Reception of ROCOR clergy into Paris Archdiocese without a release is rescinded

Paris, February 17, 2022

The emblems of the Paris Archdiocese ( and the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain ( The emblems of the Paris Archdiocese ( and the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain (     

The reception of a number of clerics from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia into the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe without a canonical release from their ruling hierarch has been officially annulled.

On February 10, His Eminence Metropolitan John of Dubna, the ruling hierarch of the Paris-based Archdiocese, issued a formal decree to that effect:

Following the canonical difficulties encountered, concerning the reception last August, within the Archdiocese, of the clerics of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe and of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Church Abroad, in order to keep the peace, communion and unity of the Church, this reception is abrogated.

A number of clerics sought to be received into the Paris Archdiocese last fall, and despite protests from ROCOR and attempts to resolve the situation, the Archdiocese publicly announced that it had received the clerics in September. However, with Met. John’s new decree, all agree that the relevant clerics, including the well-known Fr. Andrew Phillips, remain under the canonical authority of ROCOR.

“This brings to a welcome end a period of strained relations caused by those claims. Bishop Irenei has greeted the news with happiness, stating that ‘all are encouraged by the preservation of brotherly unity in the Church that comes from diligently adhering to the Holy Canons in all things,’” reports the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe.

In response to the reception of a former Ukrainian Catholic priest by the rite of vesting in Paris, and given a number of other serious tensions between the jurisdictions, Bp. Irenei instructed his clergy and laity last January not to participate liturgically with clergy of the Archdiocese in the British Isles. While His Grace specifically characterized this as “a temporary measure during the period required to investigate and address this matter at the appropriate level of the Higher Church Authorities,” the clergy who sought to leave ROCOR portrayed it as a full-blown schism between dioceses.

However, the cooperation between the administrations of the Moscow Patriarchate, ROCOR, and the Paris Archdiocese to rectify the situation disproves this argument of “a small number of misguided individuals,” states the report on the matter of the Synodal Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations.

“The matter of the uncanonical rebellion of the clergy of the Colchester parish in England, no longer receiving any pretensions of external support or validation, will now be concluded as a matter of normal pastoral oversight of the Church Abroad,” while the given clerics remain under canonical suspension, forbidden to serve, the Diocese of Great Britain reminds.

“The clergy involved are being called upon anew fervently to repent and be returned to canonical status,” the diocese reports.

