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ARCHDIOCESE OF RUSSIAN CHURCHES IN WESTERN EUROPE LIKELY TO RETURN TO RUSSIAN CHURCH

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ARCHDIOCESE OF RUSSIAN CHURCHES IN WESTERN EUROPE LIKELY TO RETURN TO RUSSIAN CHURCH

 

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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.

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    • Од Ромејац,
      Why Constantinople registered its organization of one person at the address of the Czech monastery.
      It has become known from open sources that the Patriarchate of Constantinople began to create a parallel jurisdiction in the Czech Republic, in the canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia (OCCLS) and registered a “monastery” subordinate to Phanar. What are the Phanariots striving for and what may their plan of forcible takeover of this Local Church be?
      Christianity was brought to Moravia by Sts. Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius, who are also called the Moravian brothers. In 869, Pope Adrian II ordained St. Methodius to the rank of Archbishop of Moravia. This was before the fall of the Roman Church, which happened almost 200 years later, in 1054. Thus, the first Mother Church for the OCCLS was precisely the Orthodox Sazavska Monastery, and Orthodoxy disappeared from these lands for almost 800 years. Only at the end of the 19th century Orthodox temples appeared in the Czech Republic, which the Russian Church built for vacationers from Russia in Czech resorts. There appeared a Czech Orthodox community in Prague, which was also led by a priest from the Russian Church.
      However, amid political disagreements between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and then World War I, the Austrian authorities did not register this Orthodox community in Prague and it legally belonged to the community of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Vienna. The Serbian Church ordained the first bishop for the Czech and Slovak lands, Bishop Gorazd (Pavlik). Thus, the Serbian Church became the second Mother Church for the OCCLS.
      Bishop Gorazd put a lot of efforts in the formation of the Church in Czechoslovakia, and in the interwar period it developed quite actively, while being in the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church. During the Second World War, Bishop Gorazd was tortured by the Nazis and became the first holy martyr of the Church of Czechoslovakia.
      At the same time, instead of supporting the work of St. Gorazd, the Patriarchate of Constantinople tried to create a parallel jurisdiction and in 1923 established its Autonomous Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic and Moravia and ordained Bishop Sabbatius (Vrabets) to lead it. However, the believers rejected him and remained faithful to Bishop Gorazd. Bishop Sabbatius retired, while the autonomous Church from Constantinople remained on paper.
      During World War II, the Czechoslovak Church was liquidated by the Nazis and revived after the victory but already in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. Unlike Phanar, the Russian Orthodox Church did not pretend to rule this Church and in 1951 granted it full autocephaly, thus becoming the third Mother Church for the OCCLS.
      An act signed by Patriarch Alexy (Simansky) read as follows: “The Russian Orthodox Church, represented by Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia and the entire Holy Council of Bishops, in consideration of the petition of the Church Council of the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia, grants autocephaly to this Church, formerly the Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church with one heart prays to the Heavenly Shepherd, our Head the Lord Jesus Christ so that He sends His Divine blessing to the youngest sister in the family of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, the Church of Czechoslovakia and crowns Her with eternal glory.”
      It is noteworthy that this is the full text of the act.
      Constantinople categorically did not recognize it arguing that Saints Cyril and Methodius came to Moravia from Constantinople, therefore this is its canonical territory. Phanar was not at all embarrassed by the fact that Methodius was ordained bishop of Moravia in Rome and that for almost 800 years there was no Orthodoxy in these lands at all,.
      But even without the recognition of Constantinople, the OCCLS was developing quite successfully and by the end of the 20th century already numbered several hundred thousand parishioners.
      In 1998, the current Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, recognized the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia by publishing his Tomos on the autocephaly of OCCLS. This Tomos is strikingly different from the ROC act. Whereas the act does not contain any terms on limitations of autocephaly, the Phanar’s Tomos abounds with them. Like in the Tomos for the OCU, there is an obligation for the OCCLS to receive the myrrh from Constantinople, to appeal there, coordinate all important issues with Phanar and act strictly in line with the foreign policy pursued by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
      The OCCLS considered the Phanar-issued Tomos to be simply an internal document of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
      However, in 2013, the Primate of the OCCLS Metropolitan Christopher (Pulz) was forced to retire due to the appearance of publications casting a shadow on his moral character. The publications, as it was established later, turned out to be slanderous, but this enabled Phanar to intervene in the affairs of the OCCLS.
      On October 19, 2013, at the diocesan meeting of the Prague diocese, which was supposed to choose a new Prague bishop, the well-known Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France turned up and said that Phanar would not recognize any of the candidates proposed at the meeting. This caused confusion and the congregation was not able to elect its bishop.
      In December 2013, in Prague, a meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCCLS was held, to which the locum tenens of the head of this Church, Archbishop Simeon (Yakovlevic) had already invited two Metropolitans of Constantinople – Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France and Arseny (Kardamakis) of Vienna. It was announced to everyone that these hierarchs would participate in the meetings of the Synod of a foreign Church with a casting vote.
      The rest of the Czechoslovak hierarchs resolutely opposed to this and asked the Russian Orthodox Church for protection from Phanar’s gross interference in the affairs of the Church OCCLS. Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Prague. He negotiated with the Phanariots and ensured that the Synod of the OCCLS would settle its own affairs without interference from other Churches.
      The Synod of the OCCLS removed the locum tenens, Archbishop Simeon (Yakovlevic), from office and appointed Metropolitan Rostislav (Gont). And soon after the Local Council of the OCCLS elected Metropolitan Rostislav, who received 87% of the vote, as the Primate.
      It is easy to guess that Phanar did not recognize such an election and continued to consider its protégé – Archbishop Simeon – as the locum tenens thus provoking a split in the OCCLS.
      In February 2015, Constantinople further aggravated this schism, having ordained Bishop Isaiah (Slanink) for the OCCLS in order to create an “alternative Synod” of the OCCLS.
      It is not known how the situation would develop further, but in 2016 Phanar urgently needed the support of the OCCLS in the run-up to the Cretan Council. This Council, as we recall, was supposed to affirm the primacy of Constantinople in the Orthodox world, securing it many exclusive powers, and also open the way to unification with the Latins, recognizing the Vatican as an Orthodox Church along with Orthodoxy.
      Thanks to the Providence of God, Four Local Churches did not attend this Council and it did not become pan-Orthodox, in fact. But then, before this Council, Patriarch Bartholomew struggled to ensure the presence of the Primates of all Local Churches and he had no time to fight with Metropolitan Rostislav. As a result, Phanar recognized Metropolitan Rostislav as the head of the Church, while the OCCLS recognized the Tomos of Constantinople of 1998 on its own autocephaly, which puts the OCCLS in actual subordination to Phanar.
      A new attack by Phanar on the OCCLS ensued already in 2019 due to the fact that the Czechoslovak Church did not recognize the OCU and declared support for the UOC and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. On the same day when Phanar made its lawless decisions on Ukraine, on October 11, 2018, Metropolitan Rostislav sent a letter to the Russian Orthodox Church condemning the gross interference of the Ukrainian government in the internal life of the OCCLS and also stated that the position of the Church on this issue remains unchanged.
      “World Orthodoxy recognizes the only canonical head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and reiterated on behalf of all those present by the Holy Primate of the Great Christ Church of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, which took place in Chambesy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches,” the letter said.
      And on February 3, 2019, on the day of “enthronement” of Epiphany Dumenko, Metropolitan Rostislav declared the following: “In fact, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has existed for centuries – from the time of Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and Princess Olga, from the day of the Baptism in the Dnieper, and it has its primate – this is His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. <...> Among the high-ranking hierarchs there were those who decided to refute this, who considered for nothing what had been for centuries and proclaimed this impostor ‘a metropolitan of all Ukraine’ instead of the canonical metropolitan.”
