St John Maximovitch on the Purpose of the Russian Diaspora

St John Maximovitch

Last week, the World Russian People’s Council, chaired by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, issued a document called “The Present and Future of the Russian World.” The document contains several problematic ideas. It describes the “Russian World” in this way: “The borders of the Russian world as a spiritual, cultural and civilizational phenomenon are significantly wider than the state borders of both the current Russian Federation and greater historical Russia. Along with representatives of the Russian ecumene scattered throughout the world, the Russian world includes everyone for whom the Russian tradition, the shrines of Russian civilization and the great Russian culture are the highest value and meaning of life.” Referencing the “holder” or the “one who restrains” from 2 Thess. 2:7, the document says, “The highest meaning of the existence of Russia and the Russian world it created – their spiritual mission – is to be the global “Holder”, protecting the world from evil.” This interpretation of 2 Thess. 2:7 is a novel one. The saints of the Church have generally interpreted this verse as referring to the Roman Emperor, and, in later times, to the Russian Tsar. The idea that this “one who restrains” is the Russian people as a whole seems to be very new (I can’t find it before the modern writer Alexander Dugin, although I can’t read Russian and so I’m not certain of its exact origins.)

In referring to the “Russian ecumene scattered throughout the world,” the document undoubtedly intends to include the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) in this “Russian World.” Its claim about the meaning and purpose of the scattered Russian Orthodox people is inconsistent with the teaching of St John Maximovitch, who spoke of this exact topic in a report to the 1938 ROCOR All-Church Council, entitled, “The Spiritual Condition of the Russian People in the Diaspora.” After describing the collective sin of the Russian people in overthrowing and killing the Tsar, St John explains the real purpose of the Russian diaspora:

While punishing the Russian people, the Lord at the same time is pointing out the way to salvation by making them teachers of Orthodoxy throughout the world. The Russian Diaspora has acquainted the four corners of the earth with Orthodoxy, for a significant part of the Russian immigration unconsciously preaches Orthodoxy. Everywhere, wherever Russians live, they build little refugee churches or even majestic cathedrals, or simply serve in premises adapted for this purpose.

Truly, many of them, men and women, are now more glorious in their dishonor than in the years of their glory. The spiritual wealth which they have now acquired [as refugees] is better than the material wealth they left in the homeland, and their souls, like gold purified by fire, have been cleansed in the fire of suffering and burn like brightly glowing lamps. […]

Russians abroad have been given to shine with the light of Orthodoxy throughout the world in order that other peoples, seeing their good works, might glorify our Father Who is in heaven, and in so doing the Russians will draw nearer to salvation.

This understanding of the real purpose of the Russian Orthodox people, and particularly of the Russian diaspora, is quite different from the new ideas presented in the document from the World Russian People’s Council. Below, we have published the full text of St John’s 1938 report.


A consequence of the downfall of the Russian empire was the rise of a “Russia outside Russia,” the Russian Diaspora. More than a million Russians were compelled to leave their homeland and were scattered across the face of the globe. Living in new conditions, among other peoples, many of the Russians in the course of these years have managed almost to forget their homeland, their language, and their customs, and to merge with the peoples in whose midst they reside. The overwhelming majority, however, not only have preserved their nationality, but even live with the hope of returning to the homeland on the fall of the present regime. Today there are Russians living in all parts of the world. There is not one corner on earth where there are no Russians, in greater or lesser number. The important question is, “From a spiritual standpoint, what is the state of the Russians abroad?”

