On Tuesday, February 2, the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church opened in the Hall of Church Councils in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Participating in the Council are archpastors from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia, as well as Archpastors serving dioceses abroad.
354 archpastors from 293 dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church were given inviations to partcipate in the Council.
Before the Council's opening, Divine Liturgy was served in Christ the Savior Cathedral by dean Archpriest Mikhail Ryzantsev and concelebrating clergy from the Moscow diocese. His Holines Patriarch Kirill prayed in the altar.
The Presidium includes permanent members of the Holy Synod: Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and all Ukraine; Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna; Metropolitan Vladimir of Chisinau and all Moldova; Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan; Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan; Metropolitan Varsonofy of St Petersburg and Ladoga, chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus; and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.
The Presidium also included the bishops invited to the winter session of the Holy Synod of Bishops: Metropolitan Isidor of Smolensk and Roslavl, Archbishop Ioann of Magadan and Sinegorsk; Bishop Markell of Beltsy and Felesht; and Bishop Varlaam of Makhachkala and Grozny.
Also, in accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod on December 24, 2015 (Journal № 96) and taking into consideration the importance of the participation of the heads of the autonomous and self-governing churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad and Metropolitan Alexander of Riga and All Latvia were included in the Council Presidium.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill served a Moleben "Before Every Good Work", before officially openinig the Council.
His Holiness addressed the archpastors during which he noted that the Holy Council of Bishop's was convened a year earlier than the Statute requires due to the preparation to the Pan-Orthodox Council later this year.
Partial article and photographs coutesy of the Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia
Translated by the Patriarchal Parishes of the Rusian Orthodox Church in the USA