12/10/2020, 09.24
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Paris, Greek and Russian Orthodox reach agreement. Moscow and Constantinople closer

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Accord signed by the Metropolitan of Dubna Ioann, who responds to Kirill, and the Metropolitan of Gaul Emmanuil, who responds to Bartholomew I. It is a strong sign of detente, after the rupture of communion caused by the Ukrainian Church's declaration of autocephaly.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - An agreement between the Russian Archdiocese of Western Europe (former Constantinopolitan exarchate, passed to the patriarchate of Moscow at the end of 2019) and the metropolis of Gaul of the patriarchate of Constantinople, was signed in Paris last 4 December, (orthodox) feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple.

The signatories are the Metropolitan of Dubna Ioann (Rennetau, who under the Greeks had the title of Chariopoulis), and the Metropolitan of Gaul Emmanuil (Adamakis), who presides over the Greek Orthodox structures throughout Western Europe (photo 2).

The document states that "the name of the Church is not division, but unity", and with it we intend to close any dispute between the two Orthodox communities, which until two years ago coexisted in the single European jurisdiction of Constantinople. In fact, in the period following the Russian Revolution, the Russian exiles who fled to the West had placed themselves under the protection of the ecumenical patriarchate.

The signing of the agreement is a strong sign of detente between Moscow and Constantinople, despite the rupture caused by the approval of the autocephalous Church of Ukraine, which Moscow categorically refuses to accept. Several other Orthodox Churches have begun to recognize it. Even if Moscow continues to refuse communion with Constantinople and the other Churches, European Russians will maintain unity with all Orthodox.

The agreement specifies that "the parties do not make mutual claims, neither legal nor material", thus wanting to avoid niggling disputes over ecclesiastical buildings in France and other European countries, occupied by the Russians and claimed by the Greeks. According to the text, "each community of the ex-exarchate will autonomously make its own decision on whether to belong to the archdiocese or to the metropolis of Gaul". The signatories "guarantee the fraternal ecclesial coexistence of the communities in Europe", and invite the clergy and the faithful to mutual forgiveness and the restoration of Orthodox Christian unity.

A first result of the agreement was the transfer to the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian church of the Principality of Monaco, which took place two days ago (photo 3). The church, dedicated to the holy martyrs of the family of the last Tsar Nicholas II, belonged to the ex-exarchate since 1960; previously it was a reformed church. It had been donated by Prince Rainier, to favour the community of Russian exiles and emigrants. The parish priest is Father Vadim Zakrepskij, a Russian priest who spent many years in service in Great Britain.

In this way, Constantinople offers an important concession to the Moscow opponent, recognizing the annexation of such a significant group of Orthodox communities. At the beginning of the schism, the ecumenical patriarchate had asked those communities to dissolve and join the Greek parishes. Metropolitan Emmanuil himself had turned to the French court, to obtain the exclusive property of all the churches of the former exarchate, creating considerable scandal: according to canonical tradition, the Orthodox Churches do not discuss their conflicts in front of a civil court.

The impression is that Constantinople has decided on a softer line, imposing on its metropolitan modalities and spaces for conciliation. And apparently, Moscow too has granted Ioann greater autonomy and the European archdiocese will retain its statutes, which are much more "liberal" than the patriarchal ones.

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