Rev. IOANN BURDIN, Russian Orthodox Church (Kostroma Oblast)

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Rev. Ioann Burdin

The rector of the Resurrection of Christ church in the village of Karabanovo (Krasnoselsky District, Kostroma Oblast).

On 6 March 2022, Forgiveness Sunday, in a sermon he said that he was praying for peace on Ukrainian soil. About 10 people were present, one of whom reported to the police. Two hours later, the police arrived at the church. A protocol was drawn up against the priest for discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In addition to the sermon, he was also accused of publishing a statement condemning the “special military operation” on the territory of Ukraine on the parish website. The statement signed by Rev. Burdin and Rev. Georgy Edelstein said: “We Christians must not stand aside when a brother kills a brother, a Christian – a Christian. We cannot shyly cover our eyes and call black white, evil – good, say that Abel was probably wrong provoking his older brother.» Later, at the request of the Metropolitan of Kostroma and Nerekhta Ferapont, this message was deleted. On 7 March, the case was transferred to the court of the Krasnoselsky District of the Kostroma Oblast, however, judge Anna Artimovskaya refused to consider this case and sent it to the court of the Kostroma district where Rev. Burdin is registered. Initially, the judge of the Kostroma District Court, Aleksey Chudetsky, also refused to consider it and returned the protocol to the police for revision on 9 March. On 10 March, the same judge found Rev. Burdin guilty and fined him 35,000 rubles.

In April, the priest was also forced to leave the active ministry and the rectorship at the church of the Resurrection of Christ.

Burdin was going to move to Bulgaria and transfer to the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria. Consequently, on 6 December 2022, one of the Bulgarian metropolitans, who was prepared to accept Burdin in his diocese, sent a letter to Metropolitan Ferapont (Kashin) of Kostroma and Nerekhta, who redirected the request to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. On 19 March 2023, after the meeting of the Synod on 16 March 2023, he was temporarily banned from the ministry on the basis of Canon 55 of the Holy Apostles (“If any of the clergy insult the bishop”) due to the fact that in the materials published on his blog, allegedly «blasphemy against the Church» was found. The ban was temporary until the published articles have been studied. Soon after, Metropolitan Ferapont contacted Burdin inviting him to a meeting. There, he said that he would like to let the priest transfer to another Local Church, but it did not depend on him and hinted that the decision had been made by Patriarch Kirill; he also informed that he was going to study the blog posts and prepare a resume.

On 8 June 2023, the priest received from the office of the Kostroma diocese an invitation to the diocesan court scheduled for 16 June 2023, as well as materials that were supposed to be considered there. As follows from the materials of the ecclesiastical court, Burdin was accused of publishing in his Telegram channel «quite sharp statements regarding the current situation and activities of the Russian Orthodox Church and its hierarchy specifically, … these statements clearly discredit the activities of the highest church authorities (Patriarch and like-minded bishops) of the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby undermining the trust of believers (as of 4 June 2023, the channel had 2,295 subscribers) to the Patriarch and bishops; this harmed Church unity, which in turn is at odds with Church canons and cannot be compatible with priestly ministry.»

On 16 June 2023, in Burdin’s absence, a meeting of the diocesan court took place; its results were reported by the press office of the Kostroma Metropolis. The members of the court recognised «ecclesiological errors» in Burdin’s publications, such as: 1) the denial of the holiness and saving powers of the actual historical Local Church (the Russian Orthodox Church), as a result, the denial of unity with the Holy Catholic Church of Christ (Matt. 16:18); 2) rejection of the conciliar decision of the Church regarding the canonisation of saints and doubts about the sanctity of some saints (the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, the St Noble Prince Dmitry Donskoy, etc.) who are universally venerated; 3) activities sowing distrust of the Church among believers, and as a result, aimed at tearing faithful away from the Church of Christ.

Based on this, the priest was charged with violation of the priestly oath (Apostolic Canon 25). The court advised Metropolitan Ferapont (Kashin) of Kostroma and Nerekhta, the administrator of the Kostroma diocese, to ban Rev. Ioann Burdin from ministry until his public repentance.