of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
(Confirmed by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on 26 September/9 October; 27 September/10 October; 28 September/11 November; 29 September/12 October; and 2/15 October 1956; by decision of the Council dated 5/18 June, 1964, and by decision of the Council of Bishops dated 3/16 May, 2011.)
1. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is an indissoluble part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, and for the time until the extermination in Russia of the atheist government, is self‑governing on conciliar principles in accordance with the resolution of the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Council [Sobor] of the Russian Church dated 7/20 November, 1920, No. 362.
2. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is composed of those who are outside the borders of Russia and are guided by the lawful hierarchy of a diocese with their parishes, church communities, spiritual missions and monasteries.
3. The basic task of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is the preservation abroad of complete independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from atheistic and anti‑Christian forces and the overall spiritual nourishment of the Orthodox Russian flock in the diaspora, independent of nationality; and in particular, the preservation and strengthening in the souls of the faithful flock the purity and wholeness of the holy Orthodox faith; and the encouragement of devotion in the flock, dispersed throughout the world, to the suffering Mother Church.
4. In her internal life and administration, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is guided by Holy Scripture and Tradition, by the Holy Canons and Church laws, the regulations and pious customs of the Church of Russia and, in particular, by the resolution of His Holiness the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church dated 7/20 November, 1920, No. 362, by the resolutions of sobors and declarations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, including the present statutes.
5. The administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is carried out by a Sobor of Bishops through the First Hierarch and Synod, and through Diocesan Bishops.
6. All organs of Church administration, beginning with the First Hierarch and Synod of Bishops and others in descending order, must subject their acts to scrutiny and control, according to the prescribed chain of authority.
II. THE SOBOR OF BISHOPS.
7. The Sobor of Bishops is to be convoked once every two years, and it is the highest law‑making administrative, judicial and controlling body in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
8. The President of the Sobor of Bishops and the Synod of Bishops is the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, being the Metropolitan, and is elected for life by the Sobor. All bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are members of the Sobor.
9. Members of the Sobor who for some special valid reason cannot be present at a Sobor, must give their opinion on questions raised at the Sobor, or entrust their representation to other bishops. Absent bishops have the right, in matters concerning their diocese or vicariate, to send their proxies (of priestly rank).
10. Questions at a Sobor of Bishops are resolved by common consent of all participants, or by the opinion of the majority. On all equally divided votes, the President’s vote prevails.
11. The following matters come within the authority of the Sobor of Bishops:
a) the election of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, for life, with his elevation to the rank of Metropolitan;
b) the election of two deputies of the First Hierarch who will be vice‑presidents of the Synod, two members of the Synod of Bishops, and two deputies of the members of the Synod;
c). questions of a general ecclesiastical nature concerning faith, morals, services, church administration, church discipline, general religious instruction, and also the church court of appeal;
d) matters of a principal character concerning contemporary schisms and false teachings; and also the defense of the rights of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad before governments and various institutions;
e) the publication of epistles and other acts in the name of the whole Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
f) the establishment of diocesan sees, their closure, and alteration in diocesan boundaries; similarly, the opening or organization of new missions and their closure;
g) the election, nomination, transfer, retirement and rewarding of bishops;
Note: The appointment of Ruling Bishops from those available, and also the election, appointment, transfer, retirement and rewarding of bishops, establishment of diocesan sees, their closure and alteration of boundaries, the reuniting to the Church of bishops who have apostasized or who join from other faiths, in the period between sobors, may be carried out, in case of extreme need, by the Synod of Bishops but not otherwise than by requiring the written opinions of all the bishops.
h) the establishment up of monetary collections and tithes for church needs;
i) the resolution of problems associated with the preparation of candidates for the priesthood and of other clergy;
j) consideration of reports of the Synod of Bishops, its President, Diocesan and vicar bishops and others and of institutions, concerning various aspects of church administration and life, and also other assorted questions concerning relations with governments and church authorities or representatives of other Orthodox Churches and heterodox faiths;
k) the opening and closing, by the Synod of Bishops, of permanent institutions listed in par. 32;
l) the election of a Synodal Auditing Committee for auditing Synodal accounts and the overseeing the proper conduct of the economic aspect of the Synod and for similar bodies under the Synod’s jurisdiction;
m) the establishment of staffs (personnel) of the Synod of Bishops;
n) the examination and confirmation of income/outgoing budgets for the maintenance of the First Hierarch, the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan’s residence, and also for the publication of the official organ of the Synod of Bishops;
o) the supplementation and amending of the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
12. In case of special need, the First Hierarch together with the Synod of Bishops may call an extraordinary Church Sobor, composed of bishops, representatives of the clergy, and laity. The resolutions of these Sobors have the force of law and go into effect only on confirmation by the Sobor of Bishops under the presidency of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad which should meet at the same time or immediately after the end of the extraordinary Church Sobor.
13. The preparatory work for the calling of a sobor shall be done by the First Hierarch. He shall compile a preliminary agenda of matters to be discussed by the Sobor, collect and prepare material for the sobor received from bishops and their dioceses and other sources. The Synod of Bishops establishes a pre‑sobor Commission under the presidency of a member of the Synod for the preparation of material for the consideration of the sobor and financial and administrative questions and matters connected with the calling of the Sobor.
