Edited E-mail Correspondence Following the Questions and Answers of 17 September
Q: In your answers in the correspondence in ‘On the Importance of Sobriety’ (17 September) you seemed to be defending ROCOR as a Church of moderation, which is why the extreme Greek and convert old calendarists left it between 1986 and 2007. But surely there were extremists among the Russians in ROCOR, for example, people who actually seriously believed that there was no grace in the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church? And they did not leave in 1986.
A: On the ROCOR side I knew of only two Russians (admittedly very senior figures) who asserted that the Patriarchal part of the Russian Orthodox Church had no grace. But I met hundreds, if not thousands, of ordinary ROCOR clergy and laity who believed otherwise, freely gave the sacraments to anyone from Russia and indeed were scandalised by such an absurd thought of gracelessness. So let us look at all this in proportion. You will always find a few extremists in any group of human-beings, but that does not mean that the vast majority are extremists. By definition they are not.
However, it is also true that a few members of ROCOR at that time (I am speaking about the Cold War period before 1991) appeared to be more interested in anti-Communism than in Christianity. However, the members of that generation have either died out or else have left ROCOR since 1991. The problem for them after the fall of Communism was that they no longer had any motivation to be active in Church life. You cannot be anti-Communist when Communism is no more. They had lost their raison d’etre, and so they gradually disappeared from Church life. This was most regrettable for them, but on a human level it was a great relief to us because they had put us ordinary ROCOR laity and clergy under pressure, trying to politicise the Church, which we resisted.
And I would like to add to all this very important qualification. Those few who previously claimed that there was no grace in the Patriarchate after 1991 received several clergy from it without ordaining them, let alone baptising them! And they gave the sacraments to Patriarchal laypeople without dreaming of baptising them. So it had all been empty words, rhetoric, political propaganda and not actions. In reality, they full well knew that the Patriarchate preserved apostolic succession. They rejected their own absurdity, which had only ever been a purely political ploy. I seriously think that the ludicrous concept of a graceless Church inside Russia may even have been invented by the CIA. It is simply not theological, but purely secular.
Q: You have said before and also in ‘On the Importance of Sobriety’ that all Russian Orthodox parishes outside Russia will eventually come under ROCOR administration. But why should not all, including ROCOR ones, come under the administration of the Church inside Russia instead?
A: There are three reasons why not. First of all, the agreement of 2007 was crystal clear: all parishes outside Russia will come under ROCOR, all parishes inside Russia will come under the Church inside Russia. Secondly, there is the name, ROCOR. It is only logical: only ROCOR is the Church Outside Russia, it is absurd to have parishes outside Russia that belong to the Church inside Russia. It is literally inside out or, if you prefer, outside in.
However, there is a third and moral reason. During the Cold War period (I mean, after 1945 and until well after 1991) the Church inside Russia was under KGB administration and there appeared outside Russia very many unworthy representatives of the Patriarchal Church, at best Soviet bureaucrats, at worst liars and renovationists, politically or morally compromised or just plain corrupt. (The notable exception was Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) of Brussels). And I am afraid that the Church inside Russia lost all the trust of the world outside Russia at that time. In a word, it shot itself in the foot and ever since it has had to pay the price for the distrust that it created.
As a result, even today, I cannot think of a single person in ROCOR who would go under the Patriarchal administration outside Russia. Even today, virtually the only people under the Patriarchate outside Russia are those who have come out of the former Soviet Union over the last 20 years
I mentioned Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) of Brussels as an exception, but it must also be said that his integrity was wasted, as that of other sincere people. He had the nominal title of Archbishop, but his diocese consisted of little more than two priests, two deacons and about a dozen laypeople. And in general, until 1991, the Patriarchate only had tiny churches outside Russia. Russian Orthodox outside Russia would have nothing to do with a KGB-sponsored organisation. That is not a secret and not a theory. It is simply a fact of history.
An example of such corruption is the case of the late Archbp George (Wagner), who was a victim of it. A priest of the Patriarchate in 1950s Berlin, he was asked by it to become a Soviet spy. To his credit he refused and left for the Paris Jurisdiction. He was just one in a very long series of sincere people who left the Patriarchate because of its corruption. Another even more striking example is the present Metr Hilarion of ROCOR, who was brought up in the Patriarchate in Canada and left it when he realised that it was not free.
And that was all a great loss of talent for the Patriarchate. But it was their own fault; they did it to themselves. In general, the Patriarchate, whether in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, London or New York, lost many people, the best friends of Orthodox Russia in the West, because of its unworthy representatives, with their political and moral compromises and corrupt personality cults. It lost the best friends of Orthodox Russia precisely because its representatives were not the best friends of Orthodox Russia. This is why ROCOR is an autonomous part of the Russian Church. If ever, things go badly in Russia again – as they could, the situation is still relatively fragile – ROCOR will retain its independence. That is very important.