A significant portion of the Russians that have gone abroad belong to that intellectual class which in recent times lived according to the ideas of the West. While belonging to the

Orthodox Church and confessing themselves to be Orthodox, the people of that class had strayed far from Orthodoxy in their world view. The principal sin of these people was that their beliefs and way of life were not founded on the teachings of the Orthodox faith; they tried to reconcile the rules and teachings of the Church with their own habits and desires. For this reason they had, on one hand, very little interest in the essence of Orthodox teaching, often even considering the Church’s dogmatic teaching completely unessential, and, on the other hand, they fulfilled the requirements and rites of the Orthodox Church but only insofar as this did not interfere with their more European than Russian way of life. This gave rise to their disdain for the fasts, to their going to church for only a short time (and then only to satisfy a more aesthetic than religious feeling) and to a thorough lack of understanding of religion as the principal foundation of man’s spiritual life. Many, of course, were inwardly otherwise disposed, but few possessed sufficient strength of spirit and the ability to manifest this outwardly in their way of life.

In the social sphere this class also lived by the ideas of the West. Without giving any room at all to the influence of the Church, they strove to rebuild the whole life of Russia, especially in the realm of government, according to Western models. This is why in recent times an especially bitter struggle was waged against the government. Liberal reforms and the democratic structuring of Russia became, as it were, a new faith. Not to confess this new idea meant that one was behind the times. Seized with a thirst for power and utilizing for their struggle with the monarchy widespread slander against the Royal Family, the intelligentsia brought Imperial Russia to its downfall and prepared the way for the Communist regime. Then, unreconciled to the thought of losing the power for which they had waited for so long, they declared war on the Communists, in the beginning mainly out of their unwillingness to cede them power. The struggle against the Soviet power subsequently involved broad sectors of the populace, especially drawing in the youth in an outburst of enthusiasm to reconstruct a “United, Indivisible Russia,” at the cost of their lives. There were many exploits which manifested the valor of the Christ-loved Russian army, but the Russian nation proved itself still unprepared for liberation, and the Communists turned out to be the victors.

The intelligentsia was partially annihilated and partially it fled abroad to save itself. Meanwhile, the Communists showed their true colors and, together with the intelligentsia, large sections of the population left Russia, in part to save their lives and in part because of ideology: they did not want to serve the Communists. Finding themselves abroad, the Russian people experienced great spiritual shocks. A significant crisis occurred in the souls of a majority, which was marked by a mass return of the intelligentsia to the Church. Many churches abroad are filled primarily by these people. The intelligentsia took an interest in questions of spiritual life and began to take an active part in church affairs. Numerous circles and societies were formed for the purpose of religious enlightenment. Members study the Holy Scriptures, the works of the Holy Fathers, general spiritual life and theological questions, and many of them have become clergy.

However, all these gratifying manifestations also had a negative aspect. Far from all of those who returned to the faith adopted the Orthodox teaching in its entirety. The proud mind could not be reconciled to the fact that, until then, it had stood on a false path. Many began to attempt to reconcile Christian teaching with their previous views and ideas. This resulted in the appearance of a whole series of new religious-philosophical trends, some completely alien to Church teaching. Among them Sophiology was especially widespread. It is based on the recognition of man’s worth in and of himself and expresses the psychology of the intelligentsia.

As a teaching, Sophiology is known to a comparatively small group of people and very few openly espouse it. Nonetheless, a significant part of the immigrant intelligentsia is spiritually related to it because the psychology of Sophiology is based on the worship of man, not as a humble servant of God, but rather as a little god himself, who has no need for being blindly obedient to the Lord God. The feeling of keen pride, joined with faith in the possibility of man living by his own wisdom, is quite characteristic of many people considered to be cultured by today’s standards, who place their own reasonings above all else and do not wish to be obedient in everything to the teaching of the Church, which they regard favorably but with condescension. Because of this, the Church Abroad has been rocked by a series of schisms which have harmed her up till now and have drawn away even a part of the hierarchy. This consciousness of a feeling of personal worthiness is manifested also in social affairs, where each person who has advanced a little among the ranks, or thinks he has, puts his own opinion higher than everyone’s and tries to be a leader. As a result, Russian society is split into countless parties and groups irreconcilably at odds with each other, each trying to put forward its own program, which is sometimes a thoroughly developed system and sometimes simply an appeal to follow after this or that personality.

