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On the Joint Work of the Commissions
of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Based upon our common Orthodox belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and upon our faithfulness to the common canonical Tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, and acting in accordance with the instructions formulated over the course of the discussions held under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia in Moscow on May 17-18, 2004, during the visit of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia led by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York, the Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate on discussions with the Russian Church Abroad and the Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, during joint meetings held in Moscow (June 22-24 and November 17-19, 2004), in Munich (September 14-16, 2004) and in Paris (March 2-4, 2005), prepared a series of draft documents subsequently approved by the Hierarchies of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The statements "On the Relationship Between the Church and State" and "On the Attitude of the Orthodox Church Towards the Heterodox and Towards Inter-Confessional Organizations" reflect the common understanding of these questions of principle by both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The drafted "Act on Canonical Communion" determines the canonical status of the historically-formed assemblage of the dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods and institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as an inalienable, self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church, based on grounds similar to those foreseen by the Statutes ["Ustav"] of the Russian Orthodox Church as they apply to Self-Governing Churches on the territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. Upon the enactment of this proposed Act, the fullness of canonical communion within a single Pomestny [Local] Russian Orthodox Church, headed by His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, shall be restored.

According to the draft, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is independent in pastoral, educational, administrative, management, property and civil matters. The supreme authority within the Russian Church Abroad is manifested in her Sobor [Council] of Bishops, convened by her President (the First Hierarch) on the basis of the "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia." In accordance with the canonical order of the Orthodox Church, decisions falling outside the competency of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are made in concord with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. The highest instance of ecclesiastical authority are the Pomestny [Local] and Bishops' Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose decisions, as well as the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, have force in the Russian Church Abroad, taking into account the particularities determined by the "Act on Canonical Communion," the "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia" and the laws of the nations in which it conducts its service. The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are members of the Pomestny and Bishops' Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church and participate in the established order at meetings of the Holy Synod. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia receives its holy myrrh from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

In accordance with the Act on Canonical Communion, certain additions and amendments must be entered into Chapter VII of the Statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church ("Self-Governing Churches"), and also into the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Commissions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia also examined the question of how to view the many official declarations, decisions, epistles and other such documents issued by the First Hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and also by the organs of ecclesiastical authority in the fatherland and abroad over the course of the decades during which canonical communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was absent. Some of these documents contained canonical suspensions or other expressions of canonical rejection of the hierarchies and of the presence of grace in church life on the other side of the division. In connection with this, it is proposed that when the above Act is put into effect, all previous acts which would hinder the fullness of canonical communion are declared invalid.

In addition, on the question of the relationship between the Church and state it becomes clear that the "Basic Social Concept" of the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000, is also accepted by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as a document which faithfully reflects the teachings of the Church regarding her relationship with the state and society. Documents of individual hierarchs and organs of ecclesiastical authority issued in the period of the Church under conditions of totalitarian rule antagonistic to the Church both in the Fatherland and abroad which do not express the true voice of the Church of Christ are deemed no longer valid or not in effect. Having been dictated by extreme circumstances, they cannot be viewed as possessing the ecclesiastical norm. Among the documents recognized as such are, for instance, "Epistle to the Clergy and Flock" (the so-called "Declaration") of 1927 and the Paschal Epistle of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia of 1942.

Further clarifications with regard to the "Epistle to the Clergy and Flock" were given by the Commissions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in their "Commentary" on the Joint Document "On the Relationship between the Church and State."

The Commissions took into account that the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia of November 17, 2004, addressed the so-called "Synod in Resistance" in Greece with a proposal for them to normalize relations with their Local Churches. To date, a positive response to this letter has not been received. However, in a letter from the "Synod in Resistance" dated October 24, 2004, it is stated that actual canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia had already ceased and cannot be restored while the path of peacemaking with the Moscow Patriarchate continues. The final settlement of this question is expected before the enactment of the Act on Canonical Communion.

During the joint sessions, a preliminary examination was made of the matter of the status of clergymen who moved from one jurisdiction to another while under canonical suspension. With the aim of further resolving this problem and presenting proposals to the Hierarchies, a special Sub-commission was formed whose work is continuing.

The Commissions recognized that the reestablishment of full unity of the organizational structures of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of her canonical territory is a desirable goal which should be pursued. Still, the historical realities developed through the long separation must be taken into account. For this reason, in the aim of further establishing the life of a single Russian Church, it is necessary to apply proper oikonomia and pastoral discretion, gradually developing pastoral cooperation in the countries of the Russian diaspora with the special oversight of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The Commissions propose that the same spirit of oikonomia and pastoral discretion be used to develop a canonically-just decision of the matter of the dioceses and parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia situated on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. Such a decision is viewed as one of the conditions of reestablishing Eucharistic communion and the canonical unity within a single Local Russian Orthodox Church.