ORTHODOX DIASPORA, NATIONALISM AND THE CHRISTIAN EMPEROR


by father Andrew       Versione Italiana (a cura di padre Ambrogio)

Q: Some consider that the Orthodox world was very weak in the 20th century. Would you agree?

A: 20th century Orthodoxy produced more martyrs than any other century, as well as a great many confessors, so I do not see how you can call the 20th century Orthodox world ‘weak’.

Q: But what about the betrayals of the Faith by certain bishops and even patriarchs in the 20th century?

A: This existed, but we get what we deserve. If we were real Orthodox, we would be strong and so would all our bishops be strong, but we are nominal and therefore decadent Orthodox. The whole problem is not with others, but with ourselves. The Church is us. To think otherwise is an unChristian path which leads directly to the sect. We find fault with ourselves, not with others. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Only the Non-Orthodox-minded hate sinners and, in so doing, love the sin. We Orthodox know that all of us are sinners, even if some perhaps more than others, we know that all of us are the victims of Satan and therefore we should feel more solidarity with one another, knowing that we have only one common enemy, not each other, but Satan and Satan alone. ‘Bear one another’s burdens’, as the Apostle says.

Q: What about the historic injustices that the Orthodox world has suffered, the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the many Western invasions of Russia? Did they not weaken the Orthodox world too?

A: It is true that there have been many historic injustices and betrayals of the Church by the West which wanted to substitute itself for the Church.

Just in the second millennium, there were the invasion and occupation of England in 1066, the pillage of Constantinople in 1204 which led to its fall in 1453, the invasion of Russia by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, by the Poles in the 17th century and then by the Europeans under Napoleon in 1812, the 19th century imposition of German princes on Greece and Bulgaria, the Western invasion of the Crimea and the invasion and occupation of Cyprus by the British.

In the 20th century there were the invasions of Serbia and Russia by the Central Powers in 1914, the Western-organized Russian Revolution in 1917, the invasions by Germany and its allies of several parts of the Orthodox world in 1940-41, the CIA-installed, banana-republic colonels’ regime in Greece in the 1960s-70s, the Western genocide in Serbia in the 1990s, the EU colonization of Orthodox Eastern Europe and today the bloodthirsty Western puppet regime in Kiev. However, we should not make excuses out of these historic injustices that our civilization has suffered. The source of all these historical injustices is in our own decadence. If we had been faithful, these injustices would never have occurred.

Q: So much for the past and today. Do you think that the 21st century overall will be positive or negative for the Orthodox world?

A: Who am I to answer such a question? It is not yet clear which way the Christian Church, that is, the Orthodox world, is going. On the one hand, there are signs of hope, the renewal of monastic life on Mt Athos since the 1960s, the fall of atheism in Eastern Europe and Russia since 1989, the spread of Orthodoxy worldwide. On the other hand, there is much that is profoundly decadent and a cause for pessimism. The President of Estonia is an American, the new President of Romania is a German, there are American-appointed Non-Ukrainian ministers in the Ukraine, the President of Montenegro is an EU puppet etc. However, the Orthodox people can resist the EU/US imposed Establishment and choose freedom, as we have just seen in Greece, though of course the leaders who choose freedom usually get assassinated.

Q: By ‘much that is profoundly decadent’ are you also thinking of corruption? For example, the political, business, banking, police and justice systems in Romania, Greece, the Ukraine or Russia and so on are steeped in corruption and bribe-taking, even more than in countries like Italy, Spain and France. Why is there so much corruption in Orthodox countries, why are Orthodox so corrupt?

A: First of all, today there is, sadly, no such thing as ‘an Orthodox country’. There are only ex-Orthodox countries or, optimistically speaking, ‘pre-Orthodox countries’, which we hope will become Orthodox countries again. Secondly, Orthodox are not corrupt, only ex-Orthodox are corrupt. Our Orthodox Faith is everything. Destroy it and you destroy the source of all our morality and our whole political, social and economic system. We have only one ideal – Orthodoxy, the Church. Take that away from us and the corrupting passions of this world rule.

The West has never understood that. It thinks that if you destroy someone else’s civilization, then you can almost automatically make it into part of Western ‘civilization’. That is the greatest of illusions. If you destroy, you destroy. Full stop. Western ‘civilization’ does not work outside the Western world. When the West destroys someone else’s civilization in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’ by bombing it back to the Stone Age, all it produces is the Stone Age, not Western ‘civilization’.

