The identity, the vocation, and the mission of the Archdiocese are closely related to the Russian revolution (Bolshevik coup), the establishment of an atheist regime, and the massive emigration that resulted in Western Europe and in particular in France.
Established by the holy Patriarch Saint Tikhon of Moscow, then entrusted by him to Archbishop Evlogy in April 1921 (see the history section), the Archdiocese would show two characteristics that were instilled by him who will become Metropolitan Evlogyin January 1922 : the heritage of the Russian Orthodox spiritual tradition, as regenerated by the Council of Moscow (1917-1918) (pastoral concerns, welcome refugees) and missionary activities in the host land, with a focus on renewal and diversification.
Beyond the vagaries of history which stretches over nearly 100 years (see the history section) and the ecclesiological-canonical upheavals which led today to the reunification to the Moscow Patriarchate from which it was born, it is clear that the Archdiocese constituted a unique ecclesial space of testimony and mission. Even if we should not forget a few important names who remained faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate, most of the influence of orthodoxy in the diaspora in the first half of the 20th century is due to the theologians grouped around the venerable Saint Serge Institute in Paris, from which arose the Saint Vladimir Seminary in New York, and subsequently to all theologians trained in this tradition.
This school, referred to as ‘The School of Paris’, asserted itself in re-establishing Orthodox theology, spirituality and ecclesiology as the proliferation of the Russian theological and spiritual renaissance.In doing so, it awakened an openness and a warm welcome, which today explains the European dimension of the Archdiocese, its multiethnicity and its liturgical multilingualism. It is through this open and unifying testimony, borne by the spiritual testament of Metropolitan Evlogy – “Freedom of spirit in the Church is sacred” that many members of the Archdiocese, clergy and laity, have largely contributed, with others, to meet the Orthodox of other national and jurisdictional origins.
New realities, including the flow of people and information due to “globalization” have had significant repercussions on life in Western Europe as well as throughout the Orthodox space. While developing its pastoral attention to western Europeans, who locally joined the Orthodox faith, the Archdiocese maintains its attention to the faithful from the first emigrations and their descendants; it also takes into account, as far as is possible, the arrival of newcomers from Eastern Europe who come from different ecclesial cultures. Young men and women, born and fully integrated in the countries of Western Europe, often find in our multiethnic and multicultural churches a favourable environment, which leads them not to abandon a faith and a church which they often perceived as being ” foreign “.
The Archdiocese, a diocese now reunified to the Moscow Patriarchate, enjoying essential autonomy – theological, liturgical and pastoral – (but also administrative and financial) has all the assets to pursue its mission which has ultimately to testify to the Orthodox faith and to work for its unity in this world “so that the world may believe”. On this basis and in this perspective, the Archdiocese, despite the difficulties and obstacles of a geopolitical nature, will participate in any initiative likely to improve the canonical situation of local orthodoxy while respecting the ecclesiology of communion.
IIn addition, living in countries where Orthodox Christianity is a minority, the Archdiocese intends to continue its testimony,with respect for local Christian identities inherited from other spiritual and theological traditions. Thus, the communities of the Archdiocese establish, maintain and develop fraternal relations with the Christian communities of other confessions, from which they sometimes receive help and support. They often participate, like Metropolitan Evlogy, in inter-Christian dialogue and prayers for Christian unity, and create links at the level of parish communities while giving a witness of common service in society.