Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Ecumenism

One must not pray together with heretics or schismatics - Part 1

«One must not pray together with heretics or schismatics»


An approach to the providential practice (oekonomia) of the Church - Part 2 

What does «common prayer» involve? 

Why should we «not pray together»?


By fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos, Parish Priest of Saint Nicholas’ Church, Patrae.

e-mail : agotsopo[at]gmail[dot]com 
Mobile: (0030) 6945-377621


Are the excuses given by contemporary Ecumenists really appropriate, when defining the meaning of “common prayer”? This article is the second part of the related survey.

Go to first part:  One must not pray together with heretics or schismatics - Part  1

Previously [*] we saw that according to the praxis of “precision” (akrivia) by our Church, common prayer with heretics or schismatics is entirely impermissible, while the penances that the Holy Canons impose for the offenders are very serious: defrocking for the clergy, excommunication for the laymen.

But: “ecclesiastic matters are viewed in two ways: with precision (akrivia) and with providence (Oekonomia); and when they are not accomplished through precision, then providence is implemented", as stressed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheos [1] characteristically, when summarizing the age-old poemantic tradition of our Church.

The question therefore is posed: can common prayer sometimes be allowed “providentially”[2] without violating the Holy Canons and without risking the canonical consequences?


1. Ecclesiastic Oekonomia (Providence) and the prerequisites for its implementation

According to Professor of Canon Law and later Archbishop of Athens Hieronymus (Kotsonis)": “..."Oekonomia" (Providence) is - whether out of necessity, or for the sake of the greater good of certain individuals or the entire Church - the authorized and under specific prerequisites permitted temporary or permanent deviation from "precision" (akrivia), provided piety and the integrity of the dogma remain unharmed. [3]

In other words, Oekonomia (providence) is an institution of Canon Law that “does not aspire to the abolition of canonical order and the general tradition of the Church, but ultimately to its consolidation” [4].  It is not thus contempt and negation of the canonical order, or a transgression of the Holy Canons and arbitrariness[5], but “the fruit of the pastoral and therapeutic ministry of the Church” [6]. In fact, its implementation is not confined to the limits of Canon Law, as it is quite broad and goes as far back as Apostolic times:  ie., in the entire spectrum of ecclesiastic life (worship, administration, pastoral theology) [7].  The limits to its implementation are found in matters “where piety is not preyed upon" [8] and, according to Eulogios of Alexandria, “when the dogma of piety is in no way impaired;... there can be no allowance for  condescension in the matters of the Orthodox faith… for when it [the dogma] remains unmingled and unexploited, then there is a place for Oekonomia (providence) in matters that are outside it” [9].

Ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence) stems from the spirit of God's love and mercy for man and is founded on the divine incarnation and the overall salvific opus of our Lord Jesus Christ [10]. In fact, St. Nicholas the Mystic, Patriarch of Constantinople, amplifies the notion of Oekonomia (providence) by saying: “Oekonomia (providence) is the emulation of divine philanthropy” [11].

However, despite its broad use, there are no defined rules for its implementation[12], only a framework within which the one exercising Oekonomia (providence) is obliged to act [13]. This contains an inherently serious danger of very easily transgressing ecclesiastic order out of carelessness or even intentionally, with serious consequences on ecclesiastic life. On this point, professor Amilkas Alivizatos notes: “It not rarely leads to reprehensible abuses that cause many damages to the Church; no-one can doubt that not rarely this abuse leads to the scandalizing and the subsequent uprising of the Christian community” [14].

In summarizing, we can say that in order to implement Oekonomia (providence), amongst other things:

1. there must be an incontestable need, such that, if omitting to implement it, serious spiritual damage will ensue[15]; or, there must be an attempt to acquire benefit for the members or for the entire Church, that would otherwise not have been acquired, given that “when the Church implements Oekonomia (providence), She aspires to a greater spiritual benefit that might come from this implementation” [16].

The Patriarch of Antioch Cyril IV notes: “occasionally, the spiritual heads at times may implement Oekonomia (providence) out of necessity and condescension, wherever piety is not preyed upon, in order to avoid the greater evils and their consequences, which would bring about the spiritual ruin of Christians; and this should be done with precise consideration and only as much as is necessary and justified, so that there will not be a simple and haphazard paralysis and undoing of the written legal decrees and standing ecclesiastic traditions and customs, followed by claims of a stumbling block and a loss” [17].

2. those implementing Oekonomia (providence) are obliged to act “in full awareness that this constitutes a deviation from precision (akrivia) [18]. This means that the use of Oekonomia (providence) should not give rise to a customized canon law that negates the praxis of precision (akrivia)[19]. Consequently, with the implementation of Oekonomia (providence) the validity of the Sacred Canons is not overshadowed; rather, they are empowered even more: “...he who proceeds to implement ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence), does it while preserving an undiminished respect towards the established ecclesiastic order…This explains the endeavours of those who truly act with Oekonomia (providence), when they hasten to underline that the measures taken by them do not harm the authority of the Sacred Canons and the Patristic Decrees.” [20]  When Oekonomia (providence) is provided in writing, it is customary to mention in the document the Church's praxis of precision (akrivia) and Her teaching, as  well as the reasons that dictated the deviation from it [21]. A consequence of the above is that the one who applies Oekonomia (providence) is obliged to comprehend and to render the due respect to those who desire precision (akrivia). Those seeking precision (akrivia) can by no means be stigmatized with extreme characterisations on account of this reason alone, but, on the contrary, according to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew [22], “the Church as a true mother 'praises greatly (those) who wish to live with so much precision', as noted by St. Cyril of Alexandria” [23].

Conversely, when the aforementioned prerequisite is not fulfilled, but instead, “should one of them believe he can shift something of the God-bearing Fathers, this cannot be called Oekonomia (providence), but a transgression and betrayal of the dogma and irreverence towards the divine”, as St. Cyril of Alexandria categorically says [24].

3. for a deviation from precision (akrivia) to be regarded as ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence), it must be “provided with much circumspection and prudence” [25], so that it does not create more problems to the Body of the Church than those it is striving to heal [26].

4. finally, it is absolutely necessary that the conscience of the Church accepts the deviation from precision (akrivia) as being done out of Oekonomia (providence). Because the final judge on earth, of all the decisions taken by the ecclesiastic instruments, is “THE COMMON CONSCIENCE OF THE CHURCH” [27] – the clergy and the laity. According to Basil the Great “all cases of ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence) may be carried out by those who have been entrusted with the protection thereof, however they are ultimately certified by the people."[28]. The words of Patriarch Bartholomew must not escape our attention, namely that this conscience of the Church is “even superior to an Ecumenical Synod” [29]; and it is for this reason that he characterised as "robber" and invalid even those Synods which had satisfied all the criteria and had been convened as Ecumenical (example: Ferrara-Florence): “Above and beyond the authority bestowed by laws and holy canons, there is the moral authority of the entire fold (pleroma) of the Church, which is incorruptible … Stipulations that pertain to the actions of Oekonomia (providence) by the Church … must be in harmony with the catholic (overall) consciousness of the Church, which in this case, being guided by the Holy Spirit, constitutes the supreme criterion as regards “ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence)” ” [30]. The words of Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios sum up our ecclesiastic tradition: “The final judgment on everything conducted during the dialogues and the final achievements thereof is up to the Churches, as administrative and deciding instruments of divine inspiration, but also up to the faithful people of God. It is they, with the infallible criterion of their faith and with their conscience as co-witness, who accept the decisions reached through God-pleasing means and who reject the fabrications that were produced in an ungodly manner” [31].

The following event that took place during the Patriarchy of Germanos II of Constantinople (AD 1222-1240) is characteristic: the Patriarchal Synod had wished to momentarily appear lenient by "providentially" (=implementing Oekonomia) allowing the Cypriot Hierarchy to conform to certain conditions set down by the Latin conquerors. As soon as the decision became known, outraged crowds of clerics, monks and laypeople stormed into the chamber while the Synod was convening and after declaring that they considered this conformity as a denial of the faith, they demanded that the Patriarch rescind the decision. As its show of respect towards the conscience of the faithful people, the Patriarchal Synod actually rescinded the "providential" decision they had reached! [32].

It is therefore absolutely clear that when the aforementioned prerequisites are not met, we have an “illegitimate” [33], “incongruous [34], “bad and fake” Oekonomia (providence), which, according to Saint Theodore the Studite, is “no longer an implementation of Oekonomia (providence)  but a payoff of unlawfulness and a transgression of divine canons” [35].


2. Common prayer with heretics and ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence)

It has already been mentioned that Oekonomia (providence) is not limited to the inner life of the Church only, but, as noted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “the matter of Oekonomia (providence) is not simply a matter of obedience and order of Canon Law; it also has a theological and in fact an ecclesiastic dimension, which is not at all possible to ignore. It is within the cadre of this ecclesiastic dimension that the implementation of Oekonomia (providence) is endeavoured, with regard to the relations of the Orthodox Church with the Christians who are outside her” [36].

Obviously, it is not possible within the bounds of this essay to fully examine the question of ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence) in inter-Christian relations (e.g. the recognition of “sacraments” [37], intercommunion, the induction of heretics, the re-unification into one Church, the formulation of dogmas), however, we will strictly confine ourselves to what is permissible or impermissible about common prayer with the heterodox.

When examining the related texts of Church Fathers and reputable canonologists, one can easily discern that they are particularly eager to implement Oekonomia (providence) multiple times when a heretic rejects his fallacy and wishes to return to the Church [38], while on the contrary they are exceptionally hesitant and even entirely opposed to implementing Oekonomia (providence) to the praxis of common prayer with heretics.

In fact they are far more strict and categorical in their prohibition of Orthodox attending a heretics' temple for common prayer with them - under any circumstance or need - while some are rather tolerant and accept the presence of heretics during Orthodox worship, for the sake of Oekonomia (providence). At any rate, never and under no circumstances is the participation of the heretics allowed in the praxis of Worship. This tolerant stance by Orthodox pastors for the sake of Oekonomia (providence), has a purely pastoral perspective: “we propose Oekonomia (providence), in order to not frustrate, but to calmly and gradually win over our brothers, for whom our common Saviour and Master spilled His own blood” [39].

Let us look at a few case studies in more detail:

1.      Could “limited space” perhaps allow for common prayer with heretics on the basis of Oekonomia (providence)?


says Patriarch and “most renowned interpreter of the divine canons” [40] Theodore Balsamon of Antioch. To the question posed by Mark of Alexandria, on account of “limited space” - that is, the shortage of a sufficient number of Orthodox Temples and the plethora of heretics - "can one safely officiate or pray together with heretics…in their church, or not even in ours?”, the Patriarch of Balsamon, after quoting canons 64 of the Holy Apostles and 6, 33 and 34 of the Synod at Laodicea points out: “Therefore, let them be anathema, who would depart to go to them.  For this reason we too vote that not only should excommunication and defrocking be imposed on the laity and the clergy who pray together with heretics in a Church of Orthodox or of heretics or wherever else they might pray hieratically…but that they should be penalized even more, in accordance with the summary of the said canons”; and he concludes that “limited space never altered the integrity of the Orthodox faith” [41].

2.      When there is no Orthodox Temple available, does Oekonomia (providence) make allowance for common prayer?


replies St. Nicephoros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, proposing an outlet for the problem of non-existence of Orthodox Temples:  he allows the use of a temple that has been consecrated by heretics if there is a need, however this temple should be treated as a “commonplace house”: “The Churches that have been inaugurated by heretics we are urged to  enter and chant in them as though in a commonplace house, out of necessity, but only after placing a Crucifix in their centre; in the sanctum however, we neither enter, nor do we cense, nor perform the blessing, nor light any lamp” [42]. This irrefutably shows that he too does not make any allowance for praying together with heretics, but only for the use of their Temple as an ordinary place for the performing of the Orthodox service. This practice is applied nowadays in the Diaspora, where heterodox places of worship are utilized, but only with the use of a sacred Antimension for the performing of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the way that an antimension would be used “in a commonplace house, out of necessity”.

