Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney elected ROCOR head

Archbishop Hilarion (Kapral) of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand has been elected the new hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov told Interfax-Religion. The election took place during a session of ROCOR's Archbishop Council in New York.

Archbishop Hilarion became acting Chairman of ROCOR's Synod after the death of ROCOR's top hierarch Metropolitan Laurus of East America and New York and was seen as his likeliest successor.

Under the new order, his candidacy requires the approval of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II. Archbishop Hilarion (Igor Kapral) was born on January 6, 1948, in Canada. In 1972, he graduated from the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville. On December 1974, he was tonsured as a Ryassofor monk with the name of Hilarion. In December 1975, he was ordained to the deaconate. In 1976, he became a hierodeacon. The following year he graduated from Syracuse University with a master's degree in Slavic Studies and Russian Literature and was ordained to priesthood. In December 1984, at the age of 36, Father Hilarion was appointed bishop of Manhattan. In June 1996, he was transferred to the diocese of Australia and New Zealand and raised to the rank of archbishop. In 2006, he was elected first deputy chairman of ROCOR's Synod.

Metropolitan Hilarion, the newly-elected first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), has urged Russian immigrants to remain mindful of their spiritual roots.

"Most importantly, Russians abroad must not lose the feeling of their homeland. They must not forget their language and they must develop their best national moral qualities. I would like to convey this wish not only to Russian immigrants, but also to other Russians, who do not plan to emigrate," Metropolitan Hilarion said in an interview, published by the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Tuesday.

Metropolitan Hilarion, who was archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand before being elected first hierarch, also said that many of the young people who emigrated from Russia to Australia, would finally return to their homeland.

"Australia is a hard-working country, he said. "People are absorbed with work here, and mostly talk work and business. Therefore, Russians living here mostly miss simple and cordial relations," he said.

Asked whether church was in need of change, Metropolitan Hilarion said, "the time is ripe to translate prayers from the Old Slavic to the Russian language."

"Many don't understand the Old Slavic language, and therefore do not grasp the meaning and the sacraments of the Godly prayer. Some parishioners abroad do not even know Russian, and there are also parishioners of various ethnicity. We here in Australia do the missionary work even among the Aborigines. So, prayers must be translated into English, as well," he said.