Previous // Contents // Next
"I CONFESS ONE BAPTISM…"
APPLICATION OF THE CANON
IT WAS previously stated at the beginning of this study that in the eighteenth century, Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council was interpreted in the context of a search for a solution to the problem concerning the reception of converts from the West (i.e. Europe), and especially Latins. There had already preceded a lengthy period of irresolution among the Orthodox over the issue. Patriarch Cyril V’s solution (1755) had not been accepted by all as the only prescribed and correct one. The question posed by both sides was whether the Second Ecumenical Council’s distinction of the heretics by economia could also be made in the case of the Latins. After all, this was the Canon (and also, of course, Canon XCV of Penthekte) on which those who had applied this solution in the past had relied. The difference we observe on this issue, however, was heightened by the disagreement among the Orthodox over the classification of the Latins: as heretics, or as schismatics. For obviously only those who considered Latins heretics were faced with the problem of applying Canon VII to them. Our writers belong to this group, and their relevant teaching we present below.
1. Latins are ‘’heretics’’ and ‘’unbaptized’’
Possessing a profound knowledge of the Church’s history after the schism and of the disagreement among the Orthodox regarding the characterization of the Latins as heretics or as schismatics, and also expressing their own theological self-awareness, our writers – in absolute agreement with one another and without the slightest doubt – consider the Latins (and by extension the Lutherocalvinists) to be heretics. The Latins ‘’are heretics,’’ asserts St. Nikodemos; and ‘’we abominate them as heretics, i.e. like Arians or Sabellians or Pneumatomachoi-Macedonians.’’ The aim of the saint’s direct reference to the early, major heretics is to show that the Latins are, as he says elsewhere, ‘’age-old heretics,’’ i.e. in the same sense as those that appeared in the early undivided Church. To support his claim, he invokes the testimonies of Patriarch Dositheos, Elias Meniates, St. Mark of Ephesus, and others.
Neophytos expresses himself in the same manner regarding the Latins. ‘’The Latins differ from Orthodoxy on five points. As regards the other [four] differences, they are schismatics. Only as regards the Spirit’s procession also from the Son are they heretics, together with the Lutherocalvinists who believe the same.’’ The heretical filioque dogma of the Latins was sufficient for them to be considered heretics; for, of course, they had not yet dogmatized the papal doctrines on primacy and infallibility. To the commonly advanced objection that there was only one essential Latin dogmatic difference, Neophytos responds that the same holds true for the Latins as did once for the Iconoclasts: ‘’Inasmuch as they differed not from us as regards faith in God, they were not heretics, but schismatics. But since, by rejecting the venerable icons they also rejected Christ who was thereon portrayed, they were worse than heretics themselves.’’ Similarly, the one difference of the Latins, ‘’pertaining directly to the faith in God,’’ is vital and decisive. Besides, heresy, being potent in character, is not judged by the number of deviations from the truth; for, according to the evangelical saying: ‘’Whoever fails in one point has become guilty of all’’ (cf. Jas. 2:10). Every heresy indicates a prior alteration of the Church’s spiritual presuppositions, i.e. the mystico-niptic, patristic experience. This is the firm conviction of our writers as well.
The Latins are also considered heretics by Athanasios Parios and C. Oikonomos, because of the filioque innovation. According to Oikonomos, the Latins, ‘’being heretics and not merely schismatics,’’ ‘’heretically innovate in other matters, and particularly as regards the divine Creed.’’ Hence he also speaks about the ‘’papist heresy,’’ thus intimating the contribution to the dogmatic differentiation of the West made by the papal institution as it developed in history.
To the question prevalent in our writers’ time: When were the Latins condemned as heretics by the Orthodox Church? Neophytos responds that ‘’Councils have censured the Latin belief concerning God, it being a heretical dogma.’’ Thus, for Neophytos, the synodal condemnation of the filioque was simultaneously a condemnation of the Latins themselves, so that no other specific condemnation of them is deemed necessary. Among these Councils he lists the following: the Eighth Ecumenical Council presided over by Photios (879); the Council at which Michael Cerularios presided (1054); the Council presided over by Gregory II of Constantinople (1283-1289), ‘’which cut off the Latins from the plenum of the Orthodox and disinherited them from God’s Church’’; the Council of Sergius II of Constantinople (999-1019), who deleted the name of Sergius Pope of Rome from the diptychs of the Eastern Church; the Councils during the reigns of Emperors Alexios, John, and Manuel Comnenoi (11th-12th cen.); the Council of the three Patriarchs in the East after the Council of Florence (1482); and Local Councils in Russia, Moldovlachia, and elsewhere.
