Communiqué from the Archbishop’s Office from the 4st December 2020
Joint press release 4th December 2020
“The name of the Church is not a name of division, but of union and harmony. The Church came into existence not to be divided, but to be united.” Saint John Chrysostom
On December 4, 2020, an agreement was signed which constitutes the culmination of an approach aimed at finding a peaceful outcome to the conflictual situation outlined below, and which was unanimously supported by Metropolitan Jean and the Council of the Archdiocese, and by Metropolitan Emmanuel and the parishes which, meeting in general assembly under his presidency, expressed themselves in this direction.
The decision taken on November 27, 2018 by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to revoke the Patriarchal Charter (Tomos) which canonically linked to it the Archdiocese of the Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, an ecclesial structure of “Union directrice diocésaine des associations orthodoxes russes en Europe occidentale” [the legal entity of the Archdiocese], generated during two years, within the parishes which were members of the Union at European level, intense debates during which all opinions could be expressed, revealing a great diversity of positions and sensitivities.
During this often-painful process, a new reality emerged: on the one hand the wish of some parishes to follow the decisions of the Holy Synod and to remain in obedience to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and on the other attachment of the Archdiocese of Russian tradition churches in Western Europe to the Moscow Patriarchate, confirmed on November 3, 2019 by the granting of a Patriarchal and Synodal Gramota. This made it necessary to put in place a formal agreement accepted by all to guarantee good relations between the communities.
It is in this spirit that the representatives of both parties have worked to give a strong signal of what life in the Church should be. An agreement is thus concluded between Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Metropolitan Archbishop Jean of Dubna, president of “Union directrice diocésaine des associations orthodoxes russes en Europe occidentale” aiming to guarantee a future for the various communities in peace and harmony.
The common approach thus initiated between the two parties is structured around three principles:
– bring peace to relations between the parties, through mutual recognition and scrupulous respect for the decisions of the parishes and communities that are members of the diocesan Union to stay or not in the Union (which came under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate) while preserving the means, in particular material, which should enable the communities to peacefully pursue their spiritual journey, whatever the decision they have taken.
– Organize and guarantee the fraternal and ecclesial coexistence between the communities of the different Metropolises in Europe chaired by the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and those of “Union directrice diocésaine des associations orthodoxes russes en Europe occidentale” chaired by Bishop Jean of Dubna, in accordance with the requirements of life in the Church.
– Guarantee access for all to the rich common spiritual and cultural heritage, which will be preserved and digitized by “Union directrice diocésaine des associations orthodoxes russes en Europe occidentale” for generations to come.
The two signatory parties stress that the process undertaken to draw up this agreement predates the outbreak of the pandemic which has severely affected parishes, communities as well as the pleroma of the Orthodox Church, and society more generally. They share the conviction that this trial can and must contribute to the ecclesial pacification desired by all and call on each and everyone to refocus on the essential: love of neighbour and the example of forgiveness.
The Gospel asks us: “Forgive one another … and … be one so that the world may believe”.