With the hope of saving and resurrecting Russia through the realization of their programs, these social activists almost always lose sight of the fact that besides human activity making history, there moves the hand of God. The Russian people as a whole has committed great sins, which are the reasons for the present misfortunes; namely, oath-breaking and regicide. Civic and military leaders renounced their obedience and loyalty to the Tsar, even before his abdication, forcing the latter upon him, who did not want internal bloodshed. The people openly and noisily greeted this act, without any loud protest anywhere. This renunciation of obedience was a breach of the oath taken to the Emperor and his lawful heirs. On the heads of those who committed this crime fell the curses of their forefathers, [members of] the Zemsky Sobor of 1613, which imposed a curse on those who disobeyed its resolutions. The ones guilty of the sin of regicide are not only those who physically performed the deed but the people as a whole, who rejoiced when the Tsar was overthrown and allowed his degradation, his arrest and exile, leaving him defenseless in the hands of criminals, which itself spelled out the end.

Thus, the calamity which befell Russia is the direct result of terrible sins, and her rebirth is possible only after she has been cleansed from them. However, until now there has been no real repentance; the crimes that were committed have not been openly condemned, and many active participants in the Revolution continue even now to assert that at the time it was impossible to act otherwise.

By not voicing an outright condemnation of the February Revolution, of the uprising against the Anointed One of God, the Russian people continue to participate in the sin, especially when they defend the fruits of the Revolution, for in the words of the Apostle Paul, those men are especially sinful who, knowing … that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Rom. 1:32 NKJV).

While punishing the Russian people, the Lord at the same time is pointing out the way to salvation by making them teachers of Orthodoxy throughout the world. The Russian Diaspora has acquainted the four corners of the earth with Orthodoxy, for a significant part of the Russian immigration unconsciously preaches Orthodoxy. Everywhere, wherever Russians live, they build little refugee churches or even majestic cathedrals, or simply serve in premises adapted for this purpose.

The majority of Russian refugees are not familiar with the religious tendencies of their intelligentsia, and they are nourished by those spiritual reserves which they accumulated in the homeland. Large masses of refugees attend Divine services, some of them actively participate in them, helping with the singing and reading on cliros and serving in the altar. Affiliated organizations have been established which take upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining the churches, often performing charitable work as well.

Looking at the faithful who pack the churches on feast days, one might think that in fact the Russian people have turned to the Church and are repenting of their sins. However, if you compare the number who go to church with the number of Russians who live in a given place, it turns out that about one-tenth of the Russian population regularly goes to church. Approximately the same number attend Divine services on major feasts, and the rest either very rarely — on some particular occasions — go to church and occasionally pray at home, or have left the Church altogether. The latter sometimes is a conscious choice under sectarian or anti-religious influences, but in most cases it is simply because people do not live in a spiritual manner; they grow hard, their souls become crude, and sometimes they become outright nihilists.

The great majority of Russians have a hard life full of personal difficulties and material deprivation. Despite the hospitable attitude towards us in some countries, especially in our fraternal Yugoslavia, whose government and people are doing everything possible to show their love for Russia and to ease the grief of the Russian exiles, still, Russians everywhere feel the bitterness of being deprived of their homeland. Their surrounding environment reminds them that they are strangers and must adapt to customs that are often foreign to them, feeding on the crumbs that fall from the table of their hosts. Even in those countries which are very well disposed towards us, it is natural that in hiring practices preference should be given to the country’s citizens; and with the current difficult situations of most countries, Russians often cannot find work. Even those who are relatively well provided for are constantly made to feel their lack of rights in the absence of organizations which could protect them from injustices. Although only a comparatively insignificant number have been completely absorbed into local society, it quite often happens in such cases that they become totally alienated from their own people and their own country.

