The Future of Orthodoxy in Western Europe

Russian Orthodox in Western Europe often suffer from the lack of infrastructure and disorganisation of their Church. For example, many parishes suffer because they have no local bishop who speaks the local language, visits his parishes and understands local difficulties, including financial ones. One part of this problem goes back to a time when the KGB (which then controlled Patriarchal churches outside Russia) used Western Europe (and the USA) as a place of exile. In order to counter isolation which results from the lack of local episcopal pastoral care (inter-parish meetings, pastoral conferences etc), parishes have themselves to build up contacts with other parishes. Isolation, parochialism and provincialism are dealt with by being pro-active in this matter.

On account of the lack of understanding local structures and a slow and bureaucratic centralism that can take its place, a lot of patience is needed. Sometimes central authority only reacts if it thinks that it might be losing its parishes. For example the Patriarchate in Moscow was warned for several years about the situation in the Sourozh Diocese in London, but did not react in time or adequately. As a result there was schism. On the other hand, it is disturbing that some believe the Western media’s anti-Russian propaganda that portrays the Patriarchate as compromised with or even feudally controlled by the anti-oligarch Russian State, which is ironically portrayed as mafia-bound, oligarch-ridden and thoroughly corrupt. Why are such absurd things believed?

They are believed because of Western European pride, the idea that in Western Europe Orthodoxy can be done differently, ‘better’, without reference to the Church and the Tradition. This is ‘Schmemannism’, ‘Orthodoxy Lite’, ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’, ‘Halfodoxy’, as in parts of Finland, the Paris Jurisdiction, other parishes of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and also of Antioch (and in parts of the OCA). This is in fact a form of Uniatism, a simplified, homogenised and neutered rite without Orthodox content. It means abbreviated services, no confession before communion, Protestant-style clergy, no iconostases, intercommunion etc. This is the ‘legacy’ of the emigres of the Paris School and their disciples who follow their path. It is the path to schism and apostasy.

This School is the path of illusion, the tediously dry and Spiritless rationalism that does not feed the soul, but only the unspiritual mind, the imagination and sometimes the emotions. This ideology (and it is an ideology) is extremely Russophobic. This is because the Russian Church, which has above all others kept the Tradition intact and uncompromised, is the only thing that stands in the way of ‘Orthodoxy Lite’. Thus, Russophobia exists as self-justification for apostasy. The Paris School, liberal, ecumenical, academic, proud, loves itself and its personality cults, imagining that it loves Christ and His Church. There is enormous spiritual danger in this delusion. Real Orthodox mission in Western Europe is the way of integrity and faithfulness to Orthodoxy, but in the local language.