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NEW YORK: December 8, 2020
Statement from the Chancery of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad on the televised report on Archangel Michael Church in Cannes

The broadcast report by Vesti Nedeli on the Rossiya1 channel on 30 November, 2020, (https://vesti7.ru/article/2491964/episode/29-11-2020/), dedicated to the Russian Church of Archangel Michael in Cannes, France, involved a broad circle of officials and individuals, many historical facts and legal positions were brought forth, which sought to garner the respect and trust of its audience, yet contained many serious inaccuracies and omissions which complicate the matter:

The program outlined the history of the church but failed to mention that for a century the church has been in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), as attested to by municipal archives of the early 20th century. The Act of Canonical Communion signed in 2007 between Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate also recognizes the rights of ROCOR, and so the ownership of this church cannot be simply transferred without the consent and approval of ROCORs Synod of Bishops. The participation in and rights to this church in Cannes of the Russian Church Abroad is also specified in official responses by high officials of the Russian government, in particular in responses by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to the hierarchy of ROCOR. It is strange, therefore, that representatives of the Russian Church Abroad, an inseparable active participant in the problems of the church, were not consulted for this report.

The Russian Church Abroad continues to exert significant financial and administrative efforts towards resolving the complicated problems of the Cannes church. Since 2016, we have also proposed to the Russian authorities a series of concrete practical measures, and await from Russia its participation in saving this unique spiritual and cultural Russian legacy of the Cote dAzur. Especially important is to note the help and efforts of members of the central administration of the Russian MFA, the Russian Consulates General in Marseille and in Ville-Franche.

The televised report created the impression that the Cannes church has somehow met its doom. In 2013, a group of schismatics headed by Mr. Jancen, who is interviewed in the program, took full control of all of the parish property, including the church, its territory, the parish house and other buildings. The Orthodox clergymen and parishioners were no longer allowed to continue to serve and pray in their home church. The large Parish of Archangel Michael under the lead of Priest Antony Odaysky, which is under the direct authority of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of ROCOR, was therefore forced to leave its historic temple and begin to rent a municipal church of Saint-Roch in the center of the city to continue regular divine services. The Russian church was lost, but the large, multi-national parish was preserved and is growinga manifestation of the Biblical truth: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). Last year, His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan led 125th-anniversary celebrations of Archangel Michael Parish at the Church of Saint-Roch, sent by the First Hierarch to spiritually support his parish and share the joy of the anniversary (http://www.pravoslavie.ru/125920.html), an event reported on by a London studio:

Sadly, the Russian parishs serious tribulation in Cannes and its proper resolution were not mentioned in the present broadcast by Russias central news agency.

Yet a great deal of attention was paid to two persons who are directly bound to the catastrophe of the Cannes Churchthe aforementioned Mr. Jancen, under whom the parish house was transformed into his personal hotel; and another individualthe Monk Serafim (Baranchikov), defrocked for profound violations of the Christian way of life, who no longer has any connection with the Cannes church (http://www.stmichelcannes.fr/component/content/article/48-statii/142-ukaz-o-lishenii-sana-serafima), but is outrageously presented as some kind of clergyman of the church. We hope that this was simply a blunder committed in the course of a large news production effort and not an intentional effort to support two odious characters.

We would hope that Russian television and other news outlets will pay due attention to the inseparable role, the importance and activity of the Russian Church Abroad in relieving the great calamity of Archangel Michael Church in Cannes. The ROCOR, despite all difficulties and obstacles, will not cease to work towards emancipating the Russian religious and cultural legacy in Cannes, the magnificent Archangel Michael Church.


 

 
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