The annual Church Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate has expressed "indignation and disappointment" with the actions of the leadership of the National Council of Churches with regard to their leader, Archibishop Valerian (Trifa).

Last April, Archibishop Valerian had his privileges removed as a member of the NCC governing board. (He is a representative of the Orthodox Church in America, of which the episcopate in part.)

In a series of demonstrations and protests late last year and early this year. Jewish activists and national Jewish leaders charged that the hierarch was a member of the Romanian Iron Guard during World War II and took part in anti-Jewish activities then. The episcopate calls charges that the archibischop is anti-Semitic or a Nazi war criminial "unwarranted allegations."

A report from the episcopate on the five-day meeting held at its headquarters here said that "under physical and psychological pressure by an extremist minority group," the NCC executive committee "blatantly disregarded the constitutional rights of a man to be considered innocent until proved guilty."

An immigration proceeding related to the charges in pending in federal court.

The episcopate's statement said the NCC made "a farce of its own constitution and the pretention that it is dedicated to the advocacy of justice and fairness toward those wronged and persecuted for their ideas."

The congress marked the 25th anniversary of the archibishop's consecration and "reiterated most strongly its indignation and most determinedly protested this odious and highly unjust campaign" against him, "reaffirming its conditional and unflinching trust in our bishop."