3.      Could Oekonomia (providence) be implemented for praying with heterodox, in cases of “pressing urgency”?


argues Nicephoros Gregoras (14th century). To a question posed by his student Agathangelos “if it is proper to pray occasionally together with heterodox out of a pressing urgency” he categorically replies: “it is better to offer the hymn to God untainted, outdoors and in the wilderness and the mountains, rather than to frequent the temples of the irreverent, which are adorned with gold and with shining plaques !”[43]

4.      St. John of the Ladder encourages Christians who are “strong, warm and steadfast in the Faith” to be invited by heretics who respect and honour them,  to keep in contact with them for the sake of Oekonomia (providence), even to dine together, with the ulterior motive of benefiting them [44]. However, he mentions nothing in relation to the use of Oekonomia (providence) on the matter of common prayer with heretics.

5.      In what cases however can Oekonomia permit the presence of Orthodox inside the Temples of heretics and participation in their worship?

i.    As we mentioned in the first part of our essay, it is forbidden to enter the Temples of heretics to "pray” or "for the sake of a blessing or healing" (canon 64 of the Holy Apostles and canon 9 of the Synod of Laodicea). Consequently, not only for Oekonomia (providence) but also for precision (akrivia) is “the presence in the worship of the heterodox by ordinary members of the Orthodox Church” not prohibited, but “[could be perceived] as an act of kindness” [45]; or for reasons of etiquette, or for solely social reasons.

ii.   St. Nicephoros the Confessor mentions that entry into the “places of repose of the saints” viz. the places of their Martyrdom, is permitted, even if these belong to heretics, for the veneration of Holy Relics - but not to pray together with the heretics: “Except only if there is a need may entry be permitted, but only for the veneration of the relic of the Saint” [46].

iii.  Spiritual Father Gregory (member of the Orthodox delegation at the Synod of Ferrara-Florence) characteristically says: “whenever I enter a temple of the Latins, I do not venerate any of the saints in there, because I do not know any of them. I may perhaps recognize only Christ, but I do not know how He is described, so, I make the sign of the Cross and prostrate myself. Therefore it is the sign of the Cross that I made which I venerate, and not any of the other things that I see there. [47].

6. However, in which circumstances -for the sake of Oekonomia- is the presence of heretics permitted in our Orthodox worship?

We repeat that whereas the canonical Tradition of our Church is categorically against the participation of the Orthodox in the heretics’ worship, She is nonetheless more lenient towards the entry of heretics in Orthodox temples for reasons of Oekonomia (providence):

i.    As already mentioned above, the praxis of precision (akrivia) by our Church demands the participation of Her members only, and not the unbaptized or heretics. However for reasons of Oekonomia (providence) it has been permitted in the past for heretics or non-Christians to attend Orthodox Worship – even the Divine Liturgy – when they are disposed to acquainting themselves with the worshipping life of our Church. One of the most characteristic examples is the attendance of the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Temple of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople by a delegation of Russian idolaters and the subsequent Christianization of the entire Russian nation.

ii.    Furthermore, the blessed Chrysostom would invite heretics to the Temple where he preached, in the hope that they would return to the truth of the Church: “Here I invite the heretic. He either attends or does not attend. If he does attend, let him be taught by my voice. If he does not attend, let him learn through whatever you have heard” [48].

iii.   On broadening the aforementioned suggestion of St. Nicephoros the Confessor regarding the entry into heretics’ Temples for the purpose of venerating the Holy Relics in there, we can accept that the entry of heterodox in Orthodox Temples is likewise permitted, if they desire to venerate Holy Relics that we safeguard in our Temples and that they too respect. Any prohibition of entry  and veneration of the Holy Relics would naturally be a far cry from the genuine ecclesiastic spirit. And of course in cases where the heterodox “return” Holy Relics to our Church, reasons of hospitality and gratitude will  dictate their presence (for the sake of Oekonomia) in the related ecclesiastic functions, naturally without any active liturgical participation in our Orthodox Worship.

iv.      The Patriarchs of Constantinople Gennadios Scholarios [49], Dositheos [50] of Jerusalem and the Archbishop of Ochrid (Bulgaria) Demetrios Chomatianos [51] when referring to those heretics who come respectfully to attend our Orthodox Worship and ask for our blessing, all recommend that we do not send them away, but on the contrary even offer them antidoron [52] and our holy water. It is characteristic that while Gennadios allows the Orthodox to bless the heretics, he discourages them from asking for the blessing and holy water of the heretics! “It is therefore enough, that you do not ask for their blessing, for they are heterodox, and separate”. Demetrios of Ochrid feels the need to justify this suggestion of his, saying that “this custom has the power to gradually attract them fully towards our holy ethos and dogmas [53].

v.       Another case where heretics are permitted to participate in an Orthodox Service  by Oekonomia is during the funeral service and burial that is performed by Oekonomia for a heterodox by an Orthodox Priest, when there are no pastors of the dogma of the deceased [54], as well as  during the performance of the Sacrament of Matrimony, when the one member happens to be a heterodox (mixed Marriage) [55].

vi.      Of course today, with the changes in social conditions, an ever-increasing turnout has been observed of heterodox in parishes for Orthodox worship. The thoughts of the ever-memorable fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos constitute the most advisable course of action by the responsible shepherds: “if … a heretic wishes to enter, then of course we will not interrupt the Worship, nor will we call the Police. We will continue our Worship and after it is over we shall approach the heterodox and in a polite manner inform them what the holy canons of the Orthodox Church say on the matter and then point out to them that in future they should treat them with respect. We must never enter into a heterodox Temple during the hour of worship, thus observing the Holy Canons with absolute precision. However, as regards the entry of heterodox in our Temples, a small measure of leniency will not hurt, in the spirit of ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence) [56]


3. Exceptions to the Canonical Tradition

An exception to the unanimous stance of ecclesiastic authors as regards the “precision-based” or “providence-based” prohibition of common prayer with heretics are the Archbishop of Ochrid (Bulgaria) Demetrios Chomatianos (or Chomatinos) and John of Kitros (end of 12th century). More specifically:


1. According to Demetrios Chomatianos [57]:

a. The ordination of an Orthodox cleric by a heretic Bishop is acceptable: “ordinations...by heretics of the Orthodox, are acceptable, in accordance with the tradition of the Fathers, of either Orthodox who are, or who become so, by those who ordained them” [58]!

b. There is no problem whatsoever for Orthodox clerics or laity to pray in Latins’ Temples and to offer honorary veneration to their Saints:  “In those [Latins’ temples] that ours have entered - whether of the hieratic order or of the laity - they can send up prayers to God and display the appropriate veneration and honour to the saints in there; and they shall not be judged for this at all, that is, for the fact that these temples are under the Latins” [59].

c. The viewpoint that the distribution of Holy Communion to the Latins is prohibited (as supported by Balsamon) is not acceptable, as: “itself is too harsh and thoughtless and it is unbefitting to censure the Latins’ formalities and customs” [60].

d. The Common Chalice is not proposed, because: “it is impossible on both sides to transgress their own customs” [61]. In other words, it is simply a matter of differing customs and nothing more …

The reasoning behind Chomatianos’ stance:

a. Chomatianos is presented as accepting that the sole serious difference with the Latins is: “their innovation in the Symbol of Faith [Creed]”. The remaining differences belong to “the customs…embedded in the western Churches, none of which is able to split us [62].

b. It is therefore obvious that albeit he is particularly strict regarding the Filioque fallacy, he does not regard the Latins as heretics, [63] because “many of the learned … say that that they were not synodically diagnosed; nor had they -as heretics- become outcasts publicly; in fact they dine together with us  and pray together.”  For Chomatianos, there are only certain nonessential differences in customs, some of which are justified, being attributed to the “unyielding conscience of their nation” [64] or “for having noticed the harsh and overbearing customs of their nation and the many customs that they have in common with barbarians[65].

c. These views by Chomatianos are the underlying basis for his lenient and tolerant stance towards the Latins [66]. It is however characteristic that he does not justify them according to the canonical and remaing ecclesiastic tradition, but invokes the views of others whom he does not name, with the exception of Theophylactos of Bulgaria [67]: “certain people deal with the issue more philanthropically”, “in which [temples] our own enter”, “many of the learned”, “they claim … they claim”. He himself accepts the views of the “learned” and founds his own reasoning based on them, however, he does not appear to be entirely comfortable with this. That is why he so frequently resorts to “ecclesiastic Oekonomia (providence)” and considers it necessary to justify his view with additional (but ultimately contradictory) argumentation because:

I. if the Latins are not heretics and their customs are acceptable, then why is it that the Bishop (when invited and in fact attends), “it is not decided by the Hierarch, who is entrusted with the appropriate Oekonomia, to implement Oekonomia for those souls”?

II. if the Latins are not heretics, then what is the point of the last phrase with which he completes his related answers: “we propose Oekonomia (providence), in order to not frustrate but to gradually win over our brothers...."?

It is obvious that by invoking Oekonomia (providence) in order to justify his support of worshipful communication with the Latins, he is essentially accepting that the Latins, if not heretics, are at least schismatics; because in the opposite case, there would not be any canonical problem that would require healing through Oekonomia (providence)!

d. Also worth noting is Chomatianos’ observation that “certain Latins are found to be no different at all to our customs - both the dogmatic and the ecclesiastic, and that they are -one could say- in this manner merely wavering in both directions [68]. He also notes that the Latins who come to the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox asking “to receive the leavened Holy Offering from us, make it obvious that if they did not shun the unleavened (offerings) and if they didn't make a big deal of asking for them, they would not have come to the sacred ritual of the divine sacraments performed by us."[69]. Clearly, according to Chomatianos, during his time (end of 12th century) there was not a complete interruption in communication between East and West, and the heresy had not yet become fixed in the conscience of the Body of the Catholic Church[70], or at any rate there was some valid hope for a reunification of the separated. In these cases therefore, of "waverers in both directions" and of those who “shunned the unleavened”, Chomatianos proposes Oekonomia (providence) for the offering of Antidoron and the presence of an Orthodox Hierarch in their gatherings. Despite the above suggestions, he naturally feels the need to substantiate the above proposal by saying that “this custom has the power to gradually attract them completely to our holy customs and dogmas” [71]. The aim of this implementation of Oekonomia (providence), which he recommended and was observed by "many of the learned", is for those in whom fallacy and heresy were not fixed and who were waverers in both directions and positively predisposed towards the Orthodox Church, "proposing Oekonomia, in order to not frustrate but to calmly and gradually win over our brothers, for whom our common Saviour and Master spilled His own blood" [72].

In summarizing the stance of the Metropolitan of Ohrid Demetrius Chomatianos, we can say that he is very lenient and tolerant towards the Latins, on the one hand because of his more general leniency "in anticipation of justification, for his somewhat bold interpretations" [73] and on the other hand because of the specific historical period that he lived in, when there was not a complete and explicit dogmatic deviation and ecclesiastic interruption in the communion of the Latin Church with the Eastern Orthodox Church.[74]. His aim during that crucial period was to avoid further distancing and to attract those who had not yet completely severed themselves from the bosom of the Catholic Church.  This pastoral motive also led him to extreme and theologically unfounded perceptions that never acquired a canonical authority in the Church, nor of course did they manage to even slightly be applied in Her way of life (regarding Holy Communion[75], the validity of ordinations of Orthodox by heretic bishops, common prayer with heretics, that the Latins are not heretics etc...)[76].


