About the Author
Alexei Pogodin was born on 10 July 1925 in Belgrade. His father, A.L. Pogodin, was a Doctor of Slavonic Philology. After Germany attacked Yugoslavia, Alexei and his father volunteered for the front. He graduated from the Theological Faculty of Belgrade University in 1949, and was ordained as a celibate priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church that same year. At the end of 1949 he was received into the West European Diocese of the ROCOR by Archbishop John (Maximovitch). He was tonsured a monk by Archbishop John in 1951. While Fr Ambrose was based in Dormition cathedral he served in the Bradford and Nottingham parishes in England vicariate of the diocese. The St. John’s response to a query regarding administration of Holy Communion to a dying Uniate (Greek Catholic) woman, cited and brought to your attention in this study, is connected with Fr. Ambrose’s service in the Bradford parish. The biographer of ROCOR’s London parish Fr. Christopher Birchall assesses Fr. Ambrose as “the brilliant but erratic, […] who was also an accomplished pianist” (Embassy, Emigrants and Englishmen [Jordanville, 2014], 454). In 1955 by the instruction of St. John and with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops Fr. Ambrose composes a liturgical service for Blessed Augustine Bishop of Hippo.
In 1956 Fr. Ambrose was transferred to Sydney. According to Metropolitan Laurus, the local parishioners would recall how Fr Ambrose and his mother used to play the piano as a duet. Fr Ambrose returned to England in 1957 and from the same year was the rector of the ROCOR’s parish of St Nicholas in Rome. He participated in the third session of the Second Vatican Council as a member of the group of ROCOR observers (14 September – 21 November 1964). On 22 December 1963 the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris awarded Fr Ambrose a Master of Theology degree for his work Sviatoi Mark Efesskii i Florentiiskaia Unia (St Mark of Ephesus and the Florentine Union ,published in 1963 by the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville).
Fr Ambrose’s relations with Archbishop Anthony of Geneva were strained. The parish in Rome was stauropegic. However, the Chairman of the Synod of Bishops, Metropolitan Philaret, appointed the same one Archbishop Antnony to be the Synod’s overseer for the parish in Rome. Under the circumstances, in January 1966 Archimandrite Ambrose requested a canonical leave to the North American Metropolia to lecture at the St Vladimir Seminary. The leave of absence was not granted, and for his unauthorised transfer into that Metropolia, Archimandrite Ambrose was suspended from church service. In March 1966, pursuant to the intercession of Archbishop John of San Francisco, the ban was lifted and Fr Ambrose was accepted into the clergy of the West American Diocese as incumbent priest of the church in the orphanage named in honor of St Tikhon of Trans-Don [Tikhon of Voronezh].
Archbishop John was always Fr Ambrose’ “guardian angel.” This is how he wrote about his to Metropolitan Philaret : “You and I both know archimandrite Ambrose Pogodin well, that despite his burden of succumbing to melancholy from time to time, he is exceptionally worthy in his moral qualities, and that he is an extremely gifted priest.” (January 21 /February 3 1966. Archive of the Synod of the Bishops of ROCOR).
After Archbishop John’s passing, Archimandrite Ambrose left for Europe on 10 July 1967 and was accepted into the Archbishopric of Russian Churches in Western Europe. On August 2 1967 Archimandrite Ambrose was suspended from church service for his “unauthorised transfer into another jurisdiction” (Pravoslavnaia Rus’ , No. 23, 1967, 12). In 1968 he joined the North American Metropolia and from 1969 to 2001 was a cleric of the San Francisco Diocese. From 1973 to the end of the 1990s Fr Ambrose served the OCA parish of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God in Menlo Park, California. In 1975 Archbishop Nikodem of Richmond and Britain appealed for the acceptance of Archimandrite Ambrose into the clergy of the ROCOR, but the appeal was rejected by the Synod of Bishops on the grounds that Fr Ambrose had served in church while under ban, and had expressed no repentance.
In 1986 the abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery undertook the editing of the theological annual Pravoslavny Put’ (The Orthodox Path). In the same year the Synod of Bishops passed over its printed organ “Tserkovnaya Zhizn” (Church Life) to the Holy Trinity monastery. In the person of Archbishop Laurus, Fr Ambrose acquired an attentive and respected correspondent. Fr Ambrose’s translations from Byzantine, Classical Greek and Latin, as well as theological articles, began to appear in both Pravoslavny Put’ and Tserkovnaia Zhizn’.” The archbishop would consult Fr Ambrose on theological questions, including the attitude toward the views of priest Mikhail Azkul, who joined the Boston schism (Archimandrite Ambrose [book review] Azkul M., The Teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church, Pravoslavny Put’ 1988, 154-160; 1989, 116-179).
Upon retirement Fr Ambrose wanted to go the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, but that proved impossible. Fr Ambrose settled in the retirement facility at the New Diveevo Convent near New York. Rasaphor Monk Vsevolod (Filipiev) from the Holy Trinity Monastery, who visited Fr Ambrose, recalls that when a pilgrim from Moscow told Fr Ambrose that “his books and translations are to be found in every Orthodox home in Russia and are published in large numbers, he sighed deeply and said: ‘And I am wasting away here.’ “ (Okhranitelstvo, Moscow, 2004, 327).
On 30 October 2004 Fr Ambrose passed away at the Old People’s Home on the Tolstoy farm. “The parting of Fr Ambrose was attended by Archpriest Grigorii Kotliarov, who washed the body after death. The funeral service and interment took place in California on 4 November that year by the clergy of the West American Diocese of the Orthodox Church of America. With the blessing of Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and West America, the memorial services were attended by Bishop Peter of Cleveland and Archpriests Stephen Pavlenko and Peter Perekrestov.” (Internet site of the Synod of Bishops. www.synod.com/01newstructure/pagesru/…/amvrosiy.html)
Fr Ambrose also had a gift for poetry, which has been written about by Ludmila Tobolskaia, “Arkhimandrite Amvrosii (Pogodin) strannik v poiskakh tsarstva nebesnogo“ (“Archimandrite Ambrose (Pogodin) – a pilgrim in search of the Kingdom of Heaven,” Pravoslavnyi Put’, 2004). It could be fairly said that in the entire second half of the XX century, nobody translated more Ancient Greek and Latin Christian authors into Russian than he.
