19 August /1 September, 1987
DELIBERATION WAS HELD: concerning Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) and the clergymen allied with him, who have gone into schism. It was reported that each was personally sent the resolution of the Synod of Bishops of 4/17 February, 1987, in which it was repeated that they are all forbidden to serve the divine services.... However, none of those who have departed has offered repentance, and none of them has replied to this resolution, with the exception of Archpriest George Kochergin. His letter, written to Metropolitan Vitaly in a crude tone, evidenced no repentance, on the contrary, it was full of arrogant self justification of his rightness. Furthermore, all the clergymen who have withdrawn with Archimandrite Panteleimon dare to celebrate the divine services, ignoring their suspension, and thus violate the canons and "pronounce upon themselves a sentence of condemnation," i.e., deprive themselves of their rank, depose themselves from the priesthood. Cf. Canons 28 and 38 of the Council of Carthage: they also violate Canons 12, 15 and 16 of the Holy Apostles.
Canon 31 of the Holy Apostles states: "If any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a seperate congregation, and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition; for he is a tyrant, In like manner also the rest of the clergy, and as many as join him; and let laymen be excommunicated ...." Elucidating this canon, Bishop Nikodim Milash writes: "This Canon of the Holy Apostles subjects to deposition from rank both schismatic presbyters as well as all other clergymen who have joined such presbyters: as regards laymen who have joined such presbyters, the canon prescribes excommunication..." (The Canons of the Orthodox Church with Interpretation of Bishop Nikodim, Vol 1. pp, 93, 95)
Thus, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) and all the clergymen who have departed into schism with him have themselves deposed themselves from their rank, violating the above-cited canons. By doing such, they have separated themselves from the Church and, through their anti-canonical actions, ceased to be vessels of the grace of God which they received in the mystery of the priesthood. In view of this, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia ACKNOWLEDGES the lamentable fact that they have "themselves pronounced upon themselves the verdict of condemnation." The ecclesiastical authority, in the person of the Synod of Bishops, is compelled to declare, in order to protect our own faithful, lest they become "partakers of other men's sins" (Tim 5:22), that all the sacramental actions performed by the former Archimandrite Panteleimon and the former clergymen who have followed after him, are devoid of grace and invalid.
The foregoing is an accurate translation of the Russian original, which is attested by my signature and the seal of the Synod;
+Archbishop Laurus Secretary of the Synod of Bishops
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