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Patriarch awaits church unity

Religiia i SMI, 15 May 2007

Patriarch Alexis II called the decision by the synod of ROCOR to create parallel parishes on our canonical territory a big mistake.  It served as a serious obstacle for the process of unification of RPTsMP and ROCOR and it was challenged by many hierarchs within ROCOR itself. The primate of RPTsMP talked about this in an interview with TV station Vesti-24.

"I think that the greatest mistake along this path was the decision by the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia regarding the creation of parallel parishes on our canonical territory. A number of hierarchs of ROCOR spoke out against this, but nevertheless this decision was made and it engendered division within our land.

We recall, this decision was made in the 90s of the last century, when it already had become problematic to speak of the presence of an "atheist regime" in Russia.  (tr. by PDS, posted 15 May 2007)

(Based on material from Communications Service of Department of External Church Relations of MP)

Religiia i SMI, 15 May 2007

Pateriarch Alexis II against emphasized that the labors of Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky are esteemed in the Russian church and his actions are not condemned. He spoke about this in an interview on TV channel Vesti-24.

"One can assess the role of Metropolitan Sergius and the effects of Patriarch Sergius in various ways. But I am persuaded that he made an attempt to save the church and to show the godless regime that the church is not a counterrevolutionary organization, and that throughout all its history the church has always been with its people and with its country. But the position of Metropolitan Sergius was not accepted abroad, and this all created the preconditions for that division that lasted eighty years."

We recall that some representatives of ROCOR condemned the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate for the sin of "Sergianism," namely, the adoption of the Declaration of 1927.  (tr. by PDS, posted 15 May 2007)

(Based on material from Communications Service of Department of External Church Relations of MP)


Patriarch Alexis II told Metropolitan Laurus that we are standing on the threshold of the completion of the civil war.

The meeting of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus with Metropolitan Laurus, who had just arrived in the Russian capital, was held in the evening of 15 May "in a warm environment," Interfax reported, citing the secretary of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov.

"Pariarch Alexis greeting warmly the members of the delegation and expressed his joy in connection with the approach of full restoration of church unity," the agency's source said.  He said that the primate of RPTsMP also recalled how the journey to this unity began three years ago, when Metropolitan Laurus made the first official visit to Russia.

"Three years ago we prayed together and laid the cornerstone of the church on the tragic site of the Butovo Polygon together. Since then time has flown by and on 19 May we will consecrate this new church," the patriarch said.

He thanked God that the Russian church in the fatherland and abroad now will be together despite all difficulties arising along the path to reunification during this time.

"We now stand in front of a historic event—the ending of the schism among our people which the civil war at the beginning of the twentieth century begat," Alexis II noted. His words were reported by the "Pravoslavnaia entsiklopedia" ecclesiastical academic center.

In his turn, the leader of ROCOR expressed his satisfaction that the work of the commission during the three years has come to a propitious conclusion. The meeting was held behind closed doors.  (tr. by PDS, posted 15 May 2007)

Religiia i SMI, 15 May 2007

Patriarch Alexis II emphasized that there is an insignificant number of opponents of the reunification of RPTsMP and ROCOR on both sides.  He said this in an interview with the TV channel Vesti-24.

"There were no model priests who transferred into the parishes of the ROCOR on our canonical territory. Most often they were clergymen who had been subjected to discipline on the part of their legal hierarchs for canonical reasons. And of course they have spoken out against unification because the majority of them are under canonical punishment for which they must answer.

"I think that even abroad not everybody welcomes

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Independent news source attacked; defends self

"Postscript" TV program, 12 May 2007

Announcer Aleksei Pushkov:  On political rumors, including provocative and evil-intentioned ones.  In recent years the Internet has become a source of both hopeful and the most pessimistic information. It has been through the Internet that all sorts of pseudosensations, disinformation, provocations, and the like have penetrated the informational space, as informational plums (as the say the in professional sphere). Today we will tell you about one of these provocations.

Reporter:  The latest of these provocations are the rumors about the death of Patriarch Alexis II of all-Rus, which were spread in a storm throughout Russia in the week before the holidays. However, the patriarch, who had been in Switzerland for a medical examination, returned from there healthy and by 2 May appeared in the Pokrov convent. So where, under the circumstances, did the persistent  and intentional rumors about the death of the head of the Russian Orthodox church come from? For whom and why was it necessary to float them?

