Moscow, May 17, Interfax - The Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and abroad was signed at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral on Thursday morning.
The historic document was signed by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and by First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Laurus.
The ceremony is being attended by President Vladimir Putin, several thousands Orthodox believers, including believers who have arrived from abroad, and about 500 journalists.
The Christ the Savior Cathedral is decorated with white flowers - a traditional adornment used on the Ascension holiday to symbolize renewal.
The signing of the Act of Canonical Communion symbolizes the return of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia into the fold of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the whole of the Orthodox world, which until recently did not recognize the Russian Church abroad. From now onwards, being part of the Mother Church, parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad will have the right to take communion at all of the world's Orthodox churches, while its clergy gains the right to serve jointly with the hierarchs and clergy of all 15 local Orthodox Churches.
The name of the Russian patriarch will now be mentioned in all services of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad before the name of the first hierarch.
According to the Act of Canonical Communion, the Moscow Patriarchate recognizes the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as "an indissoluble part of the local Russian Orthodox Church, but independent in pastoral, educational, administrative, managerial, property and civil matters," and remaining "in canonical unity with the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church."
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will as previously be run by its own Council of Bishops - "its supreme ecclesiastical, legislative, administrative, judiciary and controlling authority" convened by her First Hierarch in accordance with the Regulations. "This election is confirmed in accordance with the norms of the canonical law by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church."
Decisions on the establishment or liquidation of dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be made in agreement with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, elected by her Council of Bishops, will be confirmed in accordance with canonical norms by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.