Moscow, September 16, Interfax - The reunion of the 'Russian exarchate' of Western Europe and Mother Church is a result of many years of work of the Russian people, Patriarch Kirill said.
"Big changes have occurred in the life of the Church recently. And the fact that we are celebrating this wonderful event, the reunion of the last piece of Russia abroad to the Moscow Patriarchate today is not only an achievement of church diplomacy. It is in the first place a result of the radical changes that have taken place in the Russian Orthodox Church over the past few years," the patriarch said at a brotherly lunch in the Church of St. Olga, according to a report posted on the Russian Orthodox Church website on Monday.
To illustrate his words, he spoke about "the huge number of churches, the high parish activity, which does not exist anywhere else in the Christian world, the social, youth, education, and missionary work is developing thanks to the efforts of our clergy and our laymen, people who care about the future of the Church."
"Our country has changed beyond recognition, if it wasn't for the changes in Russia's life, if the appearance of our country was the same as it was several decades ago, no union would have come about," the patriarch said.
On September 14, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church included in it the head of the former "Russian exarchate" Constantinople in Western Europe and all parishes that want to follow it. The reason for that decision was the wish of most of the flock to return to Mother Church, from which the exarchate had to separate after the resolution in Russia.
In late 2018, the Constantinople Synod unilaterally abolished the Russian exarchate, which caused the latter to look for new options of its canonical future. At the exarchate meeting in Paris on November 7, most parishes spoke for a return to the Russian Orthodox Church.
"Preconditions for this union were created thanks to the changes in the Church and the country," the patriarch said, adding that he believes what happened is "a result of the huge work" on the part of all people.