      Of course, this position aroused the indignation of Constantinople, which launched a new offensive on the OCCLS. In August 2019, Phanar initiated the creation of a parallel jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Czech Republic. At the constituent assembly, the legal entity “Association: Holy Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (hereinafter referred to as the Association)” was created and the statute was adopted.

      Only three people took part in the Constituent Assembly: Konstantinos Kardamakis, who is also Metropolitan Arseny of Austria (Constantinople Patriarchate), ThDr. Igor Slaninka, who is also Bishop Isaiah, and also a certain Roman Rugyko. These three established the Association and elected its chairman – “Dr. Konstantinos Kardamakis, born on October 31, 1973, residing at 13 Fleiskmarket, 1010 Vienna, Austria” and his deputy – “ThDr. (Doctor of Theology) Igor Isaiah Slaninka, born on June 25, 1980, living at the address: Jana Zizky, 1116/13, 434 01 Bridge.”
      On October 1, 2019, the Association was registered by the regional court of Ostrava city.

      What is noteworthy, in this extract in the column "number of members" there is a number 1. And the most interesting thing is that the monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at this address has already existed for a long while.

      There is not much information about it on the Internet. There are some photos on the Czech site “Light of Orthodoxy” and a little information for the pilgrims on the website "Pilgrimage Alphabet":
      “The Monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in the town of Vilemov, which is located in the Czech Republic. Over the long years of its existence, this convent became one of the main centers of Orthodoxy in the traditionally Catholic Czech Republic. Located in a quiet area, the monastery became a place of seclusion for a small Orthodox community. <...> Address: Czech Republic, Olomouc District, 783 22 Vilemov 159.”
      What do we have? Phanar creates a monastery under the name "Association" at the same address, on the site of a female monastic community, which has existed for many years. Moreover, the Association formally establishes three people, none of whom has anything to do with this monastic community. The number of members of the Association, according to the extract from the register, is only one person. Furthermore, the Association is subordinate not to the OCCLS, i.e. the Local Church in whose canonical territory it is registered but directly to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
      Here is a paragraph of the Association’s statute on its goals: “The Association is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit association of Orthodox believers under the spiritual leadership of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which united the advocates of the spiritual development of Orthodox citizens living in the Czech Republic and other Orthodox believers to satisfy their spiritual needs, for vigorous activity in this development, to popularize this goal and ensure charitable activities in the field of this missionary work. The task is also to lead a spiritual and liturgical life, to be engaged in charity work, to help those in need, and at the same time to create contact spiritual centers (dependencies) to fulfill this goal. For this purpose, the chairman of the association (abbot) appoints the clergy who received the canonical mission. At the same time, it has to pay attention and help protect the rights of citizens and Orthodox believers, defend their interests in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom and to make sure that no one incites hatred, intolerance, supports violence or violates the Constitution and laws.”
      We emphasize:
      The Association is subordinate to Constantinople; The Association extends its activities to all Orthodox citizens living in the Czech Republic; in the list of tasks of the established monastery (Association) there is not a word about monastic life. This means that under the guise of a monastery, a parallel jurisdiction will be established, which will expand throughout the Czech Republic, and then, possibly, will spread to Slovakia.
      The fact that the Association is supervised by the bishop, who lives in Austria, speaks of two things. First, the Association will not attract “seekers of the monastic life” but entire parishes with the clergy, laity, churches and church property. As the recent developments show, Phanar has perfectly mastered the art of “head-hunting” clerics into its jurisdiction using blackmail, threats, financial incentives, political and other pressures, etc. Secondly, if there are not so many people who want to move from the OCCLS to the jurisdiction of Phanar, not only Czech or Slovak priests will be attracted but also Phanar-loyal clergy from other countries.
