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The news on 17 July that the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church has received into one of its Western European dioceses yet more parishes in Western Europe seems to have escaped the attention of commentators. This time the parishes in question are in Bergamo in Italy and in Teralba in Sardinia

It is good news, for the parishes were formerly in the jurisdictions of uncanonical groups, one in an Old Calendarist sect, the other in the so-called 'Milan Synod'. Indeed, the 'priest' of the Old Calendarist parish has been ordained in the Russian Church. The reason why these parishes originally had to join Old Calendarist sects was simply because the Patriarchate of Constantinople has an 'ecumenical' agreement with the Vatican that none of its dioceses will receive Italians into the Orthodox Church. They had decided, according to phyletist doctrine, that Orthodoxy is only for Greeks and Russians. This agreement dates back some three decades. At that time, the Patriarchate of Constantinople was virtually the only representative of the Orthodox Church in Italy and the Patriarchate of Moscow was a hostage of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Since then times have changed. Glory to God!

All over Europe many Orthodox are today looking towards the Russian Orthodox Church to shine some sunlight onto the jurisdictional fog of the Orthodox presence in Western Europe. Under the spiritual leadership of the New Martyrs, Russian Orthodoxy is now uniting, reviving and spreading. As it does so, spiritually healthy elements are being drawn towards it, while those which are spiritually unhealthy are turning their backs. A process of consolidation is now going on, leading to the unity of ever larger numbers of Russian Orthodox of all nationalities in Western Europe.

Thus, there is now considerably unity and co-operation between all parts of the Orthodox Church in Western Europe which use the Orthodox calendar - both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church (the Patriarchal and the Church Outside Russia), the Georgian and the Serbian Churches. Relations with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are excellent. Relations with the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Churches of Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus are very good - because they were only ever forced into using the new calendar by powerful political factions - they never wished to use it. Although relations with Western European representatives of the new calendar Patriarchate of Antioch are not yet clear, the only real area of problems is with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its sympathisers elsewhere. They not only use the new calendar, but actually appear to believe in it!

It was therefore with sorrow, but without surprise, that we learned last January of the hostility towards this consolidating movement between the Local Orthodox Churches in Western Europe from the tiny Rue Daru (Paris Exarchate) jurisdiction under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was with even greater sorrow, but even less surprise, that we learned last May that breakaway elements within the Sourozh Diocese of the Patriarchal Church in Great Britain had left it to join the same Rue Daru jurisdiction. The response on Wednesday 19 July of the Holy Synod in Moscow to this development has cleared the air. (See:

Rejecting the absurd 'papal' claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to quasi-universal jurisdiction, the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church has made clear through the canons that one Local Church has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of another. In so doing, the Patriarchal Church has at last once more followed in the footsteps of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Church of Serbia and other Local Churches.

Long ago they too clearly defined the extent of the canonical authority of the tiny Patriarchate of Constantinople, setting down the same views some thirty and more years ago. Even then they had no time for the fantasies of Phanariot functionaries. At a time when Turkish nationalists are calling for the complete expulsion of the Patriarchate from Istanbul within the next three years, it is remarkable that the latter is not working to find friends in the Orthodox world, rather than creating for itself yet more enemies.

On the same 19 July, the Holy Synod of the Russian Patriarchal Church also suspended the schismatic former administrator of the Sourozh Diocese, who has brought about such catastrophic division. They have also made it clear that defrocking could follow, if he does not repent. In this way, the historic injustices in that Diocese, dating back several decades, are now at last being set aright. The decades of persecution of Orthodox Tradition and Orthodox by the old Sourozh Diocese have now ceased. At the same time, the naive and misled, mainly ex-Anglicans who have followed their leader into uncanonical actions are also, between the lines, being warned - that they too risk the same sanctions.

This tiny, anti-Tradition, fundamentally Anglican-Orthodox group, now known as the 'Vicariate' of Amphipolis, has officially been cautioned that its future has been seriously compromised. If the nine tiny communities at present within it continue their present line, they will find themselves in their tiny corner in Europe, left aside, out of communion [1] and isolated. Amphipolis will not only be an abandoned town in northern Greece, but an abandoned illusion in southern England.

This group faces a future similar to that of the uncanonical, 'self-consecrated' Ukrainians, who were opportunistically taken into the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the 1990s, as part of that Patriarchate's policy of obtaining leverage and creating division in the Ukraine. Although since then offically part of a canonical Patriarchate, in reality they are ignored and shunned by the embarrassed clergy and faithful of the selfsame Patriarchate. If these naive converts do not want this, all they have to do is turn away from the little group of ideologues which leads them. Surely they did enough damage in past decades not to be followed now.

Thus, at one end of Western Europe, in Italy, they celebrate unity and consolidation in Europe. At another end, the few, tiny, scattered and mostly elderly communities of the Amphipolis Vicariate, mainly sheltered in Anglican chapels loaned to them, must surely be regretting their disunity with Universal Orthodoxy. They should be soberly reconsidering, for it is not yet too late. A door has been left open from schism for their repentance.

A Russian Orthodox-led movement of Orthodox unity is now forming in Western Europe. This includes the British Isles, where the Patriarchal Church and the once-persecuted Church Outside Russia are now working together as never before. We are gradually heading towards the goal indicated in April 2003 in the statement of Patriarch Alexis concerning the formation of a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe. Transfixed by the decadent past, only the foolish could wish to be left out of the movement of consolidation and co-operation required to push forward.

It is for Orthodox everywhere to join this movement, leaving behind them the jurisdictional chaos and canonical disorder of the past, when the Russian Church was paralyzed by Communist captivity. Now that the Russian Church has awoken, the long overdue moment has come to sort out the mess accumulated in Western Europe since 1917. The old generation of dull bureaucrats, shaven ecumenists, modernists and compromisers all, who have held up progress for decades, is now dying out. Only those in a state of spiritual illusion can regret it. Those who had no alternative to joining various uncanonical orgasnizations can now find a place in the multinational Tradition of Russian Orthodoxy and the Orthodox calendar, beneath the protection of the New Martyrs. All over Europe, it is time for those have been thwarted and frustrated in doing what is canonically necessary for all these decades to join in.

Today, Christ passes this way. He says: 'Let the dead bury the dead'. So, history moves forward. The past is behind us and we look forward to the future.

Fr Andrew


1. Out of communion, that is with the rest of the Orthodox Church, but perhaps not with Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. For decades the Rue Daru jurisdiction has occasionally given communion to Non-Orthodox and some of its members have taken communion from Non-Orthodox. (For example, the famous Rue Daru religious philosopher, Olivier Clement, has openly taken communion in the Roman Catholic Church). Similarly, according to the Amphipolis website (, we read that: 'Orthodox do not receive communion in non-Orthodox churches, nor are Orthodox clergy allowed to give communion to non-Orthodox, except occasionally in situations of special pastoral need. (Our italics).


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