Tag Archives: Spiritual Purity

Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence (May-June 2017)

Q: What is your deepest childhood impression?

A: My first memories go back to when I was two and a half, but I always felt in childhood that I was in Paradise and that God was just beyond the horizon, not far away at all. That was my first and deepest impression. That is why I have always wanted to re-enter my childhood, or at least, its spirit.

Q: Who were the people you met who impressed you the most?

A: First of all, there were all those of my parents’ generation, who had been through World War II, and of my grandparents’ generation, who had been through World War I. I heard so many stories from them, stories which you never read in the books or see in propaganda films.

Q: What did you understand from their stories?

A: I understood that World War II in Europe had actually been a continuation of the still unfinished World War I. I understood even then that that War had actually been a series of different wars. Later, as an adult, I understood in detail that in the Pacific there had been a contest for dominance in Eastern Asia and the Pacific between Japan, ironically Western-armed and Western-trained, and Great Britain, which Japan has easily won. However, it had then lost the contest when the USA had taken over from defeated Great Britain and beaten it, finally by dropping A-bombs on its civilians. Then there had been the war for oil resources in North Africa and the Middle East, which Great Britain had won against Germany, but only because the USA had armed and helped it. Then there was the war on the Eastern Front in Europe, where the Western Powers had hoped that Germany would exhaust itself by destroying the USSR, so losing two enemies at the same time. In fact, the USSR had defeated and contained Germany, but only for two generations, until the Fourth Reich EU taken over Eastern Europe. Finally, there had been the war on the Western Front, which Germany had lost militarily, but won economically through its EU.

Q: Was there anyone else who shaped you?

A: Beyond them, there were representatives of an even older generation still alive then, those who had been born as far back as the 1870s. One elderly lady I met had been at Queen Victoria’s funeral, another remembered the Relief of Mafeking in 1900. (A third, in France, though I was an adult then, told me how her grandmother had told her how she had seen Napoleon riding through Versailles. I had no reason to disbelieve her). They all impressed me because they were living history, representing something that had disappeared, for good and for ill. History is real, it all happened.

Q: But what about the Orthodox you met after childhood? You knew very well Metr Antony Bloom, Fr Sophrony Sakharov, Fr Alexander Schmemann and other clergy.

A: True, but apart from Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was a disciple of Metr Antony of Kiev and spoke to me about him, the other clergy you mention did not impress me very much. It was more laypeople who impressed me. For instance, there was Princess Kutaisova the elegant Oxford teacher, Elena Grigorievna Evdokimova who had greeted the Tsar before the First World War, Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky who was the last White officer in Paris, the genial Prince Boris Galitsin, the noble Ekaterina Osipova, Maria Cattoir, or Lyudmila Brizhatova the poetess, and many others. They were all the best of the White emigration, because that emigration had been divided into two parts, those who were really White, that is the penitent, and on the other hand, those who had betrayed the Tsar. The penitent were not only penitent for themselves, even though they had often had little to repent for, but above all repented on behalf of others.

Q: When did you first begin writing?

A: Before I could write!

Q: What do you mean?

A: When I was four, I used to take scrap paper and draw wavy lines on it; it was my writing. All my childhood and long after I carried pen and paper with me. I was always noting things down. The first piece that was published was when I was eleven. I had an aunt who had written an unpublished novel and my father, who had left school before he was 14, had written poetry. So there was something in the family.

Q: Is there anything you would you like to write in the future?

A: For forty years I have wanted to write a novel about the Russian emigration in Europe. There is a huge untold story there. True, there is a French film specifically about those who returned to the USSR after 1945 and the American film ‘The White Countess’ about the emigration in Shanghai and an immense number of memoirs of individual emigres, but that is not the same. I would like to tell a saga, an epic, though I suppose I never will, as I do not have such talent. I would like to tell of the refugees who had nothing to eat, the Tsar’s generals who became housepainters, the princes who were taxi-drivers, the Cossacks who worked at Renault and went to the church in Boulogne-Billancourt, where I married. There is so much to say here.

Q: Would you say that you are political?

A: Not in any party political sense, but only through the eyes of the Church, in the sense that, as we live in the world, we must understand what is going on in the world, either to encourage and try to channel it, or else to oppose it. Some people say that they are apolitical. Well, that is already a political stance. That is to be disincarnate, futile, to waste yourself on dreams and lose yourself in illusions. That is wrong, spiritually dangerous, even demonic. Real Christians all believe in the Incarnation, therefore we must have an interest in politics, so that we can influence the world.

