The current Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Kirill, during his coronation ceremony.

Russian MiniLessons: Election of the Patriarch 

Published: July 12, 2009

The following bilingual Russian MiniLesson is meant to build your vocabulary by providing Russian phrases within English text. Hover over the bold Russian to reveal its English translation.

In the 20th century, Русская Православная Церковь избирала Патриарха 5 times, and each time the elections procedure was different. However, выборы of the 16th Patriarch, which are scheduled for the end of January, will be held in accordance with the same procedure which was used in 1990 when Alexy II was elected as Патриарх.

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Первое выдвижение кандидатов to be considered for election will take place at Архиерейский собор on January 25-26, 2009 in Moscow. This council, made up of the 190 bishops serving under the Moscow Patriarchate and representing dioceses from around the world, makes an initial selection of three candidates.

After that, Поместный собор meets. “Поместный собор” is usually translated as “The Local Council,” although that can be slightly misleading as it consists not of people from one locality, but rather an amalgamation of various representatives chosen locally in numerous locations around the world. This council, which in 2009 is expected to be attended by more than 700 delegates, is высший орган власти in Русская Православная Церковь.

Поместный собор will take place on January 27-29, 2009, and there архиереи, священники и миряне will elect the new Patriarch. The decision is made большинством голосов and на закрытом заседании. Reforms made in 1990 allow the elections to be conducted by тайное голосование and also give the Поместный собор the power to use what is known as “альтернативная система выдвижения кандидатов”, whereby, simply put, this larger delegation can put forward additional candidates for consideration before voting.

Each diocese (currently, there are 156 of them) elects three delegates to Поместный собор. Patriarchal parishes in the United States, Canada and Scandinavia will be represented by two delegates each. The official site for the Russian Church in the USA lists nearly 40 patriarchal parishes in the US. Also, a special delegate quota will be assigned to the 38 seminaries and the 25 monasteries that are directly managed by the Patriarch, so that these institutions will also be represented.

While the соборы have the power to nominate, there are many требования that кандидат в патриархи must meet. He should быть архиереем Русской православной церкви; иметь высшее богословское образование, иметь опыт епархиального управления, иметь приверженность к каноническому правопорядку, иметь добрую репутацию и пользоваться доверием иерархов, клира и народа and быть не моложе 40 лет. Currently, there are more than 100 bishops in Russian Orthodox Church who satisfy these requirements.

Интронизация of new Patriarch is scheduled for February 1. Интронизация takes place during liturgy. Возведение новоизбранного патриарха на патриаршую кафедру consists of a ceremony in which the Духовенство облачает him in патриаршие одежды and вручает him патриарший посох.

The patriarch is elected пожизненно. In the course of Russian history, no patriarch has ever voluntarily отрекался от престола.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh lived in Moscow from 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS, until 2022. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Internship Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Josh Wilson