A Russian Orthodox Priest Speaks Out Against Britain’s Culture of Death

Source: John Smeaton

Today I had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with Archpriest Andrew Phillips, who leads one of Britain’s 40 Russian Orthodox parishes in Colchester. Archpriest Andrew has kindly sent me some of his recent personal reflections on pro-life issues:

After 1945 we were to be provided by the Welfare State with care ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Instead, it rather looks as though, with legalised abortion on demand and creeping euthanasia, we are being provided with death from the cradle to the grave.

In the NHS today, where one of our daughters works as a nurse, patients who refuse to die are called ‘coffin dodgers’. Everything must be accounted for, everything has a price – the accountant’s mentality introduced into everything by Mrs Thatcher and ardently pursued by Mr Blair. Today, life and death decisions are overseen by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the ironically-named organisation which decides whether we can afford care for the sick or not. It was prophesied by C. S. Lewis, also in 1945, in his novel ‘That Hideous Strength’, which is about a devilish and anti-human organisation called N.I.C.E. – the ‘National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments’. That organisation should definitely have been called NASTY.

Financial pressures decide our ‘best interests’ – life or death. DCS – Deep Continuous Sedation – with deprivation of food and fluids – is the fate of more and more terminally ill. DCS is in fact simply a disguised, politically correct term for euthanasia. Yet, the Gospel of Christ proclaims not ‘Euthanasia’ (‘Good Mortality’), but Athanasia – Immortality.

It is the same with abortion, the politically correct term for infanticide or child-murder. It is no good referring to a child as ‘an embryo’ or ‘a foetus’, it is still a child and its abortion is still murder. We are told that we must be ‘pro-choice’ (another disguised name), but what is this choice: to murder or not to murder? This is no more a choice than that made by the Nazis in their death camps. In reality, there is only one choice. It is not ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’, it is pro-life or anti-life.

The Western culture of death is the culture of suicide. Does the Western – and Westernised – world want to live or want to die? I know where I stand.


  1. Everybody should know Fr. Andrew Philips excellent website “Orthodox England” where he discuss this and other issues at length:


  2. While much of his criticism of the UK certainly hits home, the question still remains regarding whether the job of the Church is to demonstrate something radically different (which the early Christians did when they had no political power) or to be so mingled with the culture there is little to distinguish Christians from non-Christians and then try to get the whole country to live as Christians through the force of the law. Where are Christians called to tell non-Christians what to do in any shape or form vs. the express admonishment of Jesus about removing the mote from our eyes (and Christians have divorce and abortion rates on par with non Christians which is beyond a complete failure). Why not focus all of our energy on being different and distinct from the larger culture just like the first Christians had to do rather than trying to save Christendom while simultaneously losing the Church? If God lets sinners go to carry out their own destruction, why is the Church attempting to do otherwise within the cultures it appears in? What if abortion rates among the Orthodox were less than 5% and divorce rates were less than 5% while Christians became known for taking care of their own sick and elderly rather than resorting to an easy out with euthanasia? Wouldn’t that be a far more powerful witness than being like the rest of the culture but constantly preaching to people who don’t give a damn that they need to be better Christians?

    • It is true that constantly preaching to people or handing out Gospels does create any spiritual fruit. Only when a person is truly converted, he will “bring forth fruit” (Mark 4:20). Christ said “To the one who asks, give” because the one who asks is ready to accept and understand. Hopefully people will start to understand that it is not possible to go on living this way and the voice of God will be heard.

      Do not, therefore, grow despondent, sinners like unto me, but only believe in the Son of God. Sinners, esteem one another, and do not despise any sinner, for we are all sinners, and the Son of God came to save, to cleanse, and to raise all up to heaven.
      + St. John of Kronstadt +

      The orthodox revival of Russia prophesized by St Seraphim Of Vyritsa (1866-1949) reveals God’s wondrous ways:

      The Elder said that a time will come (it is already coming!) when the debauchery and moral decline of the young will reach their ultimate point. Virtually no-one will remain uncorrupted. Seeing their impunity, the young will consider that everything is permitted them for the satisfaction of their whims and lusts. They will begin to gather in groups and gangs, stealing and debauching themselves. But a time will come when the voice of God will be heard, when the young will understand that it is not possible to go on living in that way. They will come to the faith in various ways, drawn ever more strongly to the ascetic life. Those who before were sinners and drunkards will fill the churches and greatly thirst for spiritual life. Many of them will become monks. Monasteries will open, churches will be filled with the faithful. Then young people will go on pilgrimages. It will be a glorious time! The repentance of those that sin now will be all the more ardent…

    • Michael Bauman :

      Issac, you are both right and wrong. Right in that we should practice what we preach; right in that we should probably eschew a political solution to the degradation around us, but wrong in the sense that the Church must always be prophetic in her teaching even when we don’t live up to it very well. In that way she is constantly calling all of us to repentance and to the kingdom.

