Excerpt from: Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition

22. The Present Situation of the Orthodox Church

In 1917 the Russian Orthodox Empire fell. With it fell the last successor to the Roman Emperors, represented by the aptly named Romanov dynasty. 'What withholdeth' (2 Thess. 3-6) was removed from power and Satanic forces were unleashed in the world. The whole Orthodox Church lost the benevolent influence on its affairs of the Orthodox Empire. Ever since the Orthodox Church has been laid open to the attacks of evil.

Today it would seem to the outside observer that the Orthodox Church is delineated into two camps, both of them fashioned and shaped by the forces of this world, and this as a direct result of the Revolution of 1917.

On the one hand there are the local Orthodox Churches of the Greek tradition, situated in the Eastern Mediterranean. Since the loss of Russian protection, they have all been in great difficulty. The Patriarch of Antioch is forced for political reasons to reside in Damascus. Squeezed between Uniat and Muslim, much of his territory is destroyed by the war in the Lebanon between these two factions. The Patriarch of Alexandria lives mainly in Athens, on which he depends both financially and politically. The Church of Cyprus has lost much of its territory and property to the Turkish invaders. The Church of Greece, uncanonically torn away from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1833 by the British government of the time, is weakened and undermined. First by calendar schism, following the imposition of the civil calendar on it by the Greek government m 1925, and then by a series of decadent leaders who have continually interfered in Church affairs. The Patriarchate of Constantinople itself, the 'leader' of this world, is squeezed between Turkish Islam and the Vatican. In the 1920s it lost much of its territory and then most of its people through Turkish invasion. Then its troubles deepened with the 'election' of a freemason, Metropolitan Meletios Metaksakis, to its throne. 1 It was he who in 1920 got the Orthodox world involved in ecumenism. It was he who introduced the civil Calendar into the Greek Churches, thus creating bitter and as yet unhealed schisms in the few local Churches which were forced to adopt it. When the Americans installed Patriarch Athenagoras in Constantinople (a Greek-American freemason of the 33rd degree), his unlawfully deposed predecessor, Patriarch Maximos was heard to say: 'The City is lost'. Today the Patriarchate of Constantinople has set its sights first on becoming a kind of 'Eastern Papacy' and then unity with the Vatican.

On the other hand there are the local Orthodox Churches of the Slav tradition, less ancient but far more populous. These churches include the small ones of Japan and North America, unrecognised by the Churches of the Greek tradition. They also include the Romanian, Bulgarian and minute Finnish Church, as well as the Polish and Czechoslovak Churches, the latter of which is also unrecognized by the Greek Churches. The Romanian, Bulgarian and Finnish Churches have also been forced into accepting the civil calendar, which has once again caused schism and discord. These Churches, led by the Patriarchate of Moscow, are enslaved by atheistic Communism. So tragic is their situation that they are unable even to recognise their own martyrs, often officially denying even the existence of millions who died for the Faith in recent years. At the recent Russian Church Council at the Trinity St Sergius Monastery near Moscow, one of their bishops, Metropolitan Antony Bloom, who is not a Soviet citizen, spoke out thus: 'We are the only ones who continue to pass over in silence the heroic faithfulness and abnegation of thousands of believers, often unknown, who saved the Church from total destruction. We alone remain silent ... . We could at least ... thank God for these witnesses of the Faith who ... remained faithful to Christ, our Redeemer and Saviour, and who thus entered into the brightness and the holiness of the Russian Church.' How shameful is this lack of freedom and refusal to confess the holiness of one's own saints! What sort of Churches are these?

There are those who say, however, that now that Communism is dying, these Churches will soon be free. Others affirm that the changes in the Eastern bloc are merely superficial, a question of public relations in order to disarm the West and squeeze money from its governments. This is not the place to speak of politics but it must be admitted that, whatever the changes, the damage inflicted on the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe means that normal Church life will be impossible there for very many years to come.

We said at the beginning of this article that 'to the outside observer' there appear to be two camps in the Orthodox Church today. In fact this is a gross simplification. The free voice of the Orthodox Church can be heard in a number of places today.

First of all there is the Holy Mountain of Athos. The voices of many holy fathers have spoken out against the forces that threaten the integrity of Orthodoxy. Secondly there is the Serbian Church whose bishops stand solidly Orthodox and which has remained largely free of direct political interference. It has spoken out through the voices of two saintly and learned men, Bishop Nicholas Velimirovich and Fr Justin Popovich. Thirdly there is the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Only weeks ago, on 22 May this year its Holy Synod met and suspended participation in all activities compromising the integrity of the Orthodox Faith. In the words of Patriarch Diodor: 'We must defend the purity of Orthodoxy and the flock which has been entrusted to us'. Fourthly there is the Russian Orthodox Church of the emigration, the most independent and free Orthodox Church in the world today. Part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it represents the free voice of that Church, and commands immense sympathy and authority inside Russia, where the Church authorities are totally paralysed by the State. This Church canonized the New Martyrs of Russia at the demand of Russians inside Russia, who despaired at the paralysis of the State-appointed bishops inside Russia. It also commands great respect among those in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece who wish to remain faithful to Orthodox Tradition. It continues the millennial tradition of the Church outside Russia, where it already existed long before the Revolution in its churches built for missionary and pastoral needs before 1917 all over the world.

What can we say of the future? If, finally, the Churches of Eastern Europe can free themselves from their governments, then we can look forward to many changes. We can hope that one day all the New Martyrs of the Communist yoke will be glorified and freely and openly venerated in their own countries. We can hope that the positions of those hostile to Orthodox Tradition in all the Orthodox Churches will collapse and we shall return to the stability of before 1917.

As members of the Orthodox Church, we pray that such transformations may yet occur, but as realists we must admit that none of this may occur without a miracle - mass repentance.

May the Lord have mercy on us and bring us all to His salvation.

July 1989

1. See the official Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, No 2, where we find full details of his masonic career. Other particulars of his masonry can be found in the masonic journal Pythagore-Equerre, Vol. 4, Part 7, 1935, where his obituary was published. It seems that he was the first Orthodox bishop in history to call for an end to missionary work by the Orthodox Church (Point 10 of his encyclical of 1920). Other bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have openly followed this policy, but we do not know if this is because they are also freemasons or whether it is for other reasons. Among present-day masons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, we know of one who invites his clergy to become freemasons. The late Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, was a notorious freemason. Freemasonry is strictly forbidden on pain of excommunication by the Orthodox Church.

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