Alexander Orlov, the Russian ambassador to France, announced on 14 March that the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris will at long last be opening officially this autumn, hopefully in October. After many years of delays, the news that a Cathedral is opening in the historic centre of the Russian emigration is welcome indeed. The official opening will take place in the presence of the Russian and French Presidents and His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill.
The 4,000 square metre plot of land in prestigious central Paris near the Alma Bridge will house not only the new Cathedral with its five cupolas (the dedication has not yet been announced), but also the Russian seminary, a library, a school for 150 pupils, meeting rooms, diocesan offices and gardens. The Russian ambassador stated that the Cathedral is seen as a pilot and that other similar cathedrals could be built in other Western capitals.
The opening of the new Cathedral is a step towards realizing the vision of the saintly Metr Pitirim of Saint Petersburg (1850-1920). One hundred years ago exactly his desire was to establish in his jurisdiction a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in every Western capital and translate the service books of the Church and Patristic literature into every Western language. Having lost one hundred years, we can only hope that this event will be a step towards that goal.
We pray that the missionary efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe will turn increasingly towards establishing a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia here. This was long the vision and hope of many of us in the twentieth century and it was confirmed by Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow in 2003, who foresaw that such a Metropolia would be the foundation stone of a future Local Church in the spiritual desert of contemporary Western Europe.