Fortunately, virtually all such unworthy representatives had died out before the reconciliation of 2007, sometimes well before. Now we are waiting for a new generation. The Patriarchate outside Russia has been expanding with the new emigration. We believe that the majority of the new representatives are and will be more worthy, will at least be up to the standard of ROCOR and so prepare the Patriarchal churches outside Russia for their transfer to ROCOR.
Q: Do you feel bitter about this waste during the Cold War due to the captivity of the Patriarchate at that time?
A: Of course not! A Christian cannot feel bitter because he believes in Divine Providence, the ever-present, intervening love of God. This makes all mistakes into opportunities, all negatives into positives.
Q: What is your view of the murder of Fr Pavel Adelheim in Pskov last August
A: On average one priest a year is murdered in Russia and every murder is a tragedy and a crime, including that of Fr Pavel. I saw a Russian programme about the murder. His matushka appeared and spoke of the tragedy with great dignity.
However, Fr Pavel Adelheim himself was a well-known dissident and controversialist, a marginal figure and in that sense a bit like the late Fr Alexander Men, who is believed by many to have been a Catholic. The latter is a hero to all those who are anti-Orthodox, especially since he asserted that ‘it is better to be a Hare Krishna than to be like Fr Seraphim Rose’. (By the way, under the old regime the London Patriarchal Cathedral on Ennismore Gardens refused to sell his books, just as they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs; that has changed now). Murder is a tragedy, but it is does not absolve anti-Church views. I am not saying that Fr Pavel was like Fr Alexander Men, he was not pro-Catholic, but nevertheless he was very much a fringe personality. It is very interesting that although deaths like that of the late Orthodox priest Fr Daniel Sisoev are hardly mentioned in the West, Fr Pavel’s was widely reported and by two groups.
The first group was the freemasons of the Russophobic Rue Daru with their Western supporters and the second was the equally Russophobic old calendarists. It is disgraceful that such anti-Russian-Church groups opportunistically and self-justifyingly try and make capital of a tragic murder, which was carried out by a satanist. You cannot justify schism. What such sectarian groups as Rue Daru and old calendarists, two sides of the same coin, do not understand is that the Church is not an exclusive club for those with eccentric views, but it is for all who believe in Christ. The fact that Fr Pavel had peculiar views and was then tragically murdered does not for one moment mean that those views are justified.
Q: Russophobia has been in the international spotlight recently. What would you say about the civil war in Syria and President Putin’s recent intervention that averted US missile attacks?
A: First of all, this is not a civil war. The original legitimate protests against the dictatorial Syrian government were hijacked by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey (all Israeli-backed). 1200 murderers, rapists and bandits were released from Saudi prisons, armed and trained by Western Special Services in camps in the Jordan and Turkey and paid over $1000 dollars a month to murder, maim and cannibalise innocent Syrians. Together with them there are tens of thousands of fanatical foreign mercenaries, Chechens, Tunisians, Libyans and many Muslims from Western countries like Britain, France, Belgium and Germany. (These terrorists, who use chemical weapons in Syria, are the same people who prepare chemical weapons in Somalia). The war in Syria is a war between Syrian patriots on the one hand and foreign-financed traitors and foreign mercenaries on the other hand.
As regards the intervention of President Putin, the man who is so hated by Rue Daru and the old calendarists, what is remarkable is that for the first time, someone has stood up to resist the New World Order, that will lead to the enthronement of Antichrist in the rebuilt Temple on Zion. (Speaking of Russia, called the ‘Heartland’ in geopolitical science, Zbigniew Brzezinski said that the ‘New World Order’ would be built on its ruins). President Putin may even have averted a Third World War and certainly deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, unlike President Obama who should be stripped of his.
It was not a billion-peopled China or India or Africa, representing half the population of the planet between them, but Russia that stood up to the New World Order. President Putin has played the role of the Orthodox Tsar, of ‘him who restrains’ (2 Thessalonians 2, 6). This is remarkable on the part of a mere politician. Moreover on 19 September the President went on in his Valdai Speech to explain that the role of Russia is in Orthodoxy and that this is her Christian civilisational role against the secularist and suicidal West which has opted for Sodom.
The West has two great enemies in Russia today. The first is President Putin, the second is Patriarch Kyrill. It will do its utmost to bring them both down, as it has already done.
A: Because the secularist West knows that if either of them is successful or both of them are successful, they will with time be replaced by even more powerful Orthodox figures in Russia. They will not only resist the New World Order even more successfully, but will actually reverse it, restoring the Russian Orthodox Empire in Eurasia and worldwide Orthodox unity. That will be the end of the Antichristic, unipolar global project, of Orthodox countries eternally indebted and enslaved to the European Union, the end of absurd new calendarism and masonic puppet Orthodox bishops, the beginning of freedom for Orthodoxy in China, financial support for the Orthodox missions in Latin America, Africa and Asia, the building of tens of thousands of churches there and, if God wills and the world lasts long enough, the foundation of new autocephalous Churches. In a word, this will be the great gathering of all Orthodox Christianity before the end.
