2009-02-01 00:00:00

Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church. Chapters I-IX

I. General provisions

1. The Russian Orthodox Church is a multinational Local Autocephalous Church in doctrinal unity and in prayerful and canonical communion with other Local Orthodox Churches.Nobis Cartel


2. The Self-governing Churches, Exarchates, Dioceses, Synodal departments, Deaneries, Parishes, Monasteries, Brotherhoods, Sisterhoods, Theological educational institutions, Missions, Representations and Church representations (hereinafter called 'canonical units'), which constitute the Russian Orthodox Church, canonically comprise the Moscow Patriarchate.

'The Moscow Patriarchate' is another official name of the Russian Orthodox Church.

3. The jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church shall include persons of Orthodox confession living on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan and Estonia and also Orthodox Christians living in other countries and voluntarily joining this jurisdiction .

4. The Russian Orthodox Church exercises its activities with respect of and adherence to the acting laws in each state on the basis of:

a) the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition;

b) the canons and rules of the Holy Apostles, the Holy Ecumenical and Local Councils, and the Holy Fathers;

c) the resolutions of its Local and Bishops' Councils and the Holy Synod and the Decrees of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia;

d) the present Statute.

5. The Russian Orthodox Church is registered in the Russian Federation as a legal entity and as a centralized religious organization.

The Moscow Patriarchate and other canonical units of the Russian Orthodox Church on the territory of the Russian Federation are registered as legal entities and as centralized or local religious organizations.

The canonical units of the Russian Orthodox Church on the territory of other states can be registered as legal entities in accordance with the laws of these states.

6. The Russian Orthodox Church has a hierarchic structure of governance.

7. The supreme bodies of the church authority and governance shall be the Local Council, the Bishops' Council and the Holy Synod headed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

8. The ecclesiastical court in the Russian Orthodox Church shall act in three instances:

a) Diocesan court

b) General church court

c) Court of the Bishops' Council

9. The officials and staff of the canonical units as well as clergymen and laymen cannot apply to the bodies of state authority and to civil court on the matters pertaining to internal church life, including those of canonical governance, church order, liturgical and pastoral activities.

10. The canonical units of the Russian Orthodox Church shall not engage in political activities and shall not rent their premises for political events.


II. The Local Council

1. The supreme power in the field of doctrine and canonical order in the Russian Orthodox Church shall belong to the Local Council.

2. The terms of convening the Local Council shall be determined by the Bishops' Council. In exceptional cases the Local Council may be convened by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens) and by the Holy Synod.

The responsibility for the preparation of the Local Council shall be borne by the Bishops' Council, which shall elaborate the programme, agenda, rules of procedure of the sessions and the structure of the Council, give its preliminary assent to them and submit them to the Local Council for approval and shall also take other decisions pertaining to the holding of the Local Council.

In the event the Local Council is convened by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens) and the Holy Synod, the proposals on the programme, agenda, rules of procedure of the sessions and the structure of the Local Council shall be approved by the Bishops' Council, which session shall obligatory precede the Local Council.

3. Diocesan and vicar bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church shall be members of the Council ex officio.

4. The Bishops' Council shall determine the procedure of the election of delegates from among clergymen, monastics and laymen to the Council and their quota.

In exceptional cases the procedure of the election to the Council of the delegates from among clergymen, monastics and laymen and their quota shall be determined by the Holy Synod with subsequent approval by the Bishops' Council.

5. The Local Council shall:

a) interpret the teaching of the Orthodox Church on the basis of the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition, while maintaining doctrinal and canonical unity with the Local Orthodox Churches;
b) resolve canonical, liturgical and pastoral matters, while securing the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church and preserving the purity of the Orthodox faith, Christian morals and piety;
c) approve, change, annul and explain its decisions pertaining to the church life in accordance with 5a) and 5b) of this section;
d) approve the decisions of the Bishops' Council pertaining to the doctrine and canonical order;
e) canonize the saints;
f) elect the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and establish the procedure for election;
g) determine and adjust the principles of relations between the Church and the state;
h) express, if need be, the concern for contemporary problems.

6. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall preside over the Council, and the Locum Tenens shall preside in the absence of the Patriarch.

7. The quorum of the Council shall be 2/3 of the legally elected delegates, including 2/3 of bishops out from the total number of member bishops of the Council.

8. The Council shall approve the agenda, programme, rules of procedure of the sessions and the structure of the Council, elect the Presidium and Secretariat by simple majority of those present members of the Council and shall form the necessary working bodies.

