Moscow hierarchs comment on the situation between ROCOR and the Paris Archdiocese

Moscow, December 3, 2021

ROCOR's Holy Protection Church in Berlin. Photo: Facebook ROCOR's Holy Protection Church in Berlin. Photo: Facebook     

A conference was held last month in honor of the centenary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). In his concluding remarks, His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin spoke about relations with the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe. He noted that in the Russian immigration after the Bolshevik revolution, there were three different Russian jurisdictions formed: ROCOR, the Orthodox Church in America, and what is now the Archdiocese under His Eminence Metropolitan John of Dubna based in Paris.

Each has developed its own ecclesiastical practices, which are not always in agreement. He has therefore had to forbid his clergy recently, after certain instances he did not name, from concelebrating with clergy from the Paris jurisdiction. He nevertheless stated in conclusion that ROCOR and the Archdiocese under Met. John must eventually work towards healing these differences.

Video of Met. Mark’s speech was posted by Deacon Andrei Psarev in the Facebook group dedicated to the conference.

The Paris Archdiocese reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2019 after it was unceremoniously dissolved by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, to which it most recently belonged. In his remarks, Met. Mark spoke about the Archdiocese as having “seemingly reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate,” and “violating the canons at every step.”

There are also tensions between the Paris Archdiocese and the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe under His Grace Bishop Irenei. Last December, Met. John received Fr. James Siemens, a former Ukrainian Catholic priest, into the Orthodox Church by vesting, a rite whereby a man is received into the Church as a priest through the placing of priestly vestments upon him and the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy.

Rejecting this means of reception into the Church, in January 2021, Bp. Irenei forbade his clergy from concelebrating with Fr. James, who lives and serves in Cardiff, Wales, or any clergy or local institutions of the Paris Archdiocese in the British Isles. He also resolved that the faithful may not receive the Sacraments in churches of the Paris Archdiocese.

In disagreement with this directive, several clerics sought to leave the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and join the Paris Archdiocese. On August 24 and September 2, Bp. Irenei’s diocese published a statement emphasizing that a cleric cannot leave one diocese or jurisdiction for another without a canonical release from his hierarch, and that none of the clerics involved had been granted such releases.

However, the next day, Met. John’s Archdiocese issued a statement announcing that the clerics had been received into the Archdiocese in August. In October, a statement was circulated with Met. John’s blessing explaining the Archdiocese’s rationale for receiving the ROCOR clerics.

Commenting on the situation and Met. Mark’s video, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Korsun, the Russian Church’s Patriarchal Exarch in Western Europe, said that the ban on concelebration between clerics of the ROCOR Diocese of Berlin and those of the Archdiocese shouldn’t be perceived as a break in communion between these two structures of the Moscow Patriarchate.

“Indeed, there is some minor roughness” in relations between ROCOR and the Archdiocese, but “certain steps are being taken” to smooth them out, including fraternal meetings between representatives of both groups, Met. Anthony told RIA-Novosti.

“We hope that wherever there are any misunderstandings, the right solutions will be found ... that it will be possible to agree on everything,” Met. Anthony said.

The Patriarchal Exarch also recalled that there were such difficulties when ROCOR first reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007, but that those difficulties had been ironed out over time.

RIA-Novosti also reached out to His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations for comment.

“I don’t want to go into the details of this conflict, because it’s not part of the sphere of my competence and the sphere of official responsibility of the Department of External Church Relations. But I hope that the temporary difficulties that have arisen will be overcome through negotiations,” he said.

