May 14 2004

Press Statement by the Delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus

In response to the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and of President V.V. Putin of the Russian Federation, a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia headed by its First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, has arrived in Moscow. The aim of this visit is to become acquainted with the life of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to meet with its President, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia and with members of the Holy Synod.

Over the 80 years of independent existence outside the borders of the Fatherland, the Russian Church Abroad preserved the traditions and mores which, by God's will, allowed her not only to keep herself in the heterodox world, losing none of her Orthodox legacy, but also to pass along to several generations of Russian people the undamaged treasure of the Orthodox Faith as the ideal of Holy Rus'. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was and continues to be to this day a unifying force for the majority of Russian Orthodox faithful, not only for those who were born in the Fatherland and were forced to flee it, but for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren born abroad. It would seem that this service of the Russian Church Abroad should continue in light of the spiritual experience it has garnered, an experience unique in the world, and also the practical experience of Church life. One cannot but recall that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia declared to the whole world the truth about the suffering of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland under the yoke of the atheist state and the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Faith of Christ in Russia.

Our delegation will make pilgrimages to only a few of the shrines of the fatherland, since the brief period of our visit here will make it impossible to embrace even a small part of the holy sites of Russia. We also plan to visit Kursk, whence comes the oldest holy icon of the Russian Church, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, and is also the birthplace of St. Seraphim of Sarov. In addition, the delegation plans to visit Ekaterinburg, where the last Russian Tsar and His August Family were martyred.

The changes occurring in recent years on the land of Historical Russia, and, first of all, those that concern the life of the Church, for which we have always prayed and hoped, give basis for optimism that the visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus will prove beneficial and will aid in the beginning of the process of establishing normal relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Church in the Fatherland.