Clarification on status of defrocked clergy from Colchester, England, with respect to the Romanian Patriarchate

30 MAY 2022:

In light of the falsehoods continuing to be circulated by the small group of defrocked former-clergymen headed by Mr Andrew Phillips in Colchester, England, communications between the canonical hierarchy of the Local Orthodox Churches in the region were concluded earlier this month, to ensure all Orthodox Churches correctly understand the reality of the situation.

In brief summary, claims continuing to be made by the group, to have been received into the Metropolitanate of Western and Southern Europe of the Patriarchate of Romania, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif, are categorically untrue. None of these individuals has any canonical connection to the Romanian Patriarchate, nor do any of them remain clergymen. That none of these individuals were canonically released to the Romanian Patriarchate or Metropolitan Iosif’s archdiocese, nor been canonically received by him, has been confirmed directly by Metropolitan Iosif to the Secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations of the ROCOR on 26 February 2022; reconfirmed by His Eminence’s secretary on 6th March 2022; and reaffirmed in written correspondence from His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif to the now newly-reposed First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, on 20th March 2022. The letter being circulated by the individuals in question, dated 18th February 2022 and written by a priest in the Romanian Church, falsely claiming their reception, has been rebutted by Metropolitan Iosif himself; it was rashly issued by the priest when the Metropolitan had been open to the potential of receiving these individuals, before he had been duly informed of their uncanonical situation, but for obvious reasons never constituted a canonical reception (Metropolitan Iosif’s explanation of this has been duly communicated to all Orthodox bishops of the region).

The actual situation regarding these individuals has already been communicated and has not changed: they were found guilty of canonical violations by an Ecclesiastical Court on 21st October 2021 and their defrocking was confirmed by the Holy Synod on 28 February 2022. In continuing to pretend to be clergyman and impiously feigning to celebrate the sacraments, they have gone beyond their defrocking and excommunicated themselves, in accordance with Apostolic Canon 28. It is essential to stress to all Orthodox Christians that no ‘sacraments’ performed by these defrocked individuals bear the grace of the Church: any ‘baptisms’, ‘marriages’ or other rites performed by them are not Orthodox Sacraments, and faithful caught up in their deception should at once seek an Orthodox Church where these Sacraments can be authentically performed for them — most urgently, the actual baptism of any children or adults who may have been falsely ‘baptised’ by these defrocked individuals. Moreover, faithful Orthodox Christians who attended ‘services’ at the hands of defrocked individuals thereby themselves enter into schism and excommunicate themselves (cf. Canons 2, 4 of Antioch), and must repent of such actions through Holy Confession before they can again receive the Sacraments in an Orthodox Church; and any clergy who concelebrate with such defrocked persons are themselves subject to defrocking (Apostolic Canon 11; cf. Canon 6 of Gangra). For the sake of the souls of the faithful, we continue our fervent prayer that these individuals will cease in their falsehoods and non-Orthodox actions.