Very Rev. Thomas Zain, Archbishop Justinian, Met. Hilarion, Met. Philip, Bishop Nicholas
His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP received His Eminence, Metropolitan HILARION, the Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all Russia on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Accompanying Metropolitan HILARION was His Eminence, Archbishop JUSTINIAN, the Patriarchal Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States as well as clergy and a reporter. His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS and Archpriest Thomas Zain also attended the meeting.
After welcoming Metropolitan HILARION, the hierarchs exchanged ideas and concerns on issues relating to the Orthodox world in general and the situation of the Orthodox Church in North America in particular. Of special interest to Metropolitan HILARION was the situation of the Christians in the Middle East and the ongoing conflict in Syria. Metropolitan PHILIP thanked Metropolitan HILARION for the support His Holiness, Patriarch KIRILL gave to our Patriarch IGNATIUS IV during his visit to Syria last December. He also thanked the Russian government for standing by Syria in this time of need.
With regard to the Orthodox Church in the United States and North America, the two exchanged visions and ideas of what a future united Orthodox Church would look like. Both agreed that due to varying opinions by the many Orthodox jurisdictions as well as renewed and substantial immigration from many Orthodox countries, any real administrative unity is years off. Nevertheless, both are committed to and realize that Orthodox unity is the only canonical and natural outcome of our experience on these shores and that all should continue to work toward this inevitability.
Following their discussions, the two hierarchs were interviewed by Russian television and took group photos together (see the accompanying photos). Metropolitan PHILIP then presented Metropolitan HILARION with the engolpion (panagia) of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the See of Antioch as well as the newly published book on the history of the archdiocese and the icon of the Synaxsis of Antiochian Saints. He presented the other members of the delegation books and icons as well.
Finally, the group ate lunch together and continued their conversation. Metropolitan PHILIP recalled his two trips to Russia, one during the Communist times in the 1970’s and one after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s. In mutual toasts, the two hierarchs thanked each other and prayed that the two Churches, Antioch and Russia, would continue their historically close ties.