PREVIEW – Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to choose 7th first hierarch in Church history

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News/Sputnik – Sept. 13, 2022) Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) will meet in New York on Tuesday to launch the Council of Bishops and elect a new first hierarch, the seventh primate of the church 100 years of history.

The seat of the First Hierarch of ROCOR became vacant after the death of Primate Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of the Sixth Church on May 16.

“According to our tradition that we have followed since 1964, when the first vote was taken on American soil for the first hierarch, all active bishops, not those who have retired, can vote for any candidate that they love,” the chairman of the pre-Council Commission Bishop Gabriel (Chemodakov) of Montreal and Canada told Sputnik.

The vote will take place privately behind closed doors at the ROCOR synod in New York. The bishops will begin with the special prayer service in the presence of the main Orthodox relic of the Russian diaspora – the Kursk root icon of the Mother of God.

The winner is expected to receive at least two-thirds, or nine votes from 13 bishops. If no one is elected, two or three hierarchs, who have received the most votes, will pass to the second round. In the event of a tie, prizes will be drawn, as was done the only time in ROCOR history, when Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov) became the Primate in 1986.

The whole process can take a few minutes or more than an hour, especially in case of batches.

“The results will be announced as soon as the decision is made. There will be no reason not to let everyone know that a new First Hierarch has been chosen,” Gabriel said.

While church documents do not prohibit hierarchs from voting for themselves, the bishops have now ruled such a vote would be inappropriate.

They also concluded that the new primate should live in the ROCOR synod in New York and should leave his former diocese immediately or as soon as the hierarch is chosen to hold this position.

“It has to be understood, because unfortunately it happened twice before, when the Metropolitan remained the Archbishop of his former diocese,” Gabriel said.

He also did not rule out that the new primate would be the first in the history of the Church to have no direct connection with Russia.

“It’s possible. Yes, anyone can be elected,” he added.

While the election of the new First Hierarch will make up the bulk of the ROCOR Council of Bishops, its participants will also consider other matters related to church life. This includes possible elections of new bishops and other matters.

“We will also discuss the situation in Ukraine, and we will publish the epistle of the Council to the faithful,” noted Gabriel.

The Archbishop said ROCOR does not intend to consider limiting or severing ties with the Moscow Patriarchate due to current geopolitical conditions.

“Absolutely, it’s not on the table. I don’t think we’ll discuss that particular aspect,” he said.

Gabriel expressed his personal opinion that nothing will or should change regarding ROCOR’s relationship with the Patriarch and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

“It will remain as it was, and I hope it remains good and in the interests of both churches,” he said.

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