would in turn be forced to recognise it as well. Thus, the machinations of both Washington and Moscow would fail. Furthermore, Constantinople would regain at least some of its lost prestige and Moscow would eventually have to end its schism with Constantinople.

Is it possible that this could happen? Does Constantinople have the courage to defy Washington? Does Constantinople have the courage to admit that it was deceived by the villains in the Ukraine in 2018 and made mistakes? We do not know, but what we do know is that man proposes, but God disposes.

 

 

A Seventh Bishop for our Metropolia

Our three million-strong Autonomous Metropolia of Western and Southern Europe of the Patriarchate of Romania now has seven bishops with the addition of the newly-consecrated Bishop Nectarie of Brittany (western France). The eight bishops who will meet in their local Synod are: Metr Joseph of Western and Southern Europe, Bishop Mark of France, Bishop Nectarie of Brittany, Bishop Silouan of Italy, Bishop Athanasie (Italy), Bishop Timothy of Spain and Portugal and Bishop Theophil (Spain).

The Church of Romania also has a second one-million strong European Metropolia, of Central and Northern Europe, consisting of three bishops: Metropolitan Seraphim of Central and Northern Europe, Bishop Sofian of Germany and Bishop Macarie of Sweden. We knew Metr Seraphim quite well when he was a young priest in Paris in the 1980s and he came to our home in Paris several times.

Talk now is of the need for an eighth bishop, a Bishop of the British Isles and Ireland, to join our Metropolia. A candidate will be considered at the autumn Synod in Bucharest. This question is going to become increasingly important, as more and more Moldovan clergy and people in their parishes all over Europe transfer to the Patriarchate of Romania.

 

On the Transfer of Clergy from One Local Church to Another Without Letters of Release and the Present Church Crisis in Moldova

All Local Churches have accepted clergy, even suspended or defrocked clergy, without letters of release throughout history. Indeed, it has been common practice among all the different parts of the Russian Church in the Diaspora for many decades, but also among many other Local Churches down the generations. There is nothing new in this practice for the simple reason that suspensions and defrockings are often carried out for purely political purposes or to attempt to seize properties or money. In one extreme case, in 2006 a bishop from the Diocese of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate) issued letters of release to his clergy addressed to himself, then joined the Patriarchate of Constantinople where he was named Bishop of Amphipolis, and received those selfsame clergy into his new Diocese with his previously written letters of release. Apparently, this was acceptable.

In recent years the Patriarchate of Constantinople has accepted many clergy from the Russian Church without letters of release and I am talking about suspended and even defrocked clergy, suspended or defrocked for political reasons, for example for praying for peace in the Ukraine. In turn, the Russian Church, especially zealously its American Synod, known as ROCOR, has recently accepted many clergy from the Patriarchate of Constantinople without letters of release, six in Western Europe alone. As for the Moscow Patriarchate itself, it has recently accepted over 200 clergy from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, also without letters of release.

The Romanian Orthodox Church has also accepted many clergy with large numbers of Romanian-speaking parishioners without letters of release. This situation is especially topical in Moldova, where even before the present phase of the conflict in the Ukraine erupted in February 2022, some 20% of the Church (720,000 people) had transferred from the Russian jurisdiction of Chisinau to the Romanian jurisdiction of Bessarabia. Since then, this tide has been turning into a flood, with the result that the once monopoly of the Moscow group of Chisinau is smaller and more impoverished and may soon become a minority. Below is the statement of the Metropolia of Bessarabia in Moldova issued by its Communication, Media and Public Relations Department on 29 June:

The Metropolia of Bessarabia receives into its jurisdiction all clerics and believers who want to be in the jurisdiction of the National Church

In the course of the last centuries, the Orthodox Church in Bessarabia went through trying times, caused by the Tsarist and the Soviet Communist occupation (1812, 1940 and 1944). Then the clergy and believers in this region were abusively included in the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, without canonical leave and without the Russian Church taking into account the provisions of Church legislation.

This imposed its authority contrary to the wish of the Bessarabians to remain under the jurisdiction of the Metropolia of Iași and its dioceses, which had spiritual and canonical responsibility on the left bank of the River Prut. Thus, they went against the will of the inhabitants of Bessarabia, they forgot about the religious freedom of the people to choose, a fact also recorded by the historians of the time. 

At present, when in a canonical, free and legal way, the clergy and the faithful want to return to the bosom of the Mother Church, the descendants of the former aggressors issue administrative acts of intimidation and stop nature and the natural process of things. In this sense, we must specify that the change of canonical jurisdiction is a legal act, guaranteed by the legislation of the Republic of Moldova, of which we cite only a few laws: 

“A religious community may join any religious cult or dissociate from it by the freely expressed will of its members, without additional approvals or hindrances from outside.” (LAW No. 125 of 11-05-2007, Art. 6, paragraph 3, regarding freedom of conscience, thought and religion). 

“The right of religious association of believers and their communities is defended by legal or administrative means.” (Art. 7, para. 1).

“The State guarantees religious communities the defence of their legitimate rights and interests.” (Art. 7, par. 3).

Because no child denies his parents, except when he is forced, as happened in Bessarabia during the more than 150 years of Russian occupation, it must be understood that the Metropolia of Bessarabia is the only Church structure canonically and historically entitled to shepherd and protect its believers in Bessarabia.

It operates within the Romanian Patriarchate, according to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church of 19 December 1992, when it was decided to make an act of reparation, and ‘all clerics and their pastors who are already, or will become, members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia under the Romanian Patriarchate are canonical clerics and blessed believers, and, as such, any ecclesiastical disciplinary sanction directed against them on the grounds of belonging to the Metropolia of Bessarabia is considered null and void’.

From the above, it is understood that the arguments of those who say that this is how things are known to them, that they were baptised in this Church, are not natural arguments, but show an ignorance of the suffering of our forefathers who were tortured, persecuted, exiled and killed for truth, faith, and the desire to express their God-given identity.

Considering all of this, we make it known to the believers and clerics of the Republic of Moldova that the decrees issued by the Metropolia of Chisinau (a religious structure of Russian affiliation) against the members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia have no value and are administrative acts that do not affect the spiritual state of those who come to the Mother Church, the Romanian Patriarchate.

In order to avoid the syndrome of the victim who sympathises or identifies with oppressors (Stockholm syndrome), believers must be correctly and honestly informed about the realities, in order to heal the wound and rectify the state of affairs in accordance with canonical, statutory and regulatory provisions and according to historical truth.

In this context, we make it clear that Archpriest Alexei Sîrbu, the parish priest of St Nicholas church in the village of Puhoi, Ialoveni district, a former cleric of the Chisinau Metropolia, at the community’s request has since 2022 been a cleric of the Metropolia of Bessarabia, specifically of the Diocese of South Bessarabia. All the measures taken against His Reverence are null and abusive, as he has a working priesthood and can celebrate without any restriction all the holy services.

In this sense, we urge all the spiritual sons and daughters in the parish to be with their priest and spiritual father to share in the grace of the Holy Spirit poured out through the intercession of Christ’s servants.

Knowing the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church regarding Church life in the Metropolia of Bessarabia, the clerics who wish to come under the jurisdiction of the Mother Church are welcomed with joy into the Romanian Patriarchate.

https://mitropoliabasarabiei.md/mitropolia-basarabiei-ii-primeste-in-jurisdictia-ei-pe-toti-clericii-si-credinciosii-care-vor-sa-fie-sub-omoforul-bisericii-neamului/

To this the Moscow-run Church of Chisinau replied very aggressively and polemically on the very next day:

The Opinion of the Orthodox Church of Moldova Regarding the Press Release Issued by the Metropolia of Bessarabia

The Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldova regrets the fact that in the press release issued by the Metropolia of Bessarabia on 29 June 2023, there is talk of canonicity, but no canon of the Orthodox Church is cited that would justify the reception of clerics from the Metropolia of Chisinau. The Metropolia of Bessarabia considers that the transfer of the clergy and the faithful into their jurisdiction represents nature and the natural process of things. In the Church, the corruption of priests and believers cannot in any way be called nature and the natural process of things, but on the contrary a violation of the canons. Selling anyone, like Esau, for a plate of lentils (Exodus 25; 29-34), was and will remain an abomination before God. The representatives of the Metropolia of Bessarabia state that the change of canonical jurisdiction is a legal act, guaranteed by the legislation of the Republic of Moldova. But we ask ourselves: Is this act also justified by canon law? How can a Church entity put the Law of the Land above the Canons of the Church?