14. Besides the regular Sobor of Bishops, extraordinary Sobors may be called, for example, for the election of a new First Hierarch after the retirement, who retains the title of Honorary President, or death of the former one, and also in the case of some other special events which give rise to the necessity to call an extraordinary Sobor of Bishops.
15. In the period between Sobors, urgent and important questions lying within the competence of the Sobor, may be resolved by the Synod of Bishops by way of calling for comments from all the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
III. THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS.
16. The Synod of Bishops is the executive organ of the Sobor and is composed of the chairman, who is the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, his two deputies and four members, elected by the Sobor for the period between Sobors, and also of two of their deputies summoned to the meeting of the Synod at the discretion of the chairman.
17. In cases of discussion and decision by the Synod of extremely important matters, and also judgments in respect of bishops of first instance, the composition of the Synod shall be enlarged by other bishops, expressly invited by the First Hierarch.
18. Every Diocesan Bishop may attend a meeting of the Synod which discusses the affairs of his diocese equally with other members of the Synod.
19. a) The Synod may, in case of necessity, summon the Diocesan or vicar bishop concerning matters in his diocese or vicariate.
b) In the case of some serious disruption in a diocese, the Synod may send one of the bishops to become acquainted with or to investigate the affair on the spot. Should there be uncovered any abuses or offences on the part of the Diocesan or vicar bishop, the Synod shall take necessary steps to establish order in accordance with par. 15; in case of necessity, the Synod may temporarily employ measures with notification of such to the hierarchy.
20. Meetings of the Synod are to be considered valid when, besides the chairman, at least half of the members are present. But when there is discussion of extremely important questions, and also when it sits as a court of first instance in respect to bishops (in which case an enlarged composition of the Synod is required), the meeting is considered valid when no fewer than two-thirds of the bishops are present including the chairman.
21. In the case of illness or absence for some reason of the First Hierarch, his deputy shall take the chair in the Synod.
22. Matters in the Synod are to be determined by general agreement of all members who take part in the meeting or by a majority of votes. On an equal division of votes, the chairman’s vote shall be decisive.
23. No one who participates in a Synod meeting may abstain from voting, but in the event of disagreement with the accepted decision, the person who disagrees may give his opinion which he must declare at the same session, setting out that on which it is based, add he should present it in written form no later than three days after the day of the session. Special opinions are appended to the item for clarification without annulling the decision.
24. Matters coming within the jurisdiction of the Synod may be brought up for discussion at the direction of the chairman and the Secretary on the basis of a survey of all the bishops; but the right to raise questions to be discussed by Synod also belongs to every individual member of the Synod.
25. All resolutions of the Synod are to be published in ledgers and should be signed by the chairman and all members who took part in the essence of the matter at hand.
26. After signing, resolutions of the Synod go into force and are not subject to review except when facts are presented which change the very essence of the matter at hand, but not contradicting the previous Sobor of Bishops.
27. The chairman of Synod has supreme authority for the correct processing of matters in the Synod’s Chancery and its auxiliary bodies and for the expeditious and exact carrying out of resolutions that have been passed.
28. The following officials are attached to Synod: a secretary, of the rank of bishop, from among the members of Synod; a director who shall be in charge of the Synodal Chancery; the Synodal Jurisconsult; the Synodal Treasurer; and officials of the Chancery.
29. The following matters come within the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops:
a) the appointment of Ruling Bishops from those available; the appointment and transfer of vicar bishops; the appointment and release of heads of missions; the retirement of bishops between sobors;
b) arranging for the election of new bishops between sobors by way of requesting written opinions from all bishops;
c) the establishment of cathedras, their closure, and alteration of borders between sobors, if there be urgent need by means of requesting the written opinions of all the bishops;
d) the reuniting of bishops to the Church who have apostacized and the reception of those who come from other faiths;
e) comprising a court over bishops of the first instance with an expanded Synod;
f) the hearing of complaints and formation, with normal Synod membership, of an appellate court in for clergy, and confirmation of decisions by Diocesan Courts to defrock clergy, submitted by Diocesan Bishops;
g) the hearing of divorce matters in the first instance in respect to clergy, and in respect to laity in parishes directly subject to the chairman of the Synod, brought to the Synod from Diocesan Courts for whatever reason. Also, the hearing of appeals of divorce matters;
Note: The Synod has the authority to make exceptions to the rules concerning the place of bringing divorce suits and the setting up of time limits for them.
h) the resolution of questions concerning various aspects of church life and church administration and the regulation thereof;
i) the amalgamation and direction of all aspects of the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and control over the carrying out of previous sobor resolutions and other enacted ecclesiastical laws;
j) the publishing of books of Sacred Scripture, collections of the canons, service books, texts on catechism and other books of a religious‑moral nature, and also of sacred art; in addition, the granting of permission, approval and blessing for the publication of books of the aforesaid content by various organizations and private individuals through committees and commissions of the Synod;
k) the approval of newly-composed services, rites and prayer‑books and the safeguarding of the text of Scripture and church service books; control over the correction of the latter; and also translations and publications;
l) the opening of theological schools for candidates for the priesthood and lesser schools;
m) the appointment of heads of theological schools for the preparation of candidates for the priesthood, and their dismissal;
n) the supervision and confirmation of academic curricula for separate courses and subjects in theological schools, on the initiative of the Schools Committee;
o) ensuring a strictly Orthodox and artistic form of church art and architecture, iconography, singing and applied arts, and their development;
p) the appointment and dismissal of the director of the Synodal Chancery, Jurisconsult and Synodal Treasurer.
