Alexy II Sees a Russian Rebound for Orthodox Church

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MOSCOW, JAN. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow says he believes a rebirth of the Eastern Church in under way in Russia.



In his Christmas message issued today -- a day when the Eastern Churches celebrate the birth of Jesus -- Patriarch Alexy II reviewed the year just ended.

"Churches and monasteries are being built and restored. More and more children and adults are learning the truths of the faith," stated the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

"Partnership between the Church, state and various public organizations has been put on a firm footing," he added. "We continue to have difficult yet fruitful dialogue with non-Orthodox Christians, people of other religions and convictions."

On Dec. 23, the patriarch presided at a meeting of the Moscow clergy in which he assessed the life of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The latter has 132 dioceses, 154 bishops, 847 monasteries and hermitages, 16,350 parishes with 15,605 priests, and 3,405 deacons.

It has 681 churches and chapels in Moscow (in 1990 there were fewer than 40), five theological academies, two Orthodox universities, an advanced theological study center for the laity, 33 major seminaries and 44 minor ones.