2. John of Kitrou[77].  To a question posed by Constantine Kavasilas, Archbishop of Dyrrachion, if it is permissible for Orthodox to be buried in Latin temples and the funeral service to be chanted by Orthodox clergy together with Latins, he replied that "it is not therefore improper, nor is piety polluted, when burying Latins in Romaic temples and chanting with Romans and Latins together in funerary services of Latins and Romans", for "neither does the location of the deceased make them outcasts before God, and the Latins' chants over them is not Gentile, but derived from our Holy Scriptures."[78].

The above viewpoint by John of Kitrou is checked as being especially problematic, from a canonical point of view, given that:

  1. John of Kitrou is preoccupied mainly by the question of whether the location of burial is of importance for the post-mortem course of man. He categorically responds that it is entirely indifferent, given that the Holy Relics of innumerable Martyrs were "by their executioners dumped in places full of mire, but that the Grace bestowed on the Saints had thenceforth remained unsullied" and reversely, the burial of many irreverent persons inside temples does not exempt them from eternal hell.   

  2. On the matter of performing the funeral service of deceased Orthodox by Latins he replies very thoughtlessly that there is absolutely no problem, because "the Latins' chants over them are not Gentile, but derived from our Holy Scriptures"!  For a reputable interpreter of canonical decrees and of ecclesiastic order, is this prerequisite alone enough? What heretic uses "Gentile" prayers?  Aren't the prayers of all heretics "derived from our Holy Scriptures"?

  3. It is worth noting that albeit an interpreter of canons, John of Kitrou is entirely ignorant of them; he is not in the least concerned with  - not even as a simple speculation - nor does he mention that the Canons of the Church explicitly forbid common prayer with heretics or schismatics!  He mentions the common performance of a service of "Romans and Latins" as though it were something entirely self-understood and unimpeachable!

  4. At the beginning of his reply he notes that the differences between us and the Latins are located only in two areas:  Chiefly in the "Filioque" and slightly less in the unleavened (bread).  All the other things are "common to them and to us"  ("the reading of the Scripture,...and the prayers and the melodies, and the divine Laws, and the prostrations before the Precious Cross and the sacred Icons"). Quite obviously, he does not regard the Latins as not being heretics, but also not even schismatics! That is why the canonical prohibition of "One must not pray together with heretics or schismatics" does not concern him and is not included in his speculation!  

  5. We note with specific emphasis that John of Kitrou does not invoke the Church's praxis of Oekonomia (providence) in order to support this reply of his, because he does not sense that there is any prohibition - that would require the observance of akrivia (precision) - in the case of common prayer with Latins!

It is obvious that the aforementioned views by John of Kitrou are not based on the tradition of our Church, and that they lack any kind of canonical backing.  That is why "this praxis does not appear to have generally prevailed, nor is there any related information from elsewhere that can verify the aforementioned, except that which was provided by the inquirer, according to which information "Orthodox Romans were buried in Latin Churches, chanted by both Romans and Latins therein" [79].

3. Unfortunately later on, during the era of the Turkish and the Venetian Occupations, significant deviations were committed by Orthodox pastors; among others:  the commemoration and the acknowledgment of Latin bishops, the acknowledgment of papal primacy, isolated co-liturgies, joint performing of sacraments, bestowing sacraments to heretics, funerals for heretics, studies in heretics' schools, granting permission to papist Capuchins or Protestants to perform confession and to teach. Even Metropolitans or monks would go to Latin confessors!  Moreover, during the mid-17th century, "the monasteries of Athos had repeatedly invited the Jesuits to found a school on Mount Athos, for the spiritual edification of the monks"[80].  As mentioned by the reverend Monk Basil Gregoriates, "the dire circumstances at the time, in conjunction with the tenacious Western propaganda, significantly reduced the resistances of the subjugated Orthodox clergy and populace, who were deep in extreme ignorance and darkness. The events of that period are indicative of the ignorance and the confusion of certain Orthodox with regard to their relations with the heterodox, the distortion of their ecclesiastic conscience and the loss of their Orthodox sensitivity"[81]

It is of course unthinkable for one to assert that the aforementioned digressions in times of crisis and decadence are worthy of emulation, or that they can    comprise an alibi for us today!  Besides, as fr.Basil Gregoriates notes, the major Fathers of those times (Pachomios, Rousanos, Dositheos of Jerusalem, Eugenios, Chrysanthos  and Kosmas of Aetolia, Makarios of Patmos, Athanasios of Paros, Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Maximus the Greek) were all exemplars in their struggle to transmit a spiritual light to the Orthodox populace and to protect it  from the papist propaganda which was rampant in its endeavour "to seduce the simpler ones".  The venerable Nicodemus in fact reproached the "Latin-minded" of his time - or "the unsalaried defenders of the Latin pseudo-baptism" [82] as he used to call them - and was deeply sorrowed by the immense adulteration, corruption and misinterpretation of the sacred canons up until that time, and the "deadly fruit and the culprit for the loss of souls" that was born of them.  Besides, we should not forget that the isolated views or even actions of certain Orthodox (even of the clergy) do not constitute the criterion of the Church's Truth, but as characteristically stressed by fr. George Metallinos, "it is only the actions of the authentic Orthodox - that is, those who have experienced 'theopty' ('sight' of God) that constitute the expression of Orthodox self-awareness."[83]  Saint Theodore the Studite goes even further, saying it is possible for even the decisions of Synods to not express the truth of the Church, because: "Synods, consequently, are not simply the congregating of hierarchs and priests, even if they are many...but (the congregating) in the name of the Lord, in peace and in the guarding of the canons and the binding and unbinding not at random, but as perceived by truth and the canon and the gnomon of precision (akrivia)" [84].

We can in conclusion say that "not only is co-liturgy and co-celebrating forbidden according to akrivia (precision), but even the very entry into heterodox temples for the sake of prayer."  According to the aforementioned canonical decrees, entry into heterodox temples is permitted per oekonomia (providence), for the sake of venerating sacred Relics, but not for praying in there also, and much less for common liturgies or concelebrating therein, together with heterodox "clergymen"[85]. On the contrary, whereas for the participation of the Orthodox in the worship of heretics the canonical Tradition of our Church is categorically negative, it is however more conciliatory - as mentioned previously - in regard to the presence of heretics in Orthodox Worship, for the sake of Oekonomia (providence). Because deep down, it is the same poemantics of condescension towards heretics that the Fathers of the Church had always implemented: "with the consenting nod and the inner voice by the Spirit of God, we have chosen to gently and peacefully act together with the people mentioned (the Donatists)...so that...perhaps by congregating with meekness, all those who believe differently, God might grant them repentance so that they might realize the truth, and so that they who are caught by the devil in his nooses, to do his bidding might escape" [86].


4. Ecclesiastic Oekonomia or a “cunning and nefarious Oekonomia”? [87]

Unfortunately, however, during the last decades not only have common prayers with heretics greatly increased, they have actually tended to become the rule[88].  In fact, the development of an ecumenistic "ecclesiology"[89] through which a "theological" justification of this anti-canonical practice is being attempted - along with methods and practices taken from the sphere of public relations - has led to practices that leave a deeply bitter taste in the People of God.  Characteristic of this attempt are the events that took place during the last visit of the Pope in Constantinople, during the Celebration of the Throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the 30-11-2006.  I am not referring to the meetings and events that took place outside the Patriarchal Holy Temple of Saint George (discussions, joint announcement, greeting from the balcony etc.), but to everything that took place inside the Temple, which went way beyond the boundaries of simple common prayer with a heterodox; for example:

- The reception of the Pontiff with the words: "Blessed is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord"         

     Can a heretic leader truly be addressed with an expression that has been linked exclusively to the Person of the Lord?

- Addressing the Pontiff as if a canonical Pope and Bishop of Rome, and a supplication offered for his sake[90].

It is natural that during their meeting, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church would be addressed as "Pope and Bishop of Rome" - characteristics that according to theological akrivia (precision) he otherwise cannot have, since he is a heretic[91].  Thus, both titles ("Pope of Rome" and "Bishop of Rome") are merely used as technical terms  (termini technici) or even as an address of amiability-courtesy towards a guest, and a social manner of expression, without any theological and ecclesiological gravity. It is in the same sense that the heterodox communities are characterized "Churches"; ie., not according to ecclesiological akrivia (precision), given that the Catholic Church was, is, and will be, only One[92].

There also exist in the Tradition of our Church - in parallel to akrivia (precision) - politeness and Oekonomia (providence):  thus, while  Saint Cyril condemns Nestorius with very stern expressions for his fallacies, he also calls him "honorable"[93], “very honest” [94], “a very pious bishop” [95], and he addresses him using the phrase “Your Piousness” [96].

However, it is an entirely different matter, during a Service inside the Patriarchal Temple, to chant hymns and commemorate a heretic as a canonical Pope and Bishop of Rome, in parallel with the Patriarch of Constantinople!  Can this behaviour also be characterized as a mere indication of "courtesy", or is this a case of indirectly recognizing a heresy as a church of Christ, and its leader as a canonical Hierarch?  Isn't a perception such as this entirely alien to the Tradition of the Fathers, and doesn't it overturn Orthodox Ecclesiology overall?

- Going from simple common prayer to a common liturgy

Unfortunately, the common prayer in Constantinople was not limited to a simple supplication, but was extended even further: to a yet un-finalized common liturgy.  During the official Patriarchal and Synodical Divine Liturgy for the celebration of the Throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate[97], the Pope was granted the reciting of the Lord's Prayer[98]; he was censed, as though a canonical Bishop[99] and above all, he received from the Patriarch - and reciprocated - the liturgical kiss[100] prior to the Holy Anaphora - acts that are ONLY permitted to co-officiating Priests and Hierarchs!


We beg to be allowed to pose certain questions:  


  When the Ecumenical Patriarch is the liturgical officiator and a clergyman (Priest, Bishop, or even a Primate of an Autocephalous Church) is not officiating but is co-praying at the Holy Bema, will the officiating Ecumenical Patriarch exchange the liturgical kiss with him?  Assuredly not, according to the liturgical provisions, because a liturgical kiss is understood as appropriate for co-liturgists (co-officiators)!  How, then, was a liturgical kiss exchanged with the Pope?  Was the Pope a co-officiator with the Patriarch?


-     Is it permissible to make use of the liturgical kiss - during the crucial moment of displaying unity in Truth and Love - in a manner different to that which has been determined by our liturgical tradition[101] (ie., to demote it to a mere act of social courtesy and socializing, in the sphere of sentiment or of ecclesiastic politics)?


-     Is the liturgical kiss an autonomous act, or is it a prerequisite, in order that "we confess unanimously" the Triadic Dogma - the Theology as formulated by the Symbol of Faith (Creed)? When there is no confession of a common faith - since there is no common Theology - then what is the purpose of the liturgical kiss between an Orthodox Hierarch and a heretic Leader? 


-     Since when can a heretic pray during Worship, as though a canonical Orthodox Christian?


-    Is is ever possible for a heretic - and in fact a heresy leader - to represent the Orthodox people during Divine Worship, by reciting the Lord's Prayer in the name of the corpus of our Church?


-     Shouldn't there be a "unity in faith" when we recite the Lord's Prayer?  Is there such a unity with the Pope?


-     The Lord's Prayer is the principal prayer of preparation by the people for the "daily bread" of the Divine Eucharist[102].  Is it permissible, during the Divine Liturgy performed by Orthodox, for someone (like the Pope) to pray with the words: "....Give us this day..."this "Bread"... when it is explicitly forbidden to impart the Divine Eucharist to him? What is the purpose of such a prayer?


