The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Church of St Zinaida the Martyr in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, as part of the Days of Russian Spiritual Culture in Latin America, performed the service in the only Russian church in that city, dedicated to St Zinaida the Martyr, belonging to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Parish marked its feast day on Saturday.
Also participating in the divine service were His Eminence Metropolitan Platon of Argentina and South America (Moscow Patriarchate) and other bishops and clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church. A number of Russian Orthodox Christians from the various waves of emigration were in attendance.
Metropolitan Hilarion hopes that the Days of Russian Spiritual Culture will help “return to the fold of the Church” the parishes which did not accept unity with the Moscow Patriarchate and departed into schism.
"I do not think that they will come back right away, but this should prepare the way for future reconciliation,” said the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia during an interview with RIA Novosti.
The Russian Church Abroad had seven parishes in Brazil, with up to a hundred persons in each, and each of them left the jurisdiction of ROCOR after the signing by the late Metropolitan Laurus of the Act of Canonical Communion in May, 2007.
"They went into schism, I believe, because people in Latin America still hold onto the old perception of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, and were poorly informed of the real situation of the Church there. Disinformation was also broadly disseminated,” said His Eminence.
A few months ago, Vladyka Hilarion made a special trip to South America and met with the priests who departed into schism. “Some wished to receive information on church life in Russia. So we hope that the Days of Russian Culture will change the situation for the better,” said the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Metropolitan Hilarion pointed out that the Moscow delegation brought a great holy icon with them to Latin America, the “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God, and talked about its history. “The icon was discovered in 1917, on the very day when Russia lost her Tsar. In this way, the Mother of God let all Russian Orthodox Christians know that She took upon Herself the care for the Russian land and her people. And despite the horrible persecutions upon the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland, she [the Church] survived,” said His Eminence.
The main goal of this visit to Brazil, he continued “is to witness church unity,” giving the parishioners the chance to acquaint themselves with the archpastors, to hear “the wondrous singing of the Sretensky Monastery Choir of Moscow, to transform, inspire, and instill hope that difficulties and divisions may be overcome.”
"The Russian Orthodox Church lives, she is growing, she is strong, she can help us a great deal, she can support and unify the Russian emigration spiritually and culturally,” added Vladyka Metropolitan.
The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church also called upon the Russian-speaking population of Brazil to pray for the return of the schismatics who rejected the reestablishment of unity between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate.
"If some of our brethren still hesitate and doubt, and do not accept unity, we must pray for them. We believe that their error is temporary, and our prayer can overcome division,” said Metropolitan Platon after a joint service with Metropolitan Hilarion at the Church of St Zinaida.
In his words, the faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad lived for many years in common prayer and in common hope for the rebirth of Russia. “On one side of the borders there were martyrs and confessors who suffered persecution for the faith in the Fatherland. The émigrés,” said Metropolitan Platon, “lived with the hope that the Lord would have mercy. Their prayers were heard.”
"Now we are in the bosom of one Church, under one patriarch, glorifying the Glorious Name of God in these distant lands. We finally met in one prayer, one Eucharist, one understanding of the challenges of the Church,” said the hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate.