Cannot Remain Silent After Such Statements—
This Will Turn Our Flock Against the Ongoing Talks."
Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, President of the Committee
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on Discussions
with the Moscow Patriarchate, Reacts to the Statement Made by His
Holiness Patriarch Alexy During a Meeting with Palestinian Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
As reported by the official websites in Russia, while on a trip
to Russia on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas visited
Danilov Monastery in Moscow, where he met with His Holiness Patriarch
Alexy of Moscow and All Russia. Over the course of their conversation,
His Holiness the Patriarch expressed gratitude to the leadership
of the Palestinian Autonomy for transferring to the Russian Ecclesiastical
Mission of the Moscow Patriarchate church property in Hebron and
Jericho, which had been preserved and protected for many years by
the Russian Church Abroad. In 1997, representatives of the Palestinian
Authority forcibly ejected monks and nuns belonging to the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from Holy Trinity Monastery in
Hebron (who had been collecting fruits there that day) and turned
it over to the Moscow Patriarchate. In January 2000, on the day
of St Seraphim of Sarov, soon after the celebration of the 2000th
year of the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem, monastics (mainly those
who had been ejected from Hebron in 1997) were arrested by Palestinian
forces, again with the use of physical force, at the premises of
the Russian Church Abroad in Jericho, which was then turned over
to the Moscow Patriarchate. "I presume that the time has come
when it is legally necessary to secure this property in the name
of the Mission (of the ROC/MP—ed.)," stated His Holiness Patriarch
The members of the Committee of the discussions with the Moscow
Patriarchate had expected that the Moscow Patriarchate, as a symbol
of peacemaking, would return at least one of the properties seized
unlawfully in the Holy Land, which would be a noble gesture on the
part of the ROC/MP and would heal the most recent wound on the Body
of the Russian Church. For this reason, the statement made by the
Moscow Patriarchate elicited a protest on the part of the President
of the Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The request made by the Moscow Patriarchate is even more stunning
since, as far as it is known, the ROC/MP has not yet succeeded in
formalizing the legal ownership of church property either in Russia
or in Israel or in lands controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
am very disappointed," stated Archbishop Mark of Berlin and
Germany to Kommersant correspondent Pavel Korobov, "For
at the beginning of the process a declaration was made that we must
refrain from any actions and statements that could insult the other
side. And this is precisely such an action. We cannot remain silent
to such a statement—this will turn our entire flock against the
talks," added His Eminence Archbishop Mark. "But if this
is a misunderstanding, a corresponding statement should be issued."
recently," continued Archbishop Mark, "the Moscow Patriarchate
expressed its opinion that one must re-ordain all our priests in
Russia. But not one of our bishops would agree to this. Sometimes
I ask myself, maybe this is someone's attempt to sabotage the process
In a recent interview given to NG-Religiya, Archbishop
Mark noted: "There are such fears [within the flock of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia—ed.] regarding property.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, during a
meeting with us in May of this year, in the presence of His Holiness
Patriarch Alexy II and of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, unequivocally
spoke out on this topic, stressing that neither the Russian Government
nor the ROC/MP will make any claims on the property of the Church
Abroad. Still, many are not convinced! It is necessary that steps
be taken to ensure such trust."
Press Service of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.