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Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia holds a regular session

Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia holds a regular session
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1 October 2020 year 20:27

On September 29, 2020, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Outside of Russia held an online session chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York.

The session was attended by archpastors elected by the Synod of Bishops held in 2017 during the Bishops’ Council, namely, Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, Archbishop  Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America,  Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan.

Opening the session, His Eminence Hilarion proposed to commemorate in prayer several hierarchs of the Russian Church Outside of Russia who died in September and October in various years. Then Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Metropolitan Mark on the forthcoming 40th anniversary of his episcopal consecration and wished His Eminence God’s help in his further archpastoral world in Germany.

Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco and Western America made a report on the state of affairs in California still suffering from wildfires and asked the hierarchs to pray for his flock.

The agenda had been sent out to the members of the Synod of Bishops and had been approved by them.

Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky­), in his report about the life of the holy monasteries, churches and Bethany School – parts of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem ROCOR, said that the Israeli government had toughened the quarantine measures again. The holy convents on the Mount of Olives, in Russian Gethsemane and on Fara lived their monastic life continuing to celebrate divine services without the participation of pilgrims. Bethany is closed but Archimandrite Roman has had time to send to the community of the Resurrection of Christ one of the mission clerics who celebrates there taking pastoral care of the nuns and schoolgirls of the boarding school. At present, the mission is preparing an online conference devoted to the centenary of its spiritual nourishment by a part of the Russian Church and to Metropolitan Anastasius (Gribanovsky) who worked much to preserve the church property in the Holy Land. Next year, the mission is going to mark the centenary of bringing the relics of the protomartyrs of Alapayevsk – Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Sister Barbara. The final decision on the date of the celebration is to be made by one of the oncoming session of the Synod of Bishops.

The next speaker was N. A. Okhotin who dealt with legal and property matters. Then the Synod considered various administrative and economic issues and several petitions from archpastors who proposed to grant church awards to several clergy and laity of their dioceses.

Having considered matters concerning the monastic life, inter-Orthodox relations, additional clergy and bishops, the archpastors dealt with various problems and difficulties caused by the coronavirus infection including the encroachment on religious rights of the faithful in some countries in the pastoral care of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America addressing the clergy and flock of the Russian Church Outside of Russia at the Synod of Bishops’ request, admonished: ‘The present global outbreak of the coronavirus has dominated all the news reporting new cases each day. Nevertheless, divine services in our churches will continue while the communion of the clergy and laity will be made in normal order. In everything else I ask you to take precautionary measures keeping good sense and observing the recommendations of local authorities so that people’s health may be preserved and the virus stopped from spreading. If you feel you have symptoms resembling a cold, or have met with ill people, please, think about your relatives, keep back from coming to church and pray at home. The most important thing these days is to keep quiet, hold your inner peace putting trust in God. May the Lord help us not only to believe in Him but also to trust in Him, His guidance, so that we may not lose the presence of mind and act discreetly’.

In an open letter sent to the governor of the State of California in the beginning of July, Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco expressed protest against the ban imposed on choral singing in churches in California, describing this measure as discriminatory. At parishes and in monasteries of the Diocese of Western America, the clergy and parishioners strictly observed all the sanitary measures introduced by local authorities. ‘In spite of the fact that they were deprived of the Lenten touching divine services and the joyful celebration of holy Pascha, our parishioners showed understanding about our instructions by being present in churches ‘virtually’. However, now we can see a contradiction in that at every step we see mass protest actions with their violation of absolutely every precautionary measure while the liturgical choral singing is banned though all the rules are observed’, His Eminence noted in this letter. According to the secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the situation ‘with an apparent discrimination and hypocrisy’ in the State of California carries us back to ‘the times of godless persecution in the USSR’.

Last summer, the chairman of the Synod of Bishops sent an archpastoral message to the clergy and flock of the Dioceses of Eastern America and Australia-New Zealand. In his message propagated in other dioceses of the Russian Church Outside of Russia as well, His Eminence Hilarion called upon ‘the rectors of parishes and abbots of monasteries opening churches for public divine services to observe the sanitary norms and every rule of local authorities remembering that for all the persecutions the first Christians were always law-aboding citizens of their countries’.

During the fraternal discussions held on this issue at the Synod of Bishops’ session, archpastors shared their experience of service, pastoral care of the flock and church resolution of problems and difficulties arising in the situation of the pandemic, Patriarchia.ru reports with reference to the ROCOR official website.

DECR Communication Service/Patriarchia.ru

Version: Russian

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