Re: [orthodox-synod] Clergy were suspended
- In a message dated 28/05/03 15:02:13 GMT Daylight Time,
> The Holy Canons establish the fundamental principles that guide the BishopsThis subject came up or discussion earlier, and I said at the time that if a
> of the Church in their administrative responsibilities. However, the way in
> which these Holy Canons are interpreted and applied is within the realm of
> the authority of the particular Council of Bishops of the particular local
> Orthodox Church in question.
> Here, we are speaking of the local Church of Russia, which has, over its
> thousand years of existense, developed and codified a specific Codex of
> Laws under which it lives. This compendium of Canon Law as applied by the
> Russian Orthodox Church is codified in the book entitled "Statutes of the
> Spiritual Consistory." These statutes applied to the pre-revolutionary
> Church of Russia, and they apply to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
> Russia, as well. Former Bishop Varnava and the "French clergy" were bound
> to obey these directives.
> Statute 159 of the Statutes of the Spiritual Consistory states that "an
> ecclesiastic under investigation is henceforth prohibited from serving
> until such a time as he is completely exonerated."
> No distinction is made between bishops, priests, or deacons--this statute
> applies equally to all exxlesiastics, meaning all clergy.
> So--in the Russian Orthodox Church, it is the **law** that a bishop, like
> any other ecclesiastic, is to be suspended **prior** to trial--and he is
> therefore "prohibited from serving until such time as he is completely
> That's the law.
> You may not like it, but if you are in the Russian Orthodox Church you have
> no choice but to accept it.
conflict arises between a set of laws accepted by a Local Church and the Holy
Canons of the Orthodox Church as a whole, it is the Holy Canons that must have
As Sergei Rust has pointed out from the Holy Canons (and he could have quoted
several others), a bishop who has been accused of a crime must be tried by at
least 12 of his peers. If there are not 12, then it must be a full Sobor of
all the bishops. He must be summoned to a trial in a canonical way, and allowed
to present his defence. Only after he has been convicted in a canonical
trial can he be suspended or defrocked.
The laws accepted by the Russian Church under Peter the Great basically drive
a coach and horses through these canonical provisions. Basically the monarch
decided who should stay and who should go, and the bishops meekly accepted the
I would not deduce from this what Hieromonk Gregory Lourie deduces, namely,
that the Sacred Synod of the Russian Church from 1721 to 1917 was
"anticanonical" and "chimerical". It remained Orthodox. Nevertheless, there is no doubt
that the Holy Canons in relation to the rights of bishops were systematically
A bishop vows to uphold first of all the dogmas and canons of the Orthodox
Church, the Universal Church. All other obediences and promises are subordinate
to that overriding obligation.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]