Session of the Holy Synod on 2-3th October 1997, press-release

The Holy Synod denounced a number of publications 
in the Rus pravoslavnaya and Moskovsky komsomoletz newspapers

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session on 3 October 1997, chaired by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, adopted unanimously a resolution the full text of which is given below.

CONSIDERED: a number of anti-church publications carried in the Rus pravoslavnaya (appendix to the Sovietskaya Rossia daily) and in Moskovsky Komsomoletz daily.

RESOLVED: 1. To express regret that the above-mentioned newspapers published articles which gave an extremely biased interpretation of the church history, disseminated wittingly lie and slander and in some cases were based on direct forgery; to note the fact that these publications sought blasphemously to slander the life of both the late hierarchs and clerics who zealously served God and His Holy Church and living bishops and pastors who have carried out their service in strict observance of the decisions made by the High Church Authority and in faithful obedience to the Mother Church; to reject resolutely the ungrounded accusations of “apostasy” and “heresy”, as well as other lies and slander contained in these publications. 

2. To affirm that the above-mentioned publications are regarded by the Church as insulting and aimed to discredit archpastors and pastors in the eyes of the faithful and intended to sow ill-will and suspicion both in society and the church milieu, thus provoking disturbance in the Russian Orthodox Church; to state that the above-mentioned newspapers continue their struggle against the Church which was waged in the past under the banner of state atheism but nowadays seeks impudently to disguise itself with a falsely understood “concern” for the state of church life. 

3. To consider the actions by persons engaged in these publications to deserve canonical bans; to appeal to their conscience, reminding them that if they consider themselves to be Orthodox they should be aware of the sinfulness of their bitter actions. 

4. To call upon the Plenitude of the Church to maintain spiritual vigilance and prevent worldly calumnies from bringing disturbance into the life of the Church. 

The session of the Holy Synod 

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox held its regular session on 2-3 October 1997 under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.

The Holy Synod expressed satisfaction with the meeting that took place in Odessa on 24 September 1997 between His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and pointed out a full convergence of positions taken by the Primates of the two Churches on problems involved in overcoming divisions that breach the church unity and in inter-Christians relations. 

In the course of the meeting, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew expressed in particular his support for the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine led by Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy and His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew stressed the need for an all-Orthodox reflection to take place in the nearest future on the participation of Orthodox Churches in the movement for Christian unity. 

The Holy Synod emphasized the importance of the visit made by His Holiness the Patriarch to Lithuania for the Orthodox faithful in this country and the significance of the talks His Holiness had with state leaders of the Republic of Lithuania and the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church in Lithuania.

The Holy Synod ascertained the broad participation of the Church in the celebrations held on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of Moscow, which manifested itself most vividly in the blessing of the walls of the Church of Christ the Savior, the holding of the Moscovy Great Choir Sobor and the visible presence of Orthodox spiritual and cultural tradition in the secular part of the celebrations. The Holy Synod thanked God Who showed so much of His grace to the capital city of Moscow and invoked God’s blessing upon the Mayor and Government of Moscow and all the Muscovites with wishes of success in overcoming the difficulties of this age and in their work for the benefit of the capital city and our Motherland. 

The Holy Synod approved the new structure of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate as presented by His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, DECR chairman. 

The Holy Synod acknowledged the report by His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill on the talks he had in Graz, Austria, on 25 June 1997 and in Geneva, Switzerland, on 10 September 1997 with a delegation of the Romanian Patriarchate concerning the presence and canonical status of the Romanian Patriarchate’s jurisdiction in the territory of the Orthodox Church in Moldova.

The Holy Synod approved the position taken by the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church at the meeting of the World Council of Church Central Committee and came out with an initiative to take an all-Orthodox decision concerning problems involved in the participation of Orthodox Churches in the work of this international Christian organization before its 7th General Assembly to take place in December 1998 in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

Having heard the report of His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill on his trip to Norway, the Holy Synod resolved that the participation of the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk diocese in the Barents Sea Council of Churches and the possibility for the Petrozavodsk diocese to join it be supported and gave its blessing on the construction of a chapel at the Barentsburg settlements in Spitzbergen Island and on the pastoral care to be taken of the new parish by an Orthodox priest.

The Holy Synod expressed satisfaction with the fellowship shared with Metropolitan Philip of New York and North America (Patriarchate of Antioch) during his visit to the Russian Orthodox Church from September 2 to 11, 1997, and noted with approval the position taken by the head of the North American Metropolitanate of the Orthodox Church of Antioch on the Orthodox witness and principles of inter-Orthodox cooperation in today’s world. 

The Holy Synod made decisions on a number of internal church issues. Having considered the reports of His Grace Bishop Yevgeny of Vereya, acting chairman of the Holy Synod Committee for Education, on the preparation of reforms to be introduced in the Russian Orthodox theological schools, the Holy Synod approved the draft model curriculum and model statutes for academies and seminaries and the procedure for appointing officers for theological schools. 

The Holy Synod noted the success of the celebrations held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the first Orthodox liturgy in Canada as they showed that by God’s grace the service and witness of the Russian Orthodox Church in Canada, represented now by the Patriarchal Parishes under His Grace Mark, Bishop of Kashira, were carried out successfully. 

The Holy Synod relieved Bishop Sergius of Novosibirsk and Berdsk of the duties of temporary administrator of the Tomsk diocese and resolved that Bishop Arkady formerly of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and the Kurils be nominated Bishop of Tomsk and Asinsk.

Having heard the report by the Right Reverend Rostislav of Magadan and Chukotka, temporary administrator of the Kamchatka diocese, the Holy Synod expressed satisfaction with an increase in the number of churches and the missionary work carried out by the clergy of the diocese and their efforts to inchurch the people of God living in the Magadan region, Chukotka and Kamchatka. The large-scale celebrations held on the occasion of the 200th birthday of St. Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow were considered to be significant for the region. In the course of these celebrations a new church dedicated to St. Innocent was consecrated in Chukotka, scientific seminars were held and exhibitions were organized.

The Holy Synod gave its blessing upon the opening of five convents in the dioceses of Vladimir, Vyatka, Perm and Moscow and a monastery in the diocese of Syktyvkar.  It was decided to summon for the Holy Synod winter session Archbishops Chrysostom of Vilnius and Lithuania, Job of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust, Vladimir of Tashkent and Central Asia and Victor of Tver and Kashin, as well as Bishops Philaret of Maikop and Armavir and Manuel of Petrozavodsk and Karelia.