Russian Church clergy in Amsterdam seek to join Constantinople

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, March 14, 2022

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The clergy of the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Amsterdam unanimously announced at an emergency session of the parish council on Saturday that “it is no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our faithful.”

The clergy, four priests and a deacon, received the full backing of the parish council, which is calling on the people of the parish to follow the clergy as well, the church reports.

The matter will be put to a vote of a General Parish Meeting on March 26. In the meantime, the church is closed.

This decision comes after the clergy announced on March 4 that they would no longer commemorate Patriarch Kirill in the Divine services, citing the Patriarch-approved prayer for the restoration of peace “which places the sole responsibility for the war with foreign powers,” and following the example of a number of Ukrainian hierarchs and priests.

On March 6, the clergy clarified that they hadn’t left the Moscow Patriarchate, and were continuing to commemorate His Eminence Archbishop Elisey of the Hague and the Netherlands as their local Moscow Patriarchate hierarch.

However, on March 12, they further announced that it was no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow Patriarchate, and that they were seeking canonical release to the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

The reason for the March 12 meeting “was the threat to the parish and the clergy which we reported to you previously,” the church reports.

While there is no explanation about any threat on the church’s Facebook page or main website, Nederlands Dagblad reports that Abp. Elisey paid an unannounced visit to the church on March 6 and reportedly informed the clergy that their decision to cease commemorating the Patriarch was of grave concern in the Russian Church and state.

According to the Dutch outlet, there were also multiple threats against the church and clergy, and the church was spray-painted with the pro-Russian Z symbol.

Given the tenseness of the situation, the clergy felt they could not safely remain within the Moscow Patriarchate, and thus are seeking to join Constantinople.

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Editor3/18/2022 10:05 am
Chaztzi: Don't quite understand your gripe. The "real reason" that you stated in your comment is also stated in the article. The information in this article is taken from official statements by the parish. OrthoChristian is not a large news outlet with reporters all over the world, so we rely on reports from the people involved, and do our best to verify. If anyone has some valid information to add, we welcome it.
Chaztzi3/17/2022 10:59 pm
Why do editors of lie to the readers/visitors of their site, you should have published the truth and the real reason of their move to EP. This is the real reason why ''Today an extraordinary meeting of the parish council took place. The reason for this meeting was the threat to the parish and the clergy which we reported to you previously'' To the numerous editors of, with all my love and respect to you.............your website isn't a reliable source of information anymore. Why do you have to censor everything that people post here but it is ok for you people to lie constantly to us with your articles or opinions that you the editors perceive to be the gospel truth. Chatzi
Youssef3/17/2022 10:47 pm
Filip3/15/2022 10:41 pm
I think we should stop with the mystifications - it is obvious that these parishes join the EP because belonging to the EP is simply more palatable to a Western audience. Belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate is not only (unfairly and crudely) associated with the Russian government but is also associated with a more “conservative” and “backwards” form of Orthodoxy whereas the EP is seen as more progressive, ecumenical-minded and pro-Western. Now, for a secular person in say, ultra liberal Amsterdam this logic makes perfect sense - but as Orthodox Christians we have to ask ourselves what our faith is truly about and whether these attacks on “Moscow” are not in fact attacks on the very essence of the Orthodox faith itself which have nothing specifically to do with Russia.
Johan3/15/2022 1:56 pm
So in one month the MP has lost 12 clergy and 6 parishes in England (to the Romanians, not 'defrocked', as wrongly claimed on the internet) and now one of its biggest parishes, in Amsterdam. There must be something wrong here. Of course, the circumstances were very different. The English rector of the largest parish, possibly the largest in England, Fr Andrew Phillips, beyond moral reproach, is a Russian patriot of nearly 50 years standing, rejected by his own for defending the practices of the Russian Orthodox Church against the old calendarism of a young American convert. Amsterdam wants to go to the Greeks, the polar opposite of the Russians, precisely because of the Russian Church and in favour of American patriotism. Its rector, also an Englishman, notorious for some very strange activities in the USA, but still received into the MP, whom anyone else would long ago have defrocked. You cannot help wondering if an external force is not involved in all of this, as rumours among Russian Orthodox in London suggest.
Alex3/14/2022 11:38 pm
I wouldn't necessarily switch over to Constantinople, as that once venerable Patriarchate is going down the tubes. Serbia or Romania have exarchates in these areas. Much better safe haven for them.
archimandrite Jacobus3/14/2022 11:24 pm
Do I get it right? The clergy fear for their personal safety and therefore joins a jurisdiction which has not once objected to the seizure of churches by violence of the OUC in the Ukraine? (except lately by the leader of the OCU, mercifully, the creation of that silent jurisdiction) Such is the logic of fear?
Dionysius Redington3/14/2022 9:50 pm
Τὴν Χάρυβδιν ἐκφυγὼν τῇ Σκύλλῃ περιέπεσον.
Athanasius3/14/2022 7:34 pm
Without intimating any approval for the proportionality of Putin's offensive whatsoever, I note that the fact that these clergy 1. Can't make the obvious distinction between The Kremlin and the Patriarchate, a confusion typically found only among the most ignorant of journalists and dishonest of activists, 2. Can't appreciate the nuance and complication of the situation, the real blame on many sides, etc., 3. and choose to side with the schism in Ukraine and all the destabilization and violence that has been its fruit in Ukraine and the world, makes me think that the Church is better without them. This is a time of purification for the Church. The lack of sobriety of thought is evident. Schism aside, if commemorating Kirill equals endorsing Putin and his decisions, then commemorating the Dhimmi of Istanbul equals endorsing Erdogan and his regime, not to mention NATO, Biden, Nuland, Pyatt, Soros, etc., etc., and everything they have done and represent in Ukraine. Again, don't let the door catch on your cassock on your way out!
Basil3/14/2022 4:45 pm
This article is a little confused. It says that the parish is part of the former Exarchate, which it is not, although it correctly identifies the bishop as Archbishop Elisey. In any case, the rector is Archimandrite Meletios Webber, a problematic character, so he won't be missed.
Steve3/14/2022 4:36 pm
Perhaps this is the beginning of a huge tidal wave of Russian parishes abroad seeking to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This seems to be proving St. Sophrony of Essex's intuition to place his monastery under the EP as the correct choice.
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