« Message of His Holiness KIRILL, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, pastors, deacons, monastics and all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Local Council of 1917-1918 »

Most Reverend Archpastors, honourable presbyters and deacons, pious monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the work of the Local Council of 1917-1918, which became a most important landmark in the history of Russian Orthodoxy.

Notwithstanding the past century that separates us from the events of that era, the significance of the Local Council of 1917-1918 has not yet been fully understood and appreciated by church people. I am deeply convinced that its legacy requires serious and thoughtful examination and that many of the ideas that were expressed then would prove to be useful and necessary today. Great effort is currently being put into the dissemination of knowledge about the activity of the Council: in particular, the first thorough scientific edition of the Council documents is in preparation, something which is extremely important for preserving the memory of this truly great event that took place at the turn of the century.

The Council had a prolonged period of preparation during which information was gathered and the opinions of hierarchs, theologians, canonists and historians on a wide range of questions concerning church life were sought. The most vital and controversial subjects were discussed in both the ecclesiastical and secular press. Many articles were published, setting the tone and determining the course of the subsequent discussions.

Several years before the Council a special organ was established, the Pre-Conciliar Presence, the purpose of which was to gather together the essential data required for the proper organisation of the discussion of topical matters. The currently functioning Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church is a spiritual heir of this organ, which by its very nature was an expression of the conciliarity (sobornost) of the Church. Not only hierarchs, but also clergymen and lay people participate in its work. The documents prepared by the members of the Inter-Council Presence with the help of a wide public discussion are presented for further consideration by the Holy Synod or the Bishops’ Council, signifying thereby the evident triumph of the spirit of conciliarity in the life of Russian Orthodoxy today.

For various reasons by no means all of the decisions that were taken a century ago were implemented. The most obvious hindrances were the Civil War that unfolded after the revolutionary events and the following unprecedented persecution of the Church and its faithful people.

We now carry out our service under completely different historical conditions. By the mercy of God the majority of our fellow citizens do not bear the experience of persecution for confession of faith. Today we can prayerfully consider the results of the conciliar activities and give an answer to the question of why, in the face of multiple impediments, certain resolutions were implemented and found their place in the life of the Church, whereas others on the contrary turned out to be unworkable and were not assimilated by the church consciousness.

Many of the participants of the Council witnessed to their fidelity to the Gospel by a martyr’s death, or by the spiritual feat of confession of the Faith, thereby giving us, their descendants, an example of steadfastness and courage in the face of trials. It is for us act in accordance with the words of Scripture that call us to honour those who laboured before us in the Lord’s field, considering the outcome of their lives, and to imitate their unfailing trust in Christ (Heb. 13,7),  to the end that we should not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but should be firm in faith, rendering glory to God (Rom. 4,20).





Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God


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