The Russian Orthodox Church on Thursday formally ended an 80-year global schism triggered when overseas exiles refused to accept the domestic...
MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church on Thursday formally ended an 80-year global schism triggered when overseas exiles refused to accept the domestic church’s subservience to the Soviet state.
In a ceremony at Christ the Savior Cathedral, rebuilt in the 1990s after being torn down decades earlier by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, leaders of the domestic and overseas Russian Orthodox hierarchies signed an act of “canonical communion.”
It provides for the full restoration of religious unity under the Moscow patriarchate, while maintaining autonomy for the church abroad in organizational and economic matters.
“A historic event has taken place, which has been awaited for many, many years,” Patriarch Alexei II said at the service. “Confrontations in society inherited at the time of the revolution and civil war are being overcome.”
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The Russian Orthodox Church was torn by the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, a subsequent civil war and the flight of refugees abroad. But the split was not made formal until 1927, when the leader of the church in the Soviet Union, Metropolitan Sergiy, declared loyalty to the Communist government.
Sergiy’s defenders later said he was trying to save the church from destruction.
At Thursday’s ceremony, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was represented by its head, Metropolitan Laurus, who is based in New York.
Reunification has been a controversial issue within the church abroad. Opponents say the hierarchy in Moscow still has not properly addressed KGB infiltration of the church hierarchy during the Soviet period.