Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Met. Vitaly, RIP

The former head of ROCOR has passed away. Note the MP's conciliatory statements herein.

Moscow, September 26, Interfax - Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov), former first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, died at a hospital in Mansonville, Canada, on Monday evening, at the age of 97.

Metropolitan Vitaly's condition deteriorated sharply last week, sources in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia told Interfax.

The late metropolitan was the primate of the ROCOR for many years. He was known as an implacable critic of the Moscow Patriarchate for its obedience to the Soviet authorities, ecumenism, etc. It was under him that the ROCOR began opening its parishes in Russia - the policy that the Church Outside of Russia itself was to admit erroneous.

During his last years Metropolitan Vitaly led his Church only nominally due to his old age. In 2001, the ROCOR Council sent him into retirement, but later he declared the Council invalid and was made head of one of the Church's small parts, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (B), which continued to recognize him and was to split into three irreconcilable church groups, who pulled out from the ROCOR.

"May the Lord give rest to his soul," Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, secretary for inter-Orthodox relations at the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, commenting on the death of Metropolitan Vitaly.

"The late metropolitan was implacable to the Church in Russia. Nevertheless, we are praying for this repose," he added.

The story seems a bit confused about Met. Vitaly's retirement. After retiring from ROCOR, he was made head of a new jurisdiction known as the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile (ROCiE), which calls itself the true ROCOR. By most accounts, by this time, the late Met. Vitaly was no longer fully in possession of his faculties and was manipulated by those implacably opposed to rapprochement with the Moscow Patriarchate.

May he rest in peace.

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