-    Since the Pope was not merely present during the Divine Liturgy, but was actively participating in it, then why did he not receive Holy Communion?  Someone may reply that it is not permitted by the rules of our Church, because he is a heterodox!  I ask you: then what about the other things that he did - were they permitted? What canonical provision, and which Saint of our Church, permits a heretic to recite the Lord's Prayer during the hour of the Divine Liturgy, or be censed  as though he were a liturgical officiator, or exchange the liturgical kiss etc., but only forbids him to receive Holy Communion?


-    How do all the above reconcile with the clear-cut position of our Ecumenical Patriarch, that: "Communion in the sacraments is not acceptable, before succeeding in attaining full unity in the faith... Stepping towards that unity through sacramental communion is a step back...Sacramental communion without the unity in faith resembles banknotes that have no corresponding value in gold" [103]? Or could it be that "communion in the sacraments" is understood to mean the moment of imparting Holy Communion ONLY, and not the entire Divine Liturgy of the faithful?  Is such a partitioning of the Divine Liturgy theologically permissible?


-    And finally, isn't it imperative that the Eminent Liturgical Officiator of that Divine Liturgy be questioned - with all our due respect - as to which ecclesiastic provision permits the practice of ceding to a heretic (with a related, unanimous opinion of Saints and Synods) the opportunity to actively participate in an Orthodox Divine Liturgy, when the entire Tradition of our Church, all of the Fathers, all of the local and Ecumenical Synods without exception are absolutely categorical and forbid it explicitly, in fact threatening with severe canonical penalization?


Could all the above perhaps be justified as taking place for the sake of Oekonomia (providence)?  Can Oekonomia (providence) make allowance even for the yet un-finalized co-officiating by Pope and Patriarch?  The answer is categorically NO !  Never, nowhere and by no Saint is it permitted for a recognized heretic - and in fact a heresy leader who persists in his heresy - to actively participate in the Divine Liturgy! 


Furthermore, what imperative need imposed "co-officiation" with the Pontiff?  For the sake of what superior accomplishment [104]  - that could not be accomplished in another manner - was the order of the Church disregarded?  What, ultimately, was the benefit that could be attained for the Church, that could justify common prayer with the Pope?   There is absolutely no prerequisite for implementing Oekonomia (providence) that could justify the active participation of the Pontiff in Orthodox Worship!


Besides, even our Ecumenical Patriarch himself is clear, when referring to the "eucharistic communion" with the heterodox:  "The overall matter is in essence an ecclesiological one; it would therefore be expedient and beneficial to the ecumenical dialogue to outrightly stress...that the eucharistic communion pursued by some between the Orthodox and not (Orthodox) - while the schism still exists - is neither possible, nor can it be accepted by the Orthodox Church for the sake of Oekonomia (providence)"[105].  And of course "eucharistic communion" does not begin at the stage of "...With a fear of God, faith and Love, come forward (to the Chalice)" and concluded at the stage of "...God, save Thy people..." (at the end of imparting Holy Communion).


Consequently, it is not an exaggeration to apply the words of Saint Theodore the Studite in the case of Patriarch and Pope in common prayer: “Know, that it is no longer an implementation of Oekonomia (providence) but a payoff of unlawfulness and a transgression of divine canons”[106], or, to adjust this to today's circumstances, we could repeat together with the Hagiorite monks: "But should we do this for the sake of Oekonomia (providence)? And how will Oekonomia accept something that defiles divine things? And what if something even more damaging comes from this Oekonomia?  This is an obvious communion of theirs, and in one move a degradation and a subversion of every good thing.  For the one who accepts a heretic is subject to his crimes, and he who communes with the unshriven is likewise unshriven, having become one who has confused the canon of the Church [107].”


This kind of concern has not been raised by any "stubborn pseudo-brethren, who comprise a group of fanatic supporters of the supposed "institutions", who are in all the prisoners of a religious faithlessness, or a neo-Manichaic fundamentalism, or a projected metaphysical guilt - an easy task, so that the peddlers of the 'pure faith' can live under the guise of sects"[108]. (How sad it is, to hear such characterizations coming from the mouth of an Orthodox Hierarch in the presence of the Patriarch, the delegations of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches and the heterodox, during the celebrations of the Throne of the Patriarchate, and directed "en masse" against all the faithful who still have some reservations - big or small- about the dialogues!)  On the contrary, the adherents of the inter-Christian dialogues and the Ecumenical movement are worried and denounce such practices, as ones that lack any kind of theological grounds and which ultimately undermine the Theological Dialogue itself.


The Archbishop of Australia Stylianos (Charkianakis) co-presiding for twenty years over the Official Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholics makes reference in his homily on the 10. 5. 1985 to "tragic mistakes" which have been made in this respect: «First of all, an exaggerated friendliness towards Rome was displayed, which was expressed in ways that were irresponsible and not entirely theologically checked... Unfortunately many Hierarchs.....hasten to (liturgically) kiss each other at the most sacred moment of the Divine Eucharist, when we say "let us love each other"... This is the moment during which we express the highest and profoundest unity between the co-officiators only.  The liturgical officiators do not even have the right to kiss the co-believing hierarchs and other clerics that are at the sacred Bema. And yet, there are Orthodox hierarchs - there is no need to mention their names - who well-meaningly (but without an awareness of how serious a theological responsibility they are bearing at that moment) actually liturgically kiss the heterodox clergy, when there is no reciprocal action - when that move is not reciprocated - because they will not be partaking of the same Chalice.  So, why are they kissing them?...


Another mistake, not less tragic, is that in our attempt to be courteous to each other, Orthodox hierarchs quite often -regrettably- address the Pope as "first bishop of Christendom".  Yet another theological lie...  The Pope, in a divided Christendom, is NOT the first among equals; he is not even an equal among equals!  The Pope will come right after the last Orthodox  Bishop, for as long as he is like the one today - in a schism and a heresyThese things are so self-evident, that it is totally redundant for one to mention them... The Roman See cannot be addressed as the "Primate of Love", according to Orthodox Theology. When words like these are said, they are irresponsible. And unfortunately they create a lot of disturbance, a lot of damage, without securing any benefit whatsoever. That way, we give the impression that we are hastening to achieve an intercommunion - a sacramental communion with the heterodox... By hailing the Pope or Rome with Patristic - as I mentioned - titles, full of familiar contents, we cause only damage and on the contrary, we do not help the Dialogue at all.  Quite simply, it is a lie to ascribe such titles - a theological lie."[109].


5. Abolition of the holy Canons!

When "theological" arguments prove themselves to be inadequate for justifying common prayers with heretics, that is when they resort to the complete denial of the canons and ecclesiastic practice to date, as though they are obsolete and inapplicable in our day.  It is unfortunately forgotten that "the canons that regulate the life of the Church 'in Her terrestrial form' are inseparable from the Christian dogmas.  They are not legalistic regulations per se; they are the applications of the dogmas of the Church, Her revealed tradition in every sector of the practical life of a Christian community" [110].  That is why "constancy towards the Apostolic Tradition, the confession of faith, life and creation, are all protected and governed by the canons... From the moment that the dogma loses its meaning and its significance, we will have reached a complete disregard for the canons.  Have we suddenly "realized" something that the Holy Fathers hadn't: that the canons are nothing more than "human concoctions" and not the application of the dogmas in the life of the Church? "Synods, Canons, all those things, are lapsed."  That which was the privilege of a Synod, ie, that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us" is nowadays contested by each one of us for himself" [111] according to L.Ouspensky


A. Metropolitan of Pisidia Methodios (Fougias - formerly Archbishop of Thyateira) mentions that:

«Above the Canons however is the teacher and legislator Church, on the basis of the Holy Bible[112];

«The usage of Ecclesiastic Oekonomia is not dependent on instituted things, but on the particular privilege of the Church: that She is the pillar and the ground of the Truth... the Church is free, under the supervision of the Holy Spirit, with a capacity - for the sake of realizing Her mission inwardly and outwardly - to transgress even dogmatic teaching itself, regardless of the events occurring through Time, totally dependent on the Holy Spirit and not on History. This teaching does not shape the conscience of the Church; it actually comprises Her conscience per se[113].»

«The Church is a tree, which continues to develop and does not cease to develop, for any reason whatsoever. It is for this reason, that it is not proper to ask what the Fathers say on each and every issue, and for us to do just that.» [114].

«The Church is not bound to only those things that we have been taught from the Past, and we should not submit ourselves to this with servility. "Consensus Patrum" does not imply that we must repeat whatever they said or did, every time. Because there are Patristic views on important Theological issues, which now need to be altered.»[115].

«It has become an imperative duty of Orthodox Theologians to delve deeper into the nature of the Church, the way that She appears today, and not the way She was during the time of Saint Cyprian... The ponderings of the ecclesiastic leaders of the Past, regardless how successful they were, do not lie above the Holy Bible.»[116].

«On this matter, the ever-memorable Russian, L. Zander, had written: «It is impossible to resolve the problems pertaining to the relations with the heterodox by basing ourselves on Canons that pertained to situations and heresies which have disappeared from the horizon» [117].

Even though the aforementioned thoughts are indistinct, inadequate, quite vague and require reading many times over, we wonder: doesn't the teaching of our Church identify with Divine Revelation (which is uniform and is expressed in the Holy Bible), the Consensus Patrum, the conditions and the Canons of the Ecumenical Synods? Is it theologically permissible to separate from - and even worse, to make the Holy Bible appear as juxtaposed to - the Canons or the Patristic conscience? Can one consider it possible to distance the Church from that which is Her very expression?

B. Archmandrite Bartholomew Archondonis (currently Ecumenical Patriarch) in his reference to the Canons that prohibit common prayer with heretics noted very succinctly in his doctoral dissertation:  «On the codification of the Sacred Canons and the Canonical Decrees in the Orthodox Church», Thessaloniki 1970, p. 73: «Similarly, the decrees that regulate the relations of Orthodox Christians with the heterodox and other religions cannot possibly be applied today, and should be modified. It is not possible for the Church to have decrees that forbid entry to temples by the heterodox and common prayer with them, at the moment when She, through Her representatives, is praying in common with them for the final union in Faith, in Love, in Hope.  More Love should "irrigate" many of the canonical decrees, for their "animation".  The modification of certain decrees for a more philanthropical and more realistic approach is imperative.  The Church cannot and should not live outside of place and time».

Furthermore, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in an article of his titled «The problem of Oekonomia today» in the magazine Kanon, Issue 6 (1983), of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches (Vienna Austria) among other things mentions: «a) as regards the first comprehension, its supporters are interpreting verbatim certain specific sacred canons that pertain to circumstances and heresies that have vanished long since.  Today, there is an ecclesiastic reality around us that cannot be ignored. The Holy Spirit, Who "blows where He wants" (John 3:8) and is not confined to the History of the Past, is also present, even among the heterodox» [118].

Allow us to make certain observations here. (Of course it is redundant to mention that a different approach or even a complete disagreement with certain choices or views does not also signify a lessening of our respect for the Ecumenical Throne, especially when it is about a critique on scientific essays, as is the doctoral dissertation or the article in a scientific magazine):

1.  It is obvious in the Ecumenical Patriarch's dissertation that transgression and disregard for the Canons forbidding common prayer with heretics is not suggested. What is suggested is simply their abolishment in a future codification of the Canonical Law of our Church.  In fact, Canon 2 of the Synod of Trullo is mentioned, which explicitly states: "It is not for anyone to violate the aforementioned canons or to admit other ones, instead of the aforementioned ones.... Should anyone violate any of the said canons by innovating, or by attempting to subvert them, he shall be responsible according to that canon, as it clearly states, and will receive the penance due."  On this, the Ecumenical Patriarch clearly specifies: «it is obvious that these prohibitions refer to individual members of the Church» [119] – regardless if they are laity or clergy.

2.  According to the above essay, no-one - not even a local Synod of an Autocephalous Church - cannot modify or abolish the sacred canons, because «the Church can, only in an ecumenical synod, modify and abolish ancient canons»[120]. Thus, he repeats, «we stress once again that the sacred canons of the ecumenical synods and of the Fathers are not unalterable, but they are irreversible - at least de jure - until their modification or abolishment by a new ecumenical synod[121], given that “the postulate of both the Ecclesiastic and the Legal overall is that a decree can be modified or abolished only by an authority equal or greater than the one that had issued it" [122] and that those sacred canons have been validated by Ecumenical Synods. Consequently, by observing ecclesiastic tradition, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew concludes in his dissertation that, if the canons which forbid common prayer with heretics have been abolished by an ecumenical synod of an Autocephalous Church - but not by any local synod of an Autocephalous Church - then they continue to be valid and absolute respect is compulsory.

3.  Beyond this, however, even the modification suggested in the above dissertation (essentially abolishment, because it states: "the Church cannot have decrees") is defectively being justified , because it is not founded on any ecclesiological or canonical word and argument. The only reason given is that "they cannot be applied today"! But:

a. if this notion were to prevail more broadly in the life of the Church, we would be led into an abolishment of Christian morality or even the self-abolishment of the Church Herself, because the Church will have thus been turned into "saltless salt". 

b. it is not possible for the transgressing of Church order to be tolerated and to even create a canon of law, because according to the 7th canon of the 1st-2nd Synod: «neither can the illegally and irregularly introduced canons be introduced as the test for the canonically existing ones» and «whatever is in spite of canons, is not drawn as an exemplar» according to Valsamon [123]), while according to Zonaras: «for whatever is done unlawfully will not be to the detriment and the reversal of whatever is done canonically»[124]. Besides, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his letter to the Patriarch of Moscow points out the serious risk to "those who persistently transgress" the Sacred Canons:  «in the canonical order «a bad precedent is not drawn as an exemplar" in order to support pursuant acts, for the Sacred Canons «take revenge», sooner or later, on those who persistently violate them» [125].

c. It is stressed in the aforementioned essay that the Church in our era «prays in common with them (the heterodox)  through Her representatives, for the final union in the faith, in love, in hope», and that is why «it is not possible to apply the relative canons today». However it is not only «today» but always, that the Church has prayed and continues to pray "for the union of all" -  and always in Her history[126]; She has conversed with schismatics and heretics and even with other religious groups, for many of whom Her prayer «for the final union in the faith, in love, in hope» was heard. And yet, common prayer with them was always prohibited, and the prohibition was always upheld with respect!  So, why is it that «today» «the Canons of our Church cannot apply»?

d. That it is indeed feasible and also imperative to combine inter-Christian relations and respect for ecclesiastic tradition can be discerned, if we listen to the person who is experienced in Theological Dialogues, ie., the protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne fr. Theodore Zisis, who proposes the only behaviour acceptable to ecclesiastic order: «There is another way for dialogues and an approach to the heterodox, without involvements, common prayers and co-officiating. It is the ordinary, per oekonomia physical presence, without any participation in prayers or liturgies... Even during the commencement of the theological discussions at the joint meeting (in Ferrara), the Latins prayed separately and the Orthodox prayed separately[127], a tactic that is observed up until our day in some of the theological dialogues[128].

e. We should also not forget that up until very recently, there were theological dialogues taking place with pre-Chalcedonian Churches. And yet, the matter of common prayer with them was never brought up, because these churches showed respect to ecclesiastic order on this point!  The compliance by both participants in this theological dialogue - per the canonical tradition - had in no way hindered the progress of that dialogue.  Why then can't this practice be implemented during the communications with the Roman Catholics or the Protestants?

f. Also along the same lines as Professor fr. Theodore Zisis' suggestion is the aforementioned Encyclical of the Patriarchal Synod under Patriarch Athenagoras to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches dated 31-1-1952, in which he urges the representatives of the Autocephalous Churches who participate in theological dialogues to refrain from common prayers, «which go contrary to the sacred canons and blunt the confessional sensitivity of the Orthodox, and to strive to perform -if possible- purely Orthodox Services and rites, thus displaying the glory and the grandeur of Orthodox Worship before the eyes of the heterodox» [129].

g. During the 7th General Convention of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Canberra (1991) and of the Central Committee in Geneva (1992) «the Orthodox conventioneers stood firmly against the idea of sacramental intercommunion with the heterodox» [130].

h. Also during the meeting of local Autocephalous Churches in Thessaloniki in April of 1998, which had been convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate upon the request of the Church of Serbia for the purpose of evaluating recent data on the relations between Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement, the representatives of the Orthodox Churches had -among other things- pointed out that in the forthcoming 8th General Convention of the WCC in Harare in December 1998: «3b. The Orthodox conventioneers will not be participating in ecumenical worship congregations, common prayers, worships  and other religious rituals, for the duration of the Conference» [131].

i. It is quite characteristic how the Central Committee of the WCC in August of 2002 had accepted that «for some Churches, praying together with other Christians outside their own tradition is not only problematic, but is also regarded as impossible [132], and that «the Orthodox Christians must take into account the sacred canons, which could be interpreted as prohibitive for such praying» [133]. It is especially important to note that even the Protestants of the Central Committee of the WCC shared, understood and respected the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, which we Orthodox often directly or indirectly disregard...

j. Consequently as it always has been - and continues to be «today» - it is absolutely feasible, and we must all adjust our ecclesiastic ministry to the Canons of the Church. The reverse will be catastrophic, both for us and for our ministry...

4. In the above doctoral dissertation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew it mentions without any clarification that the canons prohibiting common prayer with heretics must be abolished, for the reason that: "More Love should "irrigate" many of the canonical decrees, for their 'animation'. The modification of certain decrees for a more philanthropical and more realistic approach is imperative". Could this imply that we today can prove ourselves more compassionate, and humans with more love than the Saints who had composed, validated and who -throughout the ages- had actually applied the Canons of our Church?  This detail is not clarified!

5.  Also proposed is the modification of the canons that regulate relations with those of other religions!  Could this perhaps imply that the prohibitions for common prayer with those of other religions must also be abolished, and yet, common prayer and participation of an Orthodox cleric in a display of worship by shamans, animists, Hinduists or any other religious cults is permissible? This detail is not clarified!

6. In an article in the magazine "Kanon", the Ecumenical Patriarch with his observation that the Sacred Canons which prohibit common prayer with heretics «pertain to circumstances and heresies that have vanished long since.  Today, there is an ecclesiastic reality around us that cannot be ignored», is clearly implying that it is not possible to apply the Sacred Canons today.


Of course the same circumstances do not exist today, as in the time the relative canons were composed for the prohibition of common prayer with heretics; but is that reason enough to NOT apply the specific Sacred Canons today? By consistently implementing this logic, aren't we led to an ecclesiastic impasse?  Because what would have to be done with the other Sacred Canons of the same period - for example the canons pertaining to the institution of the Pentarchy of Patriarchs, and to the matters pertaining to the jurisdictions of the Patriarchates and the Autocephalous Churches, etc.?  Should these canons also NOT be applied today, because the same circumstances do not exist?  Woe betide, if that is the case... [134]

Furthermore, how does one explain the fact that, whereas the decisions of a Local Synod (for example, the Synodical Tome of 1850 on the "proclamation of the Autocephalous status of the Church of Greece", and the Patriarchal and Synodical Act of 1928 on the "administration of the Sacred Metropolises of the New Lands") are characterized as texts that are "most sacred and precious statutes" [135], which make no allowance for any discussions on the modification thereof and anyone who violates them is subject to very serious penalties, on the other hand, the sixteen Sacred Canons of the 4th, 6th and 7th Ecumenical Synods, as well as the Local Synods of Laodicea and Antioch, of Saint Timothy (all validated by Ecumenical Synods) are all being violated and disregarded and their abolition is being demanded without any theological argument to back this demand?  Could it be, that the Patriarchal and Synodical Act of 1928 has some kind of validity that is superior to the canons of three Ecumenical Synods?

Metropolitan Stephan of Tallini and All Estonia, in his reference to the canonical place of the Ecumenical Throne in the Orthodox Church, mentions the following regarding the Sacred Canons: «the sacred canons… exist here precisely, not so that they may be modified according to the demands of the times and the interests of the moment, but so that they can reflect the uninterrupted continuance of the perpetual ecclesiastic Tradition». [136]

Apart from the above, and even though today's "ecclesiastic reality around us" is different (after all, every era is different), hadn't there been during the period of those Ecumenical Synods any analogous cases of heresies and schisms?  And yet, that didn't seem to hinder the Fathers from forbidding common prayer with heretics or schismatics!

7.  Lastly, the above article that refers to the non-application of the Sacred Canons notes that "the Holy Spirit blows where He wants" and "is not confined to the History of the Past, is also present, even among the heterodox"


Doesn't the fact that "the Holy Spirit blows where He wants"  ALWAYS apply?  Weren't the Fathers of the Ecumenical Synods who had composed and applied the prohibition of "one must not pray with heretics or schismatics" aware of this?  And even if the unclear statement that the Holy Spirit "is also present, even among the heterodox" of our day is regarded as theologically unverifiable [137], wasn't the Holy Spirit present in the same manner, among the heterodox of yesterday?  And if the Holy Spirit WAS present among the olden-time heterodox, heretics and schismatics, then why did those Ecumenical Synods forbid common prayer with them? And if the Synods had rightly forbidden common prayer with the heterodox who "have" the Holy Spirit, then can we today act contrary to the canons of the Ecumenical Synods?

I would like to complete this paragraph with an Encyclical Epistle signed by Bishops [138] who ministered, not in the past, but «today»;  not in an Orthodox country, but in multi-racial and multi-cultural America, in which the Orthodox are a minority.  These Bishops, who follow the steps of our Fathers, proclaim that the disregard or the attempt to abolish the Sacred Canons that forbid common prayer with heretics has substantial dogmatic-ecclesiological side-effects on the very essence of our Church.

The extremely important Encyclical Epistle of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America [139], on the matter of Christian unity and ecumenism has, as its objective, the "re-formulation anew of the position that the Orthodox Church always had - a position that unfortunately even some of our Orthodox brethren have ignored or forgotten". The Synod mentions:

"Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, it is our duty as bishops of the Church and guardians of the apostolic faith to confess that the Orthodox Church is the one Church of Christ... The fundamental self-understanding of the Orthodox Church.... has always served as the basis for Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement..."

The Encyclical then states:

"We further deny the possibility of fusing the hierarchal and sacramental structure of the Orthodox Church with a contradictory form of Christian confession, and we categorically reject the use of eucharistic communion and sacramental "intercommunion" as a means of achieving Christian unity. According to the Orthodox Faith, the sacraments and the liturgy of the Church, most specifically the Holy Eucharist, cannot be separated from the very being of the Church, which they exist to manifest. The sacraments are not devotions or psychological symbols. They are the manifestations of the essence of the Church as the Kingdom of God on earth. Outside the unity of faith in the one Church of Christ, which cannot be divided, there can be no sacramental communion and no liturgical concelebration."

And then adds:

"Formal liturgical worship which involves the active participation of clergy and laity of different confessions is contrary to the canons of the Orthodox Church. Such liturgical celebration can only create confusion and scandal and serve to project a false impression of the Christian Faith and the nature of the unity which God has given to men in His Church, both to the Christian faithful and to the non-Christians of the world. According to the Orthodox Faith, such liturgical celebration is also a false presentation of men before the heavenly altar of God." [140].


6. Conclusions

In concluding this brief essay, we can conclude that the canonical tradition of our Church is fixed, clear, categorical, and without any reservation: "One must not pray together with heretics or schismatics"! Nor can such praying be tolerated for the sake of oekonomia (providence). A disregard for the canons will entail the severest of penances: excommunication for the laity and defrocking for the clergy.  This severity has a theological-ecclesiological substructure and a pastoral perspective. It springs from that very self-awareness of our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which cannot tolerate the equating of the Truth to the recanting of it, but which also reaches out with love "to those near and far" by preaching the Truth and simultaneously bringing to their attention the attempted counterfeiting and distorting thereof.


