Return to Home Page

Russophobia as a Weapon to attack Church Unity

Russophobia used as a weapon against the Church has a long history. Notably, it has been used for centuries by the Vatican, for example in sending the Teutonic Knights to destroy the Orthodox Church or in founding the Uniat heresy in the late sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century Cardinal Sibour of Paris, launched the Crimean War against Russia as ‘a Crusade against the anti-filioquists’. At the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century the Austro-Hungarian Empire used it to invent the Galician nationalist myth of ‘the Ukraine’ in Little Russia and Carpatho-Russia.

As ever, it employed the Vatican’s classic ‘divide and rule’ technique together with concentration camps for the true faithful, later also used by Hitler in those same parts of Orthodoxdom. Again, greeting the Russian Revolution with enthusiasm, after the Bolshevik coup d’etat it was the politically opportunistic and unprincipled Vatican which opened negotiations with the anti-Christian Communists to send ‘missionaries’ to Russia.

More recently, in this country, Russophobia has been used by Anglicans and ex-Anglicans as a cultural excuse not to take on themselves the Cross of joining the persecuted Russian Orthodox Church. Thus, they missed Her Golgotha – but also missed Her Resurrection, which they ignored like the Jews and fled like the Roman guards. Still more recently in this country, there has been another spate of Russophobic attacks. These began in the early 1980s with a Greek-led group, which infiltrated the weakly-led and then morally-undermined Patriarchate of Moscow in this country. They hounded out any who loved the Russian Orthodox Tradition, helping to strangle Russian Orthodox Church life in this country for decades. Later this group joined themselves to a masonically-controlled renegade Church faction in Paris.

Even more recently, Russophobia has been used outside Russia by groups led mainly by ex-CIA operatives and their naïve followers to set up mini-schisms. At the last count, these numbered seven, each one of them with scarcely more than a hundred followers worldwide. These groups justify themselves politically by referring to cases of Russian or Soviet nationalism in the past, for instance in the Ukraine, Estonia or Georgia. Curiously, the same technique of schism is now being used by the former Bishop of Anadyr in the Far East, who has now anathematised virtually the whole Russian Orthodox Church (except for himself!), this time for not being Russian enough.

The latest outburst of Russophobia takes place in the Ukraine. If we are to believe the incredible statement, apparently of ‘the Patriarchate of Constantinople’, which yesterday appeared on the official website of President Victor Yushshenko of the Ukraine, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is planning a schism there. Regretting that not all has gone in the past ‘as Constantinople and Kiev would have wished’, the statement called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church ‘the Metropolia of Kiev’ and ‘a spiritual daughter’. This amazing declaration clearly ignores that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church and that its churches have had nothing to do with the Patriarchate of Constantinople for over four hundred years.

Even more amazing than this desire to ignore reality and live in the distant past, the document goes on to state quite clearly that the Patriarchate of Constantinople fully supports the small schismatic group of the married and unrepentant KGB hireling and self-styled ‘Patriarch’, Philaret Denisenko, as well as a similar schismatic group of Galician-based nationalist autocephalists. In a veiled threat, the document calls the Russian Orthodox Church ‘intolerant’ and ‘aggressive’ and calls on Galician (that is ‘Ukrainian’) nationalists to obey Constantinople and its new centralising, papalist ideology. It clearly hints that Constantinople will ‘reward’ ‘true Christians’ (Orthodox or Roman Catholic Uniat) and ‘patriots’ in the Ukraine with a ‘Local Ukrainian Church’, providing that it is under Greek control.

It is difficult to believe that the Patriarchate of Constantinople could have issued such a document. Fortunately, it may well prove to be a Uniat or Galician nationalist provocation before the forthcoming celebration of the 1020 anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. If it is not a provocation, then the tiny Patriarchate of Constantinople would have to face the dire consequences of yet another outburst of Phanariot phyletism, just as in Estonia.

Of course, we realise that Russian nationalism also exists. We have been victims of Russian émigré nationalism successively in 1974, 1983, 1993 and 2007, which is why we survive in exile here. However, there also exists another form of Russian consciousness, which is Orthodox and multinational. It is not a narrow provincial and nationalist mentality, like that being cultivated in the Ukraine now and which has been cultivated in the Ukrainian ‘self-consecrated’ emigration since 1990 by politicians in Istanbul.

Using Ukrainian and other forms of Russophobia, there are those who wish to destroy the Russian Church out of jealousy. They cannot accept Her revival after the Soviet Communist apostasy. For over eighty years the dark and compromising forces of opportunism that penetrated the Patriarchate of Constantinople under Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis (1871-1935), combined with Soviet duplicity and Russian émigré chauvinism, had a clear run, poisoning Russian Orthodox Church life in the emigration. That time is over, as was realised in London in 2006. However, the news has not yet reached others in Paris, New York and Istanbul. The fact is that, without the Russian Church, the Orthodox world is reduced to a narrow and spiritually compromised ethnic provincialism of no consequence to the contemporary world.

And, as the present Lambeth Conference of the utterly split Anglican Communion amply demonstrates, the contemporary world desperately needs the witness of an uncompromised Orthodoxy, not of a narrow and compromised provincialism. Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and all the Russias has sent a message to the Lambeth Conference, declaring that its participants ‘bear an enormous historical responsibility’. They have to ‘decide between a traditional and Biblical interpretation of Christian morals and a tendency that mistakes sin and permissiveness for demonstrations of love and tolerance’. Let us hope that the surprising choice of Russian observer for that Conference will be able to make clear to the participants the view of us, the Russian Orthodox grassroots.

Fr Andrew

9/22 July 2008
St Pancras of Taormina

  to top of page