Moscow, December 5, 2017
The 2017 meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, which concluded its work on Saturday, addressed the issue of the new catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church in its concluding document, “Resolutions of the Sacred Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (November 29-December 2, 2017).”
Having heard a report on the work being done on the new catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission, the Council of Bishops expressed their gratitude to the members of the commission, while noting that the project requires further work.
“In view of the significant volume of preparatory material,” the document reads, “the Council has approved the proposal to publish [the catechism] as three separate documents: 1. The Basics of Orthodox Teaching; 2. The Basics of Canonical Order and the Liturgical Life of the Orthodox Church; 3. The Basics of Orthodox Moral Teaching.”
The three volumes are to be published by the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission once the necessary revisions and amendments have been made.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia had addressed the issue of the catechism in his opening address on November 29 as well, stating that, “From all evidence, this task requires more time than was expected… Besides, the text was published for wide discussion, and its term has not expired yet.”
The patriarch suggested at that time dividing the project into three volumes.
The catechism project has drawn serious criticism from a number of sources from throughout the Church, including Moscow priest Fr. George Maximov, who attended the final meeting of the Council of Bishops on Saturday, and offered some thoughts on the catechism, and other matters, on his Facebook page.
“Earlier it was assumed that the draft of the catechism would be accepted at the Council as a new official document of our Church. However, after public discussion, the given text has not only not been accepted now, but in general has been removed from the agenda, and now there is talk only of three different volumes, to be published (sometime in the future) only in the name of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission,” Fr. George writes.
Most recently, the brothers of the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra addressed a letter to Pat. Kirill and the Council of Bishops, detailing a number of errors in the text, and strongly urging the Council to return the draft text to the Synodal Commission for serious revisions.