Moscow Patriarchate Clarifies its Position on Orthodoxy in America

December 14, 2009

“The following letter translated from the Russian dated November 13, 2009 was received at the OCL Office via fax November 16.  It is addressed to former OCL President Peter Petkas.  It is from the Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod, Department for External Church Relations, Danilov Monastery. The letter relates to the recently published **Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad A Great Council of the Church — When and Why.**  Editors note.”

“Dear Mr. Petkas,

On behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, I would like to thank you for the series of essay[s] devoted to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church, since the 1961 Rhodes Meeting has been a permanent participant in the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences.  The latest, 4th Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference was devoted to the diaspora, and the
Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission to meet in December 2009 will consider the problems of autonomy and autocephaly.

The vision of the future of Orthodoxy in America you have presented is consonant in many ways with the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on this matter.  We in the Russian Orthodox Church are well aware of the specifics of Orthodox presence in America conditioned by the cultural, political and ethnic peculiarities of the region.  As far back as the early 20th century, St. Tikhon, a future Patriarch of Moscow who for ten years headed the first Orthodox diocese in North America which took pastoral care of various ethnic groups, saw sufficient reasons for granting it an autonomous status.  In 1970, the Russian Orthodox Church deemed it timely to grant the (autocephalous) status to its metropolia in North America.  In this way, it continued the cause of St. Tikhon for building an independent church structure in the North American continent to be based on local rather than ethnic principle[s].

I would like to wish you good health and spiritual and physical strength in your service of the unity of Orthodoxy in America.

Archpriest Nikolay Balashov
Department for External Church Relations
Moscow Patriarchate

[Re-typed from  the December 2009 Orthodox Christian Laity newsletter,  vol. 5, Number 2]


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