Moscow court to hear appeal against closure of Nicholas II murder case in May

Interfax-29 April 2010, 14:25

Moscow, April 29, Interfax - The Moscow City Court on May 12 will hear an appeal, challenging a court ruling, supporting the decision to close the criminal case related to the murder of the last Russian tsar Nicholas II and his family.

The court was to hear the complaint, filed by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna's defense lawyer, on Wednesday. But the judges argued that they would need time to read the complaint. The ruling alone is laid down in three volumes, they said.

Moscow's Basmanny Court on March 19 turned down defense lawyer German Lukyanov's complaint against the decision to close the case of murder of Nicholas II and his family.

"The court took the side of the Prosecutor General's Office and of the federal prosecutor's Investigation Department, disregarding the ruling by the Supreme Court Presidium to rehabilitate Nicholas II and his family," Lukyanov told Interfax then.

The family of the last Russian emperor and his nearest entourage - eleven people in all - were shot on July 17, 1918.

On October 1, 2008 the Supreme Court Presidium ruled to rehabilitate Nicholas II and his family members. But on January 15, 2009, a court ruling was passed to close the criminal case of the Romanov family murder.

The House of Romanov disagreed with the conclusion of the Investigation Department that the royal family had fallen victim to plain criminals, and argued that the tsar and his relatives were killed by the regime.

ROCA Bishops Council Epistle

The Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad greets its faithful members in these joyous days with the Paschal salutation:

Christ is Risen!

In many ways, the future of our Church depends on each of its members.  The faithful of the Church must understand that the Christian way of life is yet another embodiment of the sermon of the Gospel.  The entire way of the Church is the way of unity in Christ.  As an example of such unity, the past of the Russian Church Abroad is with us to this day, and since it is a Holy Legacy, we desire to remain faithful to it.  We bear in mind the admonitions of the Saint Patriarch Tikhon and all our First Hierarchs – Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret, and Vitaliy – and we stand firm in that immaculate Orthodox confession, to which the entire Orthodox Church has held throughout the years.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).

 In the manner of our Lord, we have strived to unite everyone and offered an invitation to members of the divided ROCA to begin a dialogue, but unfortunately our voice has not been heard by many to this day.  Nevertheless, we do not cease to hope that the flock which finds itself in disunity will respond one day to our call to gather our Church together.

 In these sorrowful days, the actions of many of those who call themselves Orthodox attest to their loss of the spirit of Christ.  Having conducted and justified praying together with heretics and entering into arrangements with the mighty of this world for the sake of their material well-being, they have lost the very ability to distinguish good and evil.  Still we call upon our flock to not become bitter and continue to entreat God to turn the hearts of those who recently were our brothers and who are now our persecutors.

 In light of the new wave of harassment which Christians are experiencing from the governments of the lands they find themselves in (we are experiencing this in Argentina), as well as from the Moscow Patriarchate, we call upon all of you, dear fathers, brothers and sisters to stand firm in the Truth.  Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword will keep you from Christ’s love! (Romans 8:35)  God will give those who Love Him the strength to overcome all tribulations!

 May the words of the Victor over this world console us in these days and for all time: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

 +Metropolitan Agafangel
+Archbishop Andronik
+ Archbishop Sofroniy
+ Archbishop Ioann
+Bishop Georgiy
+Bishop Afanasy
+Bishop Gregory
+Bishop Kirill
+Bishop Dionisiy
 Odessa, 2010

Vladyka Agafangel's Report

Of Metropolitan Agafangel
to the ROCA Synod of Bishops
Odessa, 2010

Change is constantly occurring in the life of our Church, whether of a material nature, or, unfortunately, of a spiritual nature. Though the material and spiritual are intertwined, I will first discuss the spiritual, since this is always more important for any religious person.

As to the spiritual, it must be said that religiosity in general is slowly disappearing from this world. That is why in our current circumstances, the words of Apostle Paul, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), are so relevant for us Christians. What does it mean for us not to quench the spirit? It means to follow unwaveringly the Divine Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church. This is difficult to do in today’s world, as globalism and the obsession with one’s comfort and convenience in this world crowds out belief in the Crucified Christ and this reduces this belief and makes it an appendage of everyday life. This applies not only to us, but to all of mankind.

We feel this pressure, unfortunately, also from those who would seem, by what they call themselves, to be our brothers. With the ascension of the new First Hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate, the efforts if not to eliminate us then at least to, as they say now, marginalize us (and not only us) have intensified greatly. That is why we must always be wary not of the declarations of the current MP church administration, but their actions. Sadly for some time now, it has not been possible to believe completely in their words and statements. Just the opposite, there are many questionable actions that cause us to be very careful. 

Nevertheless, we should, I believe, refrain from any categorical statements regarding the Moscow Patriarchate as a whole, but we must continue to speak out about its administration and the “church ideology” which the administration espouses. After the events of 2007, the danger of us isolating ourselves has grown tenfold. Due to the conditions of increasing globalism, we are duty bound, in my opinion, to make every effort to establish and maintain contacts with everyone who shares our views. To that end, it is very beneficial for us to associate with our brothers, the Old Calendar Churches of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, something that should also be encouraged and developed on the parish level.

We have not unfortunately received any useful answers from those who are now called the “fragments,” and to whom we invited to simply begin a dialogue. The head of the ROAC, Metropolitan Valentin (Rusantsev), first set a precondition for discussions with us, which is completely unacceptable and not possible. Archbishop Tikhon, the head of the ROTC, initially responded to our letter and offered to meet in the beginning of 2010, but then that decision was rescinded and a commission was formed instead to address the issue. This alone shows that RTOC is not prepared to even discuss the matter of uniting the Russian Church. There is information that would indicate that they hope to establish relations with the Greek Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos to create a separate, extremist entity. We were not able to find the address of Archbishop Vladimir, the head of the ROCA(V). It cannot be found on the Internet and our letter sent to a monastery in California was returned with the postal stamp that there is no such address. In other words, we have not been able to establish contact with Archbishop Vladimir to this day. In light all of this information, one can say that no one in the administrations of all the groups that left the ROCA earlier is even interested in discussing uniting as one church. As a result, we have no choice but to leave our hand extended to all those who were a part of ROCA earlier in the hope of eventual dialogue, while tending to the life of our church with whatever resources we have among ourselves.

A significant event in our life was when we completed, with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, the rite of preparing chrism during Passion Week in Odessa. The ingredients for the chrism were obtained mostly in Greece and donated by Hegumena Aleksandra. Bishop Georgiy came to Odessa with two priests for the rite and our clerics also participated. The chrism was sanctified on Bright Saturday. There are about seven liters.

Other very important events in the life of our Church since the last Sobor, were the efforts by Mother Agapia to acquire land and property for a monastery in New York State, the building and blessing of a new church in the monastery in Egorovka, the registration of our Synod and the opening of a bank account for the Synod. Besides the construction in New York and Egorovka, churches and rectories are being built in Ukraine - in Odessa (three sites), in Malin, in Dneprodzerzhinsk, and Bolgrad; in Russia – in the village of Dudachkino, outside of St. Petersburg in the Pskov oblast; and in Moldavia – in Kongaz and Chadyr-Lung. We could build even more churches in Odessa, but we do not have enough priests to serve in the new parishes. Our mission in Haiti is rebuilding after the earthquake.

Unfortunately, there is no progress in finding a place for our Synod in the USA, as we do not have any property that can be used for the Synod or the diocese. We are compelled, unfortunately, to abandon our plans to locate the Synod in the house belonging to the Holy Trinity parish, as donations to our Synod account are not sufficient to pay for the basic expenses, let alone the mortgage payments. If the situation does not change this year, then I believe we must decide to move our Synod to another location, where the setting will be more conducive for its survival.

Our Assistance Fund continues its work in Washington, D.C. under the leadership of Dimitri Gontscharow. The Fund needs our continued support and a larger mailing list of regular donors.

Our mission in Haiti carries on its work with the efforts of Archpriest Gregory Williams. A large sum of money, by our standards, of about $50,000 was gathered for rebuilding after the earthquake on that island.

In Odessa, largely through the efforts of Archpriest Valeriy Alekseyev, the correspondence school of the Sts. Cyril & Methodius seminary has prospered for years. The ability to teach the courses over the Internet is the next challenge, since many of those interested live all over and cannot come to Odessa. It would be good to make it available throughout our church.

The publication of various materials is slowly getting established in Odessa. “The Russian Zoar” is unfortunately the only regular periodical being published. The Synod publication of “Church Life” has been reinstated. The only “active” source of information in other types of media is our Synod Internet website. There are also several other so-called “Live Journals” on the Internet. Our presence on the Net is inadequate and it would be good for the parish rectors to create websites, which would contain news about their parishes. This information is very important for the entire Church, as it strengthens our unity and the appreciation of each other among our members. At the last meeting of the New York diocese, it was decided to publish a periodical newsletter that would be distributed on the Internet and in our parishes. The first, test issue of “The Sower” has been released. We ask that all bishops and rectors help to distribute this newsletter.

We have not been able to organize any church events – youth and choir conferences, pilgrimages, conferences, etc. For the most part it is because of inadequate funds and infrastructure. In the matter of funds, it must be noted that at this time we do not even gather enough to conduct our Bishops Councils and Synods. With the money that is deposited in the Synod account, we cannot pay travel expenses for the bishops, without which our future work for the Church is made more difficult.

