Tag Archives: Rue Daru

St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris on the Verge of Bankruptcy.

An appeal for assistance has recently appeared on the Institute’s website. It noted that the Institute, which may soon celebrate the 90th anniversary of its founding, is well-known for several Russian philosophers and renovationists. These were expelled from Russia in the early twenties of the last century, but had mainly died out by the 1950s. At present, the St Sergius Institute is experiencing a financial crisis that threatens its existence, though not for the first time. Now teachers’ salaries have not been paid for several months.

This difficulty comes on top of the fact that its jurisdiction is now a deanery under the Greek Metropolitan, since it no longer has any bishops. Thus, no ordinations are taking place.This is the direct result of the anti-monastic current in the Rue Daru jurisdiction and cultivated at St Serge over the decades. Having recently lost St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice, which had been on loan from the Russian Mother-Church, and with other properties possibly having to be returned to their lawful owners, the Rue Daru splinter group seems unlikely to be able to continue for much longer.

This is all the more the case when there is a real Russian Orthodox seminary in Paris and a new Cathedral and spiritual centre are to be built there. In this context, the old Russophobic factionalism and infighting of this tiny St Petersburg emigration to Paris seems increasingly irrelevant in the 21st century world of a united and large-scale Russian Orthodox Church and world-view.

The Crisis in the Paris Archdiocese Continues

On Friday 8 March the Paris Rue Daru administration admitted that in Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew had rejected the list of three candidates selected as the next possible Archbishop of the Rue Daru grouping. The locum tenens, or temporary head, of the grouping, Metropolitan Emmanuel of the Greek Archdiocese in France, stated that the Patriarch had decided that the situation in Paris was ‘too unsettled for elections to take place’. For this reason Metropolitan Emmanuel will continue in his present capacity. However, it was also stated that a candidate to become a vicar-bishop for the Rue Daru grouping could be appointed under Metropolitan Emmanuel.

We wonder if this does not mean that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will not at last, from its point of view, regularise the uncanonical situation of the Rue Daru grouping. Until now there have been two bishops of the same Constantinople jurisdiction in Paris, the head of the Greek Archdiocese and the head of the Rue Daru Archdiocese. By putting the tiny Rue Daru grouping into a vicariate under the Greek Metropolitan, this problem could at last be resolved. As was suggested by the Patriarchate two years ago, those parts of the Rue Daru grouping which are outside France, for example in Great Britain, could simply be transferred to the local Greek jurisdiction.

With the anti-monastic history of the Rue Daru grouping, it was inevitable that one day there would no longer be any monks suitable to become Archbishop. And with this in mind, it was also inevitable that one day the Rue Daru grouping would be forced into becoming an integral part of the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople. This process has been under way for nearly fifty years, with ever increasing numbers of its communities adopting the ‘Greek’ (= Catholic) calendar and modernistic Greek liturgical customs and dress. Indeed the same process has been under way in the tiny Carpatho-Russian grouping in North America, called ACROD, which last year was also forced into accepting a Greek head.

It is increasingly clear (to some of us it had already become crystal clear in the 1980s) that the only alternative to this scenario of Hellenisation and assimilation is to return to the Russian Mother-Church. With 829 parishes, 52 monasteries and 20 bishops in 57 countries outside Russia, the reunited Mother-Church could easily re-integrate the elements of the Rue Daru grouping which wish to remain loyal to the Russian Orthodox Tradition. It remains unclear, however, if this obvious solution to its crisis is the path that any in the Rue Daru grouping will take. This seems all the more extraordinary when most who attend services at the Rue Daru Cathedral are actually recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

On the Future Multinational Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Western Europe

2002: A Premature Plan for Local Autonomy

It was in 2003 that His Holiness Patriarch Alexis made the long-awaited announcement about setting up an Autonomous Russian Orthodox Metropolia for Western Europe (1). Nearly ten years on nothing has happened. To understand why, we must first realise that the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora at that time was very different from that of today.

The concept of an Autonomous Western European Metropolia was in reality a direct response to the desire of Archbishop Sergiy of the Paris Exarchate (’Rue Daru’) to return directly to the Mother-Church, only gaining Autonomy. In this way, Archbishop Sergiy would bypass the intermediary Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or ROCOR, the Church authority for the Russian Diaspora, founded by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Tikhon in 1920. It was from ROCOR that the Rue Daru splinter had broken off for political reasons after that saintly Patriarch’s death (probably martyrdom) in 1925.

Thus, seeing that the three generations of paralysis and subservience of the Church inside Russia to atheist government were over in 2000, Archbishop Sergiy of the Exarchate wanted his Rue Daru group to return to the Russian Church. He clearly saw, as we personally had already seen by 1988 (2), that Rue Daru had no future under the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople in Turkey, and even less of a future as a tiny uncanonical group attached to no Local Church, as it had already been for nearly six years, from late 1965 to early 1971 (3).

