Session of the Holy Synod on 9th June 1998, press-release 


The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met for its regular session on 9 June 1998 in Moscow. It was chaired by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.

After a discussion concerning the 80th anniversary of the passion-bearing death of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family and their faithful servants, the Holy Synod resolved: “1. That the 80th anniversary of the passion-bearing death of the Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family and their faithful servants be commemorated in churches of the Russian Orthodox Church with a requiem service lifting up a prayer ‘for the repose of the souls of the departed servants of God, the murdered Sovereign Emperor Nikolay Aleksandrovich, his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Alexis, their faithful servants and all those martyred and slain in the time of fierce persecution of the faith of Christ, whose names are known to Thee, O Lord’; and that a message of the Holy Synod be sent to the plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with this sad date.”

The Holy Synod considered the upcoming burial of the “Yekaterinburg remains” on 17 July 1998 in St. Petersburg and resolved: “1. To re-affirm the position of the Church expressed in the Decision of the Holy Synod of February 26, 1998, stating in particular, ‘Any evaluation of the reliability of scientific and investigatory conclusions, as well as any evidence as to their unshakable or irrefutable nature are beyond the competence of the Church… The decision of the state commission to identify the remains discovered near Yekaterinburg as those of the family of Emperor Nicholas II has evoked serious doubts and even conflicts in the Church and society… In this regard the Holy Synod has spoken in favor of an immediate burial of these remains in a symbolic memorial grave. When all doubts with regard to the “Yekaterinburg remains” have been removed and reasons for confusion and opposition in society have disappeared, then it will be necessary to revisit the final decision on the matter of the place of their burial’. 2. Considering the above, to conclude that it is impossible for the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church or any other of her hierarchs to participate in the burial of the “Yekaterinburg remains”. 3. Having in view the requests coming to the Supreme Church Authority to accompany the burial with appropriate church actions and recalling that the Church never refuses anyone such actions, to authorize the Most Reverend Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga to delegate clerics from among the clergy under his jurisdiction to conduct a requiem on July 17 at the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul at Sts Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg”.

The Holy Synod approved the stand taken by the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church at the pan-Orthodox meeting on “Evaluation of News Facts in the Relations of Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement” (29 April-2 May 1998, Thessaloniki, Greece). The Holy Synod expressed satisfaction with the fact that the meeting reached all-Orthodox unity in its attitude to the ecumenical movement in general and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in particular. It was noted that representatives of Orthodox Churches were unanimous in stressing the need to continue participation in inter-Christian contacts. The Holy Synod gave special attention to the unanimous condemnation of schismatic groups within Local Orthodox Churches who use the theme of ecumenism in order to criticize the church leadership, thus trying to sow differences and divisions in the Church. The Holy Synod approved the decision of the pan-Orthodox meeting to send Local Orthodox Churches’ delegations to the WCC Assembly with a limited mandate of bearing a unanimous witness to the crisis of the WCC and presenting the statement of the pan-Orthodox meeting to the participants in the Assembly.

The Holy Synod received the reports on the recent celebrations devoted to the Day of Slavonic Literature and Culture and deemed it necessary to set up a permanent commission under the Rector of the Moscow Theological Academy for coordinating annual conferences held on the occasion of this Day in Russia.

Having heard the reports about the enthronement of His Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland, the Holy Synod offered thanks to the Lord for having given new Primates to the Orthodox Churches of Greece and Poland and expressed hope that traditional fraternal inter-Orthodox relations will continue developing.

The Holy Synod blessed the opening of 7 monasteries in the dioceses of Yekaterinburg, Moscow, Kishenev, Orel, and St. Petersburg) and 7 convents in the dioceses of Alma Ata, Yekaterinburg, Kishinev, Tashkent and Ufa. Some decisions were made concerning personnel at monasteries in various dioceses.

In connection with the consecration of a Chapel of St. Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow, on April 12, 1994 at Limassol, Cyprus, at a plot of land transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church by the Archdiocese of Cyprus, the Holy Synod expressed gratitude to those who helped the Orthodox Church of Cyprus to do it, including the Moscow Government led by Mayor Luzhkov and the Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in Cyprus.

The Holy Synod expressed satisfaction with the results of the 5th Theological Talks between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference in Germany that took place on May 14-16, 1998, in Minsk, on the themes “the Unity and Diversity of the Church” and “the Boundaries of the Church” and with the theological conversations with the Evanglical Church in Germany which took place on May 23-27, 1998, on “the Church, People, and State in Europe”. It was deemed beneficial to continue these theological dialogues.

The Holy Synod also made amendments to the Russian Orthodox membership on the Coordinating Committee for Cooperation with the Church of England and appointed a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the 11th Theological Talks with the Evangelical Church in Finland to take place on October 12-19, 1998, in Lappenranta, Finland, on the theme “Churches, Religious Freedom and Church-State Relations