2018-10-19 17:36:00

Constantinople refuses to sever communion with Russian Orthodox Church (updated)

Paris, October 19, Interfax - Constantinople remains in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church despite the severance of Eucharistic communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Constantinople Patriarchate, the exarchate of Russian parishes in Western Europe said in a statement on Friday.

"Dear brothers and sisters, we inform you that our bishops and exarchs who are in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate remain in full communion with the entire Orthodox Church. We also inform you that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has not severed communion with the Moscow Patriarchate and continues to pray for it in accordance with the order established in the diptych," the exarchate said.

"All Orthodox Christians can fully take part in liturgical life and church sacraments at our parishes," the document said.

The exarchate of the Constantinople Patriarchate called on all priests, deacons, monastics, and laypeople of the Russian exarchate in Western Europe to pray for the unity of the Church.

The Russian exarchate was created in 1921, when Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and All Russia appointed Metropolitan Eulogius, who was in Paris, as an official representative of the Russian Church in Western Europe. In 1927, the Karlovatz Synod suspended Eulogius from service and severed communion with him, which divided Russian emigrants into those faithful to the Synod and those faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate.

In 1931, Metropolitan Eulogius, who wanted to avoid pressure from the Soviet administration to "sign a loyalty document," temporarily went over to the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarch. However, he was accepted back to the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church by Patriarch Alexy I of Moscow and All Russia less than a year before his death. Nevertheless, most clergy and laymen led by the new metropolitan decided to remain with Constantinople.

The exarchate now has 65 parishes, 11 active churches, two monasteries, and seven sketes in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and Spain, and its clergy comprises over 100 priests and 30 deacons.

On October 11, the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate invalidated its decree of 1686 on the handover of the Metropolitan of Kiev to Moscow and established a mission to Kiev. It also rehabilitated the leaders of self-proclaimed orthodox churches in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate rejected these decisions. In reaction to the moves by Constantinople, the Moscow Patriarchate itself held a meeting on October 15 to declare a total severing of ties with the Church of Constantinople.