Q: It is 20 years since the attempted coup of October 1993 in Moscow, with the bombardment of the White House and the Yeltsin era. What are your thoughts?
A: The 1990s were a disgraceful period, when Russia went from Communism to Consumerism, from lies to theft. Russian public assets were stolen by those whom we now call oligarchs through so-called ‘privatisation’. These oligarchs, international criminals, now live in asylum under British government protection in London and elsewhere in the Western world that so adored their stolen billions that so impoverished Russia. This was massive, State-sponsored theft. In the 1990s the West tried to dismember and destroy the Russian Lands, just as it had tried to do under the seven months of the Provisional Government of 1917. It is said that these new Kerenskys, Harvard-educated privatisers, the cowboys of the ‘Wild East’, actually rigged the election of 1996 so that the drunkard Yeltsin could win. It is possible. The CIA has plenty of experience in rigging elections all round the world. In 1917 the decadence lasted seven months; in the 1990s it lasted seven years until the Jubilee Council of August 2000 and the canonisation of the New Martyrs in Moscow.
Q: Some conservative convert Orthodox, especially under the Patriarchate of Antioch in the USA, would perhaps be shocked by your words. They think that privatisation is good. What would you say to them?
A: Conservatism is not the same as the Tradition. To use American vocabulary, neoconservatives or ‘neocons’ (unprincipled Money Tories or economic liberals in Britishspeak) worship God and Mammon against the Gospel. Indeed, monetarism is just another word for Mammon. And even the so-called Paleoconservatives (High Tories, UKIP, noblesse oblige, the Patriarchal) are not the same as Orthodox. Firstly, paleoconservatives have a tendency to racism. Secondly, unlike Orthodox, they have little sense of social justice. (If socialism exists, there are reasons). And thirdly, the paleoconservatives tend to attract a lunatic fringe, people who are obsessed with conspiracy theories, hate the Jews, admire Hitler and other such nonsense
Q: What are your hopes and fears for the revival of the Russian Church in Russia today?
A: We must understand that the revival of the last 25 years, although spectacular, has only just begun. As Patriarch Kyrill said last week, at the present rate it will take 100 years just to build enough churches to catch up with the number of churches that existed in the Russian Empire before the Revolution. Instead of building 1,000 churches a year, over the next ten years 14,000 churches need to be built every year. That is what would be happening if Russia were not nominally Orthodox, but actually Orthodox. Another example: at the Synod in Moscow on 5 October seven new bishops were nominated. That is very good and it should bring the total to more or less 300 bishops. But if Russia and the Church’s canonical territories were actually and not nominally Orthodox, there would be 200 times more bishosp being nominated – 1,400 new bishops. Then any future Inter-Orthodox Conference (falsely called a Pan-Orthodox Council by the Phanariots) would be Orthodox
Q: One last question. Earlier you mentioned Fr Seraphim (Rose). Do you think he will one day be canonised?
A: God makes saints, not men. It may be that one day God will reveal Fr Seraphim to have been a saint. It is quite possible, judging from his life. But, before this, the monastery at Platina will first have to return to ROCOR. That is what Fr Seraphim would have wanted. That would be justice correcting the historic injustice of Platina leaving ROCOR, something carried out after Fr Seraphim’s repose. I would even say that the main impediment to Fr Seraphim’s canonisation is precisely the fact that Platina has not yet returned to ROCOR. Then everything will fall into place.
Q: Would Fr Seraphim have agreed with the reconciliation between ROCOR and the Church inside Russia?
A: Of course, he would. He was a deeply anti-sectarian person, as you can see by the way in which the proud ‘super-correct’ persecuted him in the 1970s. He was a genuine monk who had no pathological complexes, like many of the super-correct converts at that time. He suffered greatly from them, especially when they insisted on being photographed with him – photographs that they now display in their self-justification! ‘Look at me, I’m standing next to Fr Seraphim, I’m a saint’. That is what they proclaim and yet in his lifetime they were his worst enemies. It was the same with St John of Shanghai. Some of his worst persecutors during his lifetime, those who put him on trial, proclaimed after his canonisation how much they had supported him!
Q: When you see what is being introduced in the Western world, what has been called ‘Eurosodom’, are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future
A: It is a strange fact that all empires end in sodomy because they lose faith, they no longer have any self-belief and so they commit suicide. It happened in Ancient Greece and Rome. And today we are seeing not the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, but the decline and fall of the Western Empire. It is a tragedy. And it is the duty of Orthodox to try and save the best of Western culture before it disappears altogether under the tidal wave of atheism.
Am I pessimistic or optimistic? True, it is quite possible that only very little of my above hopes for the future restoration of Orthodox Russia will be realised. I have no illusions. But even so, even despite all this, I remain optimistic because, although man proposes, God disposes, and God has already won, ‘trampling down death by death’. The worst that can happen is that we die. And if, I repeat if, we die repentant, and I underline repentant, we will go to Paradise! Who can be a pessimist? Fear not, little flock!