Moscow, February 1, 2018
Chairman of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations and Chairman of the Commission on Old Believer parishes and cooperation with the Old Believer community Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has said that he sees no need for establishing a bishop for the Old Believer community that is nourished spiritually by the Moscow Patriarchate, reports Interfax-Religion.
His statement comes in response to the recent proposal of Leonid Sevastianov, the Executive Director of the St. Gregory the Theologian Foundation and permanent member of the Committee for Old Believer Parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate, to have Met. Hilarion become the bishop for the patriarchate’s Edinoverie communities.
“It would be a great honor for us if he, in addition to his other obediences and the leadership of the commission for the Old Believers, would also become the bishop for the Edinoverie parishes,” Sevastianov stated on Monday.
“My personal opinion is that the time for it has not come; and I can’t even say that it will come in the foreseeable future,” the metropolitan told journalists today.
Explaining his position, he noted that “if we now create a structure for the Old Believer parishes within the Russian Church, bringing them out from submission to the ruling bishops, then, considering the huge size of our Church, it’s impossible to imagine how the bishop established for these parishes will travel the expanses of Holy Rus’.”
Met. Hilarion continued that the manner of the hypothetical relationship of the Edinoverie bishop to the territorial bishops where the Edinoverie parishes are located is as yet unclear. “I think that at this stage, we are not ready for it and are not sure what the need is,” the hierarch said.
If some problem were to arise with a territorial bishop due to the particularities of Old Rite communities, then the commission headed by Met. Hilarion could address the problem, he stated, and they could invite the bishop to come and learn more about the Old Rite.
At the same time, Met. Hilarion did not rule out the possibility that the need for a Edinoverie bishop could arise at some point, but added “But at this stage, I do not see the objective prerequisites.”