We exclusively offer the official translation of the letter Archbishop Antony of Vienna and Budapest, the Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administration for Institutions Abroad, wrote to Archbishop John of Charioupolis on behalf Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. You will find in it the propositions made by the Russian Orthodox Church to the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe.
The letter was read by Archbishop John at the Archdiocese Extraordinary General Assembly on February 23, after the members voted against the dissolution of the Diocesan governing Union of Russian Orthodox Associations in Western Europe. The original letter in Russian is available here.
To His Eminence, Archbishop John of Charioupolis
Your Eminence, dear Vladyka!
It is with my warmest greetings and my wishes of good health and blessing of God on your pastoral works, that I hereby inform you of the reception by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia of your letter, in which you mention the question of the future of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe. In addition to the letter His Holiness sent you on December 12, 2018, His Holiness asked me to send you the following.
The Russian Orthodox Church has always regarded as temporary the breaking of the fullness of unity with the ecclesial entity in Western Europe, formerly led by Metropolitan Evlogy of blessed memory. This division was the result of tragic circumstances due to persecution and loss of liberty for the Church in Russia.
In his February 1931 pastoral letter, Metropolitan Evlogy himself wrote:
“We will return to our previous situation when the central ecclesial authority recognized by all is restored, as well as normal conditions for the life of the Russian Orthodox Church… As we start on this new journey, we do not separate from our mother the Russian Church, nor do we enter into schism with her. We remain in unity with her… It is only a temporary break in official administrative relations”.
His Holiness Patriarch Photios II of Constantinople, in his February, 17, 1931 charter, also emphasized the temporary character of Russian Orthodox parishes in Western Europe joining the Constantinople Patriarchate. His successor Patriarch Athenagoras also recalled it in his letter to Archbishop George on November 22, 1965.
It is with joy that the Russian Church is ready to reestablish its pastoral care for the communities of Russian tradition in Western Europe that are under your omophorion and whose origins are in the Russian Church.
At the end of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Archdiocese, and in response to a letter from Your Eminence, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church could, if appropriate, make such a decision, based on the following principles:
- Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe joins the Moscow Patriarchate, while preserving the historical integrity of its parishes, monasteries, and other ecclesial institutions, with all the members of the clergy who so desire, under the leadership of Your Eminence.
- The historical legacy of the Archdiocese will be preserved, with its traditions (including liturgical traditions), and the specificities of its diocesan and parish functioning, as described in the statutes of the Archdiocese.
- The election of hierarchs of the Archdiocese will be in accordance with the said statutes, after prior approval by the patriarch of the list of candidates (and the possibility of adding more names), and then with the canonical confirmation of the election by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
- All the hierarchs of the Archdiocese will by right be members of the local councils and councils of hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
- The elected delegates of the Archdiocese will be members of local councils.
- The decisions of the Holy Synod will have force of law for the Archdiocese, as long as allowed by the specificities of its statues.
Your concelebration with His Holiness and also with the clergy of the Archdiocese, of which you are the head, in the cathedral church of Christ the Savior in Moscow could be the testimony of the restoration of the communion and its solemn achievement with, during this concelebration, the granting of the Patriarchal and Synodal Act reflecting the principles described above.
Dear Vladyka, please communicate the contents of this letter to the members of the clergy and the laity constituting the extraordinary general assembly of the Archdiocese. His Holiness send them all his love and blessing.
In the love of Christ,
Archbishop of Vienna and Budapest, the Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administration for Institutions Abroad