That is why after the Western coup d’etat in 1917, the Russian Empire became a corrupt mafia regime of criminals and bandits, the Soviet Union, created by the West. We Orthodox have no other values, no other source of morality, justice and honesty than our Faith. In the Christian Church, the Orthodox world, we only have the Church. It is all or nothing for us. Thus, the corruption in Greece, when the elite bankrupted the nation and the people after the imposition of the euro, exists because the elite is not Orthodox. He who is not Orthodox in a once Orthodox country is corrupt. The same is true of Romania, Russia, Bulgaria and so on.

In the West it is different. In the West, at least in the part that has Protestant culture, there is an elaborate half-way house between the Church and corruption, a set of legalistic and humanistic balances and checks, ultimately Christian in origin, which are the substitute for the fullness of Orthodoxy. Having said that, the West is still corrupt. The EU cannot even be audited. In England your career will never go very far if you are not a mason or at least a member of some paramasonic club like the Rotarians. And as an Italian told me decades ago: ‘In England you have taxes, in Italy we have bribes. It is the same thing – payment for a protection racket; it is just that in England the protection racket is State-run, in Italy it is private’.

Q: Has the decadence in what you call ‘ex-Orthodox countries’ or ‘pre-Orthodox countries’ affected the Diaspora?

A: That decadence has affected us profoundly. Quite simply, it has made the foundation of new Local Churches in the Diaspora impossible because the necessary conditions for their establishment have not been in place in the homelands, where the leaders of the Local Churches were all politically enslaved and so spiritually compromised. No new Local Church can be built on spiritual compromise.

As regards the Diaspora itself, it has been unable to do anything alone because it lacks the spiritual level. To have a spiritual level implies having monastic foundations, which the refugees, political or economic, who formed the Diaspora have also largely lacked. In other words, even regardless of the captivity of all the Local Churches in the homelands, the Diaspora has not been spiritually mature enough to form new Local Churches.

Q: What do you mean by spiritual maturity?

A: Spiritual maturity is the spiritual growth that comes from suffering. This, incidentally, is why modern Western societies, spoilt by superficial consumerism, are so infantile, so immature. The majority in them do not know suffering.

Q: Can you give examples of this spiritual immaturity in the Church context?

A: We have the example of the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which was granted a disputed autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Moscow at a time when it was in Soviet captivity. Nearly fifty years after the OCA received this disputed autocephaly, it is still riven by sectarian, spiritually immature, politically-minded, modernistic factions. They ignore and even despise and deny the two spiritual roots of the OCA, of American Rus in Alaska and of Carpatho-Rus in Pennsylvania, that is, of two strands of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, and want to substitute some kind of superficial, compromising, ephemeral, Protestant American cultural customs for those roots. It is like replacing the hymnography of Orthodox Christmas with ‘Jingle Bells’ (I quote from the practice of one ‘Orthodox’ parish of converts in California) or a fine French wine with Coca-Cola (I paraphrase the words of a well-known and more traditional OCA bishop from the past).

To be fair to OCA laypeople, many or most of whom reject these extremist factions and their modernism, we have to mention the problem of hundreds of former members of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Also spiritually immature and politically-minded and ignorant of or rejecting the traditional practices and spiritual roots of the Church Outside Russia which were obvious before the mid-1960s, they tried to innovate and, on finally failing, abandoned ROCOR for various extra-ecclesial sects. This happened over a period of two decades between 1986 and 2007 before the reconciliation of ROCOR and the Church inside Russia. (In the same way, some renovationist intellectuals also left the Church inside Russia before its reconciliation with ROCOR, since they could not accept the reality of Church life). Extremists of any type cannot abide unity and reality and always fall for fantasies and sectarian mentalities

Q: Who were these renovationists in the Church inside Russia who left? I thought renovationism in Russia had been defeated in the 1920s and 1930s.

A: Yes, it was very much defeated, but only inside Russia. I meant the sectarian renovationism in foreign parishes in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia. This had been allowed to develop and was still preventing unity and reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church after the Jubilee Council in 2000.

Q: What conditions would you say need to be in place for any legitimate autocephaly in the Diaspora

A: There are two conditions, one concerning the Diaspora, the other concerning the Local Churches involved. 1. Freedom from spiritual compromise in the Diaspora, that is, the consciousness among a sufficient number (I mean at least 10,000s, not a few hundred) of rooted and mature Orthodox in the Diaspora that they need status as a new Local Church through autocephaly. 2. Freedom from spiritual compromise, that is, agreement among the seven Local Churches which have jurisdictions in the Diaspora on the granting of such an autocephaly.

