Wimbledon priest forced out of home due to church schism


An Orthodox priest and his family are homeless following a recent UK court order on their Wimbledon premises.


By Luke Ritchie

An Orthodox priest and his family are homeless following a recent UK court order on their Wimbledon premises.

Archpriest Alexander Fostiropoulos, along with his wife and children, left their house this month, with the property reverting to the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh.

They are currently staying with friends.

The house, when visited by Merton Matters, appeared uninhabited with the windows covered and without a car outside. 

The ruling appears to be the latest round of power struggles between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Archpriest Fostiropoulos had followed former Diocese head Bishop Basil Osborne of Sergeivo when he left the Moscow Patriarchate for Constantinople.

The house was owned by a charity, originally set up when the Orthodox group fled Russia in 1917, which has since fallen under Moscow’s control.

“The parish council was very careful and our priests didn’t get very much money but they had their homes provided for them. We bought their homes,” said a parishioner, who declined to be named.

“They (The Moscow Patriarchate) claimed the lot. They didn’t belong to us you see as we didn’t have to pay tax on them, charity status,” he continued.

“They were living there and their electricity and gas were paid for. I think they had cars that were paid for by the parishes.

“None of it was their personal property, but you would have thought they were sitting tenants.”

The Moscow Patriarchate considers the departure of the Bishop, some priest and laity to constitute a schism from the diocese. 

They suspended Bishop Basil from hieratic service in 2006. Bishop Basil continues to serve as Bishop of Amphipolis with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 

“There is an old saying that the only people capable of destroying the Orthodox Church are the Orthodox themselves,” wrote one online commentator in February.

“Let judgement be given and accepted. Then let the work of healing and reconciliation begin, with God’s help. We Orthodox must work together to bring some loving kindness into this country and the world.”

Picture by Craig Birrell

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