This text has been translated by Fr. Alvian Smirensky. Where possible, quotations in the text have been taken from existing translations. Where possible, the canonical references have been taken from L’Huillier, Archbishop Peter. The Church of the Ancient Councils. Crestwood, N.Y.: SVS Press, 1996. Other texts were checked against Bishop Nikodim Milash.
This essay attempts to review the problem of how persons coming from other Christian confessions are to be received into the bosom of the Orthodox Church. Can the baptism of the heterodox, performed upon them by their churches, be accepted if it was done in the same spirit and understanding as in the Orthodox Church (i.e., by triple immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit)? Can such persons be received into the Orthodox Church by the renunciation of all heresies, confession of the Orthodox faith, and chrismation in order to complete that which was lacking prior to acceptance of the Orthodox Faith? Or, in other cases, should persons be received on the basis of renunciation of heresy, repentance and confession of the Orthodox Faith? Or, should the effectiveness of the baptismal mystery performed in all heterodox churches be rejected as lacking in grace? In that case, should such persons be received into the Orthodox Church exclusively by baptizing and chrismating them?
This issue was always a significant problem in the history of the Church. It was considered by the ancient Church 1, the Holy Fathers, canons of ancient Local Councils and the Ecumenical Councils, later decisions of individual Local Church Councils, and, in certain cases, by rulings of Orthodox sovereigns. For us, who live abroad among the heterodox, this problem is not as academic as it is practical, parochial and pastoral. In our parishes we constantly encounter, in small or large measure, an influx of heterodox, some of which later join the Orthodox Church both as clerics and laity. Mixed marriages are a common occurrence in our parishes and offer an opportunity for attracting new converts to the Orthodox Church.
In modern times, this question is still an issue. Rules promulgated by the Church must wisely guide and assist the parish priest in this missionary situation. It is essential that these rules, when they appear under new forms in conjunction with current circumstances and conditions in the world, reflect both the stability and the tradition of the Orthodox Faith along with the wisdom and love of Mother Church. In the distant past of the eighth century, St. John of Damascus wrote that the Church’s legislation must breathe with a spirit of love and condescension. 2 This should be all the more expected today in these difficult times for the Orthodox Church and all Christianity; times when “. . . the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” 3 as evidenced by godlessness, falling away from the Church, indifference, and all other spiritual evils. The Orthodox Church, while avoiding any type of compromise, must primarily show herself to be a loving mother with respect to those heterodox who, with faith and love, come to her from other Christian confessions.
If kept in this perspective, the Church’s rules will be vital and conducive to the work of spreading Orthodoxy in the world. History is a wonderful teacher for life. We will present the history of how the problem of the reception of the heterodox into Orthodoxy was resolved: 1) in the Universal Church, 2) in the Russian Church, 3) in the Greek Church of the 18th century, and finally, 4) how this question is seen by the Orthodox Churches at the present time. 4
How the question of the reception of the heterodox was resolved in the Ancient Church, during the time of the Ecumenical Councils and before the Fall of Constantinople. The Church’s view and legislation on this problem
Inasmuch as we will be making references to Church canons, i.e., to her laws and decisions, it behooves to note that every canonist, upon perusing any canon, must take into account: when and under what circumstances was the canon written and to whom does it refer. Then: does the particular canon express a fundamental position as the very principle of the Church, or does it merely reflect a particular time and has it been amended by later legislation of the Church, 5 and how does the decisive legislation of the Church consider that, which was promulgated during the later Ecumenical Councils. The canons changed because the very circumstances of the Church’s life changed. The Church’s dogmatic teaching became more precise; old heresies fell by the wayside and new ones took their place. Even the external structure of the Church’s government changed and new conditions arose in the life of the Church. The Church’s canons are reflections of the Church’s living organism, and, therefore, in considering this or that canon, one must thoroughly investigate its spirit, taking into account those circumstances which we listed above.
Baptism is the Christian Church’s fundamental sacrament. It was commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ and was performed by the holy apostles, 6 the bishops and presbyters whom they appointed and by their successors. The ancient holy fathers and the Church’s canons speak about the sacrament of baptism. 7 The holy Church administered this baptism as its basic sacrament. Thus apostle Paul writes, ” . . . One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” 8 In view of the exceptional significance of this sacrament, the holy Church undertook every effort to make sure that none of her members, for whatever reason, was left without baptism, and, on the other hand, to make sure that no one would be baptized more than once, inasmuch as this sacrament, – by analogy with natural birth, as a person’s real birth in Christ for eternal life, – cannot be repeated, as it was impressed in the ancient symbols of faith and as found in our own Creed. These two elements: concern to make certain that no Church member remain without true baptism and the non-repetition of valid baptism, can be found expressed in later Church legislation as well. 9 We first see this in the Apostolic Canons 46 and 47: the first one strictly forbids the bishop or presbyter to recognize heretical baptism as valid; 10 in the second one, the bishop or presbyter is strictly forbidden to repeat a baptism over one who already had a valid baptism. 11
Thus, Apostolic Canon 46 speaks about the inadmissibility of heretical baptism. Immediately following the text of that canon there is an explanation in the [Russian] Most-holy Governing Synod’s edition as follows:
“This Apostolic Canon refers to heretics in the times of the apostles, who offended against the chief dogmas about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and about the incarnation of the Son of God. The following canons are directed against further kinds of heresies: 1 E.C. 19, Laodicea 7 and 8, and 6 E.C. 95, and Basil Gr. 47.” 12 Thus, this Apostolic Canon refers to the following heretics: whose heresies not only distorted the teachings of the Holy Church, but which could hardly be called “Christian.” They consisted of a fantastic mixture either of Judaism and Christianity or of a pagan philosophy with a superficial coloration of Christianity, resembling Eastern mysteries mixed with fantasy. Prof. Posnov in describing these heresies concludes: “The Judeo- and Pagano-Christian distortions were not Christian heresies in a real sense.” 13 See his description of these heresies on pp. 142-149. See also Manual for a Descriptive Study of Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism Concerning the heresies that appeared at the end of the second and the third centuries on the Christian soil, they consisted of a complete absurd in the dogmatic sense. The “Circular Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs” of 1848 rightfully calls these heresies “monstrosities” and “pathetic imaginations and brainstorms of sad people.” 14 Even such a heresy as Montanism, more closer in structure of the holy Church, was far removed from the authentic teaching of the Church, introducing a new revelation which supposedly was given to Montanus on the basis of which the sect’s world-view was built. 15 Although their baptism was performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, the addition of the formula “and in the name of the spirit of Montanus” invalidated all baptisms.