      When the members of the Association are significantly more than one person, Phanar will be able to either carry out a coup in the OCCLS, bringing its people to power (the same Igor-Isaiah Slaninka), or even transfer the OCCLS to its jurisdiction having eliminated autocephaly. Such a renewed (or abolished) OCCLS will definitely recognize the OCU.
      Time will tell whether these plans are destined to come true, yet we have no choice but to pray for the Primate of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Metropolitan Rostislav, and the faithful hierarchs of his Church wishing them to have the same stamina and courage as His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
       
      Patriarchate of Constantinople is trying to create another parallel jurisdiction in Europe - UOJ - the Union of Orthodox Journalists
      SPZH.NEWS    
    • Од Ромејац,
      Knowing that the local faithful were planning to protest and block their entry to St. Andrew’s Church in Patras, the pilgrims of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” changed their schedule to visit the church without incident, but the faithful were already on-guard.
      Thus, a conflict broke out between the faithful Orthodox believers of Patras and the clergy of the Church of St. Andrew when the schismatic pilgrims, including “Metrpolitans” Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko, who abandoned the Church of Christ to become schismatics, were allowed inside the church, reports the Greek outlet Oukraniko.
      The schismatics also encountered trouble on the island of Aegina, not being allowed to enter the Holy Trinity-St. Nektarios and St. Minas Monasteries. They were warmly received, however, on Evia and in Fokidos.
      The OCU pilgrims were initially scheduled to visit the church this morning but decided to visit yesterday after lunch, as it was publicly reported that there would be a protest to block them from entering the church on Thursday.
      However, the OCU schismatics nevertheless “found the faithful of Patras who were on duty in case they [the schismatic pilgrims—Ed.] would appear outside their schedule,” as “there was a suspicion that they would change their program,” as they have been doing frequently during their trip.
      “The inhabitants of Patras were in the church and found the schismatics, and [a certain] Mr. Zorbalas just happened to come in at the same time and saw that the rector of the church, Fr. Skiaradesis, was conducting a tour for the schismatics. They were near the honorable head of St. Andrew just then.”
      Oukranki reports that “while the schismatics were shooting videos and taking photos to publish on the internet, a lively altercation began between Zorbalas and the rector, who was leading a tour for the schismatics. The conflict continued for quite a while, and, probably, the schismatics will have to shoot new videos.”
      It was also reported yesterday that the faithful of Patras were to gather this morning at 6:00 for a protest at the Church of St. Andrew.
      The faithful emphasized that “we say ‘no’ to the schismatics. We are on the side of our Orthodox brothers in Ukraine, who suffer because of them. The fight has begun! The schismatics will come again, as they did to the Holy Mountain.”
      Altercation erupts in Patras church over visit of schismatics
      ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The OCU pilgrims were initially scheduled to visit the church this morning but decided to visit yesterday after lunch, as it was publicly reported that there would be a protest to block them...  
    • Од Ромејац,
      According to the Greek outlet Romfea, the hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and asked him not to commemorate the schismatic during his current visit to the island nation.
      The Patriarch arrived on Cyprus on Saturday, November 9, for the celebrations in honor of St. John the Merciful, the patron saint of Limassol. He first commemorated Epiphany and announced his recognition of the OCU just the day before.
      His decision caught many by surprise, as he had been a friend of the canonical Church in Ukraine until Friday. In September 2018, he even traveled to Odessa for the purpose of encouraging the faithful to remain in the canonical Church under their beloved canonical hierarch His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
      As recently as late June, Metropolitan Meletios of Carthage of the Patriarchate of Alexandria traveled to Kiev to celebrate Met. Onuphry’s name’s day, and declared that he had the full support and love of Pat. Theodoros: “We have come on behalf of our primate and our Church to witness our love for his Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, and I want to convey our love, respect and fraternal wishes on behalf of the Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. Patriarch Theodoros very often speaks about the asceticism, about the prayerfulness of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, whom the entire Orthodox world knows.”
