The New Orthodox Diaspora Situation
As long as the vast majority of the Orthodox world was held captive by Communism, as during most of the twentieth century, the Orthodox Diaspora was also held captive. However, the latter was held captive not by Communism, but by the Western Powers (‘the international community’). They made sure that the Orthodox Diaspora was under their thumb, that it was politically and, if possible, spiritually, neutralised. In this way it would not rock the Western boat and its consumerist propaganda myths of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘justice’ and ‘honesty’, with which the Western powers hoodwink the naive.
The Old Diaspora Situation
This control of the Orthodox Diaspora was particularly evident in the case of the Greek-speaking Diaspora. Conveniently for the Western Powers, this Diaspora was easily in the majority; small and impoverished Greece and Cyprus were the only majority Orthodox countries from which Orthodox were free to emigrate. Thus, Diaspora Greeks, easily outnumbering all other Diaspora Orthodox, came to be linked with Western Establishments. This was most obviously the case in the USA, with immigrants from Greece (1), and in the UK, with immigrants from Cyprus (2). All this changed with the collapse of Communism, bankrupted by the arms race.
Thus, in the old situation, much of the Orthodox Diaspora had been dominated by a ‘Pan-Orthodox’ mentality. This term ‘Pan-Orthodox’ was code for the US-controlled (until 1948, UK-controlled) Patriarchate of Constantinople. Pan-Orthodox therefore came to mean pro-Western, pro-Capitalist, Protestantised, often spiritually shallow and compromised. This was symbolised by the use or promotion of the ‘new’ calendar (more exactly new calendarism) by its shaven and dog-collared representatives. Indeed, many individuals from the Orthodox Diaspora actually came to work for Western Establishments and their secret services, be it in the USA (The CIA / The Voice of America / Radio Liberty), the UK (The BBC), Canada, France, West Germany etc, which sometimes also subsidised parts of the Orthodox Diaspora.
In the USA, outside the Greek Archdiocese, the symbol of this was the ‘Pan-Orthodox’ OCA (Orthodox Church in America), a now old-fashioned Cold War grouping which attempted to group all Non-Greek Orthodox into a single bloc. It was dominated by individuals of various origins who promoted the Protestant-based US Establishment and mocked those who did not follow it. These leaders promoted the use of English, the new calendar and Protestant-inspired modernist practices. In the UK, outside the Greek Archdiocese, the OCA was mirrored by various small pro-Establishment English-speaking groupings, such as that in the old Sourozh Diocese. These were dominated by individuals of various origins who promoted the Protestant-based UK Establishment and mocked those who did not follow it (3). Their leaders, generally elderly, promoted the use of English, the new calendar and Protestant-inspired modernist practices.
The New Diaspora Situation
This changed after the collapse of Communism and mass economic migration to most parts of the Western world from the bankrupt economies of Eastern Europe. With large numbers of Slav-speaking, Romanian-speaking and other migrants, the whole composition of the Diaspora changed. The old realities of ‘Pan-Orthodoxy’, of those ensconced in ‘comfortable’ Western Establishment ways, ended. This first became apparent in 2006 with the Sourozh schism in the UK. Then, the old, Protestant-based, pseudo-intellectual and spiritual compromises of the past, long opposed by the isolated Orthodox minority, were finally destroyed by the arrival of other Orthodox en masse. As a result, those with the semi-Orthodox ethos of the past chose to leave the Russian Church rather than accept the fullness of Orthodoxy. They justified themselves, condemning the Orthodox Tradition, putting effete cultural compromise above the Church and Faith of Christ. The fantasist, disincarnate ‘spirituality’ of the imagination was put above the Incarnation of the Saviour among the masses.
Thus, the old, spiritually compromised, unicultural ‘Pan-Orthodoxy’ is largely dying out and being replaced by multicultural ‘Inter-Orthodoxy’, as symbolised by the Inter-Episcopal Orthodox Bishops’ Assemblies. In other words, the countries of the Diaspora are generally no longer dominated by one nationality. The Russian, Romanian, Greek, Serbian and other Churches, such as the Bulgarian and Georgian, have been established as never before. With the present disturbances in the Middle East, more Arab-speaking political refugees are also arriving to join the Antiochian Diaspora. The New Diaspora Situation is one which is escaping the spiritually-paralysing control of the Western Establishment. Spiritual freedom is in the air.
What does all this mean on a local level, in the average large town or city in Europe and increasingly in other parts of the Diaspora? It means a welcome diversity, that quite rightly there are now several Orthodox parishes in such towns, each catering for a different nationality. Orthodox are now starting to be free to attend the parish of their choice, without being dictated to. They are no longer forced to attend a Church which does not necessarily express the Orthodox Tradition because it is spiritually compromised by the local Establishment. Thus, each large town or city may have Romanian, Russian, Greek and Serbian churches. In the town itself or in a village outside it, there may also be a small rented chapel or private room for converts who wanted to join the Church, but are not yet ready to become Orthodox in the mainstream Church.
The New Diaspora Situation at last creates conditions for freedom among Orthodox. No longer are we being brow-beaten by a compromised majority. Today all decisions must be taken by consensus, meaning that we are free to confess a deeper, more serious, spiritually radical and genuine Orthodoxy, without compromise. If consensus cannot be reached because of Western Establishment political interference, then we can simply continue to practise and confess our Orthodox Faith in freedom. At last, real inter-Orthodox co-operation is becoming a reality, because authentic co-operation can only take place in conditions of freedom, not in conditions of coercion. It is within this landscape that we are able to confess authentic Orthodoxy to the Non-Orthodox world.
1. The two foremost examples of Greek Americans who compromised themselves with the US Establishment must be Spiro Agnew and Michael Dukakis. The former who had anglicised his surname to Agnew and adopted Episcopalianism as his (Establishment) faith, was the criminal Vice-President of the criminal Republican President Richard Nixon. The latter, who had married a convinced Non-Christian, was a failed Democratic challenger for the Presidency and supported abortion. We can see that party politics are irrelevant; one a Republican, the other a Democrat, both sold themselves for their ambition.
2. It is reckoned that up to a quarter of Cyprus’ population lives in the UK, mainly in London.
3. The anecdote in the late 1990s and early 2000s was that, apart from its general renovationist modernism, the chief difference between the old Sourozh Diocese and the Russian Orthodox ROCOR Diocese in the UK was that the former supported the EU and NATO, whereas the latter did not.