In general, it can be said that the life of our Church is developing and becoming more stable. There are many eyes upon us, from various groups that are searching for true Orthodoxy, as well as from the MP. Whether the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad can go on largely depends on us. Therefore, let us try to continue preserving the legacy we have received from the Fathers, which can only be accomplished through a living faith, hope, and love among our members.

The humble servant of the Bishops Council,
+Metropolitan Agafangel
Odessa, 2010

ROCA Synod Council Minutes April 2010

(Based on a Google machine translation.)
 Minutes No. 1 
Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 
A regular meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
opened on April 13\26. 2010, in the Archangel Michael Cathedral in Odessa.
 Attendees: The Most Reverend Agafangel, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch and Chairman of the ROCA Synod of Bishops; the Very Reverend Andronik, Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada, Vice Chairman of the Synod of Bishops; Sofroniy, Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia; Ioann, Archbishop of Buinsk and Volzhsk; Georgiy, Bishop of Bolgrad and Belgorod-Dnestrovsk, Synod of Bishops Secretary; Afanasiy, Bishop of Vologodsk and Veliko-Ustyuzhsk; Gregory, Bishop of Sao Paulo and South America; Kirill, Bishop of Voronezh and Southern Russia.
 The Council meeting began after the Divine Liturgy at 11.25 intoning "Christ is risen ..."
 The Chairman presented the agenda.
Resolved: To accept the agenda of the meeting of the Bishops Council with the additional items, as follows:
1.              Chairman's Report.
2.              Bishops' reports on their dioceses.
3.              Enlarging the episcopate.
4.              On the Theological Commission.
5.              About the Missions.
6.              About intra-diocesan projects: seminars, publishing, pilgrimages, youth camps,
choir conventions, etc.
7.              About Synod publications.
8.              Financial Report.
9.              The collection of funds for church-wide needs.
10.          On relations with the splinter groups from the ROCA, with representatives
of the "true Orthodoxy" and so-called world Orthodoxy.
11.          The composition of the Synod of Bishops.
12.          On the meeting of the Russian Bishops.
13.          Other.
 1.  Discussed:  the Chairman’s report.
     Resolved: the report is accepted.
 2. Discussed: the Bishops’ reports.
Abp. Andronik reported that life in the diocese entrusted to him proceeds peacefully, informed about the history of the opening of the convent in the diocese of Syracuse, on the efforts to establish its monastic life, monastic vows taken by Deacon Michael Foster in the mantiya with the name of Machary to serve in this monastery. Reports on the establishment of Russian group in Toronto. Its members temporarily pray in the parish, which passed recently into the jurisdiction of the Greek Old Calendar Church, Synod of Resistance.
The Chairman remarked that the question of Russian communities and parishes, which went to the Greek Old Calendarists during the turbulent period in our Church is very delicate. In this regard, the First Hierarch of ROCA had a conversation with the Greek hierarchy, who understand the problem.
Resolved: The report of Archbishop Andronik has been accepted.
 Abp. Sofroniy: reports that the situation in his diocese is calm. Lenten retreat was held for the clergy and a diocesan assembly was also held. To date, there are 17 clerics. The wooden church in Dudachkino is still being built. Services in the Diocese are conducted in various settings. A bell was donated to the men’s' monastery.   The diocese will print a calendar and Typicon next year. A visit to the Ishim diocese was related. Visited all the declared parishes. Unfortunately, they are not going smoothly with the antimens, Holy Chrism, liturgical books. There is an active parish in Birobidzhan and there are plans to buy land for the construction of a church. There is no parish in Ekaterinburg, but there are some people who are trying to organize the community. In the Verhoturie parish, they meet in a private home. During his visit, His Grace Sofroniy tried to conduct interviews with his flock in every community, delving into all aspects of parish life. Awarded certificates to active diocesan laity. Ordained 2 priests for Ishim. Separately, talks about the situation in Kazakhstan, with the intention of the monastery to conduct pastoral courses.
Resolved: The report of Archbishop Sofroniy has been accepted.
 B. Kirill recalled the church-wide decision on printing calendars and Typicon.
In this regard, there is an exchange of views, which gradually transferred to talk about the need for uniformity in liturgical practice.
 Abp. Ioann reported that his flock life is spent in normal rhythm. Diocesan territory covers 4 oblasts. No candidates to the priesthood, therefore difficult to carry out pastoral care. Refers to the special issues of church life in the absence of legal registration. He tells of confusion among the laity in connection with the hurtful statements made against us by the group led by Abp. Tikhon (Pasechnik) and B. Vladimir (Tselishcheva).
Resolved: The report of Archbishop Ioann has been accepted.
