Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

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Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Ру́сская Правосла́вная Це́рковь Заграни́цей
George F. Baker Jr. house.jpg
ROCOR headquarters,
75 E 93rd St, New York.
Classification Eastern Orthodox
PrimatePatriarch of Moscow & All Rus' Kirill
Metropolitan Hilarion
Language Church Slavonic (worship),
Russian (preaching),
English (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand),
Spanish (Spain and Latin America),
German (Germany),
French (France, Switzerland, Canada),
Indonesian (Indonesia),
Haitian Creole (Haiti) and others
HeadquartersPatriarchal: Moscow, Russia
Jurisdictional: New York City, NY
Territory North America
South America
New Zealand
Founder Anthony (Khrapovitsky)
Anastassy (Gribanovsky)
RecognitionSemi-Autonomous by Russian Orthodox Church
Separations Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (1994, then called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad)
Members27,700 in the U.S. (9,000 regular church attendees) [1]
  • These numbers only reflect the supposed US adherents. They do not take into account ROCOR's numbers in Australia, Germany, and Indonesia.
Official website

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Russian : Ру́сская Правосла́вная Це́рковь Заграни́цей, Russkaya Pravoslavnaya Tserkov' Zagranitsey), or ROCOR, is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Russian Orthodox Church autocephalous Orthodox Christian church, headquartered in Moscow, Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church, alternatively legally known as the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. The primate of the ROC is the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'. The ROC, as well as its primate, officially ranks fifth in the Orthodox order of precedence, immediately below the four ancient patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church; the Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Since 15 October 2018, the ROC is not in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, having unilaterally severed ties in reaction to the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was finalised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 5 January 2019.


The ROCOR was established in the early 1920s as a de facto independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodoxy initially as a result of some of the Russian bishops having lost regular liaison with the central church authority in Moscow due to the Russian Civil War and subsequent exile, a situation that was later effectively institutionalised by their rejection of the Moscow Patriarchate′s unconditional political loyalty to the Bolshevik regime in the USSR formally promulgated by the Declaration of 20 July 1927 of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), deputy Patriarchal locum tenens. Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), of Kiev and Galicia, was the founding First Hierarch of the ROCOR. [2]

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law.

Moscow Capital of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

Russian Civil War multi-party war in the former Russian Empire, November 1917-October 1922

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favouring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and anti-democratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Alexander Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians.

After decades of separation, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia officially signed the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate on 17 May 2007, restoring the canonical link between the churches. This also effected a split with the much diminished Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), which remained within the True Orthodoxy movement.

The Act of Canonical Communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the Russian orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate reunited the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Moscow Patriarchate. The accord was signed on 17 May 2007, which for the Orthodox Church in that year was the Feast of the Ascension of Christ.

The Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is a non-canonical Russian Orthodox church body. ROAC referred itself as part of True Orthodoxy. It was formed in 1994 when a number of ROCOR parishes left it and formed an independent jurisdiction.

True Orthodoxy Movement within Orthodox Christianity that has been separated from the mainstream Eastern Orthodox Church over issues of ecumenism and calendar reform since the 1920s

True Orthodoxy, or Genuine Orthodoxy, often pejoratively referred to as "Zealotry", is a movement within Orthodox Christianity that has been separated from the mainstream Eastern Orthodox Church over issues of ecumenism and calendar reform since the 1920s.

The jurisdiction has around 400 parishes worldwide and an estimated membership of over 400,000 people. [3] Of these, 232 parishes and 10 monasteries are in the United States, with 92,000 adherents and over 9,000 regular church attendees. [1] ROCOR has 13 hierarchs, with male and female monasteries in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe and South America. [4]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Precursors and early history

In May 1919, at the peak of the military success of the White forces under Gen Anton Denikin, in the Russian city of Stavropol, controlled by the White Army then, a group of Russian bishops organised an ecclesiastical administration body, the Temporary Higher Church Administration in South–East Russia (Russian : Временное высшее церковное управление на Юго-Востоке России). On 7 November (20 November) 1920, Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, his Synod, and the Supreme Church Council in Moscow issued a joint resolution No. 362 instructing all Russian Orthodox Christian bishops, should they be unable to maintain liaison with the Supreme Church Administration in Moscow, to seek protection and guidance by organizing among themselves; the resolution thus effectively legitimised the Temporary Higher Church Administration and went on to serve as the legal basis for the eventual establishment of a completely independent church body. [5]

White movement anti-Bolshevik movement

The White movement and its military arm the White Army, also known as the White Guard, the White Guardsmen or simply the Whites, was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the Communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/1923) and that to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations of insurrectionists both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945).