Unfortunately today, in the era of instituted confusion and the absolutizing of relativism, there are many who desire the blunting of the Orthodox self-awareness and its alignment with with heresy and fallacy.  They seek to slander the genuine kerygma of the Church of Christ, as though it were fanatic, fundamentalist and an outdated, out-of-place, egotistic smugness!  The Orthodox Church however is obliged to walk this difficult path of Her martyrdom, with eyes turned towards the contemporary world but firmly based on Her tradition and experience. This experience is recorded in the Holy Bible, the lives of Her Saints, the teaching of the Fathers, and the Clauses and Canons of Her Ecumenical Synods.


The witness of Orthodoxy today has become more imperative than ever before. The Orthodox Church does not have the right to remain silent. She is obliged to provide Her witness of the "once delivered to the Saints Faith" and to the contemporary demands of inter-Christian communication and collaboration [141]. However, this collaboration can only have its foundations in our respect for Her canonical tradition. We must define our pastoral ministry in general within the Body of Christ, with whatever the canonical order of our Church ordains, because the Sacred Canons are not human inventions, but the fruits of the Holy Spirit. "It is only through the faithful and selfless observance of the sacred canons that the Church is governed in a God-human, not a human manner.  Everything that is not built upon the foundation of the sacred canons is built upon shifting sand, and regardless how elaborate it may be, sooner or later it will collapse and be pulverized.  Every settlement of ecclesiastic affairs, no matter what good intention it may spring from, when the sacred canons are circumvented, it is impossible for them to attract the blessing of Heaven", the ever-memorable fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos characteristically stresses [142]. And the opus of reconciliation in the inter-Christian world has firstly the need of Heaven's blessing. It is not the achievement of a diplomatic compromise and a mutual yielding in the formulation of commonly acceptable but with a dual inference terms and texts, which present a fake and superficial unity. It is a matter of an essential, actual, real communion, which is attainable only with the Grace of the Holy Spirit.


It is for THIS kind of union in Christ (in the Truth and in Love) that the Church prays for, so that as much as is possible, the revelatory vision can take place in History as well; that is, the common prayer of redeemed Creation in its entirety before the celestial Altar:

Behold, a great multitude, which no-one could number, of every nation, and race and peoples and tongues, standing before the Throne and before the Lamb, garbed with white robes and with palm fronds in their hands; 10and they were crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Our salvation is by our God Who is seated upon the Throne, and by the Lamb". 11And all the angels stood in a circle around the throne and the elders and the four beasts, and they fell before the throne upon their faces and they prostrated themselves before God, 12saying, "Amen; the blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honour and the power and the might, be unto our God, for ever and ever. Amen."

20....Yes! Come, o Lord Jesus! [143].






A necessary clarification:

The editor of the present work is depositing his own small contribution in the hope and the wish that the Lord, Who had used the reasonless donkey to send His message to Balaam, can, by His Grace, cure the deviations, complete all shortages and utilize this feeble attempt to praise His holy Name. The profit from this work will be maximal, even if it can spark a slight interest for further study and indulgence in our Tradition; if it can even slightly contribute towards a healthy speculation and a God-loving concern, away from fanaticisms and extremes, with respect for the personality and the ministry of each and every member of our Orthodox Church.


Patrae, 15. 3. 2008

The author

* see www.oodegr/english/oikoumenismos/ou_dei.htm , www. alopsis. gr/alopsis/symprose. htm, Newspaper "Orthodox Press" (Issues: 1701/7. 9. 07, 1702/14. 9. 07, 1703/21. 9. 07, 1704/28. 9. 07 and 1705/5. 10. 07).

The present essay is dedicated to the memory of the late Catechist George X. Economos, the first one to teach me the Sacred Canons at the Middle Catechist School of the Reconstructive School of Patrae, on the completion of the 15th year of his passing. 




1.    Dositheos of Jerusalem to Michael of Belgrade, in the work by K. Delikanis, "The extant official Ecclesiastic documents preserved in the codices of the Patriarchal Archives" (hereafter referred to as "Delikanis-Documents"), Tome 3, in Constantinople, photocopied re-publication, 1999), page 684.

2.    «The sacred canons rarely use the term "oekonomia" and prefer the terms "philanthropy" and "leniency" (Canons 5, 11, 12 of the Nicean 1st Ecumenical Council and Canon30 of Chalcedon). The term "oekonomia" responds to Canons 29, 30, 37, 92 of the Quinisext Council, in the sense of condescending and settlement.  Elsewhere, the term "oekonomia" (Canon 2 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council) must be interpreted with the term "ordination" (P.Bratsiotes, P.Trembelas, K.Mouratidis, A. Theodorou, N.Bratsiotes, ecclesiastic Oekonomia Memorandum to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, Athens 1972, p.14, footnote 20) - (Hereafter referred to as Professors' Memorandum)

3.    Hieronymos Kotsonis,  Problems of "ecclesiastic Oekonomia", Athens 1957, p. 209 (hereafter: Kotsonis, Problems)

4.    Professors' Memorandum p. ii.

5.    P.Boumis,  ecclesiastic "Oekonomia" according to Canonical Law,  Church vol. 48(1971), p. 353

6.    G. Metallinos, "I Confess One Baptism", interpretation and implementation of the 7th Canon of the 2nd Ecumenical Council by the Kollyvades Fathers and Constantine Economos, Athens 19962, p. 44.

7.    According to the Patriarch of Constantinople Kallinikos II,  "the Church's customary sacred judgment was to condescend providentially (with oekonomia) to certain minor matters, in order to not cause greater damage and deadly peril to major matters" , in M.Gideon, Canonical Decrees, Vol.II Constantinople 1888, p.396.


8.    Cyril IV of Constantinople, To the Antiochian, Documents in Delikani, Vol.´, p. 178.


9.     PG 103, 953-956. More analytically, refer to Kotsonis, Problems, p. 168, 172 and A.Alivizatou, "Oekonomia according to the Canonical Law of the Orthodox Church, Athens 1949, p.12 and 58 (hereafter: Alivizatos, Oekonomia), Professors' Memorandum p.19-24, Methodios Fougias, Metropolis of Pisideia ecclesiastic Oekonomia and Christological Terminology, Athens 1998, p.57-59 (hereafter: Fougias, Oekonomia),  B. Archondonis, The problem of Oekonomia today, Canon 6(1983), p. 42-43, (hereafter: Bartholomeos, Oekonomia)

10.   Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Synod 16-28 July 1971,  Oekonomia in the Orthodox Church, in the Secretariat of the Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church, Chambesy Geneva 1973, p.136, (hereafter: Inter-Orthodox Committee, Oekonomia)

11.    PG 111, 213

12.   Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 43,  P.Boumis, Canonical Law Á´ Athens 1989, p. 65-66, ibid, Oekonomia, 985 vol.9, v. 679, ibid, Canonical law answers to questions of Overseas Mission, Athens 1999, p.31-32,  A.Christophilopoulos, Hellenic ecclesiastic Law, vol. Á´ Athens 1952, p. 105, D.Petrakakos, Canonicla Law preoccupations, Athens 1943, p. 63-71.

13.   The Church, "for twenty centuries now, has never determined officially, or in-council through a special document canonical or otherwise, whatever pertains to oekonomia with precision and in detail". (B. Arhondonis - currently Ecumenical Patriarch). Oekonomia in the Orthodox Church, "Episkepsis", issue 50/14-3/1972, p.13). The 1st Pan-Orthodox Conference (Rhodes 1961) had included the subject of ecclesiastic oekonomia in the catalogue drafted  (first in ch.VII - Theological subjects); the 4th Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambesy 1968) had assigned to the Church of Romania the study, and the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church (16-18 July 1971) had concluded with the proposal: "Oekonomia in the Orthodox Church" (Secretariat of the Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Synod of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church, Chambesy Geneva 16-18 July 1971, p.115-149) which was severely criticized and eventually led to the withdrawal of the matter (Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p.39-41). A thorough critique on the text was submitted by Professors P,Bratsiotes, P.Trembelas, K.Mouratides, A.Theodorou and N.Bratsiotes with their memorandum dated 5 June 1972 addressed to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece (also in circulation independently). The above were responded to by Methodios Fougas (Metropolitan of Axome) through a series of articles in the magazine "ecclesiastic Lighthouse" which were re-published in M.Fougias' Metrop.of Pisidia "ecclesiastic Oekonomia and Christilogical Terminology", Athens 1998.  Pursuant to these was an exchange of correspondence with Prof.Trembelas in the newspaper "Orthodox Press" (issues 15-2-1974 and 1-4-1974).

14.    Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 57, cmp. M.Farandos "The issue of the dialogue of the Orthodox Church with the heterodox and especially with the Old Catholics, Thessaloniki, 1971, p. 13.


15.    Const.Mouratides, "The essence and the polity of the Church according to the teaching of John the Chrysostom", Athens 19772, p. 171,  Kotsonis, Problems, p. 64.  According to Dem. Chomatianos «be ye, not out of indolence and pride, but solely out of necessity» (ibid, p. 102).  Also, many canons indicate the use of oekonomia out of necessity (indicatively, canon 69 of the Synod of the Holy Apostles, Canon 2 of the 1st Ecumenical Synod ("for many things were done out of necessity or people's other needs, despite the ecclesiastic canon") and canon 12 of Neocaesaria.

16.    Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 62, cmp. J. Karmiris' "The Dogmatic and Symbolic Memorials of the Orthodox Catholic Church", vol. B, Athens 1953, p.972-973.  In the proposal of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Synod it is stressed that Oekonomia in Orthodoxy is implemented "with measure, wherever it must, when it must, and as many times as it must", Inter-Orthodox Committee, "Oekonomia", p.143.

17.   Cyril IV of Constantinople, To the Antiochian, Documents in Delikani, Vol. ´, p. 178.

18.   J.Kotsonis, The Canonical view regarding communion with the heterodox (intercommunio), Athens 1957, p. 160-161, (hereafter  Kotsonis, Intercommunio).

19.   S. Troianos, Der Begriff der Oekonomia im byzantinischen Recht (Unter Beruecksictigung der gegenwaertigen griechischen Kanonistik), in the "17th Annual Theological Meeting of the St. Tichon University" Moscow 2007, vol. 1 (Russian )pp. 139-146.

20.   Kotsonis, "Oekonomia", p.105.  According to Constantine Economos, «Oekonomia also has the same conditions and measures of things and times, undisturbed perpetually and without mutinies, preserving the whole of the Church lest She should ever illegally implement oekonomia and Her occasional yieldings and condescensions be presented as paramount and as equally powerful as the precision of divine laws that She resorted to." fr. George Metallinos "I Confess One Baptism", p.115 (footnote 326)

21.   P.Boumis, Canonical Law, vol. Á´ Athens 1989, p. 68, ibid,  ecclesiastic Oekonomia according to Canonical Law,  Church Vol. 48(1971), p. 355.

22.   Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 46-47

23.   PG 77, 320.

24.   G.Rallis- M.Potlis, Constitution of divine and sacred Canons, Athens, 1855, (hereafter: R-P, Constitution), D´ p. 398.

