Russian Orthodox Church Abroad sought to have its existing autonomy recognised by the Moscow patriarchate: 'recognised', not 'granted', since the latter would involve some recognition of the Moscow patriarchate as its 'mother-church'.34
There was another issue that the Church Abroad wished to discuss with the Moscow patriarchate. This revolved around relations with non-Orthodox communities and with inter-confessional organisations. It was agreed at the outset that such relations should correspond to the traditions of the church.35 However, the Church Abroad had always taken a negative view of such relations: it regarded ecumenism as a betrayal of Orthodoxy and its presuppositions as heretical.36 It profoundly disapproved of the participation of the Moscow patriarchate in the ecumenical movement. This the Soviet authorities encouraged for reasons of their own. Only with the end of Soviet rule and the consequent scaling down of Moscow's ecumenical commitments could the question of relations with other Christian communities be properly addressed.
By contrast, Evlogii's diocese had maintained a positive stance from the start. At the consecration in 1924 of the church which was to serve as the diaspora's theological institute in Paris, he expressed his aspirations in no uncertain terms. Not only did he hope that this church would serve as a meeting place for Russians in their hour of need: 'I would also wish that our foreign friends, who represent western Christianity, should find their way to this community...Maythischurchbeaplacewhere everyone may grow closer together, [a place] where all Christians may share fraternal love.'37 This involved more than taking part in ecumenical debates, important though this was in decades when the diaspora was able to provide the west with unprecedented contact with the Christian east. Field work, in the sense of sharing in the worship of the other, vouchsafed insights to participants in either family of churches. Fr Sergii Bulgakov introduced such worship in the context of the Faith and Order movement from the 1920s. Others in Evlogii's jurisdiction, such as Nicolas Zernov, argued for its central role in the ecumenical gatherings of such newly founded bodies as the fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius
34 Archbishop Mark Arndt, quoted in RusskaiaMysl' 21 (4506), 27 May to 2 June 2004,11.
35 Agenda of the joint commission of the two churches (2003), summarised in Russkaia Mysl' 21 (4506), 27 May to 2 June 2004,11.
36 Anathema by the bishops of the Church Abroad (1983) in The struggle against ecumenism (Boston: The Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 1998), 132-3.
37 Evlogii, Put' moei zhizni, 444.
Was this article helpful?