PROTOCOL No. 1
of the session of the Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC
on Wednesday, October 20 / November 2, 2011
in the church of Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt,Odessa, Ukraine.
The session took place in the presence of the Fragrant Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.
The session of the Hierarchical Synod began at10 a.m. with the chanting of a moleben before the Fragrant Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.
Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk and Siberia, President of the Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC,
Bishop Akakije of Resava and Shumadiya, President of the Serbian True Orthodox Church,
Archbishop Benjamin of the Black Sea and Kuban, Deputy President of the Hierarchical Council of the RTOC,
Bishop Germogen of Chernigov and Gomel,
Bishop Sabbatius of Vinnitsa.
Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America
Heard: Archbishop Tikhon, President of the Hierarchical Synod, on the confirmation of the Agenda for the Synodal sessions.
Confirmed: The Agenda suggested by Archbishop Tikhon, President of the Hierarchical Synod.
Discuss questions connected with the formation of the Ecclesiastical administration of the Serbian TOC.
The convening of the Sacred Council of the RTOC in 2013.
Review Diocesan questions demanding Synodal resolution,
The reception of clergy into RTOC.
Various things (review of the Service book, decision on further publication of the Calendar and Instructions for Divine Services, divorce matters, etc.)
Report: of the President of the Serbian TOC, his Grace Bishop Akakije, on the situation in Serbia.
The Serbian True Orthodox Church thanks her sister, the Russian True Orthodox Church, for her fraternal help in the re-establishment of the canonical episcopate of the local Serbian Church.
The Greek Synod, which temporarily looked after the Serbian TOC, has not recognized the ordination of a bishop for the STOC, has conducted a meeting in Belgrade composed of Serbian and Bulgarian clergy that care for parishes in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, and has created his own group, calling it the Church of the True Orthodox Christians in Serbia. The Greek Synod has declared that in this way they are re-establishing the canonical Serbian Church. However, even in the very name of this ecclesiastical group, the nationalist politics of the Greek Synod in relation to the Serbian Church is apparent: they recognize the territory of Serbia to be a missionary zone of the Greek Church, and not the territory of the Local Serbian Church. It is obvious that the Church of the True Orthodox Christians in Serbia and the Serbian True Orthodox Church are not one and the same.
This ecclesiastical group has often manifested open enmity and even slander against the STOC; a veritable propaganda war is being conducted on the internet. The position of the STOC is not to take part in this confrontation. We have replied only in a few articles in which the position of the STOC has been clarified, and we have been trying not to take any further part in polemics.
Archbishop Tikhon noted that in its time the RTOC suffered something similar from ROCOR (V). Such a position is destructive for those who hold to it and witnesses to their wrongness. It is necessary to display forbearance, and not reply to evil with evil, because they are our brothers, although in error in this question. Time will pass, and the opponents of the STOC will understand their mistake. Meanwhile, the Serbian Churchmust occupy herself with internal construction; it is precisely for this that her episcopate has been re-established. Time will put everything in its place. There was a time when the Catacomb Church in Russia also did not have her own bishop, as a consequence of which there was no development of Church life. But after the re-establishment of the episcopate of the Catacomb Church by the Russian Church Abroad in 1982, very much changed for the better. The same will happen in theSerbian Church – that is evident.
Bishop Akakije replied that a movement towards the STOC has already begun, both on the part of people in the official church, and of those who are in communion with Bishop Artemije.
We intend to convene a Church Council for the resolution of questions that have piled up, and in the first place for the formation of an organ of Church administration of the STOC. We invite the hierarchs and church activists of the RTOC to take part in the work of our Council, since they have experience of church work, and in particular of church administrative work.
Bishop Akakije asks the Synod of the RTOC in the name of the Serbian TOC to introduce him temporarily into the Synod of the RTOC until the re-establishment of the Hierarchical Synod of the STOC to the number of four hierarchs, as is demanded by the canonical norms of the Orthodox Church.
- To confirm his Grace Bishop Akakije of Resava and Shumadiya, the President of the Serbian True Orthodox Church, as independent in the administration of the Serbian Church.
- To make his Grace Bishop Akakije a member of the Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC temporarily, until the re-establishment of a canonical organ of administration of the Serbian Church – a Hierarchical Synod of the STOC numbering four bishops, as is required by the canonical norms of the Orthodox Church.
- If practical problems requiring a conciliar, hierarchical discussion and resolution arise, his Grace Bishop Akakije can turn for help to the Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC.
|His Grace Bishop Akakije of Resava and Shumadiya|
Heard: the report of his Grace Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America, on the meeting of Bishop Stefan with the hierarchs of the Greek TOC on the territory of the USA, and with Bishops Photius and Chrysostom. From the report of Bishop Stefan it follows that the Greek hierarchs are sorry about the rift that has taken place and the interruption of dialogue with the RTOC.
The Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC also expresses sorrow at the interruption of the dialogue with the Greek Church, but considers that helping the Serbian TOC in re-establishing her canonical episcopate was the fraternal duty of the Russian Church. The Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC expresses the hope that in the future this dialogue will be renewed and that the hoped-for Eucharistic unity between the Greek, Russia and Serbian TOCs will be established.
Heard: the report of Nun Euphrosyne (Molchanova), prioress of the Lesna monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God, on the situation in the parish of the holy Archangel Michael in England, whose starosta is Reader Vladimir Moss. The parish has been divided into two parts: the “Anglo-Greeks” and “Anglo-Slavs”. That part of the parish which has accepted the position of the Synod of the RTOC asks that they be united to the West-European Orthodox mission of the Lesna monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God (France).
Decreed: To integrate the parish of the holy Archangel Michael in Woking (England) – that part of it which recognizes the acts of the Hierarchical Synod of the RTOC in re-establishing the episcopate for the Serbian Church – into the Orthodox mission of the Lesna monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God. The care of the parish is entrusted to the clergy of the Mission. Clergy of the Serbian TOC who know the English language are allowed to care for the parish of the holy Archangel Michael in Woking.
The session closed at 20.30 with the chanting of the prayer “It is meet and right to bless thee”.