Anton Denikin Russian general

Anton Ivanovich Denikin, a Russian Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army (1916), later served as the second Supreme Leader of Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922.

Stavropol City in Stavropol Krai, Russia

Stavropol a city and the administrative center of Stavropol Krai, Russia. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 398,539.

In November 1920, after the final defeat of the Russian Army in South Russia, a number of Russian bishops evacuated from Crimea to Constantinople, then occupied by British, French and Italian forces. After learning of the decision of Gen Pyotr Wrangel to keep his army, it was decided to keep the Russian ecclesiastical organisation as a separate entity abroad as well. The Temporary Church Authority met on 19 November 1920, aboard the ship Grand Duke Alexader Mikhailovich (Russian : «Великий князь Александр Михайлович»), presided over by Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky). Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Benjamin (Fedchenkov) were appointed to examine the canonicity of the organization. On 2 December 1920, they received permission from Metropolitan Dorotheos of Prussia, Locum Tenens of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to establish "for the purpose of the service of the population [...] and to oversee the ecclesiastic life of Russian colonies in Orthodox countries a temporary committee (epitropia) under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate"; the committee was called the Temporary Higher Church Administration Abroad (THCAA).

South Russia (1919–1920) short-lived country that existed from 1919 to 1920 during the Russian Civil War

South Russia or South of Russia was a short-lived state that existed in Eastern Europe during the Southern Front of the Russian Civil War from 1919 to 1920.

Istanbul Metropolitan municipality in Marmara, Turkey

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosporus strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives in suburbs on the Asian side of the Bosporus. With a total population of around 15 million residents in its metropolitan area, Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities, ranking as the world's fourth largest city proper and the largest European city. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

Occupation of Constantinople

The occupation of Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, by British, French and Italian forces, took place in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros, which ended Ottoman participation in the First World War. The first French troops entered the city on November 12, 1918, followed by British troops the next day. The Italian troops landed in Galata on February 7, 1919.

In Karlovci

On 14 February 1921, Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) settled down in the town of Sremski Karlovci, Serbia, where he was given the palace of former Patriarchs of Karlovci (the Patriarchate of Karlovci had been abolished in 1920). [6] In the course of the subsequent few months, at the invitation of Patriarch Dimitrije of Serbia, the other eight bishops of the THCAA, including Anastasius (Gribanovsky) and Benjamin (Fedchenkov), as well as numerous priests and monks, relocated to Serbia. [7] On 31 August 1921, the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church passed a resolution, effective from 3 October, that recognised the THCAA as an administratively independent jurisdiction for exiled Russian clergy outside the Kingdom of SHS as well as those Russian clergy in the Kingdom of SHS who were not in parish or state educational service; the THCAA jurisdiction would also extend to divorce cases of the exiled Russians. [6]

Gen Pyotr Wrangel, chairman of the Russian All-Military Union (second left), and Metropolitan Anthony, in Dedinje, Belgrade.
Easter, April 1927 Vrangel' i Antonii (Khrapovitskii) v Iugoslavii.jpg
Gen Pyotr Wrangel, chairman of the Russian All-Military Union (second left), and Metropolitan Anthony, in Dedinje, Belgrade.
Easter, April 1927

With the agreement of Patriarch Dimitrije of Serbia, between 21 November and 2 December 1921, the "General assembly of representatives of the Russian Church abroad" (Russian : Всезаграничное Русское Церковное Собрание) took place in Sremski Karlovci. It was later renamed the First All-Diaspora Council and was presided over by Metropolitan Anthony. The Council established the "Supreme Ecclesiastic Administration Abroad" (SEAA), composed of a patriarchal Locum Tenens, a Synod of Bishops, and a Church Council. The Council decided to appoint Metropolitan Anthony the Locum Tenens, but he declined to accept the position without permission from Moscow and instead called himself the President of the SEAA. The Council adopted a number of resolutions and appeals (missives), the two notable ones being addressed to the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church ″in diaspora and exile″ («Чадам Русской Православной Церкви, в рассеянии и изгнании сущим») and to the International Conference in Genoa. The former, adopted with a majority of votes (but not unanimously, Metropolitan Eulogius Georgiyevsky being the most prominent critic of such specific political declarations), expressly proclaimed a political goal of restoring monarchy in Russia with a tsar from the House of Romanov. [8] The appeal to the Genoa Conference, which was published the following year, called on the world powers to intervene and “help banish Bolshevism” from Russia. [9] Furthermore, the majority of the Council members secretly decided to request that Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (while, pursuant to the laws of the Russian Empire, the seniormost surviving male member of the Romanovs was Kirill Vladimirovich, who proclaimed himself the Russian Emperor in exile in August 1924) head up the Russian monarchist movement in exile. [10]

