The session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian True Orthodox Church was held from 18 to 20 October, 2017, in the city of Azov (Rostov region).
The Synod made the following decisions:
- To ordain Archimandrite Philaretos (Klimakitis), Dean of the Western European Deanery of the RTOC, as Bishop with the title of “Pallini and Western Europe". To entrust to his Grace Bishop Philaretos the management of the Western European diocese of the RTOC. To include Bishop Philaretos in the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC.
- To establish the Gomel-Bryansk diocese of the RTOC. Taking into consideration the needs of the flock and their spiritual care, as well as his deep repentance and humble bearing of the epitimia from the Synod of Bishops – To restore Bishop Germogen as a ruling Bishop and a member of the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC. To assign his Grace Bishop Germogen the title of “Gomel and Bryansk.” To entrust Bishop Germogen with the management of the Gomel-Bryansk diocese of the RTOC.
- For being involved in the sin of schism; as well as their self-willed and unjustified cessation of communion with their Ruling Bishop, and actual separation from the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC; For organizing a separate congregation and leading astray a tempted flock into schism; For persisting in the accomplished sin of schism and confusion, as expressed through their continuance of performing the divine services and priestly functions after being duly notified and prohibited to serve; For failure to appear before a Spiritual Court after being summoned three times for an investigation into their case; In accordance with the 31st Canon of the Apostles, the 13th Canon of the First & Second Council, the 6th Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council, and others, the following clergy of the RTOC are deprived of their clerical rank (i.e., defrocked):
1. Priest Lev Stepanenko
2. Hieromonk Ermogen (Petrov)
3. Priest Sergey Chulkov
4. Priest Pavel Ermolenko
5. Priest Eugene Prokofiev
6. Priest Valery Ivashov
7. Hierodeacon Nil (Titov)
8. Hieromonk John (Lashenok)
- To accept the following form of commemoration of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC during the Divine Services: "Again we pray for the Orthodox Episcopate of the persecuted Russian Church and for our Lord his Eminence Tikhon, Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia, First Hierarch of the Russian True Orthodox Church...".
- To specifically emphasize his obstinacy in disobedience to the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC, and the lack of repentance of Bishop Stefan, formerly of Trenton and North America, who is now retired with no right to serve. To note: Bishop Stephan disobeyed the decree of the Synod of Bishops, dated November 16, 2016, regarding his being retired; Bishop Stephan does not admit guilt for taking under his omophorion the Omsk clergy, who created a schism; Bishop Stefan continues to serve; Bishop Stefan entered into communion with the so-called “bishops:” Andronik, Sophronii and the suspended Bishop Irenaeus, who broke-away from the un-canonical group of “Metropolitan” Agathangel; All who are in communion with Cyprianite heretics. Furthermore, Bishop Stefan agreed to take part in the un-canonical ordination of Abbot Andrei (Erastov) and supports the new doctrine of this group, which proclaims the need to return the Church administration back to the alleged level of early Christian times, basing their opinion on their erroneous understanding of Decree No. 362, issued by the Holy Patriarch Tikhon (November 7/20, 1920) - the last lawful patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. To warn Bishop Stefan for the last time regarding his un-canonical status and the absence of Grace in his current services due to being officially retired through the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the RTOC. Should he persist in his convictions, the possibility of the deprivation of his priesthood (i.e., defrocking from the rank of bishop) will be raised.
- Due to the fact that the Sobor of Bishops of the ROCOR, in 2000, had canonized Sts. Theophan Vishenskogo (Govorova) the Recluse and Ignatius of the Caucasus (Brianchaninov) by just including their names into the list of saints, the Sobor of Bishops of the RTOC has decided to glorify Saints Ignatius (Brianchaninov) of the Caucasus, Theophan Vishenskogo (Govorov) the Recluse and also Innocent of Kherson (Borisov), specifically in a formal service.
- Having examined the submitted text of materials, the Synod decided to include the priests Basil Baikarov and Peter Makunin into the list of the Holy Fathers-Confessors of the Catacomb Church (which was joined to the host of the Russian Martyrs and Confessors). They both were shot in the year of 1931 (art. 58-11 of the Criminal code UK RSFSR) in the city of Kazan. The documents reviewed by the Synod included the case documentation, life, and photos of these priests.
The above decisions, together with other decisions and questions raised, are recorded in the official minutes of the meetings of the Synod of Bishops.