TOBOL'SK: June 16, 2004

The First Meeting of the Diocesan Heads of the ROC and ROCOR Held in Tobol'sk

The first meeting of the diocesan heads of the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in Tobolsk--Archbishop Dimitrii of Tobol'sk and Tyumen' and Bishop Evtikhii of Ishim and Siberia, the latter representing the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The meeting took place at the initiative of the main federal inspector for the Tyumen' area, Sergei Smetaniuk. During the meeting in Tobol'sk, Archbishop Dimitrii and Bishop Evtikhii noted that before both branches of the Russian Orthodox Church there stands a common problem--the spiritual revival of the people. "We do not have contradictions in our relations with parishioners, together we should unite our efforts in our aspiration to keep for our descendants the great historical and a cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia. The clergy must achieve this great and scrupulous task in order to achieve prayerful, canonical, and structural unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, but already the first steps on the path to unification have proven that this is the only correct decision, which has been supported by millions of parishioners in Russia and abroad," noted Vladyka Dimitrii.

Sergei Smetaniuk, Archbishop Dimitrii and Bishop Evtikhii visited Abalaksky Monastery and held a meeting with parishioners. At its conclusion, Vladyka Dimitrii invited the visitors to a moleben in Sofiisko-Uspenskii Cathedral.

As Sergei Smetaniuk noted, unification is an internal matter of the Church, and the state has no right to interfere with this process. "But we shall welcome in every possible way the striving of our bishops toward dialog, as it has great significance for the spiritual-moral development of society. Today parishioners witnessed the joint prayer of the ruling bishops of two dioceses; it is a very joyous fact, for in the consciousness of the people the Russian Orthodox Church always has been and remains one.