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First, a disclaimer: today I am going to touch upon a subject which is intensely painful for me and which will get quite a lot of my readers angry at me. Frankly, I did everything I could not to discuss this issue on the blog, because I know, out of my personal experience, that discussing this topic is mostly futile and typically gets a lot of hostile reactions. This is made even worse by the fact that to be able to discuss this issue requires a certain level of knowledge in various subject matters which most people have only a very superficial familiarity with (if that). Finally, this topic is often debated in a nasty and vindictive manner and I have no desire whatsoever to contribute to that. And yet, there comes a time when I cannot remain silent, especially when I am constantly asked what my position on this topic is. At the end of the day, I have to follow my conscience and this conscience tells me that now is the time to put down in writing that which I mostly have tried to keep to myself, primarily because I did not see the point in publicly discussing it.

By now most of you must have heard that Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Rada have made an official request to the Patriarch of Constantinople to grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its full “autocephaly” (i.e. independence from the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate). Right there, in the preceding sentence, there are a lot of assumptions which are invalid and a lot of terms which are not defined and are, therefore, ambiguous at best.

To really be able to understand what is really at stake here you would need, at a very minimum, to have a basic but solid understanding of the following topics:

  1. Orthodox ecclesiology (probably the hardest topic to get a grasp of)
  2. The history of Orthodoxy in the territory called “the Ukraine” today
  3. The history of the Russian Orthodox Church between the 16th and 19th century
  4. The history of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early 20th century
  5. A good understanding of what the Moscow Patriarchate today really is (its nature, status, role, how it functions, etc.) and what it’s historical and theological roots are
  6. A basic understanding of the history of the Orthodox Churches under Ottoman occupation

I am very sorry to say that I cannot offer even a short summary of these topics here simply because there is no way of shortly summarizing them. For those interested, I did touch upon these topics in the past, especially in this and in this article. I strongly recommend you read them to get at least a sense of what I am going to be touching upon below.

To say that this topic is very complex is an understatement. Sadly, very few Orthodox Christians nowadays have the kind of basic knowledge needed to develop an informed opinion about this. Not by their fault, by the way, but simply because the level of religious literacy (taken broadly) has been in free fall for many decades, including among the Orthodox people.

So what I want to begin with here are a number of “bullet point” observations which I want to share with you “as is”, without going into the kind of deeper analysis every single one of them would deserve. What I hope to achieve is just to give a sense of the issues involved and to convince you that things are nowhere nearly as simple and black and white as some would like them to be.

First a few historical bullet-points

  • First, I want to immediately set aside any discussion of Orthodox ecclesiology. Besides, 99.9999% of those discussing this issue today do not really refer to Orthodox ecclesiological arguments anyway (even when the pretend to), so there is no point in arguing about this from this perspective. I will just say that a reasonable case can be made that the territory of what is today the Ukraine should be considered separately from the rest of Russia. Simply put, the history of Orthodoxy in southwestern Russia (roughly what we think of as the Ukraine today) and northeastern Russia (roughly what we think of as Russia today) between the 13th and 18th century have been dramatically different: the Orthodox people in these regions had to live, and sometimes survive, in very different circumstances, overcoming very different crises and, for a long while, they lived in dramatically different realities (primarily thanks to the Lithuanian and Polish occupation of western Russia and the systematic anti-Orthodox policies of the Vatican and its agents). Yes, Orthodoxy in the Ukraine and Russia have the same root, but then their paths took them along very different roads, so to speak.
  • Second, the Russian Orthodox Church underwent a dramatic and bloody internal schism during the 17th century (the so-called “Old Rite” schism) which saw the state (not so much the Church!) violently crush the opposition. This left deep wounds inside the Russian society and these events deeply alienated the masses of the Russian people against their leaders.
  • Third, the Russian Orthodox Church lost her independence and was gradually subordinated to the Russian state since, at least, the reforms of Czar Peter I (called “The Great” by westernizers) who reigned from 1682 to 1725. Furthermore, starting with Peter I, Russian ruling classes were gradually replaced with “imported” West European elites, which only further alienated the common Russian people.
  • Fourth, much of the Ukraine was liberated from the Polish Latin yoke by Catherine II (also called “The Great” by westernizers) who reigned from 1762 to 1796. However, by liberating the Ukraine, Catherine also inherited a population which included a large number of westernized elites, both Orthodox and Latin, and a huge Jewish population.
  • By the late 19th early 20th century the Russian elites were largely secularized and westernized while the traditional Orthodox ethos was severely disrupted inside the Russian society at large. Furthermore, there were very diverse movements inside the Russian Orthodox Church ranging from hesychastic monasticism (I think of Saint Theophan the Recluse) to rabid modernism (which resulted in the “living church” movement). This created severe internal tensions inside the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • The Bolshevik Revolution resulted in massive and genocidal religious persecutions against all religions in Russia, especially against Orthodox Christians which the Bolsheviks saw as 1) class enemies, 2) crypto-monarchists, 3) anti-Semites, 4) subversives 5) reactionaries 6) supporters of Grand-Russian chauvinism.
  • As a result of vicious and widespread religious persecutions, at least four distinct groups appeared among Russian Orthodox Christians: 1) those who fled abroad 2) those who openly opposed the new regime 3) those who went into hiding 4) those who fully embraced the new regime. The first group left Russia and eventually founded the so-called “Russian Orthodox Church Abroad”. The second group (often called the “Josephites” after their leader Met. Joseph of Petrograd) was completely exterminated. The third group (the so-called “Catacomb Church”) split into many small subgroups and survived until our days, albeit with great difficulties and in very small numbers. The fourth group formed the basis of what is known today as the “Moscow Patriarchate” which today represents the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Christians in Russia.
  • During the Soviet era, the Moscow Patriarchate became the loyal instrument and supporter of the state in exchange for the exclusive control of all parishes, monasteries, cathedrals, seminaries, etc. The Department of External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate was basically run by the KGB and while the rank and file faithful had no choice which Russian Orthodox parish to attend, the Soviet state was in full control of the Moscow Patriarchate. This is what the famous Russian singer Igor Talkov, later murdered, referred to when he sang in his famous song “Globe” “Show me such a country, Where the churches are boarded up, Where the priest hides under his cassock, KGB epaulettes” (Покажите мне такую страну, Где заколочены храмы, Где священник скрывает под рясой, КГБ-шный погон).
  • In 1991, following the end of the Soviet era, the Moscow Patriarchate initially was challenged in its legitimacy by various groups of people, but with every passing year the Russian state under Eltsin and then Putin re-gained full control of the Moscow Patriarchate and a wave of repressions was unleashed against those small, but surprisingly numerous, Orthodox Christians groups who challenged the legitimacy of the Moscow Patriarchate.
  • In 2007, the majority of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, allured by a strong sense of religious revival in Russia and a completely secular type of patriotism, reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate thereby conferring upon it a degree of legitimacy it had never enjoyed in the past.
  • In the Ukraine, officially independent since 1991, the situation remained far more fluid and a number of schisms occurred creating at least two versions of an “independent” Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Latin Uniats also played a key role in the re-ignition of Ukrainian nationalism and even though most Orthodox bishops in the Ukraine remained under the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the pressure began to remove this “Moskal” jurisdiction and replace it by a “purely Ukrainian” one.
  • The main problem with the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate” (a self-proclaimed and therefore completely illegitimate ecclesiastical body) is that it is a pure product of the Moscow Patriarchate. It’s founder, Metropolitan Filaret (read about him here), was even considered a likely candidate to become Patriarch of Russia, this is might seem outright bizarre, but this is true. It gets even more surreal – in 1990 the Moscow Patriarchate actually gave the Ukrainians a bizarre status of “autonomy” (but not quite independence) thus creating something called the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate”, not to be confused with the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate” or, for that matter, with the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (all three are “sort of” official in the Ukraine).
  • As for the Latins and their Uniats, they have played a key role both during Bandera’s years in WWII and then in the resurgence of Ukronazi nationalism since 1991. They are one of the key factions of the Ukronazi regime in power since the coup in 2014 (the Poles and the Latins have always attacked Russia every time they perceived her as weakened by some internal or external problem; this is really nothing new).

