Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Election of a New First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Shall Take Place on 12 May


The ROCOR Holy Synod of Bishops 2006

The election of the new primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia shall occur at the Cathedral of the Sign in New York on 12 May, a day after a meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR at the same location, the ROCOR official website reported.

On Friday, Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishop of New York and Eastern America, was buried at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY (at a service led by Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Kolomna and Krutitsy). For the last seven years of his life, Metropolitan Laurus was Superior of Holy Trinity Monastery (editor’s note: Vladyki Laurus was Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery from 1976 onwards. The Interfax correspondent is in error). According to his wishes expressed in his will, he was buried in a crypt next to the grave of his spiritual father, Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky (+1986). Metropolitan Laurus died at his residence at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY on 16 March. He was 80-years-old.

25 March 2008



Editor’s Note:

There are three names most mentioned as the successor to Vladyki Laurus. A word about each is in order.

Firstly, there is Vladyki Hilarion Kapral (born 1948), Archbishop of Sydney, who is the present locum tenens. Vladyki Hilarion is a spiritual son of Vladyki Laurus and was formed in monasticism at Jordanville. This Jordanville connection may be a factor in his not being chosen. In addition, Vladyki Hilarion is known to be attached to his present diocese deeply, and his flock returns that affection many-fold. If elected, I believe that he would turn it down (as is his right). He is of Ukrainian descent from rural western Canada.

Secondly, there is Vladyki Kyrill Dmitriev (born 1954), Archbishop of San Francisco. Vladyki Kyrill studied at St Vladimir’s in Crestwood NY (I stand under correction in this) and was formed in monasticism in the Holy Land. He is the youngest “serious possibility”, and that may be a hindrance to his gaining the primacy at this date. He is of Russian descent from California.

Thirdly, is Vladyki Mark Arndt (born 1941), Archbishop of Berlin, the candidate that I think shall “win the prize”. Vladyki Mark is a convert of German background. He studied at the theological faculty in Belgrade and was formed in monasticism on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Patriarch Aleksei delivered his condolences upon the death of Metropolitan Laurus to Vladyki Mark, and the patriarch and the German hierarch are known to be very close personally. Vladyki Mark is (as I stated) German, but speaks Russian fluently and well.

This is the first election for a ROCOR First Hierarch where the serious candidates were born and grew up in the diaspora. This is not unimportant. All previous First Hierarchs were born in pre-revolutionary Russia, except for Vladyki Laurus, who was born in interwar Carpatho-Russia in Slovakia (which is about the same thing). This election shall see the first primate who spent his entire life in the minority setting of the diaspora situation ascend to leadership. None of us knows which of these three shall come out the primate after the election. I am certain that these are the three most likely candidates. I have no idea of what shall follow, but, I think it is likely that whomever is elected, the ROCOR shall take on a new (if not startling) direction, and that it shall open a new chapter in its history.


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