Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church opened in Moscow

The Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church has begun its work on 25 January 2009 at the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Before the first plenary session, the archpastors who assembled at the Church Councils Hall sang the troparion of Pentecost: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit - through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee!’

The Patriarchal Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, addressed the assembly with introductory remarks, saying in particular, ‘Hereby we open a Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church which is an extraordinary council. Last June we had an opportunity for meeting and working together as a Sacred Bishops’ Council. We adopted important documents, working under the guidance of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia’.

His Eminence Kirill invited the assembly to say a prayer for the repose of the soul of the late primate of the Russian Church. During the litiya for the dead, which was led by the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, the bishops prayed for the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia of blessed memory. According to the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Bishops’ Council consists of the ruling bishops and those vicar bishops who direct Synodal institutions and theological academies or exercise canonical jurisdiction over parishes in their care. Other vicar bishops can participate in a Council but not vote.

The Bishops’ Council is chaired by the Patriarchal Locum Tenens. Its Presidium is made up of the Holy Synod members including Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga; Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Belarus, Patriarchal Exarch for All Belarus; Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna; Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Metropolitan Vladimir of Kishinev and All Moldova, Metropolitan Valentin of Orenburg and Buzuluk, Archbishop Alexander of Kostroma and Galich, Archbishop Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk, Bishop Feofilakt of Bryansk and Sevsk, and Bishop Stefan of Tura and Mozyr. By the Holy Synod decision of 24 December 2008 (Proceedings No. 102), the Council’s Presidium, which is the Holy Synod by the Statute, has additionally included Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and All Japan, Metropolitan Hilarion of New York and Eastern America and Metropolitan Kornily of Tallinn and All Estonia. In total 202 bishops have been invited to attend the Bishops’ Council. The Bishops’ Council will elect three candidates to the widowed patriarchal throne. The election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russian will take place at the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.