Met. Agafangel on the Canonical Territory of ROCOR

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Met. Agafangel on the Canonical Territory of ROCOR

August 20, 2014 (

(Originally reported on August 14)]

Report of the Annual Theological Conferences “Ways of ROCOR in the Modern World,” Odessa, 2014

There is still an ongoing debate about the canonical territories of the various Local Churches. This question the representatives of Official Orthodoxy even tabled for the forthcoming so-called Eight Ecumenical Council. How relevant is the question for our time?

Initially, the canonical territory was the diocese, within which was put the bishop to run. Church Canons strictly forbid one bishop to invade the territory of another: “A Bishop shall not abandon his own parish and go outside of it to interlope to another one, even though urged by a number of persons to go there.” (Ap. Cn. 14).  The matter then moved to the Metropolitan [jurisdiction] and the Local Churches: “Bishops must not leave their own diocese and go over to churches beyond its boundaries; but, on the contrary, in accordance with the Canons, let the Bishop of Alexandria administer the affairs of Egypt only, let the Bishops of the East govern the Eastern Church only…. But the churches of God that are situated in territories belonging to barbarian nations must be administered in accordance with the customary practice of the Fathers.” (Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Council)

Continue reading….    (Original Russian)


  1. Thymoleon says:

    “An inseparable part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church is the territory of the former Russian Empire.”

    This statement is indefensible when one considers the periphery of the old Russian Empire. The Republic of Moldova, for instance, does not fit this mold. Consider its history.

    Since the fourteenth century, Bessarabia (the territory of the modern Republic of Moldova) was historically part of the Romanian-speaking Metropoles of Suceava and, later, Iasi (Ecumenical Patriarchate).

    In 1812, Bessarabia was conquered by the Russian Empire from the Principality of Moldavia (a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire). The churches of Bessarabia were put under the jurisdiction of the Russian Church.

    With the collapse of the Russian Empire, Bessarabia was joined to the autocephalous Church of Romania in 1918, returning to the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Iasi, which in 1872 had joined the Metropolis of Bucharest to form the core of the autocephalous Romanian Church.

    It should be noted that the return of Bessarabia to the Romanian Church occurred before the calendar change in 1924. It is also important to note that Bessarabia (the current Republic of Moldova) was an important center of Romanian old calendar Church after 1924.

    In 1925, the Romanian Patriarchate formed the Metropolis of Bessarabia, which was later banned by the Soviets in the 1940s.

    Finally, in 1940 and again in 1944 Bessarabia was seized by the Moscow Patriarchate, when the Red Army conquered Moldova.

    In 1990, Bessarabia under the independent Republic of Moldova, which the Moscow Patriarchate and Romanian Patriarchate maintain competing ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

    From the above, one might conclude, contrary to what the ROCOR-A statement implies, that the canonical boundary between the Russian and Romanian TOCs should be restored to the status quo post 1918. That is to say that Moldova is Romanian, and not Russian.

    • HmkEnoch says:

      That is quite a situation!

    • Jean-Serge Katembue says:

      Georgia is not part of territotry of the Church of Russia. The autocpehaly was illegaly abolished along with the illegal annexation of the Karthlia Kakhetia.

      • HmkEnoch says:

        Yeah; that whole situation was a catastrophe from a canonical point of view. And the last Patriarch until 1918, Anthony, gets ‘demoted’ to a Metropolitan and has to use Church Slavonic (as well as all Georgian churches being forced to used Church Slavonic instead of Church Georgian! I mean, that’s go to be up there with the Bulgarian Orthodox Tsar invading ‘Romania’ and forcing all the Vlacs (a Latin speaking people) to start using Slavonic).

    • HmkEnoch says:


      You have great points. As Jean-Serge notes, there is a much wider application of this line of reasoning.

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