Above: Coronation celebrations. Entrance of Nicholas II to the Kremlin. May 9, 1896.
In this third and last installment, we tackle the real errors of Russia as they led to the deadly Revolution that masked and obscured her and the parallels with the other revolutionary event mid-century known as the Second Vatican Council. In addition, we address the age-old elephant in the room known as the Eastern Schism—all three events in light of Our Lady’s message at Fatima, as it has become of prime significance in light of the unfolding of events since 2020 as well as the more recent situation in the geopolitical arena, particularly pertaining to Russia and Ukraine.
Russia and Statism
In 1888, Vladimir Solovyev wrote, “It is not in the West, it is in Byzantium that the original sin of nationalist particularism and cesaro-papist absolutism have, for the first time, introduced death to the social body of Christ.” This is undoubtedly true. But this claim needs verification: “and the successor of Byzantium now with responsibility is the Russian Empire and today, Russia is the only country in Christendom where the national State affirms without reserve its exclusive absolutism in making of the Church an attribute of nationality and a passive instrument of the secular government.” It also contradicts the history of how Europe’s monarchs behaved.
The other important issue here is to understand the Orthodox perspective even if they are wrong, theologically and philosophically. The Russian monarchy as well as the Orthodox did not think they were secular; and that the church became an instrument of the secular government was not a constant or absolute. Theoretically, the Orthodox church proclaimed and believed it was supreme and that the tsar’s mandate was contingent on his resolve to protect Orthodoxy. And if you believe (as the Orthodox do) that you are the guardian of tradition, you also believe you are religious and supernatural.
Throughout the years, as monarchs changed, this struggle between church and state was a constant battle—as some tsars (such as Peter) attempted to subsume the church to state. Tsar Nicholas, however, moved to formalize and cement the Orthodox Church’s supremacy over the monarchy by writing it into law. But certainly, in Catholic theology, the Orthodox faith is incomplete and in error and hence, essentially secular. As Solovyev argues in Russia and the Universal Church, it was a lack of the universal Petrine primacy that caused the Greco-Russian church to become subservient to the tsar. And yet I would argue, in many ways, even the tsars gave their clergy authority and power that was to the Enlightenment, unmatched by the powers of Europe that had already succumbed to the fullness of participatory rule.
At the same time, it is good for us to zoom into the reason as to why Byzantium schismed in the first place. Solovyev admits that it proved to be a nominally Christian state as it retained characteristics of paganism and “this contrast between professed Christianity and practical savagery is aptly personified” in Constantine, who believed in the Christian God, paid honor to the bishops and discussed the Trinity and yet “had no scruple about exercising the right of a pagan husband and father, and putting Fausta and Crispus to death.” But so glaring a contradiction between faith and life could not last without some attempt at reconciliation but rather than sacrifice its paganism, the Byzantine Empire perverted the purity of the Christian idea and that this “pseudo-Christian Empire of Byzantium was bound to engage in decisive combat with the orthodox Papacy; for the latter was not only the infallible guardian of Christian truth but also the first realization of that truth in the collective life of the human race.” This was the direction that the Greeks traveled in their schism from Rome.
What wonders might the Russian monarchy have accomplished if it stayed with Catholicism while being so effective at merging church and state with the former on the driver’s seat—especially as Europe plunged into the Enlightenment and modernism. As Solovyev laments, the history of Russia was moving towards a single objective—the formation of a national monarchy, the decisive moment being the union of Ukraine with part of White Russia under Tsar Alexis, giving real meaning to the title of ‘Tsar of all the Russians.’ Yet Russia followed the way of Byzantium and turned this crucial opportunity into an impediment by jumping ship.
But these errors are hundreds of years old. Hence, given Our Lady sent her message in 1917, are these then the errors of Russia? In addition, we should ask, given the inward-looking culture as well as movement in history of the Russian Orthodox, did this error really spread throughout the world? We go back further into history—to merry old England, with a certain King (wanting a divorce) and his Royal Vice-regent, who became Vicar-General of the new Head of the English Church—Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. Manifold opines “Just as Henry needed an ally in the matter of the divorce, now he needed one in his take-over bid for the monasteries.”