The chief leaders were the Echo of Moscow radio station and the Internet site. Echo of Moscow gave to the disinformation the character of news reporting. However it was the Internet site that produced an intensified development of the topic. This was conducted by a certain Alexander Soldatov, who is at the same time an associate of the "Ogonek" magazine. It was there that the fanciful theme of the patriarch's death was discussed in detail. It was that that is was affirmed that the patriarch supposedly suffered two attacks on 27 April and even experienced clinical death. What is the point of all of this provocation? As "Komsomolskaia Pravda" reported, Mr. Soldatov and his colleague at the portal, Vadim Lurie, made for themselves a name for their continuous criticism of the reconciliation of the Russian Orthodox church with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, that is, the unification which will undoubtedly make our Orthodox church and Russia itself stronger. It was not idle talk when Vladimir Putin spoke about the importance of this unification, and the patriarch himself considers this to be not only a church event but the unification of Russian people who by dint of fate and historic conditions were separated at the beginning of the epoch of the persecution of the faith.

Moscow patriarchate Press Secretary Fr Vladimir Vigiliansky:  Whenever Russia is strengthened, then the Russian Orthodox church is strengthened, and whenever the unification processes occur that are objectively good, if it is good for Russia then, of course, there will be found people who are not pleased by this.

Reporter:  By all indications it was thus the site that decided to bury the patriarch. After all, it is 17 May that has been chosen for the signing of the "Act on Canonical Unity [sic]" between the Russian Orthodox church and ROCOR. And this very much upsets the writers at the portal.  They say that the unification of the church means the strengthening of Russia, by means of its acquiring its own groups for influence within America, where many adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia live and work. And this obviously does not suit either the writers at the Internet site nor its director, Mr. Soldatov. At this is the whole underlying reason for the informational provocation.  Floating rumors about the impending death of the patriarch in order to sow doubt about whether the important unification document would be signed on 17 May. Creating conditions of anxiety and uncertainty on the eve of this event. To be sure, the question remains about what kind of forces stand behind this campaign that is directed against the unifications of the churches. But we can only guess about them.

Vladimir Vigiliansky:  I think, and His Holiness the patriarch himself thinks, that this was a manifestation of bad will on the part of people that was possibly connected with opposition to the signing of the "Act" regarding the attachment of ROCOR to the Mother church—the Moscow patriarchate. These unification processes, which will culminate on 17 May and which have been prepared over the course of two years, of course, testify that the civil war has come to an end along with the division of people into "us" and "them," and of course this does not please somebody. And they latched onto this rumor in order somehow to sow discord and to oppose this great event.

Announcer Aleksei Pushkov:  Very often the advocates of absolute freedom of speech try to persuade us that citizens have the right to any kind of information. However, how does one take responsibility for this information?  Do citizens have the right to be protected from false or unconfirmed information? That is, from disinformation? Freedom of speech, as is known, presupposes also responsibility for the speech.  However the proponents of total freedom—or really the proponents of political manipulation—prefer, for understandable reasons, not to talk about that. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 May 2007)

Posted on site of, 14 May 2007

14 May 2007

The editorial board of the independent Internet news and analysis publication regarding religion, "," expresses its amazement over the appearance in the Russian television broadcast of 12 May 2007 of the slanderous report by the TVTs "Postscript" analytical program, that was conducted by Aleksei Pushkov.

The report, beginning with a promise by the announcer to acquaint the TV audience with the way a campaign was organized in order to circulate on the Internet "disinformation, insinuations, and provocations," included a series of videos employing depictions of the title pages of, the site of the "Ogonek" magazine, with which the head editor of the portal, Alexander Soldatov, is associated, photographs of a reporter and isolated fragments with Patriarch Alexis II and President V.V. Putin, and various bishops and clergy.  All of this was accompanied by anonymous staff commentaries as well as reactions by the director of the press service of the Moscow patriarchate, Fr Vladimir Vigiliansky.