Q: Leaving aside the first condition and agreement among the seven Churches, why can the Russian Church today not provide autocephaly for the Diaspora and found new Local Churches in, say, Western Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America? After all, the atheist regime in Russia died a generation ago and today the Church there is politically free, free of State interference. Otherwise, there would never have been any reconciliation between it and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

A: True, the Church inside Russia is politically free and the reunited Russian Church now has 342 bishops, about half the total number of Orthodox bishops worldwide, and nearly 40,000 clergymen, with 4,000 being ordained the last two years alone. However, merely being politically free is not the same as being free of ‘spiritual compromise’. There are other problems which create what I call ‘spiritual compromise’. For example, unlike in the atheist period, the masses in the Russian Lands are at least baptized, but that is not enough. You have to live the Faith to be Orthodox.

Only a minority of the people and of the elite in the Russian Lands are living Orthodoxy. Many middle-aged people in the bureaucracy still think in the old Soviet mafia ways – otherwise there would not be corruption, oligarchs and even a civil war going on for oligarch control in the Ukraine. All those phenomena are due to the atheist Soviet heritage. It is why you have so much alcoholism, abortion, corruption and divorce (ABCD). The Church inside Russia is still not spiritually strong enough. You can also see this in nationalistic tendencies in sections of the Russian population.

Q: What nationalistic tendencies?

A: In Russia today there are nationalists, that is semi-Orthodox, who still have a Soviet mentality even though they have been baptized. For instance, they can speak of such opposites as the Tsar-Martyr and Stalin as ‘Russian heroes’ in the same breath. Or they speak of ‘the Russian world’, instead of the Russian Orthodox world. Or they speak of commemorating Vladimir (Putin) by name at the liturgy.

Q: What is wrong with praying for your political leader by name?

A: Everyone agrees that Vladimir Putin is by far the best leader Russia has had since 1917, but he is not the Anointed Tsar, he is at best the politician who, God willing, is preparing the way for the restoration of a legitimate Tsar. But he is not the Tsar himself, only a forerunner. And only an Anointed Tsar is prayed for by name at the liturgy. To pray for a secular leader at the liturgy by name is a form of nationalism, however positive the underlying motivation. Worse than that, in a multinational Church, I think with 62 nationalities in all, you do not offer public prayers for the leader of only one nationality. That would be divisive. If some wish to pray for ‘Vladimir’ in their personal prayers, that is fine, but at the liturgy, in public prayer, we pray only for the authorities in general.

Q: How can such nationalism be overcome?

A: In order to overcome such nationalism we must develop the awareness of what the word ‘Rus’ means.

Q: And what does ‘Rus’ mean?

A: Our Patriarch is called Patriarch of ‘All Rus’, that is, of All the Russias. And ‘Rus’, as in ‘Holy Rus’, the phrase which expresses the Church’s ideal, means multinational, for it includes all the dozens of different races who confess the uncompromised Russian Orthodox Faith, not just Russians. The enemies of the Church, whether nominal, nationalistic Orthodox or Western heterodox – and both groups are actually enemies of the Church – are terrified of a Church which is multinational and uncompromised. Because their souls are narrow, both suffer from the same narrow, reductionist nationalism.

Q: If the Russian Church is at the moment unable to do anything in the Diaspora, then why, if the other conditions were met, could the Patriarchate of Constantinople not provide autocephaly for the Diaspora and found new Local Churches in, say, Western Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America?

A: Now you are out of the frying pan and into the fire. First of all, unlike the Russian Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has never freely given any people autocephaly; Greek imperialism is a great hindrance here. Secondly, that Patriarchate is not only enslaved by US politics – since 1948 its Patriarchs have been nominated by the CIA – but it is also very nationalistic. Hellenism is stronger than Christianity. I can name three Greek priests in England who have in the last 15 months refused to baptize unbaptized English people into the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the simple reason that they ‘are not Greek’. So I baptized them in their place. Such clergy see the Church as a mere Greek club. This is characteristic in general. Whatever you say about Russians, they are not as nationalistic as this. I will always remember attending the Greek Cathedral in Paris on a Sunday, now 35 years ago; the Liturgy was stopped because the Greek ambassador entered – late. This is highly symbolic. A representative of the Greek State was considered to be more important than Christ.

Q: What is nationalism, spiritually?

A: Nationalism is a spiritual disease – a sign of a lack of spiritual experience and spiritual consciousness. It is what lies behind the absurd and violently nationalistic schisms in the Ukraine, in Macedonia, in Montenegro and in Moldova, which are so eagerly and mockingly exploited by the West as the movements of provincial bumpkins (which is what they are). Wherever you get decadence, you get nationalism, nationalistic tendencies and wherever you get nationalism, you get decadence. You can dress this up in a name like phyletism, but it is still nationalism, racism.

Q: Is nationalism only a sign of decadence among Orthodox?

