Paris, August 31, Interfax – The first two Russian Orthodox clerics have arrived in Nice to serve at St. Nicholas’ Cathedral in the French city, which was handed over to the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in May this year.
“The priest and deacon have instructions to take up the administration of the church after obtaining the keys and documents,” the Korsun Diocese, which governs the French parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate, said in a statement.
The two clerics also have instructions to put an end to all commercial activities on the cathedral premises, “including the collection of pay for visits to the cathedral,” and to ensure “proper worship services and appropriate welcome for parishioners, pilgrims and visitors,” the statement said.
Today worship services at the cathedral are conducted by clergy appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to which the Korsun Diocese has offered a frank dialog.
The Russian government, whose ownership rights for the cathedral were confirmed by a French court on May 19, handed over the building to the Moscow Patriarchate for indefinite rent-free tenure.
The Korsun Diocese said in its statement that the Nice Orthodox religious association (ACOR) that judicially disputed Russia’s claim to the cathedral “can in no way be equated with the parish of St. Nicholas’ Cathedral and the Orthodox community of the region.”
“It is a generally known fact that there are considerable and yearly increasing numbers of believers in Nice who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate,” the diocese said.
It said it would not restrict access to the cathedral.