In the first post of this series we saw the Byzantine identity as is described in a new Russian documentary. In the second post there was explained the reason of a fall that was described as political, with Byzantium as a culture remaining alive, in the secularization of the Orthodox peoples suffering its final, spiritual, fall.
A question was left open, which nation bears the greatest responsibility for the current spiritual fall of Byzantium, which means also, which nation has the greatest responsibility to help avoiding the spiritual decline of Orthodoxy. I will be clear from the start and say that this nation is (and cannot be but) Russia.
Already after the political fall of Byzantium, Russia started to develop the theory of the “third Rome” seeing itself as the successor of Constantinople. This was a mistake, a misconception of the whole history of the Christian world, and it was followed by more mistakes, most important among them being the servile indiscriminate westernization of Russia and the inhuman government of the czars, that led to the famous Russian nihilism and the recent establishment of the soviet communism, of one of the most cruel totalitarian and anti-spiritual regimes in history.
A third Rome immediately implies the possibility of a fourth Rome, a fifth, etc. Constantinople was never named second, but New Rome. Even today the Patriarch signs as “Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch”. Moscow could see anywhere that Constantinople is named “New Rome”, and yet the third Rome narrative was not avoided.
This deviation is important, because in numerical succession the nature of Constantinople vanishes. New Rome is not a successor (as a “second” would be) but a new self of the old Rome, i.e. Rome itself having now a new orientation, a new will and character, exactly as it happens when a person is baptized.
The first problem is that Moscow wanted to be differentiated from Constantinople, which was conquered but not vaporized. On the contrary, Constantinople was still the place of the Patriarch, spiritual leader of all the enslaved nations according to the role Mohammed recognized and assigned to the Patriarch. Moscow could not be named or see herself as the “New Rome”. Thus Moscow found a resort in the numerical way, and invented the “third” Rome theory.
The other problem is a most serious mistake, and is based on the previous. For a new Rome to exist, an old one is needed. That means, the new Rome can exist only if the old Rome decides so. Constantinople was not a city that decided one day to be called “New Rome”. Constantinople was born in the decision of the Roman empire to transfer the capital in the East and embrace the Christian faith.
Instead of watching and understanding the historical motions, Moscow hurried to exploit the fall of Constantinople in order to promote her own strength. Moscow wanted the glory of Byzantium without the nature of Byzantium, and it ended by founding the first openly, persistently and violently atheist regime in Europe. Even western Europeans, tormented by Papacy for centuries, did not end to such an achievement! Russia’s disdain of history and will to self-power explain why she failed to support the enslaved Orthodox nations, at a time when all of them had their hope in God and in Russia! She could be their comfort and their leader, if she wasn’t attracted only by a narrow and sad image of herself.