      The early Christians fought solely by their actions. However, to publically refuse to give homage to Caesar as a god (which got many killed) was a political act affirming a law that was above both Caesar and Rome. Do you not think we need to do the same?

      • What I am suggesting is a very clear line of demarcation between a person in the Church and one without. Those without should be left to their own convictions and to do as they will, rather than feeling forced to behave as Christians ought to behave (and rarely do) by the force of the law because Christians happen to make up a large voting bloc. It would be far better if Christians were known as the only group of people in the culture who refuse to have abortions vs. the group in the culture that tries to use the force of law to keep non-Christians from having abortions while having just as many themselves. We are nearly the complete opposite of the early Christians and that is why we nearly have none of their power.

        • Michael Bauman :

          Isaac, while I understand your concerns and realize that the legalism you decry is a real problem, I’m not sure that in a participatory state it is possible to make the kind of demarkation you suggest–one of the problems inherent in what we euphemistically (and incorrectly) call democracy.

  3. May St. Seraphim’s vision be realized soon!

  4. Wesley J. Smith :

    This is what happens–and it is happening in the USA–when avoiding suffering becomes the overarching purpose of government and the prime focus of people. The Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne expressed what is going on very chillingly and succinctly. The context was public support for Robert Latimer who murdered his 12-year-old daughter because she had cerebral palsy. Instead of being branded a monster like Susan Smith who drowned her children at about the same time, he was embraced as a “loving father.” Coyne wrote,

    A society that believes in nothing, can offer no argument, even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured

    Hence, in the UK “suicide tourism,” in which people fly to Switzerland to have assisted suicide, has not been rejected but become a rallying cry for legalization in England. Instead of asking, “How can we help people stay alive?” the question has become, “Why should people have to fly to Switzerland to kill themselves? Why not let them do it at home with family present?”

    We in the USA can’t look down our noses. Jack Kevorkian’s stated purpose for his assisted suicide campaign was winning a license to conduct experiments on people he was euthanizing. He so wrote in his book, calling the proposal “obitaitry.” But that core obsession for all his efforts has been given the Trotsky airbrushed out of history treatment, and he has been remade by media as an eccentric Muppet, even played by Al Pacino in a hagiographic biopic. Kevorkian even took the kidneys from one of his assisted suicide victims, a disabled ex cop named Joseph Tushkowski, and offered them for transplant–“first, come first served”–at a press conference. Not. A. Dent.

    Belgium is already coupling legal euthanasia with organ harvesting, particularly targeting people with muscular/neurological diseases because they have such good organs.

    This was all unimaginable only a few decades ago. When society rejects love, anything is possible. When it turns its back on faith, utilitarianism becomes the default setting.

    • This was all unimaginable only a few decades ago. When society rejects love, anything is possible. When it turns its back on faith, utilitarianism becomes the default setting.

      When society rejects God, it rejects love and life.

      Suicide is the taking of a life, clearly spoken of in the Bible. Suicide is a wrongful act consisting of the acknowledgment of the ultimate helplessness of human nature AND the ultimate rejection of God. As long as the breath of life is still within us we have a choice to make: turn to God or reject Him and pass into a lost eternity.

      Initially, those promoting assisted suicide tell the public that it is only for the “terminally ill”
      – a vaguely defined term. We are all terminally ill; we know that the only inevitable thing in life is death. They assert that a person in possession of full information and sound judgment can decide if his/her life has no value and that decision should be respected. Can a person ever be confident that that he in possession of full information?

      Assisted suicide for “extreme cases” is a slippery slope to the killing of the elderly, the depressed and disabled. We are facing a new and “unimaginable only a few decades ago” danger. Actually, it is not new nor “unimaginable” danger. Hitler himself was the forerunner of the systematic killing of the mentally ill and the handicapped.

      The present propaganda put out in favour of ‘assisted suicide’ is logical for those who have never heard the Gospel [Good News] and for those who embraced the “death of God” declared by Nietzsche. As a result, the twentieth century was distinguished by its world wars, Nazi Holocaust and the Communist Holocaust. A hard lesson that some have yet to learn: “Without God, there is no humanity.”

  5. macedonia74 :

    I commend the ROC for their work abroad and commentary on the ills of other societies. But have they taken a look at Russian society?

    • George Michalopulos :

      Western society is rather craptacular in its hedonism at present. Still, it can’t change, it won’t change, if there is no church making the case for change. How many people listened to the prophets? To Jesus? Not many I venture. Should they have stopped preaching because the right conditions didn’t obtain at that time?

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