 B. Georgiy informed the council on current affairs in the Bolgrad diocese. Specifically, the cities, where there are congregations and communities. On the efforts to register the diocese in Moldova. On the construction of the church in Bolgrad. A conference for clerics was held during Lent on the subject of "The Church canons and today's rector." In May of this year is scheduled a diocesan meeting, the agenda is the election of the Diocesan Council and the establishment of other necessary diocesan structures. In the diocese are five priests.
Resolved: The report of Bishop Georgiy has been accepted.
 B. Afanasiy tells about life in the Vologda diocese. A parish was established in Vologda. In Ferapontovo preparing the construction of a church . Unfortunately, the local authorities, together with the MP, obstruct this by smear campaigns against our Church. Nevertheless, new house churches have been established at different locations in the diocese and land has been purchased for a monastery. In general, life goes on peacefully.
Resolved: The report of B. Afanasiy has been accepted.
 B. Gregory reported to the Council that the the Brazilian Diocese has two active priests, 3 deacons, 7 parishes and a big problem with finding candidates to the priesthood. Lent held diocesan meeting, elected a new Diocesan Council. Planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and in September - a youth congress of the diocese.
Relates possible problems in connection with contacts of MP representatives with the Brazilian authorities.
Argentina has registered congregation, but very serious difficulties due to the pressure of MP and MP talks with the authorities of this country.  Informs about visiting the parishes, where Archpriest Vladimir Schlenew and Alexander Iwaszewicz serve.
In Uruguay, the MP is trying to take away our church through illegal actions, as in Paraguay. Relates how our parishioners who have been chased out of the Cathedral of the Resurrection by the Moscow Patriarchate. Meanwhile, in the current year, in June, a celebration of the 50 anniversary of this church and parish is planned.
 The Chairman proposes to establish a separate church community and to celebrate the anniversary separately, in order not to go to celebrate in the confiscated cathedral, along with members of the MP.
Resolved: The report of B. Gregory has been accepted.
 B. Kirill talks about life in the parishes of the newly-created Diocese of Voronezh, about the situation in the parish in Goryachiy Klyuch with the turbulent RTOC next door, and the material difficulties of the clergy. In his report, expressed concern regarding the transfer of clerics and certificates of release. Lenten Lenten was held for the clergy and a diocesan assembly also, which elected Diocesan Council and established a diocesan fund for assistance. Reports on the Greek Old Calendar Church parishes in the territory of the Alansk diocese.
 This matter results in an exchange of views between members of the council. As a result, the conclusion about the desirability to establish fraternal relations between our parishes and communities and the Old Calendarists jurisdictions that are with us in canonical communion.
Resolved: The report of B.Kirill has been accepted.
 B. Georgiy recalls the need for approving the boundaries of his diocese and his title for the newly-consecrated B. Kirill.
Resolved: To approve for His Eminence B. Kirill the title "of Voronezh and Southern Russia."
 Bishops Georgiy and Gregory draw attention to an error in the determination of the title for B. Gregory and the need to fix it.
Resolved: To approve for the Most Rev. B. Gregory the title "of São Paulo and South America."
 14.30 - Lunch break.
After the break, the meeting resumed at 15.30.
 The Chairman talks about a letter to the ROCA First Hierarch from the Chairman of the Russian Imperial Union-Order, Mr. Weirman. The letter from the representative of the exile community abroad provides strong appeal, and almost a requirement to immediately begin the process of consolidation of fragmented parts of the once united Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Such appeals are numerous and come from different sides. The letter leads to a lively discussion and is noted by the bishops.
 3. Discussed: Chairman's views of the enlargement of the episcopate.
At present, for the bishop's consecration is nominated monk Nikon (Jost), proposed at the last meeting of the Synod, as well as continuing talks of the joining of the bishops to our Church - RTOC Bishop Dionisiy (Alferov) and Iriney (Klipenshteyn).
 For B. Dionisiy, as well as for the B. Iriney, the matter is resolved for the most part, but he is not hurrying out of pastoral considerations, hoping to persuade the RTOC parishes abroad which formerly belonged to the ROCA to join us. The clergy and laity in these communities have not yet overcome a number of doubts and prejudices, in particular in connection with the election to the First Hierarch of our Church at the 5th All-Diaspora Council. B. Dionisiy invited by the First Hierarch to the Council of Bishops, and should arrive this evening. It would be nice if these two bishops were with us, as it would reveal the first effective results in the restoration of church unity. The candidacy of B. Dionisiy was offered to the episcopal consecration by the ROCA before the split, but was rejected because of his strictly negative attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate. B. Dionisiy has written on theological topics and themes of interest to the entire church, and enjoys in this respect authority in foreign countries. Abp. Tikhon (Pasechnik) forbade Bishops Iriney and Dionisiy to serve, but they ignore these restrictions. According to B. Dionisiy, Abp. Tikhon visited ROCA parishes in Europe and Australia, trying to arrange episcopal consecration, but everywhere was refused. Thus, at the moment RTOC jurisdiction over these communities is very, very doubtful. In conclusion, the Chairman once again expressed his opinion that it would be nice just now in response to demands from the ROCA flock to take realistic steps towards unity.
