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“Closes the topic of separation”: how reunification with the Archbishopric of Western European parishes will affect the position of the Russian Orthodox Church

2019-11-04T19:30:48.123Z

Most Western European parishes of the Russian tradition spoke out for reunification with the Moscow Patriarchate, the head of the Archbishopric, Metropolitan John, told reporters. On the eve of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Cyril handed him the Patriarchal and Synodal letters of restoration of the unity of the Archdiocese of Western European parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church. This was preceded by an attempt by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which previously included this church structure, to unilaterally disband it. Experts note that the return of the Archdiocese to the Russian Orthodox Church indicates the end of the period of separation of the Russian Church, which began after the October Revolution.



The vast majority of the communities of the Archdiocese of Western European parishes of the Russian tradition decided to reunite with the Moscow Patriarchate. This was told during a press conference in Moscow by the head of the Archbishopric, Metropolitan John of Dubninsky (Renneto).

“Today we have kept 60 parishes, but there are still parishes that will return to us. As for the clergy, priests and deacons, about 90 people remained and affirmed their decision to live in the Archdiocese in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, ”the metropolitan said, answering journalists' questions on October 4.

According to Metropolitan John, of the ten or so communities that refused to reunite with the Russian Orthodox Church, they decided to stay in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, others are thinking about their future - someone is planning to join the Romanian Patriarchate, and someone intends to leave for the Russian Orthodox Church abroad (ROCOR) ), which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The metropolitan explained that the Archbishopric of the West European parishes of the Russian tradition will become part of the Moscow Patriarchate as an independent legal entity. The organization’s structure is such that each community is independent and can leave by decision of the pastoral meeting.

  • Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill (right) and Archbishop John of Dubninsky during the liturgy on the occasion of the accession of the Archbishopric of the Western European parishes of the Russian tradition to the Russian Orthodox Church in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow
  • RIA News
  • © Sergey Pyatakov

The entry of the Archdiocese into the Russian Orthodox Church will not be easy, since the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Gallic Metropolitan Emanuel of the Patriarchate of Constantinople consider themselves “owners” of the European parishes of the Russian tradition. However, no one can own the Archdiocese except herself, Metropolitan John added in an interview with reporters.

Earlier during the Sunday liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill presented the Archbishop of Dubninsky John (Renneto) with a Patriarchal and Synodal letter of restoration of the unity of the archbishopric of Western European parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church.

After transmitting the letter, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church announced the construction of Archbishop John to the rank of Metropolitan.

The solemn transfer of the church document completed the process of reunification of the Archdiocese of Western European parishes with the Russian Orthodox Church. The second copy of the letter will be kept in the archives of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Addressing the participants of the festive service, Patriarch Kirill noted that the parishes of the Western European Archdiocese made the right choice in favor of church unity and the preservation of traditions.

“God willing, returning to the Russian Church will strengthen them and help them carry out their ministry - both to the many thousands of our compatriots living in Western Europe and to the indigenous people,” said the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

As a gift to Metropolitan John, Patriarch Kirill presented the ark with the relics of St. Patriarch Tikhon and the icon of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, former members of the Local Council of 1917-1918.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church also thanked Vladyka John for “determination and firmness shown in difficult circumstances”.

Recall that the delegation of the Archbishopric of the Western European parishes of the Russian tradition, led by Metropolitan John, arrived in Moscow on November 1 and took part in festive events in Moscow on the occasion of reunification with the Russian Orthodox Church. The delegation includes about a hundred clergy, not counting invited guests, among whom are descendants of Russian emigration at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as Orthodox Christians, Dutch, Germans, English, Scots, Romanians, Poles and Serbs.

Termination of separation

The archbishopric of Western European parishes was founded by Russian emigrants who left their homeland after the Civil War.

A part of the emigre bishops formed the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR), which entered into confrontation with the Moscow Patriarchate. The ROCOR believed that the Moscow Patriarchate was strongly influenced by the Bolsheviks. However, in May 2007, canonical communication between the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR was restored.

  • Metropolitan Eulogius
  • © radiovera.ru

As for the Archbishopric of Western European parishes, it was founded by Metropolitan Eulogius (St. George) and faithful parishes in Western European countries. Initially, the Archdiocese was part of the Moscow Patriarchate, but later transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the status of exarchate. In the mid-1940s, Metropolitan Evlogy made statements about the need to return under the wing of the Moscow Patriarchate, but then this idea was not realized.

According to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, the reunification of the Orthodox parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church will put an end to the division of the Russian Church.