Note: The chairman of Synod accepts into service and dismisses from service those who work in the Chancery and other Synod employees, at the representation of the director.
q) the organization of various types of collections for general church needs, and for the needs and maintenance of separate missions;
r) matters of adoption and legitimization;
s) the awarding of "white" and monastic clergy with the rank of protodeacon, the pectoral cross, the rank of protopresbyter, archpriest, the palitsa, the jeweled pectoral cross, mitre, the rank of hegumen and Archimandrite, and also the giving of awards to clergy and laity in the form of certificates, Bibles or icons, for their special labors, sacrifices and services on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
t) the granting to bishops of permission to take vacations for a period in excess of two months, and vacations abroad with temporary substitution by vicar bishops or bishops from other dioceses;
u) the supervision and partial alteration of pre‑existing rules and statutes by which are regulated the life, activity and administration of existing and potential parishes, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, various diocesan and parochial educational and philanthropic organizations, institutions of the Synod of Bishops, theological schools, spiritual missions and convents and monasteries;
v) matters concerning the strengthening and defense of the rights of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in respect of her legal status, existence and activity, and of her organs;
w) matters concerning church property in dioceses, parishes, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, ecclesiastical missions, monasteries and theological schools, coming within the jurisdiction of Synod;
x) the supervision and decision of matters concerning ecclesiastical missions and theological schools directly subject to Synod;
y) the resolution of difficult questions coming from dioceses and other places or people, and also arising as a result of incompleteness or lack of clarity of church laws and conciliar decisions;
z) appeals by epistle or addresses to archpastors, pastors, monastics, brotherhoods, and to the flock, as circumstances demand;
aa) the notification of bishops of important events in church life and Synodal resolutions of general significance, this duty belonging to the Secretary of Synod.
30. The Synod of Bishops will publish its own magazine under the name of "Church Life."
31. The Synod has the following auxiliary bodies:
a) the Chancery;
b) the Schools Committee, under the chairmanship of a member of Synod;
c) the Synodal Charitable Fund;
d) the Department of Missions, under the chairmanship of a member of Synod;
e) the Library, Archives and Museum;
f) the Department of Internal Affairs;
g) the Synodal Accountant;
h) the Synodal Auditing Committee;
i) the Legal Committee; and
j) the Art and Architecture Committee.
k) The Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
l) The Liturgical Music Committee.
m) The St. Herman Conference Committee.
32. Income for the maintenance of Synod will be generated from the following:
a) basic dues established by the Sobor and received through diocesan offices and also, in part, directly from parishes and monasteries;
b) specific plate collections taken up in churches;
c) percentages of candle and plate collections in churches of the entire Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
d) 2% deducted from the income of the bishops;
c) 1% deducted from the income of parochial clergy;
f) bonus taxes and administration taxes in connection with divorce matters;
g) donations connected with certain prayerbooks made by the clergy of the Synodal church of the Metropolitan;
h) a percentage from the sale of spiritual literature;
i) stamp and endorsement taxes;
j) other individual donations;
k) deductions from the income of the Synodal Cathedral.
IV. THE FIRST HIERARCH.
33. The First Hierarch, holding the rank of Metropolitan, heads the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. He is elected for life by the Sobor of Bishops from among those of the episcopate who are available.
34. The name of the First Hierarch shall be commemorated at services in every church of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, before the name of the local Ruling Bishop.
35. The residence of the First Hierarch shall have a domestic chapel in which shall be kept the holy, wonder-working Kursk‑Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign.
36. The First Hierarch is also the Diocesan Bishop of that diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in which he constantly resides, and the rector of the Metropolitan’s cathedral. He administers, with the rights of a Diocesan Bishop, those churches not included in any other diocese and directly subject to him. His vicar helps him administer the churches subject to him.
