June 1, 2004

"We See the Need to Continue the Work of the Two Committees We Created":
Interview of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus with Russkiy Vestnik

1. Your Eminence, it is known that you visited Russia more than once. Now this is your first official visit to Russia in your capacity as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. What are your feelings with regard to this visit to Russia?

I was pleased and joyful that I could openly visit the holy places. Before it was different, I had to come quietly, venerate the holy relics and leave. Now everything is different. I could not imagine how much I would see and feel, how I would be a witness of such unforgettable events. During the consecration of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, built in honor of the 1000th anniversary of the baptism of Russia, there were a great many people, everything was performed with great solemnity. But particularly exciting was the participation of our delegation in the ceremony of the laying of the foundation of the church in honor of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Butovo, where divine liturgy was served by Patriarch Alexy II with a host of bishops and priests.

2. Your visit is one of the first steps on the path to the possible unification of the Churches. What meaning could this process have for ROCOR?

Our Church Abroad waited for long years in the hope that the time would come when we could reunite and be together in Russia, with the Russian people, that we would pray together, serve together. But it did not happen. We did not live in peace, we spoke out with accusations against each other. But recently, stronger and stronger voices were heard within the bosom of the Church Abroad on the need for some kind of action in terms of dialog. The same began to occur in Russia. And so, President V.V. Putin, during his visit to America, passed on an invitation to us from Patriarch Alexy II to visit Russia. Such a step required a response. Maybe it is providential that we came to Russia on the eve of the laying of the foundation of an important church, dedicated to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia on the grounds of the Butovo Polygon, the site of the martyric end of a multitude of clergymen and faithful Orthodox Christians who gave their lives for their faith in Christ.

3. You held discussions with Patriarch Alexy II. Were the goals set for the delegation of ROCOR achieved? What were your impressions of your conversations with His Holiness? What concrete steps could be taken in the future?

Our conversations, our participation in divine services, our acquaintance with monastery and parish life all made a very good impression on us. We have seen the need to continue the work of the two committees we created. Each of them can, at their own meetings, discuss those problems which arise over the course of negotiations, then they will have joint sessions for working out mutual statements. These statements will be discussed at sessions of the Synods and Councils. It is possible that our Church will then convene an All-Diaspora Council. I do not exclude the possibility that the Moscow Patriarchate will hold an All-Russian Council. After this, if need be, a joint All-Russian Council can be held.

Copyright 2001 "Russkiy Vestnik"