On the basis of the above ecclesiological presuppositions, the Latins, as heretics, ‘’are not capable of administering baptism, for they lost the grace to administer sacraments,’’ as St. Nikodemos observes. They have no baptism, according to Neophytos, for they lack ‘’the sound confession of the Trinity.’’ Thus, their baptism ‘’deviates from the faith,’’ according to St. Basil, since, ‘’by introducing pagan polyarchy into the monarchic Trinity, the Latins are godless,’’ and consequently ‘’unbaptized.’’ However, they are also ‘’unbaptized’’ in the literal sense, according to St. Nikodemos; for ‘‘they do not preserve the three immersions,’’ and thus do not have the Church’s baptism. Neophytos observes that, ‘’since they are nowise immersed, i.e. baptized,’’ they are unbaptized. A. Parios reiterates the same.
Oikonomos further adds that just as the slightest alteration in the sacrament of the holy Eucharist is condemned by the Church, in that it revokes the very sacrament; so likewise in baptism, even the slightest alteration cannot be tolerated. In the case of the Latins, though, innovation was not limited to the elimination of the immersions and emersions. But, in accordance with the secular, modernistic spirit prevalent in the West, it has gradually extended to other areas of the sacrament as well, so that their rite has departed even further from the Church’s one baptism. Hence, the one fundamental innovation gave rise to all the rest. The departure from Orthodox-patristic spirituality also brought on the differences in the dogmas. The dogmatic differences, therefore, are not to be looked at scholastically, but patristically and spiritually.
 See Karmiris, vol. II, pp. 972ff, 979f; Metropolitan Germanos of Ainos, ‘’Περί του κύρους του βαπτίσματος των αιρετικών’’ (‘’On the validity of heretical baptism’’), Ορθοδοξία ΚΖ’ (1952), p. 301ff.
 It is sufficient to read the ‘’censorious’’ texts ‘’against the rebaptizers’’ of the eighteenth century that this issue gave rise to. See Skouvaras, pp. 94ff, 122ff; Cf. Metropolitan Germanos of Ainos, p. 314.
 See, in this regard, the very comprehensive chapter: ‘’Greeks and Latins: Hostility and Friendship,’’ in Ware, p. 16ff.
 P, pp. 55, 56.
 P, p. 55.
 E, p. 147 ix.
 One may see the importance and the dimensions of the Latin ‘’filioque’’ dogma in the studies by Prof. Fr. John Romanides, Δογματική και Συμβολική Θεολογία της Ορθοδόξου Καθολικής Εκκλησίας (Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church), vol. 1 (Thessaloniki, 1973), pp. 289ff, 342ff, 379ff. ‘’The Filioque,’’ (Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Discussions) (Athens, 1978).
 E, p. 147 ix.
 E, p. 127. ‘’Just short of being pious…they are not pious at all.’’ E, p. 147 viii.
 M, pp. 263, 265.
 O, p. 459.
 O, p. 445.
 O, p. 485.
 E, p. 147 vi.. Cf. O, p. 450ff. See V. I. Pheidas, Θεολογικός διάλογος Ορθοδόξου και Ρωμαιοκαθολικής Εκκλησίας από του σχίσματος μέχρι της Αλώσεως (Theological and Dialogue of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches from the Schism to the Fall) (Athens, 1975).
 P, p. 56. Cf. P, pp. 509, 605.
 E, p. 139.
 E, p. 145.
 E, p. 142.
 P, p. 55. This is the position of E. Argentis. See Ware, p. 93.
 E, p. 127.
 M, pp. 263f, 265f. The Latins ‘’are altogether unbaptized and worse than the Eunomians. Even if the latter did not in fact baptize with three immersions…yet they did baptize with at least one.’’
 O, p. 441 (n. 1).
 O, pp. 445f, 457. Cf. E. Simantirakis, Η παρά τοις Ρωμαιοκαθολικοίς τελεσιουργία των μυστηρίων του Βαπτίσματος, του Χρίσματος και της Θ. Ευχαριστίας (The Roman Catholic Ceremony of the Sacrament of Baptism, Chrismation and the Holy Eucharist) (Athens, 1979), p. 141.
Article published in English on: 14-9-2007.
Last Update: 15-9-2007.