Monday, June 23, 2008
Moscow, June 23, Interfax - The Bishop's Council of the Moscow Patriarchate will open Tuesday in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and continue its work until Sunday, June 29. Ruling hierarchs from all Russian regions, CIS countries and foreign dioceses, as well as vicarial bishops in charge of Synodal Organizations and Theological Academies, arrived to Moscow to attend the Bishops' Council. For the first time ever, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad headed by Metropolitan Hilarion, Eastern America and New York Diocese will participate in the Bishops' Council. The opening ceremony of the Bishops' Council will be preceded by the Divine Liturgy conducted in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Three plenary sessions are planned for the first day. Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia will address the audience with a report.The Council is expected to focus on the issues of the Church unity. One of the major items on the Council's agenda shall be challenges of the church schism and canonical church in Ukraine. The Bishops' Council coincides with the celebration of 1020th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia which will officially open during its work on June 28, Sunday. The Council participants will also approve a document stipulating the position of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding human rights, the Regulation on Church Court, and address the question of church celebration of Shanghai Holy Hierarch John (Maximovich), former Supreme Pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad beatified by the Church in 1994.The participants may also address some moral and ethical issues, in particular, will express their negative attitude to the so-called homosexual marriages. Patriarch Alexy II stated his intend to raise any issues at the Council "for the church unity benefit" and noted that the Russian Church was open to discuss any social matters. The Bishop's Council, the upper church administrative body, is called no less than once in four years. The last Bishops' Council was held in 2004.