Founded by a decision of the Holy Synod of April 4, 1946. It is the oldest synodal institution of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The DECS is among the executive bodies of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod. Its status and tasks are defined by the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Statute of the Department. The Department is accountable to His Holiness the Patriarch and the Holy Synod, which annually approve the program of its activities.
The chairman of the Department for External Church Relations has the status of a permanent member of the Holy Synod.
Fields of concern
The DECR maintains the Russian Orthodox Church’s relations with:
Local Orthodox Churches
Non-Orthodox churches and Christian associations
Non-Christian religious communities
Governmental, parliamentary, public organizations abroad
Inter-governmental, religious and public international organizations.
In addition, by the Holy Synod decision of April 20, 2005, a Commission was formed under the Department for External Church Relations for the Affairs of Old Rite Parishes and Relations with the Old Believers communities.
The DECR is responsible for informing His Holiness the Patriarch and the Holy Synod about events and activities taking place outside the Russian Orthodox Church and affecting its interests and for drafting church-wise documents and decisions affecting the sphere of inter-Orthodox, inter-Christian, interreligious, international relations and other issues within the terms of reference of the Department.
The DECR runs a website and publishes the scientific-theological and church-public academic magazine ‘Church and Time’.
The leadership of the DECR
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Archbishop Leonid of Vladikavkaz and Alania
Archpriest Nikolay Balashov
Archimandrite Philaret (Bulekov)
The structure of the Department
The structure of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations includes the following;
Secretariat for inter-Orthodox relations
Secretariat for Interreligious Relations
Secretariat for the far abroad
There is also a Commission for the Affairs of Old Rite Parishes and Relations with the Old Believers communities