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04-03-2010, Nice

Metropolitan Hilarion is prevented from celebrating liturgy in Paris church because of Nice' situation

Head of the so-called Russian exarchate in the Western Europe Archbishop Gabriel of Comana (the Constantinople Patriarchate) changed his mind and decided not to invite head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to celebrate a divine liturgy in Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris.

"I had been supposed to serve at the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in rue Daru as I had agreed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in it on the invitation of Archbishop Gabriel of Comana, but a week before the appointed date I received a letter from Archbishop Gabriel informing me that my visit to the cathedral had to be put off until better times," Metropolitan Hilarion told Interfax-Religion.

The Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky belongs to the Exarchate of Russian parishes in the Western Europe ruled by Archbishop Gabriel.

Archbishop Gabriel indicated as a reason the French court ruling that the cathedral in Nice be transferred to the Russian Federation for ownership.

"This decision displeased some members of the Diocesan Council of his Archdiocese, who indicated to him that my visit to the cathedral was impossible at the moment," Metropolitan Hilarion told as he recently returned from France where he participated in the opening ceremony of the Holy Russia exhibition at the Louvre Museum.

The Metropolitan pointed out that the court ruling on the Nice church "has nothing to do with interchurch relations, as it is a pure ownership dispute." The cathedral was built by the Russian Imperial Family and it was the Russian Federation as the recognized successor of the Russian Empire that should own the cathedral and the adjoining lot, which was reconfirmed by the French court, the hierarch stressed.

According to the Metropolitan, the Russian Federation has officially proposed to this parish, which is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, to continue using the cathedral. But the parish council rejected the proposal, insisting that along with the right to use the cathedral the parish should also have the right to own it.