Paris, December 12, 2018
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:
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
See our article “Letter of Western European Archdiocese to Russian Church is ‘provocation’” for clarification from the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Church and Abp. John himself that this letter is not real.
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