In this sense, we quote the canons of the Orthodox Church:

Apostolic Canon 11 (condemnation of communion with the Catholics)=

If someone, being a cleric, were to pray together with a cleric who had repented, let him also repent. (28 ap.; 4 Antioch.; 10 Carthage);

Apostolic Canon 12 (letters of release)

If any cleric or layman condemned, or (yet) not received (into communion), and goes to another city has been received without a letter of release, let both the one who received him and the one who is received him be damned; (So the Moscow Patriarchate damns itself?)

Apostolic Canon 15 (transfer of clergy)

If any priest or deacon or, in general, any of the clergy, leaving his parish, goes to another, moving altogether he will go to another parish, contrary to the judgment of his bishop, we command that he should no longer serve, especially if, after being called by his bishop to return, he did not obey, remaining in disorder, be nevertheless received there into communion as a layman; (And if he leaves because he is fleeing schism?)

Apostolic Canon 16 (transfer of clergy)

And if the bishop to whom (some like these) were to be found, disregarding the suspension decided against them, receives them as clerics, let him be damned, as a teacher of disorder. (15 ap.; 15 sin. I ec.; 17 Trul.; 3 Antioch). (And if the suspension was uncanonical, but carried out for reasons of personal hatred, jealousy and greed and for schismatic reasons?)

The Metropolia of Bessarabia, in order to argue its reactivation, talks about the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church of 19 December 1992. However, we wonder to what extent this decision respects the canons of the Orthodox Church established by the Holy Fathers at the Universal and Local Councils. In this connection:

Canons 129 – 133 of the Council of Carthage

If someone (the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldavia) … has shepherded a territory for three years and no one has asked for this territory (the Romanian Patriarchate), then they will never ask for it again, especially if during this period there was a bishop to do it and did not do it; (This interpretation ignores the total lack of freedom under the USSR for Romanian bishops to do so and the support of the Soviet Establishment for the Russian Orthodox takeover of the region). 

Canon 17 of the Fourth Universal Council establishes a term of thirty years to litigate disputes concerning the property even of individual parishes; (See above). 

The parishes in each diocese…must remain unaltered under the authority of the bishops in charge of them—especially if for thirty years they have undoubtedly had the given parishes under their jurisdiction and management; (See above).

Canon 8 of the Third Universal Council

Let it be observed, in certain situations and everywhere in dioceses, that none of the bishops who love God should extend their jurisdiction over dioceses that do not belong to them… that the rules of the fathers should not be violated and that the arrogance of secular authorities should not be allowed to creep into the bosom of the Church and let us not gradually and unnoticed lose that freedom, which our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who freed all mankind, gave us by His Precious Blood. (See above).

The Metropolia of Bessarabia states: ‘Considering all this, we inform the believers and clerics of the Republic of Moldova that the decrees issued by the Metropolia of Chisinau (a religious structure of Russian affiliation) against the members of the Metropolia of Bessarabia have no value and are administrative acts that do not affect the religious status of those who come to the Mother Church, the Romanian Patriarchate’. We ask ourselves: how is it possible that the act of ordination, the decree of appointment as a parish priest, the acts of awarding distinctions by the hierarchies of the Metropolia of Chisinau and of All Moldova are truthful, recognised and have religious value, and the act of suspension issued by the same bishop loses its value, being considered null and void? We have the same question regarding the priest Alexei Sîrbu, stopped from serving the holy things. How is it possible that his ordination and its distinctions are valid, and the decision of His Holiness Vladimir to stop serving is not valid? (Perhaps because one act is canonically valid and not the other, because the latter is political?)

We believe that the attempt of those from the Metropolia of Bessarabia to corrupt clergy and laity from the Metropolia of Chisinau and the whole of Moldova, defending themselves with certain decisions of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, flagrantly violates the Canon Law of the Orthodox Church. The current mode of action on the part of this Church entity also leads to the violation of the teachings of Holy Scripture: Eager to evangelise where Christ was not called, so as not to build on a foreign foundation (Romans 15, 20). (But who evangelised this territory first? It was not the Russian Church). 

We urge all clerics who have left the Metropolia of Chisinau and All Moldova, within which they received the gift of priesthood, to remember the oath given at ordination and its violation, the slander they caused and continue to cause. Let us remember the words of the Saviour:

And whoever offends one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world, because of the fools! For folly must come, but woe to that man through whom folly comes. (Matthew 18, 6-7). To also take into account the canons of the Orthodox Church, which they must respect until death. (What if the bishops involved are offending the little ones and not obeying the canons? And surely this extract concerns pedophiles?)

Misleading the clergy and the faithful through their behaviour and personal life (Matthew 18: 7; First Universal Council, Canon 3, Sixth Universal Council, Canon 5): (And if the bishop is misleading through their behaviour, personal life, as the public photographs show?)

Violation of Oath (Apostolic Canon 25);

Public slander and blasphemy of the Metropolitan, the bishops (Second Universal Council, Canon 6). (What slander and blasphemy? Is this an attempt at censorship despite Christs’ words that ‘the truth will set you free’).

Celebrating the Divine services after ceasing to serve the holy ones (Apostolic Canon 28);

If someone has been suspended from liturgical communion and goes elsewhere to be received into liturgical communion, let him be deposed from the clergy. The canonical Epistle of the Council to Pope Celestine also tells us the same: “Those who are excommunicated in their diocese cannot be perceived as sanctified by your communion… Any misunderstandings that arise should end in their dioceses”. (Canons 116 – 118 of the Council of Carthage); (What if the original diocese is under a schismatic bishop?)

The Challenge of Schism in the Church

With regret, we note that the decisions taken by the Metropolia of Bessarabia in recent times have led to its unfavorable position in relation to the canons of the Church. Any admission of clerics from the Metropolia of Chisinau and the whole of Moldova without a letter of release is uncanonical and attracts all the canonical provisions against him who leaves, and the clerics who transferred should understand that the duty of His Eminence Vladimir is to gently rebuke those they stand against, that only God will give them repentance to the knowledge of the truth and they will escape from the race of the devil, by which they are caught, to do his will (II Timothy 2:25-26). And again the Apostle says: Rebuke those who sin in front of everyone, so that others may also fear (I Timothy 5:20). Like a loving Father, the Metropolitan waits for his prodigal sons to come home! (Where is the love of one who intimidates, threatens and damns others to hellfire because they are obeying the canons?) 

Synodal Department of Institutional Communications and Media Relations

https://mitropolia.md/opinia-bisericii-ortodoxe-din-moldova-referitor-la-comunicatul-de-presa-emis-de-catre-mitropolia-basarabiei/

Some of the Scriptural extracts and canons above seem very clear and very strict, but they are all quoted out of context and without any discernment. Moreover, they are quoted by a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, which organisation just in recent years has accepted hundreds of priests from other Churches, also without letters of release! Clearly, Church canons, often called ‘holy’ by those who infringe them (!) are being used politically, not spiritually. As one bishop screamed: ‘I don’t care what happens to you, what I want is the keys! (to the property). In other words, most of these problems are simply about property and the income that comes from it. They have nothing to do with canons and the spiritual, only about lucre and the material.

