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.
In an instruction released December 12th, 2008, Dignitatis Personae, the Holy See clarified a number of issues in biomedical research and their application to family life that have been hotbeds of contention for decades.
"Dignitatis Personae acknowledges that previous standards by some ethics committees have not been "sufficient" and the Holy See has taken steps to assist both parents who vaccinate their children and researchers who use aborted fetal or embryonic material," stated Children of God for Life's Executive Director, Debi Vinnedge.
Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's representative branch in European international organizations, took modern Western society to task for backsliding on traditional family values.
"The dramatic and unprecedented in scale social sweeping change caused by the "sexual revolution" has affected almost all Western countries. Within less than fifty years, the traditional assumptions about family and sex have been overthrown: they are replaced with the "progressive" norms based on a liberal ideology," Bishop Hilarion said reporting to the First Orthodox-Catholic Forum in Trento, Italy.
Orthodox Churches in Russia and abroad have been holding memorial services for Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, on Saturday, the ninth day after his death, in keeping with the Orthodox tradition.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session on 10 December 2008 took decision on the dates of the Bishops' Council and the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church to elect Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
The Holy Synod resolved that The Bishops' Council will be held on 25-26 January 2009, and the Local Council on 27-29 January 2009.