MOSCOW, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Orthodox Church officials dismissed as nonsense on Thursday reports that a bishop defrocked for attempting to provoke a schism had "excommunicated" church leaders.
Diomid, the former head of the diocese of the sparsely populated Chukotka Peninsula in Russia's extreme northeast, was reported to have excommunicated Patriarch Alexy II and other top clergy for cooperation with the Bolshevik regime that shot dead the last Russian tsar and his family, and also for contact with other faiths.
"Diomid's statement is nonsense," Bishop Alexander of Baku and the Caspian Region told a news conference, adding that a formal excommunication could only be announced by a top church body, the Synod or the Bishops' Council.
Father Vsevolod Chaplin, a senior Moscow Patriarchy official, said: "Bishop Diomid was reported to have said he has excommunicated Patriarch Alexy II. The statement was published today on the portal-credo.ru website, which is known to rejoice at any problem facing the Russian Orthodox Church."
Chaplin regretted that Diomid had abandoned the Russian church for "a narrow circle of his followers, who are trying to convince him that he is Russia's only true spiritual leader."
Chaplin, however, said "the door to repentance is still open" for Diomid.
Diomid had earlier refused to repent, a condition set for the suspension of the defrocking process in late June, as he did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The former bishop had also criticized the Church for backing the current government's "anti-people" policies. He called the Group of Eight, a forum for leading industrialized nations, a body of global Masonry, designed to pave the way for the arrival of a single global leader, or antichrist. He also called for an end to tax payer identification numbers, modern passports and cell phones.
Diomid's statement was published on Thursday, when the Church was holding services and processions across the country to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
The tsar, his wife, their four daughters and son, and several servants, were shot dead by the Bolsheviks in a basement in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in the early hours of July 17, 1918. The Romanovs were canonized in 2000.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia - a jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodoxy that was formed in response to the Bolshevik policy toward religion soon after the 1917 revolution - reestablished canonical ties in May.
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