His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Basil (Osborne) of Amphipolis is an auxiliary bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, serving in its Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, charged with the care of its flock in Great Britain and Ireland. He previously served as the temporary administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate's Diocese of Sourozh (August 2003 - May 2006) with the title Bishop of Sergievo.
In his position in the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Exarchate in Western Europe, Bishop Basil's authority is over a newly-formed vicariate of parishes in the British Isles entitled the Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland, which currently consists of five parishes and four smaller Eucharistic Communities that elected to follow him in his departure from the Diocese of Sourozh. As part of this role, he sits on the council of the Exarchate.
He was forcibly retired from his position as administrator of the Sourozh diocese after requesting release from Moscow and reception into the Ecumenical Patriarchate, along with those of his flock who wished to follow him. The announcement of his retirement came upon his refusal to withdraw his letter to Constantinople (sent after his request for release from Moscow) which requested reception and noted his request for release from Moscow. After his forced retirement was announced in the Sourozh cathedral in London, Basil immediately appealed the decision to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the basis of Canons 9 and 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate subsequently received Basil on the basis of his appeal which followed the retirement, although Moscow had not issued a canonical release and had instructed him not to be received into another patriarchate until matters could be looked into by an appropriate commission. Consequently, the Moscow Patriarchate does not regard his reception into the Ecumenical Patriarchate as valid, nor does it recognize the title Bishop of Amphipolis given to him by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on June 8, 2006. Considering him still a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, now in retirement, it refers to him in official correspondence without titular connection, as 'The Right Reverend Bishop Basil (Osborne)'.
The Moscow Patriarchate does not recognize the act of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in receiving Basil, and still regards him as belonging to itself, announcing this decision of its Holy Synod on June 13, 2006. Bishop Basil was summoned to appear before the MP synod on July 17, but declined to do so. Since 19 July 2006 the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate has placed him under temporary suspension, forbidding him 'from celebrating divine services until his repentance or until the decision of the matter by a court of bishops'.
The resolutions of the Moscow Patriarchate of the July 19, 2006, make Bp. Basil's canonical stature a matter of intense dispute between Moscow and Constantinople. According to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Basil may legitimately celebrate as a bishop; according to Moscow, he is forbidden to do so. Accordingly, no communicant of the Moscow Patriarchate who wishes to remain faithful to the decisions of his hierarchy may knowingly participate in a liturgy at which Basil celebrates as a bishop, nor may they receive Holy Communion from him. Similarly, after these resolutions, no Moscow Patriarchate priest may concelebrate with Basil.
The ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria (June 19, 2006) and Jerusalem (June 6), along with the Church of Cyprus (June 14), have recognized as canonically valid the reception by Constantinople of Bp. Basil.
|Bishop of Sergievo,
Administrator of the Diocese of Sourozh
|Bishop of Amphipolis