Protocol № 49 July 11/24, 2004


The second session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church began in the graduation hall of the Monastery of the Placing of the Robe after the Divine Liturgy at 11 o’clock with the singing of “O Heavenly King.”




1.    Metropolitan Valentine, President of the Synod of Bishops

2.    Archbishop Theodore

3.    Archbishop Seraphim

4.    Bishop Anthony

5.    Bishop Timothy

6.    Bishop Ambrose

7.    Bishop Ilarion

8.    Bishop Gerontiy

9.    Bishop Sebastian




1.    Metropolitan Valentine’s account of his journey to the USA.

2.    Awards given to the clergy of the ROAC in the USA.

3.    Overview of the complaints against His Eminence Gregory of Denver and Colorado.

4.    Archbishop Theodore’s report on the state of the Suzdal Diocese during the absence of the Metropolitan

5.    Archbishop Seraphim’s report on his activities amongst the faithful in the Catacombs.

6.    Bishop Anthony’s report on his activities amongst the faithful in the Catacombs.

7.    Report on the life and activity of the Diocese of Tula-Briansk.

8.    Marking Bishop Anthony’s eightieth birthday.

9.    Various items


The Synod heard:


         1. Metropolitan Valentine, who related that he departed for the US in order to meet with the clergy who belong to the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, in order to better acquaint himself with the life and activities of the pastors and flock there, and to meet with those who recently applied to be received under the omophorion of the ROAC.


         Because of the circumstances, Metropolitan Valentine found it necessary to fly to Colorado to see Bishop Gregory, where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and afterwards held a meeting and a dialogue with the clergy and faithful, answering the questions of those interested.


         The dialogue lasted until late into the night, when apparently from over exhaustion, the Metropolitan became very ill. The ambulance was called, and the next day, Vladyka had heart surgery.


         On Trinity Sunday, after a lengthy recovery of approximately three months, he was able to serve the Divine Liturgy and receive the Holy Mysteries of Christ.


         After the Divine Liturgy, the faithful and clergy again asked him to stay in the monastery’s refectory and have another talk with them and again answer the questions of those interested. Vladyka satisfied this request of the clergy and the faithful.


         Metropolitan Valentine continued his report on the situation with the Diocese of Denver and Colorado. In particular, the President of the Synod of Bishops related that he had become familiar with various issues concerning the government of the diocese of Archbishop Gregory, and had come to some rather troubling conclusions.


         2. Archbishop Gregory, quite unexpectedly for the Metropolitan, suggested that he (the Metropolitan) should write a petition to Archbishop Kalinikos, the President of one of the Greek Synods, with the request to enter into prayerful and Eucharistic communion with them, affirming that the Kalininte Synod was a Synod which had an Orthodox confession of faith, and had many bishops in it.


         In answer to Archbishop Gregory’s suggestion, Metropolitan Valentine asked him, “If they (the Kalininites) really were a synod having an Orthodox confession of faith, then, why did you leave them to join the ROAC?”


         Archbishop Gregory was not able to answer this question, but began to promise Metropolitan Valentine that he would be helping out with the finances of the ROAC, i.e. paying his dues, or “tithe,” as called for in the by-laws of the ROAC, clearly suggesting that he had in mind to give Metropolitan Valentine a large sum of money (thirty thousand US dollars).


         3. Then a friend and compatriot of Archbishop Gregory’s, a certain Jerjis from Pennsylvania, arrived and said that he had brought the “tithe” in the sum of thirty thousand US dollars and had given it to Archbishop Gregory to be given to the ROAC, and then, in front of eight witnesses, began to insist upon unification with the Greek Kalininite Synod, to which Metropolitan Valentine responded that even if he had brought three hundred thousand dollars, it wouldn’t help, saying that “Orthodoxy cannot and will not be sold!”


         4. From that moment on, Archbishop Gregory, his compatriot Jerjis, and his other followers began a smear campaign on the internet against Metropolitan Valentine and those of the clergy who had been witness to these conversations. It is appropriate to mention here Rule № 55 of the Holy Apostles, “If any clergyman should insult a Bishop, let him be deposed from office.”