Thus, the Apostolic Canons have in view specific heretics and refer to those ancient times. 16 It is clear that the Church could not have accepted such heretics as Christians in any case. However, all these heresies had their own sacred ablution or “baptism.” “Baptism” in one form or another is common to all religions. The so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls” show us that the Essenes in addition to, and ranking with circumcision, practiced a baptism. 17 These sacred ablutions or “baptisms” of the 2nd century heretics had nothing in common with the baptism performed in the Church. Church baptism consisted of two elements: a sensible teaching about the Holy Trinity and about the Incarnation of the Son of God. Heretical baptism had neither, and therefore, it could not be accepted as equivalent to the baptism performed in the holy Church. Canon 46 of the Apostolic Canons was written to dispel any misunderstanding. These people needed to be baptized in the Church since they, in the Church’s judgement, were not baptized. But, as we pointed out, the following canon, 47th, forbade the repetition of that baptism that was validly performed.
Christianity saw no small number of heresies during the 3rd and 4th centuries, and the originators of the heresies were bishops or prominent presbyters. How to treat those who came to Orthodoxy from those heresies? By what method should they be received? There was an immediate difference of views about this problem within the Orthodox Church. Some insisted that they be received only through baptism, i.e., not to recognize their previous baptism as valid even though it was correct in form (i.e., corresponding to the baptism performed in the Orthodox Church). Others maintained a more tolerant view, accepting as valid that baptism, which was performed by some heretics, since it was performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, and did not require that those coming into Orthodoxy from heresy be re-baptized. A stricter line was taken by Tertullian (himself a Montanist), St. Cyprian of Carthage, Firmilian of Caesarea, and Elanus of Tarsus. St. Cyprian, a proponent of the strict line, convoked two councils in this matter (255-256) and insisted that heretics be received by no other way than baptism. St. Stephen, Pope of Rome (253-257) could be considered to hold a more tolerant view, and his position, according to the famous Hefele, was supported by Eastern bishops. At the same time as St. Cyprian along with a council of 71 bishops insisted that heretics lack any grace and for this reason their sacred acts are invalid, Pope St. Stephen received penitent heretics with the laying of a bishop’s hand on their heads. He did this in accord with the tolerant practice, which was held by other Western bishops. We read an ancient decree of the Council in Arles (Canon 8):
“If anyone shall come from heresy to the Church, they shall ask him to say the Creed; and if they shall perceive that he was baptized into the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost [in Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto esse baptizatum] he shall have hands laid upon him only so that he may receive the Holy Ghost. But if he was not baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, let him be baptized.” 18
Having learned about the decrees of the Council in Carthage under St. Cyprian’s chairmanship, which demanded the re-baptism of heretics coming into the Church, at first Pope St. Stephen demanded a repeal of these decrees, threatening excommunication and, since the repeals did not take place, he later excommunicated St. Cyprian. 19
It is interesting to note that Eastern canonists treat the decisions of the Carthage councils critically. Thus, Zonaras commenting on Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council, which calls for the reception of certain kinds of heretics without re-baptism, notes the decree of St. Cyprian, about which he says:
“Thus, the opinions of the Fathers gathered at the council with the great Cyprian do not refer to all heretics and all schismatics. Because the Second Ecumenical Council, as we just pointed out, makes an exception for certain heretics and grants its sanction for their reception without repeating the baptism, demanding only their anointing with the Holy Chrism provided that they renounced their own heresies and all other heresies.”
Balsamon calls the decrees of the Council at Carthage “not mandatory and as such ineffective.” 20
Given this evidence, our analysis shows that in the third and the first part of the fourth centuries there were two different practices for the reception of heretics and schismatics into the Orthodox Church: one through re-baptism and the other through repentance. However, the Orthodox Church, being always merciful, tended to lean towards the more lenient view.
Even though the First Ecumenical Council made no final ruling on this question, its three canons: 8th, 11th and 19th, breathe with mercy towards those who have fallen during the time of persecution or those who stepped away from Orthodoxy during the Novatian schism 21 or into Paul of Samosata’s heresy 22 Novatian’s followers, who called themselves “pure and better,” were to be received through repentance. Paulianists were to be received by Baptism since their dogmatic teaching was a distortion of Orthodox teaching, after which their clerics could be received [by ordination, trans.] into the clergy of the Orthodox Church.
