Completion of Episcopal Sobor of the united Patriarchate of Moscow and Church Abroad
(Gazeta; Portal Credo.ru; translation by PDS news, NFTU) Nadezhda Kevorkova, Gazeta, 6/30/2008

Yesterday the first Bishops’ Council of the united Russian Church and foreign church (ROCOR) concluded. This gathering of hierarchs once every four years is an internal church event, but it had repercussions. Even President Dmitry Medvedev attended its conclusion. He worshipped in the church of Christ the Savior at the liturgy and addressed the 182 bishops. Yesterday Prime Minster Vladimir Putin made a speech to him in the Kremlin.

The president delivered sacred items from the museums of the Kremlin that had been confiscated in the 1920s to the church. Medvedev addressed the bishops in a speech for the first time, indicating that the council confirmed the unity of the Russian Orthodox church in all its plenitude and put a stop to attempts to divide it. However arrogance continues to stir up the situation regarding the disgraced Diomid, bishop of Chukotka and Anadyr. For a year and a half the Chukotka bishop has been circulating appeals on the Internet criticizing the hierarchy. He complains that the Bishops’ Council has replaced the local council and that bishops are removed from the people of the church and do not heed the apocalyptic attitudes [of the people], nor see the people’s destitution and defenselessness before secular authority.

At the opening of the council on Tuesday several hundred persons with signs in defense of Diomid gathered near the church of Christ the Savior. Activists of the Kremlin movement “Nashi,” also appeared, who for some reason carried signs in defense of the patriarch. [Likely this is due to Nashi being a government-run organization. NFTU] During scuffles signs were torn and the demonstrators dispersed to various areas. “Nashi” took over the Engels monument and the religious people walked along the sidewalks. Only Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine Vladimir accepted leaflets and appeals and talked with the people.

Only on the fourth day did the council turn to the case of the rebel Diomid. With three votes against and three abstentions, a decision to deprive Diomid of his orders was made, in the event that he does not repent. Among the abstentions was the head of ROCOR, Metropolitan Ilarion. Among those voting against were Bishop Pitirim of Syktyvkar and Vorkuta, Bishop Feodor of Kamenets-Podolsk and Bishop Vladimir of Pochaev. The two latter bishops expressed the opinion of the monks and elders of the Pochaev lavra in Ukraine.

The synod, hastily assembled in the lobby of the cathedral, already inhibited Diomid from ministry. However yesterday [Bp] Diomid conducted the liturgy in the Transfiguration church of Anadyr.

Elena Chavchavadze, the Vice President of the Russian Fund of Culture, is concerned that the bishop is being blindly used by those who still are not reconciled with the united church. “There is a struggle going on inside the church for both truth and wholeness. unchurched people take the council’s action as harshness, but the bishop was given a chance; many have gone into such blind alleys, but have returned,” she noted. Elena Chavchavadze thinks that the reason for Diomid’s trouble is far-fetched, similar to the topic of the glorification of Ivan the Terrible or Rasputin.

The spiritual counselor of the “For Faith and Fatherland” movement, Priest Nikon Belavinets, is disappointed that Master Diomid did not come. “He was a patriarchal monastic deacon in 1990-1991; he personally knows His Holiness, who ordained him; he could count on understanding. So there was not benefit but only a confrontation,” he told a Gazeta corresondent.

It should be said that Bishop Diomid was at the Bishops’ Council in 2004, but he was not given opportunity to speak.

The director of the Orthodox orphanage “Island of Hope,” Alexander Ogorodnikov, who spent nine years in prison during soviet times for the Christian Seminar, thinks that such measures do not heal an illness. “Hundreds of people throughout the country stand in frost and rain in order for their doubts to be heard. Diomid expressed their opinions, not his own. It is naïve to think that “they are having a good time” and that this will be forgotten. After all, the laity are the chief zealots of the church and the hierarchs are afraid of them. A bishop can be deprived of his orders only for heresy and not for an opinion and not even for insubordination. There should be a trial and the bishop should be heard. The church is obliged to sorrow over those who are persecuted and to expose the persecutors, not run off their intercessors,” the defender of Orthodox rights is convinced. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 June 2008)