25.   P.Boumis, Canonical Law, Á´, p. 62.

26.   It is imperative «not only to verify the intentions the one resorting to the measure of oekonomia...but also to evaluate the results that it might bring about to the whole of ecclesiastic life.  In other words, if that action does not cause a general paralysis and upheaval of ecclesiastic order, then it is indeed acknowledged as oekonomia.» (Kotsonis, Oekonomia, p. 104-105), cmp. P.Boumis,  ecclesiastic "Oekonomia" according to Canonical Law,  Church vol. 48(1971), p. 354

27.   B. Archondonis (currently Ecumenical Patriarch), On the codification of the Sacred Canons and the canonical decrees in the Orthodox Church, Analekta Vlatadon 6, Thessaloniki 1970, p. 98, (hereafter: Bartholomew, Codification), D. Balanos, The problem of convening an Ecumenical Synod, in the Scientific Year Book of the Athens University School of Theology, 3(1936/37), p. 135

28.   PG 32, 860.

29.   Bartholomew, Codification, p. 98, cmp. Anonym., Panagiotis Trembelas on the Ecumenical Movement and the Theological Dialogues, "SOTER", Athens 20073, p. 45

30.   Kotsonis, Oekonomia, p. 113, 130.

31.   An address to the delegation of the Church of Rome (Fanarion, 30-11-1984) in Issue 326/1-12-1984 of "EPISKEPSIS", cmp. «after all, the corpus of the Orthodox Church has the inalienable canonical right to "discern" and to judge the acceptance or the rejection of any decisions that are outside the framework of Orthodox tradition", D. Papandreou, Metropolitan of Switzerland, The Poemantics of Dialogues, in the  Scientific Year Book of the Thessaloniki Aristotelian University School of Theology No.28 (1985), p. 424.

32.   Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 75.

33.   Irene Tsagris, The Legal nature of ecclesiastic Oekonomia,  Newspaper of Hellenic Lawyers, vol. 39(1972), p. 878.

34.   Nicholas Mystikos, Patriarch of Constantinople, To the most holy in all pope of Old Rome, PG 111, 212

35.   PG 99, 984, more analytically refer to Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 40

36.   B. Archondonis (currently Ecumenical Patriarch),  Oekonomia in the Orthodox Church, "EPISKEPSIS" Issue No. 50/14. 3. 1972, p. 14, cmp. «Oekonomia in the Orthodox Church», in the Inter-Orthodox Committee, Oekonomia, p. 136, Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 38 and Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 40-41

37.   According to fr. G.Florovsky there is no ground for implementation of oekonomia, see. G. Florovsky, The Body of the living Christ, An Orthodox interpretation of the Church, transl. J.Papadopoulos, Thessaloniki 1972, p. 129-148.

38.   «for the sake of oekonomia, not insisting on precision with regard to repentants» Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Epistle 37 to Maximus the Deacon of Antioch, (PG 77,321), while according to the 5th Canon of the Synod of Ankyra «the bishops who have the authority should philanthropically test the means of return, or add more time", more analytically see Pan. Trembelas, Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church, vol.3, Athens 1961, p. 48 also fr.George Metallinos "I Confess One Baptism", p. 113, D. Stanisloae,  For an Orthodox Ecumenism, Eucharist-Faith-Church (The problem of intercommunion), Piraeus 1976, p. 31-32, Inter-Orthodox Committee, p. 138 etc., Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 58.

39.   Demetrius Chomatianos, in R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 436

40.   According to Constantine Economos, in G. Metallinos' «I Confess One Baptism», p. 80.

41.   R-P, Constitution, D´, p. 459-460.

42.   R-P, Constitution, D´, p. 431á.  Saint Nicephoros justifies the view that the temple of heretics is an «ordinary house», by saying that: «it is not at all necessary to enter into such churchesfor when a heresy enters them, its supervisor angel departs, according to the voice of Basil the Great, and this ordinary house acts as a Temple. And I shall not enter - he says - into a Church of the mischievous» (R-P, Constitution, D´, p. 431d).

43.   Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 89-90

44.   Essay 31´ «to a pastor» , para.65´.

45.   Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 255.

46.   Response e´, R-P, Constitution, Ä´, p. 431å.

47.   fr. Theodore Zisis, On the common prayer of the Patriarch and the Pope and which Synod will impose conciliarity? Theodromia, 6,2 (2004) p. 175.

48.   Homily on the holy martyr Phokas, PG 50, 702.

49.   Gennadius Scholarius, "The Complete works" D. Sideridis-M. Jugie-L. Petit publications, vol. 5, p. 201-202, cmp, Metropolitan Kallinicus of Proilav, "How one must accept those coming from heresies", Theologia, vol. 9(1931), p. 242-243

50.   Delikanis, Documents, vol. 3´, p. 684.

51.   For further analysis on Chomatianos see below.

52.   We would remind the reader of the visitation of the Grace of God through the Antidoron, upoon the Holy Neomartyr Ahmed,  Book of Saints on Neomartyrs, Thessaloniki 19892, p. 509

53.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 435.

54.  see. No.1621/343/15. 3. 1891 Encyclical of the Holy Synod, in S.Yannopoulos' "Collection of Encyclicals of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece from 1833 to today",  Athens 1901, pp. 574-575.  For the related service, see the Minor Book of Benedictions or "Agiasmatarion" (Book of Sanctifications), Apostoliki Diakonia publications, Athens 199914, p. 276.  For more analysis on the development of the ecclesiastic praxis regarding the burial of heterodox see  Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 242-247.

55.   J. Karmiris, The Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments of the Orthodox Catholic Church, vol. ´, Athens 1953, p. 1003, 2nd Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, in D. Papandreou's "To the Holy and Great Synod", Athens 1990, p. 37

56.   E. Theodoropoulos, Articles-Studies-Epistles, Á´, Athens 1986, p. 215

57.   R-P, Constitution, vol. Å´ p. 430-436, PG 119, 948-960, On Demetrius Chomatianos see. L. Stiernon, Demetrius Chomatianos, È. Ç. Å. vol. 12, pp. 1064-1066,  N.Tomadakis, Demetrius Chomatianos, Year Book of the Society for Byzantine Studies, vol. 27(1957), p. 57-62, ibid, Byzantine Literature (1204-1453), issue. Á´, Athens 1957, p. 74-79, A. Christophilopoulos, Demetrius Chomatianos, Theologia, vol. 20(1949), p. 742, P. Matsis, Legal Issues from the works of Demetrius Chomatianos, Athens 1961, p. 85, Å. -Ê. Katerelos, The canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the territories of the Domain of Epirus during the period 1204-1235, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 47-53, 90-92.

58.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 433-434

59.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 435.

60.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 435.

61.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 433.

62.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 433.

63.   For a rebuttal of this erroneous admission see my brief essay: «Unanimous is the opinion of the Saints: PAPISM IS A HERESY! A response to the article by Mr.Pan Andriopoulos» on the internet: www. alopsis. gr/modules. phpname=News&file=article&sid=592 & www. oodegr. com/oode/papismos/airesi1. htm (in Greek) and in the local newspaper Állage Patron 3. 5. 07, the newspaper Imera PAtron 22, 24. 5. 07, the magazine Parakatheke vol. 53/ March-April 2007, pp. 4-7, vol. 54/May-June 2007, p. 8-11. Also in the issue: The struggles of monks in defence of Orthodoxy, published by Hossios Gregorios publications, Holy Mountain, 2003 p. 205-341, are deposited the views of a plethora (more than 40) Saints and Teachers of our Church, who had  denounced the heretical Papist innovations. In fact, several of them even sacrificed their life blood for the Orthodox Faith, when refusing the union with heretics.  (Monk Moses the Hagiorite, "The Saints of the Holy Mountain", 2008, p. 217-229).  Equally comprehensive is the work by theologian P. Semates, "Is Papism a Heresy? What do the Ecumenical Synods and the Fathers say?", Memorandum-question submitted to the Canonical Laws Committee of the Holy Synod, Aegion 2007.

64.   It is not of primary concern here, to elucidate if he implies the Latins or the Bulgarians (Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 265-266,  D.Xanalatos' "Theophylactos of Bulgaria",  Theologia 16(1938), p. 232-239 and Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 86.

65.   R-P, Constitution, Å´ p. 431.

66.   L. Stiernon, Demetrius Chomatianos, È. Ç. Å. vol. 12, p. 1065.

67.   Theophylactos of Bulgaria is adamantly against any - even the slightest - concession towards the Latins with regard to the dogma, however he is quite condescending towards the Latin ethos and customs: «therefore we shall not be harsh with regard to the unleavened, or with regard to the fasts, in the face of the nation's unbending conscience" he says characteristically. (R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 432).  Of course he does not have the slightest reservation that the deviations in the faith by the Latins constitute  a heresy.

68.    R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 434

69.    R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 436.

70.    «...the schism did not take place during the time of Keroularios.... the difference between the authorities only slightly brought about the separation of the two Churches, which (separation) was completed with the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders". (Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis, A historical study regarding the causes of the Schism, Athens 20002, vol. ´ p. 84 and 97).

71.    R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 434-435.

72.    R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 436.

73.    P. Matsis, Legal Issues from the works of Demetrius Chomatianos, Athens 1961, p. 10

74.   Constantine Economos characteristically says the following in regard to the baptism of the Latins:  "the harm was partial. The Western Church had not proclaimed to have embosomed or legislated it."  In G.Metallinos' "I confess one Baptism", p. 81-83, see also p. 109-110, cmp. D. Stanisloae's "For an Orthodox Ecumenism, Eucharist-Faith-Church (The problem of intercommunion), Piraeus 1976, p. 41.

75.   Analytically on the matter of the divine Eucharist,  see D. Stanisloae's "For an Orthodox Ecumenism, Eucharist-Faith-Church (The problem of intercommunion), Piraeus 1976, p. 116,  G. Galites' "Intercommunion. Ôhe problem of sacramental communion with the heterodox from an Orthodox viewpoint - a Biblical and Ecclesiological Study", Athens 1966, p. 63, A. Theodorou, "Intercommunion from the Orthodox Symbolic viewpoint, that is, the relations between Orthodox and heterodox, Athens 1971.

76.   see. Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 202, 205, J. Karmiris, The Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments of the Orthodox Catholic Church, Athens 1953, vol. ´ p. 1000-1004.

77.   With regard to whether the canons ascribed to John of Kitros do belong to him or are Dem. Chomatianos', see A. Christophilopoulos in Theologia 20(1949), p. 742, P. Matsis, Legal Issues from the works of Demetrius Chomatianos, Athens 1961, p. 12, 14,  A. Pavlov's "On who the canonical responses ascribed to John, Bishop of Kitros, belong to", in  Âyzantine Chronicles, 1(1894) (Russ.), p. 493-502 and Bartholomew, Codification, p. 84.

78.   R-P, Constitution, Å´, p. 403-404, PG 119, 961

79.   Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 242-247.

80.    www. oodegr. com/oode/orthod/paleoimerologites/ekklis_lathi1. htm  (Greek) and http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/sxismata/antipater1.htm  on the subject: «The ecclesiastic cacodoxies of zealot Old Calendarism» and «The stance of zealot Old Calendarism is an anti-Patristic stance». See also St. Runciman,  The Great Church in Captivity, vol. ´, Athens 1979, p. 426-441, T. Ware, Eustratios Argenti, Oxford 1964, p. 16-31, G. Metallinos, «I confess one Baptism», p. 98-99, Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 107-111, Chr. Papadopoulos' "Relations between the Orthodox and the Latins during the 16th century, Theologia 3(1925), p. 89-112

81.   www. oodegr. com/oode/orthod/paleoimerologites/ekklis_lathi1. htm  (Greek) and http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/sxismata/antipater1.htm  on the subject: «The ecclesiastic cacodoxies of zealot Old Calendarism» and «The stance of zealot Old Calendarism is an anti-Patristic stance».

82.   Hieromonk Agapios and Monk Nicodemus, Pedalion…, Thessaloniki 1991, p. 56 (A note on the 46th Apostolic Canon)

83.   G. Metallinos, «I confess one Baptism», p. 98-99.

84.   PG 99, 985.

85.   Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 191

86.   Canon 65of the Synod of Carthage.

87.    Theodore Valsamon, interpretation of the 15th Canon of the 1st Ecumenical Synod, in  R-P, Constitution, vol. ´ p. 146.