We find a number of major Christological heresies in the 4th century such as Arianism, Apollinarianism and their offshoots, as well as heresies touching upon the dogma of the Holy Trinity and the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit (Macedonians). As to the reception of these and other heretics and schismatics into the Orthodox Church, we can see the holy Church has not as yet formulated decisive decrees and there were the two parallel practices noted above governing their reception. However, as we noted above, the Church followed the path of mercy and condescension. St. Basil is a witness to this in his 1st canon. He says that the Orthodox Church can accept only that baptism which in no way differs from that baptism which is performed in the Orthodox Church. A heresy is defined as “a clear difference in the very faith in God.” Wherefore, those heretics who belong to heresies that completely distort Christian teaching should be looked upon as lacking that baptism which is performed in the Church, and they should be baptized upon coming into the Church. As for schismatics, i.e., those who split off from the Church on the basis of “ecclesiastical disputes,” they can be received by way of repentance. Further St. Basil complains that sometimes Montanists were received into Orthodoxy without re-baptism, i.e., their baptism was accepted as valid. Since such a baptism is performed “in the Father and Son and Montanus or Priscilla,” it does not correspond to the baptism performed in the name of the Trinity by the Orthodox. Further St. Basil advances St. Cyprian of Carthage’s point of view according to which all heretics and all schismatics must be re-baptized when coming into the Orthodox Church since the heretics and schismatics are completely lacking in Grace. As a result of all this he says, “But, as some in Asia have otherwise determined, for the edification of many, let their baptism be allowed.” In this way St. Basil expressed his authority not in the direction of a rigorous resolution of the problem but in the direction of a merciful and condescending resolution, serving for the benefit of the Church.
The following interpretation of the words of St. Basil the Great was given by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, at its session on 15/28 September 1971:
“Thus, St. Basil the Great, and by his words the Ecumenical Council in confirming the principle that there is no genuine baptism outside the Holy Orthodox Church, allows, out of pastoral condescension, which is called economy, the acceptance of certain heretics and schismatics without a new baptism.”
In the period between the First and Second Ecumenical Councils there was a Local Council in Laodicea (c. 363) that decreed, by its 7th Canon: “Persons converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans: . . . shall be received by way of renouncing the heresy and through chrismation.” Thus, we see here as well that the more tolerant view prevailed over the more rigid. However, St. Basil the Great’s canons or the Laodicean canons, as authoritative as they may have been, were not as yet laws for the whole universal Church. A decision of an Ecumenical Council 23 was needed. Later, the Sixth Ecumenical Council decreed (in Canon 2) to accept the canons of St. Basil the Great and the canons of Laodicea as laws for the whole Church. This took place more than three centuries later. 24
It should be acknowledged that with the words of St. Basil the Great and of the Fathers of the Laodicean Council the Church determined a path for further ecumenical legislation, namely — that the decrees (or canons) of the Church be motivated by the spirit of toleration and with a view towards the common benefit of the Orthodox Church. But, in the noted decree of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (and prior to that in the canons of St. Basil the Great and the local council in Laodicea) the following is also evident: that the holy Church accepted as genuine that baptism which was done in the name of the Holy Trinity even though the baptism took place outside of the Orthodox Church, but in all respects corresponded to that baptism which was performed by the Orthodox. In such a case it is accepted as genuine and effective upon the reception of the convert into the Orthodox Church by way of repentance and chrismation. Then the words of St. Basil the Great become quite clear when he says: “The older authorities had judged that baptism acceptable which disregarded no point of the faith.” [St. Basil, Canon 1] In the book of Church rites for the reception of the heterodox into Orthodoxy we read the following description in one of the rites: 25 “The office for receiving into the Orthodox faith such persons as have not previously been Orthodox, but have been reared from infancy outside the Orthodox Church, yet have received valid baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, however, rejected other mysteries and customs and who held views contrary to those of the Orthodox Church.” 26 Had the holy Orthodox Church doubted the genuineness of such a baptism then there is no question that it would ever subject that person, who comes to her for the sake of the salvation of his soul, to the danger of remaining without baptism, the greatest of sacraments, being motivated by pastoral condescension towards heretics and schismatics, on the basis of economy (i.e., for the general welfare of the Church), i.e., undertaking a compromise at the price of the salvation of that person’s soul who entrusts the Church with the salvation of his soul! Baptism is the fundamental sacrament of the Church without which one cannot be saved. If one were to take note of later times and justifiably say that Protestant ministers lack apostolic succession and upon coming into the Orthodox Church are received as laymen, then we will counter this by noting that in the Orthodox Church baptism can be performed even by a layman if such is demanded by exigency.
But let us turn to the lengthy history of the problem of receiving the heterodox into the Orthodox Church. The decisive legislation on this matter was promulgated at the Second Ecumenical Council (A.D. 381) in its 7th Canon:
“Those heretics who come over to Orthodoxy and to the society of those who are saved we receive according to the prescribed rite and custom: we receive Arians, Macedonians, Novatianists who call themselves ‘pure and better,’ Quatrodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, as well as Appolinarians on condition that they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, and then they should be marked with the seal, that is, anointed with chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. And as they are marked with the seal, we say, ‘seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, Montanists, who are called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who commit other abominable things, and [those belonging to] any other heresies — for there are many of them here, especially among the people coming from the country of the Galatians, — all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks [i.e., pagans]. Accordingly, on the first day we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcise them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus we do catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.”
In this way the Holy Church made the rules: by what order to receive those who come into Orthodoxy from heresy. Those who have a correct baptism are received without re-baptism. Those who do not have baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity — are received by way of Baptism. It must be noted that the Arians and Macedonians held to a wrong teaching about the Persons of the Holy Trinity, but the actual faith in the Holy Trinity, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, was there, and this was sufficient, in the opinion of the holy Church for recognizing the validity (sufficiency) of their baptism.
With this canon the Second Ecumenical Council gave the direction of how to act in the future. Hefele notes that the Holy Fathers and the teachers of the Church, while accepting as valid the baptism of certain heretics, nonetheless felt it necessary to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit, inherent in the holy Orthodox Church, through chrismation. 27
We have already shown the comparison of Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council with the canons passed by the council at Carthage under St. Cyprian, along with the opinion about this matter by Zonaras and Balsamon.
