NEW YORK: September 9, 2009
Decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
On 19 August/1 September 2009, the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR HEARD: the case of Bishop Agafangel of Odessa and Taurida, who had been suspended from serving.
Circumstances of this case: On 6/10 April 2007, by Decree of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR #11/35-7/90-4, Bishop Agafangel was suspended from serving for failing to meet the conditions imposed by the Synod of Bishops in December of 2006.
Immediately after the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR on 4/17 May 2007, Bishop Agafangel, together with his clergy, withdrew from canonical communion with ROCOR, declaring that, together with clergymen from several other dioceses of ROCOR who had joined them, they were the real Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Since then, Bishop Agafangel, while under suspension, has uncanonically consecrated new "bishops" and priests and continues to celebrate the Liturgy.
Because Bishop Agafangel and his clergy have departed into schism, the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR declares that every rebellion against lawful authority is a manifestation of the love of power. Thus, the willful departure of a bishop from the authority of his Metropolitan and the Synod of Bishops is defined by the holy canons as a usurpation of authority. Likewise, the initiator of a rebellion and the clergymen and laymen who follow him are committing the grievous sin of contempt for the order that God has established, for they are separating themselves from the Church.
Canon 14 of the First-Second Council of Constantinople states: "If any Bishop, on the allegation that charges of crime lie against his own Metropolitan, shall secede or apostatize from him before a conciliar verdict has been issued against him, and shall abstain from communion with him, and shall refuse to commemorate his name, as is customary, while celebrating the divine Mysteries, the holy Council has decreed that he shall be deposed from office, if merely by seceding from his own Metropolitan he shall create a schism. For everyone ought to know his own bounds, and just as a Priest must not treat his own bishop with contempt, so must a Bishop not treat his own Metropolitan so" (cf. also canons 13 and 15 of the same Council; canon 18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, canon 31 of the Holy Apostles, et al.).
On the basis of the above and the fact that Bishop Agafangel has continued to serve while under suspension, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has DECIDED:
1. To depose Bishop Agafangel from his sacred rank in accordance with the pertinent canons:
28,31 and 33 of the Holy Apostles
18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council
17 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council
14 of the First-Second Council
29 of the Local Council of Carthage
2. To permit the accused, Bishop Agafangel, a period of four weeks to repent or object to this decision;
3. To hold all the sacred actions, consecrations and ordinations performed by Bishop Agafangel, from the moment of his suspension, to be invalid;
4. To inform the accused, Bishop Agafangel, of the foregoing in writing.
President of the Synod of Bishops
Secretary of the Synod of Bishops
20 August/2 September 2009