ENGLISH VERSION: ROAC, its Suzdal Diocese, parish of Tsar Constantine Cathedral in Suzdal and Metropolitan Theodore lodged their appeals against the court order on the confiscation of the holy relics
Appeals from the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), parish of Tsar Constantine Cathedral and Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Suzdal and Metropolitan Theodore of Suzdal and Vladimir, First Hierarch of ROAC, against the decision of Suzdal District Court on the confiscation of the relics of the Saints Euphymios and Euphrosynia of Suzdal from the faithful of ROAC were lodged with the same court on November 28, as reported by Portal-Credo.Ru.
According to earlier reports, on October 23 Judge D.V. Fitkevich of Suzdal District Court pronounced the substantive provisions of the judgment on the claim from the Territorial Administration of the Agency for Management of Russian State Property (Rosimushchestvo) of Vladimir Region against the religious organizations of ROAC and Metropolitan Theodore for the confiscation of the allegedly misappropriated "religious items of cultural value named as the bones (relics) of the Saints Euphymios and Euphrosynia of Suzdal". The complete text of the judgment was made available to the respondents on October 28. In their opinion, this final version of the judgment contains numerous contradictions and discrepancies all of which are specified in the appeal petitions addressed to Vladimir Regional Court.
In particular, Judge Fitkevich turned down the respondents’ demand to identify the disputed "bones" as those of the Saints Euphymios and Euphrosynia of Suzdal. The demand was based on the fact that the claimant had claimed for the “items named as the relics” and not for the “bones” as such. Since the subjects of intended confiscation are not the bones of the deceased individuals, the question of whether these subjects have or do not have any tangible attributes remains an open one. The court judgment appealed against clearly specified only one attribute of the disputed items – the names indicated in the acts of transfer of the holy relics to the faithful of Suzdal in 1988. However, in these acts the holy relics were specified as the bones of specific individuals and not as the "items named as the relics".
In the appeal petitions of the Suzdal Diocese of ROAC and Metropolitan Theodore an emphasis was made on the distinction between "national wealth" and "state-owned property", the terms used in the Russian laws of 1918-25. By making reference to the notorious 1918 Decree of the Council of People's Commissars “On the separation of church and state and separation of school and church” which had attributed all property of the church to "national wealth", the Territorial Administration of Rosimushchestvo erroneously concluded that the relics of the Saints Euphymios and Euphrosynia of Suzdal had become the property of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and, respectively, the Russian Federation (RF). However, the 1922 RSFSR Civil Code contained an exhaustive list of the items of state-owned property which did not include the former property of the church. The present-day Russian laws define the languages of the ethnic groups living in the RF or grain as the "national wealth". This does not mean that these ethnic languages are subject to confiscation by the state from the individuals or legal entities under the relevant court orders.
The appelants also specified in their petition that neither the Soviet, nor the Russian laws govern the right of ownership to the bodies of individuals, and that the proclamation of such right by anyone would be regarded as an anachronism of the slavery era in the context of the international law.
The appellants noted the obvious fact that the current condition of the relics of the Saints Euphymios and Euphrosynia of Suzdal was not the same as in 1918-19. At present many religious organizations of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow declare themselves as the owners of the relics of the very same Saints. The case file contains evidence of such declarations, but the Territorial Administration of Rosimushchestvo refrains from demanding the confiscation of these items from those who expressly declare the ownership of them.
In accordance with the effective Russian laws, the regional court will set the date for the examination of the appeal petition within two months as from the date of its receipt.