Orthodox Church reinstates bishop

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2008

KODIAK - The Orthodox Church in America's Holy Synod of Bishops has withdrawn the mandatory leave of absence for Alaska diocese leader Bishop Nikolai Soraich.

The Holy Synod of Bishops said in a statement posted on the church's Web site Thursday that it is aware of the concerns of clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Alaska, and will do what it takes to restore peace.

An official investigation is expected to begin next week, involving the church's bishops from Detroit and Philadelphia. Their report is expected in May.

This month, the church's leader placed Nikolai on a mandatory leave of absence and ordered him to leave the state as it investigates allegations that he abused his office.

Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, was appointed for the diocese after the church ordered Soraich to leave Alaska during the investigation.

"(Bishop Nikolai's) name is not to be elevated at any service and he has been released of all responsibilities in the administration of the diocese and St. Herman's Seminary," Metropolitan Herman, leader of the OCA in America and Canada, wrote in a letter published on the church Web site.

Soraich has argued the church does not have the authority to remove him from his position without first going through procedures outlined in the Church Canons.

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