Q: Do you hope for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia?

A: Of course, but it must be the restoration of the Orthodox monarchy, Sacred Monarchy, not just some token monarchism, as in the UK. This restoration is essential, not just for the Russian Lands, not just for the Orthodox Church (in which so much decadence began after the overthrow of the Orthodox monarchy in 1917), but for the whole world, which became unbalanced afterwards. The Second World War would never have happened, nor would the so-called Cold War (in fact a Hot War with millions of victims in the Third World), if the Orthodox Monarchy had not been betrayed, for the monarchy is the last bastion of Orthodox power.

However, we must be realistic. To have Orthodox monarchy, you must deserve it, you must have the right spiritual level; contemporary Russia is very far from that. It will need mass repentance for the monarchy to be restored. That is not happening yet. Our role is that of St John the Baptist, to be forerunners who preach repentance, who prepare the way. What we feared in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the end of the world, will certainly still come, if there is not mass repentance. We have been given a stay of execution with events in Russia, especially since 2000, but no more than that. All is fragile, hanging by a thread.

Q: What can be done here in concrete terms for restoration?

A: We need to establish a Russian Orthodox Monarchist Association (ROMA) today, on the centenary of the epic tragedy of the so-called Russian Revolution. This needs to commemorate the last Tsar and his family, martyred ninety-nine years ago on the confines of Europe and Asia. Their martyrdom was a catastrophe for the whole world, particularly for the Christian world, which has fallen apart without a strong Christian Russian Empire, going from disaster to disaster.

Such an Association also needs to help prepare the Western world for the coming Russian Emperor, who will have an even greater international significance than the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, because he may well be the last Christian Emperor before the end. As such, he will be the only protector of the Church of God against all the pseudo-Christian and anti-Christian forces that have surfaced on the world, both before and since the fall of the Russian Empire one hundred years ago.

Q: What do you mean exactly by repentance for any of this to happen?

A: The Faith of many has been made impure. It is polluted and corrupted by superficiality. We can see this in the liberalism of intellectual or academic theology. I remember in Paris how a divorced subdeacon and teacher of such ‘theology’, an author of many books on ‘theology’, never fasted, even in Holy Week. What sort of theology could he write, when he did not fast, when he did not clean his soul first, when he wrote against asceticism and monasticism? This sort of attitude, very common among such people, is just decadence. This has to be repented for – not justified, as many do.

We can also see this superficiality in extreme conservatism. Just recently someone wrote to me that he believed that the earth was flat and that dinosaurs never existed because their fossils had only recently been discovered. Yet the Psalms say that: ‘He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved’. To be very old-fashioned is not the same as following the Tradition, which is much more radical than being old-fashioned. Such extreme conservatism also has to be repented for.
We can see this superficiality in nationalism, which tries to put the Truth for all time and all peoples into the narrow container of one nationality. In one Balkan church I visited years ago, I was told that I could not venerate the icons because I was not of the nationality of the church! Such ignorant nationalism or racism, called phyletism, which is simply attachment to this world, has to be repented for.

We can see this superficiality also in the attitude of certain ex-Soviet people who treat the Faith in a consumerist way, as a sort of magic. Magic happens automatically regardless of the efforts you make, whereas prayer, the sacraments and Church life depend on the efforts that we make to cleanse ourselves and receive grace. Such people are always upset when they pay their money and do not get the magic result that they expect. Faith does not work like that. Such an attitude to the Faith has to be repented for. We have to work for the Faith.

Q: What would you say of the future of the world?

A: Only God knows our future. But some things are clear. We now have to meet the obligations imposed on us by the collapse of the heterodox world, the spiritual and moral collapse of Catholicism and Protestantism.

Q: What do you hope to see in the future?

A: In the years that remain to me, I hope to see the establishment of the Metropolia in Western Europe, which is a single whole, and the restoration of our Diocese of the Anglo-Celtic British Isles and Ireland, after so many decades of spiritual decadence and alien ‘Britishism’. Let us here restore the ideal of the Anglo-Celtic St Cuthbert.

