Temporary Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
(confirmed by the General Council of Bishops -- 9/22 &
11/24, Sept. 1936)
I. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which consists
of the dioceses, ecclesiastical missions and churches which
are located outside the boundaries of Russia, is an indissoluble
part of the Russian Orthodox Church, temporarily existing
on autonomous principles.
The name of Metropolitan Peter, the locum tenens of the throne
of the Patriarch of All Russia, shall always be commemorated
at the divine services in all churches outside of Russia.
II. The highest legislative, judicial, and administrative
organ of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is
the Council of Bishops, which meets annually, and its executive
organ, the Holy Synod of Bishops.
III. The Council [Sobor] of Bishops.
The President of the Council of Bishops is the President of
the Holy Synod of Bishops, and all the bishops belonging to
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are its members.
Bishops who cannot personally attend the Council may entrust
their representation to other bishops.
Matters of the Council of Bishops shall be decided by general
consent of all members who take part in the session or by
the opinion of the majority; in the case of a tie, the vote
of the President shall be decisive.
Within the jurisdiction of the Council of Bishops are:
election of the President of the Synod of Bishops;
2) questions of a general ecclesiastical character in connection
with the Faith, moral teaching, divine services, Church administration,
Church discipline, and also judicial matters on an appellate
3) matters of principle, regarding:
a) the defense of the rights of the Russian Church before
governments and international organizations,
b) contemporary false teachings and schisms;
4) the publication of epistles in the name of the entire Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia;
5) the establishment of episcopal sees, their closing, and
changes in their boundaries outside the limits of the districts;
6) the confirmation of the resolutions of the District Councils
regarding the establishment and closing of dioceses and the
changing of their boundaries, and also the review and resolution
of complaints on such cases in the course of an appeal;
7) the confirmation and transfer of bishops who are members
of a district, on the recommendation of the metropolitan of
the latter, and those outside the districts, by recommendation
of the Synod of Bishops;
8) the granting of awards to bishops on the recommendation
of the metropolitans of the districts or on the initiative
of the Synod of Bishops itself;
9) the augmentation or amendment of the Regulations concerning
the Council, Synod, districts or diocesan authority;
10) the ordering of an audit of the Synods financial
accounts, the auditing of the annual account concerning the
activity of the Synod and the annual accounts submitted to
them of the districts and dioceses subject directly to the
Synod, the estimates and financial accounts of the latter,
and also the promulgation of collections and taxes for general
IV. THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
1) The Holy Synod of Bishops consists of four members--representatives
of each of the four ecclesiastical districts (the Near East,
Far East, North America and Western Europe), and the President,
elected by the Council of Bishops for life.
2) Members of the Synod are sent for one-year terms in the
order established by the district. The North American, Western
European, and Far Eastern districts may choose one of the
bishops residing in Europe to represent them as a member.
NOTE: A diocesan bishop, in the event of his attendance
at a session of the Synod, participates in it as a non-voting
member, while in matters dealing with his own diocese, with
a deciding vote; in the event of the latter, the representative
of the given district does not participate in the voting.
3) The Synod of Bishops, with the blessing of His Holiness,
the Patriarch of Serbia, resides in Sremsky-Karlovtsy.
4) Attached to the Synod is a Secretary in the rank of a clergyman,
preferably a bishop, who is in charge of the Synodal Chancery,
and the Head Clerk of the Synodal Chancery, who is subject
to him, and the Synodal Treasurer.