The Church in Carthage, in the 3rd century under St. Cyprian, maintained such a strict view that it decreed that all heretics and schismatics who came into Orthodoxy be re-baptized without any exceptions. But it changed its views by the 4th and the beginning of the 5th centuries and decreed to accept schismatics without re-baptism but by way of repentance and the repudiation of heresy. Former schismatic clerics were received without re-ordination. 28 With respect to such heretics as Arians, Macedonians and others, this issue was not raised at the council (more correctly — a number of councils) in Carthage.
According to the general direction of Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council we see that there developed three orders in the Church for the reception of heretics (and schismatics) into Orthodoxy. The Kormchaya Kniga [Rudder] contains the letter of Timothy, presbyter of Constantinople who lived in the 5th century wherein he writes the following:
“There are three rites for accepting those coming to the Holy Divine, Catholic and Apostolic Church: the first rite demands holy baptism, the second one — we do not baptize but anoint with the Holy Chrism and the third — we neither baptize nor anoint but demand the renunciation of their own and all other heresy.” 29 Thus, those who are to be baptized are heretics in the extreme sense, of which we noted above. Those who are to be anointed with the holy chrism (without performing a second baptism over them) are Arians, Macedonians and those similar to them. Those who are to be received by way of repentance and a repudiation of error, are schismatics as well as certain heretics.
The last word in the legislation of the Universal Church with respect to the reception into Orthodoxy of those coming from heresy or schism is Canon 95 of the 6th Ecumenical Council. Its first part is a verbatim repetition of Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council and merely adds a note about the need to re-baptize the followers of Paul of Samosata (in this case referring to Canon 19 of the First Ecumenical Council). The second part lists the heresies that arose after the Second Ecumenical Council: Manicheans, Marcionites, and other similar ones, in which almost nothing remained that could be called Christian, and they were to be received through baptism. Nestorians and Monophysites (followers of Eutychus, Dioscoros and Severus) were to be received through repentance and repudiation of their heresies, after which they were to be admitted to Holy Communion.
This final legislation of the Universal Church should have sufficed for all future years of existence of the Orthodox Church. Without a doubt many heresies have died out but new ones appeared. There was no Roman Catholic Church as such because this was still that blessed time when the Eastern and Western churches constituted One Church. Protestantism with its branches was something in the far future. New and barbaric distortions of the healthy and salvific teaching have not risen as yet. However, Canon 95 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council spells out the norms for the Church’s future relationship with emerging schisms and heresies, as well as by which rite to receive those who would desire to become members of the Orthodox Church. We will reiterate this.
Those who have the least degree of dogmatic error are to be received by way of repentance and a repudiation of heresy, under the condition that their church structure preserved apostolic succession. Others, whose dogmatic teaching has undergone a greater distortion or who have not preserved apostolic succession although they were baptized as in the Orthodox Church in the name of the Holy Trinity by triple immersion, are to be received by the second rite, namely, by way of a repudiation of heretical distortions and anointing with the holy Chrism. The third group, whose baptism is not performed in the name of the Holy Trinity with triple immersion, is to be received by way of baptism, which also applies to Jews, Muslims and pagans. The teachings of this group of heretics usually consist of a complete innovation or an admixture of Judaism or paganism with the basic principles of Christianity. But in no way is there any kind of a church structure or apostolic succession, as we understand it.
The ninth century witnessed the sorrowful division between the Eastern and Western Churches. The Great Schism of 1054 created a fissure between the Churches, which over a period of time became even deeper. The Western Church moved not only towards schism with the Orthodox Church but with time it adopted heretical views. The legislation of the Orthodox Church was required to formulate rules about how to treat the Roman Catholic Church – as schismatics or heretics, and to decide along with this, by what rite to receive those Latins who wanted to come to the Orthodox Church. There was no decision on this matter for the longest time. Only in the 15th century, in connection with the Florentine Council (1459) was there any legislation considered.
Prior to the Florentine Council the Greeks considered the Latins to be schismatics. The Latins likewise viewed and called the Greeks “schismatics.” Under this understanding Latins coming to Orthodoxy were received by the third rite, i.e., by repudiation of their errors and repentance. St. Mark of Ephesus, that great confessor and pillar of the Orthodox Church, when speaking at the Florentine Council, called the Roman church “holy,” 30 addressing Pope Eugenius with the words “most holy Father,” 31. “blessed Father,” 32 “first among the servants of God,” 33 and he referred to Cardinal Cesarini as “eminent father.” 34 He speaks with sadness about the split that took place between the churches and calls upon the Pope and his co-workers to do everything for the union of the Churches. Later, when he saw the total uncompromising position of the Latins with respect to the “Filioque” and became convinced that they are adhering to an error of a dogmatical character, specifically with respect to the procession of the Holy Spirit, he begins to speak about them as heretics. Here is the view of St. Mark of Ephesus that he expressed at an internal meeting of the Greeks in Florence on March 30, 1439:
“The Latins are not only schismatics but are heretics. However, our Church was silent about this because [the Latins] are so numerous; but was this not the reason why the Orthodox Church moved away from them, because they were heretics? We simply cannot unite with them unless they agree to remove the addition (made by them) into the Symbol [Creed], and confess the Symbol just as we confess it.” 35
The Unia that was signed between the Greeks and the Latins in Florence was a terrible humiliation for the Orthodox Church. The Greeks disavowed their traditions in the face of all the demands insisted upon by the Vatican. Upon his return from Florence St. Mark — the defender and leader in the struggle for Orthodoxy — appealed to all Orthodox people with an epistle, in which he called attention of the faithful to the betrayal of Orthodoxy in Florence. And now he refers to the Latins as heretics who, in the event that some of them would come into Orthodoxy, are to be chrismated. He writes as follows:
“The Latins, having no cause to condemn us for our dogmatic teachings, call us “schismatics” because we declined to humble ourselves before them, which they imagine is their due. But let this be scrutinized: would it be just for us to grant them that courtesy and not accuse them of anything with respect to the Faith? They initiated the cause for the split. They openly made an addition (Filioque to the Symbol of Faith), which before they were pronouncing secretly. We were the first to break away from them, but it is better to say that we separated them and cut them off from the common Body of the Church. Why? Do tell me! Because they have the right faith and made the right addition (to the Symbol of Faith)? Who would say such a thing unless his head became damaged! But (we broke away from them) because they demonstrate an impious and wrong-headed view and hurriedly and thoughtlessly made the addition. Thus, we turned away from them as from heretics and for this reason disassociate ourselves from them. The venerable canons say thus: ‘He is a heretic and is subject to the laws against heretics if he — even only in a little way — turns from the Orthodox faith.’ 36 If the Latins in no way deviate from the Orthodox Faith then, it seems, we cut them off in error. But if they completely deviated, and this in their theology about the Holy Spirit — sinning against which is the greatest of dangers — then it is clear that they are heretics, and we cut them off as heretics. Why do we anoint them who come to us? — Is not this clear — as heretics? The 7th canon of the Second Ecumenical Council speaks thus: ‘Those heretics who come over to Orthodoxy and to the society of those who are saved we receive according to the prescribed rite and custom: Arians, Macedonians, Novatianists, who call themselves ‘pure and better,’ Quatrodecimans or Tetradites as well as Appolinarians. We receive them on condition that they present a written document and that they anathematize every heresy, which is not in accord with the thinking of the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, and then they should be marked with the seal, that is, anointed with chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. And as they are marked with the seal, we say seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’
Do you not see how we designate those who come from the Latins? If all those (named in the Canon) are heretics, then it is clear that they (i.e., the Latins) are heretics. What did the learned Antiochian Patriarch Theodore Balsamon write in reply to Mark, the holy Patriarch of Alexandria?