37. The First Hierarch, besides being chairman of the Council and Synod, possesses the following rights:
a) he has the general care for the well‑being of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, both internally and externally;
b) to call ordinary and extraordinary Sobors of Bishops, and also the All‑Diaspora Sobors with the participation of clergy and laity, of which he is also chairman;
c) he is the chairman of the Sobor of Bishops;
d) to present to the Sobor the state of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad during the period between sobors;
e) to communicate with representatives of autocephalous Orthodox Churches on questions of church life, in fulfillment of resolutions of the Sobor or Synod, and also in his own name;
f) to communicate with government authorities on matters affecting the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
g) to address the whole Russian Orthodox Church Abroad with archpastoral epistles and instructive admonitions;
h) to be responsible for appointments to cathedras, when necessary;
i) to be responsible for the preparation of the Holy Myrrh and antimenses, when necessary;
j) to give blessings to clergy and laymen for their beneficial services to the Church;
k) to give awards up to the rank of ornamented cross and hegumen, inclusively, to clergy directly subject to him;
l) in necessary cases, to give brotherly admonitions to herarchs concerning their personal lives, as well as the fulfillment of their archpastoral duties;
m) to administer as the diocesan bishop churches, missions and monasteries directly subject to him;
n) in case of a vacant episcopal see, to take upon himself temporary control of it or to assign a bishop before the appointment of a Ruling Bishop;
o) to receive complaints against bishops, and to give them appropriate consideration;
p) to examine personal misunderstandings between bishops who have voluntarily sought his mediation, without formal proceedings; in which cases, the decision of the First Hierarch is binding on the parties;
q) in necessary cases, to visit all dioceses, with the consent of the Diocesan Bishop;
r) to have supreme supervisory control over the correct processing of all matters pertaining to the Synod and Synodal institutions, and executing resolutions of the Sobor and Synod;
s) to grant leave to bishops to be absent from their dioceses from two weeks to two months, without temporary substitution;
t) to distribute Holy Myrrh to the dioceses and churches of the entire Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
u) to visit theological schools;
v) on his own initiative, to refer questions and other matters for examination and resolution by the Sobor and Synod.
38. The First Hierarch may use his right of protest in those cases when he recognizes that resolutions adopted by Synod are not conducive to the well‑being and benefit of the Church. He should give reasons for his protest in writing, and suggest to the Synod that they review the matter. If the Synod repeats its former resolution, the First Hierarch may suspend its execution until after summoning a Sobor or, request in writing the opinion of all members of the Sobor, on whom depends the final resolution of the question.
39. The First Hierarch has his personal chancery (office) and secretary. In his domestic chapel he has clergy who serve in succession.
V. DIOCESES AND DIOCESAN BISHOPS.
40. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is divided into dioceses whose boundaries are established by the Synod with definitive confirmation by the Sobor of Bishops.
4l. Every diocese is under the administrative control of its Diocesan Bishop.
42. Bishops of dioceses that are located in a certain part of the world may periodically gather for meetings under the chairmanship of the most senior of them, or of the bishop who is representative of the Synod.
43. The Diocesan Bishop administers the diocese with the cooperation of the Diocesan Assembly and the Diocesan Council.
44. The Diocesan Administration as well as the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Court should be conducted according to the principles set out in par. 4 of these Regulations.
45. The Diocesan Bishop, as the head of a local church (the diocese), enjoys, by divine ordinance, the complete fullness of episcopal power, that is, to teach, to perform divine services, to administer a court and give judgment, within the boundaries of his diocese.
46. The Diocesan Bishop possesses the right of initiative and direct leadership in all aspects of diocesan life.
47. The Diocesan Bishop, having the overall care of his diocese and its prosperity:
a) opens and closes parishes and defines their boundaries;
b) appoints, transfers in case of need, when it would be beneficial, and dismisses, rectors of parishes and other clergy;
c) confirms in their position abbots and abbesses of monasteries and sketes for men and women, and their priors/prioresses;
d) with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, opens and closes monasteries and sketes in his diocese;
e) establishes deaneries and appoints and dismisses deans;
f) ordains clergymen and consecrates churches and antimensia;
g) grants permission for the construction, opening and repair of churches, chapels and cemeteries;
h) guides the spiritual education of his flock, through missionary and charitable activities;
i) supervises the teaching of catechism;
j) visits parishes, monasteries and theological schools, and in necessary cases, points out defects and omissions to the proper person and gives corresponding instructions, exhortations and orders;
k) gives guiding instructions to diocesan clergy regarding the performance of services, church school and other pastoral and clerical duties;
l) supervises the personal moral purity of life and good conduct of all church servers and the flock;
m) in all necessary cases, brings archpastoral pressure to bear through admonishment, warning, imposition of epitimias, distraint, temporary removal from serving, or complete dismissal;
n) in necessary cases, entrusts bodies under his jurisdiction to conduct closed or public enquiries or formal investigations;
o) confers awards on clergy up to the kamilavka, inclusively, awards the Holy Gospel or holy icons and confers his blessing on clergy and laity in the form of certificates, etc.;
p) permits the establishment of church brotherhoods and sisterhoods, philanthropic, educational and other beneficial institutions and closes them, confirms their rules and controls them;
q) with the permission of the Synod of Bishops, opens seminaries for the training of candidates for the priesthood and precentors, presenting the regulations and curricula for these schools for the training of chanters and precentors, teachers and preceptors, and, in general, has overall guidance and supervision of schools.
