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As we predicted in a number of articles last year, the movement towards unity in the various parts of the Russian Church now seems to be irresistible.

Today's interview (11 June 2004) with Archbishop Mark of Germany and Great Britain in the online Russian journal, Izvestia, ( 119891), confirms the impression that, in the words of the Archbishop, unity between the Russian Patriarchal Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) is 'only a question of time'. The commissions of the two parts of the Russian Church will meet later this month to begin the tasks of working out details. However, whatever problems there may be in this area and however many months this process may take, it seems that given the goodwill on both sides, these can be overcome.

As regards most members of ROCOR, the attitude seems to be that the time has come for unity and that what was once strongly resisted can now be accepted. The longer the process of negotiation goes on, the less beneficial it will be. 'Get it over and done with' appears to be the attitude of many in the grassroots Russian parishes.

According to one source from Russia, the principal remaining problem is modernist renovationism in the parishes under the Patriarchate outside Russia. This includes in the British Isles, where the Patriarchate is split in two, with stavropegic traditional parishes on one side, and the mainly modernist Sourozh Diocese on the other. Indeed, it was this Diocese which last year actually ejected a bishop sent from Russia to sort out its self-created problems, which date back to the 60s. Today that Diocese is divided within itself, with many members of it wishing to leave the Russian Church altogether and go under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It may be that the time has come for the Patriarchate to rein in its extremists. This would certainly reassure ROCOR and those in the Patriarchate in Russia who know better.

Also noticeable are the events within the two former fragments of the Russian Church, the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) in North America and the Paris Jurisdiction of Russians under Constantinople.

The first, formally independent of Moscow since 1970, is headed by Metropolitan German. At present in Moscow for the Patriarch's 75th 'jubilee', he seems to spend almost as much time there as in Washington. In some respects this Church now seems to be returning to its traditional Russian roots, abandoning the old-fashioned modernism of the 60s and 70s. In part it is being pushed in this direction by the large emigration of new Russians to North America. They want to see the sort of Church that they know in Russia, using the Orthodox calendar and respectful of Tradition.

As regards the Paris Jurisdiction of Russians, rather like the Sourozh Diocese of the Patriarchate in Great Britain, it too is very divided. Only recently in Cannes, Andrei Schmemann, a senior figure and one of the founders of the Paris movement to return to the Russian Church, received a Russian passport from President Putin himself. Members of that movement have strongly criticized their own leader, Archbishop Gabriel, for being under Greek control and not taking account of the Russian Tradition. Again, as in the case of the OCA and the Sourozh Diocese, a large new emigration from Russia is forcing the Paris modernists back to the Tradition.

What the future will bring, we will not speculate about. However, it is clear that the long-awaited time for the revival of the Russian Church worldwide is at last here.

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