9. The Presidium of the Council shall consist of the Chairman (the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia or the Locum Tenens) and twelve members of the Council in the rank of a bishop. The Presidium shall guide the sessions of the Council.

10. The Secretariat of the Council shall consist of the Secretary in the rank of a bishop and two assistants - a clergyman and a layman. The Secretariat shall be responsible for providing the members of the Council with all necessary working materials and for keeping minutes of the sessions. The minutes shall be signed by the Chairman, the members of the Presidium and the Secretary.

11. The Council shall elect the chairmen (in the rank of a bishop), the members and the secretaries of the working bodies established by the Council by simple majority.

12. The Presidium, the Secretary and the chairmen of the working bodies shall comprise the Advisory Board of the Council.

The Advisory Board shall be the governing body of the Council. Its terms of reference shall include:

a) consideration of the emerging questions on the agenda and submission of the proposals on the order in which the Council shall consider them;
b) coordination of the entire activities of the Council;
c) consideration of the matters of procedure and protocol;
d) administrative and technical provision of the normal work of the Council.

13. All member bishops of the Council shall comprise the Bishops' Conference. The Conference shall be convened by the Chairman of the Council on his initiative, by the decision of the Advisory Board of the Council or on the proposal of no less than 1/3 of the bishops. The task of the Conference shall include the discussion of those decisions of the Council, which are of a special importance and which provoke doubts from the point of view of their conformity with the Holy Scriptures, Holy Tradition, dogmas and canons, as well as from the point of keeping church peace and unity.

In the event that a certain decision of the Council or its part are rejected by the majority of the bishops present, it shall be put forward for another consideration by the Council. If after that the majority of the bishops present at the Council reject it, it shall lose its force of the Council's decision.

14. The opening of the Council and its daily sessions shall be preceded by the celebration of the Divine Liturgy or any other appropriate divine service in accordance with the rubrics.

15. The sessions of the Council shall be chaired by the Chairman, or, on his proposal, by one of the members of the Presidium of the Council.

16. The invited theologians, experts, observers and guests may take part in the open sessions of the Council, besides its members. The extent of their participation shall be determined by the rules of procedure, but in any case they shall have no right to participate in the vote. The members of the Council shall have the right to propose a closed session.

Note: the election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be held in closed session.

17. The decisions of the Council shall be taken by the majority of votes, except special cases, stipulated by the rules of procedure adopted by the Council. In the event of a tie in open vote, the Chairman shall cast the deciding vote. In the event of a tie in secret vote, another vote shall be held.

18. All official documents of the Council shall be signed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or by the Locum Tenens), the members of the Presidium and the Secretary.

19. The decisions of the Council shall take effect immediately after their adoption.


III. The Bishops' Council

1. The Bishops' Council shall be the supreme body of the hierarchic governance of the Russian Orthodox Church and shall consist of the diocesan bishops and the vicar bishops who are heads of the Synodal institutions and the Theological Academies or who have canonical jurisdiction over the parishes in their jurisdiction.

Other vicar bishops can take part in the sessions of the Bishops' Council without the right of a deciding vote.

2. The Bishops' Council shall be convened by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens) and the Holy Synod no less than once in four years and on the eve of a Local Council, as well as in exceptional cases, which are stipulated, in particular, in section V, 20 of the present Statute.

At the suggestion of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod, or of one third of the diocesan bishops - members of the Council, an extraordinary Bishop's Council can be convened, no later than after six months after the appropriate decision of the Synod or an application of a group of bishops to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

3. The Holy Synod shall be responsible for the preparation of the Bishops' Council.

4. The responsibilities of the Bishops' Council shall include:

a) preservation of the purity and steadfastness of the Orthodox doctrine and the norms of Christian morals;
b) adoption of the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church and introduction of alterations and amendments to it;
c) preservation of the dogmatic and canonical unity of the Russian Orthodox Church;
d) solution of the principal theological, canonical, liturgical and pastoral matters pertaining to internal and external activities of the Church;
e) canonization of the saints and approval of the liturgical offices and rites;
f) competent interpretation of the holy canons and other church regulations;
g) expression of pastoral cares for the problems of modern times;
h) determination of the nature of relations with the state bodies;
i) maintenance of relations with the Local Orthodox Churches;
j) establishment, reorganization and dissolution of the Self-governing Churches; Exarchates and dioceses, and determination of their boundaries and names;
k) establishment, reorganization and dissolution of the Synodal institutions;
l) approval of the order of ownership, use and disposal of the property of the Russian Orthodox Church;
m) submission of proposals on the agenda, programme, rules of procedure of the sessions and structure of the Local Council on its eve, as well as the proposals on the procedure of the election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, if the election is expected;
n) supervision of the implementation of the decisions of the Local Council;
o) judgement on the activities of the Holy Synod and the Synodal institutions;
p) approval and annulment of the legislative acts of the Holy Synod and introduction of alterations into them;
q) establishment and dissolution of the bodies of the church governance;
r) establishment of the procedure for all church courts;
s) consideration of financial reports presented by the Holy Synod and approval of the principles of planning the upcoming general church income and expenditures;
t) approval of the new general church awards.

