For the first time since the break with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) in 1927, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).
Metropolitan Laurus, made an official visit to Russia in the second half of May and has had discussions with Patriarch Alexy II as well as with other Russian Church hierarchs and with President Putin, who has been active in encouraging reconciliation between the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy. As reported in RW (January 2002), the issue of dialogue with the MP was one of the motives for a group from ROCOR in America and Europe to break with it in 2001.
Patriarch Alexy emphasized that there is a new type of relations between church and state in Russia today, and that “the Church is free,” although there are common tasks which should be solved in cooperation with the State. The meetings and visits to various holy places around Russia have not yet led to a full restoration of relations between the two religious bodies.
However, a timetable has already been set for the forthcoming work of the joint commissions. According to statement by ROCOR’s Archbishop Mark (Germany), quoted by the French Service Orthodoxe de Presse (June 2004), it seems that there are projects to remove any overlapping ecclesial structures, which would mean the integration of MP Orthodox parishes in the West with ROCOR, while a solution should also be found for the small parishes created by ROCOR in Russia in recent decades.
It remains to be seen if the dialogue will lead to a full reunification or only full communion. Anyway, the views within ROCOR regarding the current moves remain quite divided. ROCOR is reported to have some 250 parishes around the world, with its strongest presence in the United States.
(Service Orthodoxe de Presse, 14 rue Victor-Hugo, 92400 Courbevoie, France – www.orthodoxpress.com – Websites:
MP – http://www.mospat.ru/e_startpage; ROCOR – http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/)
— By Jean-Francois Mayer