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), nine permanent members and five 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 Belarus; of Kishinev and All Moldova; of Astana and Kazakhstan, head of the Metropolitan area in the Republic of Kazakhstan; of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, head of the Metropolitan area of Central Asia; and 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 institutions and rectors of the theological academies can 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 academies under their administration or 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 reason shall be brotherly admonished.
9. In exceptional cases the quorum of the Synod shall be the two-thirds 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). In the event of the death of the Patriarch, the Patriarchal Vicar – Metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna – shall convene a session of the Holy Synod for the election of the Locum Tenens not later than within three days after the death of the Patriarch.
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 Holy 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 present issues, 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 for a certain reason temporarily execute his duties of chairing the Holy Synod, the duties of the Chairman shall be executed by the senior by consecration permanent member of the Synod. The temporary chairman 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 Holy Synod shall resolve the matters 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. Each member of the Synod in case of disagreement with the taken decision can submit his individual opinion which he must announce at the same session and expound his 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. If 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 to 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 when a decision is being taken the accused member of the Synod must leave the hall where the session is held. 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 Holy Synod.
22. All minutes and resolutions 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 resolutions of the Holy Synod shall become effective after their signing and are not liable to reconsideration, except for the cases, on which the new data changing the heart of the matter have been presented.
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 resolve the matters of general church importance pertaining to it;
e) interpret the canonical decisions and resolve the 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, interconfessional and interreligious relations;
i) maintain the interconfessional and interreligious relations both in the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate and beyond it;
j) coordinate 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 legislation in force;
n) approve the Statutes of the Self-governing Churches, Exarchates and Metropolitan areas;
o) adopt the civil statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church and its canonical units and introduce alterations and amendments to them;
p) consider the minutes of the Synods of Exarchates and Metropolitan areas;
q) resolve 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 disposition of the buildings and property of the Russian Orthodox Church;
s) approve the decisions of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Court in cases stipulated in the Regulations on the Ecclesiastical Court;
t) canonize the locally venerated saints and submit the issue of their church-wide glorification to the Bishops’ Council for consideration.
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 Holy Synod;
c) consider, in case of necessity, on the presentation from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia 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 financial allowance of the bishops.
27. The Holy Synod shall appoint:
a) the heads of the Synodal institutions and on the presentation from them their deputies;
b) the rectors of the theological academies and seminaries, father superiors/ mother superiors and abbots of the monasteries;
c) the bishops, clergy and laity for carrying out responsible ministry in the far abroad countries;
d) on the presentation from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia the members of the Supreme Church Council from among the heads of the Synodal or other church-wide institutions and units of the Moscow Patriarchate;
e) on the presentation from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the members of the Inter-Council Presence;
f) approve the diocesan bishops in the capacity of hiero-archimandrites of monasteries of special importance on their presentation.
28. The Holy Synod can set up commissions or other working bodies for taking care of:
a) the solution to 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 saints;
e) the publication of the collections of the holy canons, text books and educational aids for the theological educational institutions, of theological literature, official periodicals and other necessary literature;
f) the improvement of theological, spiritual and moral education of clergy and the activity of the theological educational institutions;
g) mission, catechization and religious education;
h) the situation in religious education;
i) the matters pertaining to the monasteries and monastics;
j) the matters pertaining to 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 utensils, candles, vestments and all other necessary items for maintaining the liturgical tradition, beauty and decency in 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/statutes 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 in case of necessity the estimates of the Synodal institutions and theological educational institutions, and the relevant financial reports.
31. In its care for the dioceses, monasteries and the theological educational institutions the Holy Synod shall:
a) establish and dissolve Exarchates, Metropolitan areas, metropolias and dioceses and define /change their 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 institutions;
e) on the presentation from the Education Committee approve the standard statutes and curricula of the theological educational institutions and standard educational programmes of the theological seminaries;
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 pass judgement on the disputable issues pertaining to the interpretation of the present Statute.