Patriarch Tikhon by his decree of 5 May 1922, which was notably addressed to Metropolitan Eulogius Georgiyevsky, abolished the SEAA and declared the political decisions of the Karlovci Council as not reflecting the stance of the Russian Church; the decree also appointed Metropolitan Eulogius as administrator for the “Russian orthodox churches abroad”. [11] Meeting in Sremski Karlovci on 2 September 1922, pursuant to Tikhon's decree, the Council of Bishops abolished the SEAA, in its place forming the Temporary Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with Metropolitan Anthony as its head by virtue of seniority. The Synod exercised direct authority over Russian parishes in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Far East. In North America, however, a conflict erupted with those who did not recognize the authority of the Synod, led by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky); this group formed the American Metropolia, the predecessor to the OCA. Likewise, in Western Europe, Metropolitan Eulogius (Georgievsky), based in Paris from late 1922, did not recognise anything more than "a moral authority" of the Synod. Metropolitan Eulogius later broke off and in February 1931 joined the Ecumenical Patriarchate, forming the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe.

On 5 September 1927, the Council of Bishops in Sremski Karlovci, presided over by Metropolitan Anthony, decreed a formal break of liaison with the ″Moscow church authority″, after categorically rejecting a demand by Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Nizhny Novgorod, who was acting on behalf of Locum Tenens (Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsy, then a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag, until his death), to declare political loyalty to the Soviet authorities. The church administration in Moscow headed by Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) was declared to be ″enslaved by the godless Soviet power that has deprived it of freedom in its expression of will and canonical governance of the Church.″ [12] While rejecting both the Bolsheviks and Metropolitan Sergius (who in 1943 will be elected Patriarch), the ROCOR did continue to nominally recognise the authority of the imprisoned Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsy; the missive of the Council of 9 September stated: "The part of the Russian Church that finds itself abroad considers itself an inseparable, spiritually united branch of the great Russian Church. It doesn't separate itself from its Mother Church and doesn't consider itself autocephalous." [13] Meanwhile, inside the USSR, Metropolitan Sergius′ Declaration caused a schism among the flock of the Patriarch's Church, many dissenting believers breaking ties with Metropolitan Sergius (Catacomb Church). [3] [14]

On 22 June 1934, Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod in Moscow passed judgment on Metropolitan Anthony and his Synod, declaring them to be under suspension. [15] Metropolitan Anthony refused to recognize this decision, claiming that it was made under political pressure from Soviet authorities and that Metropolitan Sergius had illegally usurped the position of Locum Tenens. In this, he received the support of the Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, who continued to maintain communion with the ROCOR Synod. However, Patriarch Varnava did attempt to be a mediator between the Karlovci Synod and Metropolitan Sergius in Moscow and find a canonically legitimate way to settle the dispute: thus in early 1934, he sent a letter to Sergius in which he proposed that the Karlovci bishops be transferred under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church; the proposal was rejected by Sergius, who kept demanding that all Russian clergy outside the USSR pledge loyalty to the Soviet authorities. [16] Patriarch Varnava's attempts at reconciling the rival exile Russian jurisdictions he undertook in the mid-1930s were likewise unsuccessful. [17]

Russian church of Holy Trinity in Belgrade, Serbia,
built in 1924 by Russian emigres. Ruska crkva Beograd.jpg
Russian church of Holy Trinity in Belgrade, Serbia,
built in 1924 by Russian émigrés.

After the deaths, of Metropolitan Anthony in August 1936 and Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsy in October 1937 (albeit falsely reported a year prior), the Second All-Diaspora Council, which was proposed by Metropolitan Anthony in January 1935, was held, first in Belgrade, then in Sremski Karlovci, in August 1938. [18] The Council was presided over by Metropolitan Anastasius (Gribanovsky) and attended by 12 other exiled Russian bishops (at least double the number of Orthodox (Patriarchal) bishops allowed to serve in the USSR then) as well as 26 priests and 58 laypersons. [19] [20] The Council confirmed the leading role of the Church and its bishops in the Russian emigre organisations and adopted two missives: to Russians in the USSR (Russian : «К Русскому народу в Отечестве страждущему») and to the Russian flock in diaspora (Russian : «К Русской пастве в рассеянии сущей»). [21]

From February 1938, Germany′s authorities demanded that all the Russian clergy in the territories controlled by Germany be under the Karlovci jurisdiction (as opposed to that of Paris-based Eulogius′), within which they had an ethnic German, Seraphim Lade, put in charge of the diocese of Berlin. [22]

