Aleksy II to address Strasbourg parliament

Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia is in Strasbourg to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He arrived on Monday with his first official visit to France since becoming the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Over the course of the week, PACE representatives will discuss such topics as education, preventative war and the status of migrants in Europe.

However, for Russians the highlight of this PACE meeting will be the address of Patriarch Aleksy II. In this respect, some analysts say that they expect issues like abortion, euthanasia and homosexual unions will come up.

In four days the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church is to meet the country's religious and political leaders, including president Nicolas Sarkozy. 

On Wednesday, a special service will also be held at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. For this occasion the Roman Catholic Church will be brining Christ's Crown of Thorns, which is a very important symbol for both the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.

A celebration of the re-unification of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is planned. The latter broke off after the Bolshevik revolution, accusing the Russian Orthodox Church of collaborating with the communist government. The church was finally reunified just a few months ago.