5. The Bishops' Council shall be the ecclesiastical court of final appeal. As such it shall consider and make decisions on:

- in the first and last instances on the dogmatic and canonical deviations in the activities of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia;

- in the last instance:

a) on disagreements between two or more bishops;
b) on canonical misdemeanour and dogmatic deviations of the bishops;
c) on all matters referred to it by General church court for taking the final decision.

6. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia or the Locum Tenens shall be Chairman of the Bishops' Council.

7. The Holy Synod shall be the Presidium of the Bishops' Council. The Presidium shall be responsible for the holding and guidance of the Council. The Presidium shall propose the agenda, programme and the rules of procedure of the Bishops' Council, submit proposals on the order in which the Council shall consider the emerging problems and the matters of procedure and protocol.

8. The Secretary of the Bishops' Council shall be elected from among the members of the Holy Synod. The Secretary shall be responsible for providing the Council with necessary working materials and for keeping the minutes. The minutes shall be signed by the Chairman of the Council and the members of the Holy Synod.

9. The opening of the Council and its daily sessions shall be preceded by the celebration of the Divine Liturgy or any other appropriate divine service according to the rubrics.

10. The sessions of the Council shall be chaired by the Chairman or, on his proposal, by a member of the Holy Synod.

11. Theologians, experts, observers and guests can be invited to certain sessions of the Council without the right of the deciding vote. The extent of their participation in the proceedings of the Council shall be determined by the rules of procedure.

12. The decisions of the Council shall be taken by simple majority in open or secret vote, except the cases specially stipulated by the rules of procedure adopted by the Council. In the event of a tie in open vote, the Chairman shall cast the deciding vote. In the event of a tie in secret vote, the vote shall be held again.

13. None of the member bishops of the Bishops' Council can refuse to participate in its sessions, except when they are ill or on any other serious reason, which the Council shall consider valid.

14. The quorum of the Bishops' Council shall be 2/3 of its member bishops.

15. The decisions of the Bishops' Council shall take effect immediately after their adoption.


IV. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

1. The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church shall have the title of 'His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia'.

2. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall have primacy in honour among the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church and shall be accountable to the Local and Bishops' Councils.

3. The name of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be mentioned during the divine services in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church with the following wording: 'For our Great Lord and Father (name), His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia'.

4. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall take care for the internal and external welfare of the Russian Orthodox Church and shall govern it together with the Holy Synod as its chairman.

5. The relations between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod shall be determined by Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles and Canon 9 of the Council of Antioch in accordance with accepted Orthodox tradition.

6. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, together with the Holy Synod shall convene Bishops' Councils and in exceptional cases the Local Councils and shall preside at them. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall also convene the sessions of the Holy Synod.

7. In exercising his canonical authority, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall:

a) be responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the Councils and the Holy Synod;
b) submit to the Councils the reports on the situation in the Russian Orthodox Church for the period between the Councils;
c) uphold the unity of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church;
d) exercise authoritative supervision over all Synodal departments;
e) address the Pleroma of the Russian Orthodox Church with pastoral messages;
f) sign the general church documents after their appropriate approval by the Holy Synod;
g) exercise the executive and instructive authority in governing the Moscow Patriarchate;
h) communicate with the Primates of the Orthodox Churches in compliance with the decisions of the Councils or the Holy Synod, as well as on his own behalf;
i) represent the Russian Orthodox Church in its relations with the highest bodies of the state authority and administration;
j) have the duty of petitioning and interceding before the bodies of the state power both on the canonical territory and outside it;
k) approve the statutes of the Self-governing Churches, the Exarchates and the Dioceses;
l) receive the appeals from the diocesan bishops of the Self-governing Churches;
m) issue decrees on the election and appointment of the diocesan bishops, the heads of the Synodal departments, the vicar bishops, the rectors of the Theological schools and other officials appointed by the Holy Synod;
n) take care for the timely replacement of the episcopal sees;
o) entrust the bishops with temporal administration of the diocese in case the diocesan bishops are ill for a long time, die or stand trial in the ecclesiastical court;
p) supervise the exercising by the bishops of their archpastoral duty in taking care for the dioceses;
q) have the right to visit in necessary cases all dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church (canon 34 of the Holy Apostles; canon 9 of the Council of Antioch, Council of Carthage 52 (63);
r) give fraternal advice to the bishops pertaining both to their personal life and the exercise of their archpastoral duty. In the event they do not heed to his advice, he shall propose the Holy Synod to make an appropriate decision;
s) take to consideration the matters pertaining to the disagreements among the bishops, who voluntarily ask for his mediation without formal legal proceedings. The decision of the Patriarch in such cases shall be binding for both parties;
t) receive complaints concerning the bishops and set them in appropriate motion;
u) allow the bishops leave for more than 14 days;
v) award the bishops with the established titles and higher church distinctions;
w) award the clergy and laity with church awards;
x) approve the awarding of scholarly degrees and ranks;
y) take care for the timely production and consecration of the holy myrrh for general church needs.

