Moscow patriarchate floats idea of ending church division


Interfax-Religiia, 8 February 2021


At the present time, there are no reasons to prevent overcoming the centuries-old schism with the Old Believers, according to the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan Ilarion.


"From my point of view, there should be nothing that prevents us from reuniting within the bosom of a united Russian church, because the Russian Orthodox Church [RPTs] has already, a half century ago, cancelled the curse upon the ancient rituals," the metropolitan said in a broadcast of the program "Church and World" on Rossiia24 television.


He mentioned that within the system of the RPTs, there already exist united-faith [Edinoverie] parishes where liturgies are performed according to the ancient rite; two-finger signs of the cross are used, not three-finger; and the name of Jesus Christ is pronounced with a single letter "I" as required by Old Ritualism [Staroobriadchestvo].


"That is, that reason because of which there once arose division has now been removed," the metropolitan noted, adding that, as often has happened in history, a schism arose for certain reasons, but subsequently, when the two church structures have lived in isolation from one another, there arose many other reasons that prevent them from reuniting.


"Of course, I hope that sooner or later these reasons will disappear and we all will be reunited within the bosom of a united church," the representative of the Moscow patriarchate concluded.


Old Belief, or Ancient Orthodoxy, arose in Russia in the middle of the 17th century because of the church reform undertaken by Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich with the goal of proclaiming the conformity of the Russian liturgical ritual with the Greek ritual, principally that of Constantinople. Those who did not agree with this reform went into schism. At present there exist numerous Old Believer concords, which are divided into priestless [Bezpopovtsy] and priestly [Popovtsy] ones. The largest religious organization of Old Believers—the Russian Orthodox Old Ritualist church—is led by Metropolitan Kornily. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 February 2021)

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