His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk, who chairs the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, welcomed His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, for the celebration of the Great Kanon of Saint Andrew of Crete at Rome’s Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Catherine on Wednesday evening, March 20, 2013. Accompanying Metropolitan Tikhon was Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary.
Both hierarchs were in Rome for the Installation of Pope Francis, held one day earlier.
Saint Catherine Church was recently built in the vicinity of the centrally located Vatican to serve the city’s growing number of Russian and other Orthodox Christians.
At the conclusion of the service, Metropolitan Hilarion offered formal greetings to Metropolitan Tikhon. The English text, translated by Alexis Liberovsky, OCA Archivist, appears below in its entirety.
Greeting of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon Saint Catherine Russian Orthodox Church Rome, Italy March 20, 2013
Your Beatitude, Most Blessed Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada!
Allow me to greet you warmly today at the Church of Saint Catherine located on one of the hills of the Eternal City. By Divine Providence, you attended the enthronement of the newly elected Pope of Rome. Yesterday, we witnessed this solemn ceremony together and today we together read the Great Penitential Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, as for our Orthodox Church, it is the first week of Great Lent. It just so happens that another similar event is taking place this week. Tomorrow, the newly elected Archbishop of Canterbury will be enthroned in London and I must depart to go there immediately after this service.
This New Year has also been marked by the elevation of new primates of Local Orthodox Churches - the Patriarchs of Antioch and Bulgaria, in whose enthronements I also had the opportunity to participate.
The year began with the enthronement of Your Beatitude. The Lord deigned you to undertake the primacy of the Orthodox Church in America in a difficult time, when you were chosen as Primate to restore order in your Church and to encourage its flock towards unity.
The Orthodox Church in America stems from the sowing of salvific seeds by missionaries of the Russian Orthodox Church, who brought Orthodoxy to the North American continent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Initially, they preached the Orthodox faith in Alaska, then on the west coast, and finally on the east coast. The great hierarch of the Russian Church, Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia, whose name that you bear, served on the American continent for a number of years. It is his vision, the vision of a united Orthodox Church in North America, which laid the foundation for the Orthodox Church in America. While Saint Tikhon’s prophetic vision has yet to be realized, the various Orthodox jurisdictions ministering in North America today are striving towards spiritual and internal unity, despite remaining administrative divisions.
This church, erected here in ancient Rome, is also one of the fruits of the outreach efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church. But this church does not exist here for any missionary or proselytizing purposes, but rather for our compatriots—Orthodox Christians living in this country – to provide for them the salvific haven of the Holy Orthodox Church, in which they were nurtured, which they love and to which they remain faithful while living in a heterodox environment.
Today, while I was in the building of the Vatican Secretariat of State awaiting an audience with the Pope, I was shown a view of the city of Rome from the window there. This window is directly below the windows of the papal apartment, where previous pontiffs resided, and where the newly elected Pope will also live. I must say that this panoramic view of ancient Rome is much embellished by the tower and dome of our Saint Catherine Church. Every morning, when the Pope wakes up and looks out the window, he sees the Eternal City, including our belfry. I mentioned this to him today. I hope that he remembers this and will gladly gaze upon our church, which graces the skyline of this beautiful and ancient city.