Note: Curricula of seminaries are confirmed by the Synod of Bishops at the representation of a member of the Schools Committee.
r) administers and disposes of diocesan and monastic property and supervises all other church property in the diocese, in accordance with the 4lst Apostolic canon: “We command that the Bishop have authority over the property of the church”;
s) summons Diocesan Assemblies under his chairmanship;
t) confirms the resolutions of Diocesan Assemblies and Diocesan Councils;
u) confirms the budget of income and expenditure for the diocese and also assignment of all monetary collections in the parishes of the diocese for the maintenance of the Diocesan Bishop, episcopal residence, travel of the bishop on church business, and also of the Diocesan Council, the chancery, secretary, etc.;
v) summons pastoral and missionary assemblies;
w) confirms the judgments of the Diocesan Court in all matters including divorce matters in the first instance;
x) increases or decreases punishments imposed by the Diocesan Court;
y) confirms the resolutions of parish meetings, elections of church wardens, and other elected office holders in the parishes;
z) is the rector of his cathedral church.
48. The Diocesan Bishop has the duty of obtaining for his diocese legal rights in the form corresponding to the local laws and approved by the Synod of Bishops.
49. The episcopal residence should have its own chancery (office) of the bishop, under the control of his personal secretary. The Diocesan Bishop receives his income and living quarters from his cathedral and diocese.
Note: The Diocesan Bishop’s residence should be in the city where the cathedra is located.
50. The Diocesan Bishop should have in his chancery lists of all clergy (higher and lesser) of the diocese; abbots and abbesses of monasteries and sketes; their brotherhoods; heads of missions and their members; heads, helpers, instructors and teachers in seminaries, with information on each of them.
51. The Diocesan Bishop may not leave the borders of his diocese for longer than one (1) month. In the case of a more protracted absence, he must obtain permission from the chairman of Synod, who may give him leave of absence for a period no longer than two (2) months; or from the Synod of Bishops, who may extend his leave up to six (6) months (see below). In the case of his absence from the diocese or prolonged illness, the deputy of the Diocesan Bishop is his vicar bishop, or another bishop appointed by the Synod of Bishops.
52. A Diocesan Bishop has no episcopal rights within the borders of another diocese, otherwise than with the leave and permission of the local Diocesan Bishop.
53. A Diocesan Bishop may not accept clergy or monks from another diocese to serve in his diocese, without a canonical release. It is also forbidden, under pain of strict responsibility, to allow people to serve who have been deprived of their clerical rank, or been forbidden to serve by another bishop of another diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
54. The personal property of a Ruling Bishop (as of any bishop) must be known to the clergy around him, and must not be confused with church property. In accordance with canonical rules, the bishop has the right, before departing from this life, to make testamentary disposition of his property, or to give it to whomever he wishes, provided only that the person who receives it is of the Orthodox faith.
Note: 1. Holy things that bishops have kept, for example, antiminses, relics, Eucharistic paraphernalia, the Holy Gifts, the Holy Myrrh, and other inviolable objects, are to be given to the cathedral church for safekeeping or for use, unless there is an express directive concerning them by the Synod or Sobor of Bishops. 2. Every bishop is obliged to make a will concerning the aforesaid subjects (in Note 1.), and to give a copy of it to the Synod of Bishops.
55. The name of the Diocesan Bishop is commemorated at services in all churches of his diocese after the name of the First Hierarch.
56. The following office‑holders should help the Diocesan Bishop in the administration of the diocese:
a) vicar bishops;
b) Diocesan Assemblies;
c) Diocesan Council;
d) deans; and
e) rectors of churches and monasteries.
57. All auxiliary bodies of the Diocesan Administration come under the direct supervision of the Diocesan Bishop and are subject to him. Without the agreement of the Diocesan Bishop, or his deputy, authorized by the Diocesan Bishop or the Synod, no decision of the bodies of the Diocesan Administration may be executed.
58. Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, both diocesan and vicar, are members of the Local and Bishops’ Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church and participate in established order in meetings of the Holy Synod. Representatives of the clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia participate in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in established order.
VI. DIOCESAN ASSEMBLIES.
59. Diocesan Assemblies are of two kinds:
a) ordinary; and
60. Diocesan Assemblies are composed of:
a) all members of the clergy of the diocese, together with laymen elected by a parish meeting, equal in number to the clergy representatives;
b) members of the Diocesan Council and Diocesan Auditing Committee;
c) one representative of each of the monasteries, spiritual missions and church schools;
d) one representative of each of the educational, missionary and philanthropic institutions and church brotherhoods, having not parish but diocesan significance, and coming within the control of the Diocesan Administration; and
e) experienced persons at the invitation of the Diocesan Bishop.
Notes: Supernumerary members of the clergy have the right of participation in Diocesan Assemblies, with a deliberative vote.
61. The following people may not be members of the Diocesan Assembly:
a) those who, in the course of the year, did not confess and receive communion;
b) those who are cohabitating illegally and without the Church’s blessing;
c) those found blameworthy by a civil or church court;
d) those engaged in immoral occupations or trades.
62. The President of the Diocesan Assembly is, by virtue of his office, the Diocesan Bishop, who declares the meetings open. In dioceses where there are vicar bishops, the latter are the first deputies of the Ruling Bishop and permanent members of the Diocesan Assembly. Apart from them, the Diocesan Assembly should choose from the members of the Assembly one deputy of the President, of the rank of priest.
