5.13.08 Breaking News
+NIKOLAI RETIRED BY SYNOD
The Synod of Bishops of the OCA acted decisively today by retiring Bishop Nikolai of Alaska and announcing the see was now officially "vacant". This means that the controversial former Bishop of Sitka, who had been on a personal "leave of absence", will not be returning to Alaska in his former office. +Nikolai physically left the state last Wednesday, but did not attend the meeting in Syosset that ultimately decided his fate.
At the same time the Synod refused to release the former Bishop of Alaska's two chief assistants, Archmandrite Isidore (Brittain), Chancellor of the Dicoese, and hieromonk Panteleimon (Erikson) from the jurisdiction of the OCA to the Serbian Church as the Bishop had requested. The Synod also re-affirmed that Metropolitan Herman will remain as locum tenens of the diocese, while Bishop Benjamin will serve as the actual administrator.
In an announcement published late this afternoon, the Synod stated:
"The Holy Synod of Bishops, meeting at its full, regular Spring Session, reviewed the Leave-of-absence of His Grace, NIKOLAI, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage, and Alaska, in accordance with the request of Bishop NIKOLAI that this be reviewed at the May Session, rather than at the October Session. The Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, effective May 13, 2008, retired His Grace Bishop NIKOLAI (Soraich) from the Diocese of Alaska, with the title 'Former Bishop of Sitka.' He remains, in retirement, a Bishop of the Orthodox Church in America."
"The Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America, meeting at its regular Spring Session on May 13, 2008, heard the correspondence from His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI, on April 14, 2008, to His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, regarding the transfer of Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain) and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Erickson) to His Grace, IRINEJ, Bishop of Australia, and New Zealand, of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod of Bishops declared these transfers of no effect, since a diocesan bishop cannot release a cleric beyond The Orthodox Church in America, without involving the Metropolitan directly, in accordance with the Statute of The Orthodox Church in America, Article VI, Section 4e. They remain clerics of The Orthodox Church in America, and of the Diocese of Alaska."
"The Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America declared on May 13, 2008, that the Diocese of Alaska is vacant."
"The Holy Synod of Bishops named His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Alaska."
"The Holy Synod of Bishops named His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN, Administrator of the Diocese of Alaska."
"The Holy Synod of Bishops, recognizing the pressing need of the Diocese of Alaska, and at the same time the canonical limitations on the administration of a 'widowed' diocese, nevertheless acknowledged that His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, and His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN, may exercise economia for the purpose of developing the needed good order."