‘The Latin captives and others come into our catholic churches, asking to receive the Divine Mysteries. We would like to know: is this permitted? (Response) “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Mt. 12:30; Lk. 11:23) Inasmuch as many years ago the prominent part of the Western Church, namely Rome, was separated from communion with the other four Most Holy Patriarchs, because they made changes in their customs and dogmas, foreign to the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy — for this reason the Pope became unworthy of the common lifting up of names with the Patriarchs during Divine and Sacred Services — it is not proper to sanctify the Latin tribe through the Divine and Most Pure Gifts (given) from the hands of the priest, unless they (the Latins) first decide to abandon the Latin dogmas and customs and be catechized and admitted (by way of the prescribed rite) to Orthodoxy.’ 37 Have you not heard that they adopted not only customs but also dogmas which are strange to Orthodoxy (and that which is strange to Orthodoxy is most certainly a heretical teaching) and that according to the canons they must be catechized and united to Orthodoxy? If it is necessary to catechize then it is clear that they must be chrismated.” 38
St. Mark of Ephesus wrote these things at a time when the Orthodox Church was subject to massive aggression from the Roman Catholics — at a time when her very existence, in human terms, was questionable. This was one of the most critical epochs if not the critical epoch in the history of the Orthodox Church. But despite all this, we do not hear St. Mark saying that there was a practice, or that such a practice should be introduced which called to re-baptize Latins desiring to come into the Orthodox Church. St. Mark speaks about anointing them with the Holy Chrism, and no more than that. The views and witness of St. Mark of Ephesus were very important for the future legislation of the Orthodox Church concerning the rite with which those Latins coming into the Orthodox Church would be received. His opinion was upheld by the Council of the four Eastern Patriarchs meeting in Constantinople in 1484 that decreed that Latins that come into Orthodoxy were not to be re-baptized. This view of St. Mark of Ephesus that Latins coming into Orthodoxy should not be re-baptized, was also upheld by the Great Moscow Council in 1667. This will be discussed in detail in the next chapter of our essay.
The 1484 Council in Constantinople is also credited with formulating the rite about how to receive Latins into Orthodoxy. Notwithstanding the two forced Unias — Lyons and Florence, notwithstanding the evil acts of the Latins in Constantinople as well as in the Holy Mountain of Athos (to which the Athos Paterikon is a witness 39), the holy Orthodox Church, through the words of St. Mark of Ephesus and the Fathers of the 1484 Council in Constantinople, along with previous prominent canonists, acknowledged that to bring Latins (Roman Catholics) into the Orthodox Church, it is sufficient for them to renounce their heretical views, to confess the Orthodox Faith and to promise loyalty to her until the end of their lives. Their actual reception into Orthodoxy is performed through the rite of chrismation.
