Moscow, June 28, 2019
Negotiations are continuing between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe. The latter was suddenly and unexpectedly deprived of its exarchate status by decision of the Holy Synod of Constantinople in November and has been attempting to discern its future path ever since.
The Archdiocese overwhelmingly voted in February to remain together as an ecclesiastical structure rather than to dissolve as a structure into Constantinople’s Greek metropolises throughout Europe, and out of the various options explored—joining the Romanian Patriarchate, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Orthodox Church in America, or the Moscow Patriarchate—the Moscow Patriarchate has emerged as the most likely home for the Archdiocese moving ahead.
In an interview published yesterday by Independent Gazette, the Moscow Patriarchate made its first official comments in the entire seven months of the negotiation process, noting, in particular, that it is prepared to amend its statutes to accommodate the Archdiocese and allow it to continue to operate according to the statutes it has used for decades.
His Grace Bishop Savva (Tutunov), the Deputy Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate and member of the negotiation commission, also clarified the details of the meeting that took place on June 21 in Vienna, which was attended by His Eminence Archbishop John of Chariopoulis of the Western European Archdiocese.
“Our basic principle, which was laid down by Patriarch Kirill and which we adhere to is that the Moscow Patriarchate is ready to accept the Archdiocese fully in the system of administration in which it now exists,” Bp. Savva explained.
“That is, the statutes of the Archdiocese will operate within the framework of the Moscow Patriarchate. A new structure will appear in the Russian Orthodox Church which is not yet provided for by our statutes. But several correctives will be introduced into the statutes, providing for the existence of such an archdiocese with a special form of administration,” His Grace further noted.
The Patriarchate’s statutes also had to be amended in order to receive the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which reunited with the Russian Church on May 17, 2007, Bp. Savva pointed out.
The Archdiocese held its latest Pastoral Assembly in Paris in May, at which it scheduled a General Assembly for September 7, where it is hoped a final decision will be made. Abp. John, who has openly spoken about his desire to see the Archdiocese join the Moscow Patriarchate, called for a decision to be made as soon as possible so as to avoid further harm to the Archdiocese.
“Dialogue with Vladyka John is ongoing; it is very deep, as often happens in such a situation,” Bp. Savva explained. “After nearly 90 years of a separate existence, dialogue should be deep and constructive. We hope the Archdiocese will decide in September. But the solution will completely depend on the Assembly, and the Moscow Patriarchate cannot influence it any way,” Bp. Sava said in conclusion.
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