The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe has returned to the historic aegis of Moscow, ending several decades of schism and preventing new splits among parishes, Patriarch Kirill proclaimed.
“We are one church now, there are no reasons to be outside of the ecumenical and people-to-people ties,” Russia’s Patriarch Kirill said on Monday before a grand mass to celebrate both churches’ unification. “There are no grounds to lose this coveted and sacred unity that we strived for during decades,” he stated.
Governed by Metropolitan John, the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe (AROCWE) historically belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until the late 20th century when it was granted broad autonomy. However, Constantinople changed its mind in late 2018, ordering AROCWE to dissolve.
The Western European church defied the order and opted instead for joining the Moscow Patriarchate. The AROCWE was officially formed in the early 1930s by the priests and faithful who fled the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Last Friday, Kirill officially signed a charter on the reunification. One copy of the document was presented to John during a joyful Sunday liturgy, while the other one will be kept in Moscow.
On Monday, Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan John held a mass together, celebrating the reunification.
It comes a year after the Russian Orthodox Church cut ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate traditionally regarded as the Orthodox faith’s headquarters, citing its recognition of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Moscow Patriarchate has at least 150 million followers worldwide, which – according to various estimates – could be more than half of all Orthodox Christians.
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