The following appeared earlier today, with a Greek title and French text, on Φως Φαναρίου (Phos Phanariou, Light of the Phanar). We publish our translation after having verified the authenticity of the document with our contact at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. According to our report earlier today, Archbishop John was informed of this decision as a fait accompli without prior consultation.
(Addendum: This communiqué appeared a day later, November 29, on the website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.)
Communiqué on the Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe
The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in its session of November 27, 2018, has decided to revoke the Patriarchal Tomos of 1999 by which it had granted the pastoral care and administration of the Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe to its Archbishop-Exarch.
This decision responds to the pastoral and spiritual needs of our era, with the greatest respect for canon law and for the spiritual responsibility which falls to us. Indeed the historical circumstances leading to the creation of such a structure in the wake of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, just a hundred years ago, have evolved profoundly. We give thanks to God for the tireless courage which your communities have shown over time in preserving the rich spiritual tradition which had come from Russia in the aftermath of the bloody persecutions committed by the new atheist regime. We rejoice especially that the Mother Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate took the responsibility to offer her canonical protection to these communities and so permit them to enjoy, in accordance with ecclesial order, a freedom synonymous with life in the Holy Spirit.
Today’s decision has for its goal to reinforce further the bond of the parishes of Russian tradition with the Mother Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Each of these communities is the bearer of a spiritual heritage established in the trail of a dramatic history marked by persecution and exile, and having participated prophetically in the theological renewal of Orthodoxy in the 20th century. It was in fact through the personalities, theologians, philosophers, and artists in the forefront, issued from the Russian immigration, that the Orthodox faith shone in Western Europe and beyond.
We are anxious to reassure the pious faithful of the parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe and their communities. It is through pastoral solicitude that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has decided upon the integration and attachment of the parishes to the different Holy Metropolises in the countries where they are located. Our Mother Church will continue to assure and guarantee the preservation of their liturgical and spiritual tradition. The bond will be that much closer with the See of Constantinople as it is desirous of continuing to manifest its pastoral goodwill and apostolic solicitude toward the people of God for which it has responsibility.
We pray with fervour to the Lord, whose divine Nativity we prepare ourselves to welcome during this time, that you will remain faithful to the Ecumenical Patriarchate even as the Mother Church of Constantinople is devoted to you. We wish with all our heart that you continue to be witnesses of the Orthodox faith in Western Europe through the practice of the virtues and the accomplishment of the principles of the Gospel.
We also thank His Excellency, Archbishop John of Charioupolis, for having led his communities with love and loyalty to this new stage in their history, trusting in the grace of God which calls us to “be renewed in the spiritual transformation of your minds and to put on the new man, created according to God in the righteousness and holiness that come from truth” (Eph 4:23-24).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you, through the prayers of the Most-Holy Mother of God and of all the saints.
The Phanar, November 27, 2018