MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti, Olga Lipich) - The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is set to join the Moscow Patriarchate as a self-governed branch, similar to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The union was envisaged by a draft act on canonical communication, which was published Tuesday on the official Web sites of the foreign ties department of the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR, along with other documents adopted by the cross commissions for the bilateral dialogue.
"These documents cover the key issues that ROCOR considered to be major obstacles on the way to a full dialogue," said Protopope Nikolai Balashov, the secretary for Orthodox ties of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Under the draft act, ROCOR will retain independence in terms of organization, but will still become part of the Moscow Partriarchate. By way of example, he cited the Ukrainian, Latvian, Moldovan and Estonian Orthodox Churches, all branches of the Moscow Patriarchate.
According to the draft act, "ROCOR is independent in terms of pastoral, enlightening, administrative, economic, property and secular issues."
The document also states that ROCOR bishops are members of the Local and Bishop Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, and can participate in the Holy Synod sessions. ROCOR will also receive its holy oil from the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The cross commissions for dialogue between the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR were established in December 2003. Metropolitan Laurus, the ROCOR Protohierarch, visited Russia in May 2004. Then the sides decided to begin the work of the commissions, and determined the range of issues to be discussed.
Since then, four joint sessions have been held.
"We are hopeful that the commissions will finish their work before the all-Foreign Council next May," Balashov said.