         5. Then the Metropolitan related that Archbishop Gregory began to demand a ukase from him giving him the right to govern all of the churches in the US since he was the only Orthodox hierarch here, promising to help the ROAC in the amount of forty thousand US dollars. “This is simony,” answered Metropolitan Valentine.


         After failing to receive a positive answer, Archbishop Gregory brought up the suggestion that America should be divided into two parts, and that he and the future candidate for the episcopacy, Fr. Andrew Maklakov, should govern all of the churches in the US. He stated that, in general, he should be given the rule of all of the clergy, not only in the US, but in Bulgaria, Korea, and China, forgetting that “A bishop shall not divide a region…in order to receive the name of Metropolitan” (12th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council).


         6. It is necessary for us here to draw our attention to the fact that the American Continent is not at the present time, nor ever has been, the canonical territory of any local Orthodox Church, and that for this reason, all of the Orthodox parishes and dioceses that have been established there are missionary parishes and dioceses, no matter to which of the True Orthodox Churches they might belong. The parishes and dioceses of the ROAC in America are no exception.


         The specific instructions concerning the government of a missionary diocese are mentioned in the second canon of the Second Ecumenical Council. This rule, in its main part, establishes the principle of the strict limitation of any bishop’s authority to the borders of the diocese which has been entrusted to him. However, at the end of this canon, there is the following stipulation: “But the Churches of God that are situated in territories belonging to barbarian nations (εν βαρβαρικοις εθνεσι, which literally means “barbarian peoples,” i.e. non-Christians, the Latin equivalent being in partibus infidelibus) must be administered in accordance with the customary practice of the Fathers.”


         Thus, in the text of this canon itself it is written that the principle limiting a bishop’s authority to the boundaries of his diocese alone, which is established by this very canon, is not to be held to in reference to dioceses in non-Christian countries, but rather those forms of government should be kept which have been historically used there, even though this might contradict the principle of one bishop being precluded from interfering in the affairs of another’s diocese. This is exactly how this canon was understood in Byzantium, as witnessed by the unanimous testimony of the Byzantine commentators, Aristinos, Zonarios, and Balsamon, in their commentaries on this canon.


         As an example of “bishops in barbarian lands,” Balsamon (12th century) mentions “Alania [Northern Caucausus], Russia and others; for Alania belongs to the region of Pontus, and Russia belongs to the region of Thrace”(commentary on canon № 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council). At the present time, America, in relationship to Russia, is the same kind of missionary territory as Russia herself was vis-à-vis Byzantium in the 12th century, and furthermore, that situation lasted almost until the beginning of the 15th century.


         As applied to the parishes and dioceses of the ROAC in America, “the concurrent customary practice” has been government by the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC. For this reason, the existence there, until recently, of the Diocese of Denver and Colorado, as well as the office of Administrator of the ROAC in the US, was dependent upon the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC, by whose decision the acting authority for the parishes within the state of Colorado was placed upon His Eminence Gregory of Denver and Colorado, and upon the Administrator of the ROAC in the US for the other states.


         For this reason, all questions concerning the clergy of the Denver and Colorado Diocese are subject to the final decision of the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC, and the resolution of these questions, made by the ruling bishop of a diocese, is valid only inasmuch as it has never been in disagreement with the decisions of the Synod and its consequences have not been rescinded by the Synod. This goes for any of the dioceses of the ROAC which might be set up on American soil or in any other missionary territory, for that matter.


         7. In one of the conversations with Archbishop Gregory, he demanded the suspension and removal of clergymen who were not under the authority of the Denver Diocese, but who were directly under the Synod of Bishops; the highly respected Protopresbyter Vladimir Shishkoff, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov, Archpriest Spyridon Schneider, Archimandrite Michael from Haiti, and Hieromonk Elias, either forgetting, or perhaps not aware that “Each diocese must keep without reservation the rights belonging to it, and no one of the bishops should extend his authority into another diocese” (8th canon of the Third Ecumenical Council, 9th canon of Antioch, 57th and 64th canons of the Council of Carthage).


