Acrivia, Against Ecumenism, Against False Union, Archbishop Chrysostomos, Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All-Greece, Baptism, Baptismal Names, Barlaamism, Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland, Canons, Chrismation, conversion, CTOS, Discernment, Dogmatic and Canonical Issues, Ecclesiology, Economia, Economy, Ecumenism, Elder Philotheos Zervakos, FAQs, Form of Baptism, Genuine Orthodoxy, GOC, Great Council of 2016, Great Fast, Great Lent, Holy Canons, Holy Elder Philotheos of Paros, Metropolitan (Emeritus) Chrysostomos, Metropolitan Demetrios of America, Metropolitan Demetrius of America, Modernism, Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, Monastery of St. John the Wonderworker, Ordination, Palamas, Reception of Converts, Reception of Heretics, Repentance, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Mark of Ephesus, St. Philaret of New York, St. Seraphim of Sofia, St. Seraphim Sobolev, Sunday of Orthodoxy, True Orthodoxy, World Orthodoxy
1. In the acceptance32 of repentant heretics and schismatics, the Œcumenical and local Synods of the Church have, from time to time, in addition to the principle of exactitude, applied the so-called principle of œconomy, to wit, a canonical and pastoral33 practice, according to which it is possible for there to be a temporary divergence from the letter of the Sacred Canons, without violating their spirit.
2. Nevertheless, œconomy assuredly can never and in no circumstance whatever permit the pardoning of any sin or any compromise concerning the “correct and saving confession of the Faith,”34 since œconomy aims clearly and solely, in a spirit of charitable accommodation, at facilitating the salvation of souls, for whom Christ died.
3. The application of œconomy in the reception of heretics and schismatics into communion with the Church in no way betokens that the Church acknowledges the validity and the reality of their mysteries, which are celebrated outside Her canonical and charismatic boundaries.35
4. The Holy Orthodox Church has never recognized—in an absolute sense and, as it were, from a distance—either by exactitude or by œconomy, mysteries performed outside Her,36 since those who celebrate or who partake of these mysteries remain within the bosom of their heretical or schismatic community.
5. Through the application of œconomy exclusively and solely in the reception of individual persons or communities outside Her in repentance,37 the Orthodox Church accepts merely the external form of the mystery of heretics or schismatics—provided, of course,38 that this has been preserved unadulterated, especially as regards Baptism—but endows this form with life through the Grace of the Holy Spirit that exists in Her by means of the bearers of Her fullness in the Truth of Christ, namely, Orthodox Bishops.
6. More specifically, with regard to the Mysteries celebrated in the so-called official Orthodox Churches, the True Orthodox Church does not provide assurance39 concerning their validity or concerning their soteriological efficacy, in particular for those who commune “knowingly” [wittingly]40 with syncretistic ecumenism and Sergianism, even though She does not in any instance repeat their external form for those entering into communion with Her in repentance, in anticipation of the convocation of a Major Synod of True Orthodoxy, in order to place a seal on what has already occurred at a local level.41
7. It is in any event certain that when the purity of the dogma of the Church is assailed and the irrefragable bond between confession, Catholicity, and communion is thereby weakened or even completely broken, the Mysteriological and soteriological consequences, clearly foreseen by the Apostolic, Patristic, and Synodal Tradition, are very serious and very grave.42
8. Taking into account that St. Basil the Great, although he declares himself in favor of exactitude, nonetheless accepts the use of œconomy with regard to certain heretics and schismatics (First Canon), it is important to note that the Holy Orthodox Church has synodally sanctioned the use of œconomy for “those who are joining Orthodoxy and the portion of the saved,” as is evident in the famous Canon XCV of the Holy and Œcumenical Quinisext Synod (the Synod in Trullo), whereby different heretics and schismatics are accepted in a variety of ways, whether solely through repentance, a certificate of faith (λίβελλος), and Confession, as are the Nestorians and Monophysites who were already condemned centuries before, through Chrismation, or through Baptism.
* * *
9. In awareness of all the foregoing, and of the particular conditions in each local Church, the True Orthodox Church deals with especial care with any clergy or laity from the so-called official Orthodox Churches who desire to enter into communion with Her, being concerned—in the exercise by Her of pastoral solicitude for them—about what is absolutely essential, namely, that they proceed in their choice freely, conscientiously, and responsibly.