 B. Gregory: Tikhon banned them, but they continue to serve. Who do they commemorate? Tikhon?
The members of the Council of Bishops discuss the canonicity of this situation; including how well-founded are the statements by members of the RTOC of their succession from the Catacomb Church.
The Chairman expressed the view that the rebuke from Tikhon cannot be considered valid, since the latter himself is in an unlawful situation, leading a self-constituted and self-styled "Sister-Church" to the ROCA. This is schism. Allusions to the succession from the Catacomb Church, and in this respect, assigning themselves independent existence is untenable, as Archbishop Lazarus in his time was assigned to serve their Catacomb Church in Russia with the same status as B. Daniel was assigned for serving the Old Believers in the ROCA. On the other hand, oikonomia is required to those who want to join us and take refuge in the Church Abroad. The Chairman recalled the complexity of the situation before the 17th of May, 2007, when he was ready to separate from the Synod, and resumed the commemoration of Metropolitan Laurus only at the request of our North American clergy. Attestations of this are provided by Bishops Andronik, Gregory and Sofroniy.
 Abp. Sofroniy: But B. Dionisiy himself was involved in the determination of the succession of the Catacomb Church.
The Chairman spoke of B. Dionisiy's loyalty to the ROCA and that the latter could not imagine me in a separate from her jurisdiction.
B. Georgiy observes that the RTOC almost reached the point of considering themselves the complete Local Russian Church, and it was Bishops Iriney and Dionisiy that opposed this in their "Apologia," published on the Internet.
Abp. Sofroniy: Have Bishops Dionisiy and Iriney been involved in the RTOC decision to assign B. Stefan (Sabelnik) to North America?
Chairman: Of course, but as people they could be wrong, and it is important that they now want to be with us.
B. Afanasiy: Why only now, after being banned by its leadership?
The Chairman repeated earlier the explanation related to the concerns of the bishops about the ROCA parishes held by the RTOC.
Abp. Sofroniy: How do they serve? Like Acephalites?
B. Georgiy: They broke relations with Tikhon due to his deviation from the previously declared policies of the RTOC.
Abp. Sofroniy: They themselves chose Tikhon!
Abp. Andronik: The ban placed on them was unlawful, as they were not called before a council as is required.
B. Georgiy: One of the reasons for "banning" the bishops was attempts by Bishops Dionisiy and Iriney to establish contacts with us.
 Members of the Council of Bishops decided to switch to discuss the nomination of  Hieromonk Nikon (Jost).
Abp. Sofroniy offers to name Hieromonk Nikon the Vicar Bishop for assistance in the nourishment of the Ishim diocese. He speaks of the difficulties of coping alone, of the composition and number of communities in his diocese, and about the two deaneries in his territory - the Siberian and Kazakhstan. In the Kazakhstan Deanery there are 3 parishes and 3 priests; in Siberia - 5 parishes, 4 priests. A biography of Hieromonk Nikon is read.
The bishops clarify some details of the biography.
Abp. Sofroniy reports on protests coming from some of the clergy against the candidacy of Hieromonk Nikon. The statements of protest were published in violation of church discipline: on the Internet, bypassing the ruling bishop and the Council of Russian Bishops and addressed directly to all the bishops of the ROCA. The messages expressed a negative attitude to the proposed consecration of Hieromonk Nikon and makes reference to the Holy Scriptures and the canons. The authors are convinced that Hieromonk Nikon is not worthy of the episcopal consecration and promise to confirm their words by presenting specific facts in the ecclesiastical court. The protestors are: Hieromonk Ermogen (Petrov), Deacon Michael Buryakov and Hierodeacon Iuvenaly (Polovinkin). Abp. Sofroniy met them and required a written explanation from the above mentioned clerics.
The "Explanatory note" of Hieromonk Ermogen is read, which characterizes the feelings of the protesters.
The bishops, headed by the Chairman, discuss the information and come to the conclusion that there are no canonical obstacles to the consecration of Hieromonk Nikon.
B. Kirill tells of his experiences with Hieromonk Nikon, when he was administrator of the Central Russian district. He speaks of the lack of his pastoral and administrative skills. He believes it is necessary to give Hieromonk Nikon more time to reveal his skills - they are not visible at the moment. He believes the protest against the cleric did not violate any rules by posting their statements on the Internet, as the candidacy for the episcopacy has to be announced publicly. In general, B. Kirill is opposed to this consecration at the moment.
