The Orthodox Church in Belgium
and in Luxemburg
and the secretary of the diocese of the Patriarchate
Situated in the Latin and Germanic borders, the regions
of the future
As for the modern period, the first place of Orthodox
The Orthodox presence in
In the 1920s and 1930s Russian churches were founded
in several places: in
During those years some jurisdictional problems also
arose in the emigration, which were linked to the division of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). In Brussels, in 1926-27, some
parishioners of the Church of Saint Nicholas broke their contact with
Metropolitan Evlogy (Exarch of the Russian parishes in Western Europe,
Rue Daru, Paris) in order to follow the bishops of the ROCOR headed
by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky); then they created their own
parish served, among other priests, by Fathers Basil Vinogradov and
Alexander Chabachev, then by Father Tchedomir Ostojic. In
Except for these latter parishes, all the other Russian
During World War II and the occupation of
After World War II, the situation of the Orthodox Church
In the 1950s, an important Greek immigration came to
Among the changes which took place over the years, was
the arrival of new personalities such as that of His Grace Paul (Golychev)
(1914-1979): first he was a priest in Belgium, then became a bishop
in the USSR, then came back to Brussels in 1976; and above all of Archbishop
Basil (Krivocheine) (1900-1985), a monk of Mount Athos and a theologian
scholar who had succeeded Archbishop Alexander (metropolitan since 1959)
in 1960. A specialist of the Church Fathers, Archbishop Basil did not
hesitate to intervene in the questions concerning what was actually
happening on the ground in the
The growth of Orthodox
Step by step it became necessary however for the children
of emigrants or for Westerners who became Orthodox to profess Orthodoxy
in the local languages. This was well understood by bishops like Archbishop
Basil (Krivocheine) of
From that time on, the Orthodox were better integrated in Belgian society, in particular after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Since then diverse activities (conferences, congresses, retreats and week-ends of reflection, youth movements, sessions of icon painting, etc.) have a certain impact. One can note a certain interest in the Orthodox Churches when Orthodox Patriarchs visit the country, for example when Patriarch Justinian of Romania came in 1972, and when Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople came in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2004.
As for the Belgian authorities they mark their benevolence
towards the Orthodox, for example when King Baudouin visited the Orthodox
parish in Ghent in 1980, and especially when Orthodoxy was recognised
as an official religion in Belgium in 1985 (and in 1998 in Luxemburg).
Thanks to this recognition and to the action of diverse people, the
Orthodox Church has become a real living reality in the ecclesial scenery
Today there are between 70,000 and 80,000 Orthodox Christians
The Archbishopric (or Metropolitanate) of
The Greek parishes of this diocese keep their linguistic
and cultural identities for the Hellenistic community; the diocese also
has some ‘western’ parishes celebrating in the local languages:
It is worthy of note that this diocese has a Centre of
theological training founded in 1997 by
Father Dominique Verbeke and linked
with the Orthodox Theological Institute Saint Sergius in Paris. It organizes
the programmes of Orthodox religious teaching for the public schools
The Belgian diocese of the
Patriarchate of Moscow (archbishopric of
In the frame of its representation
by the European institutions, the Patriarchate of Moscow also opened
in 2002, in
The archbishopric for Russian
Orthodox Churches in Western Europe (Patriarchate of Constantinople,
Rue Daru), which until 2003 were presided over by Archbishop Sergius
(Konovaloff) (1941-2003), includes 4 parishes, which are put together
with the deanery in northern France; the dean is Father Guy Fontaine,
of Liege. The offices are celebrated in Slavonic, French and Dutch,
according to circumstances. When he was elected as archbishop in Paris
(Rue Daru), Archbishop Sergius (Konovaloff), former priest in
Three parishes, two in
These Greek and Russian communities
gather faithful who integrated into the western reality and who have
learned to use different languages during the celebrations as well as
to take into account the environment where they live. However, the great
flux of new emigrants from
Let us also note the existence
of three Romanian communities (in
There are also three parishes
As a whole, even though there
is no Orthodox Episcopal organ of coordination in
Other signs of pan-Orthodox collaboration can be seen through some organisations (such as the Orthodox Fellowship in Brussels or the local movement of Orthodox Youth linked to Syndesmos) where Orthodox of different jurisdictions collaborates. There are also other events organized in common, such as the Orthodox congresses organized by the Belgian Orthodox Fellowship (in Bruges-Maele in 1972, in Natoye in 1977 and in Blankenberge in 2000); as well as the congresses of the Orthodox Fellowship in Western Europe (in Ghent in 1983 and in Blankenberge in 1993 and in 2005). Some parishes publish a bulletin. Some books and reviews are also published in common by Orthodox of Belgium.
There are ecumenical relationships:
some Orthodox takes part in different ecumenical associations (ACAT,
‘Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture’, ‘Pax
Christi’) and in official institutions. One may consider that
the Orthodox presence in ecumenical circles in
Some Orthodox have cordial
links with Catholic communities of eastern rite, for example with the
parishes of Saint John the Forerunner or of the Theophany in
One cannot keep silent about the fact that some Orthodox
Churches have their own representations in the European institutions
This panorama of Orthodoxy in
As is the case for all the Christian communities, the
future of the Orthodox Church in
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