The announcer for the program, Aleksei Pushkov, reported that the most sensational political rumor of recent time was the rumor about the "death of Patriarch Alexis II," for which he laid full responsibility for its appearance and dissemination upon Echo of Moscow radio and

In the telecast it was maintained that the chief editor of, Alexander Soldatov, and portal editor Vadim Lurie (there is not such editor at the portal) "made a name for themselves" in opposing the reunification of the Russian church and that the strengthening of the Russian church and Russian state was "displeasing" to the journalist.  Also the broadcast included unambiguous references to the ethical impurity of the chief editor to the effect that behind him "stand forces," about whose nature "one can only guess."  According to the logic of the "Postscript" program, it was Alexander Soldatov who concocted and floated in the news media the rumor about the "death of the patriarch," since the appearance in the West of "groups of influence" for RPTsMP were displeasing to him and to his enigmatic "patrons."

Taking not of the explicit harmfulness of such fantisies directed again the portal and its chief editor, Alexander Soldatov, the editorial board cannot help but see in this a quite definite evil intent and a desire to discredit, slander, and destroy the trust and clean reputation of our news media, which has dealt responsibly with the selection of news by the staff of its writers and the supervisor. This seems all the more absurd and immoral, since the portal, which has existed now for five years, has acquired a reputation as one of the most professional resources regarding religion in the Russian informational field and it has distinguished itself for its accurate and substantial, confessionally and politically nonantagonistic approach to the elucidation of religious and public topics. The portal is an exclusively secular publication that is not association with any confession, and thus it obviously does not participate in inter-confessional relations of religious organizations.

The bulk of the news carried on the portal comprises materials from other news media, while the main contribution of the writers of the portal consists in organizing the content by way of analysis of religion in a language that is comprehensible to the secular reader.

Returning to the story about the "patriarch's death," the editorial board recalls that the portal did not report that it seemed that the "patriarch had died." The first report on this topic was published as a news item on 27 April at 16.22 and carried the banner:  "Moscow patriarchate denies rumors that have appeared regarding the death of Patriarch Alexis II." The next morning, 28 April, there appeared the report that the "" site had published a report that the patriarch supposedly suffered clinical death, but two hours later it posted the subsequent denial from the press service of the Moscow patriarchate. In other words, the portal can be only of objective and good-faith reporting of events connected with the appearance of this rumor in other news media, citing the outside sources and treating the news with an evident amount of skepticism.

That the portal was not the original source of these rumors can be easily ascertained by examining all publication on the topic on the site itself.

In connection with the foregoing, the editorial board of states that it considers the aforementioned report on the TVTs "Postscript" program as slanderous, whereby the real authors of the disinformation about the "patriarch's death" are trying to escape moral and administrative responsibility for its creation. The editorial board intends to devote every effort to draw the attention of the professional community and interested public to what has happened so that such slander will not remain without consequences. We hope for the understanding and support of our readers in this matter.  (tr. by PDS, posted 15 May 2007)

Posted on site of, 14 May 2007

Related articles:
Concern over patriarch's health

Patriarchate continues to answer rumors

Recriminations in case of rumors about patriarch's death

Protestant school wins Moscow court case

Interfax, 14 May 2007

The Federal Court of Arbitration in the Moscow District has reversed a decision to ban the construction of a Russian-U.S. Christian Institute. The construction project is opposed by local residents.

Earlier, Moscow's ninth Court of Arbitration granted a lawsuit filed by residents of the city's Babushkinsky District against the institute administration.

The ruling passed by the Federal Court of Arbitration "came as a surprise," Vladimir Listopad, a representative of local residents, told Interfax on Monday.

A week ago, local residents protested the construction by putting up an Orthodox cross near the construction site. Prayers will be said near the cross each Sunday, he said.

Moscow's Orthodox community has held six rallies over the past two years to protest the construction of a Protestant institute in a park zone on the bank of the Yauza River near the Rayevskoye Cemetery.  (posted 14 May 2007)

See related article "Moscow Orthodox protest protestant school"

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Reconciliation of Russian churches

by Sergei Bychkov
Moskovsky komsomolets, 14 May 2007

On 17 May, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, seven foreign bishops will arrive in Moscow, including the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), Metropolitan Laurus, and more than seventy priests. Six hundred of our fellow countrymen, parishioners of ROCOR, are planning to arrive. In accordance with their request, on 17 May the royal gates of the church will be open throughout the course of all festive services, something that usually happens only during the week of Paskha.

