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Africa and Eastern Europe: Lands of Faith

Coming home from church on Sundays, I notice African families walking along the streets in their Sunday best. They have obviously just been to their African Protestant churches. Our own faithful can also be spotted on the streets, the women with headscarves around their shoulders and dressed in skirts, instead of today’s universal, unisex uniform of jeans. Together, Africans and Russians make the difference to the drab, workaday streets of the modern British Sunday. As for Roman Catholicism in modern Britain, it has been saved by Polish immigration, laity and clergy. Otherwise many more of its churches would have closed.

But where are the English faithful returning from their churches? Answer: They are invisible. The fact is that the few English people who go to church are mainly very old. Little wonder that the next Archbishop of Canterbury may well be black. As if to illustrate this, the national news has in the last three days been dominated by two stories.

First of all, there is the story of a 23-year old African footballer, Fabrice Muamba, born in the Congo, who fell down in the middle of a football match last Saturday with a cardiac arrest. Taken to hospital, he almost died. The news has been full of people saying, ‘He is in God’s hands’, ‘We ask you to pray for him’ and ‘Only the power of prayer can do anything’. The latest news is that he is now slowly recovering. The power of African prayer indeed.

Secondly, there is the case of a Russian Orthodox woman, a parishioner of the Dormition Cathedral in London. She has been forced to give up her work because she was going to be obliged to take off her small neck cross at her place of work. Rather than do this, she chose to leave her job. Announced on the Sunday of the Cross, this story yet again shows the discrimination and even persecution that Christians are subject to in this land of ‘toleration’ and ‘inclusiveness’. Russian women are indeed the best Orthodox missionaries in this country, just as they were in the Soviet Union.

How extraordinary it is that in today’s Brave New Britain, Sikhs can wear their turbans, Muslim women can be fully veiled, people can walk about semi-naked and half-drunk, with green or yellow hair, their faces covered in tattoos and metalwear, homosexuals can ‘marry’ and adopt children, but we Christian are not allowed to wear a discreet and modest cross around our necks. Faith here today depends on immigrants – from Eastern Europe and Africa.

All this is the result of what has happened in this country over the last fifty years. When the representatives of Christian denominations in this country lost their faith and preached their apostasy, they stopped being witnesses to Christ, stopped setting examples, the people lost their faith. Faith is a fire; like all fires, it is catching and can set fire to others. But where there is no fire to start with, there remain only the ashes of civilisation - spiritual decadence, destruction and death, drugs, alcoholism, suicide, abortion and euthanasia (both = murder), in other words, hell.

The above events are daily realities not only in these Isles, but all over Western Europe. Contemporary Western European culture has become an anti-culture. Europe can no longer live off its feeble legacy of reserves, the fragments and vestiges of the Holy Faith that was openly preached and lived here in the First Millennium. Those reserves are all but exhausted. Having learned nothing from the errors of the old Soviet Union, the persecution of Christ is happening in today’s anti-Christic European Union.

This is the decadence and suicide of a civilisation, which has denied and rejected its own roots. Decadence always leads to spiritual death, being a symptom of it, and Western Europe is spiritually dying, where it is not already spiritually dead. It is the New Dark Continent. The Brave New World of the European Union is fast becoming the Kingdom of Death, that is, the Kingdom of Hell. However, there is still hope. The Risen Christ also went down into Hell and preached the Resurrection and Life to the captives there.

May His Word of the Resurrection, of the Kingdom of Life, be preached through us in the deathly lands of Western faithlessness.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Sts Perpetua and Felicity and Companions at Carthage
7/20 March 2012

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