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PARIS (RNS) — The archdiocese of émigré Russian churches in Western Europe, founded in Paris by refugees from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, is split between rejoining the post-communist Moscow Patriarchate or being merged into Orthodox Christianity’s globalized diaspora.
As of Tuesday (Sept. 10), the archdiocesan leadership was inching toward taking the historic step to restore ties to Moscow, more than a century after the leaders’ forebears fled a homeland that had become officially atheist.
Decision - Weekend - Things - Politics - Disputes
The decision was almost made over this past weekend, but like most things connected with émigré politics and disputes among Eastern Orthodox churches, it got complicated.
The archdiocese, based mostly in France but stretching to Norway in the north and Italy in the south, met in a special general assembly in Paris on Saturday and Sunday that voted by 58.1% to 41.9% to switch its allegiance from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul back to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Body - Statutes - Majority - Step - Decision
But as the body’s statutes say the archdiocese needs a two-thirds majority to take such a step, the decision is on hold until a supermajority can be stitched together, or until the archdiocese’s individual parishes supersede the assembly’s vote.
Archbishop Jean of Charioupolis, the 76-year-old Frenchman who has led the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe since 2016, seemed to have another path in mind.
Majority - Protection - Soviet - Era - Lawyers
“This two-thirds majority is an old protection dating back to the Soviet era,” he said. “We now have to see with our lawyers how to get support for that,” he said after Saturday’s vote.
The return of the émigré archdiocese would be a victory for the Moscow Patriarchate, which has been using its size and political influence to challenge the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the official “first among equals” among the 14 national or regional Orthodox churches.
Eastern - Orthodox - Churches - Roman - Catholic
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