Home page News
Metropolitan Hilarion: Unification is impossible i…

Metropolitan Hilarion: Unification is impossible if one side considers the other ‘heretical’

Metropolitan Hilarion spoke in an interview with Kommersant daily about prospects for reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church and Old-Believers.

-   Fifty years ago a Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to lift up old ‘anathemas’ imposed by the 1667 Great Council of Moscow. What has changed for Old Believers after the 1971 Council?

-   The decisions of the 1971 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church are historic. They symbolize the serious intention of the Russian Church to hold dialogue with the Old Rite, the ultimate aim of this is, of course, the overcoming of the centuries-old divisions. It is a difficult and long path we all have to traverse. 

But the decisions of the Council helped take off the mutual alienation. An opportunity arose for establishing dialogue, participating in joint projects, exhibitions, festivals. Now cooperation is developing in many areas of socio-cultural life. For instance, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church led by Metropolitan Korniliy annually take part in the World Russian People’s Council and other forums organized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Some representatives of the Old-Rite Hierarchies are graduates fr om theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church or continue to study in them. Old Rite people are developing pilgrimages to Russian-wide shrines in Orthodox churches or monasteries.

There are numerous examples of business cooperation between Orthodox Christians and Old-Rite people on the local level.

-   Some time ago, you stated that you in the Russian Orthodox Church do not see any obstacles for reunion of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church in one Church. On what terms can it be done?

-   We see an internal obstacle on the ROORC side: the reunion is impossible if one of the sides considers the other ‘heretical’. A shared necessary condition for reunion is mutual recognition of each other as Orthodox in the field of doctrine. The 1988 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted ‘An Appeal to All Orthodox Christians Who Uphold Old Rites and Have No Communion in Prayer with the Moscow Patriarchate’. In this document, a call was voiced to dialogue that could promote the development of mutual understanding.

As for the organizational side of unification, the events of this century clearly show: all problems can be solved if there a good will of the both sides to restore unity, as was the case, for instance, with the reunification with the Russian Church Outside Russia.

-   Are there any attempts undertaken by the Russian Orthodox Church to begin negotiations on unification with Old-Rite believers?

-   If to speak precisely about unification, then there were no such attempts. The nature of relationships at present is boiled down not to negotiations on unification but rather actions for overcoming the historically developed alienation, mutual distrust. There is still a great deal of prejudice on both sides, a distorted notion of each other. To speak about unification seriously it is necessary first to clarify theologically and canonically what exactly still divides us.

-   What does impede the unification of the two Churches - is it only differences in church rites?

-   Unfortunately, not only differences as to the rites. Fr om the practical angle, the Old Rite, for instance, have a stricter and more straightforward approach to the invocation of church canons and even life conventions, such as wearing beards, etc. Besides, there are Old-Rite hierarchies whose apocalyptic moods are so acute that they lead to decisions that cannot by recognized by the Orthodox, such as rejection of priesthood, some Sacraments, etc.

-   Is it possible in your view to overcome centuries-old differences, and if yes then how?

-   Certainly, the longer the time of disunion lasts the more difficult it is to overcome it. And in case of the Old Rite, there were not only differences but also persecutions by the authorities up to the most terrible ones which took the toll of thousands of lives or made people flee the country. It is not easy to overcome historical memory.

Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church does have an experience of such overcoming. Since 1800, there have been in her fold the so-called Same-Faith parishes (now commonly called Old-Rite Believers), in which Old-Rite Believers who have reunited with the Church can worship according to the old Russian rite while keeping canonical communion with her Supreme Authority. The number of such parishes is gradually growing, and there is even a Patriarchal Center of Old Russian Tradition established at the Moscow church of the Intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God at Rubtsovo, wh ere they publish literature for Old-Rite parishes and train readers and choristers and make researches into medieval music and historical liturgics.

-   What are the Moscow Patriarchate’s relationships with Old-Rite Believers now?

-   The Holy Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church is deeply aware of the pernicious consequences of the17th century church schism and believes it to be a national tragedy, and for this reason it never deviates from an opportunity for healing this consequences somehow.

Relations may be not only official, inter-church but also inter-personal. And in them, precisely after the 1971 Council, things are rather favourable as the mutual alienation is gradually dying down. And, it should be mentioned, that the reunion of many Old-Rite Believers with the Russian Orthodox Church, sometimes involving whole families, represent a notable phenomenon in the church life of today’s Russia.

-   Does the Orthodox Church recognize the ROORC hierarchy?

