The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church demote the Bishop of Chukotka Diomede to a common monk

DiomedeThe Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on Monday voted to demote the Bishop of Chukotka Diomede to a common monk. The ruling was made in absentia as Diomede refused to attend the gathering - which is no wonder since in July he declared anathema an most leaders of the church, including Patriarch Alexy II.

The Synod also degraded several clerics of Chukotka eparchy together with Diomede. Archbishop of Khabarovsk was charged to temporary rule the Chukotka church.

A small number of supporters of the rebel bishop have held a rally in Moscow to protest the decision but by mistake it was held near the Patriarch's residence and not near the Danilov monastery where the Synod session was held.

The Monday ruling almost put an end to the scandal that emerged in 2007 when Bishop Diomede published an address "to all loyal children of the Holy Orthodox Church" in which he accused top church members of various sins and wrongdoings and called for them to repent. The accusations involved such things as praying together with heretics and followers of ecumenism and "underwriting to the authorities' anti-national policies." Apart from that, Diomedes criticized the hierarchs for running their own private businesses.

The bishop continued, accusing the G8 countries of being part of a freemason conspiracy that is preparing the reign of a single world leader, who will be the Antichrist. In the end, he called upon all believers to stop using Russian passports, mobile phones and the Internet, as all these things, in his opinion, contained the satanic "number of the beast".

The Synod theological commission has ruled that these letters harmed the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church and provoked a schism and also could prevent future adepts from joining the church. In late July, the Hierarchs' gathering deprived Bishop Diomede from office, but the decision could still be canceled if the rebel cleric stopped his activities and repented.

Instead, Diomedes himself declared an anathema on Patriarch Alexy II and also some of the top clergy members of the church, including the head of the external relations department Metropolitan Kirill, his predecessor Metropolitan Filaret and also "all of their predecessor who took part in the February mutiny of 1917 and all those who think the way they do".

In reply, the official church again expressed disappointment over these actions, but accused Diomedes of embezzlement of some of his church's funds. The decision to demote the bisop was approved by the Holy Synod, but church leaders stopped short of excommunicating Diomedes - an apparent signal that they still see a way of settling the conflict.

By Kirill Bessonov