SAN FRANCISCO: May 19, 2006

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Concludes

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia convened from May 15-19 in San Francisco, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus.

At its early meetings, the Council of Bishops examined and confirmed the materials of the IV All-Diaspora Council; after which the Council moved on the an exhaustive study of all the questions connected with the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. In this matter, the Council of Bishops developed and approved an epistle in which the spiritual process of reconciliation was elucidated. The draft "Act on Canonical Communion" was then discussed. This draft was adopted and approved in principle, though with the stipulation that certain points be resolved. The final confirmation of the text of the "Act," as well as details as to its ceremonial signing, was conferred upon the Synod of Bishops. The Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate was instructed to reach agreement on the joint publication of the draft "Act on Canonical Communion" even before its final confirmation in order to inform the clergy and flock in both parts of the Russian Church of its contents.

As part of its program, the Council of Bishops discussed internal church matters, relating, for example, to youth ministry; our monasteries in the Holy Land; filling the ranks of the episcopacy and clergy; and financial and administrative matters. The Council of Bishops accepted the appeal of His Grace Bishop Ambroise to retire. Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand was appointed Chief Deputy of the President of the Synod of Bishops with residence in New York, and Bishop Michael of Boston was appointed to the vacated Diocese of Geneva and Western Europe. In connection with the relieving of His Grace Bishop Ambroise of all duties, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America was appointed a member of the Commission on talks with the Moscow Patriarchate, and His Grace Bishop Evtikhii of Ishim and Siberia was given authority over all parishes of the Russian Church Abroad on Russian territory. The final task of the Council of Bishops was the selection of new members for the Synod of Bishops.

After the Council of Bishops concluded, as is the case after every Council of Bishops, the first meeting of the Synod of Bishops was held in its new composition, at which ongoing church matters were discussed.