The Russian Orthodox Church has at last formed two new Exarchates, of Western Europe and South-East Asia. The latter, headed by Archbishop Sergei, is centred in Singapore and covers the territories of eleven countries: Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.
The new Exarchate of Korsun and Western Europe is centred in Paris. It includes the territories of thirteen countries: Andorra, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Italy (presumably including San Marino), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and Switzerland. It thus includes five dioceses (France, Iberia, Benelux, Italy and the British Isles and Ireland). The head is to be the present Bishop John of Bogorodsk, who has spent several years in the USA, currently looks after the Russian Orthodox parishes in Italy and whose patron saint is St John of Shanghai and Western Europe.
Interestingly, the Exarchate does not include the eight countries of the two dioceses of Germany and Austria-Hungary and a possible future diocese of Scandinavia/the Nordic Countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland). Possibly this is for diplomatic reasons relating to the past and these countries will be added to the Exarchate in due course, possibly in the future an Exarchate of Central Europe and Scandinavia is to be formed.
Clearly, this Exarchate is another step towards the long-awaited Metropolia and then future Autonomous Local Church of Western Europe, which only the Patriarchate of Moscow has had the wish and initiative to form. It follows the collapse of the Church of Constantinople and its fall into schism. If the Exarchate is to be successful, it will need to avoid the four all too well-known besetting sins of the various Russian Orthodox jurisdictions in Western Europe, as we have experienced them over the past five decades, clearly demonstrating:
Faithfulness to the Russian Orthodox Faith, without falling into extremism and making compromises either of the ecumenist/modernist or the old calendarist sort.
The refusal to ask candidates for the priesthood to compromise themselves morally or spiritually.
The building of trust and the refusal to attack, bully, insult and persecute zealous priests and the faithful, using favouritism and injustice.
The missionary impulse to accept local people, use local languages in the liturgy and venerate the local saints, avoiding centralization to distant countries and interests and rejecting any racist attempts to form an inward-looking ethnic ghetto.