In his desire for Autonomy, Archbishop Sergiy was influenced by the ‘Orthodox Church in America’ or ‘OCA’. This was, and still is for the moment, a small American group, which had also left the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1925 (later returning to it for over a decade but, tormented by politics, leaving it again). In 1970, at the height of the Cold War, this group had received still much-disputed, full independence, or Autocephaly, from the Church inside Russia. Having seen this thirty years before, Archbishop Sergiy wanted something similar for his Paris-based group. However, much smaller still than the OCA, his group could not, he knew as a realist, receive a premature or dubiously canonical Autocephaly, but it could receive limited internal independence, or Autonomy.

Therefore, after the turning-point of the Jubilee Council of the Church inside Russia in 2000, which at last showed it to be free of the Russian State by meeting the demands of ROCOR (4), Patriarch Alexis and Archbishop Sergiy conducted negotiations to ease Rue Daru’s way back into the Russian Church. We shall never know whether return this would have been possible, because too early, in 2003, Archbishop Sergiy suddenly died. After this, although Patriarch Alexis made the historic announcement, Archbishop Sergiy’s successors fell into the sort of Russophobic politics, to which many Rue Daru members have always been prone.

Moreover, in 2002, the idea had been to appoint the controversial and divisive personality of Metropolitan Antony Bloom as head of the Metropolia (3), but in 2003 he also died. Given the 2006 modernist schism (5) within Metr Antony’s former Diocese on the part of a small group that left for Rue Daru, claiming to be following the ‘legacy’ of Metr Antony Bloom, we shall never know whether this appointment would have been successful or catastrophic. We shall never know either, whether the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in whose jurisdiction Rue Daru then was, as still today, would even have released Rue Daru to return to its Mother-Church. However, all these considerations are purely academic, because they were overtaken by other much more important events.

2012: A Mature Plan for Worldwide Autonomy

These events were the reconciliation between the Church inside Russia and the vast majority of the Russian emigration, who belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or ROCOR. This took place in 2007, after protracted and detailed negotiations which had effectively begun in 2003 and the All-Diaspora San Francisco Council of ROCOR in 2006. Thus the Russian Orthodox Church, the ROC, was reunited. Outside Russia, where the reunited Church is largely represented by the Autonomous ROCOR, there are many bishops, clergy and laypeople in some forty countries, including in Australasia, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Jerusalem, the Americas, North, Central and South, and all over Western Europe. This is a multinational and multilingual Church.

In October 2012 all bishops of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora met in London and celebrated the fifth anniversary of the reconciliation between the Church inside Russia and ROCOR. Here, for the first time, we began to see the structures of the future ROCOR. As is natural, the still remaining historic fragments of the Church inside Russia in the Americas and Western Europe are to be gradually absorbed into the new ROCOR. Its administrative centre will probably remain in New York, as now. However, initially, it will probably have three Metropolitan Areas: one for the Americas, with its senior Metropolitan and main seminary; one for Western Europe, with its Paris seminary and new Cathedral, which is about to be built; and one for the vast and numerous Australasian Diocese. Each Metropolitan Area will be built on dioceses and deaneries with their own bishops and deans.

Whether fragments of the OCA or Rue Daru will want to participate in the new ROCOR, we cannot say. It is entirely up to them. As regards the OCA, it now has no fewer than four Metropolitans, three of whom are ‘retired’, one of whom wishes to leave it; it also faces possible bankruptcy and has many scandals and internal divisions from its tragic past to deal with. As regards Rue Daru, having missed the boat, with its last, lone bishop now so tragically ill – our prayers are with him, since we well remember him when he was a young priest – lay factions are jostling for power and it faces ghettoisation as a result of its chosen path of isolationism.

It may well be that the more Orthodox parts of both jurisdictions will return to ROCOR in its new and united form. Perhaps, since Rue Daru, like the OCA, is increasingly dependent on newly-emigrated Russians for clergy, singers, finance and the living Tradition, few will wish to remain outside the reunited Russian Orthodox Church. However, some, who have lost the Tradition and so their identity, will probably accept the same fate as the Carpatho-Russian Diocese in North America. Dying out, this has recently had to accept the humiliation of a Greek Bishop, meaning that its traditions will be swallowed up, disappearing into the Church of Constantinople.

Some in Rue Daru will certainly prefer to stay under the Greek Metropolitan in Paris. There they are free to ‘innovate’ within the Westernised and US-financed, new-calendarist Patriarchate of Constantinople, without the discipline of the authentic Russian Church Tradition. This suited (and suits) uprooted the dissident Parisian dreamers and philosophers of Rue Daru. They are, after all, descendants of pre-Revolutionary dissidents and freemasons (‘intelligenty’), who actually supported the genocidal anti-Russian Revolution. They want not ‘Western Orthodoxy’, that is Russian Orthodoxy in its missionary integrity in Western languages, venerating the local saints of the West, but a ‘Westernised Orthodoxy’. That is an unrepentant and self-justifying, self-exalted semi-Orthodoxy, protestantised, uniatised, sanitised, sterilised, salt without its savour, so that it is spiritually nearly dead.