As we have commented in the text above (comments not in bold), these canons cannot be applied to many situations, especially that in Moldova/Bessarabia, a territory disputed for political and historical reasons between two countries, each having its own name for it, having been conquered by the Soviet Union and taken by military force from Romania. (Somewhat like the Church of Georgia, whose age-old independence was completely and uncanonically suppressed by the Russian Church for some 200 years; once the USSR fell, the Church was restored). Clearly, this is a political problem and these canons cannot be exploited to answer such a question.

Furthermore, the above canons presume that all bishops are Christians. What if they are not and are in fact corrupt and immoral, full of schismatic sectarianism, bullying and racist hatred, publicly declared against other nationalities, who form the vast majority of the parishioners and who therefore want to leave such oppression? The twisted interpretations of the above canons are also contradicted by other canons and by the practice of the Church. Letters of release are only necessary if priests and deacons are corrupt and others have to be warned not to accept them. As we have said, what if clergy, innocent victims of such bishops, are not corrupt, but rather the very bishops who refuse to issue the letters of release most certainly and obviously are?!!! Is there any consultation before such predators are made bishops?

To quote actual real cases in the Russian Church over the last forty years:

What if a bishop wants to sleep with the wife of a cleric or that of another man (as happened in the 1980s elsewhere and as has happened recently under a bishop precisely of the Metropolia of Chisinau?) What should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the lustful bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop wants to sodomise a cleric (as happened recently under a bishop of the Metropolia of Chisinau in Moldova, and elsewhere in the Russian Church)? What should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the homosexual bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop insists that a cleric become a freemason, what should that cleric do? Remain, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the corrupt bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

What if a bishop creates a schism? What should that cleric do? Remain in schism against his conscience, or flee to another bishop without a letter of release? (There was no letter of release simply because the schismatic bishop in question refused to issue it in order to preserve his power).

In this latter case, Canon XV of the First and Second Council of the 318 Fathers in 861 does supply a clear-cut answer:

But as for this persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by the Holy Councils or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their presiding bishop, who, that is to say, is preaching heresy publicly and teaching it bareheaded in church, such persons are not only not subject to any canonical penalty on account of them walling themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a bishop before any conciliar decision has been pronounced, on the contrary they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied not bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers, and have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism but instead have been diligent to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.

Beware, God is not mocked.

 

The Inevitable But Avoidable Transgender Epidemic

After separating from the Church in the eleventh century, the corruption of the Roman Papacy in the Middle Ages was such that the inevitable happened and in the sixteenth century the Reformation took place. The Reformation was an all-male affair, under Luther, Henry VIII, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox etc, as were the wars that resulted from it, which dragged on for 150 years in what is now Germany, England, France and Ireland in particular. Millions were murdered in the Name of God. One of the results of this all-male Reformation was the belittling of and even blasphemies against the Mother of God. The consequences of this were the loss of respect for all women which, among the strict or puritanical Protestants especially, led to the Protestant witch-hunts and the reduction of women to possessions, baby-factories and virtual slaves. There were even doubts as to whether women had souls. This had already been the case in Pagan Rome, which was so much admired and imitated by the Victorians.

Inevitably, the pendulum would swing back against such extremism, once the old male Protestant yoke was thrown off, which gave way to full secularisation. Thus, the word ‘unisex’ first became prominent in the Western/post-Protestant world in the 1960s. People would make mistakes because they could no longer tell the difference between young men and young women, especially because of unisex clothing and hairstyles. By the 1970s the ideology of ‘feminism’ had become rampant in those societies. Thus, fifty years ago ‘feminism’ was promoted there not as the promotion of the unique female and feminine identity, but as ‘equality’ and therefore as good. In the name of this ‘good’ the propaganda went out that there should be no more social conditioning to reinforce the two Biblically-founded, separate ‘kinds’ or genders. Girls should dress like boys, women like men. It was the beginning of gender blurring and so confusion.

In reality, this sort of feminism was not at all equality, but tyranny and slavery. Women had to become men, or rather imitations of men, and not just in terms of clothing and hairstyles. They had to become income-earners, ‘useful’ economic units, rather than ‘wasting’ their time being cared for and protected by men, allowing them to create homes and bring up children. This ‘equality’ was just another form of aggressive, male-imposed social conditioning. It was also the end of the family, as this had been understood up till then, the combination of the male and female principles, of a father and a mother. The belittling of the female sex as inferior to the male sex and the dismissal of traditional female roles as mothers and homemakers in Western societies has led directly to the present transgender epidemic among teenage girls, the ‘need’ for them to become boys, dressing as boys, binding their breasts and even undergoing physical alteration through surgery.

There was no equality here. For women were obliged to go out and make themselves ‘economically useful’, as well as to be at home and work there. The result was double work. On top of this, some husbands could be bad husbands and bad fathers, were drunkards or beat their wives, were no longer attracted to their working wives and were unfaithful. Seeing this, young girls said: ‘Why should I have to go through all that and be mistreated in that way? I don’t want to bear the double burden of my mother. I am going to be a boy, then I will be able to do exactly as I want. I will not have children, therefore my childbearing organs and my breasts are useless, I will get rid of them’. The bad example of fathers thus destroyed the daughters. More than this, sensitive sons, seeing the example of bad fathers and pitying their mothers, were pushed towards homosexuality. One such son  began persecuting normal families from his jealousy.

In any case, apart from the ever more widespread cases of male homosexuality as a result of family breakdown, whereas ten years ago there were a handful of cases of gender confusion and gender identity problems among teenage girls each year, now there are thousands of cases and this appears to be growing into tens of thousands. Encouraged by the conformist pressures of media and social media, government-fostered anti-female sexism and ‘sex education’ and the traumatic isolation caused by recent government-enforced covid lockdowns, why should denigrated and despised teenage girls want to grow into women? Why not become boys and men? The contemporary epidemic of self-harming, suicides and gender dysphoria among teenage girls and young women are the clear results of the anti-female and anti-feminine culture which first appeared massively in Western countries in the 1960s.

Women were imposed upon by men: they had to become like men in all ways, they had to dress like men, they had to work outside the home, they had to have abortions, they had to be childfree, they had to become economically viable, they had to drink, smoke and swear like men, they had to do sports like boxing and  football like men, they even had to be priests  – they had to become imitation men, second-class men, instead of first-class women. And all this was presented as ‘emancipation’ and ‘liberation’ and as a ‘good’. Thus, in the name of ‘equality’, the female sex had to be destroyed. The transgender epidemic became inevitable, ever since the female principle in Western religion and culture, the veneration of the Mother of God, was destroyed in the sixteenth century and the path to an anti-Christian civilisation was chosen. True, it has taken centuries to create that anti-Christian civilisation, but now it is here.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

Arguing With Culty Fundamentalists

We reproduce the below, as it is a clear common sense outline of the danger posed by so-called ‘Orthodox’ convert cults, which all come from the USA. These are now so prevalent in marginal, schismatic groups. Locally, we are now getting more people who have seen through one such group in London and are coming to us, refugees from that schism and cult.

 

Written by Fr. Lawrence FARLEY (Orthodox Church in America) on 07/05/2023

There are stupider things to do than arguing with a culty fundamentalist.  As the late great Jim Croce reminded us, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger.  Arguing with a culty fundamentalist is, I admit, not as stupid as any of these things, but it is pretty stupid nonetheless, for it is a waste of precious time and utterly futile.

By “culty fundamentalist” I mean someone from a group which divides the entire world into a very small “us” and a very large “them”.  This “them” usually constitutes the entire world outside the boundaries of the group.  The group has very strict and well-defined boundaries, and they are very clear that they are the only people in the world who are truly saved, who know what’s really going on, and who know and have experienced God’s grace.  Outside the boundaries of the group there is nothing but darkness, danger, and damnation.

