Paris, September 4, Interfax - Constantinople’s decision to exclude the head of the "Russian exarchate" in Europe made the latter speed up its decision on restoring unity with the Moscow Patriarchate, the communique published on Tuesday says.
It is noted that Archbishop John did not ask for a letter of release from Constantinople, and this decision of Phanar will not influence the exarchate’s plans to hold its General Assembly on September 7, which will take the decision about the canonical status of this church structure.
However, Constantinople’s decision in Istanbul resulted in changing the agenda of the forum, the communique notes. It was supposed that its participants will consider two alternatives: an option of staying with the Constantinople Church and another option of joining the Moscow Patriarchate.
The communique states that “the first option referring to considering a new church structure for the Archdiocese under Constantinople is now outdated”.
“Thus, the General Assembly on September 7 will only has to adopt a decision on “project of joining the Moscow Patriarchate”, which has been worked out for six months by the Joint Commission.
As was reported, late in November 2018 the Synod in Istanbul adopted the unilateral decision on dismissing the “Russian exarchate” and suggested its clergy and believers to subordinate to local Greek hierarchs. The Archdiocese did not agree with this decision and started discussing options of its future, one of them was restoring unity with the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe (the Russian Exarchate) with center in Paris was set up on basis of Russian emigrants parishes after the Revolution of 1917. Since the 1930s it was administered by Constantinople, however in November, 2018 the Synod in Istanbul took a unilateral decision to dismiss the Russian exarchate and offered its clerics and believers to move under administration of local Greek bishops. The Archdiocese has not agreed with this decision and today is discussing variants of its future one of which is joining the Russian Orthodox Church.
The archdiocese has 65 parishes, 11 acting churches, two monasteries and seven hermitages in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Spain, there are over 100 priests and 30 deacons among its clergy.