Moscow-Constantinople agreement in France signals end of Met. Emmanuel’s legal threats

Paris, December 7, 2020

Met. John of Dubna (left), and Bp. Syméon of Domodedovo (right). Photo: Met. John of Dubna (left), and Bp. Syméon of Domodedovo (right). Photo:     

The Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe and the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Metropolis of Gaul have agreed to put an end to the tension and struggle that began after Constantinople suddenly revoked the Exarchate status of the Archdiocese and later suddenly released its hierarch Metropolitan John from its jurisdiction, prompting the majority of the Archdiocese to reunite with the Moscow Patriarchate, where it began its existence a century ago.

While the Archdiocese formally reunited with the Russian Church last November, there were those clergy and parishes who decided to remain with Constantinople as part of its Metropolises throughout Europe.

This division was especially tense in France, where Constantinople’s Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul threatened to sue Met. John of Dubna if he did not cease fulfilling his duties as hierarch of the Archdiocese.

The new agreement of coexistence was signed by Met. John and Met. Emmanuel on Friday, December 4, in Paris, with the full support of their respective communities, reports the Archdiocese’s official site.

Thus, Met. Emmanuel effectively promised to give up his legal threats.

“The name of the Church is not that of division, but of unity and concord,” the document begins.

The joint statement notes that Constantinople’s decision of November 27, 2018, to abolish the Archdiocese as a separate structure led to a heated debate in the Church, with some communities wanting to remain with Constantinople and others wanting to reunite with the Russian Church.

“This raised the question of the need for a formal agreement adopted by all parties to guarantee good relations between the communities,” the joint statement reads.

In particular, the following 3 points were adopted:

  1. To reconcile relations between the parties by mutual recognition and full respect for the decisions of parishes and communities that are members of the diocesan Union regarding whether or not to remain in this Union (which has passed under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), while preserving the means, in particular material ones, that should allow these communities to continue their spiritual path peacefully, whatever the decision they make.

  2. To organize and guarantee the fraternal and ecclesiastical coexistence of communities belonging to various metropolises in Europe, headed by the bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the communities of the Ruling Diocesan Council of Russian Orthodox Associations in Western Europe, headed by Metropolitan John of Dubna, in accordance with the requirements of the life of the Church.

  3. To guarantee access for all to the rich common spiritual and cultural heritage that will be preserved and multiplied by the Ruling Diocesan Council of Russian Orthodox Associations in Western Europe for all future generations.

The signatories emphasized that work on the agreement began months ago but was hampered by the pandemic. The metropolitans expressed hope that the pandemic “can and should contribute to the Church reconciliation that everyone wants,” and called on all believers to focus on love for one another and forgiveness.

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