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Chaired by His Holiness Patriarch Alexis, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met in session on Tuesday 15 April. Among the decisions, there were the usual additions to the calendar of New Martyrs, following more discoveries in the Soviet archives, the opening of new monasteries and convents, the dispatch of extra clergy to the Diaspora in Western Europe and the question of the general glorification of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. (At present he has been glorified officially only by the self-governing Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, although there are churches dedicated to him by the Patriarchate inside Russia).

On a sadder note, the Holy Synod referred to the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on 9 January 2008 to attempt to extend its Hong Kong Metropolia, opened in 1996. It would be expanded to other countries in south-east Asia and above all to the canonical territory of the Chinese Orthodox Church, which was long ago founded and is cared for by the Russian Church. This deliberate determination to overlook the facts of Church history and the canons is astonishing.

However, the main news is that the Russian Orthodox Church is at last to set up a seminary in Paris. The Synod blessed this move, which we first called for in 2006 (see under Events 2006, A Vision and an Akathist: Towards an Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe). It also appointed as seminary chancellor the Diocesan Bishop, Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun, and appointed as rector Hieromonk Alexander (Siniakov), a priest of the diocese.

Although in 2006 we had originally put forward the possibility of opening such a seminary in London, Paris has clearly made more sense. The important thing is that a practical seminary of the Orthodox Tradition, not an Institute with layers of ecumenist, modernist and gnostic compromise and the academic study of irrelevant philosophies, is at last to be opened somewhere in Western Europe. Let us hope that the desire of the Russian Orthodox Church, as mentioned by the Patriarch in his visit to Paris last year, to build a Cathedral in Paris will follow. At present the Russian Orthodox Church suffers from a chronic lack of infrastructure in Paris, as everywhere else in Western Europe.

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