We have demonstrated that the Universal Orthodox Church instituted canons which were infused with tolerance towards those who, seeking the salvation of their souls, came into Orthodoxy, leaving behind and rejecting their error. The Holy Church received them. Where possible, the Church accepted their baptism and recognized it as valid, even though it was performed in environs outside the Orthodox Church. The Church taught the need to follow the rules that were built upon the wisdom and strength of Orthodoxy as expressed through the words of the fourth century Fathers (St. Basil the Great and the Fathers of the Laodicean Council) 40 and consistently through the end of the fifteenth century through the words of St. Mark of Ephesus and the four Eastern Patriarchs gathered at a Council in Constantinople in 1484, as well as the authority of the Second and the Sixth Ecumenical Councils. 41
How the question of the reception of the heterodox was resolved in the Russian Orthodox Church. Opinions and Church legislation on this question
Toleration towards non-Russians has always been a characteristic of the Russian state system and this contributed towards the strengthening of the great Russian empire, which was made up of many nationalities all living on equal principles. This same tolerance was likewise a characteristic of the Russian Orthodox Church with respect to the non-Orthodox, as was rightly pointed out by Russian historians. Professor A. V. Kartashev writes: “The relative toleration of Russians with respect to other religions and Christian confessions was a distinguishing trait of the pre-Mongol period.” 42 Professor N. Talberg correctly notes: “The Russian Church distinguished itself for toleration of non-Orthodox.” 43 Latin churches serviced by Latin clergy were found in Kiev, Novgorod, Ladoga, Polotsk, Smolensk, Pereyaslavl and in other places. In his “Outlines of Russian Church History” Prof. Kartashev provides interesting evidence about Russian interrelation with the West. 44 There were vital commercial and political contacts between the Russian and Western people. Foreign representatives and merchants from all parts of Europe could be found in Russian cities. Russia received Christianity before the great division of the Churches, therefore, the West, in the ecclesiastical sense, was not seen as a hostile world. Prior to the baptism of Rus’ and throughout the long history of Russia we see that the Vatican had great hopes of including the Russian Church as one of its own. Russian princes, beginning with St. Vladimir, were respectful and polite in their responses to the Popes, but strongly held on to Greek Orthodoxy. For a long period the Russian Church was headed by Greek metropolitans who, after the division of the Churches, maintained a hostile line towards the Latins. Prof. Kartashev writes:
“The Russians, under the influence of the Greek metropolitans who looked upon everything Roman in a dark light, and in part motivated by the rivalry over the control over Rus’, needed time to gradually adopt the extreme Greek point of view.” 45
It is interesting to note that a number of polemical works against the Latins have been attributed to those metropolitans, but all of them, as pointed out by Prof. Talberg, were written in a calm and well-meaning tone with respect to them. 46 However, in their instructions to the Russians they advocated an extreme intolerance towards the Latins, forbidding marriages with them, any social intercourse, sharing a meal with them and even feeding them from one’s dishes. Any dish from which a Latin partook of food was to be washed in a special way, accompanied by a prayer. Professor Kartashev writes:
“However, the theory did not immediately overcome the inertia of the living practice and in this case the established attitude of peaceful and well-meaning relations of the Russians towards the non-Orthodox and Western European people was evident throughout the whole pre-Mongol period.” 47 Russian princes continued to join in marriage with all Latin courts, and daughters of Russian princes when marrying would adopt the Western rite, and at times even the daughters of foreign sovereigns would continue to maintain their own Latin services while in Russia. 48 Under the influence of the friendly ties with Italy, the feast of the Translation of Relics of St. Nicholas to Bari was instituted in Russia, celebrated on May 9. The churches of Vladimir and Suzdal’ reflected the influence of the Romanesque style since they were built by Italian architects. The “Korsun Gate” in Novgorod’s St. Sophia Cathedral was of German origin. Prof. Kartashev notes:
“In Novgorod people lived so closely with foreigners that simple women would not hesitate to approach Latin priests for certain services, apparently without fear of their heresy and not finding them too different in their external appearance from their own clergy.” 49 Prince Iziaslav Yaroslavich did not hesitate to approach Pope Gregory VII for assistance, even after the division of the Churches, to get rid of an usurper. Although the request was fruitless, the prince was not questioned nor criticized.
The Metropolitan of Kiev Kirik (Cyricus, or, according to some sources, Cyril), in response to St. Niphon (†1156), Bishop of Novgorod’s query about how to receive Latins that come to Orthodoxy gave him the following directive:
“If a Latin wishes to come under Russian law, let him attend our Church for seven days. He is to be given a new name. Each day four prayers are devoutly read in his presence. Then let him bathe in the bathhouse. He will refrain from meat and dairy products for seven days, and on the eighth day, having bathed, let him come to Church. Four prayers must be read over him. He is dressed in clean clothes. A crown or a wreath is placed on his head. He is anointed with Chrism and a wax candle is placed in his hand. He receives Communion during the Liturgy and henceforth is considered a new Christian.” With such close relations between the Russians and Western people during the pre-Mongol period, it is unlikely that the Russians re-baptized those Latins who expressed a desire to accept the Orthodox faith. Such re-baptism would be the equivalent of not recognizing them as Christians. In large Russian cities that were characterized as commercial and political centers one could find both a Russian Orthodox culture as well as a Latin, Western one. The contacts between them were beneficial to both. Later, this situation had to change.
The Greek Church did not practice re-baptism of Latins that came into the Orthodox Church. Greek metropolitans stood at the head of the ancient Russian Church, and it is hardly likely that they would have promoted something, which was foreign to the Greek Church itself. In the above-cited directive of the Kievan Metropolitan Kirik (Cyricus, or Cyril) to Niphon of Novgorod we see that there is no mention of any re-baptism of Latins converting to the Orthodox faith. As for the Russians, we saw that their relations with the Latins were cordial, which was what the Greek metropolitans who headed the Russian Church at that time taught them.
Among the Russian saints we find some foreigners whom God led to Russia where they worked for the salvation of Russian souls, serving and saving themselves in the lands of the Russian Orthodox Church, where God glorified them as Russian saints.
I will name some of these. St. Anthony the Roman, born and educated in Rome at a time when the Western Church already separated from the Eastern Orthodox Church. His parents secretly preserved their piety and passed this on to their son. In 1106 St. Anthony the Roman miraculously was carried by waves to Novgorod. Here the Saint lived the rest of his life, and in many fruitful ways enriched ancient Russia’s monastic tradition. It should be noted that St. Nicetas of Novgorod received St. Anthony with great honor and love as someone sent from God. A question could formally be raised: is St. Anthony considered Orthodox? He was born and baptized in Rome at a time when there were no Orthodox clerics in Rome. At that time Rome was the Pope’s citadel, the Pope was not only its bishop but also its secular ruler to whom the territory belonged. 50 History knows nothing of any kind of a “catacomb Orthodox Church” in Rome. Papal Rome was always and in all respects loyal to everything Latin. St. Anthony could not have received baptism and other sacraments in any place except in the Latin churches of Rome, which is understandable. There were Orthodox territories in Italy’s South, which were subject to Byzantium, and Greeks lived there. St. Anthony was not a Greek but an Italian and lived in the territory belonging to the Roman throne. His native tongue was Latin as is evidenced by his Latin Bible with which he was buried in Novgorod. St. Nicetas of Novgorod could have legitimately raised the question about a public reception into Orthodoxy of a monk coming from Latin lands, born and baptized in Rome. But as we can see from the Life of St. Anthony the Roman, St. Nicetas received the Roman monk without the slightest hesitation, as someone sent to him by God’s will. The Saint’s decision could have been prompted not only by St. Anthony’s miraculous arrival, but by that general attitude of cordiality towards the non-Orthodox that, as we have seen, was so much in evidence in the environs of Great Novgorod, one of the most important centers of European trade. Such other centers of trade, notwithstanding the prevalence of a particular religion, were also religiously tolerant, as we see in the examples of Venice and Hamburg.
