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Sunday, August 20, 2017
Date Posted:
3/23/2007


An Update On Rome’s Subtle Attack On The Orthodox Bloc


Looking forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth
Dr Clive Gillis

Rudyard Kipling’s words, “Oh! East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” are exemplified in the great Orthodox Christian bloc ‑ the remnant of the Byzantine Empire ‑ which separated Roman Catholicism in the west from the Islamic Ottoman empire in the east.

This bloc, which extends from Russia in the north, through the Ukraine, Romania, Greater Serbia and Bulgaria to Greece in the south, cannot be dismissed as mere history. Its revival, with Orthodox Christianity as its glue, is a live issue.

Milorad Pavic’s novel Dictionary of the Khazars has now been translated from Cyrillic into 41 languages. The novel introduces the Khazars, a race that spread from the Dnepr to the Volga rivers between the 7th and l0th centuries.  They were knit together by their alliance with the Byzantines against the Arabs.  The Khazar presence is said to have stalled the Islamic invasion of Russia and changed the course of history.

The Khazars lost their unity and then disappeared without trace.  The memory of this strengthened the resolve of the fiercely anti-Roman Catholic Serbs within Tito’s old Yugoslavia to stand together against the virulent Serbophobia that prevailed at the time of Yugoslavia’s break‑up.  And it awoke memories of the Byzantine empire.

Byzantism

In 1993 a Russian, Oleg Rumyantsev, Called for a “Conference of Spiritually Close Peoples”.  It was subtitled “Russia is looking for Allies”.

Rumyantsev maintains that, “the peoples of the post Byzantine region have always constituted a continent between the West and the East,” and he called for the “mutual support of peoples and governments within the framework of our own world”.  The Conference revived the concept of Byzantism.

The term Byzantism was actually coined by Leontyev, a Russian philosopher who died in 1891.  He sought to counter the “degenerating influence of the West” characterised by effete Roman Catholicism.

President Putin and his circle have embraced Byzantism and it also finds echoes in Greece at the south of the Orthodox bloc.  Rome fears Byzantism with its identification of the pope as the Antichrist and arch enemy.  Therefore the Vatican and Benedict XVI wage a relentless campaign to neutralise and consume Orthodoxy.

Kosovo

We turn first to Kosovo.  Kosovo is Serbia’s historic heartland.  Here the Vatican helped to destroy Serbian influence, using Nato and the CIA.  Former peace keepers allege ‑ off the record ‑ that the, “CIA encouraged the KLA (the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army) to launch a rebellion in southern Serbia to undermine the then Yugoslav President”.

When Kosovo came under Nato protection, Orthodox churches and shrines were destroyed.  A current round of talks in Vienna aims at giving Kosovo full independence from Serbia.

The Serbian population of Kosovo in 2003 was estimated at about 400,000 out of a total population of two million.  This has fallen to 120,000, living in constant fear and practically ghettoised.  The Serbian Orthodox Church stands to lose its great historical shrines, and churches and their congregations.

In the January elections, the Serb nationalist party gained the largest single vote ‑ 28.5%.  But the pro‑EU Democratic Party (DS) and Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) were credited with 22% and 17% respectively.  Together, as a coalition, they polled 39% between them. The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana boasted, “The majority voted for forces that are democratic and pro‑European,” thus neutralising the Serbian voice.  The Vatican will have listened with great satisfaction.

President Ahtisaari is Special Envoy for Kosovo’s future status.  His alleged remarks about the “collective guilt” of the Serbian nation, that the Serbs are “guilty as a people” and that Serbia is “sabre‑rattling”, are hardly impartial.  Critics of his plan for Kosovo are told, “If somebody says that my proposal gives a worse future for Kosovo, then they haven’t read (it) or they don’t understand the language . . . the closest comparison I have is, (the) Devil reading the Bible”.

Rome’s migration Office

Bulgaria and Romania have now joined the EEC.  Rome’s deadly Migration Office is in command of Roman Catholic dispersion.  It directs and facilitates poor Roman Catholic migrants to beef up the RC presence in otherwise unwelcoming areas.  The Migration Office is more than satisfied with the recent Polish immigrant influx into the UK.  So great has it been that devout Poles may be seen kneeling in the streets, even in the rain, outside revived Roman Catholic churches too packed to accommodate them for Mass.

It is therefore unlikely that Rome will easily countenance an Orthodox influx from Bulgaria and Romania alongside her own people. Headlines such as, “Catholics set to surpass Anglicans as leading UK church,” and, “Is Protestant England on its last legs?” proclaim a victory not to be jeopardised.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s Roman Catholic population is less than 50,000 out of a total population of seven million.  This sounds small but Rome still comes third after Orthodoxy and Islam.  The Vatican has been able to exploit Bulgaria’s desire for EEC membership.

Fierce Roman Catholic missionary efforts in the 9th century and, again, in the 16 and 17th centuries, have paid off.  Rome established diplomatic relations with Bulgaria in 1990.  On May 22, 2006 the Bulgarian government announced that, “Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev (has) met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.  Bulgaria appreciates the position voiced by the Holy See, and Pope Benedict XVI in person, in favour of the enlargement of the EU as a zone of stability and prosperity”.

“We highly appreciate your stance and do hope it will be followed by EU membership,” said Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on meeting Sodano who incidentally seized the opportunity to consecrate the RC Cathedral of St Joseph in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.  The consecration took the form of a glittering mass attended by Bulgaria’s ambassador to the Vatican and key government officials.

Romania

Romania is more than twice the size of Bulgaria with the same per capita income.  Roman Catholics number a million out of a total population of 22 million, which is proportionately a third less than Bulgaria.  During the iron curtain years the small Romanian Roman Catholic church became very independent of Rome.  From 1948 onwards, severe communist suppression by the state and numerous privations and executions of priests, led to a robust antipapal mindset among the general population.

But in 1990, John Paul II exploited the Romanian desire to re‑establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican.  He used it to apply pressure on Romania to re‑accept papal domination.

When the EEC pay out of over £6 billion was announced, a disproportionate third is expected to go to Bulgaria.  Rome has counterbalanced this with an interesting move involving her immensely powerful charity Caritas.

Iosefina Cristina Loghin, Secretary General of Caritas Romania, suddenly emerged from obscurity in 2002 as Vice‑President of Caritas Europa. Then in Brussels, in May 2005, further lightening promotion followed as she became President with vast potential to aid Ro­mania.

In Caritas Europa’s Newsletter of December 2005 Loghin laid out her vision for Rome Caritas operations in the enlarged EEC.  An upbeat editorial appeared, ominously entitled Looking Forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth ‑ the Home of Righteousness.

To any Orthodox Serb that title would be a bristling challenge.  The Serb defeat at Kosovo in 1389 is at the heart of the Serb psyche.  At that time their leader Prince Lazar is understood to have preferred defeat and death to victory in order to receive the promise of a “Heavenly Kingdom” and an “Earthly Kingdom”.  This spirit is described by a modern Serb theologian as “Orthodoxy ennobled by a healthy Serbian nationalism”.

The vision of a “Heavenly Serbia” where church and state, heaven and earth, are one, is the essence of Serbian identity.  The notion of a Roman Catholic controlled New Heaven and New Earth can only be construed as a challenge.  In January this year Loghin spoke of Caritas adopting, “a multi‑faith approach in a relatively peaceful country like Armenia, Albania, Georgia, Serbia and Montenegro”.  That is a threat to the Orthodox bloc and its neighbours.

Russia

But what of the northern end of the historic Orthodox bloc ‑ Russia and the Volga river?  The bitter hostility between the Russian Orthodox church and the Vatican continues relentlessly.  But, planning for centuries and millennia, Rome has made an apparently insignificant but in fact remarkable inroad into the Russian Orthodox carapace.

It is a well known fact that when communism collapsed a plethora of churches and sects swarmed in.  Traditional Orthodox communities suffered an onslaught, made worse by the vastness of the area.  Before the Communist revolution, the 19th century Russian Orthodox church solved the problem of servicing this vast area by means of a church ship the St Nicholas which plied the 2,200 miles of the Volga.  The Volga is Europe’s longest river which drains all of western Russia down into the Caspian sea.

During the 1990s a Russian businessman, Vladimir Karetsky, who, with many of the post Soviet elite from Putin downwards, had embraced Russian Orthodoxy, was perishing in a yacht on the Atlantic with his 14 year old son.  Karetsky told his son “If there was a God we would be saved”.  He vowed, “I would build a church boat to thank Him”.  The new St Nicholas is a remarkable sight with a triple golden onion domed church occupying all of mid ships.  Its interior is exactly like a terrestrial orthodox church ‑ a spectacular venue for marriages and baptisms.  The St Nicholas was joined by the Saint Vladimir in 2004, and the distinctly un‑Russian named Werenfried in 2005, along with two Church barges that can be towed to venues in summer when the river is not frozen.

The amazing truth is that the Orthodox church is so desperate to stop this haemorrhage of its people that it welcomed co‑operation between Karetsky who was unable fully to finance his votive ship and the Roman Catholic charity ‘Aid to the Church in Need’.  This charity describes itself as, “an international Catholic charity dependent on the Holy See, providing pastoral relief to needy and oppressed churches”.

Thomas Koetter, spokesman for the Roman Catholic charity, said at the launch of St Vladimir, “It is meant to reach out to the people in remote areas where churches can’t be built for financial or environmental reasons”.

Jesuits, as well as Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons, have already trudged to these areas where “churches can’t be built for financial or environmental reasons”, and are actively proselytising.  Clearly no JW or Mormon would ever be granted use of a church boat should it anchor nearby, but might it not under the circumstances be churlish to refuse a Jesuit request?

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