On May 20, 2012, in the hall of the Supreme Church Council in Christ the Savior Cathedral, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York and the hierarchs accompanying him on his trip to Russia, along with members of the Working Group on Strengthening Church Unity.
Participating in the meeting were Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate; His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Vice President of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR; His Eminence Archbishop Feofan of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Justinian, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Egorievsk, Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administration for Institutions Abroad; His Eminence Archbishop Innokenty of Vilnius and Lithuania, and His Eminence Archbishop Evgeny of Verey, Chairman of the Scholarly Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Also participating were: Archimandrite Savva (Tutunov), Deputy Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR; Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Vice President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Serafim Gan, Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR and Secretary of the First Hierarch; Protopriest Andrew Phillips, member of the Spiritual Court of the Diocese of Germany and the United Kingdom, and Deacon Eugene Kallaur, Director of the Press Service of the Russian Church Abroad and cleric of St Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, the frescoes of which are dedicated to the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church.
Opening the session, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that the five years that had passed since the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have been very important for the Church. “This has been the beginning of Eucharistic, Liturgical and Mystical life together, the exchange of pilgrimage experience, trips made by delegations, and joint concelebration. No one is wondering ‘Why are we together?’ for this has become completely natural. In my opinion, this all bears very important witness of unification: a great many people have come to believe in unity. For some, this was a dangerous experiment. Today we can state that this was not an experiment but the real life of our Church,” said His Holiness.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that over the last five years, the Russian Church has refrained from hasty measures in strengthening unity: “We need to be cautious lest awkward steps, inaccurate expressions or careless actions mar the unity we have achieved or hinder our relationship, which is developing well,” noted the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Referring to those who have not accepted this unity to this day and are in schism, His Holiness stated that there is an insignificant number of such people on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, though the existence of parishes abroad which have not united presents a problem and evokes pain among the faithful. “This division sometimes exists within families, that is, it affects real human lives,” said His Holiness, emphasizing that the Russian Church is prepared to do everything “to aid in overcoming this illness and sorrow in any way possible.”
Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York thanked His Holiness Patriarch Kirill for his sensitivity to the problems of the Russian diaspora. In his words, those parishes which did not unite comprise only a small part of the Russian Church Abroad.
Metropolitan Ilarion, President of the DECR, read a report on the efforts of the Working Group on Strengthening Church Unity over the last year, noting its constructive and supportive character.
The participants exchanged opinions on the further path of consolidating the Russian Orthodox diaspora.
Communications Service of the Russian Church Abroad/DECR/Patriarchia.ru