Sanremo, Italy, January 26, 2019 – On October 28, the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Florence, Italy elected to move from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to that of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) due to the outrageous interference of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukrainian Church affairs.
On January 25 another Italian parish made the same decision.
The Church of Christ the Savior, the Great Martyr Catherine, and St. Seraphim of Sarov posted an announcement on its website regarding the jurisdictional change. The parish had been part of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches of Western Europe that was suddenly stripped of its Exarchate status in late November and whose future is now uncertain. An Archdiocesan general assembly is being held on February 23 to discuss the Archdiocese’s response.
The church originally belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church, being consecrated in 1913. It moved into the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in 1931.
In a letter dated January 23, Metropolitan Gennadios of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate for Southern Europe suspended the rector, Fr. Dionysiy, from the priesthood for a period of three months for unspecified “anti-canonical actions” and the failure to appear for an appointment at the See of Venice.
In Constantinople’s understanding, the parishes of the former Exarchate are already under the geographically corresponding metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Greek dioceses throughout Europe—Met. Gennadios in the given case—though the Archdiocese has not accepted this understanding, continuing to operate under the episcopacy of Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis.
The parish’s announcement, which came two days later, reads in full:
Due to the aggressive actions of the Italian Metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople against our parish and its rector, we are forced to acknowledge that it is on longer possible to be in Eucharistic communion with this Patriarchate. As the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe is in full canonical and Eucharistic communion with Constantinople, we have decided with great sorrow to leave its jurisdiction and we hope that the parishes of the Archdiocese will return to the Mother Russian Church at the assembly on February 23.
The parish council unanimously decided to ask the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to accept our parish under its omophorion. The overwhelming majority of parish members support this decision. The extraordinary parish meeting, scheduled for February 3, will legally formalize and fix our intentions.
The Russian Church Abroad is the best choice for us because, being an integral, self-governing part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, it is independent in its pastoral, educational, administrative, economic, material, and civil affairs. Moreover, its historical roots are closely connected with the Russian diaspora, which we have the honor of belonging to.
From January 24, our parish has been accepted under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and is part of the Western European Diocese. Fr. Dionysiy Baikov is appointed the rector of the Church of Christ the Savior, St. Seraphim of Sarov, and the holy Great Martyr Catherine in Sanremo, the “Russian Orthodox Church in Sanremo.”
From this day, during the Divine services in our church we will commemorate:
His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia KIRILL,
His Eminence Metropolitan HILARION
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad,
His Grace IRINEI, Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe.
We thank you all for your support.
Parish council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sanremo, Italy
January 25, 2019
Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome
Two priests formerly of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, Fr. Mark Tyson and Fr. Nectarios Trevino have also transferred to ROCOR due to the present situation in Ukraine.