Paris, February 17, 2022
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.