Next, the term “canonical” and its misuses

There is a term which you will hear used a lot by all sides in this, and other, disputes. This term is “canonical”. Originally, the word “canon” simply means “measure” or “rule”. The correct modern meaning of the word “canonical” should be, but is not, “in accordance with, or in harmony/compliance with, the canons”, i.e. in conformity with the praxis and rules agreed upon by the Church Fathers and which were proclaimed by local and ecumenical Church Councils. Alas, this is not AT ALL what the word “canonical” means nowadays. Nowadays, the world canonical is used as an equivalent/substitute for “official” or “officially recognized” or even “majority endorsed”. From a strictly Orthodox point of view, this is an absolutely absurd interpretation of the notion of canonical since there were MANY times in Church history when the secular rulers backed heretical bishops and when most bishops had fallen into heresy (the times of Saint Maximos the Confessor and the Monothelite heresy come to mind). This misunderstanding of the word “canonical” is a sad witness to the deep state of secularization which so many putatively “Orthodox” Churches have undergone. But it gets even worse. Since many, or even most, “official” Orthodox churches have some very serious problems with their legitimacy and/or with their compliance with Church canons and traditions, they came up with a new trick: they confer “canonicity” upon each other. That is, one illegitimate bishop or Church declares itself the “only canonical one” in region A; another does the same in region B, and then they recognize each other and together proclaim themselves as “the only canonical” bishops/Churches worldwide. Conversely, those who do not have the support of secular powers and who cannot use the local riot police to seize parishes or monasteries are therefore decreed as “uncanonical” and dismissed as “fringe extremists”. From a purely Patristic point of view, this is all totally nonsensical and if anything, sheds a great deal of doubt upon the putative “canonicity” of the self-proclaimed “canonical” bishops or Churches. Let me give you just one example:

The 3rd Canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council says:

Every appointment of a bishop, or of a presbyter, or of a deacon made by (civil) rulers shall remain void in accordance with the Canon which says: “If any bishop comes into possession of a church by employing secular rulers, let him be deposed from office, and let him be excommunicated. And all those who communicate with him too.”

All the most authoritative interpreters of canons (Zonaras, Aristenos, Balsamon) agree that this canon categorically forbids the appointment of bishops by the interference of secular powers. In fact, the Canon quoted in this Canon is the 31st Apostolic Canon and says exactly the same thing:

If any bishop makes use of the rulers of this world, and by their means obtains to be a bishop of a church, let him be deprived and suspended, and all that communicate with him.

Pretty clear, no? This is what the Apostles themselves decreed! And yet it is undeniable that in many Orthodox countries nowadays (and in the past) bishops have their bishopric primarily, and often solely, by the intervention of secular state rulers. Christ said “my kingdom is not of this world” so how can the support of the (often secular and even atheistic) powers that be confer legitimacy aka “canonicity” upon modern bishops?! In reality, this practice itself is completely uncanonical!

The sad reality is that none of the so-called “Orthodox Churches” involved in the current dispute in the Ukraine have a “canonical leg” to stand on. While from a political or secular point of view, some might appear to be preferable to others, from a strictly canonical and Christian (Patristic) point of view, they are all illegitimate, to begin with.

What the various Ukrainian nationalistic Churches are doing now to the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate” is absolutely no different at all from what the Moscow Patriarchate did to the Josephites or the Catacomb Church and what the Moscow Patriarchate is still doing nowadays to the various small groups who refuse to recognize the Moscow Patriarchate and who often refer to themselves as “True Orthodox” (for the latest example of such persecution those of you who read Russian can see these articles). During the Soviet era, those belonging to such “True Orthodox” groups were simply jailed. During the 1990s the Russian riot police OMON was sent many times to seize churches, monasteries and other buildings run by Russian “True” Orthodox Christians whose only “sin” was to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Yet the victims of those persecutions are now called “uncanonical” whereas their persecutors are “canonical”. Go figure…

Now back to politics

The sad truth is this: both in the Ukraine and in Russia the official (aka “canonical”) Orthodox Church is but an instrument in a larger toolkit of state power. In both countries the “official” Church embodies primarily national, not spiritual or theological, categories and while in Russia the current ruler is one of the most capable ones in the history of Russia (which cannot be said about the Uberloser Poroshenko), this was also the case under Eltsin (one of the worst people to ever rule over Russia) and all his Communist predecessors and this will probably remain the case for the foreseeable future regardless of who sits in the Kremlin.

I submit that when the Church is subservient to the state this is by definition extremely bad, even if the ruler of the day just so happens to be a very good one. But never mind my opinion. The Apostles and the Church Fathers all unanimously held that the Church cannot be subjected to the secular powers. At best, when the secular power is truly Orthodox, they can function together “in agreement” (symphony) one protecting and one guiding the other. But the Church should always remain the conscience of the secular leader, not his or her butler.

In my article entitled “A negative view of Christianity and religion in general” I wrote something which I would like to repeat here because I believe it to be absolutely crucial:

Think of it – does it not strike you as paradoxical that Christ said “If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19) and yet the very same corporate media who serve the AngloZionist Empire and its planned New World Order also would give putatively “Christian” leaders the kind of coverage which normally goes to Rock stars?

When was the last time you ever heard one of those “superstar religious leaders” dare to denounce the modern rulers of our world as the genocidal mass murderers they are, or even simply as hypocrites? But no, they meet with them and they hug, they smile, they kiss – each time a big love fest. Long gone is the time when Christian leaders had the courage to openly criticize an Empress (like Saint John Chrysostom) or dare to speak to a modern leader like Saint Philip II, Metropolitan of Moscow, who refused to bless the Czar Ivan the Terrible after a church service and instead publicly castigated him in the following words:

I don’t recognize the Orthodox Czar anymore. I don’t recognize him in his rule, O Lord! We are here bringing a sacrifice to God, while behind the alter the blood of innocent Christians is shed. Since the sun shines in the sky it has never been seen or heard that a pious Czar would outrage his own kingdom in such a way! Even in the most impious and pagan kingdoms there is the rule of law and the Truth, and there is mercy towards the people, but not in Russia! You are high on your throne, but there is an Almighty Judge above you. How will you face his judgment? Covered in the blood of the innocent, made deaf by the sound of their tortured screams? Even the stones under your feet are demanding vengeance O Lord! I am telling you as a pastor of souls – fear the One God!

Can you imagine an Orthodox Patriarch or a Latin Pope addressing, say, Obama with such words? And while Saint Philip was eventually tortured and murdered for his courage, modern Patriarchs and Popes incur no such risks. And yet they remain silent: they see nothing, hear nothing and, above all, they say nothing.

This is not a uniquely Russian or Orthodox problem, by the way. My Muslim friends tell me that they have exactly the same problems with many of their religious leaders in Russia. And not only in Russia, we also see the same abject subservience of so many supposed “Islamic” scholars to the House of Saud. And I won’t even mention western Christian denominations here, who are all integral to the Empire on

too many levels to count.

In this context, what are the Ukronazis actually really up to?

