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Russian churches building bridges

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Russian churches building bridges

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At an historic meeting in San Francisco the breakaway Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has adopted a resolution to accept the Patriarch in Moscow as its spiritual head. The two sides have been divided since the 1917 communist revolution in Russia. However delegates at the special conference voted to recommend their church keeps its administrative autonomy. Its 12 bishops meet next week to have the final say on the resolution.

Heading the negotiations for the exiled church was Father Alexander. “The times of a separate, completely cut-off existence of the Russian Church Abroad are now over,” he said. Throughout Soviet rule the exile church considered the Moscow Patriarchate a tool of the state and the secret police. Feelings were so strong that it has taken 15 years since the fall of communism for spiritual reconciliation to take place. Some exile church officials remain suspicious of Moscow church head Patriarch Alexiy II, claiming he once had links to the KGB. Alexiy has sought to heal the rift in recent years, apologising for past transgressions and resolving some theological differences. Moscow canonized the last czar who was shot by the Bolsheviks — sainthood that was long demanded by the Church Abroad. Some issues still remain unresolved, including what to do in cities where both churches have a presence.