Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

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Russian Orthodox Church
Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church.png
Abbreviation ROCA, ROCOR
Existence 1920—present
Type Orthodox Church
Headquarters New York, United States
Leader Anthony Khrapovitsky (1922-1936)
Hilarion Kapral (2009-)

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and abbreviated as the ROCA or the ROCOR, is a semi-autonomous jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was originally founded in 1920 by St. Tikhon Bellavin, Patriarch of Moscow as a response to the persecution of the Orthodox Church by the Bolsheviks. The Russian Orthodox emigres, numbering some 3 million people, were directed to organise an emergency synod abroad, initially headquartered in Serbia. The Soviets even set up the renovationist "Living Church" claiming to be a "reform" of the Russian Church.

During the Second World War, a desperate Joseph Stalin arranged for Sergius Stragorodsky to be declared the new Moscow Patriarch, the Russian Church would be "tolerated", ending the campaign of the League of the Militant Godless, but it would be heavily controlled by the KGB. The ROCOR rejected this situation as Sergianism and those within Russia who resisted it became known as the Catacomb Church. In 1950 in the aftermath of the war, Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovsky and his synod moved the ROCOR headquarters to New York, United States.

With the advent of the Cold War, some within "World Orthodoxy" began to participate in ecumenism. This include the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate through the World Council of Churches. The ROCOR anathematised ecumenism in 1983 under Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky. They also associated with Greek Old Calendarists. With the fall of Sovietism there was a reevaluation, especially after Vladimir Putin came to power. The ROCOR signed the Act of Canonical Communion with Moscow in 2007. Groups such as the ROAC, the ROCiE and the ROCOR-PSCA split due to feuds over this.


St. Tikhon Bellavin, Patriarch of Moscow established the ROCOR after Communism took over, following the fall of the Romanov dynasty.

The Russian government was overthrown in 1917 in a Communist coup. Besides general Communist hostility due to the atheist Communist ideology itself, Jewish Communists may have been hostile due to perceived responsibility for persecutions such as pogroms. The Soviet regime revealed an openly anti-Orthodox persecutionist policy in 1920 and the Patriarch of Moscow, St. Tikhon Bellavin issued Ukaz No. 362 of 1920 permitting all Russian Orthodox Christians abroad to form the Temporary Higher Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, with self-governance. Bishops who had escaped Bolshevism met at Sremski-Karlovci, Yugoslavia (today's Serbia) and did so.

Some sections of the Russian Church diaspora came into conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1927 and eventually headed up their own counter-jurisdictions, splitting the White emigre community. This applies particularly to the United States where Platon Rozhdestvensky split with his Russian Metropolia in America (later known as the Orthodox Church in America) and in France where Eulogius Georgiyevsky set up the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, commonly known as Rue Daru, with the support of Constantinople.

First Hierarch

Portrait Name From Until Notes
Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky.png Anthony Khrapovitsky
Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia
1922 1936 Synod member under Patriarch Tikhon. Fled at various times Bolsheviks and Uniates. Finally left Russia after defeat of General Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel.
Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovsky.png Anastasy Gribanovsky
Archbishop of Kishinev and Bessarabia
1936 1965 Soviets under Stalin in 1943 proclaimed Sergius Stragorodsky as new Moscow Patriarch. ROCOR rejected this as Sergianism. Moved to New York in 1950.
Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky.png Philaret Voznesensky
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
1965 1985 Strongly upheld Orthodoxy, anti-ecumenist, lived during Cold War era. Considered a saint by some, after body found uncorrupt.
Metropolitan Vitaly Ustinov.png Vitaly Ustinov
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
1985 2001 His reign saw some internal conflict over Moscow after the Soviets fell. He retired in 2001, but changed his mind and founded the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile.
Metropolitan Laurus Škurla.png Laurus Škurla
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
2001 2008 Approved reconciliation and normalization of relations with the Moscow Patriarchate as Vladimir Putin is in power. Signed the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow.
Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral.png Hilarion Kapral
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
2008 present Born in Canada to a Ukrainian family.

See also

External links