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Interesting Address by an MP Bishop

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Welcome address by Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Union and administrator of the diocese
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2003
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      Welcome address by Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria,
      Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Union and
      administrator of the diocese of Budapest and Hungary,
      To Mr I. S. Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

      On the occasion of his visit to the Cathedral of the Dormition of the
      Mother of God in Budapest on July 2, 2003

      Your Excellency, Most Respected Igor Sergeevich!

      May I warmly welcome you to this holy church on behalf of myself, my
      predecessor Archbishop Paul, who is present here today, as well as the
      clergy and faithful of the Hungarian diocese of the Russian Orthodox

      Today is not your first visit to our Cathedral, and we are deeply thankful
      to you for your heartfelt and sincere attention to this parish. The
      Eucharistic vessels that you donated to this church during your last visit
      remind us of our duty to pray for the authorities and people of the
      Russian Federation just as we pray daily for the authorities and people of

      We are sincerely thankful to Mr V. L. Musatov, the Ambassador of the
      Russian Federation in the Republic of Hungary, in whose person we have not
      only a government official who helps us solve various problems, but also a
      sympathetic and sensitive leader who worthily represents Russia in this
      European country.

      The Russian Orthodox Church is not only the Church of Russia. Her faithful
      include also Orthodox believers from Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova as well
      as the countries of the Baltic region and Central Asia. Dioceses and
      parishes of the Russian Church exist also in countries of the European
      Union and outside of Europe.

      The Russian Church unites believers not according to their ethnicity, but
      according to their faith. Here in Hungary our parishioners are Hungarians,
      Russians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Georgians and people of many
      other nationalities. The services in our cathedral are conducted in
      Hungarian, Greek and Slavonic. Our church is open to all, both to those
      who were born and raised in Hungary as well as those who have made this
      country their second home.

      The Dormition cathedral was built in the 18th century by the joint efforts
      of Hungarians, Greeks and Moldo-Wallachians. It was under the jurisdiction
      of the Serbian Orthodox Church until 1949, when it was accepted into the
      Russian Church. This change of jurisdiction helped it not only to survive
      in a difficult and tragic period of official atheism, but also to rise to
      a new level thanks to His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I and the Holy Synod,
      who gave their blessing to use the Hungarian language during services.
      This historical decision predestined the fate of the cathedral and other
      churches of the Hungarian diocese which, at present, have essentially
      become the national Orthodox Church of Hungary. Thus, when the Orthodox
      community had to choose an ecclesiastical jurisdiction in 1991 after the
      fall of the communist regime, it unanimously decided to remain within the
      Moscow Patriarchate.

      The life of the cathedral community is characterized by its vivacity and
      fullness. All of its clergy are native Hungarians, and every Sunday the
      church is filled with hundreds of believers. Sunday school and catechism
      classes are held in Hungarian, and a library has been opened that contains
      a large number of theological and historical books in Hungarian, Greek and
      Russian. There are also many young people in the church. Favorable
      political conditions in contemporary Hungary facilitate the flourishing of
      the Orthodox community, which carries out its service in close contact
      with the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian confessions.

      Unfortunately, during the last few years, the cathedral of the Dormition
      has become the target of unsubstantiated claims from the Patriarchate of
      Constantinople. Justifying their position by an arbitrary interpretation
      of the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which gives the bishop of
      "New Rome" the right to ordain bishops for the "barbarous lands", the
      Patriarchate of Constantinople has filed a lawsuit with the intention of
      taking away this church, which it never owned, from our Hungarian Orthodox
      diocese. In doing so, they did not take into account the fact that Hungary
      is by no means a "barbarous land", but a country with an extremely rich
      history, where Christianity has been preached over the course of many

      We have no doubt that the Hungarian court will make an objective and just
      decision based exclusively on facts and documents, and not on unfounded
      and empty pretensions. We have no doubt that a country readying itself for
      joining the European Union will not allow Orthodox Hungarians to end up on
      the street in their own country.

      I would like, however, to stress the fact that this matter does not just
      concern church property and the fate of a single parish which some people
      are trying to divide. The question is about the future of Orthodoxy here
      in Hungary.

      Today we are faced with two radically different approaches to church life.
      For the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the entire world, with the
      exception of traditionally Orthodox countries such as Greece and Russia,
      is seen as a diaspora, the "barbarous lands" for which Orthodoxy is
      something foreign. Many parishes of this Patriarchate in Europe have an
      overwhelmingly ethnic character, and services in them are held only in
      Greek. The Russian Church, on the contrary, believes that each country and
      people have the right to have their own Orthodox Church in which the
      faithful can hear the services in their native tongue.

      Moreover, we believe that local Churches have the right to become
      independent and to administer themselves. This is why the Russian
      metropolia in North America was reorganized as the autocephalous Orthodox
      Church in America, and the Russian Metropolia in Japan ? as the autonomous
      Japanese Orthodox Church. For the same reasons, His Holiness the Patriarch
      Alexis II of Moscow and all Russia proposed three months ago the creation
      of an autonomous metropolia in Europe, which would lay the foundation for
      a future Orthodox Church of Western Europe.

      The maintaining of Church unity always was and remains one of the top
      priorities of the Russian Orthodox Church. We regard with pain the
      attempts to divide this church community and create a spirit of
      confrontation and opposition. These attempts can only be a stumbling block
      for believers and cause significant damage to the work of Christian
      witness in the secular world, which expects from us examples of love and
      unity, not conflicts and divisions.

      We hope that these difficult times for our community will end soon, and
      that it will be able to carry out its mission in this country without
      hindrance, just as before. Our hope is strengthened by the intercessions
      of the Most Holy Mother of God, in whose honor this holy church was built.

      In conclusion, may I wish you, dear Igor Sergeevich, God's help in your
      responsible and difficult work. May the Lord bless your labors, and may
      the Most Holy Mother of God keep you under Her protection.
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