Abp. Sofroniy indicates that he was in Siberia, in the parishes of Hieromonk Nikon and is personally convinced of his administrative and pastoral capabilities.
There is a brief debate between the bishops.
B. Afanasiy says that he was in Moscow, and from a conversation with Fr. Valery Leonichev and Mikhail Nazarov learned that Hieromonk Nikon, together with Fr. Eugene Koryagin openly professed the opinion of "equal grace" of the sacraments of the MP. We must ask him about it. If he confirms this opinion, then B. Afanasiy is against his candidacy.
The bishops and the Chairman discuss whether it is appropriate to raise questions about the presence or absence of grace in other jurisdictions. It was decided to invite Hieromonk Nikon for an explanation on this and other issues that have arisen.
 Hieromonk Nikon is invited into the meeting room.
 The Chairman asks him about allegations of his opinion of "equal grace."
Hieromonk Nikon explains his caution in this regard for fear of dividing the flock, and in light of oikonomia and a desire to contribute to reconciliation in the parish of Hieromonk Eugene. Does not consider himself capable of resolving the issue of the presence or absence of grace in the MP. For the most part, the best answer on this matter is: "I do not know, if there is grace or not there." Expresses his readiness to conform his opinion to that of the Council. Expresses remorse that he submitted the written appeal of Hieromonk Eugene, which caused dissension in the flock. Says he does not justify the MP and deplores and condemns what its administration and some of its clerics are doing.
B. Afanasiy asked what specifically influenced Hieromonk Nikon's transfer from the MP to the ROCA.
Hieromonk Nikon tells how he was influenced by the theological writings of St. John of Damascus, Archpriest Lev Lebedev, Archpriest Victor Potapov, L. Perepelkin, and ethical violations, which he saw in the MP and its active involvement in ecumenical activities.
The Chairman believes that based on the words of Hieromonk Nikon, his transfer to the ROCA was due to dogmatic and canonical reasons, and not because of some personal feelings.
B. Georgiy asks Hieromonk Nikon what he has done to reconcile with Hieromonk Ermogen.
Hieromonk Nikon informs the council of his conciliation efforts, which he undertook, after which the Chairman thanked Fr. Nikon.
The bishops, after discussion with the Chairman, decide that it is appropriate to consecrate Hieromonk Nikon as Vicar Bishop. Against - B. Kirill.
B. Georgiy reads the relevant passages from the "Regulations of the ROCA," how the candidate should be nominated to become bishop.
 At approximately 1700, Bishops Afanasiy and Georgiy leave to try to telephone B. Joseph and ask his opinion. The attempt fails and the council meeting resumes at 1710.
 4. B. Georgiy reports to the council on the first meeting of the Theological Commission.
In the course of the report and its main points, a lively discussion and exchange of views among bishops occurs.
B. Georgiy then reads the draft "Provisional regulations on the work of the Theological Commission of the Synod of Bishops of ROCA." After more discussion,
Resolved: To adopt the "Regulations on the Theological Commission at the Synod of Bishops of ROCA" as amended.
 5. The Chairman speaks of the importance for our Church of missionary work. We cannot isolate ourselves, it is necessary to disseminate to the world the preaching of the Crucified Christ. We need to think how best to do it.
B. Gregory tells us about the abundance of useful material on the website of the late B. Alexander (Mileant).  There are prepared texts, essays and pamphlets in Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.
The Chairman points out the urgent need to copy and save all of these materials. Discusses in detail the missionary work of Bishop Alexander and talks about the need to involve young people in our church, as well as children, and to appear in the media, write articles of missionary intent. The world around us is full of non-believers and we must mission to this world. The Holy Spirit of the Church is transmitted from person to person; this is not an abstract doctrine from some book. We often forget about this, and this is our weak spot. The danger then exists of becoming a sect.
B. Gregory supports the Chairman and cites the fact that in his diocese 60% of parishioners are local residents.
The Chairman suggests a determination of the absolute need for missionary work. This activity, however, should be conducted according to the methods typical of Orthodoxy and should not be that of a sect.
 The meeting on the first day of the Council concludes at 1900.
 Minutes No. 2 
Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 
Day 2, April 14\27, 2010
 Council meeting began after the Divine Liturgy at 0940 intoning "Christ is risen ..."
 The Chairman asked to pray for Bishop Daniel of Erie, who passed away the day before. "Eternal Memory" is sung for the departed ROCA bishop.
 Minutes No. 1 are read and some corrections are made.
 B. Kirill returns to the topic of accepting priests from other jurisdictions and certificates of release.
The Chairman says it is essential that a personnel file exist in the Synod Chancery for every cleric.  If a cleric leaves, this file should not be given to the individual, but given to the chancery of the other jurisdiction.
 The Chairman suggests inviting Bishop Dionisiy (Alferov) for a conversation.
