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Father Andrew Phillips speaks - food for thought, perhaps....

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  • Basil Yakimov
    THE WATERS ARE BREAKING: TOWARDS THE BIRTH OF LOCAL CHURCHES IN THE DIASPORA Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 21, 2006

      Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground
      and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

      Jn. 12, 24


      Twentieth century Orthodox history was shaped by the tragic captivity of
      the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia after 1917. The Church of the
      ‘Third Rome’, by far the largest, most prosperous and influential Orthodox
      Church, had been the de facto leader of all the Orthodox Churches before
      the events of 1917. During Her captivity, all the other Local Orthodox
      Churches, once largely politically and financially dependent on Her,
      suffered and their history was defigured.

      With the liberation of Russia in 1991 and the restoration of Orthodoxy,
      came the possibility of the transfiguration of their history. After the
      glorification in Moscow of the New Martyrs and Confessors in the Year 2000
      at the dawn of a new millennium, a new beginning came for Orthodoxy
      everywhere, not only inside Russia. Now at last, Orthodoxy could be built
      up worldwide, not on the shifting sands of compromise and modernism,
      imposed by Communist, Turkish or Western politics, but on the rock of the
      Orthodox Faith and Tradition.


      We in the Diaspora, outside the homelands of the Local Orthodox Churches,
      are therefore also concerned. For example, until 1917 on the territory of
      North America all Orthodox were united under one senior Russian bishop.
      However, after the fall of Russia in 1917, Orthodox there were split up by
      political interests into different ‘jurisdictions’. In other words,
      Orthodox were divided into dioceses of Local Churches, based in other
      countries, uncanonically superimposed one on top of the other. Instead of
      one bishop in the largest American cities, there were now several, each
      representing a different ‘jurisdiction’. Thus, secular, ethnic division was
      enforced at the expense of administrative and territorial unity.

      In Western Europe, there had been a Russian Orthodox presence since the
      seventeenth century and many Russian churches had been built in the
      nineteenth century in the large European capitals and cities. This also
      gave the possibility of Orthodox unity under the Russian Church. However,
      after 1917 the same process of ethnic and jurisdictional fragmentation
      occurred as in North America. Exactly the same was true of South America
      and Australia. Both had had a Russian presence for many decades and
      Orthodox churches, serving different nationalities, had already been built.
      However, after 1917, there too the fragmentation of Orthodoxy into
      ‘jurisdictions’ took place.

      Worse still, during the Bolshevik captivity of the Russian Church between
      1917 and 1991, everything official that came from the Patriarchal Church in
      Russia was spiritually compromised. We recall the trite and hackneyed
      articles published in the ‘Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate’ in the
      1970s, especially the nonsensical ‘Ecumenica’ section and the Soviet
      propaganda of the ‘Peace Movement’, breathing spiritual death. At that
      time, it was forbidden to publish the spiritually living, which appeared
      only in samizdat, some of which we managed to bring out of Russia for
      publication in the West. The fact is that there is nothing so boring as
      spiritual compromise, because there is nothing so boring as secularism,
      because there is nothing so boring as sin.


      Given this captivity, from 1917 onwards many began to look to the only
      other Patriarchate which could be a possible source of unity in the
      Orthodox Church. This was the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the remnant
      of the ‘Second Rome’. However, as a prisoner of Muslim Istanbul, with its
      clergy not even free to walk the streets of the City in cassocks, it was
      not free either. Having lost the support of Orthodox Russia, soon after the
      Revolution it began to curry favour with various different players on the
      world scene, London (later Washington and Brussels), Bolshevik Moscow
      (Constantinople actually condemned the holy Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and
      supported the Communist-sponsored, modernist ‘Living Church’ against him),
      the Turkish secularist government (backed by successive US administrations)
      and freemasonry.

      In recent decades, it has toyed with both the Vatican and the Protestant
      World Council of Churches in Geneva. It has often seemed as if no spiritual
      compromise were enough for it. Thus, during the twentieth century, as
      today, the Patriarchate of Constantinople continued to be a prisoner of the
      Turkish government. Facing persecution, it too spoke with a compromised
      voice. Like the voice of Cold War Moscow, its voice of weakness was not a
      voice that could give unity either. Fearing both the Communist Party of the
      Soviet Union and Muslim fanaticism, the Patriarchate of Constantinople
      sided with anyone who would support it. And the only political players who
      would support it were in the secular West. Thus, it came about that, during
      the Bolshevik captivity of the Russian Church, the Patriarchate of
      Constantinople gave birth to a pro-Western, ‘secular Orthodoxy’.

      This was symbolized by its violent and divisive introduction of the ‘new’
      (= secular Western) calendar and the inroads of modernism, liberalism and
      ecumenism which followed. Furthermore, Constantinople had its
      representatives and followers in other secularised jurisdictions of Local
      Churches all over the Western world, from Los Angeles to London, Pittsburgh
      to Paris, Munich to Melbourne. These were captives of their cultures, with
      all the inferiority complexes of the first generation of immigrants, with
      their conformist desires. We do not judge this older, shaven,
      clerical-collared generation with their compromises and platitudes, but we
      are only too keenly aware that the spectre of freemasonry looms behind it.


      In the Diaspora during this period, there were those in the jurisdictions
      of Local Churches who wished to retain their links with their Eastern
      European or Middle Eastern homelands. These were after all the sources of
      their languages and spiritual and cultural traditions. However, such
      loyalty to a tradition from lands enslaved by Communism often meant
      distancing their Church organizations from the Communist usurpers in power
      in those homelands. This led to political, that is, secular, temptations.
      For where there is politics, there the Church is not. Conversely, there
      were those who wanted to become fully independent of their homelands. This
      feeling became stronger with the passing of generations. The original
      generation of immigrants soon found that their children could not speak
      their native language as well as themselves and their children’s children
      often lost their grandparents’ language altogether. Why remain linked to a
      distant country, whose language you do not even speak, whose culture you
      only superficially share?

      A further factor came with Western people who had joined the various
      dioceses of Local Orthodox Churches. For them, any attachment to someone
      else’s homeland was at most secondary. The latter joined with later
      generations of immigrants’ children in seeking autocephaly for the dioceses
      of their Churches, that is independence from Mother-Churches. This movement
      became all the stronger, when those homelands were compromised by Communist
      politics. Nevertheless, the ‘autocephalist’ advocates of independence were
      opposed by the former group who wished to remain attached to their Churches
      and homelands of origin. Thus, there grew up frustration on both sides of
      the Diaspora in this twentieth century blockage.

      However, in 1970 in the USA the Moscow Patriarchate granted autocephaly to
      a hitherto uncanonical Slav immigrant group, called the ‘Metropolia’. This
      originated mainly from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and dated back to
      the nineteenth century. Moscow gave this group the title of the ‘Orthodox
      Church in America’, or the OCA. Carried out at the height of the Cold War,
      virtually without consultation with other dioceses in the USA, this act was
      not recognized by those Local Orthodox Churches which were not in Communist
      captivity. These included especially the Patriarchate of Constantinople and
      its Greek allies. However, even those mainly Slav jurisdictions which on
      paper recognized Moscow’s act, in reality ignored it, maintaining their own
      separate jurisdictions. Even Moscow itself retained its own jurisdiction,
      ignoring its own new-born infant, the OCA.


      Thus, the OCA proved to be still-born, a miscarriage, a premature birth.
      The greater part of American Orthodox, who had been received into various
      Local Orthodox Churches, ignored the OCA, continuing to remain outside it.
      In fact, the mainly Parisian intellectuals who had urged this autocephaly
      had not been thinking in spiritual terms, but in cultural and secular
      terms. They had been trying to be more American than the Americans, for
      example, brutally enforcing the ‘new’ calendar on the faithful. The failure
      of the OCA experiment came about because those who had wanted it had put
      American secular culture first, before the Faith. This is not to say that
      those who, on the contrary, placed such ethnic emphasis on cultural and
      linguistic links with homelands thousand of miles away were in the right.
      They too were in the wrong, because they too had put secular culture first,
      before the Faith.

      Thus, both sides made exactly the same mistake, but in different ways. The
      lesson that all those blinded by secular, political and cultural
      attachments should have learned is this: That for a new Local Orthodox
      Church to be born, those concerned must pass beyond mere secular human
      culture and put the Orthodox Faith and Tradition first. It is this lesson
      that Orthodox in the Diaspora in Western Europe still have to learn. Sadly,
      for example, this is the case in the Paris-based Rue Daru Exarchate of
      Western Europe, under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. At the present
      time, those who manipulate the leadership of the sixty or so small
      communities of the Rue Daru Exarchate, numbering perhaps 5,000, are still
      putting their secular culture first. In attempting to set up a Local Church
      in Western Europe, it is in fact repeating the same mistakes of the OCA,
      which was founded largely under its influence and which it so much admires.

      It is our belief that, if ever it is born, the Local Church in Western
      Europe which they dream of will also be still-born, just as the OCA was in
      its time. A Church cannot be built on secular Western culture, but must be
      founded on the Orthodox Faith and Tradition. And, sadly, the Rue Daru
      Exarchate, noted for its modernism, liberalism and ecumenism, is largely
      culturally captive to the worldly, secular culture of Western Europe. In
      any case, their dream is unreal, because Constantinople will never grant
      them the autocephaly they need in order to form their Local Church.
      Constantinople never has done. Other Churches have only ever been able to
      take their autocephaly at moments of weakness in Constantinople, or after a
      long struggle. This is confirmed by the histories of the Serbian, Russian,
      Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian autocephalies.


      As is known, the Rue Daru Exarchate has recently been joined by (at
      present) twelve small communities under the Amphipolis Vicariate in
      England, numbering perhaps 250 people. This is a group which, with an
      American bishop who identifies himself with the OCA, has uncanonically left
      the Russian Orthodox Church to join the Exarchate. Those who manipulate it
      are also putting their modernist, secular culture first, repeating the
      mistakes of Rue Daru and the OCA. So far, the Amphipolis group has been
      recognized only by Constantinople and its Greek allies, the tiny
      Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem and the Church of Cyprus. With
      the Amphipolis bishop suspended by the Russian Orthodox Church, no-one else
      will concelebrate with it. Thus, in an Orthodox world of 200-250 million,
      Amphipolis is recognized by representatives of only 5 million Orthodox,
      some two or three per cent of the total. It looks like a dissident in the
      concert of the Orthodox Churches.

      The fact is that in today’s Orthodox world, Constantinople no longer counts
      for very much. Its attempt to reign over the Diaspora, which it took up as
      soon as the Russian Church had been enslaved by atheist Communism after
      1917, has long been over. In fact, it is, as it always has been,
      essentially an ethnic grouping, a prisoner of Turkish and Western politics.
      For example, the Patriarchate has recently shocked the Greek nation and
      certain other members of the European Union by calling for Turkish
      admission to it. This does not represent the Orthodox view; it represents
      only the view of the Turkish and American governments. The Patriarchate is
      clearly simply currying favour with the Turkish government and those who
      support it in the USA (and the present Blair government in the UK), but it
      is not speaking for Orthodoxy.

      The leadership of the Patriarchate thus mouths the desires of the secular
      Turkish government and its Western backers. These are not the views of
      Greek, or other, Orthodox. For the same reason, the Patriarchate is a
      prisoner of the European Union and, above all, the Pax Americana, which are
      its only hope of survival in Istanbul. The Patriarchate of Constantinople
      is not free, no more so than the Patriarchate of Moscow during the period
      of its Soviet captivity. And, therefore, sadly, the Patriarchate of
      Constantinople has no more credibility in the Orthodox world today than
      Moscow in times past.


      In the months and years to come, indeed already today, the Diaspora of the
      Orthodox world will face a choice: freedom and Holy Orthodoxy or captivity
      and compromised Orthodoxy. Thus, the tragedy of the Amphipolis group which
      has joined the Rue Daru Exarchate, for it has rejected Holy Russia for the
      political and secularist intrigues of the Pax Americana and political
      captivity. The Cold War is over, there is no longer any need to fear
      Moscow, as before. Then, ironically, most of the present members of
      Amphipolis remained loyal to Moscow, refusing to speak openly of the
      persecution of the Church inside Russia and defend the persecuted.

      Today, there is no need for Orthodox to be cultural captives, subordinating
      ‘the one thing needful’ to a set of mere cultural values. Today, Moscow is
      putting its parishes outside Russia in order after its Cold War paralysis.
      In Vienna, Paris, London and elsewhere, its parishes are beginning to
      follow the norms of the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia,
      putting an end to the decades of past scandals, whether moral or political,
      in those cities. The series canonical problems which accumulated under the
      Moscow jurisdiction during the Cold War are being solved.

      Those who thought that a Local Church had already been born in North
      America under the Cold War Moscow Patriarchate, and a Local Church is about
      to be born in Western Europe under the present Patriarchate of
      Constantinople, were and are both mistaken. For authentic and canonical
      Local Churches to be born in any part of the world, the pregnancies are
      long and difficult and, as we have already said, birth cannot take place if
      secular cultural values are put first. Moreover, it should be known that
      any sort of political, in other words, secular, interference causes
      complications and even miscarriages, as we have seen with the case of the


      After the recent departure of modernists from the Sourozh Diocese and the
      self-imposed isolation of the Rue Daru Exarchate from the Russian Church,
      the waters of Orthodoxy in Western Europe are breaking. The birth
      contractions of a Self-Governing Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western
      Europe, the basis of a future canonical Local Orthodox Church in Western
      Europe, are beginning. Quietly and prudently we rejoice, for we see the
      possibility of the restoration of the Orthodox heritage of a thousand years
      ago in our ‘Western Rus’, after the compromises of the tragic Heterodox

      We see the possibility that the spiritual purity of Holy Orthodoxy will
      triumph, for a time at least, against the powers of secularism. God has
      allowed an older generation of worldly Orthodox representatives, who often
      fell into compromise with Heterodoxy and so thwarted the growth of
      authentic Orthodoxy, to leave the scene. The waters are now breaking.
      Contractions are beginning. The time for birth is now not so far away. Let
      us prepare ourselves.
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