At its General Assembly meeting, held, typically for it, in a Catholic church in Paris last Saturday, the delegates of the parishes and communities of the small Rue Daru Archdiocese voted by 58% to return to the Russian Orthodox Church and by 42% not to do so. It seems that as a result each community, most of which are tiny, will join whichever Orthodox Church it wishes to – providing of course that any Local Church wants them. (Most Local Churches do not want to take on untrained clergy and individuals who have a reputation as troublemakers, who do not have even their own church buildings and yet believe that, though they are in reality a tiny group of marginals, they stand at the centre of the universe!)
Moldovans who have taken over several previously virtually empty parishes in Paris, including the church on Rue Daru itself, will naturally return to the Russian Orthodox Church, as will those who still consider themselves to belong wholly to the Russian Tradition, as were the first three Rue Daru hierarchs, the last of whom reposed in 1981. Those in Belgium may plead with the Romanian Church to take them, though the Romanian Church is loath to do so. Some in England are looking with hope at Antioch, but again there is no certainty that it will want them. Others have already left for the Bulgarian Church (in Scandinavia) or the Church Outside Russia (in Italy). Some communities will simply be absorbed into local modernist Greek Dioceses and so disappear.
The 77-year old ill French Archbishop Jean, the very last bishop of the anti-monastic and anti-episcopal Rue Daru group, was so upset at the meeting at not getting the two-thirds majority he needed to take the group as a whole back into the Russian Orthodox Church that he threatened to retire. It is the ignominious end of a group founded by rebellious aristocrats and protestantising intellectuals, who, secularized to the extreme, were always prone to personality-driven, French-style rebellions, arguments, splits, libels and threats, a ‘panier de crabes’ as it was called in Paris forty years ago. Indeed the previous Archbishop Job, a schismatic Ukrainian, could only attend the Rue Daru church protected from physical assaults by five burly bodyguards who would stand during the services and escort any protestors out.
Meanwhile at the Greek church in Paris yesterday, Ukrainian schismatics were concelebrating with the notorious Greek Metropolitan Emmanuel. It is said that the Greek plan is to take over the historic Rue Daru church and hand it over to the schismatics. The whole Rue Daru debate has been characterized by the fantasies of priests who do not know how to celebrate services and unChurched but highly politicized laypeople who have no idea what the Church is, how the Church works and what it needs to make a bishop – three other bishops. Now it seems that Rue Daru parishes and communities who do not want to remain in the schismatic Patriarchate of Constantinople will be received back into the Russian Orthodox Church individually, not as a group. As to whether any other Local Church will want the others is unclear.
Over 12 years ago the main part of the Russian emigration, the Church Outside Russia with its Synod of Bishops, some 80% of the emigration, returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. They had understood that the Church in Russia was by then completely free from the Russian State. Clearly the Rue Daru émigré splinter fragment, which had broken away from the Church Outside Russia under political pressure in the 1920s, should have done the same then. This whole death-agony has dragged on for decades too long. It refused to return and its then Archbishop Gabriel, yesterday’s convert, showed himself to be an intense Russophobe, uncanonically ordaining men priests without first training them and receiving all sorts of dissidents and strange individuals from elsewhere. Here then is the result.