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The Visit of the Delegation of the Church Abroad to Moscow
The Delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (more below) had as its goal to prepare the official visit of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, to Moscow.
The Delegation was to examine questions relating to such a trip, to determine the form, aim and possible results of such a visit by the First Hierarch to Russia. During the course of two meetings, the readiness to embark on a pre-conciliar process was expressed, and the hope that it would result in prayerful-eucharistic communion. The participants of the discussions drew up a public statement which does not pretend to be exhaustive and exact in every detail.
At the invitation of the Russian Orthodox Churc/Moscow Patriarchate, on 17 November, 2003, a delegation of the Russian Church Abroad visited Moscow. The delegation consisted of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, Bishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff, Secretary of the German Diocese and Protopriest Peter Holodny, Treasurer of the Synod of Bishops.
On 18 November, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia received the delegation at his working residence on Chisty pereulok. Questions of church unity were discussed with warmth and sincerity.
On 19 November, talks were held under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II at the Patriarchal residence between the delegation of the Russian Church Abroad in its full complement and the permanent members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus; Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomensk; and Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department of External Church Affairs. Also participating in the discussion were the prior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, Archimandrite Tikhon and the Secretary of the DECA on Inter-Orthodox Affairs, Protopriest Nikolai Balashov.
Both sides expressed their intention of establishing prayerful-eucharistic communion. The decision was made to form a committee to aid in resolving the problems that had accumulated over the course of many years. The participants of the talks expressed their willingness to follow the path of ecclesiastical unity in the spirit of genuine repentance, based on general canonical Tradition and with consideration of the ecclesial-administrative realities that developed during the 20th century. Such a rapprochement, earnestly expected by the children of the Russian Church both in the Fatherland and in the diaspora, will be the most important contribution towards the spiritual victory over the tragic consequences of the revolution and civil war in Russia, felt for many long decades of resistance and poor understanding.
The examination of the questions discussed at the meeting will continue at meetings of the Holy Synod and the Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, and also at the Synod and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The most important milestone towards unity will be the visit to Moscow of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Metropolitan Laurus, in the beginning of 2004. During the visit, it is expected that an agreement will be signed which will determine the canonical, pastoral and practical ecclesiastical foundations of unity of the Russian Church.
During the talks, conducted in a warm atmosphere of mutual understanding, respect and frankness, the desire was also expressed that the move towards unity should not be met with new proclamations or actions which might hinder the process of mutual rapprochement.
During the delegation’s sojourn in Moscow, its members visited Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, the monasteries of the capital, and Christ the Savior Church.
The delegation will depart on 22 November.