Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Risk board shifts again

I think we can safely say that Russia has dismantled its participation in the Assembly of Bishops process and is now building its own "spheres of responsibility." Considering the way the EP has been acting in South-East Asia among other places by claiming nonpareil jurisdiction of places that have long had active parishes from other Patriarchates this is not a complete innovation as much as it is a bit of Risk-like dice rolling. Sadly, it is true that defrocked EP priests in the "diaspora" have been re-frocked to the great consternation of those who value good order.

(ROC) - At its session in the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow on December 28, 2008, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church considered the church affairs in Western European countries (Minutes No. 105) and countries in South-East Asia (Minutes No. 106).

It was decided to form a Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe with the center in Paris. The pastoral sphere of responsibility includes the following countries: Principality of Andorra, Kingdom of Belgium, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland, Kingdom of Spain, Republic of Italy, Principality of Lichtenstein, Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, Republic of Portugal, Republic of France, and Swiss Confederation.

Bishop Ioann of Bogorodsk has been appointed as head of the Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe with the title ‘Bishop of Korsun and Western Europe’. His Grace Ioann is appointed as ruling bishop of the Diocese of Korsun with retaining the temporary administration over the Russian Orthodox Church Parishes in the Republic of Italy.

The Synod also decided to form a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Spain and Portugal with the center in Madrid. Bishop Nestor of Korsun has been appointed as ruling bishop of the diocese of Spain and Portugal, with the title of ‘Bishop of Madrid and Lisbon’.

In addition, in connection with a considerable progress made by the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church in countries of South-East Asia and expressed in an increased number of churches and communities, the emergence of clergy from among the local population, an increased interest in Russian Orthodoxy and in connection with an increase in the Russian-speaking population residing in that region, it was decided to form a Patriarchal Exarchate in South-East Asia with the center in Singapore.

The sphere of pastoral responsibility in this exarchate includes the following countries: Republic of Singapore, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Republic of Indonesia, Kingdom of Cambodia, People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, Malaysia, Republic Union of Myanmar, Republic of the Philippines, and Kingdom of Thailand.

Archbishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk has been appointed as head of the Patriarchal Exarchate in South-East Asia with the title of ‘Archbishop of Singapore and South-East Asia’ while temporarily remaining the head of the Moscow Patriarchate administrative secretariat.


  1. I can't speak to Asia, but this is a very good move for Western Europe, where many MP parishes are on the new calendar, use local lanuages and have an ethos similar to Rue Daru. The seminary in Epinay has close relations with the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris and is on its way to becoming a training center for a Russian Orthodoxy closely engaged with French Christianity. Their exarchate as now constituted has 5 dioceses, which, if handled right, could eventually become the synod of an autonomous Western European church.

  2. The alliances and affiliations of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia will be more clear now.

  3. An overdue step to organize Russian Orthodox life "abroad" on a regional basis, but the petty little dog 'I'm peeing where you just peed' move of centering both exarchate where Constantinople already has bishops is both that (petty) and a step against the canons Moscow says it's so concerned about (putting bishops in the same city). Not that anyone actually cares obviously (how many Orthodox Bishops of Paris are there now?), but given Moscow's stand as a defender of due process and canon law, well...

  4. These actions will only split the Russian Diaspora. Not all Russians will lockstep go to the Russian parish when three is an EP one present. Many Russians in the diaspora continue to commune in EP Churches and remain where they are.

    The pastoral aspect is being completely tossed aside, and for what? Lord, have mercy.

    1. This might've been the case had Constantinople not decided to suppress its Russian-tradition archdiocese in Western Europe, whose legal identity (and property) is not dependent on Constantinople and thus is free to go where it will. I doubt all their parishes will go under Moscow, but it's created a great deal of anger at Constantinople among people who otherwise would've been sympathetic. It's very clear that Constantinople has decided decided that in Europe, it's only a chaplaincy for Greeks.

    2. Samn! is right, what else are Rue Daru people supposed to do, and by what supervenient right can the Phanar simply dissolve them and expect them to abandon their communal identity and just become Greek Orthodox?
      The suddenly announced decision to dissolve the Exarchate seems punitive, meted as though a long overdue slap to disobedient troublemakers. Whence the animus?
      I suppose their Russian identity maintained after all these decades is an affront to the Phanar with its privileging of Hellenism and the Greek-speaking community, attested openly in recent speech of Patr. Bartholomew. And the Rue’s ecclesiastical culture, with its 1918-style sobornost, must also offend Phanar sensibilities. It’s been stated elsewhere that the unilateral action to dissolve the Exarchate with the expectation of dutiful reafilliation to Greek parishes seems predicated on the idea of some civil authority friendly to the Phanar intervening here to make that desired migration happen, with the state’s courts taking the side of C’ple in property law; if so, the gentlemen in Fener are sadly mistaken and their action is futile.
      The heavy-handed action of dissolving them as though they had created this community of churches seems blind to the fact that the Rue Daru elected to come under the EP and disaffiliate once before and can do so again - its life is not dependent on the EP.

      The overall theme I see played out in Orthodox communities in Europe and Asia between C’ple and Moscow is that where the former sees churches as Greek ecclesiastic colonies the latter shows sensitivity to local culture and is open to churches becoming autochthonous culturally (e.g. in language and musical adaptation) as well as structurally (OCA).

      I see Phanariot colonialism as neither reflective of the original Apostolic imperative to take the Gospel into the far corners of the earth nor as an intelligent way of managing (growing) existing church structures. Its flaws are fatal as we can see.

      We’ve seen the defection of at least one Asian mission away from the EP to ROCOR on account of Bp. Nikitas of Hong Kong’s ham-handed treatment of Indonesian parishes and their pastor Fr. Daniel Byantoro. Rue Daru seems another case of Constantinopolitan intolerance of diversity in church life and the alacrity of Moscow to foster authentic, nativizing church life abroad.

    3. From my understanding, they would be allowed to remain intact, but administratively merged with the EP's Metropolis. I don't think anyone is asking them to become "Greek." There are more than a few communities under the EP who maintain their own Liturgical practices and customs.

      With that said, the way it was handled was terrible. Perhaps they felt it necessary, but scandal has resulted. I personally hope that they won't leave, but I would understand those who chose to go. Another sad episode in this terrible situation the Church is in now.

      Your characterization of the EP abroad as "Greek colonies" is not accurate. Have you been to our Churches there? I can't speak for Europe (never been) but I can tell you that our Missions and Metropolises in Asia are not "Greek colonies."

      As for Indonesia, I would characterize that as more than a "defection." The MP received defrocked AND excommunicated clergy from the EP. Something that the MP frowns upon, so much so that they are willing to excommunicate an entire Patriarchate wholesale, on down to the candle lighting grandmas in the Phanar for such an offense. How can this be? As for the sad history of Daniel Byantoro, that schism still hasn't healed. How can the MP justify what they did in Indonesia "canonically?"

      The EP is not intolerant of diversity in church life. This is demonstrably false. I'm sorry if you had a bad experience, but I think Christian charity demands that we be fair.

      For the record, I admire the MPs Mission efforts where it is done in a spirit of brotherhood and love. The Pakistani Mission for example (we also have a mission there, Father John Tanveers. Not a "Greek colony").

      I pray that this whole mess is resolved sooner rather than later.

  5. The Moscow Patriarchate is not the Patriarch of all Russians everywhere, and yet that is how they are acting. It's the same incoherence that allows Russians to commune at the Russian Monastery on Mt. Athos and bypass everyone else.

  6. We don't know what His All Holiness and Archbishop Jean talked about. I refuse to believe that they just decided to dissolve the exarchate because of "Greek Chauvinism." There was a reason for it, one that we are not privy to at this time. I'm sure it will all come out when the Exarchate has their meeting in February.

    The Holy Synod may be in possession of information that we don't know about: The Florence defection and other intel may have convinced the Patriarchate that the MP is actively attempting to lure parishes away, and sow dissension within the Exarchate. They are doing the very same thing elsewhere in the globe RIGHT NOW.

    I wish it could have been done differently, but the MP has decided to go full on scorched earth against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in their media campaign and attempts to sow dischord with the ethnic Russians who are under the EP. Patriarch Kirill is NOT the Patriarch of all Russians in the world, no matter where they live, but this is how the MP is acting. They talk about Canonical order but then they proceed to do this. Fortunately, there are Russians in the Diaspora who refuse to be lured away from their parishes and priests, who have done NOTHING wrong.

    Moscow had the choice. They could have suspended Communion without hurting the laity and engaging in this campaign of destruction. As far as I know, Antioch has not told it's laity they are forbidden to commune at the Holy Churches of Jeruselem. Moscow could have easily done the same, but they did not. THAT is reprehensible, and was eloquently addressed by Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who RIGHTLY rebuked the MP for their hardheartedness and destructive actions (he also dissents from the EP position as well).
    It isn't a game of "Risk." There are real people and real communities. I hope the people of the Exarchate stay, and work with Metropolitan Emmanuel and our other hierarchs. But I also understand if some choose to leave, as ideally there should have been some consultation. As I said, we don't know why the Holy Synod took this action, and maybe once the reason is widely known then that may change some minds (in either direction). We'll see what happens in February.

    1. "We don't know what His All Holiness and Archbishop Jean talked about."

      Because they didn't talk. Constantinople dissolved the Archdiocese without any warning or discussion.

    2. I was referring to their conversation in Constantinople during the Holy Synod’s meeting period. They had a private conversation.