What the Church Is Not

Piotr Multatuli, the respected contemporary Russian Orthodox historian and great-grandson of a New Martyr, has written: ‘The West will never tolerate the rebirth of Holy Rus. It will always try to annihilate us…Unfortunately, many in both State and Church still do not understand this’. We cannot comment on those in the Russian State who do not understand this, but of those in the Russian Church we can say a few words. We believe that those who do not understand this in the Church fall into two groups, each engaged in spiritual impurity.

1. Those Who See the Church as a Private Club

Firstly, there are those who do not look on the Church on earth as the Body of Christ, where God is incarnate among people. They see Her as a mere human institution for private spiritual consumerism, looking at Her essentially in a secular manner as a club for play, for self-serving, egoistic purposes. Thus, there is the tendency of small, inward-looking groups, often of converts. They form, in England for example, ex-Anglican clubs, in France for example, ex-Catholic clubs, elsewhere ex-Lutheran or ex-Calvinist clubs, or else, in general, disincarnate intellectual clubs, which debate disincarnate philosophy in clerically-led cliques, quite uprooted from ordinary Orthodox in the grassroots parishes. Such clubs are based on and preach Halfodoxy, heterodoxy with icons, denying the Orthodox Tradition, which is condescendingly relativized and dismissed as a set of mere ‘customs’. Those in such clubs have to stop talking and start doing, for the Church is not a club, but the presence of God on earth.

2. Those Who Commit Spiritual Treason Against the Church

Secondly, there are those who see the Church as a business, a secular operation for their own glory and well-being. For the King has unfaithful ministers: sadly, He has always had them and always will have them. Such are the ways of the world that infiltrate Church life. Sometimes, it can seem that only the neglected little people are faithful, while the princes of the Church follow the ways of the world. We should not despair, for unfaithful ministers will be swept away when the King returns. Those who love themselves and not the people of God, those who seek property and financial empires, those who seek the wallets, but not the souls of the people, those who prefer the rich and famous to the people, will be removed, for they will die. Moreover, their dioceses will die for lack of spiritually living priests, as the spiritually living people leave them. The result of the spiritual treason of the princes of the Church is solitude and death. The words of Christ are: Let the dead bury the dead.

Mt Athos Also Rejects a Robber Council

http://aktines.blogspot.com.cy/2016/04/blog-post_899.html#more

The Holy Mountain Reacts Vigorously and Robustly to the Drafts for the So-Called Pan-Orthodox Council

The Holy Monasteries of Mt. Athos have responded to the draft documents and methodology of the Pan Orthodox Council strongly and powerfully. The Letters of the Athonite Monasteries, sent to the Holy Community of Mt. Athos, have been released to the public. The letters were written in reaction to the Pan-Orthodox draft documents sent to the Holy Monasteries by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. On account of the seriousness of the matter, it was unanimously decided that the texts prepared for approval by the Council should be examined in a specially-called Meeting of the Representatives and Abbots of the Holy Monasteries, scheduled to take place after Bright Week.

The Athonite Fathers call attention to the danger presented by the Pan-Orthodox Council, as it is being carried out. Namely, among other things, they see:

* the concilarity of the Church being undermined and a theology supportive of primacy being promoted (due to the limited participation of bishops and an excessive authority given to the primates of each Local Church).

*an unacceptable ambiguity in the pre-synodical texts, allowing for interpretations which diverge from Orthodox dogma.

*a placing, as the basis of the dialogues, of “the faith and tradition of the ancient Church and the Seven Ecumenical Councils,” such that the subsequent history of the Orthodox Church appears to be somehow lacking or impaired.

*an attempt by some to gain Pan-Orthodox confirmation of the scandalous and totally unacceptable texts approved by the World Council of Churches.

*and the unacceptable application of the term “church” to schisms and heresies.

Excerpts and full translations of the letters will be forthcoming.

Below you can read (in Greek) several of the letters sent to the Holy Community.

http://aktines.blogspot.com.cy/2016/04/blog-post_899.html

Diaspora Deviations

Orthodoxy is the Christian Faith, as defined by the Seven Universal Councils of the Church. It is the Trinitarian Faith, insistent on two fundamental dogmas: the Incarnation of Christ and the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and sent to humanity as a result of the Life, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ-God. However, in the Diaspora, and elsewhere on the fringes, we can find two deviations from Orthodoxy, the first denying the Incarnation, the second denying the Holy Spirit. They can both be summarized by the word ‘Halfodoxy’.

