SAN FRANCISCO: June 30, 2007
Communique of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
On June 15/28 to 16/29, 2007, an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held at St Tikhon of Zadonsk Diocesan House in San Francisco, CA. Presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, participation in the session included the following archpastors: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe; and His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
After confirming the agenda, His Eminence the President made a detailed report on his trip to Moscow for the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, a trip he made along with other archpastors, clergymen and laypersons. The rite of the signing of the Act, performed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of All Russia and by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, took place at the rebuilt Christ the Savior Cathedral, in the presence of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and many other distinguished figures, among whom was the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.
After the solemn signing of the Act, the Primates of the two parts of the Russian Church, which for 87 years lived separately, but now have regained canonical unity, exchanged the brotherly greeting before the open Royal Doors: "Christ is among us—Now and forever!"
Afterwards, the first joint Divine Liturgy was held, and everyone became witness to the reestablishment of Eucharistic unity within the Local [ Pomestny ] Russian Church.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus reported on the other joint divine services, first the consecration of the Church of the Holy New Martyrs in Butovo Field, where thousands of martyrs were killed, and the second in Uspensky Cathedral in Moscow's Kremlin.
Metropolitan Laurus shared his impressions of the joint services and the formal reception organized by President Putin in the Faceted Chamber of Kremlin's Grand Palace. The former zarubezhniki [Russians abroad] who now live in Moscow also organized a large reception for all the visiting pilgrims.
The following day, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus headed for Kursk, where he participated in divine services and met with local bishops, clergymen and faithful. Kursk-Root Hermitage was also visited, where a great deal of work has been performed since Metropolitan Laurus' last visit in 2004. A meeting also took place with Schema-Metropolitan Yuvenaly.
After the trip to Kursk, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus headed for Kiev, where he was welcomed by His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry and a host of bishops and clergymen. Metropolitan Laurus served in the renovated Uspensky Cathedral there, and prayed at the site where First Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev was killed. Metropolitan Laurus visited the Near and Far Caves of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra and was greeted by His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, who organized a cruise along the Dniepr River.
Finally, His Eminence went to Pochaev Lavra, a place dear to the heart of zarubezhniki , for that was where Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) of blessed memory conducted his monastic labors; he later became the founder of St Job of Pochaev Monastery in Ladomirovo (Slovakia) and the Jordanville monastery. In addition, monastic brotherhoods of St Job of Pochaev were established in Munich, in Brazil and in Montreal, each of them continuing the publishing work begun by St Job himself.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus was welcomed everywhere with great love, and all the services were performed in a prayerful and solemn mood.
From Pochaev, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and his companions returned to Moscow to prepare for their return home. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy visited the hotel where Vladyka Laurus stayed, and they had a discussion during which Vladyka Laurus shared his impressions of his trip to Russia and Ukraine, and discussed church affairs.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus expressed his heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness for his efforts to the benefit of the Holy Russian Church, and for his hospitality.
The following day, Metropolitan Laurus returned to New York, still under the great, blessed impression of the great work of the restoration of the desired unity of the wholeness of the Russian Church.
The Synod of Bishops joyfully listened to His Eminence's report and expressed its thanks to him for his First-Hierarchal labors.
A report was then heard on the suspension of Bishop Agafangel and the clergymen who left with him into schism. A letter from Bishop Agafangel addressed to His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus was read, in which he sought advice. It was decided to address a final letter of admonition to Bishop Agafangel, with a warning of the danger of the path upon he and his supporters are embarking upon.
By the intercession of His Grace Bishop Gabriel, the Synod of Bishops confirmed His Grace's suspension of the former Synodal clergyman Priest Victor Dobroff from performing his priestly functions, in force until his repentance for openly rebelling against his hierarchy.
A report on the Holy Land and the need for clergymen to minister to its monasteries and to conduct the daily rounds of divine services was then heard.
A report was also heard on the situation in the Diocese of Great Britain. Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov is being transferred to London from San Francisco.
His Grace Bishop Michael reported on matters in Cannes and Bari.
A report by the Synodal Treasurer on the financial and administrative situation and future plans was also heard.
It was decided to send His Grace Bishop Gabriel to South America for an archpastoral before September.
A report was heard on the proposed celebration of the 40 th anniversary of the archpastoral service of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. The event will take place from August 18/31 to August 21/September 3, 2007, in Jordanville. More information will be published later.
A report was also read on the proposed visit to the dioceses of the Church Abroad of the Choir of Sretensky Monastery of Moscow. The proposed plan was approved.
Attention was drawn to the fact that there are many variations in the text of the Prayer for the Salvation of Russia throughout the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. A commission was established consisting of three clergymen to develop a final version of this prayer for discussion and confirmation by the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops.
Draft texts of the Liturgy of Apostle Mark and the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts of Apostle James were adopted, which had been translated from the Greek by Protopriest John Shaw. The Liturgy of Apostle Mark may be celebrated on his feast day.
For the sake of consistency with the Russian Church in the Fatherland and the rest of the Orthodox world, the wearing of a cross upon the mitre was permitted for all bishops.
Other ongoing matters were discussed, as were awards for clergymen for their earnest service to the Holy Church.
The next session of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled for September 5-7 in the Synodal building in New York.