Return to Home Page

Constantinople and Moscow

The current visit of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow is meant to help reconcile the differences of views of the two most important Local Orthodox Churches. There is much to discuss.

Firstly, there is the possibility of convening a Pan-Orthodox Council, so dear to the heart of Patriarch Bartholomew and all his Synod, much less so to the Russian Church. Spoken of for a century, such a Council has not taken place, partly because most Local Orthodox Churches have been captive for most of that time, either to Communism or else to Western masonic interests. Thus, Moscow was for three generations captive to the Bolsheviks and Constantinople was and is captive to the Turkish government with its British Imperial and then American Imperial backers. Partly, however, a Pan-Orthodox Council has not taken place because many Orthodox consider that there is not a single dogmatic issue to speak of and so no reason for a Council to take place. Could the administrative problems to be dealt with be solved without calling a Council, being solved either bilaterally, as is now happening in Moscow, or else multilaterally elsewhere?

After all, the old-fashioned modernist agenda of the tiny, politically-motivated group behind the ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’ of 1923, including abolishing fasts, introducing a married episcopate, adopting the papal calendar and other such nonsense, was long ago laughed off the agenda. Even the once important issue of the granting of autocephaly and autonomy seems to have been resolved very easily and unanimously at an inter-Orthodox conference last year.

As regards the problem of authority (or rather lack of authority) of any single Local Church in the Diaspora, this cannot be solved top-down in any case. Only people power can solve this issue. In the Diaspora people choose which Local Church they belong to, whether Moscow, Constantinople, Bucharest, Belgrade, Antioch or elsewhere. Nothing can change attachments to such loyalties. It is a question of identity.

As for the foundation of new Local Churches, this can only happen when there are enough local people who want it. At present, their numbers are minute and past attempts to found new Local Churches have been hopelessly marred and compromised by the rootless and destructive modernism in the Diaspora, for example in North America and France. Orthodox simply vote with their feet against groups which may call themselves Orthodox, but are in reality Anglican/Episcopalian or else Roman Catholic in spirit.

Nevertheless, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow and their advisers will still have to speak about the Estonian schism of Constantinople (Constantinople has now realised that it will never be able to adopt a schism in the Ukraine). Secondly, there is the matter of jurisdiction among Ukrainian and ex-Russian fragments in the Diaspora, for example in Paris and in North America, with the failed Cold War experiment with the OCA, which is still considered by most Local Churches to be uncanonical, forty years after it was proclaimed. Thirdly, there is the jurisdictional and pastoral situation of Russians who live in Turkey, who now far outnumber the Greek flock there.

Finally, there is the ecumenical question. Given the size of the Russian Orthodox Church and its international standing, Rome increasingly sees the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its tiny flock as irrelevant. Modernist undercurrents in Moscow, influenced by Diaspora renovationists from Paris, Oxford and New York, value links with Rome. These modernist currents are the heritage of the Protestantised seminaries and academies of pre-Revolutionary, Petrine Russia. The high point of their influence came at the semi-Protestant 1917-1918 Council of Moscow, which was shaped by the masonic, ‘democratic’ politics of Kerensky. (However, even that Council was unable to undermine the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate).

Although such modernist currents are not yet dead, recent news has dashed the hopes of most of the Moscow modernists and neo-renovationists. The invitation from Galician Uniats in the Ukraine to Pope Benedict to visit them in 2012 – an invitation which the Pope has accepted – means the end to the philo-catholic dreams of Moscow modernists. Given the firm opposition of faithful Orthodox Cypriots to the June visit of Pope Benedict to Cyprus, we can only imagine the even firmer reactions to the news of the invitation to the Pope to visit historic Orthodox territory among the oppressed Orthodox of the western Ukraine, who have had their churches stolen from them by imperialist papalists.

Whatever the deals resulting from the Patriarchal conversations in Moscow, we can be sure of one thing. The time of beardless, dog-collared ‘Orthodox’ ecumenists, bureaucrats and modernist ‘Orthodox’ intellectuals and ‘philosophers’ is over. Their vain fantasies and greedy grasping for prestige, power or money are, and always were, as spiritually irrelevant as were pseudo-Orthodox nationalist or convert ghettos.

Now is when the anti-globalist Orthodox Church, led by three-quarters of its membership, the Russian Orthodox Church, moves onto the world scene, becoming the global Church in the global 21st century. We are following.

13/26 May 2010
St Glyceria the Virgin

  to top of page