Moscow, August 7, 2017
The primate of the Russian Orthodox Old Rite Church Metropolitan Cornelius believes it is impossible for the Old Believers and the Moscow Patriarchate to reunite, although he noted that relations between the two Churches are currently peaceful, reports Interfax-Religion.
“The wounds of schism are too deep. We are very different in essence, in rites, in spirit. We will never be able to accept their rites, and it’s unlikely that they will want to return to the old faith in the near future,” the primate said in a recent interview.
For his part, while Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev), Chairman of the Commission on Old Believer parishes and cooperation with the Old Believer community, believes the healing of the schism is still a long way off, at a June book presentation he took a slightly more optimistic stance, saying, “The Church has always said that the split which occurred in the 17th century is not something we should reconcile ourselves to, but that we should endeavor to overcome this split.”
In addition to good relations between the Old Believers and the Moscow Patriarchate, the metropolitan thanked the state government for equal treatment of both Churches.
“I am a member of the President’s Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations. That means the government recognizes the Old Believers as equal to other traditional confessions. Although the authorities know that we are smaller statistically, all the same, they show us the same respect as the other confessions, inasmuch as we are truly the traditional Orthodox Church,” he noted.
Met. Cornelius is also sure that the neighborly relations which have developed between the Old Believers and the Moscow Patriarchate serve “so that people would not be embittered against one another, would live in peace, and would help society to fight alcoholism, drug abuse, and abortion.”
President Vladimir Putin visited the Old Believers’ spiritual center in Moscow on May 31, which Met. Cornelius termed an “historical landmark.” “We couldn’t have dreamed of the tsars or general secretaries ever coming to our spiritual center in the old days,” he said.
“We are grateful to the authorities for their support. We can say that we have good relations with the state now, which is already bearing good fruit. For this we are very thankful to God and the government,” the Old Rite primate concluded.