Patriarch Alexis II Urges Russian-Trend Orthodox Parishes in Western Europe to Unite

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexis II suggests in his address to the Orthodox clergy, parishes, monasteries and communities of the Russian spiritual tradition in Western Europe that they should unite to form a single metropolitan district under the guidance of Metropolitan Antony. This document was made public Tuesday by the research centre "Orthodox Encyclopaedia" of the Moscow patriarchate.

In his message, Alexis II made a reminder that the division of the fragmented Russian Church had been caused by the historical tragedy of the Russian people, the split of society as a result of the revolution. "There can hardly be any doubts that the time for unity restoration has come," said the patriarch.

He also showed understanding of the position of some believers who "want to have guarantees of preserving their habitual lifestyle". Their wishes could be exercised by means of forming a single Metropolitan district in Western Europe.

The patriarch underscored that the district would be entitled to self-government with the election of the dean of an assembly consisting of hierarchs, priests and believers on the basis of a charter which ought to be worked out with the involvement of representatives of all groups of the Orthodox Russian diaspora in West European countries.

It is Metropolitan Antony of Surozh who has been entrusted with supervision over the newly-instituted Metropolitan district during a period until dean elections.

He noted that the archbishops Simon of Brussels and Belgium, Innocent of Chersones, Antony of Kerch and bishops Gabriel of Komo, Amvrosi of Geneva and Western Europe, Vassily of Sergiev Posad, Michael of Klavdiopol, are invited to be Father Antony's close associates and assistants while keeping their powers.

The message by Alexis II also says that the next stage will draw into the orbit of unification archbishops Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain (Russian Orthodox Church abroad), Longuin of Klin, Pheophanes of Berlin and Germany and Paul of Vienna and Budapest.

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