63. The Diocesan Assembly:
a) chooses members of the Diocesan Council and Diocesan Auditing Committee for a annual financial audit of accounts, for a period of three (3) years, and deputies for them in half their number;
b) hears reports on various areas of church life for the period of time from the last Diocesan Assembly until the present Assembly, and makes decisions concerning them;
c) examines the financial report submitted by the Diocesan Council in respect of all diocesan institutions, and the reports of the Diocesan Auditing Committee;
d) draws up an budget of income and expenditure for the maintenance of the Diocesan Bishop, his residence and chancery and for the maintenance of the personnel and staff of the Diocesan Administration; and for the maintenance of the chancery, Diocesan Council, and other institutions of Diocesan Administration and seminaries;
e) procures means to cover the expenses of the approved estimates;
f) sets up general and special taxations of income and other monetary collections for the increase of the diocesan funds and for the assistance of needy parishes;
g) seeks ways for the necessary organization of educational, missionary and charitable activities in parishes for the religious and moral strengthening of the flock and to strengthen the religious education of children and youth;
h) considers the Diocesan Bishop’s solutions to questions concerning the acquisition, alienation and use of real property which belongs to diocesan bodies, in accordance with the 41st Apostolic canon;
i) considers all general economic questions of a local diocesan character connected with the distribution of diocesan funds;
j) the Diocesan Assembly may comment on various important events of world or local significance, affecting the Christian conscience of the Orthodox flock, or directly or indirectly concerning the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
k) discusses and resolves all questions submitted to the Diocesan Assembly by the Diocesan Bishop;
Notes: 1. If, before the Diocesan Assembly meets, it is discovered that there are not enough deputies for the members of the Diocesan Council or Auditing Committee, they shall be appointed by the Diocesan Bishop with confirmation by the Synod of Bishops; 2. In dioceses where, as a result of local conditions, annual Diocesan Assemblies cannot be called, the Diocesan Council shall annually draw up a budget of income and expenditures for the diocese, which shall be confirmed by the Diocesan Bishop; 3. If a new monastery (or convent) is opened, it shall be registered as owned by the diocese in which the monastery is founded; but on confirmation of the opening of the monastery (or convent) by the Synod of Bishops, it should be transferred to the name of the monastery as soon as the latter has acquired the rights of a legal entity. In case of the closing of a monastery, the property must be transferred to the ownership of the diocese.
64. All questions at Diocesan Assemblies shall be decided by a simple majority of votes, with the exception of questions concerning the purchase and sale of real estate, for which a 2/3 majority shall be required.
65. Decisions of Diocesan Assemblies shall come into force and be implemented only after confirmation by the Diocesan Bishop.
66. In the case of disagreement of the Ruling Bishop with the decision of the Diocesan Assembly at which he has presided, the matter may be taken to the Supreme Church Authority for consideration. If the Assembly was conducted under the presidency of another person, and a resolution of this Assembly is later objected to by the Ruling Bishop, then the latter, while indicating the basis of his disagreement, may return the matter to this same Assembly for their consideration a second time. If there be still no agreement this time, the matter should be taken to the Supreme Church Authority (the Synod or the Sobor of Bishops) for its consideration. Urgent decrees on debatable matters should be submitted to the bishop.
67. All expenses connected with the summoning of a Diocesan Assembly are to be met out of local funds, at the direction of the Assembly.
VII. THE DIOCESAN COUNCIL.
68. The Diocesan Council is ad body permanently under the presidency and direct guidance of the Diocesan Bishop.
69. The Diocesan Bishop shall be the president of the Diocesan Council and his deputy shall be the vicar bishop, where there is one, or a person of the rank of priest, nominated by the Diocesan Bishop. It shall consist of from four (4) to six (6) elected members elected by the Diocesan Assembly, of whom no less than half shall be of the rank of priest.
Note: In those dioceses which have a large number of parishes, monasteries and seminaries, the number of members of the Diocesan Council may be increased.
70. The Diocesan Council shall have a chancery (office) under the immediate control of the Secretary of the Diocesan Council, with personnel who are clerical or lay but whose education is no lower than high school level and sufficiently competent in church affairs.
71. The Secretary of the Diocesan Council shall be appointed by the Diocesan Bishop with notification of his appointment to the Synod of Bishops. At meetings of the Diocesan Council, the Secretary shall record the minutes and shall certify as to certain matters, but he does not have the right of a deciding vote if he is not a member of the Council.
72. Dioceses which have sufficient means may appoint personnel to assist the secretary, upon his recommendation, can be appointed by recommendation or confirmation of the Diocesan Bishop.
73. The Treasurer is appointed by the Diocesan Bishop, preferably from among the members of the Diocesan Council, and as such, conducts the financial affairs and makes a report concerning them, pays the monthly salaries to the diocesan personnel, is responsible for the payment of the expenses connected with the running of the bishop’s household, the chancery and the premises of the Diocesan Council, the trips of the ruling or vicar bishops and members of the Diocesan Council undertaken for diocesan business, the insurance of the personnel, etc., and makes advance payments against forthcoming unforeseen expenses. The treasurer reports to the Diocesan Bishop and Assembly.
74. All members of the Diocesan Council and their candidate deputies are elected for three (3) years, and are confirmed by the Diocesan Bishop. They should not be younger than 30 years of age and should possess, as far as possible, sufficient education and be of sufficient piety and devotion to the Church.