In the morning of 17 May 2007 His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II and Metropolitan Laurus will sign the "Act on canonical communion" in the cathedral church of Christ the Savior. It will establish the canonical standards for mutual relations between the church inside the motherland and the church abroad. After this, for the first time in eighty years, His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus will concelebrate the liturgy with the first hierarch of ROCOR Metropolitan Laurus and will commune out of a single chalice. This will signify the end of an almost century-old schism of the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy. Then an exhibit will be opened in the church of Christ the Savior, which will be devoted to the history of ROCOR. The foreign church has made its own contribution to the preparation of this exposition; some of the liturgical vestments of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and all-Rus will be represented along with other relics.

"MK" Information

In the 1920s a number of bishops and parishes of the Russian church that were in the emigration broke off relations with the Moscow church hierarchy. They said:  we do not wish to be in any kind of associations with the godless authorities in Russia. Therefore the emigrant clergy temporarily severed relations "until the destruction of the godless regime in Russia." That is a quote from the existing charter of the church abroad. The center of ROCOR after World War II was moved from Sremsky Karlovats in Serbia to New York. Today ROCOR comprises 12 dioceses and about 300 parishes scattered throughout various parts of the world, along with 20 monasteries and hermitages. Before the breakup of USSR ROCOR had around 50,000 parishioners. In USA, in Jordanville, an ecclesiastical seminary is operated. After the breakup of USSR and a massive emigration from Russia, the number of parishioners of ROCOR substantially increased. In addition, beginning in the 1990s ROCOR established its own dioceses within the boundaries of Russia parallel to the existing dioceses of the Russian Orthodox church. Until recently, there were two—in Crimea and Siberia.

On 17 May, after the liturgy, a press conference will be held with the first hierarch of ROCOR Metropolitan Laurus and Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany participations. And on 19 May Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus will concelebrate with Metropolitan Laurus for the consecration of the church of the New Russian Martyrs at the Butovo Polygon, which during the Stalinist years an enormous number of Russians were shot, including clergy. The cornerstone of this church was laid three years ago by Patriarch Alexis and Metropolitan Laurus during the latter's first official visit to Moscow. On 20 May, in the Dormition cathedral of the Kremlin there will be held a joint worship service by Patriarch Alexis and Metropolitan Laurus. Dormition cathedral cannot accommodate a large number of people and thus a small number of representatives of the Moscow patriarchate will participate in the service.

A bit of history.  Soon after his election to the patriarchal throne in 1990 Alexis II wrote in an open letter to representatives of the church abroad:  "The external fetters of aggressive atheism that have bound us for long years have fallen off. We are free, and this creates the preconditions for dialogue. . . ."  This summons was not heard at that time. And only when the first hierarch of ROCOR had been replaced did the possibility of dialogue arise.  In September 2003 the head of ROCOR Metropolitan Laurus and other bishops met with Russian President Putin in New York. At this meeting Vladimir Putin delivered a letter in his name and that of Patriarch Alexis offering to begin fraternal dialogue and inviting Metropolitan Laurus to visit Russia. The first visit occurred in May 2004. The delegation of the church abroad attended the patriarchal liturgy which has been performed every year at the site of the execution polygon in Butovo, outside Moscow. It was then for the first time that joint prayers were said over the remains of our martyrs.

The final decision regarding the restoration of canonical communion was made in May of last year at the Fourth All-Diaspora Council of the Church Abroad in San Francisco.  It was attended by 11 bishops and 126 delegates. At this council were worked out the basic approach for the negotiations throughout the past year. It is important to clarify that the restoration of canonical communion does not mean either the absorption or merger of ROCOR with RPTs.  Very serious disagreements remain between the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy. The resolution adopted at the council says:  "We express our conciliar agreement that it is necessary to confirm the future canonical status of the Russian church abroad as an autonomous part of the local Russian church. . . . We hope that the upcoming local council of the united Russian church will resolve the ecclesiastical questions that remain unresolved."

There are many opponents of reunification of the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy within both ROCOR and RPTs. Some are disturbed about the property status of ROCOR churches and monasteries. Some do not like the hegemonic attempts by Metropolitan Kirill Gundiaev of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who intends to unify all of the foreign parishes of RPTs and create an enormous single diocese centered upon London. Many parishioners of ROCOR are worried that RPTs, which always declares the principle of conciliarity actually has ignored its own charter over the course of the past seventeen years and has not held a single local council. Although the internal problems within the Russian church have grown to an enormous quantity and are remaining unresolved. This is why the resolution of the Fourth All-Diaspora Council stressed that in any case ROCOR must remain an autonomous part of RPTs. The canonical status of ROCOR must be determined by a future local council. Whether it will become an autocephalous church, like the American church [Orthodox Church in America], or autonomous, like the Japanese Orthodox church is a matter for the future. It is important that the coordinating commission was able to reach agreement on the status of the two dioceses of ROCOR on the territory of Russia and Ukraine. Henceforth they will become a part of RPTs.