In reality, they are doing two very basic and potentially dangerous things:

  1. They are provoking Russia by any and all available means (see the recent seizure of a Russian fishing vessel in the Sea of Azov)
  2. They are demonstrating their utility (russophobic credentials) to their AngloZionist patrons

These, along with many other signs, are indicators that a war is in the making and that sooner rather than later the Ukronazis will attack the Donbass and try to force the Russian Federation to openly intervene militarily to prevent the Ukronazis from doing to the Novorussians what the Croats and Albanians did to the Serbs in the Serbian Krajina and in Kosovo (or what Saakashvili attempted to do with South Ossetia). The current campaign to declare the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate” as an “enemy organization” of the “occupier” is just one more way to create tensions and prepare the public opinion for the inevitable violent climax. The fact that none of the Churches involved in this conflict have any true (canonical) legitimacy won’t make this less tragic and, and probably violent, for the people involved. As usual, the common people will pay the price while the fat cats on all sides will do just fine, thank you.

This is really a sad and tragic situation. The overwhelming majority of the people on both sides are both sincere and mislead, and their best feelings are used in what is a very dangerous political game by people who themselves will never have to suffer for their faith (or lack thereof).

Debunking the “Orthodox Pope” myth

Here I need to begin by debunking a misconception: there is no such thing as an “Orthodox Pope” or some “Eastern Pope”. The entire concept of the Papacy is a Frankish notion forcefully (and brutally) imposed upon the Western Romans by their Frankish occupiers. However, the fact that no such thing exists does not prevent some Orthodox bishops from dreaming about it (pride is a core component of our fallen human nature). I will try to clarify this issue in the simplest possible terms.

All bishops are successors to the 12 Apostles and although some of them have left a deeper mark in the history of the Church than others, there was no hierarchy among them. The famous “thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18) refers not to Peter himself, but to his confession “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” just spoken by Peter in the previous verse. That was the Patristic consensus (consensus patrum) interpretation during the first 1000 years of Christianity (yes, even in the West). If anything, it was Saint James which was the first bishop of Jerusalem, and Saint Paul who, while not even part of the 12 Apostles, was the main interpreter of Christ’s teachings. The Apostles, who were assisted in their works by presbyters/priests, then further consecrated more bishops. Some of them had their see in regular towns, others in major important cities and capitals. The titles of “Archbishop” or “Metropolitan” or “Patriarch” simply refer to bishops whose see is in a major capital city (“Pope”, which just means “Father”, was the one used for the Patriarch of Rome). These are purely *administrative* titles and do not indicate any qualitative differences. Needless to say, the bishop of the Roman Empire’s capital was considered as holding the most important position as he spoke to the Emperor on behalf of the Christian people. When in the 5th century the city of Rome was sacked and eventually fell the Western Roman Empire collapsed. But in the east, the Roman civilization survived by a full 1000 years. When in the 11th century the Pope in Rome decided that he was a super-bishop (1054) which had the authority to impose his absolute rule over the entire Christian world (see the infamous 1075 Dictatus Papae) the rest of the Christian world categorically rejected such an anti-Patristic innovation and, since the first, original Rome (the city) had first fallen to the Franks and then lapsed into apostasy, the Patriarch of Constantinople found himself to be the bishop of the eastern (and only surviving) capital of the Roman Empire: Constantinople. However, and this is crucial, unlike the western Pope who claimed to be the “Vicar of Christ” and some super-bishop (a pontifex maximus), the Patriarch of Constantinople did not make any such claims of primacy just because he happened to be the bishop in the imperial capital (nowadays his official title is a modest “His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch” – more about that below). Then, when in the 15th century, Constantinople was invaded by the Ottomans, the Roman empire truly came to an end. So, at that moment in time, which should have been considered the most important city in the Christian world? Some in Russia felt that Moscow had become the “Third Rome” (especially after the False Union of Florence in 1439), an ecclesiologically speaking controversial proposition, but which was greatly strengthened over time when Russia became the biggest, strongest, richest Orthodox country on the planet (most others were under Ottoman occupation) and the Russian population (and military might) was much larger than the one of any other Orthodox country.

You see where this is heading, right? The Patriarch of Constantinople used to be the “first among equals” for 1000 years, but now the Patriarch of Moscow was threatening this status, especially since the former was truly ruling over just one neighborhood of Istanbul (the Phanar). Without going into further details (like the attempts of the Patriarch of Constantinople to present himself as the head of all the various Orthodox diasporas worldwide), let’s just say that there is not much love lost between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate. Both sides try to keep things civil, but there are cyclical tensions and regular outright disputes.

The reality is that even if we accept the notion that Moscow was the Third Rome, that status ended for Moscow in 1917, just as it ended for the Second Rome in 1453 and for the First Rome in 476. In fact, no Patriarch, Archbishop, Metropolitan or Bishop can today lay a claim to any “primacy of honor”, especially when most of them have their reputation soiled by their participation in the so-called Ecumenical Movement, their abandonment of the Church Calendar, their subservience to the secular powers, etc. In truth, the Orthodox world is undergoing a deep crisis on many levels and there is something profoundly indecent about these fights for some primacy of honor at a time when the majority of the population of historically Orthodox countries is only very superficially religious, if that. If there is no such thing as an “Orthodox Pope” there sure are a lot of Orthodox bishops acting as if they wanted to become one (hence the “historical” meetings, with hugs and all, between the Latin Pope and the Orthodox Patriarchs and wannabe-Popes).

Introducing another toxic phenomenon: (ethno-)phyletism

Things are made even worse by the outright nasty streak of nationalism infecting many Orthodox Churches.

The sad reality is that we live in a post-Christian world. This is also true for nominally “Orthodox” countries such as Russia, Greece or Serbia where truly religious people constitute a minority and where being “Orthodox” is primarily a national, patriotic category (at least for most people). Some even call themselves “culturally Orthodox”. These people ought not to be dismissed by the way. They are participants in what is undeniably a spiritual revival and when they conflate national/ethnic categories with spiritual ones it is often because their nation or ethnicity has been persecuted, often viciously. But when spiritual and theological categories and language are used to cover up political and secular goals, this is the time to speak up and denounce this farce for what it is: a gross misrepresentation of what true (Patristic) Christianity truly stands for and embodies.

Christian ecclesiology rejects the notion that each ethnic group ought to have its own, separate Church. This idea, that each ethnic group ought to have its own separate Church, is called “phyletism” or, sometimes, “ethno-phyletism” and is an already condemned heresy. Yes, since the Apostolic times there have been local Churches, but all these Churches were administratively autonomous for practical purposes. But in theological terms, there can be only One Church and the local Churches are simply autonomously self-organized parts of the single One Church. As for ethnicity and nationality, these are modern categories which are not even part of the Patristic theological language. And while there is nothing wrong with the French praying in French, or the Japanese in Japanese, or the Congolese in Lingala, and they all should have their own priest and bishops, and while liturgical rites have naturally and organically evolved and incorporated elements of various local cultures, the idea of the primacy of an ethnic identity over the unity of all Orthodox Christians is fundamentally wrong. This is why the Scripture says “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all and is in all” (Col 3:11) and “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) and “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5) and “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:7). In theological terms, all Christians, regardless of their ethnic origin and culture, form one single “Body” with many “members” all united by the same faith and their participation in the life of the Church, which is the Theandric Body of Christ.

Ideally, there should be one bishop in each region/province and all of these bishops united in local councils which themselves should be united into only one Church church of our entire planet. In the real world, with all its wars, millions of displaced refugees, vicious anti-religious repressions and members of many different cultures living in one country (as in, for example, the USA) this ideal has been very difficult to achieve. The individual ambitions of some less than spiritually-inclined bishops have just made things worse.