Obviously not all fundamentalists are culty fundamentalists as defined above.  The culty ones are characterized by their unshakable conviction that they alone possess salvation and that therefore leaving their group would be spiritually and eternally catastrophic.  All groups which make truth claims (groups like the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and the Baptists) are of course sad when their members leave them, believing their departure to be a mistake.  But these groups do not claim that those departing are thereby damning their souls or leaving the light for the darkness.  Culty fundamentalists do, and that is why they so greatly lament the departure of their members and describe that departure in apocalyptic terms.

I include in these groups organizations like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (schismatic Mormons), and some Old Calendarist jurisdictions.

These groups are characterized by a fear of the modern world with all its complexity, nuance, and ambiguity.  That is why they regard this world not only as fallen and in the grip of deception (the historical Church has always believed that), but also as sufficiently dangerous as to warrant as much separation from them as possible.  Though such groups may not always retreat to a well-defined geographical space (such as a ranch or compound), it is still well-isolated from outside influence.  The invisible drawbridge is always pulled up to protect the group from outside contamination which real inter-action with society would inevitably bring.

I remember arguing with adherents from one such group when I was much younger.  They approached me by knocking on my door when I was home, asking if they could come in and share their message.  Being much younger than I am now, I imagined that I could provide a voice of reason and sow a seed of doubt in their mind about their delusion and maybe even rescue them.  Alas, no dice, and those hours are ones I can never get back.

That was not because (I fancy) there was anything wrong with my argumentation.  It was because I was from the wrong tribe and so everything I said was of course wrong.  They were hardly listening to my words, much less trying to understand them.  What I said was of no consequence because I was not one of them.  Before they had even knocked on my door, they had neatly divided the entire world into Us (who of course had all the truth), and Them (who of course were deceived, pathetic, and had nothing valuable or true to say).  If they could not refute my arguments, contradict my history, or fault my logic, that all just proved how clever the Devil (i.e. me) really was.  They didn’t worry that my arguments were better.  They knew that whatever arguments I could muster, I must be wrong because I belonged to Them.  I never had any credibility.  I scarcely had a name.  I was simply another lost soul unaware of its pathetic plight.  I was the Enemy, Babylon the Great.  In other words, I was a part of The Wrong Tribe.

In the world of the culty fundamentalist, theology is entirely a tribal activity.  Their tribe is right, and other tribes are wrong because they are other tribes.  If someone from their tribe said the same things as I did, it would be immediately received as wise because it originated from their (i.e. the correct) tribe.

This means, of course, that real scholarship is never found among such culty groups.  Real scholarship involves humility and the willingness to learn from everyone and anyone.  Thus (for example) if the late Fr. Robert Taft provided good liturgical scholarship regarding the Byzantine Liturgy (which he did) it did not matter at all that he was a Roman Catholic Jesuit and not an Orthodox.  Truth is truth, and real scholars are willing to learn from anyone who seems to know what they are talking about.  Labels—that is, tribes—are irrelevant.  All that matters is competence.

We see this in non-theological matters quite easily.  I cared less than nothing that the doctor doing cataract surgery on my one good eye was not a good Orthodox.  All that mattered was that he was a good eye surgeon.  It is the same for matters of scholarship.  Real scholars are tribally-blind:  they will learn from any source as long as it is a good source.  For culty fundamentalists, tribe is everything, and so they remain suspicious of any information or learning that does not originate from their tribe.

That of course makes the world in which they live a very small and lonely one.  And (allow me to say) usually a stupid one as well, since they have rejected almost all scholarship that originates from another tribe or challenges their own.  If you doubt this, peruse any copy of an Awake! magazine.

Why do apparently intelligent people embrace culty fundamentalism?  Generalizations are always tricky, but I suggest that the attraction of culty fundamentalism is that it provides a safe haven in a confusing and dangerous world.

The spiritual edifices that such groups build are erected upon a foundation of fear:  they believe that if you are wrong in your choices, God is waiting to smite and damn them, and He will only restrain Himself if you belong to the “correct” group.  Once you join that group, you have the assurance of safety—but only if you remain within the group.  If you remain within the group, you have nothing to fear, including the necessity of living in a confusing world and grappling with nuance and grey areas—an arena in which you might make a wrong choice and thus incite divine wrath.

One can see immediately why arguing with such people is futile and a waste of time:  you are asking them to risk their eternal salvation, to emerge from their psychological bomb shelter and forfeit their assurance of safety.  For them, that assurance is paramount, and they will not risk losing it just because your arguments seem to be better than theirs.  The world of gray areas and nuance in which you live is just too scary for them.

What then to do with our culty fundamentalist neighbour?  For of course whatever his exasperating flaws, he is still our neighbour, and we are commanded to love him.  I suggest three things.

First (and most obvious) of all, pray for them.  If they have closed their hearts and minds, only God can open them.

Secondly, resist the temptation to imagine that if only you are learned or persuasive enough, you can bring them to sanity and sense.  It almost certainly will not happen.  Your learning and persuasiveness count for nothing so long as you remain in the wrong tribe.  Remember the words of Solomon about how we should leave a fool because we will not find knowledge in his presence (Proverbs 14:7)—or at least remember Christ’s words about Pharisees and blind guides—our Lord told us to leave them alone (Matthew 15:14).  In other words, don’t waste time in long arguments with them.

Finally, deal with their challenges and errors plainly and directly, giving an alternative vision and version to their distorted and narrow one.  If their arguments are left entirely unanswered, it may give tender and vulnerable souls the mistaken impression that the culty fundamentalist assertions are true.  This last task is mostly the job of the Church’s teachers and representatives.

As long as the world remains a dark place, the temptation will abide to sweep away the uncertainty, nuance, and grey areas with a culty fundamentalist vision.  The Church is not a cult, and so while it boldly and clearly proclaims the truth, it also knows how to discern nuance and grey areas as well and to live with it.  That is because the Church, being the body of Christ, is not afraid.  The spiritual edifice the Church erects is built on the assurance that God loves us.

Source: No Other Foundation

 

 

How To Be an Anti-Pastor in Twenty Simple Rules: The Anatomy of a Classic Case

A bishop then must be blameless…of good behaviour…not greedy of filthy lucre…not covetous…Not a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil (I Tim 3).

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Tim, 3, 1-5).

 

