Communiqué No. 12-08 of the Council of the Archdioces

Meeting of 10 December 2008

The Council of the Archdiocese met on 10 December 2008, with His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel in the chair. Among the topics discussed were :

1.Visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Archbishop Gabriel reported to the Council on the visit made by a delegation from the Archdiocese to the Phanar from 19 to 21 November. Archbishop Gabriel headed the delegation and was accompanied by Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, Archimandrite Symeon, Archpriest Alexander Fostiropoulos and Michel Sollogoub.

During the visit, the delegation had an audience with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as a working meeting with the Commission for Dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate outside Turkey, where they presented a report on the life of the Diocese in 2008. On 21 November, on the occasion of the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple (New Calendar), Archbishop Gabriel concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and members of the Holy Synod in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Istanbul.

Archbishop Gabriel and the other members of the delegation were very pleased with the friendly atmosphere of mutual understanding that prevailed at the various meetings. His All Holiness the Patriarch expressed his full support for the Diocese, and blessed the work of Archbishop Gabriel and his Council.

2. Death of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow. Archbishop Gabriel informed the Council of the passing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow on 5 December, and the immediate action he had taken to announce the death. Messages of condolence were sent to His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, as well as to His Eminence Archbishop Innokentii of Korsun. A panikhida was celebrated by Archbishop Gabriel in the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky on the same day, after the Vigil. His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia - Patriarchate of Moscow) concelebrated with him. Archbishop Gabriel also presided at a second panikhida in the cathedral on Saturday, 6 December, after the Vigil. He also gave his blessing for the celebration of panikhidas in the other churches of the Archdiocese, especially the Cathedral of St Nicholas, Nice.

Archbishop Gabriel also informed the Council that the funeral of the late Patriarch Alexis II had taken place the previous day, 9 December, under the presidency of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who had travelled especially to Moscow for this purpose.

Finally, Archbishop Gabriel recalled that he had had the privilege and joy to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II, during the commemoration of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ in Kiev on 27 July, and to exchange a few words with him in German during the official reception which followed that celebration.

3. Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. On 25 November 2008 Archbishop Gabriel received at his residence in rue Daru, Paris, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Patriarchate of Moscow), at the latter’s request. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion was accompanied during the meeting by His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and by his personal secretary, Archpriest Seraphim Gan.

During the meeting, which followed a brief visit to the cathedral, Metropolitan Hilarion described to Archbishop Gabriel the situation of his ecclesial body after the re-establishment of canonical communion with the Patriarchate of Moscow. The two bishops exchanged their views on its implications for the general ecclesial situation in the Orthodox ‘diaspora’, and especially in Western Europe. They agreed to work together with mutual respect and the recognition of their respective ecclesial entities.

On 5 and 6 December, on the occasion of the Feast of St Alexander Nevsky, Archbishop Gabriel invited Archbishop Michael of Geneva to concelebrate with him the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy for the patronal feast of the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky, Paris. Archbishop Michael was accompanied by three clergy from his diocese, and had brought with him for the occasion the miracle working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. After the celebration an exchange of speeches took place by the two bishops, and the clergy present were then invited for a fraternal meal provided by the cathedral parish.

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