After the completion of celebration in Moscow the foreign guests will visit Russian Orthodox dioceses in Russia and Ukraine. Metropolitan Laurus again, as in 2004, intends to visit Kursk, where the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God appeared.  Today it is located in USA and is the chief sacred item of the church abroad. Then the first hierarch of ROCOR will visit Kiev and the Kiev lavra of the caves. On the feast of Trinity, 27 May, Metropolitan Laurus will celebrate the liturgy in the Trinity church of the Pochaev lavra in Ukraine.

Analysts evaluate the upcoming events in various ways. But all agree on one thing:  the majority of clergy and parishioners of ROCOR living in USA have been able to introduce into the stagnant and musty life of RPTs the air of genuine freedom. During the Fourth All-Diaspora Council there was the appearance of conciliarity, about whose loss many Slavophiles spoke back in the nineteenth century. The chairman of the editorial commission of the council, Archpriest Viktor Potapov, said:  "I can say without exaggeration that the Fourth All-Diaspora Council was one of the most significant events in my church life.  I realized that I have been present at the performance of a great divine miracle. With my own eyes I saw in San Francisco and I became convinced by experience that such conciliarity works by the grace of the Holy Spirit, when those people who love the church and are concerned for its fate gather together and unanimously strive to know and fulfill the will of God."  Openness to the needs of parishioners, a desire to enter into dialogue with Russian society, and not to cower hidden in the ghetto—these qualities can be contributed by the clergy and parishioners of ROCOR. This is where the profound meaning of the upcoming celebrations lies. (tr. by PDS, posted 14 May 2007)

Russian original posted on site of, 14 May 2007


The claims by opponents of the unification of the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate (RPTsMP) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) that ROCOR will disappear are absurd, according to Archpriest Alexander Lebedev. Lebedev, secretary of the commission of ROCOR for negotiations with the Moscow patriarchate, stated this in an exclusive interview with an ITAR-TASS correspondent.

Fr Alexander explained that there still remains a "small group of overt opponents of reunification," who are loudly declaring their unreconciled attitude toward the decision of the Bishops' Synod and the council of the ROCOR, headed by Laurus, and they claim that "with the signing of the Act on Canonical Communion the synod of ROCOR will go into schism."

"True, it is not quite clear from whom they will go into schism," the priest noted. "We are not separating ourselves from anybody. Our Church Abroad will continue to exist, just as before," he stressed, "with our own first hierarch, our own council, our own synod, our own charter and the complete complement of all of our institutions. Thus, claims by a group of opponents of reunification to the effect that ROCOE, which existed previously, will now disappear, and they they will resurrect it are completely absurd."

"In addition," Archpriest Alexander Lebedev declared, "all attempts to create a quasi-church organization and to try to call it the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia will be curtailed immediately, by legal action if necessary. Nobody has the right to claim the name of our church. As a legal entity ROCOR is registered in the state of New York and no alterations of its name or its status before the law have been made or will be made."  (tr. by PDS, posted 14 May 2007)

Interfax, 28 April 2007

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) has held its final meeting before the Act of Canonical Communion will be in Moscow on May 17. What were the meeting’s results? Has the Church Outside of Russia changed her attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate’s involvement in the WCC? With what feelings the church delegation from outside of Russia prepares its Moscow visit? The secretary of the ROCOR commission for negotiations with the Moscow Patriarchate Archpriest Alexander Lebedev answers these and other questions in his interview to Interfax-Religion.

- Father, how do you evaluate the results of the recent ROCOR Synod meeting?

- The meeting’s main objective was to finish the preparatory work before signing the Act of Canonical Communion that will take place in Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow, on May 17. We decided to approve the text of the document and to send to the Russian capital city a delegation led by Metropolitan Laur. We also regularized the situation of some clergy who had left the ROCOR for the Moscow Patriarchate. The meeting participants were in high mood and waiting for the church unity being reestablished soon.