  1. In general, live according to your motto: ‘Money, Property, Power and Prestige’. Remember: You are a prince, not a servant, of the Church.
  2. First of all, as you have been sent there by an Imperialist, occupying power, be as aggressive, conflictual, controlling, intimidating and insulting as possible to the local people. Do not respect them, their language, their geography, their history, their culture, their customs. After all, you are superior to them in every way, so you can force them to speak your language and ban theirs. Gag them and censor them. Impose yourself and crush them by demanding blind obedience, even in very minor matters.
  3. Cultivate your elitism, ensuring a top-down approach, putting on your show of the purely outward, even if they see through it at once, as most of them did. Have nothing to do with the ordinary people by listening to them or confessing them. Speak in monologues to them. Remember: As a true anti-Pastor you are innately superior to the people. Be as exclusive, arrogant and authoritarian as possible, threatening any contradictors with suspension. This will ensure that the Church does not expand and so becomes ever more sectarian, ensuring your total control.
  4. Be as divisive as possible. Taking a party political line will help you greatly in this. Exclude all who know more than you. Espousing extremist politics will help you alienate others. You must make sure that you are unpopular. This will help you to power, following the old adage of ‘divide and rule’. Of course you will end up in a very, very small pond, but at least this will make you a very, very big fish.
  5. Be spectacularly rude. Threaten, bully, humiliate and cultivate injustice at every opportunity, but above all accuse others of precisely your own faults, especially as you are so in love with money. Trying to make them feel guilty will help you create disunity, making you feel very good about yourself.
  6. Remember: Your aim is to alienate others, discrediting them and slandering them. You will thus isolate yourself, painting yourself into a corner. With very few friends, you will, very satisfyingly, have created a real sect and a small cult of sick and feeble-minded admirers around you who want to imitate you.
  7. Develop this personality cult, charming all with words, but not actions, manipulating the new and naïve around you. True, they will sooner or later see through you, but by then you will have found more new and naïve to replace them. Once they have seen through you, you can discard them too like old rags and replace them with new favourites. This favouritism will help greatly in discrediting you. Remember with both those above you and those below you: Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate!
  8. Make false accusations. Especially accuse people who have given all their money and lives to the Church of stealing money from the Church. This will entirely discredit you.
  9. Remember: Feelings of jealousy towards others divide. Develop these feelings in yourself, for they will destroy you, not those at whom they are directed.
  10. Never listen and never consult, especially despise age and experience. Remember: You are always right despite your youth, inexperience and lack of knowledge and training. Threaten any who challenge you with retirement, suspension or defrocking because of your personal hatred, intense jealousy and mood swings. This will ensure that you will make as many mistakes as you possibly can. Remember that when you are told that it is make or break time because of your tyrannical behaviour, you must ignore it.
  11. Reject any monastery that is offered you for free. You do not want any rivals.
  12. Refuse to open any new churches which have been bought or built and are fully equipped. The faithful must not have churches, so ignore their petitions. Remember that you must deprive the people of the opportunity to go to church. Deprive priests of myrrh and make sure they do not do too many baptisms. Therefore try and steal any church properties that exist. The devil will thank you.
  13. Doctor Diocesan Council minutes in your favour to impress your superiors. They will then offer no supervision of a chronically inexperienced individual who makes mistake after mistake. If complaints do arrive, you can then investigate yourself and report back that you are wonderful. Then you will be able to give yourself a perfect bill of health and you will be able to punish those who told the truth by warning of the coming catastrophe. This will soon turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is also important to create your own websites, writing articles about how wonderful you are, while pretending that others have written them.
  14. Lack of supervision means that you will threaten zealous clergy who justly dare to warn of the impending catastrophe with harsh and uncanonical punishments. True, you can defrock anyone you want at the drop of a hat simply because they do not agree with you. However, no laypeople, clergy or other bishops will pay the slightest attention to your hate-filled papers. Be aware of this.
  15. Surround yourself with weak, servile and fawning subordinates and use authoritarian rule, using yes-men, only marginally less ignorant than yourself. They will safely shield you from reality and all your errors for years, until what you have done blows up in your face, as it eventually will.
  16. Attempt to divide the Church and divide families, setting father against son. You must destroy happy and united families. They represent strength and opposition to you. In the same way you must also attempt with large bribes of money to set up altar against altar in the same towns.
  17. Demand money from often very poor faithful in order to fund your lavish lifestyle. This will cause great scandal among the faithful.
  18. Remember: Your principal task is to destroy, not build up.
  19. Remember your slogan: ‘Don’t save souls, invent protocols’.
  20. Remember: Quench the Spirit at all times. Be careful to crush any sort of zeal for the Faith and any talent. You must in particular destroy anyone who is more popular than yourself. This will ensure your failure.

 

All the above will be tolerated for some years by your victims, as they have already tolerated such behaviour for years before you, but as the inevitable result of all the above you will end up by creating a schism in the Church. This will be a step too far, the last straw, because it is not just against the people, but also against the Church. Your alien schismatic and sectarian mentality will cause a scandal, however much you bully the weak into supporting you. If you do all the above, you can be guaranteed that sooner or later there will be consequences, for your sins will find you out. And from that point of suffering on, you will have the God-sent opportunity to repent and so at last start becoming a Christian.

 

 

Questions and Answers March 2023

Orthodoxy

Q: It is said that Patriarch Bartholomew intends to establish a common Easter calendar with the Catholics in 2025. What do you think?

A: The Roman Catholics and the Phanariots have been talking about this for at least the last fifty years. The point is that if the people do not follow, they can say and sign whatever they want, it is all irrelevant. Thus, the first who will not obey their Patriarch are his very own monks of Mt Athos. How then could others outside his jurisdiction follow? This common calendar idea is just a recipe for more divisive schisms.

Q: Why are most German Roman Catholic bishops (38 against 21) in favour of blessing homosexual ‘weddings’?

A: Because most of them are homosexuals. Just like many an Orthodox bishop, like one recently reposed Greek metropolitan who made no secret of his support for homosexuality. (See below).

Q: Why is Scripture not the only authority for the Orthodox Church?

A: It is the Holy Spirit that is the authority and the unity of the Church. When the Holy Spirit is rejected, then the Church on earth suffers from a lack of authority and a lack of unity – as we can see today. The Holy Spirit is expressed in Scripture, Tradition, Councils, the Saints etc. As the Holy Spirit wrote Scripture, it requires the Holy Spirit to interpret it. As Shakespeare wrote over 425 years ago: The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose (The Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 3, l. 96).

Q: It is said that Judas did not repent and therefore is considered to be a traitor. But in the Gospel, it says that he did repent. How do you answer that?

A: I am afraid you are reading a poor translation! The archaic meaning of ‘to repent yourself’ is to regret’: ‘I repent me of all I did’. This is why the King James translation in Matt 27, 3-5, which relates that Judas ‘repented himself’, returned his pieces of silver and ‘went and hanged himself’ is not helpful. Those who repent do not go and hang themselves, but they do regret.

Q: What happens to those who try to take advantage of sincere Christians?

A: Sincere Christians are always kind. The evil-minded try and take advantage of us because we are kind, but then discover that underneath kindness we have rock-solid principles, which we shall never abandon. If we are asked to do something demeaning to ourselves, we will obey. But if we are asked to fall into schism or heresy, we will refuse to obey. Underneath we are as hard as nails. This is humility – very different from the wishy-washy woke nonsense that the world imagines humility to be. And the enemies always break themselves on our principles, just like a ship that wrecks itself on the rocks.

Converts

Q: Will Non-Orthodox be saved?

A: Ask God.

I would be very cautious in even asking such a question. Why do some experience a need to condemn others because of their own choices?

Q: What are the characteristics of convert churches in the USA?

A: The first is tithing. It simply does not happen in Orthodox churches, though the voluntary custom is not wrong in itself. Then there are reader services. Again it does not exist in our churches, although in itself there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is rather that it leads to clericalism, whereby for example, when you ask someone their name, he may tell you ‘Reader John’ etc. We do not use this title and certainly readers should never wear cassocks outside the services.

Russian Psychology

Q: A Russian has told me that if children are disabled, it is because their parents conceived them on a fasting day. What should I think?

A: You should think that this poor and unchurches Russian soul has plumbed the depths of phariseeism.

Q: Why are Russians so divisive?

A: On this subject there is the old Russian émigré story about a Russian who has been shipwrecked and lives alone on a desert island. When after many years he is rescued, his rescuers are astonished to see that he has built three churches on his island. When he is asked why, he answers that he built three churches so there would always be two which he did not have to go to.

I think such sectarian divisiveness comes simply from the fact that some unChurchly Russians  confuse politics with Church life, rendering to Caesar what is God’s, putting the personalities of this world above Christ.

Q: Is it true that Russian Orthodox are superstitious? A Protestant friend told me that in his view that are not Christians?

A: Well, is your Protestant friend Christian?!!