8. External distinguishing signs of the Patriarchal dignity shall be a white kukol, a green mantle, two panagias, a great paraman and a cross carried before him in procession.

9. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be the diocesan bishop of the Moscow diocese, which includes Moscow and the Moscow region.

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be assisted in the administration of the Moscow diocese by the Patriarchal Deputy with the right of a diocesan bishop with the title of Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna.

The territorial boundaries of the governance exercised by the Patriarchal Deputy with the right of a diocesan bishop shall be determined by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

10. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be a holy archimandrite of the Laura of the Holy Trinity and St.Sergius and of a number of the Moscow monasteries of particular historical importance and shall govern all the stavropegic monasteries.

The formation of the stavropegic monasteries and church representations in the Moscow diocese shall be carried out according to the Decrees of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

11. The rank of Patriarch shall be for life.

12. The right of judgement on the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia as well as the decision on his retirement shall belong to the Bishops' Council.

13. In the event of the demise of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, his retirement, his standing trial at the ecclesiastical court or on any other reason, which makes his execution of his Patriarchal office impossible, the Holy Synod under the chairmanship of the eldest by consecration permanent member of the Holy Synod shall immediately elect the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal throne from among its permanent members.

The procedure of the election of the Locum Tenens shall be established by the Holy Synod.

14. The church property owned by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in virtue of his position and office, shall be the property of the Russian Orthodox Church. The personal property of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall be inherited in accordance with the law.

15. In the period between the Patriarchal tenure:

a) the Russian Orthodox Church shall be governed by the Holy Synod chaired by the Locum Tenens;
b) the name of the Locum Tenens shall be mentioned at the divine services in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church;
c) the Locum Tenens shall discharge the duties of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia as they are stipulated in section IV,7, of the present Statute, except v);
d) the Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna shall govern the Moscow diocese independently.

16. No later than six months after the Patriarchal throne becomes vacant, the Locum Tenens and the Holy Synod in the order prescribed by II, 2 of the present Statute shall convene the Local Council to elect a new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

17. A candidate to the Patriarchal office must meet the following requirements:

a) be a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church;
b) have higher theological education, sufficient experience in diocesan administration, to be distinguished by his adherence to canon law and order;
c) enjoy a good reputation and confidence of the bishops, clergy and the people;
d) 'be well thought of by outsiders' (1 Tim.3:7);
e) be not younger than 40 years old.


V. The Holy Synod

1. The Holy Synod, headed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens), shall be the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church in the period between the Bishops' Councils.

2. The Holy Synod shall be responsible to the Bishops' Council and through the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall submit to it the report of its activities in the period between the Councils.

3. The Holy Synod shall consist of the Chairman - the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens), seven permanent members and six temporary members from among the diocesan bishops.

4. The permanent members of the Holy Synod shall be: Metropolitans of Kiev and All Ukraine; of St.Petersburg and Ladoga; of Krutitsy and Kolomna; of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of All Byelorussia; of Kishinev and All Moldova; the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations and the Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate ex officio.

5. The temporary members shall be summoned to attend one session according to the seniority of bishops' consecration, one from each group, into which the dioceses shall be divided. A bishop cannot be summoned to the Holy Synod before two years of his administration of the diocese have passed.

6. The synodal year is divided into two sessions: the summer session (March-August) and the winter session (September-February).

7. The Diocesan Bishops, the heads of the Synodal departments and rectors of the Theological academies may attend the sessions of the Holy Synod with the right of advisory vote, when the matters are considered which pertain to the dioceses, institutions and schools under their administration or to their church 'obedience' in general.

8. The participation of the permanent and temporary members of the Holy Synod in its sessions shall be their canonical duty. The members of the Synod absent without valid reasons shall be brotherly admonished.

9. In exceptional cases the quorum of the Synod shall be 2/3 of the membership.

10. The sessions of the Holy Synod shall be convened by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (or the Locum Tenens).

11. As a rule the sessions of the Holy Synod shall be closed ones. The members of the Synod shall be seated according to the protocol adopted in the Russian Orthodox Church.

12. The Synod shall work on the basis of the agenda, submitted by the Chairman and approved by the Synod in the beginning of the first session. The Chairman shall send matters, which demand preliminary studies, to the members of the Synod in advance. The members of the Synod can submit proposals on the agenda and raise questions provided the Chairman is notified beforehand.

13. The Chairman shall guide the sessions in accordance with the adopted rules of procedure.

14. In the event the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia cannot on certain reason temporarily execute his duties of chairing the Synod, the duties of the Chairman shall be executed by the senior by consecration permanent member of the Synod. The temporary member of the Synod shall not be the canonical Locum Tenens.

15. The Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate shall be the Secretary of the Holy Synod. The Secretary shall be responsible for the preparation of necessary materials for the Synod and for keeping the minutes of the sessions.

16. The problems in the Holy Synod shall be solved by general consensus of all members participating in the session or by the majority vote. In the event of a tie, the Chairman shall cast the deciding vote.

17. None of those present in the Holy Synod can abstain from voting.

18. All members of the Synod in case of disagreement with the taken decision can submit their individual opinion, which they must announce at the same session and expound their arguments in the written form not later than three days after the date of the session. Individual opinions shall be attached to the minutes, but the solution of the matter shall not be postponed.

19. The Chairman shall not be eligible to withdraw the matters proposed for the agenda by his own authority, prevent their solution or suspend the implementation of such decisions.

20. In the event the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia recognises that the taken decision will not bring benefit and good to the Church, he shall make a protest. The protest must be made at the same session and then presented in the written form within seven days. On the expiry of this term the Holy Synod shall consider the matter again. In the event the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia does not find it possible to agree with a new decision, it shall be suspended and submitted to the Bishops' Council for consideration. If it is impossible to postpone the consideration of the matter and the decision must be taken immediately, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia shall use his own discretion. The decision taken in this manner shall be submitted to the Extraordinary Bishops' Council for consideration, on which the final solution of the matter shall depend.

21. When the Holy Synod considers the matter presented on the complaint lodged against the members of the Synod, the person concerned can be present at the session and give explanations, but the accused member of the Synod must leave the hall, where the session is held, when a decision is being taken. When a complaint lodged against the Chairman is considered, he shall delegate the chairmanship to the senior by consecration bishop from among the permanent members of the Synod.

22. All minutes and decisions of the Holy Synod shall be signed first by the Chairman, and then by all members present at the session, even in the event some of them have not agreed with the taken decision and have submitted their individual opinion.

23. The decisions of the Holy Synod shall become effective upon their signing and are not liable to reconsideration, except the cases, on which the new data have been presented, which change the heart of the matter.

24. The Chairman of the Holy Synod shall exercise the supreme supervision over the precise implementation of the taken decisions.

25. In exercising its duties the Holy Synod shall:

a) care for the sound preservation and interpretation of the Orthodox faith and the norms of Christian morals and piety;
b) minister to the internal unity of the Russian Orthodox Church;
c) maintain unity with other Orthodox Churches;
d) organize the internal and external activity of the Church and the solution of the matters of general church importance pertaining to it;
e) interpret the canonical decisions and the resolution of difficulties pertaining to their implementation;
f) regulate liturgical matters;
g) issue disciplinary regulations, which concern the clergymen, monastics and church workers;
h) evaluate the most important events in the field of the interchurch, inter-confessional and interreligious relations;
i) maintain the interconfessional and interreligious relations both on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate and outside it;
j) coordinate the actions of the Pleroma of the Russian Orthodox Church in its efforts to reach peace and justice;
k) express pastoral concern for social problems;
l) address special messages to all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church;
m) maintain proper relations between the Church and the state in compliance with the present Statute and with the acting legislation;
n) approve the Statutes of the Self-governing Churches and Exarchates;
o) adopt the civil statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church and its canonical units, and introduce alterations and additions to them;
p) approve the minutes of the Synods of the Exarchates;
q) solve the matters pertaining to the establishment or dissolution of the canonical units of the Russian Orthodox Church in the jurisdiction of the Holy Synod with subsequent approval at the Bishops' Council;
r) establish the order of ownership, use and disposal of the buildings and property of the Russian Orthodox Church;
s) approve the decisions of the General church court.

26. The Holy Synod shall:

a) elect and appoint bishops and in exceptional cases transfer and retire them;
b) summon bishops to the sessions of the Synod;
c) consider the reports by the bishops on the situation in the dioceses and take decisions on the reports;
d) inspect through the members of the Synod the activity of the bishops any time when considers it necessary;
e) determine the salary of the bishops.

27. The Holy Synod shall appoint:

a) the heads of the Synodal institutions and their deputies on the presentation from them;
b) the rectors of the Theological Academies and Seminaries, father superiors (mother superiors) and abbots of the monasteries;
c) bishops, clergy and laity for responsible work abroad.

28. The Holy Synod can set up commissions or other working bodies for taking care of:

a) the solution of the important theological problems pertaining to the internal and external activity of the Church;
b) the preservation of the text of the Holy Scriptures, its translation and publication;
c) the preservation of the texts of the liturgical books, their emending, editing and publishing;
d) the canonization of the saints;
e) the publication of the compilations of the holy canons, text books and educational aids for the Theological educational institutions, theological literature, official periodicals and other pertinent literature;
f) the improvement of theological, spiritual and moral training of clergy and the activity of the Theological educational institutions;
g) mission, catechization and religious education;
h) the situation with religious education;
i) the problems of the monasteries and monastics;
j) the works of charity and social ministry;
k) the proper state of affairs in the field of church architecture, icon-painting, singing and applied arts;
l) the church monuments and antiquities in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church;
m) the production of church utilities, candles, vestments and all other necessary items for maintaining the liturgical tradition, beauty and good order in the churches;
n) the pensions for the clergy and church workers;
o) the solution of economic problems.

29. In its guidance of the Synodal institutions the Holy Synod shall:

a) approve the regulations on their activity;
b) approve annual plans of the work of the Synodal institutions and receive reports from them;
c) take decisions on the most important aspects of the current work of the Synodal institutions;
d) in case of necessity make inspection of these institutions.

30. The Holy Synod shall approve the general church plan of expenditures, consider the estimates of the Synodal institutions, the Theological educational institutions and the appropriate financial reports.

31. In its care for the dioceses, monasteries and the Theological educational institutions the Holy Synod shall:

a) establish and dissolve the dioceses and change its boundaries and names with subsequent approval by the Bishops' Council;
b) adopt standard regulations for the diocesan institutions;
c) approve the statutes of the monasteries and carry out general supervision over monastic life;
d) establish the stavropegic monasteries;
e) on the presentation from the Education Committee approve the statutes and curricula of the Theological educational institutions, curricula of the Theological Seminaries and establish new departments in the Theological Academies;
f) see to that the activity of all bodies of church authority in the dioceses, deaneries and parishes be carried out in conformity with the regulations of the law;
g) in case of necessity make inspections.

32. The Holy Synod shall make judgement on disputes in connection with the interpretation of the present Statute.


VI. The Moscow Patriarchate and the Synodal Institutions

1. The Moscow Patriarchate shall be an institution of the Russian Orthodox Church, uniting the structures, which are supervised directly by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The Moscow Patriarchate shall be governed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

2. The Synodal institution shall be an institution of the Russian Orthodox Church in charge of general church matters in its competence.

3. The Moscow Patriarchate and the Synodal departments shall be the bodies of executive power of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Synodal institutions shall have an exceptional right to be plenipotentiary representatives of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod within the framework of their activity and within the limits of their competence.

4. The Synodal institutions shall be established and dissolved by the decision of the Bishops' Council or the Holy Synod and shall be accountable to them.

The Regulations (Statutes) of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Synodal institutions and amendments to them shall be confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and approved by the Holy Synod.

5. The Synodal institutions shall be headed by the persons appointed by the Holy Synod.

6. The Chancery shall be included in the Moscow Patriarchate as a Synodal institution.

7. The Synodal institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church shall be:

a) The Department for External Church Relations;
b) The Publishing Council;
c) The Education Committee;
d) The Department for Catechization and Religious Education;
e) The Department for Charity and Social Ministry;
f) The Department for Mission;
g) The Department for Relations with the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies;
h) The Department for Youth Affairs;

8. Other Synodal institutions can be established in case of necessity.

9. The Synodal institutions shall be the coordinating bodies in relation to the similar institutions acting in the Self-governing Churches, Exarchates and Dioceses, and as such shall be entitled to apply, within the limits of their competence, to the diocesan bishops and the heads of other canonical units, to send them their normative documents and request relevant information.

10. The activity of the Synodal institutions shall be regulated by the Regulations (Statutes) confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and approved by the Holy Synod.


VII. The Ecclesiastical Court

1. Judicial authority in the Russian Orthodox Church shall be exercised by the Ecclesiastical Courts through ecclesiastical legal proceedings.

No other church bodies and persons shall be entitled to assume the functions of the ecclesiastical court.

2. The judicial system in the Russian Orthodox Church shall be established on the foundation of the holy canons, the present Statute and the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

3. The unity of the judicial system of the Russian Orthodox Church shall be provided by:

a) observance by all Ecclesiastical Courts of the established rules of ecclesiastical legal proceedings;
b) recognition of the necessity of the execution by all canonical units and all members of the Russian Orthodox Church of the court rulings which came into legitimate force;

4. Judgement in the Russian Orthodox Church shall be exercised by the ecclesiastical court of three instances:

a) the Diocesan Courts with jurisdiction within their dioceses;
b) the General Ecclesiastical Court with jurisdiction throughout the Russian Orthodox Church;
c) the Supreme Court, which is the Court of the Bishops' Council with jurisdiction throughout the Russian Orthodox Church.

5. The canonical sanctions such as the suspension of clerics for life, deposition and excommunication shall be imposed by the Diocesan Bishop or the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod only on the presentation of the Ecclesiastical Court.

6. The order of investing the judges of the ecclesiastical courts with competence shall be determined on the basis of the holy canons, the present Statute and the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

7. Court cases shall be accepted for consideration by the Ecclesiastical Court in the order and under the conditions determined by the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

8. The rulings of the ecclesiastical courts, which have come into legitimate force as well as orders, requests, instructions, summonses and other warrants of the court shall be binding for all clergymen and laymen without any exception.

9. The proceedings in all ecclesiastical courts shall be carried out in closed session.

10. The Diocesan Court shall be the court of first instance.

11. The clergymen whom the Diocesan Bishop empowered to administer justice in the diocese entrusted to him may be the judges of the Diocesan Courts.

A vicar bishop or a presbyter may be chairman of the court. The members of the court must be presbyters.

12. The chairman of the Diocesan Court shall be appointed by the Diocesan Bishop for the term of three years.

The Diocesan Assembly shall elect on the presentation of the Diocesan Bishop no less than two members of the Diocesan Court.

13. The recall of a chairman or a member of the Diocesan Court ahead of schedule shall be carried out at the instruction of the Diocesan Bishop with subsequent consideration of this decision by the Diocesan Assembly.

14. Ecclesiastical legal proceedings shall be exercised in court session with the participation of the chairman and at least two members of the court.

15. The terms of reference and procedure of legal proceedings of the Diocesan Court shall be determined by the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

16. The rulings of the Diocesan Court shall be executed upon their approval by the Diocesan Bishop.

In the event the Diocesan Bishop disagrees with the ruling of the Diocesan Court he shall act at his own discretion. His decision shall become effective immediately, but the case shall be referred to the General Ecclesiastical Court, which shall take a final ruling.

17. The Diocesan Courts shall be financed from the diocesan budgets.

18. The General Ecclesiastical Court shall be the court of second instance.

19. The General Ecclesiastical Court shall consist of the chairman and at least four members of episcopal rank who shall be elected by the Bishops' Council for the term of four years.

20. The recall of the chairman or a member of the General Ecclesiastical Court ahead of schedule shall be carried out by the decision of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod with subsequent approval by the Bishops' Council.

21. The right to appoint an acting chairman or a member of the General Ecclesiastical Court in the event of a vacancy shall belong to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

22. The term of reference and procedure of legal proceedings of the General Ecclesiastical Court shall be determined by the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

23. The rulings of the General Ecclesiastical Court shall be executed upon their approval by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

In the event that the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod disagree with the ruling of the General Ecclesiastical Court, the ruling of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod shall come into force.

In this event the case may be referred to the Court of the Bishops' Council for a final ruling.

24. The General Ecclesiastical Court shall exercise the judicial supervision over the activity of the Diocesan Courts in the forms of proceedings stipulated by the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

25. The General Ecclesiastical Court shall be financed from the general church budget.

26. The Court of the Bishops' Council shall be the ecclesiastical court of final appeal.

27. The legal proceedings shall be carried out by the Bishops' Council in accordance with the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.

