Comment on the Decline of Anglicanism:
At first sight it may seem very strange that it is this which may lead to the final collapse of that denomination. Anglicanism was always based on a compromise between Protestantism and Catholicism in the desire to avoid the descent of a State into Civil War. For centuries Anglicanism has boasted of its 'comprehensiveness', the idea that 'dogmas' do not matter. As such, in the nineteenth century, Anglicanism laid the foundation-stone of ecumenism.
In recent decades it seemed not to matter in Anglicanism whether you believed or not in the Holy Trinity, in the Divinity of Christ, in the Resurrection, in the Virginity of the Ever-Virgin, in sacraments and therefore a male priesthood. Faith could be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Belief in the basics was optional. Being all things to all men, you could believe in anything you wanted - except in disunity. All the above divergences were indeed swept under the carpet - and as a result outward unity survived. And now this, the challenge to simple Christian morality, is leading to the suicide of a denomination.
However, looking more deeply at this phenomenon, we should not be surprised. The rejection of the fundamental revelations to the Church about the nature of God, the rejection of the 'dogmas' formulated by the saints of the first millennium, leads inevitably to the rejection of basic Christian morality. After an initial period of hypocrisy, sooner or later the collapse of the spiritual and dogmatic basis of any Christian group leads automatically to its moral collapse.
This is a law. Without spirituality, there is hypocrisy, followed by visible moral collapse. Here it is happening before our very eyes, proof that spiritual collapse always precedes moral collapse. The loss of belief in basic spiritual truths leads to the loss of belief in basic moral truths. Never underestimate the moral significance of the spiritual revelations of dogma.
Some are now looking to Catholicism as a refuge from Protestant divisions and sectarianism. But not many. Everybody knows that once the present ailing Pope has gone from the stage, Catholicism, especially in Western countries, may well implode. 99% of Western Catholics do not accept Papal Infallibility, clerical celibacy or rulings against artificial contraception. The gulf between the ordinary Roman Catholic and the Vatican has rarely been so wide. Pedophile scandals have ruined Catholicism, both morally and financially, even in recent strongholds like Ireland. In many ways the ill-health of Pope John-Paul II seems to be symbolic of that of a whole organisation, teetering on the brink of decay and division. An old, frail and shaky structure which is about to die, having come to the term of it historical existence.
Others look to the Orthodox Churches for authority. Certainly there, there is spiritual experience and therefore no lack of belief in the basic and obvious truths of Christian morality. But there they also see inward-looking, non-missionary Balkan Churches trying to come to terms with their compromises with the recent Communist past. The Serbs are showing independence, having thrown off politics, the Romanians are making some progress, the Bulgarians hardly any. As for the Greek Churches, with their fifteen million nominal members, the situation is, ironically for a Church which never underwent Communism, catastrophic.
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, leader of some four million Greek Orthodox worldwide, is in trouble everywhere, accused by Russians, Serbs and Greeks alike of trying to act as an 'Eastern Pope'. His interference in the internal affairs of the Churches of Jerusalem, the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and on Mt Athos has scandalised the Orthodox faithful. Now he has been challenged by the more powerful Archbishop of Athens, part of whose territory he is trying to take over. He has even offered to resign. He has been denounced in the recent book by the politically deposed Archbishop Methodios of Thyateira. Greek Orthodox laity in the USA are denouncing him for his lack of democracy. His very own Archbishop in Australia, Stylianos, with thirty years service, has denounced the politicking and meddling of a Patriarchate which seems to be in love with its own feeble power.
Therefore, others are now looking to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is coming out of a Babylonian captivity to Communism which lasted some seventy years. The Russian Church is by far the largest Orthodox Church, over 50% of the totality of Orthodoxy. It alone is truly multinational and always has been, covering one sixth of the Earth's dry land. It alone has some 1,000 monasteries. There is now hope that the Russian Orthodox Church can at last unite its forces and offer the world the only credible worldwide alternative.
It may not want this. It may be too inward-looking to contemplate this. It may not be able to free itself from its compromised Communist past. That would be tragic, because at this very moment, surrounded by the present and imminent spiritual and moral collapse of Protestantism and Catholicism, there are still sincere Christians all over the world who are looking for the leadership of the Church. Could it be the haven that many sincere and simple believers seek?
Last April, through its Patriarch, the Russian Orthodox Church proposed to set up in Western Europe a Metropolia for all Orthodox Christians of all nationalities who confess the Russian Tradition there. This would be the foundation of a future local Orthodox Church in Western Europe and thus the refoundation of the Roman Orthodox Patriarchate of the first millennium.
Since last April nothing has happened, there were far too many obstacles at that time, but some of them have already gone. Moreover, the concept of such a Metropolia in Europe is much talked about. Now that we are witnessing the decline of the Protestant and Catholic denominations all over the Western world, is it not possible that this is the path for the remaining Christians in the Western world, a return to the Orthodox Church?
In Western Europe will we live to see the birth of R.O.M.E. - the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe?
In the Americas will they live to see the birth of R.O.M.A. the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in the Americas?
In Australia and New Zealand will they live to see the birth of R.O.M.A.N.Z. - the Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Australia and New Zealand?
Divine Providence will show us.