10. As a general rule, monastics and laity from these Churches, who have definitely been baptized according to the Orthodox rite,43 are received into communion through anointing (Χρῖσμα) by means of a special order, in conjunction, to be sure, with the Mystery of sacred Confession, while clergy submit a written petition and, as long as this is approved, are received into communion in the same way, and also through a special Order of the Imposition of Hands (Χειροθεσία), specifically compiled for such cases.
11. It is understood that, commensurate with idiosyncrasies in different places and in different cases, for the application of a more lenient or a stricter order, a decision is to be made by the local Bishop on the basis of synodally determined criteria or by a competent Synod, according to St. Cyprian of Carthage:
* “In this matter we do not coerce or impose a law on anyone, since every Prelate has freedom of will in the administration of the Church and will have to account for his actions before the Lord.”44
12. A Major General Synod, of Pan-Orthodox authority, would be able to decree the general criteria and the preconditions for the exercise of the practice of receiving those who return to the True Orthodox Church from various newfangled schismatic and heretical communities.
32 “Acceptance”: the acceptance of heretics means that the Church accepts within Her bosom heretics who assuredly return to Her with an acknowledgment and a spirit of repentance.
33 “Pastoral practice”: a practice on the part of Shepherds, who care, in Christ and in the fear of God, for the salvation of the reason-endowed flock of the Church.
34 “The correct and saving confession of the Faith”: that is, œconomy is not permitted—“there is no room for accommodation”—in what pertains to matters of Faith.
35 “The charismatic and canonical boundaries of the Church”: the “canonical boundaries” are defined by the Dogmas and the Sacred Canons of the Orthodox Church (see note 18, “Canonical”), while the “charismatic boundaries” are defined chiefly by the Sacred Mysteries, through which the Grace of God acts upon the faithful. In the Orthodox Church, these two boundaries are not separated but deemed equivalent. These terms are mentioned here precisely in order to emphasize their equivalence, since the ecumenists consider the charismatic boundaries of the Church to be broader than Her canonical boundaries; that is, they recognize Mysteriological Grace also in various heretical communities (see §§II.2 and II.11 earlier on in this document).
36 “In an absolute sense and, as it were, from a distance”: the Orthodox Church has never recognized the ontologically non-existent mysteries of heretics, either “in an absolute sense,” that is, in and of themselves (self-sufficiently and independently), or “from a distance,” that is, insofar as the heretics remain distant from Her. When, however, the purveyors of these heretical mysteries are going to enter and be united with Her Body, then the issue of their correct form arises, exclusively and solely for the sake of the Church giving content to those mysteries, which were thitherto empty and devoid of substance or Grace (see the following section VI.5 in this document).
37 “In repentance”: reception into the Church in repentance certainly does not signify, here, the mode of reception, that is, only through the Mystery of Repentance and Confession, but refers to the spirit and disposition of a schismatic or heretic who is conscious of his error, repents, and is incorporated into the True Church.
38 “Accepts”: the issue of the acceptance or non-acceptance of the external form of a so-called mystery of heretics or schismatics rests with the pastoral discretion of the Bishop; that is to say, such acceptance is not obligatory, but optional.
39 “Provide assurance”: that is, assert as sure and indisputable, assert emphatically and absolutely, certify, guarantee. * The meaning of this paragraph should be sought in conjunction with that of the preceding five paragraphs, and not in isolation.
40 “Knowingly”: the Seventh Œcumenical Synod anathematizes those who commune with heretics “knowingly,” that is, even though they realize that they are heretics.
41 “At a local level”: by this is meant whatever has been properly and correctly done by local Synods of True Orthodox Churches. This paragraph is to be interpreted and elucidated as follows: When it so happens that the True Orthodox Church, in the case of those returning and entering into Her, does not repeat the external form of the Mysteries of the so-called official Orthodox Churches, She does not indicate thereby that She affirms their Mysteriological, internal, or soteriological validity.
42 With regard to the innovating ecumenists, the rupture of the “bond between confession, Catholicity, and communion” mentioned here is already a fact and a reality, with all that follows there-from.
43 “According to the Orthodox rite”: Orthodox Baptism is performed through three immersions and emersions in a font, “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (St. Matthew 28:19).
44 “Letter to Pope Stephen,” in Concilia ad regiam exacta, Vol. I (Lutetiæ Parisiorum: Impensis Societatis Typographicæ Librorum Ecclesiasticorum iussu Regis constitutæ, 1671), col. 741— TRANS.