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Peter Lawrence2/28/2022 3:25 pm
I know Father Andrew a little. I have attended St john's in Colchester on a number of occasions (but not since moving to another part of the UK!). One thing puzzles me. Why would the Romanian Patriarchate accept Father Andrew and the other priests, deacons and readers from his parish without (presumably) letters of release from Bishop Irenei? Because of the schism between ROCOR (UK) and the Archdiocese of Russian Churches of Western Europe (under Metropolitan Jean of Dubna), instigated by Bishop Irenei. If it's good enough for the clerics in Africa to escape schism without letters of release, it's good enough clerics in ROCOR to do the same. What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander!
E. Shaw 2/24/2022 4:44 pm
I'm in the Greek Church, but I'm not laughing. I just don't get the double standards of the Russian Church. So a group of priests left a ROCOR bishop without letters of release because that bishop had opened a schism with another part of the Russian Church. That's terrible? The same ROCOR bishop took in some priests from Constantinople without letters of release. That's fine? The wider Russian Church took in 150 priests in Africa without letters of release. That's also fine? Well, all I can say is congratulations to this group of clergy for joining the Romanians!
Basil2/23/2022 10:41 pm
The official statement on the Archdiocese's website says the receptions were rescinded. How can they say this if they already released them to Romania? Someone's lying.
Johnny2/23/2022 10:01 pm
Andrew makes some interesting points but I would have to counter some points as slightly exaggerated narratives ROCOR lost 50% of its priests: No it lost three priests out of fifteen and two deacons out of seven ROCOR: lost 50% of its parishes: No it lost one fairly large parish Colchester averaging about 100-150 parishioners a week(I go there from time to time) and a smaller parish in Felixstowe. ROCOR: Still has parishes in London Cathedral(where a large proportion of its parishioners comes from), Cardiff, Norwich, Mettingham, Liverpool, Telford and Northern Ireland. Also its Cheltenham parish has remained, despite the false narratives, within ROCOR Father Andrew was released from Paris to the Romanians - no Paris accepted ROCOR’s position this is clear from their decree This is an issue about received priests and breaking communion - although sad this is not fundamental to the issue at hand but is rather aTrojan Horse that Father Andrew has used to try and discrete a bishop The issue is one of rebellion and sowing discord amongst the faithful. The embarrassment(which you are right the Greeks will be laughing) comes not from the actions of Bishop Irenei but sadly from the rebellious nature of Father Andrew who tried to create massive division between MP and ROCOR - ignoring the fact that this division is (1) A fantasy: The ties between ROCOR and MP have never been stronger (2) That from day one MP never accepted Father Andrew’s position: in fact they banned their priests from concelebrating with him, banned the rebellious clergy from serving in MP and strongly advised parishioners not to go to Colchester As for Father Andrew going to the Romanians, as a suspended priest who has not repented, this will cause another scandal and a tidal wave of problems especially as two of his priests come from the Moldovan church, thus upsetting not just ROCOR but also MP Sad that one man has caused so much tension
Editor2/23/2022 12:13 pm
Alexander: At the date of this article, there was no official statement that Fr. Andrew joined the Romanian jurisdiction. We do research, but we are not clairvoyant.
Johnny 2/23/2022 2:07 am
Looks like Father Andrew has gone to the Romanians.
Alexander2/22/2022 11:31 pm
There are several mistakes in this article. After being released by Metr Jean (not returned to ROCOR), Fr Andrew Phillips et al were received directly into the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Romania. Unfortuantely, it seems that, in researching this article, orthochristian only consulted Bp Irenei's own statements. (Bp Irenei was the author of both the ROCOR Diocese statement and the ROCOR Synodal Secretariat statement.) Sadly, but not for the first time, Bp Irenei's statements are at variance with the facts, and seem to express only his inability to accept the reality that his conduct as Bishop has led to around 50% of ROCOR clergy and over 50% of ROCOR laity in the UK leaving ROCOR. Perhaps if he had been less high-handed and more willing to listen, and less hasty to cause a schism with an Archdiocese of the MP, he would have lost less of his Diocese. (NB Bp Irenei did not only terminate the ecclesiastical communion of ROCOR with the Archdiocese in the UK, as the article incorrectly states, but also terminated ALL ECCLESIASTICAL CONTACT with the Archdiocese in the UK. This is a schism; this schism has continued for over a year, and this schism continues unresolved to the present day. It is strange that orthochristian has glossed over the ongoing, 14 month, schism of ROCOR and the Archdiocese related to the reception of Fr Jacob Siemens by vesting and concelebration. This schism after all was the immediate cause of Fr Andrew and the other clergy leaving ROCOR.)
Simeon2/21/2022 11:19 pm
This absurd and completely unnecessary story, which could all have been solved in a few minutes last August by Bp Irenei writing letters of release, is being presented as a problem of personalities. As a parishioner, though not of Colchester, I know that Fr Andrew is one of a whole group of clergy and people, and not the leading force. (In fact I heard he had tried to moderate the anti-Irenei revolt). The real struggle here is between American ROCOR with its sectarianism, and the moderate European ROCOR, which is the heritage of St John Maximovitch, of whom Fr Andrew and other European priests could claim to be "spiritual grandsons" through Archbishop Anthony of Geneva. ROCOR has effectively sacked its most popular priest and the best missionary it has ever had in England. That does them no good at all. And then no-one has addressed the real problem, that the break in communion between ROCOR and the Paris Archdiocese, both parts of the same ROC, has not been resolved. In fact, it has only deepened. This is the elephant in the room. This really discredits the ROC and is a scandal to the faithful. The Greeks are laughing at Russian Church disunity. It would not surprise me if a lot of people did not turn their backs on the Russian Church for its persecution of its own clergy.
JJ2/21/2022 10:51 pm
I used to read Father Andrew's events blog which for some reason can no longer be accessed. I often found his opinions exaggerated, inflated and OTT. Actually his hyperbole sometimes took my breath away. Nevertheless I had the impression he was a good man. FA has managed to establish a large, functioning, multi-national Orthodox church where there had been none. The pressures on priests are enormous; I didn't see much compassion or support for a man who understood some of the problems confronting Orthodoxy in the UK. For example what Paul a commentator above states is absolutely correct ..." Many [Orthodox Churches in the UK] seem to exist solely to provide a “taste of home” to expatriate ethnic communities and have little to no interest in reaching out to the general population with the Gospel...." This is also the problem in Continental Europe - in my town here in Europe there is a Romanian, Russian, Greek, and Antiochian Ortodox Church - none celebrate the Liturgy in the local language; none of the respective Priests have anything to do with each other.
