Courts: Historic Church in Cannes Awarded to ROCOR-A

On February 2, a six-year legal battle in Cannes, France over the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael ended in favor of the ROCOR under Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa.

The suit over the pre-revolutionary temple cost over 52,000E (USD $68,000) to defend.

The cases over the building began with the split in the ROCOR in 2001 between the pro-MP faction and the traditional Orthodox parishioners. Bp Varnava (Prokofiev) of Cannes had been the original rector in 2001, who originally helped form the ROCOR under Metropolitan Vitaly. In 2005, after a public scandal took place involving Bp Varnava’s relationship with a monk in the Cathedral, the parishioners feared that Bp Varnava, fleeing censure, would attempt to take the building. In 2005, they registered control to the Cathedral parish to a rector elected by the parishioners to ensure nothing would happen to the Cathedral.

In 2006, in the midst of the scandal, Bp Varnava fled to the ROCOR-MP, who immediately claimed ownership of the Cathedral and retired him, sending Bishops to serve in the Cathedral to “prove” its ownership. The French courts reverted the building to its 2005 status in 2007, and it had been locked in a legal struggle since. In 2010, the parish’s chosen rector, Bp Irenaeus (Klipenshteyn) of RTOC (which had split from the ROCOR-V in 2003), joined the ROCOR-A.

Early reports imply that the ROCOR-MP will appeal the court’s decision.