Summary: a very difficult situation but also reasons to keep hoping

The reality is that in most Orthodox countries, including Russia and the Ukraine, the majority of the people are “Orthodox” primarily in a cultural and even national sense. Centuries of subservience to the secular state have made many local Orthodox churches tools in the hands of politicians. There is an ugly competition for power and influence among many of the local Orthodox Churches, and especially between Constantinople and Moscow. Most putatively “Orthodox” Churches and jurisdictions have been deeply infected by modernism, secularism, national (identity) politics and are now actors in political struggles in many countries. The words “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) have been forgotten by many, if not most, Orthodox bishops.

That is not to say that there is not a real spiritual revival in countries like Russia. There is. But it is also true that this revival often takes place in spite of the attitudes of “official” religious leaders (that goes both for Orthodoxy and for Islam). Still, bad as this situation is, it should be assessed in the larger historical context: in one way or another, the Church has always been undergoing crises and persecutions during almost every year since Her foundation. Many of those crises took centuries to be resolved. So the fact that so much looks bleak today should not discourage anybody. There is really nothing new under the sun.

Still, the very real spiritual revival in Russia (and in other Orthodox countries) is still in its early stages and while things are generally heading in the right direction, there is a lot of “mental ground” to be reconquered before most people return to the spiritual roots (or phronema) of the true, original, Christianity. Eventually, the Orthodox Churches will have to regain their full autonomy from the secular powers, not just in grand statements and words, but in reality. This is a long road, it will probably take many decades, if not more, to heal from the devastating consequences of the terrible events (and ideological dead-ends) of the 20th century. But as Russians (and others) rediscover the true history of their countries, I believe that this is bound to happen.


I wish I could have presented a simple, optimistic picture here, with on one side, the totally evil Ukrainians and on the other, the noble and heroic Russians. Alas, the reality is much more complex and, frankly, much uglier. The fight over which side gets to declare itself THE “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” is an ugly one and while, in this case, it is pretty self-evidently obvious who the aggressor is (those supported by the Ukronazi nationalists), and serious analysis of the historical context for this dispute will inevitably yield a much more complex picture. It is my personal conviction that as long as Orthodox Churches are controlled by bishops who are much more concerned with pleasing Caesar (Matthew 22:21) than they are with pleasing God, political and nationalist consideration will continue to pollute the spiritual realm. I hope that the example of Saint Philip II, Metropolitan of Moscow mentioned above, and the millions of Orthodox New Martyrs who died in the 20th century, will inspire a new generation of Orthodox hierarchs who will eventually replace the current Soviet-era faithful servants of the state (regardless of who is in power) and who will return to the true faith “which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian” (St. Athanasius).

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  1. Anonymous [AKA "It\'s fun here in Limbo"] says:

    For atheists and others who glazed out over the theological detail, there is another way to approach this question, and it takes you straight to the Saker’s answer: ICESCR cultural rights, that is, particularly,

    Article 1: Right of self-determination: peoples may freely pursue their cultural development

    Article 15(2): state to take necessary steps for conservation, development, and diffusion of culture

    Article 15(4): encourage and develop international cultural contacts and co-operation

    Saker is actually arguing quite consistently from similar principles, if only tacitly.

    Clearly, cultural conservation under Article 15(2) means keep the state out of it in accord with Orthodox doctrine. Article 15(4) is the state’s residual responsibility, which promotes universality. Historical divergence in Ukraine and Russia permit autocephaly or nonhierarchical coexistence by authority of Article 1, because ultimately the peoples will decide and not the churches. The Church has a responsibility of its own: to integrate human rights in church doctrine. The Vatican curia has done that explicity, despite papal politicians cutting corners to get along. Orthodox patriarchs in Syria have taken a courageous stand for peace, which is the sum of all rights. So there is no conflict between secular and religious imperatives. The only conflict is between national and universal interests, and human rights and religious doctrine both come down on the side of the universal.

  2. Giuseppe says:

    Well, now I understand why the Saker attends a presumably Old Calendar Greek Orthodox parish, because in his view everything touched by the Russian Church is tainted and illegitimate, even ROCOR for returning to Moscow. It matters little to him that North America was sanctified by the work of missionaries from Valaam Monastery in the time of Catherine II, and that the church they founded is among us today: Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and growing. And what of the Orthodox faithful in Russia? They don’t have the luxury of attending a Greek parish in the name of aligning themselves with a legitimate ecclesiastical succession that the Saker does, are they now to withdraw from the ROC? One of the Saker’s greatest strengths, and alas his greatest weakness, is his extreme idealism, and this critique of Orthodoxy is no exception. Some practical considerations are needed here.

    He leaves out one important detail, the work of the Holy Spirit. The Church lives, breathes and grows by the will of God working through sinful men. Do not the priests every Liturgy ask forgiveness of the parish and pray to God that their own sinfulness will not keep His blessing from the gifts?

    And he misses the most important point of the scripture he quotes, viz. Christ will be doing the building of His Church. Not Peter. Not the bishops.

    • Replies: @in the middle
  3. “This is what the Apostles themselves decreed!’

    There is no record of the Apostles making any such “decree.” The Apostles gave us scripture, and there is only one council whose results were published in Acts Chapter 15.

    You are correct about the Church being a universal thing, that crosses ethnic and national lines, but the Eastern Orthodox Church isn’t even close to that as it is almost entirely nationally/ethnically based. But, the Church is not in just one denomination, but consists of everyone that is “in Christ.”

    It will be a long time before the Russian orthodox Church is purged of servants of the state. Also, the only aggressor in this as well as on the ground, is the Russian State. If you want to meet Nazis, go to Muscovy. You’ll find plenty of them in the kremlin, including the current head of the Russian State. So far, Ukraine does not occupy one particle of Russian territory, while Russia Occupies Crime and a good bit of the Donbas.

    Your hypocrisy is showing, again, Saker.

  4. Giuseppe says:

    If you want to meet Nazis, go to Muscovy.

    What you know about Muscovy wouldn’t fit into a thimble. Kiev is better.

  5. nickels says:

    I recently uncovered this book, describing the Frankish takeover of the western church (as mentioned in the article). Very enlightening.
    Apparently this sort of state-run reform infected the Russian church (as mentioned) in a similar way, although I don’t have any sources on that history.

    • Replies: @Uncle Remus
  6. I would love to link this on some Orthodox blogs but unfortunately people would stop reading and discount the whole essay, and you, as soon as they got to the “UkranoNazis” and “AngloZionist” bits.

    A good tool of rhetoric is to call people what they call themselves. Pejoratives, however apt you may think them or even if actually deserved, will cause a lot of otherwise interested people to tune you out. If you don’t care to engage them, that’s fine–there are a number of people I don’t care if I piss off–but this piece deserves a broad audience.

    • Agree: Twodees Partain
  7. Saker, this is some article. Hope the readers take the time to enjoy it all.

  8. Anon[811] • Disclaimer says:

    ” the level of religious literacy (taken broadly) has been in free fall for many decades, including among the Orthodox people.”

    Huh. Maybe they have better things to spend their time on; like real life.

  9. VICB3 says:

    (I have a headache.)

    Excellent article! Mind-numbing, but excellent.

    One is left with the impression that the whole Russian et al religion issue and its effect on politics and national character is an ever more convoluted mess that might sort itself out if only it’s spared outside meddling. It’s regional problem to be solved by the locals, if at all.

    Reading this article, I’m also reminded this quote by Robert Heinlein:

    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”

    All the more reason for the United States to stay out of Eastern (and Western) Europe and the Middle East and focus instead on solutions for its manifold problems at home.

    Just a thought.


