THE TEMPORARY (PROVISIONAL) STATUTES
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA
(Confirmed by the General Council of Bishops--9/22 & 11/24, September 1936.)
I. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which consists of the dioceses, ecclesiastical missions and churches which are located outside the boundaries of Russia , is an indissoluble part of the Russian Orthodox Church, temporarily existing on autonomous principles.
The name of Metropolitan Peter, the locum tenens of the throne of the Patriarch of All Russia, shall always be commemorated at the divine services in all churches outside of Russia .
II. The highest legislative, judicial, and administrative organ of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is the Council [Sobor] of Bishops, which meets annually, and its executive organ, the Holy Synod of Bishops.
III. The President of the Council of Bishops is the President of the Holy Synod of Bishops, and all the bishops belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are its members. Bishops who cannot personally attend the Council may entrust their representation to other bishops. Matters of the Council of Bishops shall be decided by general consent of all members who take part in the session or by the opinion of the majority; in the case of a tie, the vote of the President shall be decisive.
Within the jurisdiction of the Council of Bishops are:
1) the election of the President of the Synod of Bishops;
2) matters of a general ecclesiastical character in connection with the Faith, moral teaching, divine services, Church administration, Church discipline, and also judicial matters on an appellate level;
3) matters of principle, regarding:
a) the defense of the rights of the Russian Church before governments and international organizations,
b) contemporary false teachings and schisms;
4) the publication of epistles in the name of the entire Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia;
5) the establishment of episcopal sees, their closing, and changes in their boundaries outside the limits of the districts;
6) the confirmation of the resolutions of the District Councils regarding the establishment and closing of dioceses and the changing of their boundaries, and also the review and resolution of complaints on such cases in the course of an appeal;
7) the confirmation and transfer of bishops who are members of a district, on the recommendation of the metropolitan of the latter, and those outside the districts, by recommendation of the Synod of Bishops;
8) the granting of awards to bishops on the recommendation of the metropolitans of the districts or on the initiative of the Synod of Bishops itself;
9) the augmentation or amendment of the Regulations concerning the Council, Synod, districts or diocesan authority;
10) the ordering of an audit of the Synod's financial accounts, the auditing of the annual account concerning the activity of the Synod and the annual accounts submitted to them of the districts and dioceses subject directly to the Synod, the estimates and financial accounts of the latter, and also the promulgation of collections and taxes for general Church needs.
IV. The Synod of Bishops.
1) The Holy Synod of Bishops consists of four membersórepresentatives of each of the four ecclesiastical districts (the Near East, Far East, North America and Western Europe ), and the President, elected by the Council of Bishops for life.
2) Members of the Synod are sent for one-year terms in the order established by the district. The North American, Western European, and Far Eastern districts may choose one of the bishops residing in Europe to represent them as a member.
Note: A Diocesan Bishop, if he attends a session of the Synod, participates in it as a non-voting member, while in matters dealing with his own diocese, he has a deciding vote; in the event of the latter, the representative of the given district does not participate in the voting.
3) The Synod of Bishops, with the blessing of His Holiness, the Patriarch of Serbia, is based in Sremsky-Karlovtsy.
4) Attached to the Synod is a Secretary in the rank of a clergyman, preferably a bishop, who is in charge of the Synodal Chancery, and the Head Clerk of the Synodal Chancery, who is subject to him, and the Synodal Treasurer.
5) The following matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops:
a) the appointment of temporary administrators of the ecclesiastical missions and dioceses directly subject to the Synod of Bishops;
b) the reunion with the Church of bishops who have fallen away and those who unite themselves to the Holy Church from heterodox confessions which have not lost the apostolic succession;
c) the uniting and direction of all aspects of the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with regard to the fulfillment of the resolutions of previous Councils and other ecclesiastical legislation which remains in force;
d) the publication of books of the Holy Scriptures, divine service books and catechetical manuals;
e) the supreme direction of missionary and educational activities;
f) the ordering of audits of dioceses, missions, and monasteries outside a district, while within a district by the recommendation of the metropolitan of the district;
g) appeals of divorce cases;
h) the granting of exceptions to the general rules in regard to the location for bringing an action in divorce cases;
i) the confirmation and dismissal of members of the Diocesan Council in dioceses directly subject to the Synod of Bishops;
j) cases of ecclesiastical adoption and legitimization;
k) the appointment and dismissal of the Secretary of the Synod, the Head Clerk of the Synodal Chancery and the Synodal Treasurer;
l) the awarding of monastic and married clergy with the palitsa, jeweled pectoral cross, and rank of archimandrite;
m) the publication of a Synodal periodical.
V. The President of the Synod Of Bishops.
The President of the Synod of Bishops is elected for life by a General Council of Bishops; he annually convenes Councils of Bishops, communicates with the Heads of Churches and with various institutions and persons in the name of the Council and the Synod, by the authorization of either of the latter; addresses the flock of the Church Outside of Russia with encyclical epistles, takes care of its internal and external well-being, gives fraternal instruction to hierarchs with regard to their personal life, as well as the fulfillment by them of their pastoral duty, and he administers the churches directly subject to the Synod of Bishops.
VI. Metropolitan Districts.
1) The portion of the Russian Church which exists outside the borders of Russia consists of four regions: Western Europe, the Near East, North America, and the Far East , in each of which Metropolitan Districts are established;
2) The time of the establishment of the Districts in a given region is resolved by the Council of Bishops;
3) The division of the Districts into dioceses is determined on a territorial basis. The distribution of territory and parishes of a District among dioceses is carried out at a Council of Bishops of the District and is presented for confirmation at a General Council;
Note: Until the confirmation by this Council of the distribution, the distribution of parishes and dioceses which presently exists is temporarily permitted.