-   The ROORC hierarchy (the so-called Belokrinitskaya Hierarchy) was unilaterally founded in 1846 by then retired former Metropolitan Ambrose of Bosnia-Sarajevo (Papageorgopolos) at the village of Bila Krynytsia, which was located at that time in the territory of Austria-Hungary (now it belongs to Ukraine’s Chernovtsy region). The legitimacy of the Belokrinitskaya Hierarchy was not recognized by the Russian Empire.

In 2014, the Old-Rite Metropolitan Korniliy of Moscow and All Russia proposed to begin dialogue for studying the canonical dignity of the Belokrinitskaya Hierarchy. At the first meeting of our representatives in 2015 at Rogozhskaya Sloboda, an agreement was reached that the dialogue on the same issue be continued in the written form. As of today, the sides have already exchanged several messages. The dialogue on this theme is not over; I believe to disclose its details is unethical towards our brothers from the ROORC. At present, we are working on another message to the Old-Rite from the Orthodox side.

-   Suppose the union of the Churches takes place, who will enter into it - the Russian Orthodox Church into the ROORC or the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church into the Russian Orthodox Church?

-   To my mind, it is too soon to speak about it. If the unification is reached, the sides will find the right way, as was in the case of the ROCOR.

-   In 2017, the president of the country visited the Russian Old-Rite Center - Rogozhskaya Sloboda. What is your attitude to the manifestation of interest in the Old-Rite by the secular authority? In your view, can the Old-Rite become an influential religious organization along with the Russian Orthodox Church?

-   The Russian Federation is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. It appears quite natural that its president pays attention to ethnic or confessional communities.

Whether the Old-Rite can become an influential force in our society depends only on them themselves. I can only add that the Old-Rite in itself is rather heterogeneous, and is still divided into some number of hierarchies who have no liturgical communion between them. And a tendency towards their doctrinal unity is still indiscernible - which rather diminishes their ability to influence the society in any visible way. But it is their internal affair, while dialogue with the Russian Church is what concerns us directly. And I would like to express hope for its successful continuation.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with Romania’s ambassador to Russia


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill receives congratulatory messages on his 75th birthday from heads and representatives of Christian confessions in Russia


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with Chair of the Senate of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbayev


Pope Francis of Rome and hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church congratulate His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on his 75th birthday


Congratulations from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on his 75th birthday


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill congratulated on his 75th birthday by inter-Christian organizations and international charities


Patriarch Kirill's condolences over the death of people in a car crash in western Bulgaria


Congratulations from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his 75th birthday


Patriarch Kirill: Patriarch Bartholomew considers himself to be not first among equals but first above all the rest


Congratulations to Patriarch Kirill on his 75th birthday sent by heads and representatives of foreign Protestant churches and organizations


Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia congratulates His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his 75th birthday


Congratulation sent by Primate of the Polish Orthodox Church to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his 75th birthday


Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church holds online meeting


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill answers questions put to him by Forbes France.


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill answered questions from participants in the Ninth Faith and Word festival


Metropolitan Hilarion: our neighbor is that person who needs our mercy


Metropolitan Hilarion speaks at the Russian National Forum of Young Theologians


“Reading the Bible Together” audio project timed to the 75th birthday of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill is presented at Chernigov Metochion in Moscow


Meeting of the Board of the Christian Inter-confessional Consultative Committee


DECR Chairman: Ukrainian authorities have every opportunity to stop the wave of persecution against the UOC


The International Cooperation Commission of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations meets for a regular session


Metropolitan Hilarion: For the first time the violation of rights of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is recognized on an international platform


Metropolitan Hilarion describes as groundless the USA statements about “the violation of religious freedoms” in Russia


DECR Chairman visits the Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN in New York


DECR chairman visits Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA


Metropolitan Hilarion welcomes the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee on the persecutions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church


Metropolitan Hilarion: Patriarch Bartholomew legalized the schism while pretending to heal it


Metropolitan Hilarion visits St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania


DECR Chairman celebrates the Divine Liturgy at the church in honor of the Three Hierarchs at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk sums up the Search for Scriptures theological conference


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


On commemoration day of St. Catherine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk officiated at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr In-the-Fields  the representation of the Orthodox Church in America


Metropolitan Hilarion: We can always show compassion for people


Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates on commemoration day of St. Varlaam of Khutyn at the church of ‘Joy to All the Afflicted’ icon of the Mother of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: We should remember that the life of each human being is in the hands of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: For God there is nothing impossible


Metropoplitan Hilarion: The cross which was an instrument of dishonourable execution becomes the symbol of salvation for millions of people



Fields marked by * are mandatory required

Send a message
Рус Укр Eng Deu Ελλ Fra Ita Бълг ქარ Срп Rom عرب