    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    , @Alden
  10. @nickels

    The author of your book, John Romanides, was a theologian of some merit. He was ridiculous
    when pontificating on historical matters, of which he knew next to nothing, as is shown in the
    embarrassing book you refer to (embarrassing for him for having written it, and to anyone, including me, who has read it).

    • Replies: @nickels
  11. nickels says:
    @Uncle Remus

    Well, perhaps this large amount of embarrassment comes from the whacked notion of original sin bequeathed to the west by the Frankish conquest of the western church and its over reliance on the flawed theology of Augustine?
    Ha. In reality, the massive differences in the East vs. West church must be explained. Your counter explanation is welcome.

  12. Grow up, nickels, and begin your education, with serious books, not Internet bloviatings from
    yesterday’s Protestant pastors-now turned-pseudo-Orthodox. Start with Ware, Sherrard, Florovsky,
    Meyendorff. Then move on. Read real historians. You will find complicated realities not reducible
    to caricatures. You’ll be better for it.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
    , @nickels
  13. Ukronazis

    … when will you come to terms with the horrendous bolshevik crimes?
    … when will you stop using stalinist propaganda terms to describe people you dislike?

    People will stop reading right there, and they will not be wrong.

    Even if one is highly critical of what transpired in 2014, one should not entirely forget that Ukrainian attitudes toward Russia do have an history.

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
  14. If you think anything’s wrong in Orthodox Churches, well, wait just 2 weeks and it will be all better. (not my joke)

  15. Wally says:

    The childish Saker reveals his indoctrination by using the term ‘Ukronazi’ over & over & over.

    It’s really just another example of garbage in, garbage out. There were the ‘Nazis’ with the mythological ‘6M Jews, 5M others, & gas chambers’ and there were the ‘Nazis’ without the mythological ’6M Jews, 5M others, & gas chambers’.

    I suggest that he stick to his usual discussion of Russian missiles rather proving his subservience The Chosenites.

    The ‘holocaust’ storyline is one of the most easily debunked narratives ever contrived. That is why those who question it are arrested and persecuted. That is why violent, racist, & privileged supremacist Jews demand censorship. What sort of truth is it that denies free speech and the freedom to seek the truth? Truth needs no protection from scrutiny.
    Only liars demand censorship.

    The ‘6M Jews, 5M others, & gas chambers’ are scientifically impossible frauds.
    see the ‘holocaust’ scam debunked here:
    No name calling, level playing field debate here:

  16. Wally says:

    “If you want to meet Nazis, go to Muscovy.”

    – Please define “Nazi”.

    “Russia Occupies Crime and a good bit of the Donbas.”

    – So the locals of each are not entitled to freedom of choice?
    – You wish to deny them the right to vote as they wish?

  17. Uh oh, its Sakker with another article. I’m surprised that it isn’t some Russian fantasy propaganda about how the Russian military is more powerful than the US military for once.

  18. Ivan says:

    The Church however seen or defined is not a servant of State. She must obey only God. Thus although a Catholic, I find the spectacle of members of the Orthodox hierarchy always in attendance whenever Putin comes around, to be quite improper. The best way to destroy any church is to have it associated with a state. I hope the Russians can learn some lessons from their own history, and that of the Church of England, to see what happens when the First Commandment is dishonoured.

  19. Seraphim says:
    @Uncle Remus

    There can’t be any controversy that the Franks were the ones who imposed the introduction of the Filioque clause in the Creed, the baptism by pouring water (instead of immersion), the delay of Confirmatin/Chrismation, introduction of unleavened bread for Eucharist, condemnation of the veneration of icons.
    It was the alliance of the Franks with the Bishop of Rome which resulted in the ‘Donation of Pepin the Short’ which made the Bishop of Rome a temporal ruler, founding the Papal States, the Pope sanctioning the usurpation of Pepin by anointing him King of the Franks (along with his sons Charles and Carloman). The collusion between the Franks and Papacy led to the imperial usurpation of Charlemagne. The ‘Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals’ (with the ‘Donation of Constantin’) have been the fabrication of Frankish clerics. The Franco-Papal alliance was directed at Byzantium from the start. The accusations of heresy towards the ‘Greeks’ emerge at that time also. There was also the Carolingian ‘Empire’, the first Christian power to forge an alliance with the Arabs against Byzance.

  20. m___ says:

    Universality of ideas, whether religion, “state”, philosophy, science, is achievable? Structured bodies to push ideas, a coherent body of ideas are just impediments and cater to the limited apprehension in the psychology of human individuals.

    No universalist oriented idea, Anglo-Zionism, capitalism, any religion including Islam, does not partly rely on suggestions of identity by pointing to the distinct believer, race, ethnicity, territory. History does not help much, since it is the most colourful illustration of the issue. That creates the amazing patchwork layered at infinitude of the world’s frenzy. When not God, then markets, when not Communism then territory. Or a grab in the bag of concepts that are in existence thanks to the psychology of commoner inertia useable as historical values.

    There must be universal agreements, concepts, that transgress all cognitive borders, stand by themselves, are rallied by media, politicians, the global middle-layer of interpreters. Amazingly these concepts exist, and do not go against an open minded interpretation of most religions, and broader philosophical ideas. The “handles” the embodiment though is always more important then the rational sense.

    All of this is not timely, and only real as in today, not tomorrow. There will not be a serious shift in these matters overtly and knitting a waistcoat on historical strands will not look pretty.

    The most universal idea, the deepest believe globally? The believe in consumerism at infinitum, the equivalent of outdated reward in the afterlife. A qualitative concept that should be expanded on, it fits all “Russians” of the globe.

  21. Is, what Porosjenko tries, much different from what Henry VIII did, rid himself from papal interference, by creating his own church, with himself as head of the Church, as the British queen or king is to this day ?
    The complexity eludes me.

    • Replies: @AP
    , @Alden
  22. @Quartermaster

    Communism in vain tried to suppress religion.
    If failed miserably.
    Kennan describes the full churches at Eastern, Christmas and other christian religious services.
    Even in communist times many married in church.
    Putin is a clever man, he made a deal with the orthodox church.
    As the head of this church is in Moscow, Putin has a certain influence.
    Porosjenko now tries to establish his own church, is my idea.
    I suppose he will fail as Stalin failed, E Europeans are very religious, orthodox catholic or roman catholic.
    Russia to the Urals is European.

  23. Chistianity in its ‘pure’ or unsullied forms was going nowhere until it got a massive boot-up from Constantine.

    Church/State separationists deny historical determinism and can never admit the futility of their endeavour.

    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
    , @Alden
  24. A very interesting exposition with multiple fine points to ponder. I do question the legitimacy of the refusal to recognize the Papacy. I should state that I am a Sedevacantist Roman Catholic, we believe in the office of pope but do not believe the present Pope or his 4 or 5 predecessors were even Catholic. The Papal chair is empty. In history, the Papacy has played an important role in being able to speak and act with higher authority.Also, the high-point of human culture was attained under the structure of Pope anointing kings. The king ruled over his kingdom with the clergy assigned the highest estate. Popes corrected kings where necessary and held power by the imposition of excommunication. This all; worked well. On the argument that there was no hierarchy among the disciples I don’t believe to be supported by scripture. Peter is the top guy. This is perhaps clearest on the morning of the Resurrection when even John, the disciple Jesus loved, waited for Peter to cathch up before entering the tomb. And there are other examples of Peter being the top guy. Look for example at the Mt. Tabor example.And just as monarchy is the best form of government in civic affairs so to does monarchy apply to the Church, always able to correct apostasy, which will always break out.

