Paris, October 7, 2019
The first meeting of the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches of Western Europe who did not join the Moscow Patriarchate together with their hierarch, Archbishop John of Dubna, opting instead to remain with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, was held in Paris on Saturday, October 5.
The meeting, headed by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, discussed the future organization of parishes in the French Metropolis, reports the diocesan website.
The meeting included several former members of the Archdiocesan Council who disagreed with Abp. John’s decision to join the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Archdiocese originated within the Russian Church in the early 20th century, but ended up with the Patriarchate of Constantinople due to the difficulties of the 20th century. It existed as an exarchate until last November, when the Patriarchate suddenly revoked its exarchate status, instructing the parishes to join their local Greek-tradition metropolises. The Archdiocese, however, voted overwhelmingly to remain together as an ecclesiastical body and began exploring different avenues for its future. In the end, Abp. John joined the Moscow Patriarchate after Constantinople suddenly and unexpectedly released him from its jurisdiction, and over 80 clergymen later voted to go with him.
“These clerics, following recent events, accepted the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and, following the Holy Canons, worked on the form of their reunion within the Metropolis of France,” the report reads.
It also mentions that there are clerics in every country where the Archdiocese is present throughout Western Europe who decided to remain with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Fr. Iliya Soloviev, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, commented on the meeting on Facebook, claiming that about 20 parishes of the Archdiocese want to remain with Constantinople, though OrthoChristian sources in the Archdiocese say this number is almost certainly too high. The photo on the Metropolis’ website shows at least 37 people present besides Met. Emmanuel, though it is difficult to tell who is clergy and who is laity.
Fr. Iliya writes that the parishes in France that remain with Constantinople will probably organize as a Russian vicariate within the Gallic Metropolis, which is something Met. Emmanuel has proposed more than once, though the official report does not say how the discussions regarding organization went at the meeting.
The fate of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris is unclear, Fr. Iliya writes.
Abp. John wrote last week that he hopes to eventually persuade all parishes of the Archdiocese to join the Moscow Patriarchate and thus remain together as one body. He also announced that the Archdiocese will elect two vicar bishops in the near future—something it was not allowed to do under Constantinople.
Meanwhile, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met today, resolving to receive as an ecclesiastical body the parishes and clergy of the Archdiocese who desired to remain with Abp. John