Russian Church to end schism

 History will be made today when a pact reuniting the main Orthodox Church in Russia with a Church that broke away in 1920, is sealed. Patriarch Alexy II, is to sign the Canonical Communion Act with Metropolitan Laurus, the leader of the New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The building itself is a symbol of Russia's renewed Christianity. The original golden-domed Cathedral was blown up in 1931 on the direct orders of Stalin. It was rebuilt through public funding and donations in the early 90s under Boris Yeltsin. The Church Abroad broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate in 1920 three years after the start of the Russian Revolution. It severed all ties in 1927, when the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Sergiy, declared the church's loyalty to the Communist government. The Russian Orthodox Church defended this action saying that Patriarch Sergiy had been trying to save the Church. But for thousands of exiled Russians the decision was unacceptable. Today's pact is the result of several years of intense negotiations. At times both parties felt that progress was impossible. Patriarch Alexy said: "I think we stand today on the threshold of an historic event that will liquidate the tragic consequences of the civil war, which divided our people and divided our church." The Church Outside Russia has around half a million members, while more than 100 million people in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union are Russian Orthodox. Each church will maintain its own council of bishops, but their clergy will be able to lead services and their parishioners take communion in both churches.

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