Constantinople’s Western European Archdiocese could join MP, ROCOR, or Romanian Church

Paris, December 17, 2018

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Paris St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Paris

The Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Constantinople held a clergy meeting on Saturday, December 15, at which it was decided to hold a General Assembly meeting on February 23 in Paris, according to the Archdiocese’s latest communiqué.

The General Assembly, including clergy and laity under the presidency of Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis, will meet to “reorganize the status of the Exarchate” and formulate a response to the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s recent surprise decision to abolish the Archdiocese that would have its parishes joining the regular Constantinople structure throughout Europe.

In response to the announcement of the February 23 meeting, Archbishop Job Getcha of the Patriarchate of Constantinople wrote on his Facebook page: “The former Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate rejects the directives of the Ecumenical Throne. Anti-canonically, they will gather on the day of the Red Army, on 23 February 2019, to decide whether they join the ROCOR, the Moscow Patriarchate, or the Church of Romania.”

Abp. Job himself led the Archdiocese/Exarchate from 2013 to 2015, though he was removed thanks to widespread discontent with his authoritarian managerial style.

It was previously reported that the Archdiocesan administration has been in contact with the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) about the possibility of joining the MP, with the Archdiocese’s structure and traditions remaining intact. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is an autonomous body within the MP that is also present in Europe and presents another option.

According to a source within the Archdiocese, opinions are divided on how to proceed, but the Romanian Church is an option on the table, where the people would have time to calm themselves and reflect upon what to do next, and where the possibility could be greater of maintaining the unity of the Archdiocese—a number of priests and parishes may still be wary of joining the Russian Church, as the Archdiocese initially joined Constantinople by leaving the Russian Church during the time of the Soviet Union.

However, there is also the fear that the Romanian Church would not remain firm in the face of a “violent reaction” from Constantinople, the source added.

“We have to wait for the extraordinary General Assembly,” the source said.

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