Communiqué N° 05-08 of the Council of the Archdiocese

Meeting of 27 February 2008

The Council of the Archdiocese met on 27 February 2008 with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel in the chair. Among the topics discussed were :

1. The Visit of a Delegation to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. A delegation led by Archbishop Gabriel had visited the Patriarchate from 29 to 31 January 2008 (cf. Communiqué no. 03-08). Archbishop Gabriel presented a report of this visit and of the discussions that took place with His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and with members of the Commission for Dioceses outside Turkey. These discussions re-affirmed the canonical status of the Archdiocese as an Exarchate depending directly on the Patriarchate, and this should lead in turn to an improvement in communication and the circulation of information between the Patriarchate and the Exarchate.

2. Biarritz. The Council took cognisance of the legal outcome of a sad affair that has lasted much too long (cf. Communiqué no. 04-08 - in french), noting that it was the former rector, officially supported before the court by a representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow in Paris, who prolonged the legal debate by appealing against the original decision of the lower court, even though the Archdiocese had proposed an amicable resolution of the problem, an offer that was refused by the other party (cf. Communiqués no. 01-06 and 05-06). The Council points out stressed that both courts had criticised the activities of the former rector of the parish and those with him, actions which can only merit the condemnation of all, as they have been shown to have been just as contrary to the civil law as they were to the Church’s regulations.

3. The Visit of Metropolitan Lavr to Nice. Metropolitan Lavr and members of a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (ROCOR), which has now returned to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow, were received at the Cathedral of St Nicholas, in Nice on the occasion of a private visit. They had an opportunity to pray in the church and make a guided visit, and then to speak with the clergy of the cathedral and representatives of the laity of the parish in a warm and friendly atmosphere during the meal provided. Photos and an account of the visit are available on the website of the Archdiocese, as well as on the ROCOR site.

4. A New Publication. A two-page electronic newsletter in French will be distributed to the parishes, beginning in March, with the title Feuillet de l’Exarchat. There will be ten issues per year and Madame Bénédicte Robichon, warden of the parish of Nantes, has agreed to ensure its publication.

5. The St Sergius Theological Institute. Several sessions of theological and pastoral formation planned by the St Sergius Theological Institute had had to be cancelled recently owing to an insufficient number of students. This raises the issue, among others, of the lack of sufficient communication concerning these initiatives with the parishes both of the Archdiocese and of other dioceses. Serious thought needs to be given to the way these courses are organised, as they reflect to a real need and are a form of service to the Church.

6. Deaneries. Archbishop Gabriel had asked the Council to begin thinking about the organisation and function of the deaneries and the possibility of arranging for pastoral reflection at a local level. A first report enabled the Council to assess the situation in the deanery of South-eastern France.

7. Diocesan Conference. The annual diocesan conference will take place on Sunday 14 December 2008 at the St Sergius Institute in Paris, in conjunction with an international academic conference being organised jointly by the St Sergius Institute and ACER-MJO on 12 and 13 December, which will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Fr Alexander Schmemann.

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