      “Our presence here means nothing more than the support of your canonical Church, the manifestation of which will be our unity at the Eucharistic Chalice during the Divine Liturgy,” Met. Meletios stressed.
      The celebrations in honor of St. John today and tomorrow in Limassol, where there is a significant Russian population.
      The request to refrain from commemorating Dumenko came especially from His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, in whose metropolis the celebration will be held.
      This information was also confirmed by the Orthodox blogger Alexander Voznesensky, whose sources informed him that Pat. Theodoros’ visit to Cyprus was agreed upon in advance, but following his decision to enter into communion with schismatics, some of the hierarchs have refused to take part in the service with him in Limassol, and Met. Athanasius has asked him not to commemorate Dumenko.
      His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye of the canonical Ukrainian Church also mentions on his Telegram channel that a number of clergy in Cyprus are no longer willing to serve with the Patriarch.
      In February, the Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement pointing to several problems with the schismatic OCU. However, Met. Athanasios did not sign the statement, as he believed it was too diplomatic, and did not strongly enough express support for Met. Onuphry.
      His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos also issued a strongly-worded statement, emphasizing that it is impossible to have communion with un-ordained schismatics.
      Cypriot hierarchs ask Patriarch Theodoros not to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko in their churches
      ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox...  
    • Од Ромејац,
      OCU raiders attacked the temple of the canonical Church in Malinsk
       
      There is currently an attempt to seize Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church of the UOC in Malinsk. According to eyewitnesses, the situation is very critical.
      Today, on September 3, 2019, at about 7:00, OCU supporters cut locks on the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul Church of the UOC in the village of Malinsk of the Berezno district.
      According to eyewitnesses, about three dozen people came to the temple in early morning and immediately began to cut down the locks. The first to see this was the abbot, Archpriest Vasily Gnes, who had been on watch at the church for several months in a row because of the constant threats of the OCU activists to take it over. Castles were cut in a matter of minutes, activists, among whom were local school teachers and many non-residents, led by their "priest", immediately went inside the temple.
      “It was still very early, I didn’t even think that they would do it so early,” said Father Vasily. “As usual, I was going around the churchyard when a crowd with a flag approached the church door the door and started to cut locks. “I immediately began to call my parishioners and people themselves rushed to the church.”
      As archpriest Sergiy Kaminsky, a clergyman of the Sarny Eparchy, a native of the village and rector of the Assumption of the Most Holy Theotokos Church in neighbouring Kuzmovka of the Sarny district, said that in the morning he arrived in Malinsk and, coming up to the church, saw a large group of strangers in camouflage there.
      “At the moment, all are waiting, there is no open confrontation, only separate cross-talks between locals,” he said. “Of all the situations that have been around the temple, this is the most critical. The locks were cut off at about 7:30, and their tool bag was left.”
      As of 9:00, the head of the village arrived at the scene of the incident and asked everyone who was not a member of the religious community to leave the church fence.
      As it became known later, the believers managed to defend their temple. Inside the religious building, they found all the intruders' tools: hammers, grinders, saw blades, pliers and even binoculars.
      “They (OCU supporters – Ed.) didn’t stay long in the church because a lot of people gathered and drove them out of the territory,” said Father Vasily, the rector of the church. “I am proud of my parishioners, women and men, who are ready to stand to the end for the Orthodox faith and not give up the church, which is native, prayed.”
      The believers are praying in the church and planning to guard the religious building. Perhaps, the parishioners will remain inside the church overnight, therefore, they ask all those who care to support with prayers the believers, who for the fifth month in a row have been forced to resent the church raiders from the OCU.
      The UOJ is monitoring the developments.
      We recall that a previous attempt to seize the temple in Malinsk occurred on April 23, 2019. Thanks to the assistance of the RSA deputy Anatoly Rudkovsky, who held talks with both communities and the police, the raider seizure was avoided.