    • Agree: Intelligent Dasein
    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
    , @anarchyst
  25. @Patrick Pappano

    ” Popes corrected kings where necessary and held power by the imposition of excommunication. This all; worked well. ”

    After visiting Rome Luther had somewhat different ideas.
    I wonder if you ever saw the Vatican, I was in Rome around 1976, when I saw the catholic palace, I wondered how many houses for poor people could have been built instead.
    The same question of course can be asked for any cathedral, and many monasteries.

    • Replies: @anarchyst
    , @Alden
    , @Alden
  26. @quasi_verbatim

    The theory that Paul, as a secret agent of the Roman emperor, established christianity, to undermine judaism, for me remains interesting.

  27. Joe Hide says:

    Thank goodness someone (Saker) is at least trying to honestly reflect on the development of Christianity from an historical basis. I’m happily shocked that an author has quoted New Testament verses in a largely intellectual site like I have to congratulate Saker and Ron Unz in their courage in addressing such politically incorrect topics.
    Just because I and many other readers are Christians doesn’t mean we don’t want various conflicting viewpoints presented as long as they are honest, balanced, and truth sourced.

  28. A rather silly article in which the author hijacks Orthodox Christianity in general to deny the human rights of Ukrainians. If Putin’s supporters are reduced to this sort of nonsense, then little Vlad is in deep trouble!

  29. AP says:
    @jilles dykstra

    No, he is not making himself head of the Church he is separating his country’s Church from Russia so that Ukraine has its own Orthodox Church just like every other mostly Orthodox country other than Belarus does.

    Saker is absolutely right that nationalistic Churches are wrong and anti-Christian, be they Ukrainian or Russian. But if a country is going to have a “national” Church, it might as well be its own one, rather than that of a different and not entirely friendly country, supporting that other country’s interests at the expense of one’s own.

  30. Ann K says: • Website

    As one newly accepted into the Orthodox Church, I found this very interesting. Thank you.

  31. Z-man says:

    The Jews hate Putin for reestablishing the Russian Orthodox Church in Mother Russia. That’s all I need to know.

  32. Mr. Hack says:

    Off to church I go. I belong to one that already is aligned with the Kyivan Patriarch. 1/3 of its members are former members of the Ukrainian Catholic church (including one past priest), 1/3 are comprised of Russian speaking Ukrainians and Russians, and 1/3 original members being renegades from the UOCA (Bound Brook). Oh, and we have one regular Greek-American too. Our current pastor is from Lviv and often ministers to the needs of our Russian speaking members, quite admirably too. Other than offering up an occasional prayer for our Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines in Donbas, you’d never kn0w that we’re practicing ‘ethno-phyletism’. 🙂

    • Replies: @Gerard1234
  33. Boilz says:

    Good word is that the Ukrainian Bishops are in the hands of the Oligarchs who pay well….this from the outh of an oligarch who spoke off hand while buying art in America….

  34. Mr. Hack says:

    I don’t know if you’ve viewed this clip yet, and although its quite interesting and offers some legitimate concerns, it seems a bit too one sided in its cautionary tone. Not once does it present the idea that having one Pomisna Ukrainian Orthodox Church within Ukraine has some positive merit – why I’m beginning to think that the ‘Union of Orthodox Journalists’ might be a sophisticated group funded by Moscow? Do you know anything about them?

    • Replies: @AP
    , @Gg Mo
  35. @AP

    ” Saker is absolutely right that nationalistic Churches are wrong and anti-Christian ”

    Wrong is a moral judgment.
    Do you consider the Anglican church anti christian ?
    Some explanation seems necessary.

  36. @jilles dykstra

    The theory that Paul, as a secret agent of the Roman emperor, established christianity, to undermine judaism, for me remains interesting.

    That’s because you’re an atheistic idiot and a useless pile of human shit, a perpetually wrongheaded lunatic, a philosophastic charlatan, and an arrant scribbler of nonsense. You do not belong in this discussion, or any discussion for that matter. You know nothing about what is being discussed here. Whether you affirm or deny, it is all irrelevant just as you yourself are irrelevant. You completely fail to make the grade as a being of significance. You are a troll, a tar-baby, and a waste of oxygen. You can go to hell.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @anon
  37. Thanks, intelligent being there.

  38. Che Guava says:

    The Saker,

    I always appreciate your writing and read most of your two linked articles (all of the first, the second until I was sick of it).

    Why do you think that Kirril may not represent part of a rebirth?

    I have a close friend who is not at all intellectual, not stupid either, but a Qoman Catholic Marian cultist. She is beariog antipathy to orthodoxy in general, from a Catholic priest of years ago.

    The pictures you draw, sure I know about the despicable living church, the Old Aelievers.

    You are not unobservant, in both senses, have you not noticed that the doctrines of ‘the Living Church’ at its wnrst have largely destroyed the Lutheran and Anglican churches (among others, those as two spectacular examples).

    I would ask what faction is the Tokyo Orthodox Church at Ochanomizu representing?

    Serious question..

    In any case, I know that you never reply to replies here, so will stop now.

  39. Z-man says:
    @jilles dykstra

    I wish the Roman Catholic Church was more nationalistic! I don’t care what Catholic means. (Grin)

  40. Aedib says:

    So far, Ukraine does not occupy one particle of Russian territory, while Russia Occupies Crime and a good bit of the Donbas.

    Still butthurt about the democratic choice of Crimean poeple. The concept you refuse to understand is called DEMOCRACY.

  41. @VICB3

    Secularism has its own issues, including an exaggerated present-orientation.

  42. @Giuseppe

    The reality is so different! In the first place, that doctrine of bishops, and patriarchs, is the doctrine of the nicolaitans! or subduers of the laity, the people. Please remember this passage,
    “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus…greet also the church at their house” (Romans 16:3,5)

    So basically, all those cathedrals, big buildings, and men dressed in women’s dresses, i.e. the priests, are totally an abhorrence, and a normal person with wisdom and understanding will not fallow, and see it as a total distortion of the original believes of early Nazarenes. The word bishop is simple an elder.
    The Greek word episkopos, meaning “overseer,” was first used for officials in government, …

    See? ‘government. Nicholatian word, any way. Christ said that his sheep will hear his voice, not that of a bishop, priest, deacon, etc. Not the word of a Nicolaitian!!!!! I wonder if the Orthodox people have the Logos!, NT.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
    , @Alden
  43. Seraphim says:
    @jilles dykstra

    How would you call the Anglicans when:

    “A third of Church of England clergy doubt or disbelieve in the physical Resurrection and only half are convinced of the truth of the Virgin birth, according to a new survey.
    The poll of nearly 2,000 of the Church’s 10,000 clergy also found that only half believe that faith in Christ is the only route to salvation”.
    And that was in 2002.

    When Bishops as recently as this Easter continue to publicly ‘doubt’ the Resurrection?

  44. The issue seems moot, as dioceses under bishops in the West and Patriarchs in the East historically aligned to national lines to facilitate administration of the church in their respective territories.

    On another note, since the pretender currently in the Vatican has chosen to prostrate the Roman Catholic church before Islam, it is high time for the Roman Catholic church to reconsider the primacy of the Holy See and to return the Western Church to a series of co-equal dioceses along lines followed by the Eastern Church.

    • Replies: @Alden
  45. Mikhail says: • Website

    NEW YORK: 28th April, 2018
    Statement of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Support of the Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church

    We, the members of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who carry out our ministry in North America, Europe and Australia, behold with pained soul that in the sacred territory of Kievan Rus’, our beloved land of Ukraine, treacherous political aspirations arise once again — as has happened before in history — under the guise of religious activities but with the evident purpose of inciting enmity and discord amongst the Orthodox people, with the intention of inciting a schism in the Church. Attempts are now being made to create, in this long-suffering land, a separate “autocephalous church” in place of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, recognized by all and headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onouphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This Church has possessed autonomy since 1990 — that is to say, self-governance and independence in its administration. Before us at present is nothing other than a crafty effort to seize upon religious sentiments and subordinate them to the political goals of today’s authorities, directly contradicting the tradition and canonical norms of the Holy Orthodox Church.

