On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, on the eve of the Mid-Pentecost, a teleconference of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia took place, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch. Participating in the call were: His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada; His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America; His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Deputy Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
Opening the session, Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the members of the Synod on the continuing celebration of the Pascha of Christ, wishing them Divine aid in their work. Metropolitan Mark responded on behalf of those gathered by warmly congratulating Metropolitan Hilarion on the anniversary of his election as Primate of ROCOR, expressing profound gratitude for his calm and wise helmsmanship of Church life.
Bishop Irenei then reported on news from the Orthodox world, the actions of the Patriachate of Constantinople in various nations, including in the USA, where Archbishop Elpidophoros established a Vicariate of Parishes of the Slavic Tradition. Unsurprisingly, certain individuals earlier suspended from priestly service or defrocked were already received. His Grace also shared the statements made by several Synodal departments of the Russian Orthodox Church against the existence of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin on the walls of the main church of the Armed Forces of Russia. These statements were enthusiastically supported by the Synod members.
Taking Bishop Irenei’s report into account, the Synod of Bishops deliberated on matters of the monasteries of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, where, in connection with the global pandemic, the monastics are under quarantine but continue to participate in divine services but without pilgrims or regular worshipers. Metropolitan Mark and Bishop Irenei reported that some parts of Europe are already opening churches for common services, but with sanitary precautions required.
Having exhaustively deliberated on the coronavirus situation, the Synod of Bishops has suspended visits to the diocese of the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign”, and calls upon all ruling bishops, upon the gradual lifting of restrictions, to renew normal Church life in monasteries and parishes, instructing rectors and other ecclesiastical officials to act in accordance with the recommendations of local governments.
The Synod of Bishops then considered various administrative and management issues, as well as intercessions by its member bishops for ecclesiastical awards for clergymen and laity of their respective dioceses.
The session concluded with the singing of the Paschal zadostoinik.