         8. Several days later, Archbishop Gregory started to apply repressive measures; for no reason at all he suspended Igumen Andrew Maklakov and Archpriest Dionysi McGowan from serving.


         9. Archbishop Theodore read a letter written by Fr. Andrew Maklakov in which he states that Archbishop Gregory did not recognize the directive that he had received assigning him to another parish, and therefore Archbishop Gregory is in violation of the following canon: “It behooves the bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognize him ( their Metropolitan) as their head, and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval; and should commemorate him in their prayers” (Apostolic canon № 34, and 9th canon of Antioch).


         10. Archbishop Theodore read another report by Igumen Andrew Maklakov in which he states that Archbishop Gregory did not recognize the ukase of the Metropolitan transferring Fr. Andrew (Maklakov) to St. Nicholas Church in New York as second priest, and suspended him from serving (report attached), and that Archbishop Gregory was therefore in violation of canon № 66 of the Council of Carthage, where it is written that “a metropolitan may take a clergyman from one of the bishops under his authority, and ordain him to the deaconate, priesthood, or episcopacy of a church in need” (Council of Carthage № 66, Canadian ed. pp. 91-92).


         11. Archbishop Theodore read the petition of Archpriest Dionysi McGowan in which he stated in part, “After having witnessed the unjust treatment on the part of Archbishop Gregory toward His Eminence Metropolitan Valentine, and his actions which I believe might result in a schism, and anticipating the repercussions that might ensue, I appeal to the Synod of Bishops to receive me and my parish under its direct supervision...” “…I was told by Archbishop Gregory that I was not allowed to serve at the Divine Liturgy at my parish. I was given no reason or explanation, just that I could not serve…” (report attached).


         12. His Eminence Archbishop Theodore continued by reading the letter of Fr. Deacon Fotios (now priest), who wrote in part: “I humbly ask you to allow me to continue to be directly under the Synod of Bishops…I make this petition because of the canonical violations perpetrated by Archbishop Gregory which have recently taken place, and so as to be able to act in harmony with my conscience. I follow these events in the hope that I will be able to protect my own soul and the souls of those who are with me” (note: the script of the original has been kept) (report, petition and letter attached), and as the 4th canon of the Seventh Council says, “A bishop shall not suspend out of passion”).


         As a result, the clergy and faithful, upset by the behavior of Archbishop Gregory, have left the jurisdiction of His Eminence and have petitioned to transfer under the omophorion of the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC (copies of the petitions attached).


         13. Considering that the many conversations with Archbishop Gregory, the counsel and recommendations, were to no avail, and as is known, “it is impossible to sew words onto deeds,” and that Metropolitan Valentine decided to inform Archbishop Gregory of his infractions in writing, and had advised him to temporarily retire himself without serving until such time as the Synod of Bishops should reach a decision because he had foreseen that His Eminence would not calm down, but would only cause further disruption in the lives of the flock and of the monastic brotherhood, putting all kinds of punishments upon them, (copies of the letters and recommendations attached)


it was decided:


         To approve the position of Metropolitan Valentine and consider his counsel and recommendations, as put forth and directed to His Eminence Gregory on June 3/16, 2004 in Ukase № 130, to be prudent for the Church of God.


The Synod heard:


         14. The President of the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC who continued his testimony saying that although it was recommended to His Grace Archbishop Gregory not to go to Bulgaria, he nevertheless secretly traveled there accompanied by Archimandrite George and celebrated the Divine Liturgy there at which time he ordained a deacon, and then left with the clergy and went to Greece, in spite of the fact that Bulgaria is under the jurisdiction of the Synod of Bishops, thereby violating the Apostolic canons:

a)    “[A bishop] shall not preach openly in a city that does not belong to him (20th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council), especially to the detriment of the local bishop” (11th canon of the Council of Sardica).

b)   “A bishop shall not elevate a clergyman belonging to the region of another, nor ordain anyone without the permission of his bishop, otherwise his ordination is not valid” (16th canon of the First Council, 20th canon of the Fourth, 65th, 91st, and 101st canons of the Council of Carthage, and 15th canon of the Council of Sardica).

c)    “One who has obstinately gone beyond the borders of his own diocese shall be returned to his own, and his actions shall be considered as null and void” (Apostolic canons 14 and 35, 15th canon of the First Council, 2nd canon of the Second Council, 5th canon of the Fourth Council, canons 13, 21, and 22 of the Council of Sardica, and canon № 59 of the Council of Carthage).


         Many of the complaints against His Eminence Archbishop Gregory are connected with his insistence upon the necessity of baptizing those who wish to unite themselves to the ROAC, even though these people had earlier been members of other True Orthodox Churches. The results of this are that many Orthodox Christians either were not able to join the Russian Church at all, or were able to do so only after extraordinary efforts were expended to overcome the obstacles that were placed before them by Archbishop Gregory. This is especially true of those Orthodox Christians who had united to the True Church in the person of the ROCOR before its apostasy, and who now find themselves to be without a church roof over their heads.


         It is necessary to point out as especially egregious, aside from the numerous cases involving lay people (several tens of families), the case of Archimandrite Michael and the Orthodox mission which is headed by him on the island of Haiti, who had formerly belonged to the ROCOR. Desiring to unite to the Russian Church, Archimandrite Michael had entered into talks with His Eminence Gregory, but had received from him in answer to his inquiry that he could only receive him through baptism, after which all those who had been baptized by Archimandrite Michael would have to be baptized a second time, i.e. all of his parishioners in Haiti numbering several hundred people (despite the fact that all of these parishioners had been baptized in the ROCOR in strict accordance with Orthodox practices, i.e. by triple immersion). As a result, the case of the Orthodox mission in Haiti being received into the ROAC was postponed, and was only favorably resolved when Metropolitan Valentine was able to visit the USA personally.


         From the very beginning that Archimandrite, now Archbishop, Gregory has been in the ROAC, it was pointed out to him more than once that reception of True Orthodox Christians from other Churches into the Russian Church was not to be accompanied by any kind of sacramental rite, let alone baptism, inasmuch as all forms of a sacramental nature (baptism, chrismation, confession) have been established only for receiving those into the Orthodox Church who formerly did not belong to Her at all. However, as time has shown, His Eminence Gregory ignored those instructions.


         The reason for this has been expressed many times by Archbishop Gregory himself, in particular, in his postings to the world wide web, or internet. As such, in 2001, writing on several internet forums, Archbishop Gregory made the statement that anyone who has become Orthodox by the second or third method (i.e. by chrismation or confession, but without being baptized) could never become a saint, even if he were martyred. When the case of St. Elizabeth, the Grand Duchess, was pointed out to him as an example of how he was wrong, he simply refused to believe the facts that everyone already knows and are recorded in her biography—that she had not been received into Orthodoxy from Lutheranism by baptism, but by chrismation.


         In reality, to take such a position as that held by His Eminence Gregory, would be to completely deny the traditional practice of the Russian Church, and therefore deny that many thousands of Christians who were received into Orthodoxy by the Russian Church in this manner, are complete Christians.


         The Russian Church has always realized that in relation to heretics and schismatics who desire to convert to Orthodoxy, there have always been, and are even now, differences in the way that various local churches handle the practice of applying akriveia or œconomeia; and even within the life of the same local church this practice has changed over the course of history. Such a diversity of practices does sometimes inevitably cause confusion, however, on the whole, it is justified, and never in the history of the Universal Church has there ever been a time when there did not exist a similar diversity in applying œconomeia in relation to those communities that had become separated from the Church. Thus, this diversity of practices in relationship to the rites pertaining to the reception of one and the same heretics and schismatics can be seen in the 1st rule of Basil the Great and in the 95th rule of the Sixth Œcumenical Council.


         Having all of this in mind, the pre-revolutionary Russian Church, as well as the ROAC today, never claimed that its own practice was the only one possible, but by the same token, also never recognized the practice of any of the other local Churches as the only one possible, reserving for itself the right to make decisions about such issues independently.