In such a difficult situation in all respects, the Russian people abroad have shown a remarkable degree of patient endurance and self-sacrifice. It is as if they have forgotten about their formerly wonderful (for many) conditions of life, their service to their homeland and its allies in the Great War, their education and everything else that might prompt them to strive for a comfortable life. In their exile they have taken up every kind of work and occupation to make a living for themselves abroad. Former nobles and generals have become simple workmen, artisans and petty merchants, not disdaining any type of work and remembering that no work is degrading, provided it is not bound up with any immoral activity. The Russian intelligentsia in this respect has manifested an ability, whatever the situation, to preserve its vitality and to overcome everything that stands in the way of its existence and development. It has also shown that it has lofty spiritual qualities, that it is capable of being humble and long-suffering.

The school of refugee life has morally regenerated and elevated many people. One has to give honor and credit to those who bear their refugee cross doing difficult work to which they are unaccustomed, living in conditions which previously they did not know or even think of. Remaining firm in spirit, they have maintained a nobility of soul and ardent love for their homeland, and, repenting over their former sins, they endure their trial without complaints. Truly, many of them, men and women, are now more glorious in their dishonor than in the years of their glory. The spiritual wealth which they have now acquired is better than the material wealth they left in the homeland, and their souls, like gold purified by fire, have been cleansed in the fire of suffering and burn like brightly glowing lamps.

With sorrow, however, it must be said that by no means has suffering had such an affect on everyone. Many proved to be neither gold nor precious metal but reed and straw that perish in the fire. Many were not cleansed and whitened by suffering; they did not endure the trial and became worse than before. Many were embittered, not understanding that, being punished by God, we must be consoled, remembering that there are no children that have never undergone punishment, that in chastening us God looks upon us as sons and daughters who must be corrected by punishment. Forgetting about their previous sins, such people, instead of repenting, compound their sins, asserting that there is no use being righteous, that God either does not look at man’s affairs, since He has turned His face away from them, or even that “there is no God.” Considering in their imagined righteousness that they are suffering innocently, these people have more pride of heart than the boastful Pharisee, but in their sins they often surpass the publican. In their bitterness against God, they are in no way inferior to the persecutors of the faith in our homeland, and by their way of thinking have become closely related to them.

For this reason some of their fervent opponents have become, here in exile, their friends. They have become their open and secret slaves and try to lure their other brothers into the net. Others see no further purpose of existence and consciously give themselves up to vices, or, finding no satisfaction in anything, end their lives by suicide. Then there are others who have not lost faith in God or awareness of their sinfulness, but their will is completely broken and they have become like reeds shaken by the wind. Outwardly they resemble those just mentioned, although internally they are different in that they recognize the foulness of their behavior. However, not finding strength to fight with their weaknesses, they sink lower and lower, becoming the slaves of alcohol or giving themselves up to drugs, and become incapable of doing anything. It is truly pitiful to see how formerly worthy and respected people have sunk practically to the level of beasts. Now they direct the whole meaning of their existence towards satisfying their weaknesses, their only occupation being to search for means to fulfill this goal. No longer capable of earning a living, they look greedily for a hand out and, having received something, they immediately set out to indulge their passions. Only the faith that seems to be hidden in such fallen souls, if combined with self-condemnation, gives us hope that not all of them are lost for eternity.

There are others who, although better outwardly, are far from being better inwardly. They maintain the outward rules of pious behavior, but their consciences are dull. Sometimes they occupy well-paid positions at work and have managed to acquire some standing in the society where they have relocated. But with the loss of their homeland they have lost the internal law of morality. Penetrated through and through with self-love, they are prepared to bring evil upon anyone who stands in the way of their success. They are deaf to the suffering of their compatriots and sometimes act as if they have no connection with them. They are not ashamed to intrigue and slander others in order to knock them off their path, especially defenseless exiles.

