PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia presides over the meeting of Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, 2017
On 25th August 2022, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it has once again postponed the dates for the Bishops’ Council meeting – which was scheduled to meet in Moscow next month – and has now been postponed “indefinitely”, citing the “current situation in the world”.
“Since the international situation continues to make it difficult for many members of the Bishops’ Council to arrive in Moscow [from foreign countries], a decision has been made to postpone the meeting indefinitely . . . ” the Synod’s resolution states (Journal No. 66) dated 25th August 2022.
Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patrairchate) from more than 70 countries cannot travel to Moscow, due to Western sanctions, which have banned air travel to Russia from many countries around the world.
The Bishops’ Council was originally scheduled to meet in Moscow from 15th to 18th November 2021, however, this was delayed “due to the difficult COVID-19 situation.” The meeting was thus rescheduled for 26th to 29th May 2022. This meeting was also delayed due to the Russian-Ukranian conflict, and postponed until the end of 2022.
A key item on the agenda of the Bishops’ Council meeting is a definitive decision of the Church on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains.
The Council of Bishops is the highest body of the hierarchical administration of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Council reviews and approves church dogmas, determines the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on important issues of public life. Thus, at the council of 2000, a decision was made to canonize more than a thousand new martyrs – which included Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
According to the charter of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Council of Bishops is convened at least once every four years. The previous council took place in Moscow, from 29th November to 2nd December 2017. Between councils, issues of church life are decided by the Holy Synod, which meets every four months.
PHOTO: on 29th November 2017, some 347 bishops from across Russia and around the world, took part in the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow
As of 2019, the Russian Orthodox Church was present in 77 countries – including Russia; with 309 dioceses (of which 19 are in foreign countries); 382 bishops; 40,514 clerics (35,677 presbyters, 4,837 deacons); 38,649 churches or other places of worship where Divine Liturgy is served, not including 977 parishes abroad; 1012 monasteries (972 monasteries in the canonical territory (474 male, 498 female) and 40 in other countries); 5,883 monks and 9,687 nuns (including cassocks) live in monasteries; 5 academies and 50 seminaries in which, at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, approx. 14 thousand students; OK. 11,000 Sunday schools with over 175,000 pupils; 145 Orthodox educational organizations; almost 150 maternity protection centers; there are 70 rehabilitation centers, 18 resocialization centers, 67 counseling centers for drug addicts; over 90 shelters for the homeless; there are 10 mercy buses (mobile points for helping the homeless); over 450 charity canteens; more than 160 church humanitarian centers; more than 450 sisterhoods of mercy; over 500 volunteer charity groups; more than 250 charitable voluntary associations of various profiles.
According to the Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the Bishops, members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will return to this issue, when they meet again in December.
Sadly, whatever decision the Bishops’ Council makes, it is sure to cause a schism among Believers who are divided on the authenticity of the remains. Many still adhere to Nikolai Alekseevich Sokolov’s (1882-1924) theory that the bodies of the Imperial Family were completely destroyed with fire and acid at the Four Brothers Mine.
BONES OF CONTENTION (Revised Edition)
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Ekaterinburg Remains
By Paul Gilbert
Full-colour covers, 206 pages + 90 black & white photographs
Originally published in 2020, this NEW REVISED & EXPANDED 2021 EDITION features an additional 40+pages, new chapters and 90 black and white photos. It is the most up-to-date source on the highly contentious issue of the Russian Orthodox Church and their position on the Ekaterinburg Remains.
The world awaits a decision by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, who will meet in Moscow at some point, during which they will review the findings of the Investigative Commission and deliver their verdict on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains.
The reopening of the investigation into the death of Nicholas II and his family in 2015, caused a wave of indignation against the Russian Orthodox Church. This book presents the position of both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Investigation Committee.
This is the first English language title to explore the position of the Orthodox Church in Russia with regard to the Ekaterinburg remains. The author’s research for this book is based exclusively on documents from Russian media and archival sources.
This unique title features an expanded introduction by the author, and eight chapters, on such topics as the grounds for the canonization of Nicholas II and his family by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000; comparative details of the Sokolov investigation in 1919, and the investigations carried out in the 1990s to the present; reluctance of the Moscow Patriarchate to officially recognize the remains as authentic; interesting findings of Russian journalist, producer and screenwriter Elena Chavchavadze in her documentary Regicide. A Century of Investigation; and the author’s own attempt to provide some answers to this ongoing and long drawn-out investigation for example: “Will Alexei and Maria be buried with the rest of their family?” and “Will the Imperial Family remains be reinterred in a new cathedral in Ekaterinburg?”.
This new revised and expanded edition also includes two NEW chapters!
Interviews with Vladimir Soloviev, Chief Major Crimes Investigator for the Central Investigate Department of the Public Prosecution Office of the Russian Federation and Archpriest Oleg Mitrov, a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints – BOTH key players in the Ekaterinburg remains case, reveal the political undertones of this to this ongoing and long drawn-out investigation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Independent researcher Paul Gilbert has spent more than 25+ years researching and writing about the Russian Imperial Family. His primary research is focused on the life, reign and era of Nicholas II. On 17th July 1998, he attended the tsar’s interment ceremony at the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Twenty years later, he attended the Patriarchal Liturgy on the night of 16/17 July 2018, held at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. Since his first visit to the Urals in 2012, he has brought prayers and flowers to both Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log on numerous occasions.
© Paul Gilbert. 20 October 2022