5) The following matters fall within the jurisdiction of the
Synod of Bishops:
appointment of temporary administrators of the ecclesiastical
missions and dioceses directly subject to the Synod of Bishops;
b) the reunion with the Church of bishops who have fallen
away and those who unite themselves to the Holy Church from
heterodox confessions which have not lost the apostolic succession;
c) the uniting and direction of all aspects of the life of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with regard
to the fulfillment of the resolutions of previous Councils
and other ecclesiastical legislation which remains in force;
d) the publishing of books of the Holy Scriptures, divine
service books and catechetical manuals;
e) the supreme direction of missionary and educational activities;
f) the ordering of audits of dioceses, missions, and monasteries
outside a district, while within a district by the recommendation
of the metropolitan of the district;
g) appeals of divorce cases;
h) the granting of exceptions to the general rules in regard
to the location for bringing an action in divorce cases;
i) the confirmation and dismissal of members of the Diocesan
Council in dioceses directly subject to the Synod of Bishops;
j) cases of ecclesiastical adoption and legitimization;
k) the appointment and dismissal of the Secretary of the Synod,
the Head Clerk of the Synodal Chancery and the Synodal Treasurer;
l) the awarding of monastic and married clergy with the palitsa,
jeweled pectoral cross, and rank of archimandrite;
m) the publication of a Synodal periodical.
V. THE PRESIDENT OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
The President of the Synod of Bishops is elected for life
by a General Council of Bishops; he annually convenes Councils
of Bishops, communicates with the Heads of Churches and with
various institutions and persons in the name of the Council
and the Synod, by the authorization of the latter (two); addresses
the flock of the Church Outside of Russia with encyclical
epistles, takes care of its internal and external well-being,
gives fraternal instruction to hierarchs with regard to their
personal life, as well as the fulfillment by them of their
pastoral duty, and he administers the churches directly subject
to the Synod of Bishops.
VI. METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS
1) The portion of the Russian Church which exists outside
the borders of Russia consists of four regions: Western Europe,
the Near East, North America, and the Far East, in each of
which Metropolitan Districts are established.
2) The time of the establishment of the Districts in a given
region is resolved by the Council of Bishops.
3) The division of the Districts into dioceses is conducted
on a territorial basis. The distribution of territory and
parishes of a District among dioceses is carried out at a
Council of Bishops of the District and is presented for confirmation
at a General Council.
NOTE: Until the confirmation by this Council
of the distribution, the distribution of parishes and dioceses
which presently exists is temporarily permitted.
VII. THE METROPOLITAN OF A DISTRICT
1) The Metropolitan of a District is elected by the District
Council of Bishops and is confirmed by the General Council.
2) The Metropolitan of a District takes care of the entire
District and visits all the parishes which comprise the District.
The conditions of these visitations are determined at District
Councils; in the case of a disagreement, the matter is referred
to the Synod.
3) The Metropolitan of a District convenes Councils, presides
at them and, in case of necessity, offers the bishops of his
District fraternal advice.
4) The name of the Metropolitan is commemorated by all the
bishops of the District. The Metropolitan commemorates the
name of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia.
5) In the event that some diocese finds itself without a bishop,
the Metropolitan assumes the administration thereof on a temporary
basis, or entrusts it to one of the bishops of his region,
informing the Synod of Bishops of this.
6) The Metropolitan permits bishops to take leaves of absence
for a period of time of more than two weeks but not exceeding
7) To the Metropolitan belongs the right to grant awards to
clergy up to the rank of archpriest and hegumen, upon the
recommedation of the diocesan bishops.
8) The Metropolitan has the right to impose penances in matters
of divorce and to grant permission to marry prior to the expiration
of the period of penance, the reestablishment of periods of
time in divorce cases, and the shortening of published times
in such cases.
9) The Metropolitan distributes the Holy Chrism to the parishes
of his District.
VIII DISTRICT COUNCILS
Within the competence of the District Council are:
1) The election of the Metropolitan of the District.
2) Matters pertaining to the establishment of new dioceses
and the alteration of the boundaries of the existing ones,
the election of candidates for episcopal sees, with the presentation
of its resolutions for confirmation by the General Council.
3) The trial of bishops of the District in the first instance
and of clerics and laymen on appeal.
4) The resolution of general questions for all dioceses.
5) The appointment of Church collections in the District for
its general ecclesiastical needs.
IX. DIOCESAN BISHOPS
Diocesan bishops govern their dioceses in conformity with
the resolution of the All-Russian Church Council. In accordance
with this, the diocesan bishop:
1) Appoints and transfers the rectors of parishes and performs
2) Establishes and dissolves parishes and alters their boundaries.