During World War II and after

The relationship between members of the ROCOR and the Nazis in the run-up to and during World War II has been an issue addressed by both the Church and its critics. A 1938 [23] letter written by Metropolitan Anastassy to Adolf Hitler, thanks him for his aid to the Russian Diaspora in allowing the building of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Berlin and praises his patriotism. This has, however, been defended as an act that occurred when "little was known…of the inner workings of the Third Reich." [24] A document prepared at the ROCOR Second Church History Conference in 2002 stated that “the attempt of the Nazi leadership to divide the Church into separate and even inimical church formations was met with internal church opposition.” [25]

Meanwhile, the USSR leadership's policies towards religion generally and especially towards the Moscow Patriarchate's jurisdiction in the USSR changed significantly. The decisive turning point occurred in early September 1943, when a meeting of Joseph Stalin with a group of three surviving ROC metropolitans headed by Sergius (Stragorodsky) occurred in the Kremlin. The Moscow Patriarchate was allowed to convene a council and elect Patriarch, open theological schools, re-open (keep open) a few major monasteries and some churches (most of which had been re-opened by occupying Germans); [26] most significantly, the Soviet government decisively sided with the Moscow Patriarchate, while the so-called Obnovlentsi (modernising pro-Soviet current in the ROC), previously favoured by the authorities, were sidelined and completely vanished shortly after. These developments did not change the hostile mutual rejection between the Moscow Patriarchate and the ROCOR leaderships.

Days after the election of Sergius (Stragorodsky) as Patriarch in Moscow in September 1943, Metropolitan Anastasius (Gribanovsky) made a statement on non-recognition of the election. The German authorities allowed the ROCOR Synod to hold a convention in Vienna that took place on 21—26 October 1943. There, a resolution was adopted that declared the election of Patriarch in Moscow uncanonical and hence invalid and called on all Russian Orthodox faithful to fight against Communism. [27]

On 8 September 1944, days before Belgrade was taken by the Red Army, Metropolitan Anastasius (Gribanovsky), along with his office and the other bishops, left Serbia for Vienna. [28] A few months later, they moved to Munich, and finally, in November 1950, to the United States.

After the end of World War II, the Moscow Patriarchate found itself to be a globally dominant branch of Russian Orthodox Christianity; a number of countries with the ROCOR's strong presence in the interwar period, such as Yugoslavia, China, Bulgaria, East Germany, were now within the USSR-led bloc, where any activity by the ROCOR was politically impossible. A certain number of the ROCOR parishes and clergy, notably Eulogius (Georgiyevsky) (in a jurisdiction under the Ecumenical See since 1931), joined the Moscow Patriarchate and even repatriated to the USSR. [29] On the other hand, the ROCOR, now headquartered in New York, the United States, grew increasingly implacable vis-à-vis both the Communist regime in the Soviet Union and the Moscow Patriarchate, which was viewed and condemned by them as a Soviet Church run by the secret police. [29]

Conflict with the Moscow Patriarchate after the USSR dissolution

Since the end of the Soviet Union in December 1991, ROCOR continued to maintain its administrative independence from the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).

Moreover, in May 1990, months prior to the complete disintegration of the USSR, the ROCOR made a decision to set about establishing "Free Russian" parishes in the USSR, and to consecrate bishops to oversee such parishes.

ROCOR and ROC conflict over Palestinian properties

Most of the Church properties in Palestine, the 1917 Bolshevik revolution notwithstanding, until after WWII remained in the hands of those opposed to both the Soviet rule and the Moscow Patriarchate, i.e. mainly within the ROCOR. [30]

When Israel became a state in 1948, it transferred all of the property under the control of the ROCOR within its borders to the Soviet-dominated ROC in appreciation for Moscow's support of the Jewish state (this support was short-lived). [30] The ROCOR maintained control over churches and properties in the Jordanian-ruled West Bank until the late 1980s. [30] In January 1951, the Soviets reopened the Russian Palestine Society under the direction of Communist Party agents from Moscow, replaced Archimandrite Vladimir with Communist-trained Ignaty Polikarp. They won over many Christian Arabs with Communist sympathies to the ROC. The members of other branches of Orthodoxy refused to associate with the Soviet-led ROC in Palestine. [31]

In 1997 Patriarch of Moscow Alexei II attempted to visit a ROCOR-held monastery in Hebron with Yasser Arafat. "The Moscow-based church has enjoyed a close relationship with Arafat since his guerrilla fighter days." [32] Upon arrival Arafat and the patriarch were refused entry by the ROCOR clergy, who held that Alexei had no legitimate authority. Two weeks later police officers of the Palestinian Authority arrived; they evicted the ROCOR clergy and turned over the property to the ROC. [30]

