GENEVA: December 10, 2017
4th Epistle of the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad to the Clergy and Flock of Elevation of the Cross Cathedral in Geneva
Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters:
On this feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign,” I express heartfelt greetings to all of you, wishing you the heavenly aid and protection of the Most-Blessed Virgin Mother of God. We pray today before this great icon for our flock in Western Europe.
Having returned safely from Moscow, I hasten to appeal to you, my dear fathers, brothers and sisters. Having convened in an expanded session during the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Patriarchate in Russia, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia exhaustively examined the situation in Elevation of the Cross Cathedral in Geneva, and listened to the reports of the bishops’ committee and Archbishop Michael himself. Having deliberated on all aspects of the situation, the bishops of the council deemed that for the sake of ecclesial peace, to leave the Western European Diocese under the omophorion of the President of the Synod of Bishops, and appoint Archbishop Michael as Vicar Bishop with the title “Archbishop of Meudon.” This decision lays the foundation for reestablishment of peace and the commencement of a new period in the life of the Western European Diocese.
His Eminence Archbishop Michael will now serve as Vicar in Meudon near Paris, a flourishing parish with a rich history and Liturgical life which will appropriately support him as an archpastor of the Church. In the meantime, the President of the Synod of Bishops and the one who will in time be appointed to head the Western European Diocese will help the cathedral in Geneva and the diocese to move ahead, building and strengthening its future. This decision, adopted in concert with the good will of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, bolsters the hope among the bishops that the hostility between several members of the parish of the cathedral will come to an end. Such sorrowful actions as turning to the mass media and to lawyers, the gathering of signatures, etc, must immediately cease in accordance with the Holy Canons and traditions of the Church. What transpired was a great temptation to all, and many tribulations lie ahead, but the time has come to move forward as a single Body of the Church, as one family, overcoming differences and working towards strengthening of diocesan life in the spirit of love, all-forgiveness and mutual respect. Therefore, I call upon all parishioners and worshipers: put an end to divisions and animosity. The Synod of Bishops took a firm decision based on Christian love towards both our brother and to the cathedral. Periods of transition are always filled with problems and complications, but we are certain in the need for this decision, made unanimously by all the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad who participated in the recent Council of Bishops. We are happy that the committee that is introducing amendments to the regulations of the cathedral parish and the Society of the Russian Church in Geneva has already shared with us their first efforts. If God grants, a new path will soon be opened to convene a general parish meeting of Elevation of the Holy Cross Cathedral.
That is why I humbly ask the clergymen, parishioners and worshipers of the parishes of the Western European Diocese to receive this decision as an expression of the will of the Church of Christ, in love and obedience to heed Her voice and work together to ensure the peaceful and blessed future of our diocese, and may the Lord bless us in this. Amen.
With love in Christ,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York ,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.