28. The work of the ecclesiastical courts shall be provided by the staff of these courts, which shall be subordinate to their chairmen and shall act on the basis of the 'Regulations on Ecclesiastical Court'.


VIII. The Self-governing Churches

1. The Self-governing Churches, which comprise the Moscow Patriarchate, shall exercise their activities on the basis of the Patriarchal Tomos issued in accordance with the decisions of the Local or Bishops' Council and within the limits provided by it.

2. The decision on the establishment or dissolution of the Self-governing Church and on the definition of its territorial boundaries shall be taken by the Bishops' Council.

3. The Council and the Synod headed by the Primate of the Self-governing Church in the rank of Metropolitan or Archbishop, shall be the bodies of the church authority and governance of the Self-governing Church.

4. The Primate of the Self-governing Church shall be elected by the Council from among the candidates approved by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

5. The Primate shall take office upon the confirmation by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

6. The Primate shall be the diocesan bishop of his diocese and shall head the Self-governing Church on the basis of the canons, the present Statute and the Statute of the Self-governing Church.

7. The name of the Primate shall be mentioned in all churches of the Self-governing Church after the name of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

8. The decision on the establishment or dissolution of the dioceses making up the Self-governing Church and the definition of their territorial boundaries shall be taken by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod upon the presentation from the Synod of the Self-governing Church.

9. The bishops of the Self-governing Church shall be elected by the Synod from among the candidates confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod.

10. The Bishops of the Self-governing Churches shall be members of the Local and Bishops' Councils and shall take part in their proceedings in accordance with Sections II and III of the present Statute, and in the sessions of the Holy Synod.

11. The decisions of the Local and Bishops' Councils and the Holy Synod shall be binding for the Self-governing Churches.

12. The General church court and the Court of the Bishops' Council shall be the ecclesiastical courts of final appeal for the Self-governing Church.

13. The Council of the Self-governing Church shall adopt the Statute regulating the governance of this Church on the basis of the Patriarchal Tomos and within the limits provided by it. The Statute shall be subject to approval by the Holy Synod and confirmation by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,

14. The Council and the Synod of the Self-governing Church shall act within the limits determined by the Patriarchal Tomos, the present Statute and the Statute regulating the governance of the Self-governing Church.

15. The Self-governing Church shall receive the Holy Chrism from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

16. The Latvian Orthodox Church;

The Orthodox Church of Moldova;

The Estonian Orthodox Church

are the self-governing Churches.

17. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church shall be self-governing with the broad right of autonomy.

In its life and activity it shall be guided by the Tomos of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of 1990 and by the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church confirmed by its Primate and approved by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.


IX. The Exarchates

1. The dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church can be united into Exarchates. The national and regional principle shall be the basis of such unity.

2. The decisions on the establishment or dissolution of the Exarchates as well as on their names and territorial boundaries shall be taken by the Bishops' Council.

3. The decisions of the Local and Bishops' Councils and the Holy Synod shall be mandatory for the Exarchates.

4. The General church court and the Court of the Bishops' Council shall be church courts of final appeal for the Exarchates.

5. The supreme church authority in the Exarchate shall belong to the Synod of the Exarchate chaired by the Exarch.

6. The Synod of the Exarchate shall adopt the Statute regulating the activities of the Exarchate.

The Statute must be approved by the Holy Synod and confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

7. The Synod of the Exarchate shall act on the basis of the canons, the present Statute and the Statute regulating the governance of the Exarchate.

8. The minutes of the Synod of the Exarchate shall be submitted to the Holy Synod and approved by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

9. The Exarch shall be elected by the Holy Synod and appointed by Patriarchal decree.

10. The Exarch shall be the diocesan bishop of his diocese and shall carry out the governance of the Exarchate on the basis of the canons, the present Statute and the Statute regulating the governance of the Exarchate.

11. The name of the Exarch shall be mentioned in all churches of the Exarchate after the name of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

12. The diocesan and vicar bishops of the Exarchate shall be elected and appointed by the Holy Synod at the presentation from the Synod of the Exarchate.

13. The decisions on the establishment or dissolution of the dioceses comprising the Exarchate and on the determining of their territorial boundaries shall be taken by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod at the presentation from the Synod of the Exarchate.

14. The Exarchate shall receive the Holy Chrism from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

15. At present there is the Byelorussian Exarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church located on the territory of the Republic of Byelarus. 'The Byelorussian Orthodox Church' shall be another official name of the Byelorussian Exarchate.Nobis Barry