You have to remember that today’s Orthodox in Russia are nearly always converts from Sovietism. Therefore, they often bring with them superstitions, ignorance, prejudice and hangovers from the Soviet period, which betray a almost magic, ritualistic phariseeism, belief in the letter over the spirit. These include: clericalism such that you should not pray for yourself, for only a priest is allowed to pray for you, belief that the evil eye is stronger than the cross, a ritualistic and magic understanding of confession before communion, a superstitious belief in the power of holy water, that it is greater than holy communion, that baptism is important only because it prevents babies falling ill etc

Q: Given the evil of Western governments, their encouragement of sexual perversion and even Satanism, would you think of moving to Russia?

A: I have often thought of it over the last fifteen years for myself. If I were single, I would have done it long ago. But only as I speak the language. For others I would certainly not recommend it, if you do not speak the language. And certainly not if you have older children who do not speak the language. (Who will your children marry?). And not if you do not work in Russia and get your income locally (living in a virtual world, getting income by working on computer is harmful spiritually).  In principle, God put us where we were born for your salvation. We should beware of the romantic fantasies of escapism. I know too much about the harsh realities of life in Russia, especially in the Church, to entertain any illusions. Why do you think so many Russians take refuge here?

The Gay Mafia

Q: Do you really think that your battle against the ‘lavender mafia’ of homosexual bishops can be won? They are so powerful.

A: Yes, of course it can be won. Because God is on our side. This is not arrogance, this is simply a fact. Surely you don’t believe that God is on the side of the homosexual and bisexual bishops in the Church?!!!! And the Patriarchs are with us, because they have protected us. This is a Conciliar process and history is on our side. We never sought this battle, but we obey God, Who put us in front of this scourge. The Church must be cleansed of them. We, like others, must take part in this end-time battle.

For years I recall how we tried to fight against their takeover – it all began in 1994. I remember how the latest phase of the battle began two years ago. Our profound suspicions from the beginning had been undermined by the fact that we could not prove anything. Then, one of our parishioners heard about the case of the Russian bishop Ignaty who had been found out by parishioners who were convinced he was homosexual. So they went on to an international homosexual dating app called ‘Grinder’. There they found compromising photos of him. The Patriarch deposed Ignaty at once and sent him off to a monastery.

So to check on the bishop in question, of whom this parishioner, like us, had had the same bad impression, though no proof, he put the ‘Grinder’ app onto his mobile phone. Apparently, this app shows at what distance you are standing from a member of the dating site. It went off only once – when that notorious bishop visited us, indicating that the dating app had picked up that he was standing just two metres away from the phone. There was only one person it could have been. We had received the confirmation of our impression. We could clearly identify him. Since then he has gone on to scandalise many, destroy the church, supported by another seven homosexual and bisexual bishops and priests, rejecting the offer of a monastery, scandalising a monk to whom the bishop made an advance and who then, quite naturally, ran away, tried to close churches, and ordained a homosexual and a bisexual. And yet such people are actually defended by others in the same mafia. But God is not mocked. You will see.

English History

Q: In your opinion, who was the best and who was the worst figure in the history of England?

A: The best: The holy King Alfred the Great, the Truthteller, England’s Darling.

The worst: Either Duke William the Bastard, or else Cromwell. It is difficult to choose between them. One was a Catholic tyrant, the other was a Protestant tyrant. Both killed hundreds of thousands.

 

 

 

IMPORTANT: A NEW CHURCH?

Fifteen years ago, in May 2008, we bought our church in Colchester. Although people laughed at me at the time for even buying the church, I said that one day the church would be too small. They mocked even more. Since then we have had to set up two small churches, one in Norwich and the second on the edge of Cambridge for those who came to us. Both have their priests, one of them is a former Colchester parishioner, the other is a priest who first celebrated here. In Colchester itself we now have a second priest and two deacons. However, now we are facing a real problem. Our church is getting too small, with 300-400 people every Sunday. What we really need is another church in a town further down the A12 nearer London.

In 2008 I had a conversation with the then Bishop Elisei in London, as at that time Orthodox immigrants were getting off the trains from Europe at Stratford and had no church to go to. The women got jobs cleaning offices, the men on building sites. As a result of my missionary conversation, Bishop Elisei arranged for a service for these people once a month in an Anglican church in Romford. This has not been successful, as the liturgy takes place only a few times a year on a Saturday, when many work, and it is for Russians only. The congregations number only about 20. The majority of Orthodox living in the Stratford-Ilford-Romford area are in fact Moldovan, Romanian and Ukrainian, not Russian.

What are we going to do for the 20,000 Orthodox of East London, in the three fords: Stratford, Ilford and Romford? And the 10,000 who live nearby, in Hainault, Hornchurch, Upminster, Brentwood, Basildon, Billericay, Grays, Tilbury, and to the north, in Harlow? We have identified a church for sale for £1.3 million. Such a sum seems like a dream. Perhaps we can find something cheaper? In any case, the question is: Can you help or do you know someone who can help? I have been told that a Moldovan billionaire lives in London. Please put me into contact with him! With the support of a few rich people, we can do it. We have a Charitable Trust to look after funds. Our Metropolitan Joseph is a missionary-minded bishop. These are not the problems. Finance is! CAN YOU HELP?

Converts and Envelope-Converts

 Foreword

First I must explain the title of this essay. The Russian word ‘konvert’ means an envelope. And there is an old joke, told me about 30 years ago by a ROCOR bishop from America, that ‘the problem with ‘konverts’ is that sometimes they are empty and sometimes they come unstuck’. Beyond jokes, the real question is why can converts to the Faith sometimes be empty and why can they sometimes come unstuck? In other words, what is the difference between ‘converts’ and ‘envelope-converts’? Below we attempt to answer this question.

Introduction: Converts 

The psychology of converts is universally the same. I remember about 40 years ago meeting a Jewish man who had married a woman who, some years before meeting him and converting to Judaism, had already converted to Catholicism. When she had been a Catholic, she had been a traditionalist, a Latin masser. The husband complained to me about his wife, who had become Jewish in order to marry him, and had then started to impose very strict, zealot Jewish observances on him. Since he had always been a very secular, non-practising Jew, he found it very troublesome and it was breaking up the marriage. From his wife’s behaviour, I realised that convert psychology is universal. Someone who has psychological problems will carry them over into any religion. There is no theology here, only psychology and, worse still, pathology. Beware.

For instance, a few years ago I met an Englishman who had chosen to become a Muslim. What he had been before, I have no idea. Of course, as a recent convert he forced himself to dress like a Muslim from Afghanistan, had changed his name from Bob to Mohammed, grown a long beard, insisted that Muslim women wear a veil and interspersed his cockney speech with badly-pronounced Arabic words. He was the opposite of the other Muslims around him, all immigrants, whose only desire was to conform to English models of behaviour, to integrate and not stand out. In other words, Bob was what is popularly called a ‘beardy-weirdy’. I later heard that he had gone to live in the Middle East. Someone even said that maybe he had gone to fight with ISIS.

Some Eastern European Examples

In Russian the word for ‘convert’ is ‘neofit’, a neophyte. Since virtually all Orthodox in Russia are converts from over the last 30 years, there are also pastoral problems with some of them, who, for example, collect Orthodox books (they must have all of them, read or unread), dress in black and go off and live in forests or caves and then think they are being Orthodox. In fact, they are destroying their lives and those of their children. I have seen the same thing with Greeks and Romanians, those of an intellectual type. Baptised Orthodox as babies, they had all gone through some deep experience in their twenties (one Greek man had become a Buddhist) and then returned, chastened, to Orthodoxy. However, in countries with millions of Orthodox, such eccentrics are very, very few.

