Introduction: The Bad Old Days
It is always sad to see the clerical elite of Local Churches fall into the sins of treachery and apostasy. It happened in Constantinople just before its Fall in 1453, when those in charge fell into the sin of Uniatism, hoping that the Vatican, and not God, would save them from the Muslim invader. It happened in 1948 when CIA thugs kidnapped the canonical Patriarch Maximos V and threatened to kill him if he did not get into their Presidential aeroplane and go into exile in Geneva, appointing in his place the half-Orthodox American Archbishop Athenagoras. As an eyewitness, his Archdeacon and later the Bishop of Birmingham, told me, Patriarch Maximos said as he was being forcemarched away: ‘The City is lost!’
And now it is happening again, with the latest anti-canonical decisions of the latest Patriarch, a Turkish citizen who depends entirely on the US State Department for his survival, with his absurd ‘Council of Crete’ and, above all, his meddling in the territories of other Local Churches. Whether in the USA (setting up its own jurisdiction, thus destroying Church unity), in Russia (supporting the renovationists against St Tikhon), in Finland (the notorious Aav schism), in France (the Evlogian schism), in Estonia (the ‘Apostolic Orthodox’ schism), in England (the Sourozh schism), in Greece (in the ‘New Territories’), in Macedonia or now in the Ukraine, tiny Constantinople has been trying to create for itself a flock which it does not have, by stealing the flocks of other Churches, in disobedience to the most basic canons, but with the support of illegitimate, US-backed, regimes.
Of course, there is still, but only just, time for repentance for the latest intended insanity of Constantinople. This is in the impoverished and wartorn Ukraine, controlled by vicious US-sponsored corrupt oligarchs, who live no differently from primitive African tribal leaders. However, if repentance does not come, despite the last minute journey to the Phanar and the desperate pleas of Patriarch Kyrill for repentance last week, then Constantinople with its tiny flock will fall away from the Church. This would be tragic for them – but not for the rest of the Church, for Divine Providence can always bring good out of human stupidity.
Possible Positive Results
Firstly, as Constantinople, for centuries the plaything of foreign powers and their bribes, has over a century become the bastion of modernism, all the Orthodox parts of that sorry Patriarchate, its faithful clergy and people and Mt Athos, could transfer to an Orthodox Church, at last feeling at ease under genuine Orthodox bishops. Here the most likely option would be to enter the present Church of Greece, though with long-awaited guarantees for the internationalization of Athos and so permission for thousands of monks from other countries to live there. This would become inevitable if the Archbishop of Athens took the title of Patriarch of Constantinople. This would be logical, given that the present one is falling into schism and even heresy.
Secondly, the modernists with their papal calendar and liturgical illiteracy, who have infiltrated some smaller Local Churches, would find themselves without support. Thus, we might see the eight smaller Churches, Alexandria, Antioch, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, returning to the Orthodox calendar, as the Church of Poland already has. In this way, they would repent and rejoin the 80% of the Orthodox world that remained faithful in the Churches of Russia, Serbia, Georgia and Jerusalem. The old calendar schisms in the above eight Churches could thus also be overcome.
Thirdly, it could lead to solving the divisive Diaspora problem, created initially by the phyletism of Constantinople. This would put all Orthodox nationalities under the single but multinational jurisdiction of the Russian Church, as was the case in the USA before the 1917 Revolution. This is not some sort of hegemony a la Constantinople, Eastern Papism or ecclesiastical imperialism, but preparation for autocephaly. This has been the case with other Orthodox missions of the Russian Orthodox Church down the centuries, from St Stephen of Perm to St John of Shanghai. Unlike Constantinople, the Russian Church has always helped towards independence, not created dependence. We cannot forget that Constantinople has never freely given any Church autocephaly, but has always clung on to power for as long as possible.
Conclusion: The Good New Days
In the future, we can see a real Orthodox Council, not a Halfodox one as in Crete, being held in order to anathematize the poison of the dogmatic, canonical, spiritual and moral errors of the Constantinople elite over the last 100 years, from new calendarism to liturgical modernism, from ecumenism to simony, from papism to the remarriage of priests.
In the future, we can see the Polish and Czechoslovak Churches returning and becoming autonomous Churches within the Russian Orthodox Church. We can see the Albanian Church returning and becoming an autonomous Church within the Church of Greece, or rather Patriarch of Constantinople, as it would then be called, making the present fourteen Local Churches into ten. We can see the diptychs being changed to classing these ten Local Churches by size: Russia, Romania, Constantinople (Greece), Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, Alexandria, Cyprus and Jerusalem.
In the future, we can see four united and autonomous Metropolias being founded in the Diaspora under the Russian Church, awaiting Autocephaly in the fullness of time, like the Churches of Japan and China already. These would be the future: Church of Western Europe, grouping all the ex-Roman Catholic and Protestant countries in Europe, from Iceland to Finland and from Portugal to Hungary; Church of North America (thus ending its present jurisdictional chaos); Church of Latin America; Church of Oceania. This would leave only certain parts of Asia, like the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia, to come under the jurisdiction of various Local Churches, perhaps the Antiochian and the Russian between them.
For 100 years, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has in its purely worldly, prideful and racial fantasy of ecclesiastical imperialism, systematically followed divisive policies. These have created schisms, both old calendarist, fragmenting the Church by repressing zeal, and phyletist, fragmenting the Church by nationalism, as at present in the Ukraine, all around the Orthodox world. It has made itself into an Eastern Papacy, thus gradually divorcing itself from the Church and its ecclesiology. Its departure from the Church in the coming months, however tragic for the often elderly individuals concerned, would actually clear the air, overcoming past injustices and obstructive barriers to unity, making progress at last possible after a century of frustration. This may be the moment that we have been waiting for ever since 1917.