Cromwell’s appointment and new position enabled him a seat above all the bishops in assemblies of the clergy and took precedence over all nobles. Hence, the beginning of two things that would prove more problematic in the 20th century (given the wide reach and global influence of the Anglo-American Empire) after the Bolshevik Revolution (funded and launched by the same Empire)—subsuming church to state (statism) and oligarchic rule (present-day corporatism). An Act of Parliament was passed in 1536 that enabled the confiscation of 376 monasteries for the King and his heirs—putting an end to Church independence from human law. This happened concurrently with Martin Luther’s Protestant revolt, which unleashed the dissolution and sacking of church property and monasteries, which further enabled and released oligarchic rule and a vastly weakened church, church life, and hierarchy.
Interestingly, however, as these acts of Henry VIII, Cromwell, and the Protestant Reformers spread throughout Europe, one Western region (with Eastern and Asiatic experiences because of the invasion by the Mongols and Turks), remained almost untouched and vigilant against all this—autocratic and Orthodox Russia, only temporarily disrupted by the reigns of Peter and Catherine (favorites of the West), who allowed liberalism to creep in. We jump to Nicholas, the last tsar.
The Naïveté of Czar Nicholas II
Nicholas II was a champion of Byzantine tradition and an opponent of every influence of the ‘Western’ type, restoring Russia’s Orthodox character. In 1901, he declared every military unit would have its own clergy and church in the form of a separate building. In 1901, he removed from the “Basic Laws” the phrase designating the tsar “supreme judge” of the Church. Between 1904-1906, together with the church, he worked to convene the Council Sobor to elect a Patriarch and a patriarchal administration to realize the Church’s administrative independence (after the office had been formerly abolished by Tsar Peter). But it never happened because of the revolutionary atmosphere—consistent with the account of our Catholic source in our second article, Fr. Bock. While Nicholas and his wife were exemplary in the areas of faith, moral character, and living with supernatural outlook, such are qualities that might have made it easy for liberals and revolutionaries to grow. Nicholas preferred not to impose but to inspire subordinates with good example. He was compassionate and forgiving, with a record number of giving out criminal pardons. This would certainly prove fatal for the continuance of his reign.
In August 1898, Nicholas appealed for the disarmament of nations, and collaboration between them for world peace. He was dubbed “Nicholas the Peacemaker.” In 1899, he convened the First Hague Conference. The Europe that was now praising Nicholas was exactly that which his father had warned—progressivist and liberal. Perhaps he did not know that the man he collaborated with to put up the Peace Palace, Andrew Carnegie, was a Freemason. One of the aims of the Peace Palace was to encourage nations to respect and subject themselves to the rules of the International Court of Justice. Like Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, who subsumed church to state, Tsar Nicholas may have unintentionally paved the way for today’s virtue-signaling network of utopian global bodies, which seem to have multiplied—from the Peace Palace to the UN, WHO, WEF, IMF, and so many more. The last bastion of Christendom, given she had thus far kept liberalism and modernism at bay, was disarming herself naïve into pacifism.
On October 17th, 1905, following the tumultuous events of Bloody Sunday and the Russo-Japanese War Russia was dragged into, Nicholas yielded to the socialist infiltrators and signed the October Manifesto, which put a definitive end to absolute monarchy. It is easy for one to accuse Nicholas of being weak—perhaps naïve at the start, which is apparent in his sister Olga’s comment:
It was my father’s fault. He would not have Nicky sit in Council of State until 1893… The mistake was there. I know my father disliked the mere idea of state matters encroaching on our family life—but after all, Nicky was his heir. And what a ghastly price was later paid for the mistake.
Here is our next error—effeminacy but not from Nicholas but from his iron-fisted father Alexander III, who had strength to ward off the infiltrators but did not have the strength to expose his son early on for the difficult job of statesmanship. By the end of 1916, a conspiracy against Nicholas gained ground via the Progressive Bloc and the upper bourgeoisie. The aristocracy of the Russian capital was indulging in reckless orgy of dancing, sports, dining, wining, and games of intrigue against the throne, infiltrated by liberalism from Europe as well as direct propaganda.
In 1917, Alexander Kerensky, leader of the supposed ‘moderate’ socialists, called for the tsar’s removal, even with terrorist means. The last bastion of Christianity would be annihilated as a nation and a new and socialist one would take its place. Socialism and its accompanying evils were the consequences of Russia’s errors—effeminacy, naivete, and pacifism. These Russian errors allowed the “errors of Russia” – Communism and its evils – to swallow Russian Christendom for three generations.