3) Organizes deaneries.
4) Grants permission to build and repair churches, chapels,
and the establishment of cemeteries.
5) Consecrates churches and antimensia.
6) Supervises moveable and immovable church property.
7) Confirms the resolutions of parish meetings and the elections
of church wardens.
8) Visits the parishes subject to him.
9) Confirms the parish budget and the apportionment of diocesan
10) Convenes Diocesan Assemblies, presides at them and at
the Diocesan Council, when this is necessary, and confirms
the resolutions of the latter.
11) Confirms the decisions of the Diocesan Council in divorce
cases of the first instance.
12) Awards the clergy up to the rank of kamilavka inclusive
and grants blessings to the laity with the presentation of
a citation to this effect.
13) The diocesan bishop is the rector of his cathedral church.
X. ECCLESIASTICAL COURT
A. The Trial of Bishops:
1) The court of the first instance with regard to bishops
is the District Council, while for bishops who are not members
of the District and for Metropolitans of Districts -- it is
the Synod of Bishops.
NOTE: In the event of difficulty in convening a Council for
the trial of a bishop of his District, the Metropolitan may
transfer the case to the Synod of Bishops for a decision at
2) The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
of Russia is subject to trial by the General Council of Bishops.
3) The quorum for a judicial session of the District Council
is five bishops headed by the Metropolitan, while for the
Synod it is its entire membership. In the event of the impossibility
for any particular member of the Synod to participate in the
trial, bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
who are not members of the Synod may be invited by the President
to participate in it, in the number necessary to form a quorum.
Likewise, a Metropolitan of a District, in order to satisfy
a quorum, may invite bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia from other regions.
4) In the General Council a quorum for the trial of bishops
is seven bishops.
5) A complaint against a decision of a court of first instance
should be made to the General Council of Bishops in written
form no later than two months following the announcement of
6) The decisions of the General Council of Bishops are final
and come into legal effect immediately, not being subject
to appeal until the reestablishment of the free All-Russian
Church Authority and normal relations with it can be resumed.
B. The Trial of Clerics:
7) The court of first instance for clerics is constituted
directly by the bishop in accordance with paragraph 155 of
the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistory and by the Diocesan
Council; and where such does not exist, by a special judicial
office appointed by the Diocesan Bishop, consisting of no
fewer than three clerics, in accordance with the relative
sections of the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistory and
other Russian legislation with regard to spiritual courts
convened by the Consistory.
8) In a court of first instance in respect of clerics, the
quorum is no fewer than three clerics in the rank of priest.
If in the Diocesan Council there are fewer than three clerics
or if any member of the Council is unable to participate in
the trial, the quorum is satisfied by priests appointed by
the Diocesan Bishop.
9) An appeal from the decision of a diocesan court lies through
the Diocesan Bishop in a District to the Council of the District;
those outside the Districts lie to the Synod of Bishops, whose
decisions may be appealed to the General Council of Bishops.
10) The presence of no fewer than four bishops is required
in a District Council sitting as an appeal court in respect
to clerics; while in the Synod of Bishops its usual quorum
shall be required.
C. Challenge of Judges:
11) The accused bishop or cleric has, at all judicial levels,
the right of challenge of judges, of which he must inform
the President no later than two weeks after receiving the
summons to court.
D. The Order of Legal Proceedings:
12) Until the formulation of special rules for legal procedures,
the latter shall be regulated by Sacred Scripture, the Holy
Canons, the Regulations of the Spiritual Consistory, other
statutes and decrees of the All- Russian Church Authority,
as well as by the resolutions of the Council of Bishops of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
13) In matters relevant to the annulment of marriages and
the declaration of the invalidity of marriages, the spiritual
court shall be guided by the decisions of the All-Russian
Church Authority, and also by the interpretations and supplements
of the Council of Bishops and Synod of Bishops of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.