There were already such repentant spiritual tourists in the Russian emigration. Thus, Metr Antony Bloom had been an atheist until he was 14. And twenty years before him Fr Sophrony Sakharov had become a Hindu and was deeply attracted by the concepts of gurus, ashrams and mantras. Before him there had been the case of Fr Sergei Bulgakov, who had been a Marxist revolutionary. All joined, or rejoined, the Church after experiencing life. There is nothing extraordinary here. After all, all the apostles were converts. We recall how fishermen decided to follow Christ, and then a tax collector followed them. It is all related in the Gospels. As for the Epistles, these are simply letters written by converts to groups of converts in various parts of the Roman Empire. If you read those letters, you will find that some of those converts got up to some very strange things (they were ‘envelope-converts’), which is why they received instructions on how to behave and what our Faith actually is. Perhaps the most famous case of a convert is the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).

As for the Fathers, many of them were also ‘converts’, who had studied in some pagan school, for instance in Athens, and then got baptised. The Three Great Hierarchs, St John Chrysostom, St Basil the Great and St Gregory the Theologian, come to mind at once. And yet nobody would think of calling the apostles or these Fathers ‘converts’. Let alone ‘envelope-converts’ who were empty or who came unstuck. So what is the difference? Why do some simply become Orthodox Christians and others cause tragedies to themselves and to others? Below I describe why converts become ‘envelope-converts’.

Joining the Church and Becoming Orthodox

Regularly, about six times a year I am phoned by someone who wants ‘to join the Church’. Having read something, usually on the internet, or seen a youtube video or, even worse, a podcast, they are attracted. However, they are not attracted to Orthodox Christianity, only to the idea or theory of a marginal form of Orthodoxy. My answer to them is always the same: ‘Come to the service next Sunday’. Of course, they never come. The point is that they have no desire to know that Orthodox Christianity is about living a way of life, at the heart of which are the Church services. That would mean them changing their way of life. They may as an idea wish to join the Church, but they do not want to become Orthodox. And that is no use at all.

In general, it can be said that there are two sorts of candidate to join the Church. Those who want to join the Church and those who want to become Orthodox; those who come with baggage and have expectations, and those who do not; those who want to change what the Church is and those who accept the Church as it is. This is rather like some young people who think they have fallen in love, but want to change the characters of the objects of their infatuation: ‘Oh, I know he did that, but I’ll change him’, says the silly young woman who is full of her imagined abilities to change a criminal, and, ‘She’ll change once we’re together’, says the silly young man, who is pretentious. It always ends up in tears. If you love someone, you love their faults too. And if you don’t love their faults, or do not know what their faults are, or, worse still, imagine that they do not have any, you are in for a big surprise. As the old joke says: ’The only time a woman changes a man is when she changes his nappies as a baby’.

It can be said that these two sorts of candidates are either those who love themselves (they tend to egomania and weird ego-trips of garden shed Orthodoxy) and those who love God and love others. The first want to impose their pride and their proud theories because they do not love God and love others. The second accept in humility and learn. Love is the key. The first lack love, and can be singularly unloving, the second show love and so readiness to learn. This explains why so many ‘envelope-converts’ never become Orthodox Christians, but come unstuck and lapse, either into what they were before or else into some new obsession. These are the serial lapsers, who demand baptism umpteen times and drift from one ‘religion’ to another. They are empty, they take but do not give, they destruct but do not construct.

Pride

I remember serving at a Russian church in Brussels about thirty-five years ago. There were perhaps 250 people there. I immediately spotted two converts among the crowd. How? One was a woman dressed in what seemed to be ballgown with a huge headscarf/tablecloth on her head and the other was a man dressed all in black and with a huge beard. All the other women were dressed normally in knee-length skirts or dresses, most had no head covering at all. As for the men, they were all clean-shaven and I do not think any of the clergy had a beard anything like that of the convert.

This obsession with externals is typical of the ‘envelope-convert’. Eccentric dress, beards and long hair for men, wearing prayer-knots around the wrist, lapel or even pectoral crosses, icons, incense, books, fasting. Just so as you know: This disease of convertitis will not save you. This confusion between means and ends is a kind of idolatry, as it confuses creation with the Creator. No externals will ever save you, even if, when accepted in humility, they can help you. Only humility will save you. I always say to such strange dressers: look at the others in Church. They have been Orthodox for decades, for their whole lives, as their ancestors for centuries before them. None of them dresses like you. Dress like them. None of them bothers about fasting from vertebrates and invertebrates (what are they anyway?), none of them reads the ingredient labels on foodstuffs. Stop being different. Salvation is not there. Salvation is in humility.

The root of this idolatry, as that of all fantasies, is the same: pride. It is pride which is behind all envelope-converts. This can be seen in their open self-justifications for weirdness: ‘I am better than the others’; ‘I am not like them’; ‘they haven’t read the books that I’ve read’; ‘they don’t understand’; ‘they haven’t been to Mt Athos’. (These are all actual quotations). These are the people who want to be ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’. And they all end up being less Orthodox than the Orthodox, that is, they all end up outside the Church. Such converts always want to give advice to others, as they know everything. Yet they know nothing, apart from externals and their desire to condemn others. It is sad.

More Pride

Such envelope-convert laypeople, sometimes married with families, want to imitate monastics. However, to live in a monastery, you first of all need obedience. And that is precisely what they do not have. I remember one such family in France. They went off to live in the Cevenne mountains, living in a ruin, getting water from a stream and without electricity. The nearest shop was six miles away. After a time the fed-up wife left the fanatical, hippyish husband who spent his time ‘meditating’ and had forced her and the children to live back in the Middle Ages. (Apparently, he thought this was ‘Orthodox’). As for the children, they left with her and never set foot in an Orthodox church afterwards. The husband died a few years ago, a lonely and embittered old convert. And precisely a ‘convert’, because he had never actually become Orthodox.

Convert pride is often manifested in idealism, as was the case above. Never think that idealism is good. It forces others. Lenin was an idealist. So was Hitler. Beware. Convert pride makes the convert think he is ‘special’ and ‘different’. This is not only in outward appearance, but also in speech, in the use of words such as ‘a temple’, instead of ‘a church’, or they will tell you that they are ‘under the omofor’ of someone. Ordinary lifelong Orthodox never tell you that, indeed they often do not even know whose diocese they are in, still less, care.

Then there are the converts who go on and on about their ‘spiritual father’ or, worse still, ‘starets’, who is probably just a very ordinary parish priest. But they want to belong to a cult. Here we encounter the problem of ‘guruism’. Twice in my life I have come across converts, one English and one Russian, who wanted me to become their ‘spiritual father’. I refused to play at being a guru. They both went elsewhere and ended up outside the Church, one lapsing completely, the other joining a cultish sect from America. The pride here is that they want a guru so as to make a saint out of him and can then flatter themselves that, as their guru is a saint, they too must be saints. ‘I am special, I have a spiritual father’, is their secret mantra.

Yet More Pride

The obsession with books can also play a role here. The ‘envelope-convert’ must have an ‘Orthodox library’. When asked to recommend an Orthodox book to read, I always reply the New Testament. This really puts them off, as what they want is some piece of exotica (because they are ‘special’, ‘not like other men’ (Lk. 18, 11)). If they reply that they have already read the New Testament, I answer: ‘You may have read it, but you haven’t understood it’. The difference between Protestants and real Orthodox is that the Protestants have read it and not understood it and therefore do not live it, whereas the real Orthodox have generally not read it, but understood it and therefore live it.

Pride is not just unpleasant, it is also extremely dangerous. Some may have read the warnings given by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and St Theophan the Recluse, both of the century before last, about pride. For example, there is the convert who became crazy through the prayer of the heart. How is this possible? Simply because he said the prayer without love and humility. His intention in repeating it thousands of times a day was to become a saint, that is, to become ‘better than others’. It was not to become humble. He became mentally ill not through a prayer, but through his deluded pride. The source of most mental illness and all delusion is precisely pride. I have seen this happen. This is real. If you have no love and humility, this can happen.