The Second Vatican Council
In his important historical study of Vatican II, Roberto de Mattei observes that “the organized progressive minority worked with much greater force and efficacy than did the conservative minority.” Just like the maneuvering of the progressives with the Orthodox and pious tsars, the Modernists at the Council aggressively peddled their cause with great and grave persistence, with no qualms employing more underhanded means.
One symbolic event as the aftermath of the Council, was Paul VI’s visit to the United Nations (UN) office in New York, where he delivered a speech, which reminds one of Nicholas and his Peace Palace project with Andrew Carnegie. Paul VI declared “Humanity will have to put an end to war, or else war will put an end to humanity.”
But is peace real if the powers and principalities were installed by revolutionaries? Historian Victor Zaslavsky documented the fact the founder of the pacifist movement in the 1950s was Joseph Stalin, whom we discovered from Sutton was installed by New York bankers. Now Paul VI was delivering a speech to a body, his predecessor (Pius XII) had contrasted to the Catholic Church.
The UN was founded in 1945 as the replacement for the League of Nations (that utopian dream of American president, Woodrow Wilson). As we dive further into the details, events, and yield of the Second Vatican Council, we see effeminacy, naivete, and pacifism in the move towards the “pastoral” and “aggiornamento”—“that not only do people have to conform to the sacred teachings, but the latter have to be adapted to the people.”
Like Alexander II, who let his guard down when he introduced reforms (however well-meaning) and Nicholas after him, he thought a real peace could be achieved with the Enlightened and modern world. The Council also let down its guard and naively adopted a pacifist stance towards those outside the church, adopting Jacques Maritain’s “new Christendom”, who “wanted to substitute a secular civitas humana… an age of civilization whose animating form would be Christian and which would correspond to the historical climate of the epoch… a hypothetical ‘third way’ between ‘the medieval conception’ and the ‘liberal one.’” But there simply cannot be a middle way—something Nicholas II learned later on after accommodating the infiltrators. But at that point, it was too late. The infiltrators had been deeply embedded—just as they have been in every corner of the Church and life today. As Manifold correctly identifies, “we are involved in a spiritual war against the principalities and powers.” Can one negotiate and find compromise and stick with this pastoral and peaceful compromising third way?
Based on the movements of the tsars and what Russia was fighting for and against, we can now more clearly identify specifically what the Russian errors are. Our claim is they are the following: effeminacy, naivete, and pacifism—as these were the errors Russia fell into, which eventually rolled out socialism.
It also seems, Our Lady had chosen Russia for a special purpose, something Fr. Gruner, himself espoused (see here) that would be crucial for the redemption of Christendom, given Europe had already abandoned it—a view consistent with Solovyev, who opined, “The distinctively religious character of the Russian people as well as the mystical tendency exhibited in our philosophy, our literature and our arts seem to indicate for Russia a great religious mission.”
He adds in another place, “To restore upon the Earth this faithful image of the divine Trinity, this is the Russian idea.” Is Russia being given the chance to rectify Byzantium’s error when it broke from Rome? Is Russia meant to fulfill what Tsar Alexis accomplished in the union of Ukraine and part of White Russia with Muscovite Russia? But this time, a global and not a mere national monarchy under the banner of Christ the King with the Catholic Church.
Sometimes Our Lord permits evil for a greater good. Could the Eastern Schism as well as the Russian Orthodox inward-looking culture and hence, isolation from Europe, turn to become a positive? That is, to have preserved some orthodoxy, which the current ‘West’ has long ago abandoned? We end with this interesting take from Solovyev, which captures the problem with the Orthodox:
The Western Church, faithful to the apostolic mission, has not been afraid to plunge into the mire of history… the only element of moral order and intellectual culture among the barbarous peoples of Europe, it undertook the task not only of the spiritual education of these peoples of independent spirit and uncivilized instincts, but also of their material government. In devoting itself to this arduous task, the Papacy… thought not so much of the cleanliness of its own appearance as of the urgent needs of mankind. The Eastern Church… with its solitary asceticism and its contemplative mysticism, its withdrawal from political life and from all the social problems which concern mankind as a whole, thought chiefly… of reaching Paradise without a single stain on its clothing. The Western Church aimed at employing all its powers, divine and human, for the attainment of a universal goal; the Eastern Church was only concerned with the preservation of its purity.
