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ARCHDIOCESE OF RUSSIAN CHURCHES IN WESTERN EUROPE LIKELY TO RETURN TO RUSSIAN CHURCH The administration of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe, formerly an Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, has published a number of texts leading up to and resulting from its recent pastoral assembly on May 11 in which the clergy of the Archdiocese gathered in Paris to further deliberate on their future following Constantinople’s sudden revocation of Exarchate status in November. In a proposal on the future of the Archdiocese, a group of Archdiocesan clergy write about the structure’s history as the continuation of the Provisional Administration of the Russian Parishes in Western Europe, founded by St. Tikhon of Moscow in 1921. It was this structure, created by the Russian Church, that later received Exarchate status from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1931, 1971, and 1999—and it was this status that linked the group to a Local Church in communion with the broader Orthodox community, the authors write. “Therefore, we consider that while the Patriarchate of Constantinople may indeed revoke the status of Exarchate as stated in the synodal act of November 27, 2018, it is not for it to abolish a structure that the Patriarchate did not create,” they continue. With the tomos granting Exarchate status revoked, the Archdiocese must be attached to a Local Church. The proposal notes that the Archdiocese is looking for a home that will respect its administrative independence, statutes, and liturgical and linguistic practices, grant the possibility of electing hierarchs by Clergy-Laity Assemblies, according to the principles of the Moscow Council of 1917-1918, grant the status of metropolis to the group and of metropolitan to its primate, and grant the possibility of participating in the work of the councils and hierarchical assemblies of the given Local Church. Moreover, the authors “note that at present, only the Russian Orthodox Church is likely to give an answer that would make it possible to elaborate a solution corresponding to the requirements of our principles of ecclesiastical functioning.” Likewise, in his letter of April 22, His Eminence Archbishop John of Chariopoulis, the ruling hierarch of the Archdiocese, noted that contact with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Romanian Patriarchate did not yield results. He then notes that contact was made with the Moscow Patriarchate via His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), recalling the words of Metropolitan Evlogy who, on the eve of a receiving the tomos that provisionally linked the group to Constantinople, noted that it was not therefore separating from the Russian Church and had every intention of returning fully to the Moscow Patriarchate when conditions would allow. Abp. John notes that the dialogue with the Russian Church has been frank and respectful and allows the Archdiocese to continue its mission in Western Europe. He has openly spoken previously about his desire to see the Archdiocese join the Moscow Patriarchate, which has offered to accept it intact as an ecclesiastical body. He also writes that following the Assembly of February 23, a delegation was sent to Istanbul to ask the Patriarchate to reexamine the situation, though it was told only that it had to implement the Synod’s surprise decision of November 27 because the Patriarchate had no intention of reversing its decision. Moreover, the delegation was told that not only had the Archdiocese lots its Exarchate status, but it no longer existed at all in Constantinople’s vision. No response has been received to letters sent to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Abp. John notes. A General Assembly is scheduled for September 7. http://orthochristian.com/121549.html?fbclid=IwAR3LH-7lF1h00h3ibUjIP3hcW_xKrV0t9psVUk7BrG8lOsxF85l_cuvDvNI
The body of His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisimu and Western Kenya was laid to rest yesterday at the Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral where the diocesan headquarters are located, reports nyxthimeron.com. Thus, the Kenyan faithful bid farewell to Bp. Athanasius, their greatly beloved hierarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, on the feast of the 3 Holy Hierarchs. His Grace became very ill while visiting America in November and was admitted to the ICU at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Social media was flooded with heartfelt stories and memories of the kind and gentle hierarch. He reposed in the Lord on January 4, having suffered from a rare form of blood cancer. He was only 48. Bp. Athanasius’ body arrived to the Nairobi airport on January 27 and to the Kisimu airport the next day, from where it was taken to his home, where hundreds of people came to pray for and remember His Grace. A memorial All-Night Vigil was celebrated in the evening of January 29, where His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Nairobi reminded those who had gathered to mourn of how such moments underscore the importance of our reliance on the salvation of Christ, Who is our final judge and our hope. A hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated the next day, January 30. The Liturgy was followed by a number of eulogies in