88.   The Central Committee of the Worldwide Council of Churches has in fact issued a «cadre of guidelines for common prayer during the meetings of the W.C.C.» as an Appendix to the «final essay of the Permanent Committee for Orthodox participation in the W.C.C.» (Geneva 26. 8-3. 9. 2002), in www.wcc-coe.org/ccdocuments.nsf/index/gen-5-en.html#Anchor--SECTIO-15275. In these texts, there is a distinction between "denominational common prayer", during which, each denomination performs a service according to its own rubric and invites the others to join in the spirit if their prayer and the "inter-denominational common prayer", where we don't have one tradition of worship but rather a collage of elements taken from various liturgical traditions in which everyone participates, regardless of their denominational placing. It is absolutely clear that not only are these diversifications entirely foreign to our ecclesiastic tradition, even the overall spirit of the aforementioned texts is not in the least reminiscent of orthodox theology...

89.   For example the Church Branch Theory, the vestigia Church of Tetraplevron of Lambeth, the principle of comprehensiveness, on the courtyards of the Lord, «on the light and the joy of the house of the Lord» see. in Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 27-28, 88-89, 91-92 and Professors' Memorandum, p. 8,

90.   http://papalvisit.ecupatriarchate.org/media/pope_arrival_2006.phpf=windows&p=2  (for more see: http://papalvisit.ecupatriarchate.org  )

91.   Theological akriveia (precision) has been expressed with clarity in the Synod of 1030 under Alexios Studitis: «From now on, and in the Holy Spirit, we hereby instruct all of the Churches so that the most reverend Hierarchs who are appointed to oversee Churches keep a sleepless watch over their parishes, and with all their strength repel the heresy leaders as insolent wolves, whose cacodoxy [...] the rest of the heresy leaders relentlessly persist in, nor tolerate addressing them by the title of bishop, or addressing a heresy leader of theirs as "first", or ordinate or perform any other hieratically inappropriate things», in Kotsonis, Intercommunio, p. 201.


92.  According to the 1st Canon of the Carthage Synod, «with the heretics - where there is no church [...] it is not possible for the heretic, who does not even have a sacrificial altar, or even a church...».  The Dominican theologian Õ. Congar when interpreting the Orthodox self-awareness mentions: « Christian antiquity has always refused to give the name of "Church" to those bodies that had broken away from the only visible Church which was the "catholic"  Church - in other words, the true and Orthodox one.  It was unthinkable for a Church could exist without having the characteristics of the Church, that were ascribed to Her by the Nicene-Constantinople Symbol (Creed): one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  That is the reason they referred to the communities who were isolated from the union with various names, while barring the use of the name "Church" - unless they were using it in its empirical sense, of a congregation... » (P. Deseille, My path to Orthodoxy, Athens 19932, p. 134). According to S. L. Greenslade, per the unanimous teaching of the Fathers - which is based on the New Testament - the Church not only "was obliged to be one, but it is in fact only one, and cannot be anything else but one.  This unity was (for them) a characteristic of the visible Church, and the visible Church was perceived as a one and only organic edifice - a community.  According to them (the Fathers), divisions and interruptions in communion were not covered or governed by a spiritual and invisible unity, nor could an assortment of names form one single Church. There was only one visible Church, in one and only communion. The bodies severed from that communion were outside the Church..» in P. Deseille, My path to Orthodoxy, Athens 19932, p. 140-141.

93 PG 77, 132

94 PG 77, 133

95.  PG 77, 81, 96, 97, 106, 104, 124, 126

96.  PG 77, 106

97.  http://papalvisit.ecupatriarchate.org/media/divine_liturgy_2006.phpf=windows&p=2  (for more see: http://papalvisit.ecupatriarchate.org  )

98.  as prev., time indicator: 1:47:30

99   as prev., time indicator: 0:36:44

100.  as prev., time indicator: 1:24:55

101.    Saint Cyril of Jerusalem respectively mentions: «Do not think that the kiss is the usual kind that is exchanged by common friends in the marketplace. This is not that kind of kiss.» PG 33, 1112. «Among the Eucharist symbolisms, the special sign of reconciliation prior to receiving Holy Communion and an example of proper brotherly relations is the ritual of the kiss of peace, which goes back to the time of the New Testament.  The kiss was by no means symbolic or virtual, but the living expression - the sacred praxis of love per se.» in S.Tsompanides, Liturgy after the Liturgy: The contribution of the Orthodox Church and Theology in the common Christian witness for justice, peace and integrity of creation. Thessaloniki, 1996, p. 180-181.

102.   G. Paraskevopoulos, Hermeneutic supervision on the Divine Liturgy, Patrae 20052, p. 441, P.Evdokimov, The Prayer of the Eastern Church, transl. M.Papazachou-D.Tzerpos, Athens 19822, p. 187

103.  Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 48

104.  According to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, PG 77, 320.

105.  Episkepsis, issue. 50/14. 3. 1972, p. 7-8 and  Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 48

106.  Theodore Studite PG 99, 984, more analytically see Alivizatos, Oekonomia, p. 40.

107.  Letter by Hagiorite Monks to Michael Palaiologos on the matter of the union of 1439, in Professors, Memorandum, p. 19-20.

108.  Homily by the Metropolitan of Ioannina, fr. Theocletus, in the most venerable Patriarchal Temple of the Holy Great Martyr George, on the occasion of the Celebration of the Throne (30/11/2007), in www. ec-patr. org/docdisplay. php Lang=gr&id=843&tla=gr.

109.  Stylianos (Charkianakis), Archbishop of Australia, The Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. Problems and Prospects, in Scientific Year Book of the Thessaloniki University School of Theology, No.29(1986/89), p. 22-24.

110.  Vl. Lossky, The Mystic Theology of the Eastern Church, transl. S.Plevrakis, Thessaloniki 19732, p. 206

111.  L.Ouspensky, The Theology of the Icon in the Orthodox Church, transl. S.Marinis, Athens 1998, p. 660, 666 cmp. P.Evdokimov, Orthodoxy, transl. A.Mourtzopoulos, Thessaloniki 1972, p. 252.

112.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 39

113.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 62-63

114.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 64

115.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 65

116.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 69

117.  Fougias, Oekonomia, p. 84

118.  Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 46

119.  Bartholomeos, Codification, p. 20

120.  Bartholomeos, Codification, p. 64.

121.  Bartholomeos, Codification, p. 31

122. Bartholomeos, Codification, p. 93

123. A note in the 19th Canon of the Sardis Synod, in Rallis-Potlis III, p. 279

124.  A note in the 7th Canon of the 1st-2nd Synod, in Rallis-Potlis ´ p. 674.

125. The No.923/7. 6. 2004 Patriarchal Letter to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, in www. ec-patr. org/docdisplay. phplang =gr&id=33&tla=gr.

126.  Bartholomeos, Oekonomia, p. 45

127.  N.Vasileiades, Saint Mark of Ephesus and the Union of the Churches, Athens 19833, p. 74.

128.  Fr. Theodore Zisis, On the common prayer of Patriarch and Pope - who will impose canonicity?  Theodromia, 6,2(2004), p. 174-175, cmp. Stylianos (Charkianakis), Archbishop of Australia, The Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics. Problems and Prospects, in Scientific Year Book of the Thessaloniki University School of Theology, 29(1986/89), p. 22-24.

129.  Encyclical to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches (31 January 1952), in J. Karmiris, The Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments of the Orthodox Catholic Church, Athens 1953, p. 962-963

130.  St. Avramides, The desiderata of the Orthodox Church against the Worldwide Council of Churches, (typed text) p. 11

131.  St. Avramides, The desiderata of the Orthodox Church against the Worldwide Council of Churches, (typed text)  p. 10, 12.

132.  World Council of Churches, Central Committee, Geneva 26. 8-3. 9. 2002, Final Report of Special Commission on Orthodox participation in the WCC, section B par. 43, in www2.wcc-coe.org/ccdocuments.nsf/index/gen-5-en.html.

133.  World Council of Churches, Central Committee, Geneva 26. 8-3. 9. 2002, Final Report of Special Commission on Orthodox participation in the WCC, Appendix A par. 8, in www2. wcc-coe. org/ccdocuments. nsf/index/gen-5-en. html #Anchor--SECTIO-15275 and  St. Avramides, The desiderata of the Orthodox Church against the Worldwide Council of Churches, (typed text) p. 17-18.

134.  «The canonical order of the Orthodox Church is based on one hand upon the sacred Canons of both Ecumenical and Local Synods, and on the other hand on the  established, age-old ecclesiastic order... the sacred Canons 3 of the 2nd and 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Synods, as well as all the sacred canons that refer to the Patriarchal system of ecclesiastic administration, not only comprise an organic and inalienable element of the Orthodox canonical order, but also an unambiguous criterion for the smooth operation of inter-Orthodox relations in every era. The established authority of the Orthodox Church - through Her age-old ecclesiastic praxis and springing from the fundamental principle of the Orthodox Church on the matter of the Local Church - is naturally not subject to arbitrary or circumstantial misinterpretations, according to the respective interests of the one or the other local Church.» (No. 923/7. 6. 2004 Patriarchal Letter to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia), in www. ec-patr.org/docdisplay.phplang =gr&id=33&tla=gr.

135.  In the No.1073/1. 12. 2003 venerable Patriarchal Letter addressed to His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos (†), on the subject of the Holy Metropolises of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Northern Greece and the Eastern Aegean, in www. ec-patr. org/docdisplay. phplang=gr&id =20&tla=gr

136.  "Ecclesiastic Intervention" Magazine, Nafpaktos, vol. 138/December 2007; see also:  www. parembasis. gr/2007/07 12 21. htm

137.  Christophoros of Leontopolis, "Apostolic Succession in Ordinations", "Ecclesia" magazine, vol. 11(1934), p. 280 (sub-page 1)

138.  The Encyclical is signed by: Irenaeus, Archbishop of New York, John, Archbishop of Chicago and Minneapolis, Silvester, Archbishop of Montreal and Canada, Valerius, Archbishop of Detroit and Michigan, Cyprian, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, Theodosius, Bishop of Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Demetrius, Bishop of Hartford and New England, Johasaph, Bishop of Edmonton, Jose, Bishop of Mexico and Herman, Bishop of Wilkes-Barre (currently Archbishop) (Irenikon 46(1973), p. 299.

139.  This is the Orthodox Church in America (OCA-former Metropolia) which, through her Archbishop Herman (former Bishop of Wilkes-Barre) participates in the Committee of the Standing Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of America (see. www. scoba. us/jurisdictions. html).

140.  P. Deseille, My path towards Orthodoxy, Athens 19932, p. 123.

141.  Fr. George Florovsky characteristically stresses: «I regard participation not only as permissible and possible for the Orthodox, but even a direct duty which springs from the very essence of the Orthodox conscience, and the obligation that belongs to the true Church, of incessantly submitting Her witness everywhere... I see the Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical movement through the prism of missionary action.  The Orthodox Church is especially invited to participate in precisely that ecumenical exchange of ideas, because She is aware of Herself as the guardian of the Apostolic Faith and the tradition in its catholicity and its fullness, and that She is, in that sense, the true Church... Orhtodoxy is the "catholic" truth - the truth for all the world, forever and for all peoples.» in Placide Deseille,  My Path towards Orthodoxy, Athens 19932, p. 121-122.

142.  E. Theodoropoulos, Articles-Studies-Epistles, Á´, Athens 1986, p. 231.

143.  Revelations, 7, 9-12. 22, 20.



Translation by: A. N.

Article published in English on: 19-11-2009.

Last update: 19-11-2009.