The form that denies the Incarnation of Christ can be called Pan-Orthodoxy or, in England, ‘Anglo-Orthodoxy’. Pan-Orthodoxy is a disincarnate, degutted, liberal, modernist, renovationist, ecumenist religion that is conformist to the local Establishment. It can also be found under the form of an emasculated pietism and gurusim, with a heavily backbiting homosexual or even pedophile element. It is particularly contemptuous of pregnant mothers and children, as this disproves the Incarnation.

The form that denies the grace of the Holy Spirit and that therefore we are all everywhere called to baptize the pagan world, if it is willing, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, can be called Ethno-Orthodoxy. This means normative nominalism, flag-waving and churches reduced to ethnic clubs and cliques, talking shops, not doing shops. It is openly racist, narrow-minded and parochial (1). It can easily be manipulated by Establishments and is very fond of money.

At some time in the future both these forms will have disappeared, either because of persecution or else the Orthodox Emperor will have been restored and he through faithful bishops will cleanse the Church of such froth. Those who adhere to and even promote (!) and justify (!) such Halfodoxy should be warned. They do not have much longer to live. The time is coming – and it is later than you think – when you will be swept away by Christ and by the Holy Spirit. Reality is about to intervene and cleanse the world of such fantasies.

Note:

1. One of the many, many personal experiences of this was in 1986 in Paris with Archbishop George (Wagner). He severely reprimanded me (to put it mildly) for naming my fourth child ‘Edward’, a name that was neither Russian nor Greek. His primitive and ignorant racism led at about the same time to the defection of the Peckstadt clan and the prosperous Ghent parish, which he told me he detested, to the Greek Church. One of its sons is today Metropolitan of Belgium and Luxembourg. However, he also lost a flood of other clergy and faithful for the same reason, such as Fr Georges (Leroi), Fr Daniel (Baeyens), Fr Nikolai Soldatenkoff and soon after ourselves, which opened the floodgates to the end of the Rue Daru jurisdiction. This is called ecclesiastical suicide. Fr Daniel (Baeyens) insisted that Archbishop George was doing it deliberately on orders from the Phanar, which did not want Non-Greeks in its jurisdiction.

How Western Culture Reverses Spiritual Progress

All heresies reverse spiritual progress because by their very nature they contain spiritual impurity. That is precisely why the Church, which as the Body of Christ is spiritually pure, perceives heresies as ‘wrong choices’, in Greek ‘heresies’. Essentially, what we are logically saying is that every choice that is not Christocentric contains spiritual impurity, for only Christ is without sin, all else is therefore tainted by sin. This includes all cases when groups of human-beings put their humanistic, impure cultures above Christ, so becoming ethnocentric instead of Christocentric. When humanity does this, it also condemns all other cultures and civilizations, whether existing today, in the past or possibly in the future, including Christocentric culture.

This why the famous Dr Johnson wrote that ‘patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel’, meaning that scoundrels always use flag-waving nationalism as an excuse for their base deeds. In particular, scoundrels make cheap propaganda which demonizes their enemies, making them less than human, ‘subhumans’, ‘Untermenschen’ in Hitler’s language. This is merely a justification for the genocides which they commit. This is what Catholics did when slaughtering Christians (100,000 in England alone in the decade after 1066), Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages, what Protestants did to Black Africans to justify slavery, what the Nazis did to Slavs (30 million of whom they slaughtered), Jews and Gypsies, what the Croats did to Serbs (some 800,000), and the Americans have done to umpteen peoples around the world, from Native Americans to Mexicans, from Japanese to Vietnames, from latin Americans to Iraqis, from Serbs to Russians. ‘They’, ‘the rest and not the West’, were and are all ‘subhuman’. Why? Simply in order to justify their power-grabbing and land-grabbing.

However, if nationalism (which is what Dr Johnson meant when he misused the word ‘patriotism’) is the last resort of the scoundrel, what is the first resort? The first resort of the scoundrel is always religion. This we saw very clearly in the anti-Christian Catholic ‘Crusades’ of the Middle Ages, which sacked and looted the Christian capital in Constantinople, in the Spanish plundering of the Americas in the name of God, in British empire-building (‘civilizing the natives’), in the blasphemous US dollar bill inscribed ‘In God we trust’ (meaning in Mammon we trust), in the German First World War soldier with ‘Gott mit uns’ (‘God with us’) inscribed on his belt, or in the Western-founded Al-Qaida and Islamic State, which use Islam (which as an Old Testament religion in spirit hardly has a record of tolerance in any case) to justify the most abhorrent crimes committed while land-grabbing and power-grabbing.

