During these days of Advent there are once again clear signs of a warming between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church in Russia. During a solemn Orthodox Liturgy on 19 December, Catholic Bishop Josef Werth of the diocese of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Novosibirsk formally presented Russian Orthodox Bishop Aristarch of Kemerovo and Nowokuznesk (Siberia) with a relic of Saint Nicholas. This solemn Liturgy, which was also attended by the apostolic Nuncio in the Russian Federation, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, was being held to celebrate the Russian feast of Saint Nicholas in the Orthodox cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kemerovo which, despite the fact that it was a weekday, was filled to overflowing.
Georgian catholic patriarch Ilia the second once more spoke about the meeting with Russian president on joint meeting of academy of scientists. Patriarch stated that they reached good agreement on meeting with Dmitry Medvedev. "There were pretty good, positive agreements, but it needs continuation, cautious and diplomatic approach. I think that our government will continue it", - Ilia the second stated. Patriarch declared that big delegation will visit Georgia from Russia on December 24 headed by former culture minister, incumbent Medvedev's advisor Mikheil Shvidkov. Russian delegation will take part in scientific conference.
"We will never permit tricks or the vagaries of history to wipe us out from this land": the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has commented on the report of the Turkish foreign ministry, which denigrates the "minority" presence of the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey, and refuses to recognize the "ecumenical" character of the ancient patriarchate.
Presiding over the reopening of the church dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helena in the Bozakoy neighborhood in Istanbul, Bartholomew I highlighted for the faithful present that "we are not finished, or hopeless." And recalling the great battle of Greek king Leonides against Xerxes of Persia, he added: "we will never abandon our Thermopylae."
A large and enthusiastic crowd packed the conference hall of the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris from December 11-14, 2008 to hear speakers from around the world present papers on "The Legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann." Among the speakers were several SVS faculty and alumni, including Dr. Paul Meyendorff, The Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology at St. Vladimir's; The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA); Joost Van Rossum, Professor of Church History at St. Sergius; Jean-François Colosimo, Professor of the History of Philosophy and Byzantine Theology at St. Sergius; The Very Rev. Alexis Vinogradov, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Church, Wappingers Falls, NY; Stig Symeon Froyshov, Professor of Ancient Church History and Patristics at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Oslo; and The Rev. William Mills, rector of the Nativity of the Theotokos Church, Charlotte, NC.
The number of churches and chapels acting in Moscow has increased from 851 to 872 since December 2007, Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutistsy and Kolomna told a meeting of the capital's clergy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
He also cited the data saying that about 1838 clergymen are working in the capital today (last year their number equaled to 1770). The Russian Orthodox Church has 157 dioceses (compared to 142 last year), 203 bishops including 149 ruling bishops and 48 vicar bishops. The total number of clergy in the Russian Church equals to 30 670.