Alexei made another visit in early January 2000 to meet with Arafat, asking "for help in recovering church properties" [33] as part of a "worldwide campaign to recover properties lost to churches that split off during the Communist era". [34] Later that month the Palestinian Authority again acted to evict ROCOR clergy, this time from the 3-acre (12,000 m2) Monastery of Abraham's Oak in Hebron. [30] [33]

Views on the Moscow Patriarchate, pre-reconciliation

After the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius of 1927, there were a range of opinions regarding the Moscow Patriarchate within ROCOR. A distinction must be made between the various opinions of bishops, clergy, and laity within ROCOR, and official statements from the Synod of Bishops. There was a general belief in ROCOR that the Soviet government was manipulating the Moscow Patriarchate to one extent or another, and that under such circumstances administrative ties were impossible. There were also official statements made that the elections of the patriarchs of Moscow which occurred after 1927 were invalid because they were not conducted freely (without the interference of the Soviets) or with the participation of the entire Russian Church. [35] However, these statements only declared that ROCOR did not recognize the Patriarchs of Moscow who were elected after 1927 as being the legitimate primates of the Russian Church—they did not declare that the Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate were illegitimate bishops, or without grace. There were, however, under the umbrella of this general consensus, various opinions about the Moscow Patriarchate, ranging for those who held the extreme view that the Moscow Patriarchate had apostatized from the Church (those in the orbit of Holy Transfiguration Monastery being the most vocal advocates of this position), to those who considered them to be innocent sufferers at the hands of the Soviets, and all points in between. Advocates of the more extreme view of the Moscow Patriarchate became increasingly strident in the 1970s, at a time when ROCOR was increasingly isolating itself from much of the rest of the Orthodox Church due to concerns over the direction of Orthodox involvement in the Ecumenical Movement. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, there wasn't a burning need to settle the question of what should be made of the status of the Moscow Patriarchate, although beginning in the mid-1980s (as the period of glasnost began in the Soviet Union, which culminated in the ultimate collapse of the Soviet government in 1991), these questions resulted in a number of schisms, and increasingly occupied the attention of those in ROCOR.

There are certain basic facts about the official position of ROCOR that should be understood. Historically, ROCOR has always affirmed that it was an inseparable part of the Russian Church, and that its autonomous status was only temporary, based upon Ukaz 362, until such time as the domination of the Soviet government over the affairs of the Church should cease:

"The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is an indissoluble part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and for the time until the extermination in Russia of the atheist government, is self-governing on conciliar principles in accordance with the resolution of the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Council [Sobor] of the Russian Church dated 7/20 November 1920, No. 362." [36]

Similarly, Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky) wrote in his Last Will and Testament:

"As regards the Moscow Patriarchate and its hierarchs, then, so long as they continue in close, active and benevolent cooperation with the Soviet Government, which openly professes its complete godlessness and strives to implant atheism in the entire Russian nation, then the Church Abroad, maintaining Her purity, must not have any canonical, liturgical or even simply external communion with them whatsoever, leaving each one of them at the same time to the final judgment of the Council (Sobor) of the future free Russian Church." [37]

ROCOR viewed the Russian Church as consisting of three parts during the Soviet period: 1. The Moscow Patriarchate, 2. the Catacomb Church, and 3. The Free Russian Church (ROCOR). The Catacomb Church had been a significant part of the Russian Church prior to World War II. Most of those in ROCOR had left Russia during or well before World War II. They were unaware of the changes that had occurred immediately after World War IImost significantly that with the election of Patriarch Alexei I, most of the Catacomb Church was reconciled with the Moscow Patriarchate. By the 1970s, due to this reconciliation, as well as to continued persecution by the Soviets, there was very little left of the Catacomb Church. Alexander Solzhenitsyn made this point in a letter to the 1974 All-Diaspora Sobor of ROCOR, in which he stated that ROCOR should not "show solidarity with a mysterious, sinless, but also bodiless catacomb." [38]

Movement towards reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate

In 2000 Metropolitan Laurus became the First Hierarch of the ROCOR and expressed interest in the idea of reunification. The sticking point at the time was the ROCOR's insistence that the Moscow Patriarchate address the slaying of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918 by the Bolsheviks. The ROCOR held that "the Moscow Patriarchy must speak clearly and passionately about the murder of the tsar's family, the defeat of the anti-Bolshevik movement, and the execution and persecution of priests." [4] The ROCOR also accused the leadership of the ROC as being submissive to the Russian government and were alarmed by their ties with other denominations of Christianity, especially Catholicism. [4]

Some of these concerns were ended with the jubilee Council of Bishops in 2000, which canonized Tsar Nicholas and his family, along with more than 1,000 martyrs and confessors. This Council also enacted a document on relations between the Church and the secular authorities, censoring servility and complaisance. They also rejected the idea of any connection between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. [4]

In 2001, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow and ROCOR exchanged formal correspondence. The Muscovite letter held the position that previous and current separation were purely political matters. ROCOR's response is that they were still worried about continued Muscovite involvement in ecumenism as compromising Moscow's Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, this was far more friendly a discourse than previous decades had seen.

In 2003 Vladimir Putin met with Metropolitan Laurus in New York. This event was later hailed as an important step by Patriarch Alexy II who said that it showed the ROCOR that "not a fighter against God, but an Orthodox Christian is at the country's helm." [39]

In May 2004, Metropolitan Laurus, the Primate of the ROCOR, visited Russia participating in several joint services. [40] In June 2004, a contingent of ROCOR clergy meeting with Patriarch Alexey II. Committees were set up by both the Patriarchate and ROCOR to begin dialogue towards rapprochement. Both sides decided to set up joint commissions, and determined the range of issues to be discussed at the All-Diaspora Council, which met for the first time since 1974. [40]

The possibility of rapprochement, however, led to a minor schism from the ROCOR in 2001, [41] [42] taking with it ROCOR's self-retired former First Hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly (Oustinoff), and the suspended Bishop Varnava (Prokofieff) of Cannes. The two formed a loosely associated jurisdiction under the name Russian Orthodox Church in Exile (ROCiE). It was claimed that Metropolitan Vitaly's entourage forged his signature on epistles and documents. [43] Bishop Varnava subsequently issued a letter of apology, and was received back into the ROCOR in 2006 as a retired bishop. Even before the death of Metropolitan Vitaly in 2006, the ROCiE began to break up into eventually four rival factions, each claiming to be the true ROCOR.

Reconciliation talks

After a series of six reconciliation meetings, [44] the ROCOR and the Patriarchate of Moscow, on June 21, 2005, simultaneously announced that rapprochement talks were leading toward the resumption of full relations between the ROCOR and the Patriarchate of Moscow; and that the ROCOR would be given autonomy status. [45] [46] In this arrangement the ROCOR "will now join the Moscow Patriarchate as a self-governed branch, similar to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It will retain its autonomy in terms of pastoral, educational, administrative, economic, property and secular issues." [40] While Patriarchate Alexy said that the ROCOR would keep its property and fiscal independence and stated that its autonomy would not change "in the foreseeable future", he added that "Maybe this will change in decades and there will be some new wishes. But today we have enough concerns and will not make guesses.” [47]

On May 12, 2006, the general congress of the ROCOR confirmed its willingness to reunite with the Russian Orthodox Church, which hailed this resolution as:

"an important step toward restoring full unity between the Moscow Patriarchate and the part of the Russian emigration that was isolated from it as a result of the revolution, the civil war in Russia, and the ensuing impious persecution against the Orthodox Church." [48]

In September 2006, the ROCOR Synod of Bishops approved the text of the document worked out by the commissions, an Act of Canonical Communion, and in October 2006, the commissions met again to propose procedures and a time for signing the document. [49] The Act of Canonical Communion [50] went into effect upon its confirmation by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, based the decision of the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, held in Moscow on October 3–October 8, 2004; as well as by decision of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, on the basis of the resolution regarding the Act on Canonical Communion of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, held in San Francisco on May 15–May 19, 2006.

Signing of the Act of Canonical Communion

Solemn signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow. Left to right: Archpriest Alexander Lebedev, First Hierarch of the ROCOR Metropolitan Laurus, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, Protopriest Nikolai Balashov. 17 May 2007 Signing of the Act of Canonical Communion.jpg
Solemn signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow. Left to right: Archpriest Alexander Lebedev, First Hierarch of the ROCOR Metropolitan Laurus, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, Protopriest Nikolai Balashov. 17 May 2007

On December 28, 2006, it was officially announced that the Act of Canonical Communion would finally be signed. The signing took place on the May 17, 2007, followed immediately by a full restoration of communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, celebrated by a Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, at which the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexius II and the First Hierarch of ROCOR concelebrated for the first time in history.

On 17 May 2007, at 9:15 a.m., Metropolitan Laurus was greeted at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow by a special peal of the bells, and shortly thereafter, Patriarch Alexey II entered the Cathedral. After the Patriarch read the prayer for the unity of the Russian Church, the Act of Canonical Communion was read aloud, and two copies were each signed by both Metropolitan Laurus and Patriarch Alexey II. The two hierarchs then exchanged the "kiss of peace," and they and the entire Russian Church sang "God Grant You Many Years." Following this, the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord began, culminating with the entirety of the bishops of both ROCOR and MP partaking of the same Eucharist.