It is this that certain Western semi-converts to Christianity belonging to the various Local Orthodox Churches have to beware of. For long in this country, for example, we have seen an old generation of ex-Anglican semi-converts who reject ‘foreigners’ (i.e. anyone who has never been an Anglican), proposing their own unOrthodox and crypto-Protestant agenda, rejecting the Church as She is. These Establishment types regard the whole of England as their ‘territory’, set up small congregations of half a dozen here and there in order to justify their presence, try to eject others who do not belong to their mafia-like brotherhood, condescend and patronize, slander and backbite. Fortunately, that generation is dying out and we are now coming to a new generation of real Orthodox, who are not compromised by the ethnic religion of Establishment Anglicanism, which puts its culture above the Church, Which it condemns as ‘foreign’. Christ is indeed foreign to the racially and ethnically narrow, for in His human nature He was an Asian, not a Westerner.

Where did this ethnocentric Western mentality, which condemns all other civilizations and rejects the Christian condemnation of war as an absolute evil, as the Church Civilization of the Orthodox Christian world does (1), come from? Its origins are precisely in the eleventh century, of which the apostates of the Western world so proudly boast as the beginning of their much-vaunted Western ‘civilization’, from which ‘the Holy Spirit proceeds’ (2). That century marks the falling away of Western Europe from Church Civilization and the Christian Faith, the beginning of its spiritual degeneration, which it has since spread worldwide like a degenerative epidemic. It was that century which marked the beginning of the Western world as the future technological giant but spiritual pygmy. Until they purify themselves of that mentality of pride, which asserts that all Western actions are justified because of the imagined ‘innate superiority’ of Western culture over Christ and acquire a conscious and consistent Orthodox world-view, there will be no authentic conversion of such Western converts to the Church of God.

Until then, the abysmal Western genocides of people and culture around the world will continue, from Spain to England in the 11th century, from Jerusalem to Cyprus (3) in the 12th century, from Constantinople to Novgorod in the 13th century, from the Cathars of France (‘kill them all – God will recognize His own’) to the peasants of England in the 14th century, from Italy to Germany in the 15th century, from Amazonian natives (‘kill them – they do not have souls’), to French Protestants in the 16th century, from West African slaves to Carribean plantations in the 17th century, from Bengal to Native Canadians in the 18th century, from starving Irish peasants, the Plains Indians (4), New Zealand Maori, Tasmanian Aborigenes (‘animals’) to Sudanese Muslims in the 19th century, from the Belgian Congo, Boer South Africa (5), Carpatho-Russia, European Slavdom and Jewry to Vietnamese peasants in the 20th century, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria to the eastern Ukraine already in the first grim years of this 21st century.

As a recent popular historian but no friend of the Church as he writes about himself and those like him, has put it quite accurately and apocalyptically:

‘The road to modernity stretches clearly from the first Millennium onwards, marked by abrupt shifts and turns, to be sure, but unriven by any total catastrophe such as separates the year 1000 from antiquity. Though it might sometimes appear an unsettling reflection, the monks, warriors and serfs of the eleventh century can be reckoned our (sic) direct ancestors in a way that the people of earlier ages never (sic) were. (This book) Millennium, in short, is about the most significant departure point in Western history: the start of a journey that perhaps (sic), in the final reckoning, only a true apocalypse will serve to cut short.

Millennium, Tom Holland, p. xxix, 2008

Notes:

1. It was in the summer of 1053 that for the first time in history a Pope of Rome, ‘St’ (sic!) Leo IX, the Schism-Maker, formally blessed a standard of battle. Absolution from the stain of bloodshed – ‘an impunity for their crimes’- was promised to all who answered the call. This was the first launching of a papally-sanctioned ‘holy war’. This was to be repeated in England 1066, then in the Crusades, and today has been repeated by Western countries, which also ‘replace God’ and arrogate to themselves papal infallibility in wrecking Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Ukraine, to name but a few examples. On the other hand, when in his book ‘Tactics’, the Christian Emperor Leo VI ‘the Wise’ of New Rome (866-912) called ‘religious war’ simply ‘a licence to loot in religion’s name’, he was expressing the immutable Christian teaching that had been universal until the 11th century before the foundation of Catholicism.