VII. The Metropolitan of a District.
1) The Metropolitan of a District is elected by the District Council of Bishops and is confirmed by the General Council [Sobor];
2) The Metropolitan of a District tends to the entire District and visits all the parishes which comprise the District. The conditions of these visits are determined at District Councils; in the case of a disagreement, the matter is referred to the Synod;
3) The Metropolitan of a District convenes Councils, presides at them and, in case of necessity, offers the bishops of his District fraternal advice;
4) The name of the Metropolitan is commemorated by all the bishops of the District. The Metropolitan commemorates the name of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia;
5) In the event that some diocese finds itself without a bishop, the Metropolitan assumes the administration thereof on a temporary basis, or entrusts it to one of the bishops of his region, informing the Synod of Bishops of this;
6) The Metropolitan permits bishops to take leaves of absence for a period of time of more than two weeks but not exceeding three months;
7) To the Metropolitan belongs the right to grant awards to clergy up to the rank of archpriest and hegumen, upon the recommendation of the Diocesan Bishops;
8) The Metropolitan has the right to impose penances in matters of divorce and to grant permission to marry prior to the expiration of the period of penance, the reestablishment of periods of time in divorce cases, and the shortening of published times in such cases;
9) The Metropolitan distributes the Holy Chrism to the parishes of his District.
VIII. District Councils.
Within the competence of the District Council are:
1) The election of the Metropolitan of the District;
2) Matters pertaining to the establishment of new dioceses and the alteration of the boundaries of the existing ones, the election of candidates for episcopal sees, with the presentation of its resolutions for confirmation by the General Council;
3) The trial of bishops of the District in the first instance and of clerics and laymen on appeal;
4) The resolution of general questions for all dioceses;
5) The appointment of Church collections in the District for its general ecclesiastical needs.
IX. Diocesan Bishops.
Diocesan Bishops govern their dioceses in conformity with the resolution of the All-Russian Church Council. In accordance with this, the Diocesan Bishop:
1) Appoints and transfers the rectors of parishes and performs ordinations;
2) Establishes and dissolves parishes and alters their boundaries;
3) Organizes deaneries;
4) Grants permission to build and repair churches, chapels, and the establishment of cemeteries;
5) Consecrates churches and antimensia;
6) Supervises moveable and immovable church property;
7) Confirms the resolutions of parish meetings and the elections of church wardens;
8) Visits the parishes subject to him;
9) Confirms the parish budget and the apportionment of diocesan collections;
10) Convenes Diocesan Assemblies, presides at them and at the Diocesan Council, when this is necessary, and confirms the resolutions of the latter;
11) Confirms the decisions of the Diocesan Council in divorce cases of the first instance;
12) Awards the clergy up to the rank of kamilavka inclusive and grants blessings to the laity with the presentation of a citation to this effect;
13) The Diocesan Bishop is the rector of his cathedral church.
X. Ecclesiastical Court.
A. The Court of Bishops:
1) The court of the first instance with regard to bishops is the District Council, while for bishops who are not members of the District and for Metropolitans of Districtsóit is the Synod of Bishops.
Note: In the event of difficulty in convening a Council for the trial of a bishop of his District, the Metropolitan may transfer the case to the Synod of Bishops for a decision of first instance.
2) The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is subject to trial by the General Council of Bishops.
3) The quorum for a judicial session of the District Council is five bishops headed by the Metropolitan, while for the Synod it is its entire membership. In the event of the impossibility for any particular member of the Synod to participate in the trial, bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia who are not members of the Synod may be invited by the President to participate in it, in the number necessary to form a quorum. Likewise, a Metropolitan of a District, in order to satisfy a quorum, may invite bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from other regions.
4) In the General Council a quorum for the trial of bishops is seven bishops.
5) A complaint against a decision of a court of first instance should be made to the General Council of Bishops in written form no later than two months following the announcement of its decision.
6) The decisions of the General Council of Bishops are final and come into legal effect immediately, not being subject to appeal until the reestablishment of the free All-Russian Church Authority and normal relations with it can be resumed.
B. The Trial of Clerics:
7) The court of first instance for clerics is constituted directly by the bishop in accordance with paragraph 155 of the Regulations of the Spiritual Chancery and by the Diocesan Council; and where such does not exist, by a special judicial office appointed by the Diocesan Bishop, consisting of no fewer than three clerics, in accordance with the relative sections of the Regulations of the Spiritual Chancery and other Russian legislation with regard to spiritual courts convened by the Chancery.
8) In a court of first instance in respect of clerics, the quorum is no fewer than three clerics in the rank of priest. If in the Diocesan Council there are fewer than three clerics or if any member of the Council is unable to participate in the trial, the quorum is satisfied by priests appointed by the Diocesan Bishop.
9) An appeal from the decision of a diocesan court lies through the Diocesan Bishop in a District to the Council of the District; those outside the Districts lie to the Synod of Bishops, whose decisions may be appealed to the General Council of Bishops.
10) The presence of no fewer than four bishops is required in a District Council sitting as an appeal court in respect to clerics; while in the Synod of Bishops its usual quorum shall be required.
C. Disqualification of Judges:
11) The accused bishop or cleric has, at all judicial levels, the right of challenge of judges, of which he must inform the President no later than two weeks after receiving the summons to court.
D. The Order of Legal Proceedings:
12) Until the formulation of special rules for legal procedures, the latter shall be regulated by Sacred Scripture, the Holy Canons, the Regulations of the Spiritual Chancery, other statutes and decrees of the All-Russian Church Authority, as well as by the resolutions of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
13) In matters relevant to the annulment of marriages and the declaration of the invalidity of marriages, the ecclesiastical court shall be guided by the decisions of the All-Russian Church Authority, and also by the interpretations and supplements of the Council of Bishops and Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.