The Future of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe

 

There are, as of 2020, three different episcopal-led groups of Russian Orthodox in Western Europe. Which are they?

  1. Russian: The Western European Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate, its Diocese in Germany and parishes in Scandinavia:

This is the largest of the three groups with seven bishops and the most people and also the most means, representing some 65% or two-thirds of the whole. However, it is not Local, but looks to Moscow and is often connected with Russian Embassies. These external links are partly because this group is largely composed of recent immigrants, often still with Russian passports, and mainly has recent or recently-acquired church buildings. Its roots are therefore not local and it has problems adapting to local cultures and mentalities and also a huge shortage of local clergy.

  1. Local: The Paris Metropolia, centred in Rue Daru in Paris

This is by far the smallest of the three groups, with approximately eight properties in Western Europe, mainly chapels, thus being only 10% of the whole. Representing 58% of the old Constantinople Archdiocese of the Russian Tradition, it has only one elderly bishop and outside Paris has only a very weak infrastructure. In many respects it has lost its roots in the Russian Tradition, having abandoned even the calendar of the Russian Church, but it does understand local cultures and mentalities.

  1. Russian and Local: The Western European and German Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

This is neither large, nor small and it does have four active bishops. On the one hand, it is very weak in the Nordic countries, Ireland and also in Italy, Spain and Portugal, but it does have stronger centres, in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and England. Although it only represents about 25% of the total, most of the historic churches in Western Europe belong to it. It is on the one hand Russian, but also Local, its bishops being the only ones with having local titles: London, Vevey, Berlin and Stuttgart. It is notable that many more recent immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union move to it after a few years and begin feeling that they have a dual identity, Russian and Local.

What will the future bring? This is in the judgement of God.