Some weeks ago, I became aware of the dispute over ownership of this cathedral. It had been leased by Tsar St Nicholas II to the Archbishop of St Petersburg for 99 years. In that time, it came to be used by the Rue Daru jurisdiction under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, (of which the Basilite group became part after leaving the Diocese of Sourozh). The lease expired in 2007 yet its current occupants are now claiming rightful ownership.
What had managed to bypass me until today was the news from three weeks ago that a French court ruled that the Russian state, as the successor to the Tsar as the governing entity of Russia, is the rightful owner of the cathedral and all properties attached to it. An appeal was launched immediately.
It may be remembered that the Dormition Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens, London, was at the heart of a not dissimilar legal battle only recently, again due to members of this same jurisdiction which, as Fr Andrew shares, has long been problematic.
Jurisdictional claims over Estonia, receiving Bishop Basil and his clergy without canonical release in the United Kingdom, poaching suspended Antiochian clergy in North America*, and now attempting to misappropriate property in France - when will the power-grabbing of the Constantinople Patriarchate cease? It does nobody any good. It does our Orthodox witness no good, and it wounds the bonds of filial love that should exist among brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, let it end.
I think that our First Hierarchs need to approach this matter with humility and try to reach some resolution. Anybody who saw the excerpt from 60 Minutes would not fail to be moved with sympathy for Patriarch Bartholomew and gain some understanding of the situation in which the Constantinople Patriarchate struggles to exist, but grabbing power, territory, and property elsewhere cannot be the solution, surely.
That He may deliver His people from enemies both visible and invisible, and confirm in us oneness of mind, brotherly love, and piety, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy!
*This came in the wake of the Patriarchate of Antioch declaring its support for the Constantinople Patriarchate in its uncanonical acceptance of clergy from the Russian Church, only for Constantinople to then do the same thing to Antioch. I confess that I felt a sense of sinful satisfaction when this happened, of which I am not proud.
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