“The implementation of this petition (about church reunification. - RT ) closes the theme of the division of the Russian Church abroad and the division of Russians living abroad. And the fact that this happened on the first day of the church new year helps to understand that this reunion is forever, for the future that lies before us, ”the patriarch said on September 15 during a sermon in the church of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Princess Olga in Ostankino, after receiving petition from Archbishop John.

The reunification of the Archdiocese of Western European parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church was preceded by last year’s decision of the Synod in Istanbul to abolish the Russian exarchate. European parishes were ordered to join the Greek metropolis of the countries in which they are located.

However, the Archbishopric refused to follow the decision of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and in September of this year, by a majority vote of the clergy assembly, it was decided to ask for accession to the Moscow Patriarchate.

On October 7, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church spoke out in favor of satisfying this request.

"Unjustified megalomania"

The events in Moscow were preceded by the decision of the Hellas Orthodox Church (EOC) on the recognition of the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU). Information about this appeared on the PCU website in late October. As specified in the message, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Jerome congratulated the head of the PCU Epiphanius on the recognition of religious education.

Earlier, the Greek Church recognized the right of the patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to grant autocephaly. On October 12, at the end of the Council of Bishops, Metropolitan Maxim Yanninsky declared.

This news provoked a negative reaction from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which stated that by entering into liturgical communion with people who “do not have legal ordination,” the Greek Church “raises the question of the possibility of our further Eucharistic communion with it.”

  • Fanar is the Greek quarter of Constantinople. 1900
  • © Wikipedia Commons

Already on November 2, the Russian Orthodox Church stopped the Eucharistic communion with the head of the Greek Church, the Archbishop of Athens, Jerome, because of his decision to recognize the canonicity of schismatics from the Orthodox Church. This was reported to reporters by the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion. However, communication with those Greek bishops who do not share the position of Jerome can be continued, the Russian Orthodox Church explained.

Recall that the PCU was created at the end of 2018 by the merger of the non-canonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and the schismatic UOC UP. Representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople participated in the “unification” council. Subsequently, Phanar provided the Tomos PTU - a document on the independence of the new church. However, this decision was perceived by the vast majority of Orthodox churches as illegitimate.

As Roman Silantyev, member of the expert council on conducting a religious studies examination under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, explained in an RT commentary, the EOC focuses on Constantinople due to historical conditions - it used to be a single church.

“The decision of the EPC on the Ukrainian situation once again demonstrated this dependence. It should be noted that the EOC has been trying for a long time to resist the pressure of Fanar, she had a choice: to complicate relations with Moscow or with the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew. The latter turned out to be closer to her, ”the expert explained.

However, now the EPC is beginning to understand that Bartholomew created the problem from scratch, and the Greek side suffered damage in vain, said Roman Silantyev.

“By his decision, Bartholomew created an unpleasant situation inside the Greek church, provoking a conflict with Moscow and giving rise to problems that could easily be avoided. And the reason for these decisions is the unjustified megalomania and dementia of the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Of course, the Western European parishes did not want to obey his decision and enter the EOC, because they considered it a manifestation of tyranny, ”the expert explained, adding that if the Russian parishes obeyed the request of Patriarch Bartholomew, they would eventually become Greek or lose their national flavor.

Reformatting in the Right Direction

According to experts, the restoration of the unity of the Archbishopric of the West European parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church can be called a landmark event for the Russian Orthodox tradition.

“This means reformatting in the right direction of relations within the Orthodox, the end of the special situation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a return to the equality of churches,” Roman Silantyev said.

A similar point of view is shared by the assistant professor of the Department of the History of Religions and Theology of the Russian State Pedagogical University named after A.I. Herzen Alexei Gaidukov. According to the expert, the process of church unification has not only religious, but also political significance.

  • Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow
  • globallookpress.com
  • © Valery Lukyanov

“This event will contribute to strengthening the position of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad. It should be noted that the Russian Orthodox Church is strengthening its position, despite the difficult political background, ”the expert explained in a commentary to RT.

According to Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics of the Moscow State Pedagogical University, the significance of reuniting the West European Orthodox parishes of the Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church is difficult to overestimate.

“In fact, the process of reunification of the Russian Church is now nearing completion. The Western European Orthodox parishes of the Russian tradition were the last part of Russian Orthodoxy, split off after the revolution and the Civil War, ”the expert emphasized in an interview with RT.

Vladimir Shapovalov is confident that this event is of great importance not only for the religious, but also for the secular sphere.

“In essence, we can say that the centennial period of schism in Russian society, caused by the revolution and subsequent events, is ending. Spiritual reunion is an important part of the historical, ideological reunion of people. The period of disunity that began after the Civil War, from the spiritual point of view, is now over. This is a very important part of the cultural and historical path of Russia, ”the expert concluded.

Source: russiart

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