Bp. Athanasius’ honor, and at 4:00 PM, a procession to the cathedral at the diocesan headquarters began to serve his funeral, according to a schedule posted on the Facebook page of the Orthodox Christian Missionary Center (OCMC). The children of the St. Tabitha Mission in the Kibera Slums sang in honor of Bp. Athanasius: The OCMC also reports that more than $50,000 were raised to fund transportation and funeral arrangements, to organize an event in his honor, and to support his diocese during this time of transition. Abp. Makarios offered a moving homily at the funeral, which he opened by exclaiming “Christ is Risen” in several languages. “Today is a very special day, a day of joy, a day of celebration, because we have seen our brother and co-celebrant in Christ, Bishop Athanasius, departing from this life to eternal life, the real life, the life in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” he preached, focusing on the joy of the coming Resurrection. But, we never know when our time is coming, and thus we have to be ready. “Be ready,” the archbishop said. “Are we ready? Are we ready to forgive one another? Are we ready to love one another? Are we ready to embrace one another? Each and every one of us has to answer this question.” As Abp. Makarios told the crowd, Bp. Athanasius was a man who lived a life of preparation and readiness to meet Christ. May his memory be eternal! http://orthochristian.com/119042.html?fbclid=IwAR3YOST8lz_rY-tGkNKv3MQfDSF1nhsNO3fUbUBonAyNZW20Zv2a8A9VeKU
The Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe, officially the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe, reportedly intends to ask to be accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Archdiocese had been a part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for decades, though it was suddenly abolished without warning by the Holy Synod of the Constantinople on November 27. The Patriarchate then officially announced that it had revoked the 1999 tomos that gave the care of the Archdiocese to its own Archbishop-Exarch and that the Russian parishes were to be integrated into the dioceses of the Patriarchate of Constantinople already present in their countries. The Archdiocese then announced that it would hold a clergy meeting on December 15 that would set a date for a General Assembly that would formulate a response to Constantinople. And today, a Russian translation of a letter sent from the Archdiocesan hierarch Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, received by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations (DECR), has been published on Credo Press, revealing that the Archdiocese intends to petition for canonical recognition by the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter reads: Your Holiness! After my meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion on November 30, 2018, I am allowing myself, as Archbishop, to begin a correspondence with you regarding the Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe's new situation. My main pastoral concern is to preserve the unity, integrity, and specificity of this Archdiocese, which played an important role in preserving the theological, liturgical, and ecclesiological spiritual tradition of the Russian Church in Western Europe in a difficult historical period. We are planning to ask you for canonical recognition of the aforementioned Archdiocese, which would ensure the continuity of the inheritance and mission that is turning 100 (in 2024), and which will also allow many to enter the path of reconciliation after so many years of mutual distrust. To this end, we would like you to consider it possible to confirm to us the assurance of the legal and ecclesiastical continuity of our structure, regulated by its statutes, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of July 1, 1901 and the Act of December 9, 1905, and also the decree of May 6, 1906, in accordance with the laws of the French Republic on relations between the state and churches. Moreover, our statutes directly refer to the resolutions of the Moscow Council of 1917-1918. It is this inheritance that we would like to preserve, because it allowed for the preservation of an open Church life including the participation of the laity in the life of the community. Asking this, Your Holiness, we do not want to enter into any competition with your dioceses in Western Europe, but into cooperation with respect for our own historical path. It could be fruitful and allow us to join the Synod or Metropolia of the Russian Church in Western Europe, allowing for the better integration of all our parishes of various languages in various countries, while maintaining the integrity of this Archdiocese in the universal mission of the Orthodox Church. Requesting this, Your Holiness, I understand that we will have to deepen this return together, addressing the fundamental principles of our Archdiocese, which is within the Mother Church from which it is transferring. Being confident in your positive and pastoral attitude towards our request, I wish you a good feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos and we entreat your holy prayers for us all, and your blessing. Archbishop John of Chariopoulis Paris, December 7, 2018 http://orthochristian.com/117864.html?fbclid=IwAR2kAsK7LKUi-unGjzcFaNSAQDuzg_BbU17PdwdS5N35gkAdzwPv0IH-bQ4