MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - A historic church unification act reestablishing canonical ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) was signed at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow Thursday.
The document, signed by Patriarch Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus, the ROCOR head, is widely seen as a milestone on the way toward overcoming a decades-long rift with the foreign-based branch.
Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, described the ceremony as a significant event for the entire Russian nation. "Joy has descended on our hearts now that the long-awaited historical event has taken place," Alexy II said. "The Russian church has been reunited."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "The restoration of a unified church is an important provision for uniting the entire 'Russian world,' which has always been based on Orthodox faith."
Metropolitan Laurus expressed sincere gratitude to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia for the invitation to come to Moscow and for "brotherly hospitality." He also said he was hopeful that both churches would consolidate unity in service of God and the Russian nation.
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is a jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodoxy that was formed in response to the Bolshevik policy towards religion in the Soviet Union soon after the Russian Revolution of 1917.