Fr. Pierre Haab, Switzerland: His long journey from Roman Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism to Orthodoxy
Aviv Saliu-Diallo, Pierre Haab
Fr. Pierre Haab, a Swiss former Roman Catholic who was disappointed with his religion and was carried away by Buddhism, Hinduism and other screamingly “fashionable” Eastern teachings and who is now a subdeacon of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross in Geneva, speaks about his conversion to Orthodoxy.
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—Can you tell us a few words about your family, education and the story of your conversion to the Orthodox faith?
I was born in an under-developed, impoverished, hungry country where the sky is permanently overcast with dark clouds—of course, in the spiritual sense. I am speaking of Switzerland, and especially of the city of Geneva—the center of world freemasonry and finances, the stronghold of obscurantist heresy, and a materialistic megalopolis that is enjoying the lulling, stable comfort that easily protects it from the numerous everyday tragedies of humanity.
My parents raised me in the Roman Catholic faith that they had inherited from their ancestors, for which I am extremely grateful to them; they implanted the fundamentals of Christian Revelation in me from childhood—namely faith in God, the doctrine and the necessity of prayer.
We were a practicing Catholic family. We attended Mass on Sundays and major Church feasts, and prayer was a part of our daily life (at least it was so for the first ten years of my childhood). My father, a journalist, devoted his professional life to the protection of the oppressed and justice. As far as my parents are concerned, they did their best to provide the continuity of religious education in our family.
As for the Church, though in my case the more precise name was “Papism”, the situation was different. As a child (in the 1950s) I felt comfortable in that religious environment; for example, I had no problem with prayers in Latin. Although for me faith was “the faith in obedience,” I used to ask many questions, and the adults—my parents and priests—were unable to answer them. And if they did answer me, they did it with a smile and condescendingly, thinking that I was trying to get to the core of the matter too seriously. They gave me to understand that performing the morally required duties was enough for me. And I decided that I would get the answers to my questions later through my independent, in-depth research and analysis of the primary sources, where the morals come from. Judging by my childhood memories, I always had a thirst for truth.
So I was waiting for some changes, when, at the very dawn of my youth, a crucial event happened in the West—a real revolution in Papism (which is still going on today). I mean the Second Vatican Council of 1962. Over a short span of several months (or, in some cases, two to three years) a whole set of rules which had been shaped in the living daily reality of Western Christianity formany centuries, were abolished, declared invalid and obsolete and even partly prohibited; in the twinkling of an eye this heritage was declared the lifeless and dusty relics of archeology. For example, thenceforth during the Mass the officiating priest and the altar were “turned around” and must face toward the congregation; the use of Latin—the centuries-old language of Western liturgies—was banned; the Sunday Mass was moved to Saturday evening—in order to give believers the opportunity to go skiing or sleep more on Sunday morning; the cassock (or soutane)—a non-liturgical garment traditionally worn by Catholic clergy—was declared “unnecessary”; all fasts (the Eucharistic fast, Lent and fasting on Fridays) were abolished; the sacramental wafers are distributed among the faithful by lay people (of both sexes) to “assist” the priest in his “work” and so on.
On the whole, it was an unhealthy thirst for changes. Continuity was no longer supported—it was seen as a sign of death. Instability became the norm, coupled with its main and inevitable consequence—the complacent confidence that thanks to our modern civilization we infinitely surpass all that came to us from the past. In ancient times people were “ignorant churls”, weren’t they? While we are at the forefront of evolution… Or, according to Nietzsche, “‘We have invented happiness,’ say the last men and blink.” The slogan of that revolution was l’aggiornamento, that is, “a bringing up to date”—bringing the Church into compliance with the ever changing world, which presupposes that the Church is condemned to run unendingly after the world.
In this context, I got no answer to the questions I had asked, nor found I any inner guidance.
Thus, little by little, I began to distance myself from the “Catholic” Church. By Weiterlesen „Fr. Pierre Haab, Switzerland: His long journey from Roman Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism to Orthodoxy“