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After the Pope

To the annoyance of the secularist British media, which had been hoping for scandal and disaster, Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain was a success for Roman Catholicism with a self-celebratory atmosphere. However, outside the world of practising Roman Catholics, the visit was largely ignored. In other words, the Pope of Rome preached to the converted.

The problem with what the Pope had to say was not so much the content, but more his wider audience. Were any of the large numbers of lapsed Roman Catholics listening to the head of what they largely see as a compromised and even corrupt institution? Many laymen were not listening, because they feel excluded from an organisation which is clericalist. Many laywomen were not listening because they feel excluded from an organisation which insists on a celibate priesthood which tends to breed misogyny. Many young people were not listening because they feel excluded from an organisation which is sadly tainted with pedophilia. As regards the tens of millions of Non-Catholics, the whole visit was at best irrelevant.

During his visit, the Pope warned of ‘aggressive forms of secularism’ attacking the fabric of British society. It is good to hear such words, but there is nothing original in them. They have come far too late with regard to Britain’s ever-accelerating but centuries-old march towards secularism. The same words have been said by others for decades and generations and centuries.

From an Orthodox Christian viewpoint they carry little weight, as secularism is the child of Protestantism and Protestantism is the child of Roman Catholicism. For Orthodox, secularism is therefore but the grandchild of Roman Catholicism. It is after all Roman Catholicism which was created nearly 1,000 years ago when the Church leaders of Western Europe took the fatal decision to isolate themselves from the Orthodox Church. This was done by setting up a religious Superstate, making the Church into a mere institution, which could dominate and control other States. Sadly, with each century, Roman Catholicism has fallen even further from its origins in the Church. It is this Statist deviation which is at the origin of today’s unipolar and totalitarian world. Conversely, the free communion of the Orthodox Christian Church family is the model for a multipolar world.

So a voice cries in the secular wilderness that is modern Britain, but that wilderness is largely self-inflicted. Only when Roman Catholicism returns to the common, apostolic practices of the Church of the first millennium will it be listened to. When the now 83 year-old Pope dies, as one day he will, Roman Catholicism will be faced with a stark choice. This will be either of going with the secularist Western flow and letting Non-Christian Islam take over as a spokesman for religious belief, or else of returning to Christian Church Tradition, abandoning the novelties of the last thousand years including, above all, the papacy and its filioque ideology.

The first possibility could perhaps come as the result of electing another Western Pope, the second could perhaps come as the result of electing an African or Eastern European Pope. It is only this last possibility which might reverse Roman Catholicism’s ancestral lapse, its thousand-year schism from the Church, its repentance and return to the Orthodox Christian fold. Realistically, however, this would require a whole series of seemingly impossible miracles. However, ‘a whole series of seemingly impossible miracles’ is the exact definition of the history and survival of the Orthodox Church and Orthodox Christianity over the last 2,000 years…

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