SAN FRANCISCO, May 12 (RIA Novosti, Olga Lipich) - The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) approved a resolution Friday to reunify with the Moscow Patriarchate.
The document, a landmark in the ROCOR's history, was adopted on the fourth day of the ROCOR's Fourth All-Diaspora Council, and lays the groundwork for a canonical decision to join the Moscow Patriarchate as a self-governed branch, similar to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"The resolution was passed by an open vote almost unanimously. Less than 5% voted against it," said Priest Serafim Gan, secretary to the head of the ROCOR.
"Now that all conditions are ready, we can re-establish normal relations between the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate," Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II said earlier. "We expect that they be regulated by the Act on Canonical Communion."
According to the draft act, the ROCOR will remain independent in terms of pastoral, educational, administrative, economic, property and secular issues.
The revolutions of 1917 and ensuing Civil War in Russia caused a split in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1920s, when some top clergy in exile refused to be subordinated to Church leaders who had allegedly collaborated with the Communists.
Metropolitan Laurus, the head of the ROCOR, visited Russia in May 2004 and participated in a number of joint services. The sides decided at the time to set up joint commissions, and determined the range of issues to be discussed at the All-Diaspora Council that will meet for the first time since 1974.