      The UOJ editorial board reminds: in case of violation of the rights of the episcopate, clergy, laity and institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (obstruction of worship, seizure of churches, provocations pressure, threats, etc.), you must immediately contact the Legal Department of the UOC by telephone: 097- 537-55-96.
      OCU activists cut locks on UOC church in Malinsk, Rovno region - UOJ - the Union of Orthodox Journalists
      SPZH.NEWS    
    • Од Ромејац,
      The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople unexpectedly decided to remove the exarchate status of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe, telling the parishes that they had to become part of the Patriarchate’s Greek metropolises.
      However, the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese then overwhelmingly voted to remain together as an ecclesiastical body. They are actively considering several options for their future, the most likely being to join the Moscow Patriarchate, which has the backing of the Archdiocese’s hierarch, Archbishop John of Chariopoulis, though there are certainly those members who actively oppose returning to the Russian Church.
      On August 9, the parishes of the former Exarchate received two documents, one with a proposal from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the other with a proposal from the Moscow Patriarchate. The clergy and parishioners have until September 7 to consider the two proposals, when the Archdiocese’s next General Assembly will be held to take a vote, “either to preserve its identity, specificity, and traditions under the Patriarchal omophorion of Moscow,” or “to abandon the past, becoming a vicariate without a future,” Abp. John wrote in his address accompanying the letters, reports the Independent Gazette.
      The 24-page document from Constantinople is, “in fact, the same statutes that the parishes of the Russian tradition live by today, but with all the references to the Archdiocese as a territorial and legal entity replaced with ‘vicariate,’ with the addition of ‘the Gallic Orthodox Metropolis, in the canonical jurisdiction of the Constantinople (Ecumenical ) Patriarchate.”
      Whereas the statutes previously proclaimed the independence of the Exarchate, they now note that decisions can be made only with the “consultation” or “approval” of Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul.
      Metropolitan Emmanuel previously sent a letter with a proposal for the churches within his territory to become a vicariate to the priests of the Archdiocese. His letter stipulated the “the preservation of the existing association, which will continue to manage the property belonging to it, and to function according to its own statutes, probably with some necessary adaptations.” The new Constantinople letter makes clear that the “necessary adaptations” are to strip the Archdiocese of its former freedom, as Abp. John comments.
      Moreover, both Met. Emmanuel’s letter and the present proposal apply only to the churches in France. No offer has been made for the parishes throughout the rest of Western Europe. “We are not talking about the preservation of the Archdiocese, but only about the preservation of its French part,” Deacon Alexander Zanemonets explained to the Gazette.
      Noting that Abp. John would be able to take actions only with the consent of Met. Emmanuel, Dcn. Alexander commented that “the proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church should be considered both in the context of the Romanian refusal and in the context of this Constantinople option.”
      As Dcn. Alexander explained, the Romanian Patriarchate offered the Archdiocese to join it only temporarily, and required a canonical release from Constantinople. “But since the Archdiocese is no longer part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, there cannot be any canonical release,” the clergyman explained.
      Meanwhile, as he notes, the Moscow Patriarchate’s latest offer “corresponds to what was originally discussed.” That is, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s winter letter and the final proposal are identical, with all the features of the entire Archdiocese being preserved, including the independence of the Archdiocese in all internal decisions. “That is, in fact, the only change is that the Patriarch of Moscow will be commemorated instead of the Patriarch of Constantinople, while the structure of the internal life of the Archdiocese remains the same,” Dcn. Alexander explained.
      And, importantly, the Moscow proposal allows the Archdiocese to quickly elect diocesan and vicar bishops. Abp. John’s age has been a point of concern for the Archdiocese, but there has been no hope of electing successor bishops under Constantinople.
      The Russian Church has even offered to amend its own statutes to accommodate the traditions of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches.
      http://orthochristian.com/123008.html?fbclid=IwAR3HtowjDzzE4_a-elqZ6iVnTD7ueCxwnDFDr0yrIRTnxJEbymxXBzW9lV4

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