Anna212/21/2022 12:02 pm
I have known Fr Andrew for a long time and I have been going to his church in Colchester for over 10 years. He is a good man who works hard to gather orthodox people together in church, regardless of their nationality. He is also one of the few clergymen able (and willing to work hard) to create new parishes in a country which desperately needs them. The fact that some of our parishioners drive nearly two hours to come to church on Sundays shows how badly we need more churches. And why should there be only one church in big centres (like Cambridge) where thousands of orthodox people live together? In any event, I think that the Dyonisius mentioned by Basil has been misinformed. Fr Andrew was not suspended before we went to Metropolitan John since he continued to serve with the other priests. Also, if I recall, Bishop Irenei himself had launched a fund appeal to fund the new Cambridge parish so he can’t have been that opposed to its location (although I don’t think the fund appeal went anywhere).
Basil2/18/2022 6:20 pm
Dionysius, someone (a former parishioner in Colchester) on another site posted this, to add some context: "2. Father Andrew was unhappy with Bishop Irenei far before the Fr Simmons scandal this stretches back to (a) his long drawn-out battle with members of the Parish council of the ROCOR Cathedral in London (b) Bishop Irenei trying to calm down his blogging(as he does has a habit of being rather harsh to everyone) and wanting to see everything before it was published (3) His expansion plans without consultation see point 3. 3. Father Andrew created allot of tension with MP by setting up a Cambridge Parish without permission from the Assembly or the Bishop (he actually purchased a parish without permission) which was a mess Bishop Irenei had to clean up and upset MP(as near their parish) 4. Father Andrew was suspended with permission to be defrocked by the Synod several months before jumping ship to Paris for starting a previous rebellion – Bishop Irenei actually refused to defrock him and defended him to the synod. FA was upset that he was suspended and was looking for a way out – Simmons was a perfect excuse 5. MP has never accepted FA move to Paris in fact quite the opposite they have always supported Bishop Irenei – they told all MP priests that they were not allowed to celebrate with him and advised MP laity not to visit FA parishes. MP also stopped a reader who had shifted from ROCOR to Paris from celebrating in their Bristol parish 6. The Father Simmons affair runs quite deep as he was a Uniate priest who was highly critical of ROCOR’s parish in Cardiff. Also, there was consultation on how he should be received across all three UK jurisdictions but that advice was ignored by Paris"
Philippe 2/18/2022 3:19 pm
Dear Dionysius and Paul, I entirely agree with your comments, but a lot remains unanswered here and it's very much onesided. Fr Andrew is one of only few Orthodox clergyman in many decades to have built anything at all and for all in the UK, without nationality in mind. The one thing I find ironic in this sad story, the MP essentially forced the Archdiocese to drop the ex-rocor clergy 6 months after receiving them due to not having letters of release when there was and still is no communion between both parties, due to the iniated break in communion by Bishop Irenei. Quite hypocritical in view of what is happening in Africa! the MP sometimes reminds me of politicians ‘one rule for us and one for the rest of you’, especially as regards their intervention in Africa, acting in the same despicable manner as the CP, they had the moral high ground and lost it in an instant, they’ve lost many supporters both homeland and abroad.
Paul2/18/2022 10:27 am
I would like to point out to David that the “one bishop, one territory” rule is a joke in the United Kingdom. There are precious few Orthodox parishes and missions in the UK as it is and they are spread between all the different historic Patriarchal authorities and of course Russia. Many seem to exist solely to provide a “taste of home” to expatriate ethnic communities and have little to no interest in reaching out to the general population with the Gospel. The groups involved in this sorry affair (Colchester and the Western Rite) are two of the few exceptions to that rule. There are others too in fairness but they are few and far between. I don’t see how Orthodoxy in this fragmented state is ever really going to grow in the UK. That is a shame as the country is crying out for a solid, vibrant Church that is faithful to tradition. The Church of England has been largely overrun by the zeitgeist. Surely this sorry episode illustrates the need for an autocephalous British Orthodox Church?
Dionysius Redington2/18/2022 7:16 am
I notice there is no mention at all of Bp. Irenei's (historically questionable) objections to the reception of Fr. James Siemens by vesting. While I suspect that Fr. Andrew Phillips's rather strong personality, eccentric opinions, and extreme lack of tact were factors in this scandal, it is also true that he has made immense contributions to Orthodoxy while for years being allowed to do and say whatever seemed right to him. Putting him abruptly under the authority of an equally strong-minded but much more conventional and conservative figure like Bp. Irenei was an obvious recipe for disaster: Bp. Irenei is a brilliant academic theologian but inexperienced, rather inflexible, and an American to boot. It is distressing to see Fr. Andrew (with whom I have usually disagreed) portrayed by ROCOR as some sort of villainous rebel; whatever one may think of his decisions, there can be no doubt that his primary motivation is to spread the Gospel across East Anglia in what he (if not his young foreign bishop) believes to be the most effective way. Through the prayers of St. Botolph of Iken, may the work of these two talented but human leaders not be undone; England needs them both. Dionysius Redington
David2/18/2022 1:59 am
A sad and terrible situation all around. I used to read Father Andrew's Events blog from time to time, and found it a bit much. I sometimes wondered what his bishop thought of it, and given the problems with HG Irenei, apparently something wasn't right in Colchester. This total 180 on Rue Daru's part suggests that the MP stepped in quietly but forcefully on ROCOR's side. "One Bishop, One territory" is the canonical rule for a reason. Taking disgruntled clergy without canonical release is also a big problem. It is good to see the MP taking a strong stand against that----I wish they were consistent on this point.
Evangell2/17/2022 8:28 pm
It would have been better had Paris not been readmitted at all
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