This latter never suited the many, more solid and down-to-earth Non-Parisians, among them Archbishop Sergiy, who was from Brussels, and the many others who, seeing the writing on the wall, began to quit Rue Daru from the 1980s on. As regards when this will come to pass, all remains uncertain – except for one thing. This is that the multinational and multilingual Autonomous Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe, part of the Autonomous Worldwide ROCOR, will be built on the canonical foundations of the catholicity of the Church, and not on local French masonic philosophy, disincarnate Origenistic intellectualism, or any other type of modernistic thinking. Anything premature or partial, as in the project of 2002, will not survive. As it is said: Man proposes, but God disposes.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,
Colchester, England

7/20 December 2012
St Ambrose of Milan


1. http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/lawaited.htm
2. http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/oewesteu.htm. At the time this visionary document, requested by Archbishop George, was entirely rejected by the then Rue Daru Archbishop George (Wagner). He did not want to know anything of any multinational and multilingual Diocese, even though that is what he already had. His personal tragedy was that in principle he wanted to be faithful to the Russian Church, but he only understood this as a narrow faithfulness to a language, Church Slavonic. Thus, in reality, he allowed modernist, Non-Russian customs to take over his Diocese, while remaining ferociously opposed to the use of local languages – those very languages which his flock used and understood. Obviously, feeling rejected by him as human-beings, many left his diocese as a result. Long before Archbishop Sergiy’s belated attempts to save the day, this suicidal policy was already the beginning of the end for Rue Daru.
3. http://www.orthodoxie.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Conf_P_Nicolas.pdf?75c1d8
4. These were: a) The condemnation and rejection of erastian subservience to the militant atheist Soviet State, known as ‘Sergianism’; b) The subsequent and long overdue canonisation of the New Martyrs and Confessors, who had suffered under the atheists; c) The rejection of religious syncretism or so-called ‘Ecumenism’.
5. ‘Schism’ is the precise term used by Patriarch Alexis at the time. (I was the official translator of the documents).

Rue Daru: The End-Game

Tragically, two fragments of the Russian Orthodox Church in the emigration have still not joined the reunited Russian Orthodox Church. Her recovered unity came into being in 2007, when the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally accepted all the conditions set it by the multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Since that time, over five years ago, the reunited Church has gone from strength to strength, whereas the two disunited fragments, isolated from their spiritual roots, have suffered profound internal troubles and dissension.

One of the fragments, called the OCA and based in North America, has gone from one financial and moral scandal to another and has sacked two Metropolitans within that time. Its behaviour, akin to that of a secular US corporation and not to a Church, has astounded the Orthodox world. The other émigré fragment, the Paris Exarchate, based in Rue Daru in Paris, has for over twenty years been deeply divided. Like the OCA, only even smaller, it has been riven by Russophobic Western nationalism and has desperately sought to survive in its schizophrenic, self-imposed isolation.

This Paris split resembles very closely that undergone by the Sourozh Diocese in Great Britain (though outside Russia, strangely enough in the jurisdiction of the Church inside Russia). The ignoring by the Sourozh bishop and clerical and convert elite of the wishes of the trampled faithful for 25 years, resulted in 2006 in a tragic schism. In this schism, 300 mainly ex-Anglican dissidents, including their bishop, left the Russian Church and its tens of thousands of faithful in Great Britain and transferred themselves to Rue Daru. Their motivation was their inability to accept Orthodoxy, wanting instead a Protestant-style sect.

Now we are seeing the same thing again in Rue Daru. The story here is that five members of the 12-strong Diocesan Council of the Paris Exarchate, at present under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, have fallen into disagreement with their own Archbishop Gabriel. The group of five (Deacon Ioann Drobot, Karin Wothe, Basil Tiesenhausen Victor Lupan, Vadim Tichonicky), backed by many of the faithful, have even filed a lawsuit against him, the only bishop of their grouping. This extraordinary action on the part of these well-respected and long-standing members of the Church has been motivated by a profound disagreement.

This disagreement has been going on for decades. The turning-point was undoubtedly the 1988 celebration of the Thousand Years of the Baptism of Russia. Then the Rue Daru authorities turned their backs on the Russian Church and the trampled faithful, preferring instead a celebration together with the Catholic Church, of which we are eyewitnesses. Superficially, the tragic dispute has come about because Archbishop Gabriel is ill with cancer and so has not appointed a warden for the Rue Daru Cathedral. However, in reality, the problem is the underlying very deep split between two groups.

The first group consists of the ever-growing multinational group in the Exarchate who are faithful to Orthodox Christian Tradition and want to return to the reunited Mother-Church. The second group consists of French-speaking modernists who wish to remain in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where they are free to continue to introduce modernistic innovations. The inaction of Archbishop Gabriel, whether through illness or otherwise, strangely resembles the situation of the Sourozh Diocese, where the governing elite had for 25 years also ignored the heartfelt protest of the multinational grassroots.

Twenty-one years after the fall of Communism and five years after the Patriarchal Church inside Russia finally reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), this tragedy is now unfolding in Paris. It comes at the same time as in North America the OCA is about to elect yet another Metropolitan (there are now three who have been sacked) to lead it. It would seem that both these fragments of the emigration need our urgent prayers, that they may split no more and at last seek the cement of the Mother-Church before it is too late and they are assimilated and disappear into the Non-Orthodox mass.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Colchester, England

23 October / 5 November 2012

Holy Apostle James