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There is a hope that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will restore unity in no more than four years
There is a hope that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will restore unity in no more than four years, said Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad on Thursday at a Moscow press conference after the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. "The time for reunification has come," said the metropolitan. "This is what the Russian Orthodox Church Bishops' Council, which delegated to the Holy Synod the right to make a Canonical action to restore the communion unity [through communion: the believers take bread and wine, which, they believe, are the body and blood of Christ], said," added metropolitan Kirill. "This means," he said, "that the Bishops' Council has a hope that this issue will be resolved before the regular Council, to take place in four years." Metropolitan Juvenalius of Krutitsy and Kolomna also touched upon the issue of reunification of the Russian church's two branches. "Talks are still underway, joint commissions work. What was realized by them has been fully approved by the Russian Orthodox Church Bishops' Council," said Metropolitan Juvenalius. In the words of both bishops, reciprocal commissions on dialogue are jointly working out the common approach of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to a number of topics. These are issues of interaction between the Church and the state, the attitude toward non-Orthodox faiths, the problem of the ROCOR's place in the Moscow Patriarchate after restoration of unity. Besides, the problems of priests under prohibition, work connected with parallel parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as communication with dissenters in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece are discussed. Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, who is the business manager of the Moscow Patriarchate, took part in the press conference. "For the first time in the history of our church we will approve church legal procedure," said the metropolitan. "Now specially created structures - church courts - will deal with church legal procedure. But this is not possible in all dioceses [due to a lack of personnel and experts in this field]. In such dioceses, diocese councils will perform the functions of church legal procedure." He noted that church courts operate in the Russian Orthodox Church's Smolensk and Kaluga dioceses. Metropolitan Clement stressed that during the whole history of the Russian Orthodox Church, the church court has never existed as an independent institution. Before the 1917 revolution, it made part of the system of the so-called "spiritual consistories." The last Bishops' Council (in 2000) introduced into the church charter the section about church legal procedure, and for four years, a special historical-canonical commission studied this issue. He emphasized that diocese courts will deal with "purely canonical issues in the ROC's life." In particular, the talk is about the so-called "church divorce" or a bishop's decision in regard to a priest. The church court will perform its functions on the basis of rights delegated by the diocese bishop, i.e., the court will hold a trial and propose its decisions to the diocese bishop.
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