On May 17 the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia signed the Act of Canonical Communion. A large delegation led by ROCOR primate Metropolitan Laurus came to Moscow to participate in the event. The guests visited many Moscow churches and monasteries, went to the Korennaya monastery in Kursk, and honored many shrines of Ukraine. Before leaving for the United States, Metropolitan Laurus shared his impressions with Interfax-Religion.
- The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is about to end their visiting of Russia and Ukraine after the historic reunion with the Moscow Patriarchate. What is your impression of what you have seen?
- If compared to my coming to Russia in 2004, during this visit we have transparently seen dynamic development in church life. There much more reopened churches and monasteries and they are all full of people. When in Kursk, I was deeply impressed with the restored Korennaya Pustyn Monastery full of joyful changes.
I was glad to see that churches are built by different social groups working together. It not only makes it quicker, but also stimulates popular interest for the Orthodoxy. To my mind, this kind of cooperation is very important not only for constructing churches and monasteries, but also in educational and social work of the Church.
Still the visit’s principal result has been our joint celebration of the Eucharist both in Russia and Ukraine, which demonstrated that we are the one body, the one spirit, and the one Church and that the one Christ, our God, is with and within us.
- Was were you thought and feelings during the ceremony of signing of the Canonical Communion Act in the Christ the Savior’s?
- At that historical moment I prayed, and so I do now, thanking God for bringing the Russian Orthodox Church’s two branches to such a unity confirmed by the Act. Finally we have achieved the possibility to worship together and to join in one liturgy! It was an affecting moment and many people were crying. We have been waiting for this minute for many decades.
- Clergy and people from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia worshipped together and shared in the same communion cup in Russian and Ukrainian churches. We all could see many young people attending those services...
- It is very joyful to see many young people and children going to churches nowadays. They are brought up in a church manner so that they may bring their children there too. It is very good that you endeavor to introduce the Basic Orthodox Culture as a voluntary part of curriculum. It affects the nation’s morals and leads people to a unity. It is very important to Russia’s future.
- Are there any distinctive features of the Orthodox witness in the West?
- We should keep the Orthodoxy and the spirit of the Holy Rus among the diaspora. It was the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia that gives to our émigrés spiritual might, uniting them and saving them from complete disappearing. We try to celebrate liturgies wherever we can. We celebrate 25th and 50th anniversaries of our parishes. We maintain our own traditions, but now it is especially important for us to learn the traditions peculiar for Russia.
- What will you say in your first sermon after you are back home?
- Our parishioners are already aware that we have signed the Act of Canonical Communion, and are united in their joy with the Orthodox believers in Russia. Of course I will share with them my impression of my visit to Russia and Ukraine.
- The Church reunion achieved on May 17 is both a joyful event and a great responsibility. How do you hope to serve to the united Russian Orthodox Church?
- The main thing is that we work for the benefit of the whole Orthodox world. We plan to actively cooperate with Russian clergy and lay people, to be interested in what they do, their traditions, monastic life, missionary, social and educational work. I hope that our joint ministry and common work in the spirit of the love as commanded by Christ will bring real fruits and will help to strengthen the holy Church.