There are some that try to appear as if they have cut all ties with their former homeland in order to gain favor in the eyes of their new fellow citizens. As a rule, these spiritually wasted people have no restraining inner law and are therefore capable of any crime that can be to their advantage, if they feel they will not be caught We are ashamed to say that in almost all the countries of the Diaspora many crimes are committed by people with Russian names. This is why people have less trust in us and our name is ruined among the nations. The breakdown of morality is especially noticeable among families. Twenty-five years ago no one would have believed what is going on there now.

Marriage as something sacred has ceased to exist; it has turned into an everyday transaction. Many respected couples, happily and inseparably married for years, have dissolved their marriage and entered into a new one. Some have done this because of passions, others for gain. Every imaginable reason is found to dissolve a marriage, some even lying under oath to gain their end.

There is no permanency in marriage among the young or old. It has become quite common to hear of a divorce only a few months after the marriage. The slightest argument or disagreement is grounds today for a divorce. This happens because the consciousness that marriage is holy has been lost. Church authorities have condescended to the weaknesses of the present generation, making it significantly easier to obtain a divorce. After a marriage is dissolved, they quickly enter into another, just as unstable, and sometimes a third.

Unable to satisfy all the demands of their lust by marriage, and paying no attention to any Church or moral laws, many go even further, considering it unnecessary to turn to the Church for a blessing on the marriage. In countries where the civil law allows the registration of a marriage without requiring a church wedding, more and more often we see people living together without the blessing of the Church, or obtaining a civil divorce without the consent of the Church, even when the marriage was performed in the Church. It is easy to forget that a sin is no less sinful because a more “respectable” name is given to it, and that cohabitation not sanctified by the Church is nonetheless fornication or adultery. Many openly live together without the slightest concern about hiding their dissipation. Some are joined together out of passion, others for personal advantage, and, suppressing all sense of shame, appear everywhere in society together with their “partner” and dare to introduce them as their spouse. It is especially deplorable that people have begun to look at such occurrences with indifference, not expressing any disapproval. Thus, the number of such cases is increasing since there is nothing holding them back. According to Church rules, people who fall into this category should be refused Communion for seven years or more; according to civil laws, they should be restricted in their civil rights. That which was despised not long ago by society has now become commonplace even among people who attend church regularly and desire to take part in church functions, which in such cases is forbidden by Church rules. What can we say of those who are even less influenced by the Church! How low has the morality fallen among our countrymen; one part coming to church out of habit and the other turning into the dwelling-place of baser passions. They have given in to a lifestyle worse than the animals; they disgrace the Russian name and bring down the wrath of God on the present generation.

The future generation of children and young people is growing up learning immoral lessons from their elders. Besides this, the present generation sins before the future one in paying so little attention to the upbringing of children. Previously, in Russia, the way of life, the whole atmosphere had a great influence on the upbringing of children. Today, we see the opposite: the upbringing of children receives very little attention not only on the part of parents, who are frequently preoccupied with making a living, but on the part of the entire Russian community abroad as a whole. Although in some places Russian schools have been founded (and these do not always live up to their purpose), the majority of Russian children study elsewhere, without any Orthodox training or study of the Russian language. They grow up as strangers to Russia, never knowing her true wealth. In some places Sunday schools or other types of Russian schools have been established in order to give the children that knowledge which they cannot receive in local schools. However, it must be sorrowfully admitted that the parents show little interest in sending their children to these schools. Rich as well as poor parents are guilty of this.

Over the past years, despite the difficult conditions for Russians, many have been able to acquire a comfortable existence. Among us are also those who were able to bring considerable sums out of Russia or who previously had foreign capital and have kept it to this day. Although there are many among them who generously help their compatriots and generally support Russian affairs, most of them are concerned solely with their personal interests. They relate coldly to the plight of their compatriots, whom they look down upon. They are occupied with increasing their wealth and spend their free time amusing themselves. Frequently their extravagance surprises the native people, who then find it hard to believe that among the Russians there are those in need when there are such rich ones among them, and they become annoyed when Russians ask them for help.