Thus, as Sir Steven Runciman noted, Orthodox Christian history was remarkably free of wars of aggression. Peaceful methods were always preferable, even if they involved tortuous diplomacy or the payment of money. To Western historians, accustomed to admire barbarian militarism, the actions of many Orthodox statesmen appear cowardly or sly; but the motive was usually a genuine desire to avoid bloodshed.

Unlike the Christian view, the Catholic view had developed out of the militarism inherited from pagan Rome. The military society that has emerged in the West out of the barbarian invasions has always sought to justify its habitual pastime of bloodshed and interventionism, just as it does today. It gave prestige to the military hero; and the pacifist acquired a disrepute for which he has never recovered. Already Pope Leo IV, in the mid-ninth century, had declared that anyone dying in battle for the defence of the Church would receive a heavenly reward. Pope John VIII, a few years later, had even ranked the victims of a holy war as martyrs; if they died armed in battle their sins would be remitted.

2. We recall the famous words of Gandhi, who, when asked what he thought of ‘Western civilization’, replied: ‘An excellent idea’.

3. Including the cannibalism of the sadistic French King of England, Richard ‘the Lionheart’.

4. In 1866 General Sherman wrote to President Grant that, ‘We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children’. And, as quoted by his biographer Marszalek, he added that ‘during an assault on an Indian village the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be meted out’. Together with the other Indian fighter, Philip Sheridan, it was he who wrote that ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’. The descendants of the same Plains Indians have recently supported the Russian Federation against the US government’s anti-Ukrainian and also pro-pedophile policies.

5. In the letter of Tsar Nicholas II to King Edward VII of 27 May 1901, we find the last Orthodox Emperor expressing his concern in English that although his ‘principle is not to meddle in other people’s affairs’ (unlike the modern West), his ‘conscience obliges’ him ‘at last to speak openly’ and that the Boer War ‘looks more like a war of extermination’ and that Britain must ‘put an end to this bloodshed’.

Looking Back on Old Sourozh

These are four interview answers given to a student who is at present working on a Ph D concerning the History of the Sourozh Diocese.

Q1) The Sourozh troubles (as they have been called) are regarded as a crisis almost entirely precipitated by the arrival in the diocese of large numbers of ethnic Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. How far is this really the case or did this event merely act as catalyst to previously existing tensions in the diocese?

A1) Sourozh troubles? At the time His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II called them a ‘schism’ in public pronouncements, which I translated as the official translator. True, the crisis was precipitated by the arrival of Russian Orthodox from the ex-Soviet Union, but this was only a catalyst – its cause lay far, far deeper and had been festering for decades. The recent arrivals merely lanced the deep boil.

Essentially the whole problem was a problem of insularity, of being cut off from Russian Orthodox reality, a problem which had historical roots in the general captivity of the Church authorities in Moscow and their inability to control their own tiny Diaspora, let alone the majority of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora which belonged and belongs to a completely autonomous ROCOR. However, there was the specific case of island Britain, which was even more cut off than the rest for the usual geographical reasons, and where a personality cult had developed. So when reality struck the cloud cuckoo land of the largely exclusive, upper class Anglican-style clique/club which the rulers of the ‘Sourozh Diocese’ by the early 2000s largely were, this was a long overdue encounter with reality.

What had happened until then had resulted in the exiling (in a typically hypocritical, racist, backbiting and sending to Coventry way) of all ‘dissidents’, i. e. of all those who knew what Russian Orthodoxy was actually about and would have nothing to do with insular fantasy and the personality cult which was at the heart of the so-called Sourozh ‘Diocese’. The problem came to a head because the dissidents were no longer a small minority who could be got rid of by making them leave (and sometimes find refuge in ROCOR), but were the vast majority, composed of all the new arrivals from the ex-Soviet Union who knew what Russian Orthodoxy was actually about and rightly ‘wanted the Church back’.