As Austrian economists might want to describe, the Western Church’s ‘entrepreneurship’—that of plunging into the mire of history, undertaking the spiritual directions of peoples, and employing all its powers for the attainment of a universal goal—also had tradeoffs, which might explain where we are today. At the same time, the Eastern Church’s singular concern with the preservation of its purity, the absence of skin in the game characterizing entrepreneurship, spelled the death for the Eastern Church’s zeal for the preservation of Orthodoxy as it failed in that inevitable feature of the Church of Christ—that it is apostolic. This failure is evidenced by the very small number of Orthodox compared to Catholics and even Protestants. In 1936, Sister Lucia addressed a letter to Father Gonçalves, where Our Lord said:
Pray very much for the Holy Father. He will do the consecration of Russia but it will be too late. Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to Her.
Archbishop Vigano’s words about κατέχον (2 Thess 2:6-7)—“that which withholds”—suddenly become relevant. As the good Archbishop says, “Perhaps Providence has ordained that Moscow, the Third Rome, will today in the sight of the world take on the role of κατέχον (2 Thess 2:6-7), of eschatological obstacle to the Antichrist.” It is a suspicion that rings true with reality as it is unfolding and better so with the context of Lucia’s words about what Our Lord said as well as the unique posturing of its current president, who seems to be the exact opposite of the ruling liberal global elite.
Bishop Richard Williamson has these words to say about Vladimir Putin and his reasoning is consistent with Archbishop Vigano. The censorship Putin elicits, is itself curious, given the powers and principalities are “Enlightened” liberals, which the Orthodox Johnson and the Catholic Manifold seem to have correctly identified. In addition, Pope Benedict XVI’s opening to Russia, his favorable opinion of Putin, and closeness with Patriarchs Hilarion and Kirill, alerted the US and according to some documents from Wikileaks, prompted them to stir up an internal revolt within the Church. Indeed all things Russia always seems to alert and heighten sensitivities from the powers and principalities.
Both Rome and the Third Rome need to come to terms with the schism and reject the effeminacy of Adam and once again embrace Christ, the New Adam setting aside that naivete and pacifism that have mostly reigned since the Second Vatican Council (even since the effeminacy of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell and further back in Byzantium and Rome’s struggles herself) so that we might topple and defeat the current powers and principalities to restore Christendom towards the New Earth. But before this can happen, we should humble ourselves and take the journey to understand the nuances and complexities of this issue to clear the myopia and finally begin to see where to go and how to get there as Our Lady had instructed at Fatima.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
 Vladimir Solovyev, The Russian Idea (1888), trans. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015), 47.
 Mesa Potamos Publications, The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal (2020).
 V. Solovyev, (1948). Russia and the Universal Church, trans. Herbert Rees (London: The Centenary Press, 1948), 13.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 42.
 D. Manifold, Fatima and the Great Conspiracy (Ireland: Frinne Publications, 1982), 33.
 Mesa Potamos op. cit.
 Manifold, op. cit.
 Mesa Potamos, 61.
 R. De Mattei, The Second Vatican Council (NH: Loreto Publications, 2012), 431.
 Ibid., 458.
 Ibid., xviii.
 De Mattei, 41.
 Manifold, 154
 Solovyev, Russia and the Universal Church, 44.
 Ibid., The Russian Idea.
 Ibid., Russia and the Universal Church, 38.
 C. Toumanoff, “Moscow the Third Rome: Genesis and Significance of a Politco-Religious Idea” (The Catholic Historical Review 40 (4), 1955), 411-447.
 A. Socci, The Secret of Benedict XVI: Is He still the Pope? (Angelico Press, 2019).
Caterina Lorenzo-Molo teaches at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P). She is published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Business Ethics (JBE) and the technologist site, HackerNoon. Other interests include Austrian economics, the Late Scholastics, money, bitcoin, Russia, and geopolitics. She discovered Traditional Catholicism in 2020, attending masses at the SSPX with her husband and four children—Isabella, Alessandra, Caterina, and Gianluca. Her patron is St. Catherine of Siena, maintains a devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei), and prays for Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to be proclaimed a great saint.