Ecclesiastical court defrocks Russian schema-igumen who ignored suspension and refused to leave Urals monastery

Ekaterinburg, July 3, 2020

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The ecclesiastical court of the Ekaterinburg Diocese found Schema-Igumen Sergei (Romanov), founder of the Monastery of the “She Who Ripens the Grain” Icon of the Mother of God in Sredneuralsk, guilty of violating his priestly oath and monastic vows during its session today and resolved to defrock him.

Today was the third time the court convened to consider his case. On June 15, Fr. Sergei simply read a pre-prepared statement and left without answering the panel’s questions. On June 26 and again today, he declined to show up at the hearings, though dozens of parishioners were outside the court today to show their support for Fr. Sergei.

“The court has ruled. First: to find Igumen Sergei guilty of violating his priestly oath and monastic vows. Second: in connection with the violation of his priestly oath, monastic vows, and the enumerated sacred canons, to expel Igumen Sergei (Romanov Nikolai Vasilievich) from sacred orders,” Archpriest Nikolai Maleta told journalists after the session, reports Interfax-Religion.

The court will also ask His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg to appeal to the Patriarch to approve the decision to defrock Fr. Sergei.

The head of the Information Department of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Archpriest Maxim Minyailo, also told reporters that the monastery in Sredneuralsk, where Fr. Sergei has been holed up since the middle of June despite being ordered to retreat to the nearby Skete of St. John the Theologian, “will return under the administration of the Ekaterinburg Diocese.”

Fr. Sergei previously served as spiritual father at the monastery that he also founded.

Abbess Barbara (Krygina) and several sisters left the monastery last month in an attempt to deescalate the situation surrounding Fr. Sergei, while the diocese appointed Archpriest George Viktorov, a cleric of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent, to serve at the monastery in place of Fr. Sergei, though the schema-igumen’s supporters were blocking Fr. George from entering.

The former Igumen Sergei has long been controversial, often issuing bold, sometimes extreme statements on a number of issues. He has voiced a number of conspiracy theories, including that Russia is presently ruled by a double of Vladimir Putin who is a “false messiah” and “antichrist,” educated in schools where they study the Torah and Kabbalah and “give satanic knowledge.” He has also spoken of the “yoke of the Jews” and often speaks of plots involving “Jewish masons.”

He is also said to be the leader of the “Tsarebozhnikov” sect within the Church that excessively venerates Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, considering him a Tsar-Redeemer for the sins of the Russian people, which was expressly condemned by His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II.

Most recently, he has caused waves with his strong opposition to the coronavirus quarantine measures adopted by the Russian Church. In his various statements and homilies, he has called the pandemic a myth, called on people to disobey the hierarchs and to go outside and go to church, cursed those who closed the churches, and he has warned about the creation of an “electronic camp of Satan” through vaccines and chipping.

While the former igumen is certainly not alone in the Russian Church in his skepticism of the pandemic and quarantine, he has placed himself at the center of the controversy with his repeated public statements and his disobedience to his hierarch.

At the same time, he has a significant following of devoted spiritual children who believe he is being persecuted by Church and state authorities.

Romanov, who has also spoken about overthrowing the government, also faces a possible $430-$1,430 fine (30,000-100,000 rubles) from civil authorities under the article of the penal code for knowingly spreading false information online under the guise of reliable reports, thereby endangering human life.

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Anne7/4/2020 1:52 pm
Well said, John. It’s too easy to throw shade and slander others in this day and age. It’s being done all over the place. God bless all Orthodox faithful and help us to not revile dignitaries as it says in Jude.
Katya7/4/2020 9:11 am
John, how much do you know about this man? Not very much. This article doesn't tell you everything about him. There is much more. You are assuming that he was wrongly defrocked, but you are not aware of the trouble he is causing.
John7/3/2020 4:42 pm
So, what was he defrocked for? Because he told people to come to church, after the bishop told people not to? Because he "knowingly spread false information online"? What information is this? This article doesn't explain what is going on here. How did this start? What exactly did he do in order to be ordered to leave his monastery? How did this escalate to the point of being defrocked (is this not a pretty extreme decision)??? You are not providing this information in your article. Rather than provide detailed information about what this is all about, you repeat unfounded accusations against Fr Sergei (such as "it is said" that he is the leader of this Tsar-worshipping cult - but is he, or not?). It seems to many that he is accurately accusing the hierarchs of being complicit in the coronavirus scam (a "global pandemic" with a fatality rate of 0.006%) and since they don't want people to hear this, they attempted to give him a gag order. He refused to obey the gag order and continued to give sermons in his monastery. You mention that he has been disobedient to his hierarch - but you refused to explain exactly how he did that. What did he say - exactly - that has brought this situation to this point? You gave the English speaking Orthodox world a heavily biased and one-sided take on the situation, slandered him, attempted to portray him as a nutcase (when his words are in good company with some of our greatest Saints and holy elders) and didn't even explain the most important parts... perhaps instead of slandering him, you should be defending him. Was what he said bad enough to justify an order to stop giving sermons, and now, has resulted in his defrocking? I hope the Patriarch refuses to approve this. Imagine, if throughout our Orthodox history, our bold and faithful Saints had been ordered not to preach every time one of them said something that the authorities didn't like - would we even have a Patristic tradition? Would we even have a Church today?
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