Communiqué from the Diocesan Office on the conclusions of the ‘Ad Hoc’ Disciplinary Commission

As already indicated (cf. The communiqués from the Diocesan Office of 16th October and 9th November) following the summons taken out against him by five members of the Parish Council of the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky, Archbishop Gabriel, in conformity with the statutes of the Archdiocese, turned to the Disciplinary Commission (the ecclesiastical tribunal or official body). After having heard the interested parties, the Commission, while noting the seriousness of the charges, was not in a state to pronounce unanimously on the decisions to be made concerning them. Consequently, in conformity with the regulations of the Disciplinary Commission, Archbishop Gabriel has withdrawn his members from the investigation of this matter and has entrusted to an ‘ad hoc’ commission to rule at a second hearing. This new commission, composed of Archpriests André Fortounatto (Chairman), René Dorenlot and Michel Evdokimov and Father Christophe d’Aloisio, has tendered its conclusions to Archbishop Gabriel, after having proceeded afresh with the hearing of the five persons concerned and having studied the documents in their possession, having listened to numerous other clergy and lay people of the parish and carried out the further investigations that they judged necessary.

The Commission seriously considered the eventuality that it would have to apply the canonical sanctions prescribed by the norms of Orthodox ecclesial tradition, strict and irrecovable (akribeia) sanctions, that would involve, among other things, life-long excommunication (cf. Canons of the Apostles 55, 2nd Ecumenical Council, Canon 6, 4th Ecumenical Council, Canons 8 and 9, Council of Antioch 12, decree of the Council of Moscow (6-19 April 1918) on the ‘measures to bring an end to disorder in the life of the Church’

The Commission has chosen, taking into account the long involvement of these persons in church life, to suggest less severe epitimias (penances), following in this the principle of ‘economy’ (eikonomia); they can be summed up in the following proposals, that vary according to both the gravity of the involvement of the said persons in the activity engaged in against their bishop and the sincerity of the repentance that they have since expressed.

Deacon Jean Drobot is suspended a divinis for a certain period, after which he can become a deacon in another parish. Sub-deacon Basile de Tiesenhausen is forbidden access to the Holy Mysteries for a period of five years and is stripped of his sub-diaconate. M. Victor Loupan is forbidden access to the Holy Mysteries for three years. They cannot, from now on, either hold or be elected to any church position.  M. Vadim Tichonicky and Mme Katharina Woethe will receive a penance until the beginning of the Great Fast. All are urged to rigorous fasting and to prayer in a spirit of sincere repentance.

The Commission furthermore, in a series of general conclusions, considered that it was an opportune moment not to limit itself to present procedure but to continue the work begun with an evaluation of the general functioning of the Cathedral parish, the life of which has been disrupted by deep problems for a long time – well before the election of Archbishop Gabriel as head of the Archdiocese in 2003.

The commission having presented its conclusions, which were adopted unanimously by its members, Archbishop Gabriel confirmed them. He asks for prayers for the five people concerned in the decisions here indicated, and for all the faithful of the Cathedral, and asks the Lord to grant the grace of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy to all.

Paris, 13th December 2012