         Not presuming to pronounce judgments about the correctness of using different amounts of œconomeia or akriveia as applied by other True Orthodox Churches, the Russian Orthodox Church simply receives, without examination, all those True Orthodox Christians who considered themselves to be as such in other True Orthodox Churches. In such cases, the ROAC considers it to be necessary to trust the judgment of its brother hierarchs, who have established in one True Orthodox Church or another their respective disciplinary standards. However, although recognizing the canonical discipline of other True Orthodox Churches, the ROAC cannot be constrained to accept violations of its own disciplinary practices, as His Eminence Gregory is guilty of doing.


         To our great consternation, His Eminence Gregory has erred, not only insofar as the predominating practice of the Russian Church and its own internal discipline are concerned, but also as concerns the most fundamental canons concerning Holy Baptism, namely, the 47th Apostolic Rule (repeated in Rule 59 of the Council of Carthage), which commands that “a bishop or priest who repeats the baptism of someone who already has true baptism” shall be deposed “for mocking the Cross and the death of the Lord.” His Eminence Gregory, insisting upon the necessity of baptism, even for those who received proper baptism in the form of three immersions upon entering one of the True Orthodox Churches, has shown himself to be in opposition to the Holy Apostles.


         As a justification for his position, he puts forth the opinion, as if on behalf of the entire Russian Church, that only the ROAC and the Kalininite Synod have the grace of the Sacraments, while all the rest of the Churches of the world are fallen away. This completely groundless fanaticism of His Eminence Gregory is in no way the position of the Russian Church, and for His Eminence Gregory himself, it has served as a cause for serious canonical violations, any one of which is grounds for him to be judged at a spiritual court.


         16. It is abundantly clear from all of the testimony against him that Archbishop Gregory has violated numerous canons of the Holy Apostles, of the Ecumenical and Local Councils, and also of the Holy Fathers, as cited above. Although a formal court proceeding on the part of the Synod of Bishops of the ROAC has not taken place, and no verdict has been pronounced, nevertheless, this does not give anyone the right to consider that it is permissible to interpret, let alone violate, the Holy Canons, which form the unshakeable foundation of the Holy Church.


         17. Archbishop Gregory violated canons of the Holy Orthodox Apostolic Church, as well as the oath which he took upon being elevated to the episcopacy:

         “…I promise also to preserve the peace of the Church, and firmly to hold and zealously to teach the people entrusted to me, and not to devise anything whatsoever which is contrary to the Orthodox Catholic Christian Faith of the East all the days of my life; and that I will, in all things, follow and always obey His Eminence Metropolitan Valentine, and to be, in all things, of one mind with the Most Reverend Archbishops and Bishops, my brethren, and conjointly with them submissive to the divine law, and the sacred rules of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers; and with all sincerity to cherish towards them spiritual affection: and to regard them as brethren.


         …And herewith I promise also to do nothing through constraint, whether coerced by powerful persons, or by a multitude of the people, even though they should command me, under pain of death, to do something contrary to divine and holy laws: nor to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in another diocese than my own, nor to exercise any other priestly function without the permission of the Bishop of that diocese; and that I will not ordain either a priest, or a deacon, or any other ecclesiastic in another’s diocese, nor receive such into my diocese without letters of dismissal from their own bishops.”


         His Eminence Archbishop Gregory has committed violations of the holy canons and has broken his Episcopal oath. Taking note of all that has been mentioned above, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church has




         Let His Eminence Archbishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado be in communion with us no more...let him be judged as one who has already pronounced his own verdict against himself.


         18. Taking the recent actions and internet statements of His Eminence Archbishop Gregory into consideration, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church no longer considers His Eminence Archbishop Gregory (AbbuAssaly) to be a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church.