Truly, if there were a greater national self-awareness and understanding of the debt to one’s homeland, then great things might be accomplished here abroad. For now we have only a fraction of what we could have, and those few benevolent and educational institutions we do have are maintained more by the gifts of local people than by Russians. Because of this, most of our institutions lack sufficient means. Those Russians who are well-off, instead of coming to their aid, prefer to make use of non-Russian institutions, giving their money to them, while Russian institutions are attended by the less affluent. It is a disgrace that wealthy Russians frequently raise their children in non-Russian schools, which can contribute nothing to the children’s Orthodox outlook and appreciation of their homeland, even in the best of circumstances. Meanwhile, they give no assistance to the Russian schools, nor do they make any effort to fill the gaps in the Russian education of their children, although they have the financial means to do so.

Many parents are completely indifferent towards the future worldview of their children. Some, with the help of scholarships, and others, even those who are very well-off, send their children to educational institutions which have as their goal the upbringing of children in a spirit wholly antagonistic to Orthodoxy. Various colleges which have as part of their program some sort of religious, though not Orthodox, education are filled with Russian children, sent there either by rich parents who are interested only in the external aspect of education, or by poor parents who are gratified by the idea of free education for their children, and therefore turn over their children’s upbringing to the whims of the institution.

It is difficult to say which children will be more unfortunate in the future: the above or those altogether abandoned — of which there are not a few in the Diaspora. Often not knowing their fathers, abandoned by their mothers, these wander about the big cities begging for food and finally resort to theft. In the end they become professional criminals and fall ever lower morally. Many of them end up in prison or are executed. But in the life to come these unfortunates will not be held to account as severely as those who are educated in magnificent colleges and then become Russia’s worst enemies. One can foresee the time when out of the Diaspora will come conscious workers against Orthodox Russia, who will strive either to convert her to Roman Catholicism or to spread sectarianism within her borders. These are people who, while remaining outwardly Orthodox and Russian, will secretly work against her. A significant number of those who are today being educated in native schools, especially convents, though certainly not all, will apostatize and betray Orthodox Russia. Not only will they be guilty, but even more so will their parents who did not guard them from such a path and did not instill in their souls a firm devotion to Orthodoxy.

Striving to provide for their children in this life and therefore choosing schools which in their opinion will give the children more security in the future, these parents pay no attention to their children’s souls, and thus they are to blame for their future falling away from Orthodoxy and the betrayal of their homeland. Such parents are greater criminals before Russia than their children, who are won over to a new religion often at an unconscious age and then educated in a spirit hostile to Orthodoxy. Equally bad are those who leave the Orthodox Faith for another in order to assure themselves of a more comfortable lifestyle and a more lucrative job. Their sin is the sin of Judas, and the job or other advantage they received through the betrayal of their Faith may be counted together with the “thirty pieces of silver.” Some of them may claim that they did this, convinced that Orthodoxy is not the truth, and that they will try to serve Russia while confessing their new faith. Russia was founded on and flourished through Orthodoxy, and only Orthodoxy will save Russia. Like those who betrayed her in 1612, during the Time of Troubles, the new traitors should not be allowed to rebuild the new Russia or even be admitted into her borders.

Just what will the Diaspora contribute to the future in view of its present degeneration? Will it not become a source of a new spiritual infection when we return to our homeland?

The moral state of the Russian people in the Diaspora would be hopeless if we did not observe, together with the sad facts already set forth, a greatness of spirit and sacrifice. Despite the difficult conditions in which the exiles live, they find the means to build and embellish churches, support priests, and assist the needy. Together with those who have hardened their hearts and who offer nothing towards the general good, there are others who set aside for these needs a significant portion of what they have. Among us are also those who gladly donate to the Church: some — significant sums from their hard-earned labors, while others give smaller amounts but which constitute almost all they have, like the widow’s mites. Contributions are reckoned not only in terms of money but also in the tireless labors for the good of the Church and one’s neighbor. Many have dedicated themselves to this, eagerly sharing the work in various church and charitable organizations, or working independently. Burdened as they are already by jobs and trying to make a living, they give up needed rest to devote their free time, energy and strength to these activities, the men contributing their good judgment and the women their innate love.

