Communiqué No. 01-09 of the Council of the Archdiocese
Meeting of 4 February 2009
The Council of the Archdiocese met on 4 February 2009, with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel in the chair. Among the topics discussed were:
1. Election of the Patriarch of Moscow. His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, locum tenens of the patriarchal throne of Moscow, was elected Patriarch of Moscow on 27 January 2009, by a plenary council of the Russian Orthodox Church. His enthronement took place on 1 February. On 28 January, His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel sent a personal message of congratulation to the newly elected Patriarch.
The Council of the Archdiocese regretted that, in spite of the eucharistic and spiritual unity that binds us in the faith and in communion, there are still today a number of points of conflict between the Archdiocese and the Patriarchate of Moscow. It hoped that the next stage of the preparatory process for the Pan-Orthodox holy and great council, accepted in principle during the meeting of Primates of the local Orthodox Churches last October, on the initiative of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and with the agreement of the departed Patriarch of Moscow Alexis II, and the present Patriarch Kirill I, would enable a solution that conforms to Orthodox ecclesiology to be found to the question of the canonical organisation of the ‘diaspora’.
2. Great Britain. The Council of the Archdiocese took note of the letter issued from the Treasury Solicitor’s office on behalf of the British Attorney General concerning the assets and properties of the Ennismore Gardens Cathedral. The Council expressed its complete support for the search for an equitable solution, and unanimously adopted a resolution to this end.
3. Nice. The Council of the Archdiocese took note of the strong and recurrent outside pressures brought to bear on the national and local political authorities, as well as on various departments of the French Government, in order that an ‘amiable’ settlement might be found in the litigation between the Russian Federation and the Orthodox Community of Russian Tradition in Nice, concerning the ownership of the cathedral of St Nicholas in Nice. The proposed settlement would be based on the assumption that the cathedral in question is the property of the Russian state, which has not been demonstrated at all, and which is precisely the issue at stake in the litigation. To impose such an assumption as the point of departure in looking for an ‘amiable’ settlement is, in the opinion of the Council, completely unacceptable. The council also strongly expressed its consternation and disapproval of any attempt to interfere in the course of a judicial procedure.
4. Plans for the St Sergius Foundation. The plans for the St Sergius Foundation are under constant surveillance, and other solutions have been explored. An informative meeting bringing together the teachers of the St Sergius Institute, the members of the ITO and the trustees of AMEITO, as will as the Diocesan Administration, would have to take place in order to establish the state of progress. The economic crisis makes it more difficult to find sources of investment, while the financial situation of the Institute proves more and more precarious.
5. Life of the parishes and communities. As proposed by Archbishop Gabriel, the Council approved the establishment of a community at St Brieuc (Côtes d’Armor). Liturgical celebrations will be made possible by Archimandrite Symeon and Father Maxim Le Diraison.
6. Parishes and clergy.
Reader Denis Baïkov, having been ordained subdeacon, was ordained deacon by Archbishop Gabriel on 6 December 2008, in the St Alexander Nevsky Cathderal, and priest on 14 December in the church of St Sergius in Paris. He will carry out his pastoral ministry in Italy, as an itinerant priest for the scattered communities of Russian speaking faithful there.
Deacon René (Joseph) Fouilleul was ordained priest by Archbishop Gabriel on Sunday 21 December, in the Cathedral of St Nicholas, in Nice. He has charge of the new community of the Holy Cross and St Helen at Montpelier (Hérault) (cf. Communiqué 11-08).
Philip Turner, having been made reader and subdeacon, was ordained deacon by Archbishop Gabriel on 4 January 2009, in the church of the holy prophet Elias, at Sint-Hubert (Pays-Bas). He will be attached to the same church.
7. Conference in memory of Father Alexander Schmemann. The international conference organised jointly with the St Sergius Institute, ACER-MJO, Syndesmos and the Archdiocese on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Father Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), from 11 to 13 December, together with the diocesan conference on 14 December, was unanimously considered an unqualified success. More than three hundred people, including several theologians invited from abroad, took part in very high quality proceedings both in terms of the papers given and the discussions that followed. Archbishop Gabriel and the Council of the Archdiocese warmly thanked the organisers of the conference, all the speakers, and the administrative staff and students of the St Sergius Institute for their help and their hospitality.
8. Pastoral assembly and Diocesan Conference. The annual diocesan conference will take place in the afternoon of Wednesday 11 November 2009, at the St Sergius Institute, and will be devoted to the life and work of Metropolitan Vladimir (1873-1959) the fiftieth anniversary of whose death falls in December 2009. The diocesan conference will be preceded on Tuesday 10 November, in the evening, and on the morning of 11 November, by a pastoral assembly with the theme: ‘The recruitment and formation of priests and deacons’.
Appendix. Declaration by the Council of the Archdiocese
Whereas members and friends of the Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland, following an appeal on 9 December 2008, have within four weeks raised more than £60,000 to enable legal representatives of the Parish and Diocesan Trustees to be present at the forthcoming Court Hearing in London on the 16February 2009 to assist the Court, support Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain and Bishop Basil of Amphipolis and the three lay witnesses, and answer questions as required;
Whereas in a letter of the 14 January 2009 the office of the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, without providing the reasons (which should have been included and will in any case have to be put before the Court), has expressed the opinion that the adherents of the Moscow Patriarchate should control and benefit from the two Trusts;
The Council of the Archidiocese thanks all those who contributed to the appeal for their generosity; fully endorses and supports the actions undertaken to date by Bishop Basil of Amphipolis and the Holding Trustees of the 2 Trusts and strongly recommends that the Episcopal Vicariate continue to seek a just settlement and an equitable division of assets