Present at the signing of the Act and at the Divine Liturgy, was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was thanked by Patriarch Alexey for helping to facilitate the reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church. Putin then gave his remarks to an audience of Orthodox Christians, visitors, clergy, and press, saying "The split in the church was caused by an extremely deep political split within Russian society itself. We have realized that national revival and development in Russia are impossible without reliance on the historical and spiritual experience of our people. We understand well, and value, the power of pastoral words which unite the people of Russia. That is why restoring the unity of the church serves our common goals." [3]

The Hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad then served again with the Patriarch on 19 May, in the consecration of the Church of the New Martyrs in Butovo firing range, where they had laid the cornerstone during their initial visit in 2004. [51] [52] Finally, on Sunday, May 20, they concelebrated in a Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin gave a reception at the Kremlin to celebrate the reunification. In attendance were Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and members of the Holy Synod for the Russian Orthodox Church; Metropolitan Laurus for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia; Presidential chief of staff Sergei Sobyanin, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Minister of Culture and Mass Communications Aleksandr Sokolov. Before the reception the participants posed for photographs by the Assumption Cathedral. [53]

Post-reconciliation schism

Critics of the reunification argue that "the hierarchy in Moscow still has not properly addressed the issue of KGB infiltration of the church hierarchy during the Soviet period." [3] [54] It has also been noted that "some parishes and priests of the ROCOR have always rejected the idea of a reunification with the ROC and said they would leave the ROCOR if this happened. The communion in Moscow may accelerate their departure." [4]

The signing of the act led to yet another small schism from the ROCOR, this time taking with it Bishop Agathangel (Pashkovsky) of Odessa and Tauria, and with him some of ROCOR's parishes in Ukraine, which refused to enter the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which itself had fought schisms resulting in the establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, both free of Russian influence. Agafangel was subsequently suspended by the ROCOR synod for disobedience. [55] [56] Despite censure, Agafangel persisted with the support of ROCOR parishes inside and outside Ukraine which had also refused to submit to the Act of Canonical Communion. [57] Agafangel subsequently ordained Bishop Andronik (Kotliaroff) with the assistance of Greek bishops from the Holy Synod in Resistance; these ordinations signified the breach between ROCOR and those who refused communion with Moscow. [57] At a Fifth All-Diaspora Council (composed of clergy who did not accept the Act of Canonical Communion), Bishop Agafangel was elevated to the rank of metropolitan; he now heads the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad - Provisional Supreme Church Authority (ROCA-PSCA) as Metropolitan Agafangel of New York and Eastern America. [58] [59]


ROCOR currently[ when? ] has 593 parishes and 51 monasteries for men and women in 43 countries throughout the world, served by 672 clergy. The distribution of parishes is as follows: 194 parishes and 11 monasteries in the United States; 67 parishes and 11 monasteries in the Australian diocese; 48 parishes in Germany; 25 parishes and 3 monasteries in Canada; 22 parishes in Indonesia. ROCOR churches and communities also exist in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine, Paraguay, Portugal, South Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.

There are twelve ROCOR monasteries for men and women in North America, the most important and largest of which is Holy Trinity Monastery (Jordanville, New York), to which is attached ROCOR's seminary, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary.

The main source of income for the ROCOR central authority is lease of a part of the building that houses the headquarters of the ROCOR's Synod of Bishops situated at the intersection of East 93rd Street and Park Avenue to a private school, estimated in 2016 to generate about $500,000; the ROCOR was said not to make any monetary contributions towards the ROC's budget. [60]

ROCOR oversees and owns properties of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, which acts as caretaker to three holy sites in East Jerusalem and Palestine, all of which are monasteries.

The current First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia is Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) (since 28 May 2008).

Western Rite in ROCOR

There is a long history of the Western Rite in ROCOR, although attitudes toward it have varied, and the number of Western Rite parishes is relatively small. St. Petroc Monastery in Tasmania is now under the oversight of Metropolitan Daniel of the Moscow Metropolitanate. [61] Christ the Saviour Monastery, founded in 1993 in Rhode Island and moved to Hamilton, Ontario, in 2008 (see main article for references) has incorporated the Oratory of Our Lady of Glastonbury as its monastery chapel. The oratory had previously been a mission of the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America but since October 2007 has been a part of ROCOR. There are a few other parishes that either use the Western Rite exclusively or in part. An American parish, St Benedict of Nursia, in Oklahoma City, uses both the Western Rite and the Byzantine Rite.

