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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

02/19/1997

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Bishops Gather to Discuss Direction of Orthodoxy

Possible sainthood for Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the Romanov rulers, is among the sensitive issues being considered by nearly 140 Russian Orthodox Church bishops this week at a key conference in Moscow. The five-day meeting of the Arkhiyereisky Sobor, or Council of Bishops, also is expected to be a test of efforts by Patriarch Alexy II to guide the church along a centrist course in the face of opposition from a strong arch-conservative faction. The council is scheduled to hear a progress report of the Holy Synod's commission on canonization, including the touchy issue of sainthood for Nicholas and his family, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Meetings of the Council of Bishops, which are supposed to be held every two years, are intended to demonstrate the unity of the church and its leading bodies. But divisions have been evident as the church tries to meet the challenges of freedom in modern Russia.

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