Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

Moscow Patriarchate

Press release from the Archdiocesan Council of April 3, 2024

Concerning “THE DECLARATION OF THE 25th WORLD CONGRESS OF THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE RUSSIAN WORLD”, the work of which was made public on March 27, 2024.

The Council of the “Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe” wishes to recall that the reference to the Russian tradition in its title echoes first and foremost the precise circumstances and conditions of its beginnings: the Russian Revolution and what followed, namely the establishment of an atheist regime that in turn led to a significant emigration from Russia into Western Europe and more particularly into France. Secondly, the heritage of the Russian Orthodox spiritual tradition, as it was reasserted in particular by the Council of Moscow (1917-1918), included in its concerns pastoral care, help for migrants, and mission in the new lands that welcomed them. This led quite naturally to the Archdiocese occupying a privileged ecclesial space of witness and mission, from that point to the present.

In light of the Russian spiritual and theological renaissance in Orthodox liturgy and ecclesiology initiated by the St Sergius Institute as founded by Metropolitan Evlogius, the Archdiocese has favoured a warm welcome and openness to others – which underlies the European dimension of the Archdiocese, including its multiethnic nature and its multilingual approach to liturgy. It is by this open and unifying witness, exhibited in the spiritual testimony of Metropolitan Evlogius who said, ‘freedom of the spirit in the Church is sacred’, that many members of the Archdiocese—lay and clergy alike, along with others—have been able to reach out to Orthodox of other nationalities and jurisdictions. While continuing to attend to the faithful from the first emigration and their descendants, the Archdiocese has also extended pastoral care to indigenous Westerners who come to confess the Orthodox faith locally.

A lively and creative fidelity to the Russian tradition, both spiritual and theological, pays particular attention to knowledge of God through the eschatalogical significance of the Incarnation, where the coming together of the divine and human is understood as reconciliaiton and as restoration of likeness. This above all is witness to the Orthodox faith here and now, in the world, ‘so that the world may come to believe’ (John 17:21).

From this perspective, just as in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:28), so neither is there Russian, nor Ukrainian, nor Moldovan, French, German, Polish, Italian, American. Neither is there West nor East, there is no cross-border Russian people. There are no people bringing redemption other than all the baptized, who together constitute ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), the Church.

The word that the Church brings is not of culture, of social or demographic management, of ethnic regulation or a geopolitical program.

The Church brings the Good News: ‘Make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you  (peace: “be ye artisans of peace”; unity: “be one”, love: “love one another”).  And I am with you always until the end of time.’ (Mathew 28:20).