With the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch [Tikhon—ed.], the Holy Synod and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council united together, have deliberated concerning the necessity, supplementary to the instructions already given in the encyclical letter of His Holiness the Patriarch in case of the cessation of the activity of the diocesan councils, of giving to the Diocesan Bishops just such instructions in the event of the severance of relations between the diocese and the Supreme Church Administration, or the cessation of the activity of the latter and, on the basis of past decisions, we have resolved: By an encyclical letter in the name of His Holiness to give the following instructions to the Diocesan Bishops for their guidance in necessary cases:
1) In the event that the Holy Synod and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council for any reason whatever terminate their ecclesiastical administrative activity, the Diocesan Bishop, for instructions in directing his ministry and for the resolution of cases in accordance with rules which go back to the Supreme Church Administration, turns directly to His Holiness the Patriarch or to that person or institution indicated by His Holiness the Patriarch.
2) In the event a diocese, in consequence of the movement of the war front, changes of state borders, etc., finds itself completely out of contact with the Supreme Church Administration, or if the Supreme Church Administration itself, headed by His Holiness the Patriarch, for any reason whatsoever ceases its activity, the Diocesan Bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions (in the form either of a temporary Supreme Church administration or a Metropolitan district, or other).
3) Responsibility for the organization of a Supreme Church Authority as the objective of an entire group of dioceses which find themselves in the position indicated in paragraph 2, is the mandatory obligation of the senior bishop of such a group.
4) In the case of the impossibility of establishing relations with bishops of neighboring dioceses, and until the organization of a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority, the Diocesan Bishop takes upon himself all the fullness of authority granted him by the canons of the Church, taking all measures for the ordering of Church life and, if it appear necessary, for the organization of the diocesan administration, in conformity with the conditions which have arisen, deciding all cases granted by the canons to episcopal authority, with the cooperation of existing organs of diocesan administration (the diocesan assembly, the diocesan council, et al, or those that are newly organized); in case of the impossibility of constituting the above indicated institutions, he is under his own recognizance.
5) In case the state of affairs indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4 takes on a protracted or even a permanent character, in particular with the impossibility for the bishop to benefit from the cooperation of the organs of the diocesan administration, by the most expedient means (in the sense of the establishment of ecclesiastical order) it is left to him to divide the diocese into several local dioceses, for which the Diocesan Bishop:
a) grants his right reverend vicar bishops, who now, in accordance with the Instruction, enjoy the rights of semi-independent bishops, all the rights of Diocesan Bishops, with the organization by them of administration in conformity to local conditions and resources;
b) institutes, by conciliar decision with the rest of the bishops of the diocese, as far as possible in all major cities of his own diocese, new episcopal Cathedras with the rights of semi-independent or independent bishops.
6) A diocese divided in the manner specified in paragraph 5 forms an ecclesiastical district headed by the bishop of the principle diocesan city, which commences the administration of local ecclesiastical affairs in accordance with the canons.
7) If, in the situation indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4, there is found a diocese lacking a bishop, then the Diocesan Council or, in its absence, the clergy and laity, turns to the Diocesan Bishop of the diocese nearest or most accessible to regards convenience or relations, and the aforesaid bishop either dispatches his vicar bishop to administer the widowed (i.e. vacant) diocese or undertakes its administration himself, acting in the cases indicated in paragraph 5 and in relation to that diocese in accordance with paragraphs 5 and 6, under which, given the corresponding facts, the widowed diocese can be organized into a special ecclesiastical district.
8) If for whatever reason an invitation from a widowed diocese is not forthcoming, the Diocesan Bishop indicated in paragraph 7 undertakes the care of its affairs on his own initiative.
9) In case of the extreme disorganization of ecclesiastical life, when certain persons and parishes cease to recognize the authority of the Diocesan Bishop, the latter, finding himself in the position indicated in paragraphs 2 and 6, does not relinquish his episcopal powers, but forms deaneries and a diocese; he permits, where necessary, that the divine services be celebrated even in private homes and other places suited, therefore, and severs ecclesiastical communion with the disobedient.
10) All measures taken in places in accordance with the present instruction,afterwards, in the event of the restoration of the central ecclesiastical authority, must be subject to the confirmation of the latter.
[…] Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, the current ecclesiastical authority, based on the Ukase No. 362 promulgated by Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod and the Supreme Church Council (Oct. 20, 1920) 4. This decree allowed for the decentralization of church administration in the […]