Moscow patriarch finalizes excommunication of extremist cleric


Interfax-Religiia, 19 October 2020


Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill confirmed the decision of the court of the Ekaterinburg diocese concerning expulsion from the church of schema monk Sergius (Nikolai Romanov), the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church reported on Monday evening.


The schema monk Sergius, who had previously been deprived of clerical rank for violation of his priestly oath, monastic vows, several apostolic rules, and church canons, was expelled from the church on 10 September. At the time he did not appear at the session in the diocese but instead published another video message on the internet.


Earlier the patriarch had confirmed the decision of the court of the Ekaterinburg diocese, which noted that Schehegumen Sergius had openly violated the orders of the ruling bishop forbidding him from performing liturgies, delivering public sermons, wearing a pectoral cross, and leaving the territory of the St. John the Divine male skete without the written blessing of the ruling bishop.


The court's decision established incidents of falsehood and slander committed in the speeches of Schehegumen Sergius. The court also concluded that in violation of canonical rules the schehegumen had ceased commemorating in the liturgy the patriarch and the ruling bishop.


Sergius (secular name, Nikolai Vasilevich Romanov) is the former spiritual director of the Central Urals convent. For many years he was famous as one of the leaders and ideologues of the sect of "tsar worshippers," [tsarebozhniki], who consider Nicholas II the "redeemer of Russia," who repeated Christ's pious feat.


He acquired special notoriety in the spring of 2020 when he categorically denied the necessity of closing churches and the church's use of other prophylactic measures against the coronavirus, which led him into open conflict with the leadership of the Ekaterinburg metropolia and the Moscow patriarchate. Additional infamy occurred when it transpired that he had been ordained to the clergy as a convicted murderer, and there also were complaints about cruel treatment of children who were living in the Central Urals cloister.


The former schehegumen often declared that he would not leave the Central Urals convent. More than 150 residents remained with him in the cloister. They were offered relocation to another cloister, but they declined.


On 7 July a court in the Verkhnyaya Pyshna district of Sverdlovsk oblast fined him 90,000 rubles for spreading fake news about the coronavirus. Sergius' lawyer filed an appeal, but the court of the second instance left in force the penalty assessed in the case.


On 20 July a court in Verkhnyaya Pyshna found Romanov guilty of committing the law violation based on article 20.3.1 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the RF (inciting hatred or strife while demeaning human dignity). At the basis of the case lay Romanov's statements during sermons in the Central Urals convent. Evidence was found in them of arousing hostility, hatred, and strife toward a group of persons based on national identity as well as calls for eviction of an undefined circle of persons who allegedly practiced self-isolation during the spread of COVID-19. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 October 2020)

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