    We pray to Almighty God that the passions and troubles stirred up by the efforts of those who are alien to the spirit and grace-filled order of the Church might vanish like smoke, that dissensions may be quieted by His mercy, and that the peace of our Man-loving God, resurrected from the dead on the third day, may reign in their hearts.

    With this statement, we express our complete support for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry, together with his brother-archpastors, clergy, monastics and the faithful flock of the sole canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and with love we bow before their confessor-like struggles. No alteration to the life of the Church can be initiated or imposed upon her by secular authorities. The present attempts to influence the life of the Church from the outside reveal only the fundamentally non-ecclesial motives and goals of those attempting to implement them.

    We call on all to pray for the canonical Orthodox Church in the Land of Ukraine, that the present attempt at church schism will come to naught, and that peace and brotherly love may ever prevail in the relations between the Local Orthodox Churches.

  46. Seraphim says:
    @in the middle

    In the middle of nowhere someone is barking at the moon.

  47. Mr. Hack says:

    The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S. has backed the initiative of providing a Tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the church reported.

    “The Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine has written a strong letter of support for the actions being taken by His All-Holiness and the Holy Synod of Constantinople regarding the possible granting of a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church,” the church said in a statement posted on its website.

    “We have assured His All-Holiness of the unceasing prayers of not only the hierarchs, but also the millions of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy and faithful in and beyond the borders of Ukraine, for him personally during this process,” the statement reads.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  48. Mikhail says: • Website

    Belarus has its own Orthodox Church, as is true of the leading Orthodox Christian denominations in Ukraine and Moldova.

    Wanting some association with the ROC-MP isn’t a crime. Filaret flipped when he didn’t get a top ROC-MP position when it became available. According to someone with contacts to his relatives in Moscow, he’s viewed as an ethically challenged sort, which could’ve very well led to his not getting the appointment he sought.

  49. AP says:
    @Mr. Hack

    No, but you may be right.

  50. anarchyst says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Yes, the Catholic church has much wealth and property, but, how long do you think the benefits of selling it off would last? Let’s not forget that it was Catholicism that instituted the systems of universities and hospitals centuries ago, that still benefit us today.

    • Agree: Hibernian
  51. anarchyst says:
    @Patrick Pappano

    I tend to agree with you that the modern-day Catholic Church has “lost its way”…
    The “beginning of the end” of traditional Catholicism was sealed with the infiltration of the Catholic Church “Vatican II Ecumenical Council” of the 1960s by Jews and Protestants who were involved in the “modernization” of the Catholic Church.
    Much Catholic ritual was discarded, as well as the promotion of the absolution of the Jews for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and death, despite vitriolic Jewish hatred of Jesus Christ and Christianity which exists to this day. The fact is, the Jews DID get the Romans to crucify Jesus Christ and DID accept full responsibility for the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. As is the case today, jews got others (Pontius Pilate) do do their “dirty work” for them…
    Abandoning the use of Latin in the Mass destroyed its “universality”. Previous to Vatican II, one could attend Mass anywhere in the Roman Catholic world and understand the meaning of the Mass.
    Prohibition of the celebration of the Tridentine Mass (except by special ecclesiastical permission) pushed many Catholics away from the new “Modern Mass” and the New Church, in general…It took a brave Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X to “push back” against Vatican II and re-legitimize the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass and other Catholic rites.
    In pre-Vatican II times, the priest (celebrant of the Mass) was considered to be a part of the congregation, and a representative of the people.
    By turning the priest around to face the congregation, the priest was no longer a representative, but an “actor”, diminishing his status and importance.
    One area where the Catholic Church could improve itself involves celibacy, which is NOT Church “dogma” or doctrine. Celibacy was put in place during the middle ages in order to keep Church property from being inherited by family and relatives of priests and bishops. Celibacy was based on purely financial considerations–nothing more. It is interesting to note that Episcopal (Anglican) priests who convert to Catholicism can bring their families with them to the Church while Roman Catholic priests are denied marriage.
    It was a grave mistake by the Church to de-legitimize pre-Vatican II principles.

  52. Gerard1234 [AKA "Gerard2"] says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Other than offering up an occasional prayer for our Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines in Donbas,

    What a disgusting shitbag. A true priest would be emphasising this as a fraternal war, calling for brothers to stop fighting eachother, not cheerleading for these Nazi-war-crime commiting Kiev pricks on the front-line

    Kirill , and pretty much every priest in Russia emphasizes this as a brotherly war, and calls for an end to the suffering , particularly against civilians ( who only suffer from the Kiev regime, not the rebels, ansd whom also suffer from these pricks in Kiev making them cross to the Kiev controlled parts of Lugansk and Donetsk in order to collect their pensions and other social payments)

    Kirill has played a very positive and productive role in prisoner exchanges ( well, I say prisoner, but these Kiev scumbags have often abducted civilians, plenty of women , and classified them as POW’s)….the “Kiev Patriarchate” has had fuckall to do with these negotiations……..other then nauseating, anti-christian, trumphalistic photo-ops on return with the war-crime commiting POW’s exchanged back to Kiev

  53. Mr. Hack says:

    A true priest would be emphasising this as a fraternal war, calling for brothers to stop fighting eachother, not cheerleading for these Nazi-war-crime commiting Kiev pricks on the front-line

    Noone is ‘cheerleading’ for anybody or against anybody you stiff necked moron. And because the inspiration and the procurement of weapons for the Donbas war emanate across the border in a neighboring country, Russia, there’s no reason to think of it as a ‘brotherly’ war. It’s a war of Russian imperialist aggression against Ukraine.

    • Replies: @Aedib
  54. Aedib says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Usual sentences from the Ukronazi butthurt team.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  55. nickels says:
    @Uncle Remus

    Read real historians. You will find complicated realities not reducible to caricatures.

    This statement over simplifies history.
    Often history is very simple, but only when one finds the proper basis to view it from.

    Sometimes it is not simple and awaits the discovery of this basis.

    In some unusual cases history is not simple.

    There, fixed it for you. Now we have a compete theory of history.

    We still don’t know exactly what bee is in your head, care to elaborate?

  56. The Orthodox Christians are neither “sola scriptura” or “sola canon”.

    The Church lives and breathes through people in the flesh, flawed, sinful people. This includes priests, bishops, and patriarchs.

    Do the Patriarchs receive a Bishop? If so, they are legit, if not, they are not.

    Do they receive the autocephaly or autonomy status of a regional jurisdiction? The same.

    Steve nor anyone else is a lawyer or judge with authority to try these matters in a court of public opinion. There is no attorney general or or SC of The Church with which to press charges or sue for damages.

    However correct or flawed his information about the history and politics of these matters may be, change and conflict resolution of this character move across decades, if not centuries, in the Orthodox Church. TPTB in Moscow or Kiev will rise and fall in the mean time.

    It is unmoved by opinions express in blogs.

  57. Mikhail says: • Website

    US mass media has characterized the Onufrey led UOC as taking a neutral stand, unlike svidos who subjectively and negatively characterize one side to the conflict in question.

  58. paulllll says:

    An interesting and informative piece and, thank God, no outbursts of homophobia.

  59. Alden says:

    The official religion of the United States of America is Anti Whitism. It was made the official religion of the USA in 1968.

  60. Alden says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    Some nasty words about Jilles but you are right that he is an atheist ignorant of Christianity who has no business commenting about a very very learned article about the eastern churches.

