Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

Moscow Patriarchate

Communiqué N° 05-10 of the Council of the Archdiocese

Meeting of 21 and 22 June 2010

The Council of the Archdiocese met on 21 and 22 June 2010, His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel presiding.

Session of 21 June

1. Deanery of Great Britain and Ireland.
Archbishop Gabriel chaired the working sessions of the annual assembly of the deanery of Great Britain and Ireland, on Saturday 19 June, in Exeter and, on the following day, Sunday 20 June, he presided at the Divine Liturgy in the church of the Holy Prophet Elias, with the clergy of the parish.

2. Creation of assemblies of Orthodox bishops. Archbishop Gabriel informed the Council about the establishment of Assemblies of Orthodox bishops, after the pattern of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France, in various countries of Western Europe (Benelux, Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, Italy and Malta, the Iberian peninsula), following the decisions of the 4th. pan-Orthodox pre-conciliar conference of Chambésy, near Geneva (Switzerland), in June 2009. He regretted however that he had not been able to participate in the first sessions of all the assemblies in the countries where the Archdiocese has parishes.

3. Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Nice. The first submissions were filed by lawyers for the religious association of the Nice parish before the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence. Under existing legal procedures, there will be an exchange of responses and new arguments between the advocates of both parties face to face over a period of about ten months, which leads to a hearing and oral arguments at the end of March 2011. Early submissions from counsel of the Nice parish (ACOR) focus on a number of weaknesses in the verdict of the High Court of Nice delivered on 20 January 2010 and adduce new arguments in favour of recognition of the Nice parish’s ownership of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral of Nice.

4. Parish life
– The Council made a survey of the situation in several parishes of the Archdiocese: cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Paris, parish of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in Paris, parish of Saint Nicholas in Rome, church of the Dormition next to the cemetery of Saint Genevieve-des-Bois
– The liturgical community of Saint Cuthbert which is distributed between the cities of Sheffield (Yorkshire), Chesterfield (Derbyshire) and Scunthorpe (Lincolnshire) has been changed into a parish and Archpriest Edwin Hunt has been named as its rector.

5. Clergy
– Deacon Christophe Levalois was ordained priest by Archbishop Gabriel, on Monday of the Holy Spirit, 24 May 2010, during the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the church of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, in Paris. He will be attached to that same church.
– After having been made reader and sub-deacon, Christopher Wallace was ordained deacon by Archbishop Gabriel, on the Sunday of All Saints, 30 May 2010, during the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the church of the pastoral centre of All Saints, at Saint Alban’s (Great Britain).

6. Saint Sergius Institute
Archpriest Nicolas Cernokrak, teacher of New Testament exegesis and rector of the parish of Saint Seraphim in Paris, was re-elected dean by the Council of teachers of the Institute of Orthodox Theology (IOT).

7. Panikhida for the 20th. anniversary of the death of Father Alexander Men.
On the occasion of the 20th. anniversary of the assassination of archpriest Alexander Men (Moscow Patriarchate), a panikhida will be celebrated at the cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky, in Paris, on 9 September 2010, at 7:30p.m.

8. Pastoral assembly.
A pastoral meeting gathering the members of the clergy of the Archdiocese should take place on 11 November this year at the Saint Sergius Institute in Paris. Members of the clergy are requested to remember this date and do everything possible to attend this meeting.

Session of 22 June

The second session of the Council of the Archdiocese, extended to heads of Deaneries, focused on the guidelines of the Archdiocese, the working methods and internal organisation of the diocese.

The meeting provided the opportunity to discuss the current situation of the Archdiocese under its various aspects. Several lines of enquiry were examined with the aim of restoring to the Archdiocese its role as catalyst in the inter-Orthodox process that it was able to play in the past. All discussions took place in an open and brotherly atmosphere. The importance of building a shared vision of the future of the Archdiocese on a purely ecclesiological basis was reiterated. A message was drafted by members of the Council and the Deans to the Patriarchal Holy Synod concerning the establishment of Assemblies of Orthodox bishops in countries of Western Europe other than France.

Archbishop Gabriel reminded those present that at the weekend, he was going for several days to the Phanar, the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and into Cappadocia, on pilgrimage with His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch. He confided the topics that he intended to touch upon during his talks with His Holiness the Patriarch and the members of the Commission for eparchies outside Turkey as well as with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, who was also due to take part in this pilgrimage at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew.

The meeting also provided the opportunity to clarify the organisation and functioning of Deaneries: the role of the deans, the degree of local initiatives in relation to the diocesan bishop and parish rectors, geographical boundaries of deaneries, possibility of organising local meetings by deaneries.