Communiqué No 16-06 of the Council of the Archdiocese

The Council of the Archdiocese met on 6 September with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel in the chair.

Questions addressed included :

  1. The Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland.

    His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel reported on the two pastoral visits he made during the summer : to the Oxford parish on 29-30 July ; and to the parish in Nottingham on 27 August, and again to Oxford on 28 August (Feast of the Dormition according to the Old-style Calendar). He had presided at the liturgical celebrations and met with clergy and the faithful. On the whole, there had been a warm welcome, and contacts had been positive. In the near future Archbishop Gabriel will preside at a pastoral meeting of the clergy of the Vicariate.

    Archbishop Gabriel also met in London with His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira, head of the Greek Archdiocese of Great Britain, with whom he touched upon a number of matters that were still unresolved.

    His Grace Bishop Basil then gave a progress report on the actual situation of the Vicariate as much from the ecclesial and pastoral point of view as from the administrative and legal one. Regarding the clergy, ten priests and six deacons have chosen to stay with Bishop Basil, and by decree of the Archbishop they have been incorporated among the clergy of the Archdiocese within the framework of the Vicariate. These are : Fathers Alexander Fostiropoulos, David Hill, Patrick Hodson, Edwin Hunt, John Lee, John Marks, Patrick Radley, Alexander Williams, Nicanor Wilkins, Seraphim Vänttinen-Newton, Protodeacon Peter Scorer, and Deacons Stephan Maikovsky, John Musther, Alexei Nesteruk, Ian Thompson and Ian Wallis. A new deacon, Constantine Litvinenko, was ordained in June. Bishop Basil indicated that, in conformity with British legal practice as regards charities, an attempt was being made to establish informal negotiations with those responsible for the Diocese of Sourozh regarding various legal points, but at present there had been no response.

    Archbishop Gabriel presented the list of parishes and communities who had chosen to be part of the Vicariate. The Council of the Archdiocese responded favourably to the acceptance of these parishes and communities within our diocese. There are seven parishes (Clapham/South London, Devon, Lewes, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Walsingham), and seven communities (Canterbury, Chesterfield, Holborn/Central London, St Albans, Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Plas Geler). Bishop Basil made clear that some of the parishes and communities use the Julian Calendar, and others the Gregorian calendar. The languages used in worship are Church Slavonic and English.

    Finally, Archbishop Gabriel emphasised that it was important to begin to get to know and work with our Orthodox brothers in Great Britain. ‘We have many things in common,’ he said, ‘notably the same pattern of liturgical life, the same type of church singing, the same attachment to the Russian spiritual tradition. It is now necessary to move into the future, to build and develop the Vicariate. We must form contacts between the parishes on the continent and those in the British Isles. Archbishop Gabriel also insisted on the necessity of respect for the other, for those who were not able to be in agreement with recent events, especially in those parishes who were experiencing conflictual situations.

  2. Biarritz. Parish life had followed its normal course during the summer months. From now on a priest will be there permanently to ensure a regular cycle of liturgical celebrations. The atmosphere has calmed down, and some parishioners who had kept away were returning to the church. It was nevertheless appropriate to deplore the repeated legal action taken during the summer. The Moscow Patriarch had in effect decided to join in the appeal brought by the previous rector against ‘The Russian Orthodox Religious Association of Biarritz’ (the parish belonging to the Archdiocese) through a kind of ‘voluntary interposition’ undertaken in the person of His Eminence the Archbishop of Korsun.

  3. Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Evlogii. On Saturday 7 October, a Panikhida will be celebrated at 11.00 a.m. on the tomb of Metropolitan Evlogii in the crypt of the Church of the Dormition at the cemetery of Ste-Geneviève-des-Bois. The same day, at 3.00 p.m., a memorial gathering will take place with two talks and an exhibition of photographs and documents at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. During the period October-December 2006 other meetings will take place at parishes in Paris as well as in Nice, Toulouse, Brussels and Deventer (the Netherlands) in particular.

  4. Catechism for new immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe. The course of instruction set up by the Archdiocese in Paris will resume during the second fortnight of October. The catechetical team, under the leadership of Archpriest Vladimir Yagello, hopes to be able to increase its activity to include three separate groups.
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