The concerns of Russians abroad embrace not only needs in the Diaspora, but there are courageous fighters for the homeland, preparing for its liberation. Some of these fighters even risk reentering Russia’s frontiers, braving almost certain death. Love for the homeland has moved some in the Diaspora as well to deeds for which they have paid bitterly but which history will record as heroic.

Much zeal and fortitude has been shown in the struggle for Church rights. It is especially heartening to see how dedicated some of the youth are to the Church and to our homeland, loving it wholeheartedly without ever having seen it.

These and similar examples, together with the unsilenceable voice of the conscience, give us hope that there will still be found those ten righteous men for whose sake the Lord was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah, and who will show the way for the Russian Diaspora.

Russians abroad have been given to shine with the light of Orthodoxy throughout the world in order that other peoples, seeing their good works, might glorify our Father Who is in heaven, and in so doing the Russians will draw nearer to salvation. By not fulfilling this task and even degrading Orthodoxy by its life, the Diaspora has before it two paths: either to turn to the path of repentance and, beseeching God’s forgiveness and renewing itself spiritually, to make itself capable of giving rebirth to our suffering homeland, or to be finally cut off by God and remain in exile, persecuted by everyone, until, gradually degenerating, it disappears from the face of the earth.


9 Replies to “St John Maximovitch on the Purpose of the Russian Diaspora”

  1. Another fine article Mr. Namee, I can read Russian and can confirm P. Krill has held the Eighth Ecumenical Council and revised all Canon law to fit this narrative. He was the only one in attendence, but Scribe Vladimir was kind enough to send me the revisions. Subject to confirmation by other Patriarch, of course, but they won’t be polled until Russian World has been completed. Borders are elastic.

  2. Although I am a big fan of your work, I, in my weakness, do not understand the problem with the idea of “Russian World”. It seems to me that the idea of preserving traditional “russian” values, and protecting russian speaking minorities in the post soviet world is the righteous duty of any Russian regime. Why is “Russian World” treated as a stumbling block, or heresy, within the Body of Christ? Perhaps you could explain why you felt it necessary to comment on this “skandalon”?

    1. The presentation of the “Russian World” as the one who restrains Antichrist is an innovation. Claiming that the highest purpose of the Russian Orthodox people is something other than holiness and preaching the Gospel. And in this context, the adoption of non-Orthodox “holy war” language.

      1. As St Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the demons. This is the only holy war.

  3. As an eschatological clarification —
    The identification of “that which restrains” (the Katechon) with either the Roman Empire or Emperor, and later with the Russian equivalents, is certainly a patristic opinion (St. John Chrysostom, for example, was fairly confident on this point), but it was never the consensus, and has been proven wrong (noting that there hasn’t been a Roman or Russian emperor for quite some time and the Second Coming has not yet occurred). Some of the Fathers identified the Church or some eventually removable aspect of the Church as the Katechon; others identified the Katechon as an action of the Holy Spirit.
    In any case, the Katechon has to be something that was present in the 1st Century, known to the Thessalonians, and still present in modern times.
    This would obviously exclude the Russian people from being the Katechon, since they didn’t exist yet in St. Paul’s time. Perhaps it could be argued that the Russian people are some lesser katechon, in the same way that people like Hitler or Stalin are antichrists but not THE Antichrist (perhaps that’s what the patriarch et al are saying; I haven’t had a chance to study the document yet), but restraining those who intend evil is hardly a mission unique to Russians!

  4. The Restrainer is the Blessed Holy Spirit, who is the Governor of His Holy Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

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