Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Orthodox Reunification Will Take Five Years

Aug. 14, 2007
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign policy department, stated yesterday that the unification of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia will be complete in five years. In that time, it will be necessary to transfer the property in Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia to dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. He also stated that “efforts are being made by certain forces to exclude it [the Russian Orthodox Church] from participation in social life on the eve of the elections.”

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Metropolitan Laurus and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II signed a canonical act on the reunification of the two churches on May 7 of this year, after four years of negotiations. The churches reached agreements on their positions on their attitude toward the state, ecumenicism and property. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia became an inalienable part of the Russian Orthodox Church, although with the status of a self-governing structure. The integration process has caused a schism within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia itself and an alternative church abroad is forming which may embrace up to a third of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia's clergy.

According to Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church is satisfied with the progress made in the first three months of the reunification process. He found other sources of discontent, however, mentioning the letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin written by scientists expressing concern over the Russian Orthodox Church's role in society and the letter of Bishop Diomede of Anadyr and Chukotka calling on Alexy II “not to support the current democracy since the only authority that can be pleasing to God is monarchy.” “Those two communications are links in a single chain,” the metropolitan said.

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