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The General Assembly of the Sourozh Diocese took place at the Cathedral of the Dormition in Ennismore Gardens in London on 3 March 2007. The Assembly was presided over by Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun, temporarily in charge of the Sourozh Diocese. Archbishop Anatoly of Kerch, Vicar-Bishop of the Sourozh Diocese, Bishop Elisei, Vicar of the Korsun Diocese and Bishop in charge of the Sourozh Diocese, and all the diocesan clergy and lay representatives from the parishes took part.

According to official reports, the main issue discussed was the Assembly’s petition to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexis II, and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church that the saints of the British Isles, who were glorified before the eleventh century schism, be included in the Russian Orthodox Church calendar.

We cannot but welcome these developments in the new Sourozh Diocese, echoing those that took place in the parallel diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia over twenty-five years ago. We see how far the situation has evolved from the old Sourozh, with its harassment and rejection of those who revered the Saints of the Isles in the 1970s and early 1980s. In recent years we have seen how the Patriarchal Church inside Russia has accepted the viewpoints of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) regarding the canonization of the New Martyrs and Confessors and the errors of Sergianism and Ecumenism. Now, in its parishes outside Russia, we see how it is also accepting the veneration of the Local Saints of Western Europe. This we see the Patriarchal Church now converging with yet other viewpoints of ROCOR, catching up with developments which took place in ROCOR a generation ago.

This is particularly good news, for none of this has been achieved without a struggle. Only in January a certain Orthodox grouping in the USA sent a senior representative to Moscow to try and sabotage the final negotiations between the two parts of the Russian Church, which were preparing for the events of 17 May. He failed. And only last week a forged ‘letter’ of Bishop Diomid of the Patriarchal Church was published, claiming that the Patriarchate was corrupt. Of course, it was a a piece of writing taken out of its context as a Foreword to a book, put out by other extremist enemies of Church unity. Thus, the enemies of the Church attack the Orthodox. There are those who are determined to undermine the unity of the Church, imagining in delusion that they are doing God’s will. In reality they are doing only their own will, conforming themselves to the all too human politics of this world.

When, after eighty years, on Ascension Day, 17 May 2007, the Patriarchal Church at last returns to communion with ROCOR, and vice versa, and others also repent for breaking off communion and refusing to concelebrate, this will be the victory of repentance. However, it will also be the victory of All the Saints - not only of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, but also of the Local Saints of Western Europe.

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