 B. Dionisiy enters the meeting room.
 The Chairman thanks B. Dionisiy for his arrival at the meeting.
The bishops express a desire to listen to B. Dionisiy.
 B. Dionisiy thanks everyone for being invited to the council and discusses his assessment of the main events related to the confusion in the church, which arose in connection with the preparation and signing of the "Act of Canonical Communion of the ROCA and the ROC MP" on May 4/17, 2007. Speaks of the dangers of extreme right ecclesiological deviations in Orthodoxy, an example of which is the so-called Boston schism. In connection with this turns to a detailed analysis of disagreements that have arisen between him and B. Iriney (Klipinshteyn) and the group headed by Abp.Tikhon (Pasechnik). The fact is that from the outset RTOC was conceived only as a temporary entity until the first opportunity for calling a council to unite ROCA. However, after the death of Abp. Lazarus in RTOC quickly enough there is a change of course; in the ecclesiological rapprochement with the "ultra-Orthodox" ideology of extreme Old Calendarists groups; in canonical matters - the creation of a false theory about RTOC as a "sister church" of the ROCA; the creation of a self-styled pseudo-church structure with assignment of rights of a First Hierarch of ROCA and even almost that of a Local Church: preparing Chrism, the canonization of saints, etc. All this was accompanied by numerous instances of uncanonical intervention by Abp. Tikhon in the business of the dioceses of Bishops Dionisiy and Iriney and the denial of the principle of unity. Next B. Dionisiy goes on to describe the difficult psychological situation in the RTOC parishes abroad and the need for pastoral care when approaching them and offers to contribute his ideas on what can be done in this matter.
 Chairman: The problem is that representatives of the so-called "fragments" are unwilling to accept our proposed platform for unity (not to go beyond the traditional legacy of the Church Abroad) and insist on the independence of their pseudo-church new entities and even try to "improve" the traditional ecclesiology of ROCA. In our quest for unity, we have not found interested parties.
B. Dionisiy says his jurisdiction includes 7 parishes and 4 priests. The flock is quite comfortable with the prospect of unity with our Church. B. Iriney is in a more difficult position with his parishes that were in the ROCA. They do not want to break communion with Bishop Stefan (Sabelnikov). B. Dionisiy feels for his friend, B. Iriney, and would not want to be parted from him.
The Chairman invites B. Dionisiy to join our church and together to write a letter to Bishop Stefan.
B. Gregory supports the proposal and says said that after the council, he is going to New York and might meet with B. Stefan and talk to him and pass along a letter.
The bishops consider this idea with B. Dionisiy and discuss the pastoral and administrative details related to the process of restoring unity.
 B. Dionisiy leaves the room.
 B. Georgiy said that he is authorized by B. Joseph to express his opinion B. Dionisiy be accepted at his current office of bishop.
After discussion by the council, the bishops ask B. Dionisiy to return.
Abp. Andronik asks him his opinion about the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
B. Dionisiy reads an excerpt from his theological articles and offers his opinion.
B. Afanasiy asks B. Dionisiy to say who ordained him, and his path towards becoming a priest.
B. Dionisiy sets forth the relevant facts from his biography, and then at the request of the Chairman leaves.
The Chairman proposes to accept B. Dionisiy the next day, April 15/28, in his current rank as bishop after confession and concelebration with members of our episcopate. After that he will be able to participate in the Council and prepare the appeal to B. Stefan.
The proposal is discussed and all the bishops offer their opinions.
Resolved: Accept B. Dionisiy in his current rank, and as a ruling bishop of the parishes and congregations belonging to him. Establish the Novgorod diocese, which includes the Novgorod and Tver oblasts. Parishes outside of these areas, which will follow B. Dionisiy to join the ROCA, shall remain in his charge. Assign B. Dionisiy the title "of Novgorod and Tver."
 Discussed: the bishop's consecration of Hieromonk Nikon.
B. Georgiy announces agreement to this proposal by Bishop Joseph.
Resolved: To conduct the consecration of Hieromonk Nikon (Jost) as the Vicar Bishop for the Ishim-Siberian diocese with the title "of Verkhotursk." The consecration will be conducted on Sunday, 19 April/2 May of this year.
 1415 - Lunch break.
After the break, the meeting resumed at 1505.
 6. Discussed: the Chairman spoke on intra-diocesan plans.
During the discussion, the bishops talk about holding intra-diocesan and internal church themed theological conferences, youth congresses, and pilgrimages. They especially stress the need for establishment of seminary training. In Odessa, the correspondence course seminary has operated for more than 10 years and we can try to establish long-distance training using the Internet. Abp. Sofroniy informs of the intention to organize at the monastery of his diocese a seminary with continual training.
 7. Discussed: the Chairman spoke of publishing efforts.