In this way those who had ruled the roost in Sourozh for decades before, oppressing the faithful Russian Orthodox minority and forcing them out, suddenly themselves became the minority – and a very small one at that. Realizing that they were now cornered and had lost power, they left, as they had forced so many into doing before them. What goes round, comes round. In this way they proved the ‘big fish in a small pond syndrome’ – anyone can remain a big fish as long as they make their pond very small. And that is what they did, made a very small pond for themselves.

Of course, the trouble was that the by then free Patriarchate had allowed such a situation to develop. With many others, I too made public several articles in the early 2000s, warning and pleading with the Moscow authorities to do something about their own Church locally. They did not do anything until it was too late. I doubt whether that was deliberate policy (waiting until the troublemakers had left of their own accord), as conspiracy theorists would have it, more it was a result of inertia and above all a lack of suitable individuals in Moscow to take over (see the answer to Question 2 below). This was why the new Sourozh bishop had to be nominated by the ROCOR Archbishop Mark, who was possibly the only Russian Orthodox bishop who knew the reality of the situation.

The ultimate historical roots of the Sourozh schism lay in the Diaspora schism between the minority of Russophobic, liberal, politicized elements in the Diaspora (in Europe called Evlogians and based in Paris) and the majority of the Diaspora in ROCOR. This schism took place in London in the 1920s, as elsewhere in Europe. (Though the roots of this schism lay in turn in the liberalism, modernism and fringe Orthodoxy of pro-Revolutionary intellectuals and aristocrats in Saint Petersburg before the Revolution. It was these individuals who emigrated to Paris after 1917). After 1945 the London Evlogians returned to the Patriarchate, but mainly without enthusiasm.

The situation was then saved, from the Patriarchate’s viewpoint, by sending a young priest, precisely from Paris (the heart of the Evlogian/Saint Petersburg schism) after World War II, who would be acceptable to the London ex-Evlogians and secure the situation, so that the ex-Evlogians would not return to the Paris schism. This priest was Fr Antony Bloom, around whom, especially after his mother’s death, there grew up a unique and utterly insular personality cult. This would inevitably result in clearly predictable difficulties after his death, since the death of the subjects of personality cults always results in difficulties, as it shows that they are not immortal.

Personally, I became fully aware of this situation (I had already been disturbed by several things I had seen) only in 1976, when during a six-week study visit to Russia I saw Russian Orthodox reality. The last scales fell from my eyes and I saw how peculiar and eccentric the Sourozh Diocese was. This was reinforced after 1976 when I had contacts with ROCOR – far bigger in Britain than the Sourozh ‘Diocese’ in terms of numbers of Russians, but not in terms of English people, because Metr Antony Bloom had created a mini-diocese (‘Sourozh’) largely through some 1,000 English converts, mainly of Anglican background, to his personal and peculiar brand of Orthodoxy, and by ordaining men whom other bishops would not touch for canonical reasons – and then by living in Greece and studying at St Serge in Paris. I realized that the Russian Orthodox reality inside Russia and ROCOR were identical; it was Sourozh that was out of kilter, just like the Evlogian group based in Paris.

The last straw came in 1982 when I and my wife had personal contact with Metr Antony and we clearly realised that he was a morally compromised individual and that the whole thing was a personality cult. At the same time in 1982 the then Fr Basil Osborne, whom I had first met when he was a young deacon in 1972, told me that the clear intention of the ruling clique of liberal academics in Sourozh (mainly convert clergy) was to ‘go over to the Greeks’ as soon as Metr Antony was dead. It was at that point that I left the Sourozh diocese, as so many others before me and after me, long before 2006. It was only in 2012 that I received an apology for my treatment thirty years before from His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill in Moscow. What a disaster – the Russian Orthodox Church authorities in England had been chasing Russian Orthodox away from them!

Q2) Several priests have told me that the arrival of Metropolitan Hilarion in the diocese was the main reason that events came to a climax when they did as his short but intense sojourn in the parish polarised the debate. Is this a fair assessment?

A2) Entirely true, but again he was only a catalyst. If it had not been him, it would have been someone or something else. The polarization had always been there. And we should remember that Bp Hilarion was made bishop and sent by Moscow at the specific request of Metr Antony. However, that does not excuse Moscow. You do not send a newly-baked, very naïve, very young and very inexperienced bishop into a hornets’ nest – which is exactly what they did.

Q3) In all the documents and interviews I’ve conducted both sides accuse the other of the same methods – i. e. it is seen as a coup by small (or even miniscule, four or five people) but highly influential group who ‘masterminded’ the activities. Is this a fair assessment? It seems to me that both can’t be right?

