Archbishop Christopher elected Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

His Eminence, Archbishop Christopher of Prague and the Czech Lands recently was elected the fifth Primate of the Czech-Slovak Church on May 2, 2006.

VILEMOV, CZECH REPUBLIC [OCA Communications] — On May 2, 2006, an All-Church Council of clergy and laity of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia gathered here to elect a successor to the Church’s late Primate, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Nikolaj, who fell asleep in the Lord after a lengthy illness on January 30, 2006.

Elected by the Council delegates as the new Primate of the Church was His Eminence, Archbishop Christopher of Prague and the Czech Lands. With his election, he becomes the fifth Primate of the Czech-Slovak Church since it was granted autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Moscow in 1951. His enthronement will take place on May 28, 2006.

Archbishop Christopher was born Radim Pulets in Prague in 1953. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1974. He completed his studies at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Presov, Czechoslovakia, in 1979, after which he pursued graduate studies at the Moscow Theological Academy, from which he graduated in 1984. In 1987, he completed additional theological studies at the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, Greece.

In 1985 he was tonsured to monastic orders at the Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius Monastery in Sergiev-Posad [then known as Zagorsk], Russia, taking the name Christopher. Two years later His Beatitude, the late Metropolitan Dorotheus, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia, elevated him to the rank of archimandrite. He also served at Prague’s Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

In 1988, Metropolitan Dorotheus presided at his consecration to the episcopacy and election as Bishop of Olomouc and Brno. After the repose of Metropolitan Dorotheus in 2000, he was named Archbishop of Prague and the Czech Lands and oversaw the work of the Church’s Metropolitan Council.

Archbishop Christopher has participated in numerous theological conferences and has represented his Church in many venues. He is well known for his academic pursuits in the fields of theology and philosophy, and is fluent in several languages, including Russian, Greek, German, and English.

Upon learning of Archbishop Christopher’s election, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent congratulatory greetings on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Church.

“The Orthodox Church in the former Czechoslovakia has faced numerous difficulties after the fall of communism, especially with the breakup of the country into two separate states—the Czech Republic and Slovakia,”
according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, director of the OCA Office of Communications. “With the majority of Orthodox properties given to non-Orthodox confessions and communities, the Church embarked on an ambitious program to build and rebuild dozens of new churches and chapels, especially in eastern Slovakia. During Metropolitan Nikolaj’s five-year tenure, the Church was stabilized, and today continues to build upon its 1000 year tradition freely.”