NEW YORK: February 9, 2011
The Synod of Bishops Holds its First Session of 2011 

On Tuesday, February 8, 2011, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia held its first session of the year, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. Participating in this session were His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops; His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America and Treasurer of the Synod of Bishops, and His Grace Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese.  

Opening the session, Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the members of the Synod of Bishops and reported on the plenum of the Inter-Council Presence in Moscow, the work of the Holy Synod and of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. His Eminence then proposed forming a committee to plan the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia scheduled to be held in New York from May 10-17 of this year. Headed by the President of the Synod of Bishops, it was decided that the committee would include Bishop Gabriel, Bishop Peter and Bishop Jerome, as well as Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Vice President of the Synodal Youth Department and Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign,” Protopriest Serafim Gan, Secretary of the First Hierarch of ROCOR, and Prince Vladimir Galitzine, Warden of the Synodal Cathedral.  

The Synod then heard reports by Archbishop Mark, Overseer of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in the Holy Land, Bishop Gabriel and Bishop Peter.  

After an exhaustive discussion of the matter of Priest Oleg Smirnov of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, the Synod of Bishops decided to grant his request to be defrocked of his priestly rank.  

In addition to these reports, administrative and managerial matters were discussed, as well as intercessions by the hierarchs for ecclesiastical awards to their clergymen.  

In closing the session, Metropolitan Hilarion reported on the forthcoming visit to the Russian Church Abroad of His Beatitude Metropolitan Christopher of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and thanked the other members of the Synod for their efforts.