25 January 2021, 18:42
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia insists on its rights over Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem
Moscow, January 25, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) does not see its guilt in the recent unrest on the territory of the Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem and puts the blame on the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) headquartered in Germany.
Sergey Stepashin, the head of the Russian Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), told Interfax a week ago about the attack by priest Roman Gultyayev, a cleric of the ROCOR in Israel, who broke into the territory of the metochion on January 13 and started intimidating the people there.
In the meantime, the ROCOR has stated its own vision of the situation. "An outrageous incident was provoked on the territory of the metochion by a group of people reporting to German citizen Nikolay Worontsow-Hofmann [head of the IOPS headquartered in Germany] on January 13, 2021. Priest Roman Gultyayev, a cleric of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem (part of the ROCOR), who belongs to the Church of Alexander Nevsky, was hurt in it, and the clerics who accompanied him were also hurt," the chancellery of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR said in a statement.
In addition to the insults, the people who were on the territory of the metochion illegally prevented Archimandrite Roman (Krasovsky), the head of the Russian Spiritual Mission, from entering when he came to serve a liturgy that is served there on Thursdays, the statement said.
The statement also says Worontsow-Hofmann is a successor of former Archimandrite Antony (Grabbe), a schismatic and a defrocked priest, and that representatives of Worontsow-Hofmann, "who are illegally in the state of Israel," have blocked access to the metochion for more than a week now, trying to drive away the clergy of the Russian Spiritual Mission of the ROCOR in Jerusalem, which "had exclusive right to conduct services there for 100 years."
The Synod of the ROCOR ordered the head of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem "to urgently take all legal measures as the Israeli police could not take the situation under their control due to their negligence." Besides, the Synod "strongly condemns the Israeli authorities' full unwillingness to get to the bottom of this complex situation for the past 12 months, which, in particular, made the recent incident possible."
The statement also says that "the lawful owner of the Alexander Metochion" is the Orthodox Palestine Society that reports to the Synod of the ROCOR.
According to earlier reports, a regional court in Jerusalem on January 7 declined the appeal of the Russian Spiritual Mission of the ROCOR against the decision on the registration of the metochion as property of Russia.
The Alexander Metochion is situated in the Old Town of Jerusalem, in close proximity to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is an archeological and architectural compound standing on land bought by Emperor Alexander III of Russia in 1859. The compound was built by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in 1896.
Controversy surrounding its ownership began after the 1917 revolution and after the emigration of most IOPS members. At present, two different organizations of the same name, Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, exist separately in Russia and Germany and they are contesting the right of ownership of the metochion. The dispute involved a third party, the Palestine Society of the ROCOR.