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The French Government helps the Russian Church to begin building a Cathedral in Paris

Fr Maxim Massalitin of the Secretariat for International Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church yesterday confirmed that the Church is to build a Cathedral in Paris.

The Russian Church, he declared, is now actively seeking the help of the French government to find a suitable plot of land in Paris for the construction of a long-awaited Cathedral. Services faithful to the Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church will be conducted here. He confirmed that a piece of land will be designated this autumn and that the Cathedral will be part of a complex of buildings serving as the diocesan centre. (Let us hope that there will be a baptistery and at least two altars, one of which would serve a French parish).

The statement followed a meeting in Moscow between His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill and the French Ambassador to the Russian Federation, M. Jean de Gliniasty. Both the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy and Paris City Hall are helping and two plots of land have already been identified. The Russian Embassy in Paris is also helping.

This news seems to confirm that the Moscow Patriarchate has now given up its unrealistic hopes, not to say illusions, that the small Paris Jurisdiction (at present under the Patriarchate of Constantinople) will ever return as a group to the Russian Church and Tradition. Occupying the pre-Revolutionary Russian-built Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris, which has for decades belonged to France, the Paris Jurisdiction’s refusal to return to the Russian Church and general russophobia are tragic. It means that it will miss out on participating in the building of a United Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe. This will be based on the multinational and multilingual European churches and monasteries of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Split into factions, the future of the Paris Jurisdiction, now seems to be one of increasing modernist sectarianism and isolation. It is to be hoped that at least other pre-Revolutionary Russian Church property used by the Paris Jurisdiction, notably the pre-Revolutionary churches in Nice and Biarritz, will eventually voluntarily return to the Russian Orthodox Church.

21 August/3 September 2009

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