Some may be shocked by this, but think about what the Apostle Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago. ‘Whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord…For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep’ (I Cor 11, 27-30). They become ill not through holy communion, but through pride. The danger is when such ‘crazy converts’, as the Americans call them, or ‘novices’, as the Apostle Paul calls them, become clergy. And yet the Apostle is clear: ‘A bishop then must be…not a novice, unless being lifted up with pride, he falls into the condemnation of the devil’ (I Tim 3, 2-6). Such clergy create whole cultish sects full of their clones.

Conclusion: Conversion Without Pride

Christ speaks of ‘envelope-converts’ in the Gospel, the ones he calls pharisees and proselytes: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’ (Matt. 23, 15). The problem is not of course with converts who have really converted, but with non-converts, those who claim to have converted, when they have not. I have met such people who, even after fifty years, have not actually converted. Some are indeed ‘children of hell’. When someone says that he is a convert, I always ask him: ‘A convert to what?’

Every time we go to confession is a conversion. Indeed, if you do not go to confession, you will not be converted, but will always remain at that selfsame primitive level of: ‘I haven’t done anything wrong’, or, ‘I haven’t done anything different from everyone else’. I have met several Orthodox like this. Every Sunday for decades they have taken communion, but have never ever been to confession. And this from lifelong Orthodox in their fifties. There is nothing wrong with conversion. On the contrary, there is everything wrong with unconversion. But conversion is not a point, it is a process. In order to become (Orthodox) Christians, we have to convert every day. Otherwise, we shall just remain ‘envelope-converts’, empty through lack of zeal, or else come unstuck, as the Apostle writes, through ‘zeal not according to knowledge’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q and A October 2022

Q: Why do all the Local Orthodox Churches accept the baptisms of Non-Orthodox, but not give them communion?

A: Baptism is the first sacrament and the only one that can be given by laypeople, that is, by those who have been baptised by water in the Name of the Holy Trinity. All other sacraments are different, as they require a priest, such as chrismation and confession, only after which can communion be given.

As regards the form of baptism, the norm in the Church is by immersion (different from submersion!), but emergency baptisms by sprinkling are also accepted, as in countless Orthodox baptisms of new-born babies in hospitals and in homes. Here it is the intention that is important, not the ritual.

Q: Can Non-Orthodox receive a gift of the Holy Spirit?

A: Obviously, yes! Why else would people come to the Church asking to be received, when they are still outside the Church? The Holy Spirit has called them, they have had some spiritual experience. The Holy Spirit can come to us from God the Father in two different ways, through (but not from) the Son (= through the Body of Christ, in the sacraments of the Church) and directly and independently, as to the Apostle Paul on the Road to Damascus and to so many others.

Q: What do you think will happen in the Ukraine and in Church life once the war there is over?

A: Let us look at reality. Rightly or wrongly, 87.5% of the world either supports the Russian campaign or else remains neutral towards it. This shows the increasing isolation of the USA/Western elite. In Italy, Germany, France, Moldova, the Czech Lands, Romania (the former Defence Minister), Bulgaria, Serbia, even in the UK, dissident voices are protesting. For God’s sake, negotiate with Russia! The Ukraine is their business, not ours. We want gas and food! This Hell-begotten war must end. Europe needs a common economic home, from Reykjavik/Dublin/Lisbon to Vladivostok. The USE (United States of Europe, that is, the EU) has been USED. It is over.

There are very many and very unanimous Orthodox Christian prophecies on the war, like those of the very well-known and quite recent St Laurence of Chernigov, St Kuksha of Odessa, Elder Zosima of Donetsk, Elder Nikolai (Guryanov) and also Elder Jonah (Ignatenko) of Odessa (+ 2012). The latter, who said that Odessa will be liberated last, said: ‘After President Putin there will come a Tsar and there will be peace for a time’. The same prophets say that the new Tsar will then cleanse the Church of its unprincipled careerist-bishops, so disastrously corrupted by the Western money of the 1990s, exactly as St Seraphim of Sarov prophesied 200 years ago. According to him the Persecuted Church would become the Persecuting Church, the Church of Altruism would become the Church of Mammon. Exactly as it has turned out.

After this momentous Battle for the Holy Spirit, could then the whole Russian Orthodox Church be cleansed and transformed into the Patriarchate of New Jerusalem and All Rus? The at present Fifteen Local Churches of today could become Twenty-Four, with new Autocephalous Churches in the New Ukraine, in the three Baltic States plus Finland, with the restitution of those unjustly defrocked in Lithuania, in Moldova, an NAOC, Northern American Orthodox Church, including all Orthodox there, excluding none, and a WEOC, Western European Orthodox Church, including all Orthodox here, excluding none, a South American Orthodox Church, a Central American Orthodox Church, and a Mexican Orthodox Church, with a Metropolia for the Caribbean, and an Oceanic Orthodox Church for Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Q: What is the significance of the Battle of Hastings in the European context?

A: The Norman Invasion and Hastings was only a detail in the whole apostasy of the Church of Rome in the eleventh century. What began with the expulsion or persecution of Orthodox from Moravia, Hungary, Mozarabic Spain, Sicily, Southern Italy and Croatia ended with the same in England, Milan (the Ambrosian rite) and later in Scotland and Wales, then spreading to Scandinavia and Ireland.

Let us take just one example, the persecution of the Church in Croatia, which happened on the very eve of Hastings. (I quote from ‘The Early Medieval Balkans’ by John Fine): ‘In the mid-eleventh century the Slavonic liturgy became an issue in Croatian Dalmatia.

Written in Glagolitic, it was widely used particularly
in northern Dalmatia, where its chief centres were on the islands
lying in the Gulf of Kvarner, formed by the Istrian peninsula. In this
regard the island of Krk was the most important. In the 1060s, when
the Pope was demanding general Church reform, many high clerics in
the old Roman towns of Dalmatia, which had always used the Latin
liturgy, wanted to prohibit Slavonic and standardise church practices.
Kresimir IV, a religious man who had founded a Benedictine monastery
at Biograd, his favorite residence, sympathized with the Latinisers.
One wonders why: perhaps he wanted papal support; perhaps he
sought support from the Latin Dalmatian cities, toward which he may
already have had ambitions; perhaps it was a result of his Venetian
upbringing. (His mother was a Venetian and he had been educated in
Venice).

In any case the reformers or Latinisers were upset by the situation
in the Croatian Church; many priests (like the Greeks) married and
wore beards. Many of them did not know Latin. A Council was held in
Split in 1060 which declared that priests must know Latin and declared
it the language of the church. The Council condemned Slavonic. It also
banned priestly beards and marriages. Some churches were closed as a
result and there seems to have been a degree of unrest. Parties developed
for and against Latin, with the high clergy and nobles tending to
support Latin. In 1063 the Pope demanded application of these decisions
and he too called Slavonic heretical.

In 1064 a rebellion for the Slavic church broke out on the isle of
Krk under a man named Vuk. He set up an autonomous church under
its own bishop and wrote to the Pope. Various misunderstandings followed
and envoys from each side were rebuffed by the other. Kresimir
then sent a naval expedition against Krk (whose church was branded
heretical by the Pope). By the end of 1064 Vuk’s rebellion was crushed
and Latin clerics were in control of the church of Krk. Thus the national
Church organisation suffered a further blow and its organisation
rapidly died out. Surely, however, in inland villages Slavonic priests
continued to function over the next several centuries, owing to the lack
of an educated clerical class there. In addition, though the established
church opposed it, Slavonic seems to have survived in places along the coast presumably because the local population wanted it. Glagolitic
manuscripts from Croatia survive from each subsequent century
throughout the Middle Ages. But as an established accepted movement
the Slavonic Church collapsed and the main reason for its collapse
was that the leading Croatian political and religious figures opposed it.
In 1074 a second Council was held in Split which reissued the edicts of
1060 against Slavonic. This second Council also re-established the bishopric
of Nin’ (Pp. 280-281).