President of the

Synod of Bishops







Metropolitan of Suzdal and Vladimir


Administrator of Affairs of the

Synod of Bishops





Archbishop of Borisovsk and Otradnena


The Synod heard:


         19. Metropolitan Valentine, who continued his account and informed the Synod that, notwithstanding his weakened condition, he visited a number of churches, where he celebrated the all-night vigil and the Divine Liturgy. He received one clergyman under his omophorion and tonsured him into monasticism, and then elevated him to the rank of Archimandrite. For more than thirty years, Archimandrite Michael has been laboring for Christ and serving in the country of Haiti. He has 750 students, about a hundred followers and 185 parishioners, whom Fr. Michael baptized by triple immersion.


         20. Several other well-known servants of the altar were received under the omophorion of the ROAC; for example, Protopresbyter Victor Melehov, former secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR(V), Archpriest Spyridon Schneider, Igumen Andrew (Maklakov), et al. In all, twelve clergymen were received. One of them is an Orthodox chaplain for a university with over 800 students. One was ordained to the priesthood, and one to the deaconate. Continuing his account, Metropolitan Valentine related that in accordance with the decision of the Synod of Bishops, he awarded several clergymen serving in the US.


The Synod resolved:


To take the report into consideration.


The Synod heard:


         21. Archbishop Theodore, who described the life and activities of the clergy during the absence of Metropolitan Valentine, saying that the divine services and obediences continued as usual without any unusual changes, except for the fact that many of the parishioners and residents of the monasteries are afraid to take the new passport.


         There were several triumphal services and readings of the life of St. Efthimios of Suzdal in connection with the celebration of the 600 year anniversary of his repose. Between the anniversary of his repose and the anniversary of the uncovering of his relics, daily akathists were read to the Saint.


The Synod resolved:


To take the report into consideration.


The Synod heard:


         22. Archbishop Seraphim, who related that he had visited his diocese. He celebrated the Divine Services and performed “treby,” and also met up with the problem relating to the issuance of new passport, which the faithful do not wish to take, even to the point of refusing to travel or receive their pension payments.


The Synod resolved:


To take the report into consideration.


The Synod heard:


         23. Bishop Anthony, who also related that his parishioners are refusing to take the new passports. But otherwise his diocese is calm and peaceful. The people are saying their prayers, doing their work, and are expecting new persecutions in connection with receiving the new passport.


The Synod resolved:


To take the report into consideration.


The Synod heard:


         24. Bishop Irenarch, who related that he served in his diocese and met up with the same problem, i.e. that people do not want to receive the new passport.


The Synod resolved:


To take the report into consideration.


The Synod heard:


         25. Metropolitan Valentine, who put forth a suggestion to change the way in which the diocese of Yaransk is governed, by promoting His Grace Bishop Anthony to the rank of ruling bishop with the title of Bishop of Yaransk and Vyatkinsk. Furthermore, the President said that His Grace Bishop Anthony will be eighty years old in August, and that it would be nice to elevate Bishop Anthony to the rank of ARCHBISHOP.


The Synod resolved:


         To confirm the appointment of His Grace Bishop Anthony, Vicar Bishop of Suzdal, as RULING BISHOP with the title of Yaransk and Vyatkinsk, and to elevate him to the rank of ARCHBISHOP as well.


The Synod heard:


         26. Metropolitan Valentine, who put forth for consideration by the Synod the suggestion to ordain Igumen Andrew (Maklakov), second priest at St. Nicholas Church in the City of New York, to the episcopacy.


         27. Archbishop Seraphim, who read the proposal to nominate Igumen Andrew (Maklakov) as a candidate for the episcopacy.


         28. Bishop Sebastian, who read the autobiography of Fr. Andrew (Maklakov).


The Synod resolved:


         To take the proposal into consideration and to distribute the autobiography of Fr. Andrew (Maklakov) to all of the bishops for their reply.


         The meeting of the Synod of Bishops ended with the singing of “It is truly meet.”



The President of the Synod of Bishops



Metropolitan of Suzdal and Vladimir




2. Archbishop Theodore


3. Archbishop Seraphim


4. Bishop Anthony


5. Bishop Timothy


6. Bishop Ambrose


7. Bishop Ilarion


8. Bishop Gerontiy


9.Bishop Sebastian


Secretary of the Synod of Bishops

Mitered Archpriest Arkadiy Makovetskiy