Offers to give the status of those publications that are copies of publications issued in the past by ROCA to have synodal status.  Refers to those cases where the new set of these publications is prepared by hand - they could be marked "with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops of ROCA." It is important to establish distribution of our publications; we may want to make a decision on compulsory participation in this process of each diocese.
Abp. Sofroniy speaks of the high cost of delivery.
A discussion of the technical details related to publications, their delivery and distribution.
Chairman presents information about the Odessa diocesan magazine "Russian Zoar", and offers to assign it the status of an approved Synod publication.
Resolved: Give the magazine "Russian Zoar" the status of the Synod of an approved Synod publication.
 8. Discussed: the Chairman presents the financial report of the Synod.
Resolved: The financial report is accepted and approved.
 9. Discussed: the Chair discusses the need to raise funds for church-wide needs. Offers either to establish a special fund to meet the needs of the Synod, or open a separate Synod second account.
B. Gregory proposes at the end of each edition of every Synod publication to include a request for donations and bequeaths for the needs of the Church, indicating the bank account.
A discussion stresses the need for gathering funds for the acquisition of property for the Synod. Each diocese will make monthly tithes for the needs of the Synod.
The Chairman proposes to determine the contribution from each diocese.
Resolved: Regularly contribute towards the church-wide needs. To approve monthly tithes from the dioceses (for the amounts, see the Addendum for Minutes No. 2).
 For agenda item 10, B. Gregory reads a letter from Archpriest Alexander Iwacewicz of the South American diocese, in which the priest asks for information a range of difficult issues relating to relations with church members of other jurisdictions.
Resolved: When dealing with such issues, use the traditional practice of ROCA in such matters. Instruct the Theological Commission to prepare a sampling of relevant materials.
 11. Discussed: The composition of the Synod of Bishops.
Resolved: To approve the following composition of the ROCA Synod of Bishops: Met. Agafangel - Chairman, Abp. Andronik - Vice-Chairman; members of the Synod: Abp. Sofroniy, B. Georgiy - Secretary of the Synod, B. Afanasiy, and B. Gregory.
Fr. Leonid Plyats and D. B. Gontscharow are appointed assistants to the Secretary.
 The second day of the Council is concluded at 1750.
 Minutes No. 3 
Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Day 3, April 15\28, 2010
 The Council meeting begins after the Divine Liturgy at 1000 intoning "Christ is risen ...”
 The Chairman welcomes B. Dionisiy to the ranks of the ROCA Council of Bishops.
B. Dionisiy thanks everyone.
 Minutes No. 2 are read and some corrections are made.
 12. Discussed: Abp. Sofroniy discusses the Council of Russian Bishops.
The existence and functioning of the Council is attested to.  A brief history and reason for its establishment is explained.  Expresses the opinion that such a church body helps the Russian bishops to resolve church matters and helps to strengthen mutual understanding.  On the other hand, with the current composition of the Synod of Bishops, many of its members and functions are being duplicated.  If that is the case, is there a reason for its continued existence?
The Chairman provides a more detailed account of the history of the Council of Russian Bishops, the establishment of which and functioning of which he himself was directly involved. It was created to pacify and resolve the disagreements between the bishops in Russia.  The more practical reason for this body's existence was to be a consultative body and provide a way for matters to be presented to the Synod of Bishops from the bishops in Russia.
B. Kirill expresses the view that the existence of this body was unnecessary and even in some respects counter-productive. It is better to abolish it.
B. Dionisiy: The Council was established when the Synod of Bishops was always on the other side of the Atlantic. Now conditions have changed, and a real need for the existence of such a body does not exist.
B. Afanasiy considers the existence of the Council to be useful. It allows bishops to talk to one another, enhances mutual understanding, and allows questions to be discussed and prepared and which can later be put to the Synod. To do away with the Council is to do away with this opportunity for discussion.
The Chairman remarked that communication with each other does not necessarily require a special entity. One can meet informally to discuss matters.
B. Georgiy: Still, it was a serious body with certain powers. It should either be abolished or be defined more specifically.
The Chairman said that in its time, the Council played a positive role, but now it is not necessary.
Abp. Andronik believes that the Council should be abolished.
The matter is discussed collegially.
Resolved: to abolish the Council of Russian Bishops.
 13. B. Gregory talks about the situation in the Diocese of Argentina, where the MP has not stopped attempts to confiscate our church and property. Requests substantial help.
The Chairman says a statement on behalf of the Church can be prepared and it may be helpful to include it in the Epistle of the Bishops' Council.
The bishops discuss what and how the South American diocese can be helped.
 1145 - The Chairman declares the Council of Bishops closed.