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Antiochene Son12/6/2021 6:56 pm
@Mary: St. Alexis Toth was himself a Uniate and he was received by vesting. So clearly this practice is not a barrier to sainthood.
Thom Nelson12/5/2021 5:51 pm
Forgive me, Deacon Andrei, but when you follow the link provided here, it shows that you definitely did share the video in the "Academic Conference on ROCOR History. Serbia. November 2021" Facebook group, unless the "Andrei Psarev" account is a fake.
Hal12/5/2021 4:27 am
I received Infant Baptism in the Lutheran Church, later was received into the OCA by Chrismation and Confession, and have stayed for over 20 years. I have communed in ROCOR and could receive rebaptism, but here is the main thing that stops me: The same question of whether to baptize those who were baptized outside the Church came up in the early Patristic period, and Pope St Stephen decided to avoid rebaptising them, noting that accepting them without a separate, new, in-Church baptism was the longest known practice. Accordingly, the most common Patristic era practice was accepting converts to the Church who had already been baptized outside the Church with a Trinitarian baptism without baptising them again, this time in the Church. This is also the Russian Tradition and the Tradition in the OCA, eg. St. Alexis Toth was accepted into the MP without rebaptising him, or for that matter reordaining him. In the EO Church, we are dedicated to carrying on the Ttaditions passed on by the apostles and their successors. This issue reminds me of the demand by Evangelicals that Christians must get baptised as adults, even if they were baptised as children. The Evangelicals make a "rational" claim - that for a sacrament like baptism connected to the oncoming of grace to be effective, the participant must be old enough to be aware that they are making the choice to be baptised. This is because grace is connected with faith. However, while the Evangelical argument makes sense rationally, it is not a known position in the early Church. We know from the written patristic Tradition of c. 180 AD that Infant Baptism was the Church's earliest known practice. So we as a Traditional Church going back to the Fathers don't change our Tradition to match the Evangelicals. The same thing goes for the issue of rebaptising Trinitarian converts. While arguments for rebaptism make sense rationally, eg. that Sacraments like baptism should be performed by clergy belonging to the EO Church, conversion-by-rebaptism is not the oldest known Tradition, nor the most common patristic Tradition, nor the standard Russian Tradition. I am sure that some readers will disagree with me and will believe that rebaptism is best. But even in that case, making reordination for converting Uniate clerics an absolute demand and condition of continued concelebration and intercommunion would be in conflict with our Orthodox Tradition, since St Alexis Toth and many other clergy were accepted into the EO Church without reordination or rebaptism.
Steve12/5/2021 4:07 am
On a positive note, hopefully this problem of receiving non-Orthodox clergy in Western Europe will make Patriarch Bartholomew rethink what he did in Ukraine.
Deacon Andrei Psarev12/4/2021 11:21 pm
His Eminence did not mention liturgical practices as a reason for not concelebrating with the Archdiocese of the Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition. And I didn't post the video. These inaccuracies have already been transmitted further by Byzantine Texas. '
Mary12/4/2021 10:42 pm
Christopher, even saints and bishops can make mistakes; they are human. Even Fr. Seraphim Rose regretted not being baptized into the faith; and St. John the Wonderworker was involved in his reception. If anyone understands saints it would be Fr. Seraphim Rose. He knew St. John was a saint even before he reposed. Seems like it’s been about economia forever. When does it stop? If everyone were baptized and chrismated, except in true cases of emergencies, wouldn’t that would solve all this? It’s the norm on Mt. Athos, why isn’t it good enough for us? Does seminary education guarantee that a priest will be a good bishop?
Christopher12/4/2021 4:46 pm
Dear Mary, maybe you are not aware but priests do not decide on the mode of reception, their Bishops do. Here his Bishop deemed this as acceptable, as has been carried out to many thousands through history, including Seraphim Rose and St. Alexis Toth, to name but a few. I take it you therefore deny St. Alexis as saint? Furthermore the great St. Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory received multiple priests in such a manner, are you seriously suggesting that St. Tikhon was also incorrect? I dont know the answer to that question but did bishop Irenei even go to seminary?
Gary12/4/2021 2:35 pm
Are we not all this way in life? We are stubborn and want our way. Unfortunately it may take some time to work through it. In Acts 18: 24 - 28 a man named Apollos needed some things explained to him more perfectly. Let us all be more like Apollos and accept the ways of God! Gary
Johann12/4/2021 4:07 am
The Russian church has been accepting uniates through economia since the time of Patriarch Nikon, and even a little before.
Basil Hill-Zeck12/3/2021 10:46 pm
May God & the Theotokos bless, save, & preserve our Orthodox Hierarchs, Metropolitan Mark & Bishop Irenei!
Alexander12/3/2021 9:41 pm
The link to the Archdiocese's statement isn't working. The statement is published on the page, at:
Mary12/3/2021 9:36 pm
This sets a very bad precedence. As a former Uniate myself, I gotta say that this isn’t a minor difference; a Catholic was received into the church improperly. His theology is likely a bit distorted, too. I pray Bishop Ireniei sticks to his guns. The Catholic priest Fr. James (eastern or western rite, still under the Roman Catholic Church and Pope) could humbly resolve the problem by agreeing to be properly baptized, chrismated and then live in the church as lay person for a while before becoming a reader and attending at least some seminary courses before vesting and serving as a proper Orthodox priest. It should be difficult and no small matter to become Orthodox.
Christopher12/3/2021 9:28 pm
Good day, I dont understand the comments from Metr. Anthony, if a bishop bans his clergy and people from concelebrating, communing or anything to do with another church, how is it not a break in communion? Is for example the MP still in communion with the CP!? (clearly not, the same applies here). Furthermore, wasn't the OCA mostly formed from clerics which were received in the same manner, as were St Alexis Toth, does this mean the Rocor is taking steps to break communion with the OCA also? I understand Metr. Mark was very critical of the OCA in the same talk (which this article makes no mention of) which could mean such a thing... If the Archdiocese 'breaks the canons at every step', what are they? without any evidence or examples this cannot be taken seriously. The Rocor have themselves received multiple clergy without any letters of release, this looks like a case of double standards(?). I would suggest anyone to read the flowing very long but yet very well written statement which can be downloaded here:
Jason 12/3/2021 5:36 pm
Disgusting! You reap what you sow ROCOR! This is what you wanted; unity with the WCC and the Moscow Patriarchete with all of her compromises.
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