Historical background

The Department for the External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate is an all-important Synodal department of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The DECR was established by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on April 4, 1946 when the development of the external work of the Russian Orthodox Church persistently called for creating a special church body that could ensure the stable organization of this important aspect of church life. 


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the DECR since 2009

The Holy Synod by its decision of March 31, 2009, appointed Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria (now Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, vicar of the Diocese of Moscow) as chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. 

At the same time, some DECR functions were transferred to the newly formed Department for the Church-Society Relations which was charged with maintaining relations with state legislative bodies, political parties, professional and creative unions and other institutes of civil society in the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, while the missions, church representations, monasteries and patriarchal parishes, which earlier were in the jurisdiction of the DECR, were transferred to the direct subordination to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and to help the Patriarch to administer institutions abroad an appropriate Secretariat was established. The branch of the Moscow Theological Academy post-graduate school, which had functioned under the DECR, was transformed to the Ss Cyril and Methodius Institute of Post-Graduate and Doctoral Studies.

The Department for External Church Relations maintains relations of the Russian Orthodox Church with Local Orthodox Churches, non-Orthodox churches and Christian associations, non-Christian religious communities, governmental, parliamentary, public organizations abroad, inter-governmental, religious and public international organizations. 

The duties of the Department for External Church Relations are to give information to His Holiness the Patriarch and the Holy Synod about events and activities taking place outside the Russian Orthodox Church and affecting her interests, to draft church-wise documents and resolutions affecting the sphere of inter-Orthodox, inter-Christians, interreligious, international and other issues included in the terms of reference of the Department.



Metropolitan Filaret (Vakhromeyev) of Minsk and Byelorussia

Metropolitan Filaret had the honour to lead the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate for a long period of the Russian Orthodox Church’s preparations for the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus’ and at its very solemnity. His Eminence Filaret was the chairman of the Department from 1981 to 1989.

The Department for External Church Relations led by Metropolitan Filaret made a contribution, exceptional in its volume, complexity and importance, to the process involved in the celebration of the great jubilee in June 1988. The celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus’ awakened the historical memory of the people living in the Soviet Union and became a nation-wise event as a strongest impetus for the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church’s due pace in the life of society and for the gradual revival of the ages-old traditions of her service and witness to the people of God.  


Metropolitan Juvenaly (Poyarkov) of Krutitsy and Kolomna

From 1972 to 1971 the post of the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate was occupied by Metropolitan Juvenaly (Poyarkov) of Krutitsy and Kolomna, who led the DECR’s work with commitment to the task entrusted to him, the knowledge of problems and assiduity. 


Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov)

From 1960 to 1972 the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate was headed by Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod, who combined the richness of ideas so needed by the Church with resolution and persistence in their implementation. 

Metropolitan Nikodim had to overcome tremendous difficulties caused by secular authorities, and he did it with fidelity to principles so characteristic of him. The external, especially international work of the Church in the years of persecution had an essential importance for preventing it from becoming broader, and making it impossible or difficult for the authorities to close and destroy monasteries and churches. 

Seeking to appoint young bishops to sees abroad, he created opportunities for their consequent transfer to the canonical territory of the Church, as a result of which the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church became considerably younger and increased in number. 


Metropolitan Nikolay (Yarushevich)

Metropolitan Nikolay (Yarushevich) of Krutitsy and Kolomna led the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarch from 1946 to 1960. 

This period defined in many ways the nature of the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations at the present stage by deepening the traditional forms of inter-church relations and initiating a number of new areas in this sphere of church work. 

It should be specially pointed out that in that period the peacemaking activity of the Church, her first contacts with public organizations led her gradually out of isolation and built the first bridges with the state, the world of politics, science and culture. 

Patriarchal condolences on the death of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York


Patriarch Kirill: Our flock is both in Russia and Ukraine and we ardently pray for the restoration of peace


Commentary by the Communications Service of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate on the interview given by Pope Francis to the Italian publication Corriere della sera.


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s talk with Primate of Serbian Orthodox Church


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrates Paschal Great Vespers at the Church of Christ the Saviour


Paschal Message of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the archpastors, pastors, deacons, monastics and all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church


Holy Synod members discuss the issue of rendering aid to refugees and suffering civilians in Ukraine


Holy Synod considers it important that the Russian Church’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine be brought to notice of the heads of non-Orthodox Churches and inter-Christian organizations


Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church meets under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill


Metropolitan Hilarion: The main thing in a person's life is their relationship with God


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s address to the Supreme Church Council on March 18, 2022


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill chairing a meeting of the Supreme Church Council


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill had a talk with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia talks with Pope Francis


Patriarch’s homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy at Christ the Saviour Cathedral


Metropolitan Hilarion meets with leaders of a major inter-Cristian humanitarian organization


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk visits Exarchate of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem in Cyprus


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk meets with Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk holds negotiations with head of the DECR of the Malankara Church


DECR chairman meets with representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church Catholicosate of Cilicia


Russian Orthodox Church delegation attends Orthodox Pre-Assembly of World Council of Churches


Metropolitan Hilarion on the work carried out by the Church amid the political confrontation in Ukraine


Metropolitan Hilarion: Imposing sanctions will not affect the life of the Russian Orthodox Church


Metropolitan Hilarion on details of the talk between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis of Rome


Metropolitan Hilarion: We have learned from own experience that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Church is called upon to unite people regardless of their political orientation


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s talk with Primate of Serbian Orthodox Church


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Paschal services.


Metropolitan Hilarion on how Orthodox Churches are helping refugees


Metropolitan Hilarion on setting a date for the Bishops’ Council


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers of Good Friday with the procession of the burial-shroud.


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Holy and Great Thursday.


Metropolitan Hilarion: the essence of religious life lies in the love for God


Metropolitan Hilarion: May the joy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world live in our hearts always


On Christmas Eve, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord calls every person to salvation in a variety of ways


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has commanded us to love every human being


Metropolitan Hilarion: on the Feast of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we glorify the heavenly intercession of the Mother of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul


Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ


Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins


Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life



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