A3) The schism was fomented by a small clique of individuals. Bp Basil as a very weak individual was as much a victim as anything else of that very small group. He had been under control for as long as his very practical wife, whom I knew well and respected, had been alive. Once widowed, he began going off the rails. Altogether 300 people left in the Sourozh schism (the other 700 or so individual whom Metr Antony had converted had very quickly lapsed, often after only a few months), but only a few, four or five, led them; most, converts and often elderly, were unconscious of the game being played with them and were deluded and therefore deserve compassion. They had been hoodwinked all along.

It is true that on the ground in London and England in general, the other side, the pro-Russian Orthodox, was also led by a very small group of individuals. However, the latter were massively supported by the whole of the Church inside Russia, all those in ROCOR in England who were conscious of the situation and above all, by the vast mass of recent arrivals from the ex-Soviet Union in England. Whether Churched or unchurched, they instinctively knew, as we had known for decades, what was right and what was wrong.

Q4) The influence from the Motherland: This spectre rides high in the belief of many of the ‘anti-Moscow’ people – e g. the Russian State (FSB) seeks to control the Russian Diaspora though the Church. It seems to me that this can’t be discounted as fantasy as the Russian State and Foreign Office does seem more interested in ‘consolidation’ of the Diaspora – and it could be argued, why shouldn’t it? Diasporas are increasingly important to every motherland these days and the Russian Diaspora punches below its weight in terms of numbers (at least in the political sphere).

A4) This is without doubt paranoid fantasy and self-justification (‘we are leaving the Russian Church because it is not politically free’). Not in the sense that there must surely be Statist/nationalist, politically-minded individuals in the Russian State/FSB/Establishment who would like to control the Russian Diaspora, but it takes two to tango. They can fantasize, but if the Diaspora does not want to play ball, their fantasies are irrelevant. And the Russian Diaspora (as is proved by the history of ROCOR both before and since 2007) does not want to be embraced by such individuals. However, as I also know from contact as an official ROCOR representative in meetings with His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill, Metr Hilarion and Archbp Innokenty (formerly in Paris) in Moscow, the Patriarchate is equally independent and utterly resistant to attempted encroachments by nationalistic individuals – it remembers the State protestantization of the Church before 1917 and does not want a repeat of that. The Church inside Russia much enjoys the freedom She has from State interference.

The people who make such fantastic statements about a Russian State ‘takeover’ are thinking in Anglican terms, in other words in terms of a State Church, founded by the State and directed by erastians. They are the ones who are not politically free and not culturally free. They are talking about themselves and indeed, such people are often Anglicans, who have little concept of how the Orthodox Church actually works. Interestingly, the Sourozh schism was taken up at the time by the British Establishment press, with newspapers like The Times and the Telegraph defending the Russophobes and making the whole story into base, simplistic tabloid-style propaganda of the cowboy sort. ‘Greek = good; Russian = bad’.

This is in tune with the whole Anglican, US and generally Western view of the Orthodox Church. In the 19th century, the Victorians already saw the Russian as bad, as propaganda for their imperialistic ‘great game’ (unheard of in Russia), of which the Western invasion of the Crimea was part. Between the 1920s and 1948 the Patriarchate of Constantinople was largely under the Anglican thumb, since 1948 and the US deposition of the legitimate Patriarch Maximos (abducted into exile in Truman’s personal presidential plane to Switzerland) and replacement by the US candidate (what better example of Western, not Orthodox, erastianism?), it has been CIA controlled. And it is to the Rue Daru branch of Constantinople that the schismatics went. The Western problem has always been that it does not control the Russian Church, hence the remarks by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Tony Blair that the Russian Church is the greatest enemy of the West. Anyone showing independence is an enemy!

Sourozh was a political plaything for the British media, just another opportunity for the British Establishment to justify its politically-motivated Russophobia. It is in the light that we should ultimately see the Sourozh schism, as playing into the hands of the Russophobic British Establishment. And it was basically carried out precisely by individuals whose sympathies were wholly with the British Establishment, including one who, to my knowledge, had worked for MI5. (I exclude the Russian paranoid fantasy that Bp Basil, as an American citizen, was a CIA agent – though you can see how some could end up thinking like that).