75. Members of the Diocesan Council and the deputy of the president should refrain from hearing matters in which they are involved, but in the case of their being investigated or brought to trial, they should withdraw until the matter has been finalized.
76. In the case of illness, death or absence of the Diocesan Bishop and his deputy president in the Diocesan Council, a person should be expressly appointed by the Supreme Church Authority (the Synod or the Sobor of Bishops) to carry out the duties of a temporary president; or, if there were no such appointment, the most senior member of the Council, of priestly rank, should be temporarily appointed.
77. In order to supply replacements for people who, for various reasons, are no longer members of the Diocesan Council, the Diocesan Assembly should elect deputies for them, or candidates for membership of the Diocesan Council, being half of the active members in proportion to the number of clerical and lay members. Deputy members replace those who depart.
78. The Diocesan Council has control over all matters entrusted to its consideration and resolution by the Diocesan Bishop, in particular:
a) safeguarding and spreading the Orthodox faith;
b) erection and furnishment of churches;
c) church management;
d) the opening and legalization of new parishes;
e) the gathering of information about parishes and the clergy and about pastoral and educational activities in parishes;
f) the organization of church festivals and festive services;
g) matters concerning the opening of church schools and youth organizations in parishes;
h) consideration and resolution of parishioners’ complaints against clergymen;
i) various matters concerning subscriptions and monetary collections in diocesan churches for the maintenance of the Synod of Bishops, diocesan establishments, for philanthropic purposes, etc.;
j) compiling various reports and financial accounts for presentation to the Diocesan Bishop or Diocesan Assembly;
k) all matters connected with auxiliary bodies in the diocese;
l) executing resolutions of the Diocesan Assembly after confirmation by the Diocesan Bishop, and directives of the Diocesan Bishop on various matters;
m) in dioceses where there is no church court, its functions shall be exercised by members of the Diocesan Council of priestly rank;
n) consideration and resolution of matters of an administrative nature involving disputes between parishes and private individuals, and social and governmental bodies concerning church property; the defense of the rights of the diocese, parishes and clergy.
79. All matters in the Diocesan Council are to be decided by majority vote and go into effect after confirmation by the Diocesan Bishop.
Note: Lay members of the Diocesan Council should not participate: 1. in the discussion and resolution of matters concerning accusations against clergy and their conduct; 2. in divorce trials.
80. In case of disagreement of the Ruling Bishop with the decision of the Diocesan Council, he may either resubmit it for consideration to the Diocesan Council or make a decision at his own discretion.
81. No resolution or directive of the Diocesan Council, issued during the tenure of office of a lawful Diocesan Bishop, shall be valid if issued without his knowledge or confirmation.
VIII. VICARIATES AND VICAR BISHOPS.
82. In large dioceses with numerous parishes and communities, vicariates, having a vicar bishop at their head, may be established by the Sobor of Bishops or Synod of Bishops, upon the petition of Diocesan Bishops requesting local relief.
83. Upon the appointment of a vicar bishop, the Diocesan Bishop should set up ways and means for his adequate maintenance out of local funds and secure for him a church rectorship in his vicariate, of which he should inform the Synod of Bishops.
84. Vicar bishops are chosen, appointed, transferred and retired by the Sobor of Bishops, but in the period between Sobors, by the Synod with the concurrence of the Diocesan Bishops by way of requiring the written opinions of all the bishops.
85. A vicar bishop, on his nomination, is usually called by the name of the city to which he has been permanently appointed, in which he will serve and where the cathedral church is located, and of which the vicar bishop is the rector. There should be a sufficient number of faithful parishioners.
86. A vicar bishop can be the superior of a monastery with the title of that city in which the monastery is located.
87. Each vicar bishop, with regard to diocesan affairs, is the closest assistant to his Diocesan Bishop and acts at his direction and on his instructions, and presents an account to him of his activity. In the case of the illness, death or protracted absence or leave of the Diocesan Bishop, the vicar bishop temporarily takes his place in the administration of the diocese.
88. Being the closest assistant and helper of the Diocesan Bishop, the vicar bishop, on the instructions of the Ruling Bishop:
a) visits the parishes of the diocese where divine services are conducted, checks the activity of deans, rectors and other persons in the parishes and their moral conduct;
b) points out both good aspects of their activity and positive things in the parishes that he has noticed, as well as defects and omissions, gives necessary directions and explanations, and, when needed, gives warnings and reprimands on site;
c) at the instruction of the Diocesan Bishop, blesses antimensia and churches and ordains clergymen;
d) while visiting parishes, inspects classes in church schools;
e) in case of necessity, summons and conducts pastoral and missionary meetings in outlying areas;
f) visits church educational institutions;
g) receives and hears reports, requests and complaints of deans, rectors and other clergy and laymen, delegates of parishes, individuals and parochial organizations in outlying areas; investigates misunderstandings in outlying areas and takes measures to resolve the misunderstandings and establish peace and concord in the parish;
h) issues directives in outlying areas concerning urgent and pressing matters which do not have general diocesan significance;
i) upon the completion of his visits, provides a detailed report to his Diocesan Bishop on the internal and external condition of the parishes which he visited;
j) has the right to present to the Diocesan Bishop his views and suggestions concerning the improvement of various aspects of church life and activities in parishes.
89. Apart from visiting parishes of the diocese upon the express instructions of the Diocesan Bishop, the vicar bishop may perform divine services in other parish and monastic churches of the diocese in a specific region with the general blessing of the Diocesan Bishop. Similarly, the vicar bishop, in the case when he receives such authority from his Ruling Bishop, gives permission for marriages in the parishes of the aforesaid district (apart from cases when permission for such marriages lies within the competence of the Synod), and resolves difficult questions of church life and practice which have been submitted by rectors of this district or by deans.
90. The traveling expenses of a vicar bishop, when conducting services or in connection with matters involving interested parties, shall be paid by the aforesaid parishes (where he serves) or by those persons. In some cases, namely trips undertaken at the express direction of the Ruling Bishop, the expenses may be paid out of diocesan funds if the parishes are in no position to cover them fully or partly.
91. Vicar bishops have the right to present to their Ruling Bishop for his judgment reports on incorrect actions which they have noticed on the part of various officials, and on their behavior, and also concerning any kind of improvement in the organization of church life in outlying areas.
92. A vicar bishop does not have the right to present reports on diocesan affairs, and even on affairs concerning his vicariate, direct to the Supreme Church Authority, without the authority and permission of his Ruling Bishop; with the exception of matters concerning personal relations between the vicar and Ruling Bishop. In these cases, the vicar bishop may go directly to the First Hierarch who takes action on the matter according to his judgment.
93. If a vicar bishop receives from the Sobor or Synod of Bishops special powers or authority to conduct an investigation of some matter in another diocese; or to conduct a general or particular inspection (for example, of a seminary or monastery) of this diocese, in these cases the Supreme Church Authority merely advises the respective Diocesan Bishop of these powers or authority for his information, and the vicar bishop, on the basis of the authority of the Supreme Church Authority, carries out his commission completely independently and makes his report direct to the Supreme Church Authority.
94. Diocesan Bishops may appoint vicar bishops President or Vice President of the Diocesan Council and presidents of diocesan legal institutions in respect to all matters of the church court, including divorce matters of first instance.
95. Ruling Bishops may also entrust to vicar bishops certain separate branches of diocesan authority, for example, leadership of general religious missions in the diocese and leadership of religious instruction in parish schools or the organization and leadership of philanthropic activity in the center of the diocese and in parishes in outlying areas.
96. Vicar bishops who are entrusted with the administration of a group of parishes in a definite territory which is remote from the center of the diocese enjoy extensive rights within the borders of their vicariates, namely, they act in outlying areas as though they were the Diocesan Bishop, making appointments, transfers and retirements of parochial rectors, with the authority and confirmation of the Diocesan Bishop; and they conduct court cases in respect to clergy on the basis of articles 12‑16 of the Regulations on the Church Court (Court of Bishops).
Acting independently in church matters, vicar bishops of such vicariates are accountable for their activities to their Diocesan Bishop, from whom they should seek advice and permission in all important matters. In respect to property and financial questions concerning various collections for diocesan and general church needs, and in regard to questions of a canonical nature, for example, the legal protection of church property falling within the confines of the vicariate, vicar bishops act upon the direction of the Ruling Bishop.
97. Vicar bishops are deputies, in order of seniority, for their Diocesan Bishops in his capacity as President of the Diocesan Assembly.
98. The First Hierarch may have a vicar bishop. The Metropolitan’s vicar carries out the instructions of the First Hierarch and permanently resides in the place of his residence, or nearby.
99. Vicar bishops may receive leave from their Diocesan Bishops for a period not in excess of one month. Periods of greater duration are granted on the same principles as for Diocesan Bishops.
100. Vicar bishops communicate directly with Diocesan Bishops.
101. All directives of the Diocesan Authority to parishes forming part of a vicariate are carried out through the vicar bishop.
102. Vicar bishops should send copies of their directives to the Diocesan Administration.
103. Appeals of the decisions of vicar bishops are made to the Ruling Bishop.
104. For the execution of chancery work, vicar bishops have their own personal chanceries or use the secretary of the parish or monastery of which they are the rector (or superior).
105. Vicar bishops have their own seal.
106. The vicar bishop is commemorated after the Ruling Bishop in all churches of the vicariate and in churches of the place of residence and service of the vicar bishop.
107. The vicar bishop also has the following duties:
a) to give notice of the directives of the Diocesan Authority and supervise their execution;
b) to be the closest supervisor of the clergy of the vicariate in their serving activities and to supervise their good conduct;
c) to examine matters concerning payment of indisputable promissory notes of the clergy so as to indicate means of recovery and liquidation of these notes;
d) to grant leave to members of the vicariate clergy for a period up to one month and reporting this to the Ruling Bishop;
e) to present to the Ruling Bishop conclusions concerning the opening of new parishes and the closing of existing parishes and the alteration of their borders;
f) to confirm the minutes of Parish Meetings and the election of parish officials.