We also decided that the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia would be remembered in our liturgical prayers before the ROCOR primate. This was approved by the Synod’s special resolution.

The Synod accepted new liturgical forms of prayer for Russia. Today different forms of prayer exist in our different parishes. Some pray for a ‘suffering country Russia’, some for a ‘much-suffering country of Russia.’ Now the Synod decided that there should be a prayer ‘for the God-preserved country of Russia.’ We used to pray for the persecuted Russia but since persecutions have stopped, it is no longer convenient to call the country as ‘suffering.’ I’d like to stress that when we passed the resolution we felt no pressure from the Moscow Patriarchate. It was our own decision aimed at unification of the form of prayer for Russia among our parishes. However, the unified form of prayer has not yet become obligatory. The Synod expressed its willingness but it is diocesan bishops who will legislate for their parishes on the matter.

- What is your attitude to ecumenism as to the Moscow Patriarchate’s involvement with the World Council of Churches that has often been critisized by the ROCOR?

- We are satisfied with the Moscow Patriarchate signing a document in which it denounced all harmful sides of ecumenism, such as syncretism, common liturgical prayer with the non-Orthodox, and everything that may blur Orthodox ecclesiology. Of course most our fellow churchmen would welcome Moscow Patriarchate leaving the World Council of Churches because we regard its involvement with the WCC as confusing. Yet the reasons for this involvement have become much clearer to us. We realize that it is based not upon a desire to share in non-Orthodox prayers or a belief that there are other Churches besides the One Church. The Russian Orthodox Church as the world’s biggest Orthodox Church seeks leadership at international forums. If she leaves the WCC, the Orthodox representation will be assumed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the voice of the Russian Orthodox Church will remain unheard. We believe this is a serious reason for the Moscow Patriarchate to remain involved with the WCC at least for some time.

I’d like to note that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is never going to participate in the WCC even after it enters into canonical communion with the Church in Russia. We will stay aside of that and continue opposing ecumenism in the Orthodox world as we have always done. Our attitude to the ecumenical movement has remained generally unchanged.

- Will the constitution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia change after the Act is signed?

- After it is signed, there will be some amendments in the ROCOR constitution. This matter was discussed by the Council of Bishops last year, which suggested a draft set of amendments finally approve by the recent Synod meeting.

- After the reunion, may cultural differences make a serious obstacle for the normal fellowship between the Russian people and Russians outside of Russia?

- Those who were brought up and shaped outside of Russia and never lived in the Soviet Union have a mentality different from that of the modern people in Russia. However, we in diaspora have always tried to preserve our Russianness, Russian Orthodox spirit, language and culture, the Church being very helpful for that. Generally, the experience of living outside of Russia has taught us a lot. We often serve in a non-Orthodox context so we have to work harder to preserve our national and cultural identity, our Orthodoxy. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has a rich spiritual heritage. We hope we’ll have a chance to share it with our compatriots who survived the Soviet persecutions of the Church, but also a possibility to better understand sufferings experienced by the Orthodox Church in Russia.

As for the church language, we have no differences. There are some minor variations in the church offices, but it is a question of practice and does not touch the essence of worship. If a believer from Russia visits, say, the United States and comes to one of our churches, he will hardly notice any difference.

I think the difference in understanding of some things exists rather as a shell while the essence is identical. The Russian Orthodox worldview is the same both in our mother country and outside of it.

- How many believers, parishes and churches are there in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia today?

- We have nearly 400 parishes in 40 countries, most of them being in North America, Europe and Australia, and some in South America. The ROCOR monasteries exist in the Holy Land, there a community in North Korea, some parishes in Mexico and other countries. As for practicing believers, they possibly number 60,000 to 100,000.

- What thoughts and feelings do the delegates of the Church Outside of Russia have as they prepare to come to Moscow?

- We are in the anxious expectation of the moment when church unity be reestablished. It is like waiting for an Easter night when all have their candles lit and await the Royal Door open and the Easter night office start. After being involved in the talks for several years, I pray that we make our flight to Moscow safely and complete the healing of wounds of division between Russians in Russia and outside of her. I think any obstacle to reestablishment of our canonical communion are already removed or are being overcome.  (posted 14 May 2007)

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