On Decemer 26, 2011, the fourth meeting of the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church convened at the Trapezny Chambers of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, chaired by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church opened the meeting by reading the agenda and outline of the main achievements of the Inter-Council Presence in 2011.
His Holiness recalled that the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church held in February 2011 confirmed seven projects proposed by the committees of the Inter-Council Presence. From March to December of this year the committees drew up no fewer than 16 plans. Some of them were subject to examination by a review committee and were publicly discussed throughout the Church at large. Some drafts were already approved by the Holy Synod, and some are subject to review when it meets on December 27-28.
The Primate of the Russian Church especially emphasized documents on youth, missionary work, catechistic activity, as well as social aid programs already approved by the Council of Bishops. “Parallel with the basic documents prepared by the Inter-Council Presence, Synodal departments prepared additional programs (for instance, standard labor regulations). We can now say that there is a theoretical basis for the development of the four aforementioned directions in the work of the Church,” said His Holiness.
His Holiness also mentioned that the forthcoming Synod will review “Regulations on Ecclesiastical Approval for the Work of Orthodox Social Organizations.” Another document prepared by the Inter-Council Presence was “On the Coordination of Activity on Strengthening Church Unity and the Prevention of Schism,” which was already approved by the review committee and passed on to the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council.
According to His Holiness, the work being done by the Inter-Council Presence has contributed greatly to the reform of diocesan life: the Holy Synod has confirmed regulations on metropoliates, for instance; additionally, the Synod authorized the development of regulations on the organization of deaneries.
“The level of work in preparing documents has risen noticeably on the diocesan level. Still, locally, there is weakness in the organization of activities such as seminars, round-tables and conferences. It is important to hold meetings on the oblast level to discuss the work done by the Inter-Council Presence, and in diocesan centers, and maybe on a regional level, too, so that the entire Church is drawn into defining the challenges facing us today,” noted His Holiness.
“The work of the Inter-Council Presence must be explained widely by the Orthodox media. Otherwise, its work may be misinterpreted, and passions may flare up with regard to two or three of the documents. The opportunity for open discussion with society at large, wherein all the projects that are announced can be studied is also important, and we ensure that this is done by publishing them on the Internet,” said the Primate of the Russian Church.
This meeting of the Inter-Council Presence reviewed the following documents:
Agenda for the plenum of the Inter-Council Presence, scheduled for March, 2012;
The draft “Procedures and Criteria for the Election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia”;
A draft document titled “Local and Bishops’ Councils in the System of Ecclesiastical Administration”;
In addition, proposals will be made stating the position of the Russian Orthodox Church with regard to juvenile rights and other matters.
The Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church includes the following members:
Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia