The Synod of Bishops of the Russian True Orthodox Church convened its regular meeting from November 08/21 to November 10/23, 2018. The meeting was attended by the President of the Synod of Bishops, His Eminence Tikhon, Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia, the Vice-President of the Synod of Bishops, His Eminence Benjamin, Archbishop of Chornomorsk and Kuban, members of the Synod of Bishops: His Grace Germogen, Bishop of Gomel and Bryansk, His Grace Savvaty, Bishop of Vinnitsa and Khmelnitsk, and the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov. His Grace Philaret, Bishop of Pallini and Western Europe was unable to attend.
The bishops presented their reports on the state of affairs in their dioceses, discussed questions concerning church life, considered candidates for consecration, and decided cases submitted for divorce, along with other requests.
The Synod of Bishops made the following decisions:
I - Judgement was made regarding the conflict between the Vasilenko family and schema-abbot Ioann (Ivanov), Superior of the Holy Trinity Skete in the Kursk region.
The Synod heard the report of schema-abbot Ioann (Ivanov) and hieromonk Alexei (Starikov) concerning their prolonged conflict with the Vasilenko family.
It was resolved:
1. For violating the canonical norms of a priest’s behavior, for unlawfully and recklessly pronouncing oaths against the members of the Vasilenko family, and taking into account the actions of Evgeny Vasilenko which provoked said violations, as well as, taking into account the confession of guilt and repentance by schema-abbot Ioann (Ivanov):
- To prohibit schema-abbot Ioann to approach the Holy Mysteries of Christ;
- To prohibit schema-abbot Ioann from performing any priestly duties;
- To relieve schema-abbot Ioann of his responsibilities as Superior of the Skete;
- To entrust Heiromonk Alexei (Starikov) with the duties of Superior of the Skete.
2. To re-examine this case after the course of one year.
3. In punishment for the harassment of the residents of Holy Trinity Skete; for the repeated public insults toward the schema-abbot Ioann; for the use of foul language and deliberately provoking inadequate actions, for spreading slander against the residents of the Skete and the hierarchs of the RTOC: To excommunicate Evgeny Vasylenko from the Holy Church of Christ until his sincere and public repentance;
4. In punishment for her complicity in blasphemy regarding the hierarchy, for appealing to civil authorities in order to discredit the hierarchy of the RTOC:To excommunicate Olga Vasilenko from the Holy Church of Christ until her sincere and public repentance;
II - Judgement was made regarding the anathema of Charles Darwin’s materialistic theory of the evolution of the organic world. The following anathemas were formulated against Darwinism, which are to be proclaimed on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy:
To those who wickedly teach that the whole process of creation did not, and does not, take place through the Providence of God, but accidentally, through the random processes of mutation and natural selection (which are essentially destructive, deadly processes) – ANATHEMA!
To those who wickedly teach that man is a descendant of monkeys, while Holy Scripture teaches: "Then, the Lord God created man from the dust of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul," and thus deny the Orthodox teaching regarding the nature of man, which our Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself through His Incarnation, ANATHEMA!
III – Considered the proposal of Bishop Philaret regarding the organization of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the autumn of 2019. Decided to bless the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the autumn of 2019. Detailed information concerning the planned pilgrimage shall be published as it becomes available.
IV – Decisions were made regarding the proposal of the Parish Council of the Church of the “Icon of the Mother of God of Azov,” in the city of Azov, to hold a meeting of the Synod of Bishops simultaneously with a youth conference (in the city of Azov) during the autumn of 2019
It was resolved:
- To bless the organization of a Youth Conference to be held during the fall of 2019 in the city of Azov;
- Barring any unforeseen conflicts, to hold a meeting of the Synod of Bishops simultaneously with the Youth Conference during the fall of 2019 in the city of Azov.
V - Considered the report of Sergey Letyago regarding the first session of the pastoral school held in September 2018.
It was resolved:
To take into account Sergei Letyago’s report and to bless the continuance of the work begun. The next session of the pastoral school is scheduled to be held in the spring of 2019. The exact location and time shall be announced at a later date.
The meeting of the Synod of Bishops ended with a hierarchal concelebration on the twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost.