On November 30, 2017, the Hall of Councils of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow hosted the second day of meetings of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onouphry of Kiev and All Ukraine reported on the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church today.
His Eminence Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsa and Kolomensk, Head of the Church-Society Council of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia on the Memorialization of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, spoke on the events marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the persecutions of the Russian Orthodox Church and on the New Martyrs.
His Grace Bishop Tikhon of Egorievsk, President of the Patriarchal Council on Culture and Secretary of the Church Commission on the Remains of Ekaterinburg, spoke on the work on identifying the remains purported to be of the last Royal Family.
Discussions followed after each lecture.
The members of the Council then discussed and adopted a document titled “Regulations on Monasteries and Monastics of the Russian Orthodox Church.” The draft was prepared by His Eminence Metropolitan Georgy of Nizhegorodsk and Arzamassk, President of the Inter-Council Presence on Monasteries and Monastics.
Also discussed at the session was a report by His Grace Bishop Pankraty of Troitsk, President of the Synodal Commission on the Canonization of Saints, after which decisions were made on glorifying a series of locally-venerated saints.
His Eminence Metropolitan Varsonofy of St Petersburg and Ladoga, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate, told the Council about proposed amendments to the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church and other ecclesiastical documents. In consideration of the special status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Council of Bishops deliberated on a request submitted by Metropolitan Onouphry on separating passages concerning the UOC into a separate chapter of the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church. After discussion, the Council adopted a document titled “On Amendments and Additions to the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church and Other Documents of the Russian Orthodox Church,” in accordance with which instead of Article 18, Chapter 21 of the Regulations, a new chapter titled “The Ukrainian Orthodox Church” is included.
This document also introduces a series of amendments concerning the glorification of locally-venerated saints, clarification of the rights of the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne in granting awards, a correction of the legal system of the Russian Orthodox Church and the representation of structures of the Moscow Patriarchate located abroad at the Pomestny [National] Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.
One of the points on the agenda was the matter of the election of an Ecclesiastical Court upon the termination of the four-year term of its existing members: His Eminence Metropolitan Isidor of Ekaterinodar and Kuban, President; His Eminence Metropolitan Evlogy of Vladimir and Suzdal, and His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Bryansk and Sevsk, Secretary. Hearing a report by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Council decided to reappoint Metropolitan Isidor as president of the court, along with Metropolitan Alexander, and also to appoint His Grace Bishop Dionisy of Kasimovsk and Sasovsk to be its secretary.
The hierarchs also heard the written appeal of former Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev and All Ukraine addressed to Patriarch Kirill and the episcopacy of the Russian Orthodox Church dated November 16, 2017. The letter includes a request to restore Eucharistic and prayerful communion with Christians who are in the Ukrainian Church schism, to rescind “all decisions, including suspensions and excommunications… for the sake of the Divinely-commanded peace between Orthodox Christians of the same faith and reconciliation of peoples.” The letter concludes with the words: “I ask forgiveness of all my sins in word, in deed and in my feelings, and from my heart I truly forgive all.”
In the Decision subsequently adopted it is noted that the Council receives this letter with satisfaction as a step towards overcoming schism and the reestablishment of ecclesiastical communion on the part of those who at one time fell from unity with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “It is the duty today of those who are within the Church and those who strive to unite with Her to maintain the constant podvig of mutual love and selflessness, in order to overcome the many years of alienation, relying on the mercy and grace of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, Who destroyed the division of enmity. The complete rejection of violence and of the seizure of churches, the rejection of mutual accusations and rebukes, the mutual forgiveness of old offenses—these are the healing methods of self-sacrifice and love in Christ which are the only means to reestablish canonical unity of the Church in Ukraine” the document says.
The Council established a committee for further negotiations with those who separated from Church communion.
Information Service of the Council of Bishops.