A: Not in the least. In the 5th century it already lay behind the Coptic/Monophysite schism and the Nestorian schism. In the 11th century, it lay behind the Western schism, when the West wanted to replace the Church with its own ethnic identity (‘Roman’ Catholic, not Catholic) and began to deride the Church as ‘Greeks’ and ‘Byzantines’, so reducing it to an ethnic identity. In the 16th century it lay behind the Protestant Reformation, which was essentially an anti-Latin revolt of the Germanic peoples.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the invention of Anglicanism by the bloodthirsty Tudor monarchs, who, like the popes of Rome before them, supplanted Jesus Christ as heads of the Church in a purely ethnic operation. Unlike in the Orthodox Churches, however much they may suffer from nationalism, in Anglicanism the monarchs (or nowadays atheist and agnostic prime ministers) appoint the bishops and actually influence and shape Anglican doctrines and beliefs, whether it is the sacraments or a female episcopate.

Q: Why is nationalism so poisonous in Church life?

A: Simply because nationalism is another word for worldliness.

Q: If the Russian Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople cannot act in the Diaspora, what about the Romanian Church? That is the second largest Local Church. Could it not act, if the other conditions were right?

A: No, the Romanians are also unable to do anything. Sadly, their country has now become an EU colony and so, like the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it is US-run. Apart from nationalism (fully backed by Washington, which is eager to cultivate and exploit that weakness – ‘every man has his price’ is the motto), there is a second and closely related disease in Romania, which has evolved directly from nationalism. That is ecumenism.

For instance, in Italy, where the Romanian jurisdiction is by far the largest Orthodox jurisdiction, the impression given by representatives of the Romanian Church is that ‘we are Catholics who use Romanian in our services, instead of Italian. There is no other difference between us’. (Some Romanian priests even use white wine in the Eucharist so as to be ‘like the Catholics’). Romanian Church representatives are so poor that they will compromise on almost anything with the Vatican to get the free use of redundant Catholic churches in Italy. Nationalism stands behind this ecumenism because Romanians and Italians are of the same Latin race, a racial fact which the Vatican exploits to the maximum. This is only one step away from Uniatism and the Vatican knows this and exploits this – Romanian Catholic and Roman Catholic do sound very similar.

The Romanian situation closely reminds me of the relations of the Patriarchate of Constantinople with the Anglicans when they sit the Archbishop of Canterbury on the bishop’s throne in their churches, or with the Catholics, whom they ban themselves from receiving into the Church, even though they plead to be received. (Thus if a Catholic priest wishes to be received into the Rue Daru jurisdiction (Patriarchate of Constantinople), he has to be sent to the OCA to be received, in other words, he is received through the back door).

Only recently in Germany two Romanian Orthodox priests became Catholic priests. Why not? The local Romanian bishop had been saying for years that ‘there is no difference between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church’. His priests were just being logical. On top of that the Catholics pay better. For an Orthodox who has no dogmatic consciousness of Orthodoxy, i.e. who is an apostate, it is only logical to be Catholic.

What I am saying is that any Local Church which is reduced to nationalism is very easily exploited by the enemies of the Church, whether the enemy is Protestantism or the Vatican, or secular-Protestant Washington or its secular-Catholic EU vassal or, perhaps the worst enemy, nominal, nationalistic Orthodoxy. Nationalism is the result of decadence, a low spiritual level, which causes a weak dogmatic consciousness, in other words, which creates an attachment to this world, which is much stronger than an attachment to the Kingdom of God, the values of the Church.

Q: So if at the present time no Local Church can act in the Diaspora, what is the solution?

A: There is no solution to the Diaspora problem at the present time because the solution is much more practical than that dreamed up by a few disincarnate intellectuals in ‘theological’ institutes. It is in the Incarnation of the Faith in international life, that is, in the restoration of the legitimate multinational Christian secular authority, the restoration of the Orthodox Emperor and Empire. Once this is restored, there will be the multinational support for the Diaspora and new Local Churches there. There were no jurisdictional disputes in the Diaspora before 1917, when there was an Orthodox Emperor. Once the Orthodox Emperor is restored, there will be the necessary finance, say, 200 billion roubles (£2 billion / $3 billion) for new Local Churches, the necessary infrastructure will be created and all the jurisdictional problems will be solved worldwide, as they were before the Revolution of 1917.

Q: What is preventing this?

A: Ourselves. We Orthodox first have to want and to be worthy of a restored Emperor and Empire. In 1917 the Orthodox elite had so far lapsed from the Faith that they actually rejected a Christian Emperor and Empire. The question is when will Orthodox stop being ‘ex-Orthodox’ or optimistically speaking, ‘pre-Orthodox’, and become worthy, ready to accept an Orthodox Emperor and Empire again. Only then, with an end to decadence, with a developed Orthodox consciousness, shall we see an end to the problems of the Diaspora.

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