    Jilles is a typical Western European anti catholic “ intellectual “. Although he claims to be an atheist and against all Christianity he is still fighting the reformation in which his teeny tiny little sect the Dutch Reformed split from the Catholics.

    The great intellectual historian is totally ignorant of the fact that his part of the Netherlands only split from Spain because of British money and British troops

    His snarky comments about America are no different from the rest of the petit bourgeois socialists of Europe who think they are soooo superior to the working class because they went to a free public university.

    On his trip to America he encountered a waitress who never heard of the Netherlands but who had heard of Holland. BFD

    Next time I go to Europe I will pester busy waiters and clerks by asking them if they know there are 2, not 1 Dakotas

    Then there is his “ I’m the only person in the world whose ever read a book” comments.

  61. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    Paul, as a secret agent of the Roman emperor,


    When was he recruited ? Paul might have used Roman power to his advantage and Rome might have allowed him free pass until the Jews’s pressures on them became unbearable and became costly.

  62. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    It’s very, very complicated with a jillion points of view. Best just enjoy their glorious art and let the theologians and historians discuss the history and theology

  63. Alden says:

    Many historians claim that all Constantine did was de criminalize a religion that was already very widespread from England and Germany to Egypt. There is a lot of Persian Zoroastrian Mithrasism and Egyptian religion in Western Christianity

  64. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Why would the Romans behead their own secret agent?

    Stick to what you know, petit bourgeois anti American anti catholic pseudo intellectual snobbish socialism

  65. Alden says:

    Thanks for explaining to this unbeliever what Saker wrote about.

    I love the interior of the orthodox churches. Even if it’s a drab little box, the interiors are a blaze of beautiful pictures and murals

  66. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Let the Christians discuss Christianity.

    The name you are looking for is the Church of England.

  67. Alden says:
    @in the middle

    The reason the early Christians had to meet secretly in private homes was the the Romans arrested them and executed them if they met publicly.

    This is my personal opinion and no Puritan can change my mind. The justification for the Roman and orthodox versions of Christianity IS the cathedrals, art, ceremonies and the biggest repository of the White European people, the Vatican library, museums architecture and art.

    We’re it not for the Vatican observatory, mathematicians and astronomers we wouldn’t even have a useful calendar.

    So go sit in your drab ugly house and memorize the Jewish part of the Bible.

  68. Alden says:
    @The Alarmist

    This Pope is 80? And will be dead soon. That polish Pope helped bring down the evil empire. No nation by itself can support the Vatican museums library and art.

  69. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Here is an idea.

    Why doesn’t the government of The Netherlands tear down all the royal palaces, parliament buildings guild halls, city halls, what’s left of the cathedrals and churches , sell off all the artworks of Rembrandt Rurbens Van Gogh etc etc, sell off all the delft ware and pottery in the museums and build houses for poor Africans and Arabs with the proceeds?

    Why doesn’t the government of the Netherlands exercise the rights of eminent domain and seize all those lovely old guild halls, palaces, mansions, and pretty old cottages and row houses, dismantle them, sell them to rich Chinese and use the proceeds to build Stalinist Brutalism projects for all the poor people in the world.

    That idea that the Roman church should sell off the greatest museum library etc in the world and give the proceeds to the poor is one of the oldest and most hackneyed cliches of the petit bourgeois socialist atheists

    Read some history of Europe. The Catholic Church ran one of the greatest social welfare states in the history of the world until the reformation countries destroyed that welfare system along with the art, music and beauty.

    In America, the Catholic Church lruns about 70 percent of the hospitals and Catholicism is a minority religion here. Many cities and towns had no hospitals at all until European nuns were asked to establish one.

    The Catholics run an entire school system from nursery school thru university that is infinitely superior to the state school system.

    You are such a cliche of a baby boomer petit bourgeois pseudo intellectual anti catholic socialist. I know you are an atheist because you think it is intellectual, but examine your own Dutch Reformed Church.

    Instead of employing millions of architects engineers artists artisans craftsmen and other workers for 2,000 years your reformed church destroyed churches cathedrals art hospitals alms houses orphanages and the rest of the old Catholic welfare system.

    The Catholic Church began as an organization of rich Romans feeding and helping poor Romans. It is still the biggest social welfare organization in the world.

    Not only does the Catholic Church in America run most of the hospitals, a school system far superior to the state schoo system but Catholic Social Services is almost equal to government welfare and social services

    Had not the reformation destroyed the old catholic welfare system, the Protestant countries of Europe would not have had to institute socialism to rescue the proles and peasants from cut throat protestant capitalism.

    That free university you went through is nothing but a version of the universities established by the Holy Roman Catholic Church 1,400 years ago. That socialism you are so proud of is nothing but a resurrection of the old catholic welfare system rich Catholics established a few decades after Jesus died.

    And predestination, of the billions of people on earth only 144,000 will go to heaven

    “Have you ever been to the Vatican”? I suppose, like the rest of the petit bourgeois Europeans you think no American has ever been to Italy.

  70. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Why doesn’t the government of the Netherlands sell off the contents of your museums and build housing for the billions of Muslims and Africans overrunning your country???

  71. Seraphim says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Did you ever ask why the Romans beheaded him in the end (providing you knew that he was beheaded)?

  72. @Mr. Hack

    What else are they going to do?

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  73. Mr. Hack says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    How would I know? What would you suggest that they do?

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  74. @Mr. Hack

    I’m not judging as it’s not really my fight other than, from my convert perspective, to wryly note the apparent global reach of the UOC. The Ukrainan bishops here depend on their status from Ukrainian bishops back home. How long is this sustainable? The Orthodox started diaspora Churches versus missionary Churches.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  75. Thank you, Saker.

    The truth makes its own way in the world, once it is known.

    As here.

  76. Mr. Hack says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    The Ukrainan bishops here depend on their status from Ukrainian bishops back home.

    They do? It seems like a free for all to me, from where I sit…The largest Ukrainian church in the USA is under the direction of the patriarch of Constantinople. About 20 ‘breakaway’ churches belong to the Kyivan church. And then there’s the UOC Autocepholus…I’m still trying to figure them out?…Pray as you wish.

  77. Gg Mo says:
    @Mr. Hack

    “sophisticated group funded by Moscow” ??? As an Antiochian Orthodox American, I know all of this diseased politicking of Bartholomew to be nothing new and the \$ 5 billion US tax-dollars used by Victoria Kagan (avouch) Nuland to foment and fuel this global chess move , nothing new as well. The Rothschilds/Global bankers funded Bolshevism, Nazism etc etc etc all meant to crush the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church and replace with Banker run, totalitarian, technocratic global efficency. Learn more.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  78. Mr. Hack says:
    @Gg Mo

    Are you trying to infer that Russia doesn’t fund journalists and others to further its geopolitical goals?

    It’s you who has to ‘learn more’. Is it global bankers that are funding the unpopular notion of an autonomous Orthodox church in Ukraine? I know,I know, Soros is behind everything. 🙂

  79. The Moscow Patriachy was also self declared and under state control. For centuries until the Revolution, it had good relations with the Anglican Church – both accepted each others ordinands and offered communion to confirmed members of the other’s congregation.

  80. @jilles dykstra

    The church of England is not far behind the Quakers in interpreting God. Both are certainly Christian but increasingly emphasise personal experience of God. Modern Anglicans prefer a loving God to an omnipotent or omniscient one rather than leave it as a Mystery. Personally, I never found the workmen killed by a collapsing tower a problem. Free Will and all that.

  81. Anonymous [AKA "Carrshelton"] says:

    Thank you.

  82. I have fun with, lead to I discovered exactly
    what I was looking for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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