Holy Synod Holds Special Session, Grants Metropolitan Theodosius Four-Month Medical Leave

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, chaired a special session of the Holy Synod of Bishops on Tuesday, May 1, 2001, in conjunction with the Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.

After opening the meeting with prayer, Metropolitan Theodosius requested that he be granted a four-month medical leave of absence at the recommendation of his physicians, who had determined that he had suffered a series of minor strokes during the past few months. Having granted the Metropolitan’s request, effective Friday, May 4, 2001, the members of the Holy Synod expressed their fraternal gratitude to the Metropolitan for his many years of self-sacrificing archpastoral and primatial service and assured him of their brotherly love and prayers for his complete and healthy return to the primatial ministry.

The members of the Holy Synod also granted Metropolitan Theodosius’ request to appoint His Eminence, Archbishop Herman of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania as Temporary administrator. In this capacity, Archbishop Herman will assume chairmanship of the Lesser Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan Council, and the Administrative Committee, as well as supervise all routine matters and decisions pertaining to the day-to-day life of the Church. While Metropolitan Theodosius retains chairmanship of the Holy Synod of Bishops during his medical leave, Archbishop Herman will be responsible for convening special sessions of the Holy Synod should the need arise.

In other matters, members of the Holy Synod of Bishops considered the suspension placed upon His Grace, Bishop Innocent of Hagerstown (formerly of Anchorage) by the Lesser Synod of Bishops on April 21, 2001 for his failure to relinquish duties after he was relieved by the Holy Synod of Bishops from all administrative authority and duties within the Diocese of Alaska on March 21, 2001. Having been assured of Bishop Innocent’s repentance and willingness to fully comply with his reassignment as Bishop of Hagerstown and Auxiliary to the Metropolitan, members of the Holy Synod of Bishops lifted the suspension which had been placed upon him, effective May 1, 2001.

Before adjourning, members of the Holy Synod reviewed a draft text prepared by the Pre-Conciliar Commission concerning the proposed theme of the 13th All-American Council, slated to be held in Orlando, FL in 2002. In discussing the draft text, the hierarchs touched upon a variety of issues concerning parish life, spirituality, pastoral responsibility and accountability, and the relationship between the National Church, dioceses, and local communities. Observations and recommendations offered by members of the Holy SYnod will be forwarded to the Pre-Conciliar Commission for inclusion in its future discussions on the Council theme.

In addition to Metropolitan Theodosius, Archbishop Herman, and Bishop Innocent, other hierarchs participating in the special session included His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese; His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey; His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Grace, Bishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco and the West; His Grace, Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; and His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Baltimore. Also present was Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor.