Metropolitan Laurus Škurla of New York and Eastern America (1928-2008), First Hierarch of the ROCOR, architect of the reconciliation of the ROCOR and MP on 17 May 2007.
The Russian Orthodox Church sees the death of Metropolitan Laurus Škurla, Archbishop of New York and Eastern America, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), as a great loss for the Christian world. He reposed in peace at the age of 80 in Jordanville NY on 16 March. The head of the ROCOR died on the first Sunday of the Great Lent, which the Church celebrates as the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Undoubtedly, all his life Metropolitan Laurus had worked for a triumph of Russian Orthodoxy. The would-be Metropolitan was born in 1928, a year after a split in the Russian Orthodox Church that was provoked by the events around the Russian Revolution and Civil War of the early 20th century, and the refusal on the part of Russian clergy abroad to defer to the new authorities. Many priests had left Russia, and they set up Orthodox parishes in the emigration. This split lasted for almost 90 years, and it was only overcome on 17 May 2007 when the historic Act on Canonical Communion between the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church was signed in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, an event that was attended by a great number of the faithful.
According to Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Laurus did whatever what he could to reunite and reconcile the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy. “Metropolitan Laurus played an important role in the reconciliation of the ROCOR with the MP. When he headed the Holy Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, the process of unification was stepped up through the work of joint commissions, discussions, and exchange of visits. Before the unification, Metropolitan Laurus visited Russia several times and prayed in Russian churches. Certainly, this advanced the integration of the two branches of Russian Orthodoxy”. Within the past year, Metropolitan Laurus visited Russia twice, in May 2007, and, again, last month. During his last visit to Moscow, Metropolitan Laurus took part in the work of the 12th World Russian People’s Council. For his performance of spiritual endeavours, his struggle against vice, and for his development of virtues and dedicated service to the Church, Metropolitan Laurus was awarded with two Russian prizes, “Compatriot of the Year” and “For Faith and Loyalty”. He is also the holder of the church order of St Sergius of Radonezh.
17 March 2008
Voice of Russia World Service