In 2011, the ROCOR declared all of its Western Rite parishes to be a "vicariate", parallel to the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, and established a website. [62]

On 10 July 2013 an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR removed Bishop Jerome of Manhattan and Fr Anthony Bondi from their positions in the vicariate; ordered a halt to all ordinations and a review of those recently conferred by Bishop Jerome; and decreed preparations be made for the assimilation of existing Western Rite communities to mainstream ROCOR liturgical practice.

The Western Rite in ROCOR, as of 2017, is currently undergoing a major renaissance,[ according to whom? ] with some 25 parishes, monasteries and convents in North America and Europe under the direct supervision of the First Hierarch, with a dean overseeing the clergy and the parishes on his behalf.[ citation needed ]

See also


1. ^ The number of adherents given in the "Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches" is defined as "individual full members" with the addition of their children. It also includes an estimate of how many are not members but regularly participate in parish life. Regular attendees includes only those who regularly attend church and regularly participate in church life. [63]

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  5. Положение о Русской Православной Церкви Заграницей: ″Пр. 1. Русская Православная Церковь заграницей есть неразрывная часть поместной Российской Православной Церкви, временно самоуправляющаяся на соборных началах до упразднения в России безбожной власти, в соответствии с Постановлением Св. Патриарха, Св. Синода и Высшего Церковного Совета Российской Церкви от 7/20 ноября 1920 г. за № 362. [...] Пр. 4. Русская Православная Церковь заграницей в своей внутренней жизни и управлении руководствуется: Священным Писанием и Священным Преданием, священными канонами и церковными законами, правилами и благочестивыми обычаями Поместной Российской Православной Церкви и, в частности, — Постановлением Святейшего Патриарха, Свящ. Синода и Высшего Церковного Совета Православной Российской Церкви от 7/20 ноября 1920 года № 362, [...]″
  6. 1 2 ″Загранична црква у Сремским Карловцима: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 23 December 2017, p. 22.
  7. ″Прихваћен позив патријарха Димитрија: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 21 December 2017, p. 25.
  8. “[...] И ныне пусть неусыпно пламенеет молитва наша – да укажет Господь пути спасения и строительства родной земли; да даст защиту Вере и Церкви и всей земле русской и да осенит он сердце народное; да вернет на всероссийский Престол Помазанника, сильного любовью народа, законного православного Царя из Дома Романовых. [...]” (Протоиерей Аркадий Маковецкий. Белая Церковь: Вдали от атеистического террора: Питер, 2009, ISBN   978-5-49807-400-9 , pp. 31–32).
  9. Протоиерей Аркадий Маковецкий. Белая Церковь: Вдали от атеистического террора: Питер, 2009, ISBN   978-5-49807-400-9 , p. 35.
  10. ″У вртлогу политичке борбе: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 15 January 2018, p. 22.
  11. Протоиерей Аркадий Маковецкий. Белая Церковь: Вдали от атеистического террора: Питер, 2009, ISBN   978-5-49807-400-9 , p. 38.
  12. Митрополит Антоний (Храповицкий). Избранные труды. Письма. Материалы. Moscow: ПСТГУ, 2007, р. 786: ″«Заграничная часть Всероссийской Церкви должна прекратить сношения с Московской церковной властью ввиду невозможности нормальных сношений с нею и ввиду порабощения её безбожной советской властью, лишающей её свободы в своих волеизъявлениях и каноническом управлении Церковью»″.
  13. РПЦЗ: КРАТКАЯ ИСТОРИЧЕСКАЯ СПРАВКА: «Заграничная часть Русской Церкви почитает себя неразрывною, духовно-единою ветвью великой Русской Церкви. Она не отделяет себя от своей Матери-Церкви и не считает себя автокефальною».
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  16. ″Домети мисије патријарха Варнаве: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 4 January 2018, p. 25.
  17. ″Нови покушај патријарха Варнаве: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 5 January 2018, p. 18.
  18. ″Нема Русије без православне монархије: Из тајних архива УДБЕ: РУСКА ЕМИГРАЦИЈА У ЈУГОСЛАВИЈИ 1918–1941.″ // Politika , 6 January 2018, p. 30.
  19. II Всезарубежный Собор (1938)
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  36. Regulations Of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Confirmed by the Council of Bishops in 1956 and by a decision of the Council dated 5/18 June, 1964 Archived 2009-03-30 at the Wayback Machine , first paragraph, December 28, 2007
  37. The last will and testament of Metropolitan Anastassy, 1957, December 28, 2007
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  42. Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  43. The Independent, Obituary: Metropolitan Vitaly Ustinov, 28 September 2006
  44. "The Sixth Meeting of the Commissions of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate is Held" Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine : ROCOR website, downloaded August 25, 2006
  45. . Retrieved July 29, 2005.Missing or empty |title= (help)[ dead link ]
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  50. "Act of Canonical Communion". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
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