Sourozh: Statement by Bishop Basil of Sergievo
- 2003.04.21 Sourozh:
Statement by Bishop Basil of Sergievo concerning the open letter of
Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and All Russia
21 April 2003
Dear Clergy of the Diocese,
The importance of the Open Letter of the Patriarch
<http://www.sourozh.org/news/patriarch010403_en.htm>, which you will all by
now have seen, can hardly be overemphasised. His farsighted concern for the
needs of the Russian Church in Britain and in Western Europe opens up for
us new horizons within which to continue our work for the Church and the
Orthodox Faith. Especially important is his recognition of the need for
local autonomy in Western Europe.
The fact that he mentions the Statutes of the Diocese of Sourozh, along
with those of the Archdiocese of Russian Parishes based in Paris, and
specifically refers to the provision they make for the local election of
bishops is very significant. This was introduced by the All-Russian
Council of 1917-18, which has always been the basis for our Statutes, as
it is for the Statutes of the Orthodox Church in America
<http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/documents/Statute/index.htm> and the
Russian parishes under Constantinople as well.
The Patriarch's Letter give us an opportunity to model our Church life
closely on the canons of the Ancient Church, in particular on the 34th
Apostolic Canon, which sets out the relationships that should apply within
It is incumbent upon the bishops of any nation [i.e. region] to know who
is first among them [i.e. the metropolitan] and to recognise him as their
head, and to refrain from doing anything outside their own dioceses
without his advice and approval; but instead, let each of them do only
what is necessitated by his own diocese and the region under him. But let
not even such a one [i.e. the metropolitan] do anything [i.e. other than
manage his own diocese] without the advice and consent and approval of all
[i.e. all the other bishops in the metropolia]. For thus there will be
concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.
This fundamental canon establishes both local autonomy and regional
conciliarity, principles that, ideally, should apply at all levels
throughout the Church.
Thus we can, on the basis of the Patriarch's Letter and the Holy Canons of
the Church, look forward to developing the life of the Russian Church in
Britain and Western Europe and contributing, in a small way, to the
establishment at some future date of a true Local Church embracing all the
Orthodox in Western Europe.
The restoration of unity with the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia
and with the Russian parishes at present under the jurisdiction of
Constantinople will require careful preparation. A period of 'confidence
building' will be required if the project is to succeed. We must therefore
be careful that what we say and do does not cause further problems. A
start has been made, however, and we can only be extremely thankful to the
Patriarch for the opportunity he has given us.
May God grant us all to 'attain to and adore the Holy Resurrection'.
+ Basil, Bishop of Sergievo