The Blessed Isidore, Fool-for-Christ, Wonderworker of Rostov, living in the 15th century, was German by birth and a Latin, as is seen from his Life. Deeply loving Russian Orthodoxy, he dedicated his life here to spiritual feats, saving himself in the environs of Russia and working for the salvation of Russian souls. God glorified him as a Russian saint. One can find nothing in his extensive Life about him being re-baptized upon accepting Orthodoxy. 51
Another Rostov saint, St. John the Hairy (†1591), judging by his Latin Psalter which was found after his death and which he used, was also a foreigner who loved Orthodoxy and attached himself to Russia where God glorified his saintliness. Although his Life is little known, there is nothing about him, which indicates that he was re-baptized upon coming into Orthodoxy. 52
St. Procopius of Ustiug was the only foreign Russian saint of whom the Prolog says that in accepting Orthodoxy in Great Novgorod, he “was baptized.” There are a number of unclear things in his Life: the contemporary edition of his Life states that “he received Orthodoxy,” without indicating by which rite he was received into the Orthodox Church. 53
There is no basis for assuming that the Russian Church re-baptized Latins coming into Orthodoxy during the pre-Mongol period. The Greek metropolitans that headed the Russian Church belonged to the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, which, in its turn, did not re-baptize Latins when receiving them into Orthodoxy. Only extraordinary events could bring about the situation whereby the Russian and the Constantinopolitan Churches would change this ancient practice and changed over to the re-baptism of Latins and those Protestants whose baptism was performed in the name of the Holy Trinity. The practice of re-baptizing the non-Orthodox was late in coming in the history of the Russian Church. It was brought about as a result of a number of events, which will be briefly described below.
The Russian Church unexpectedly found herself in great danger from the Latins who came to impose Latinism in Russian territories, acting with fire and sword. The Russian people, led by their valiant princes such as St. Alexander Nevsky (†1263) and St. Dovmont-Timothy of Pskov (†1299), were forced to defend their faith and their fatherland with their blood from the invading Latins. All this could not but bring about a radical change in the attitude of Russians towards the non-Orthodox. Earlier cordiality towards them was replaced by a feeling of indignity and detestation. The humble Russian monastics could no longer view armed monastic orders, sheathed in iron and carrying death and desolation with them, as their brothers in Christ. Just as in another time the Crusaders engendered an irreparable unprecedented fissure in the relations between the Roman Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, so did the Teutonic sword-bearing monks engender irreparable harm in the relations between the Roman Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Later events resulted in further deterioration in these relationships. Pope Eugene IV attempted to subjugate the Russian Orthodox Church through the Kievan Metropolitan Isidore. With the expulsion of Metropolitan Isidore, pointed polemical literature began in Russia to be directed against the Latins. In this way both in practice and in theory the Russian people saw the Latins as mortal enemies of Orthodoxy and Russia. The severe persecutions against the Orthodox in the neighboring territories of Southwestern Russia, about which Moscow knew and lamented, engendered hatred against the Latins.
A later attempt by the Latins, working with the assistance of Catholic Poland and through the False Dimitri and Marina Mnishek [a pretender to the Russian throne and his Polish wife, †1614], to completely destroy Russian Orthodoxy in the State of Moscow itself and in the sacred Kremlin overflowed the Russian peoples’ cup of wrath. The peoples’ bitterness was such that after the False Dimitri was killed (17 May 1606) the mob broke into the Kremlin and killed three cardinals, 4 Latin priests and 26 “foreign teachers.” It is interesting to note that during the reign of the False Dimitri a question arose about the official acceptance of Orthodoxy by Marina Mnishek as a Russian Czarina. The Greek metropolitan of Moscow, Ignatius, received her into Orthodoxy not through baptism but through chrismation, for which his successor Patriarch Philaret, held him blameworthy. Professor Kartashev notes:
“The strict and uniform Russian practice of re-baptism was established later, in 1620, by Patriarch Philaret. But even then a part of the Russian episcopate spoke against this.” 54 As for the aims of the False Dimitri, there is also a view that he, probably, wanted to be a real Russian Tsar and not a lackey of Rome and Warsaw. Professor Platonov in his book about Boris Godunov correctly notes that there is nothing worse than to raise calumny against a dead person who cannot make a rebuttal. The Russian Church decided to re-baptize non-Orthodox, in this case Latins, coming to the Orthodox Church at the Moscow Council of 1620. These decisions were the result of Patriarch Philaret’s insistence. We will examine what they called for and how they were carried out.
The sufferings experienced by the Russian Church and personally by the Metropolitan of Rostov Philaret, the future Patriarch of All Russia, which during the Time of Troubles were brought about by the Latins who by means fair and foul, were determined to subjugate the Russian Church and win it over to a Unia with Rome, with a total disregard of everything Orthodox and everything Russian, only exacerbated the Russian antipathy towards the Latins who, during those alarming times, were looked upon as spiritually mortal enemies. Notwithstanding all this, a number of Russian bishops maintained the position that upon receiving Catholics into the Orthodox Church it was sufficient to anoint them with Holy Chrism and not to re-baptize them. It is only as the result of what can be described as crude personal pressure on the part of Patriarch Philaret, the Moscow Council of 1620 decreed that Latins be re-baptized upon converting to Orthodoxy.
Patriarch Philaret expressed himself about Patriarch (or Metropolitan) Ignatius, who was deposed without any juridical process:
“Patriarch Ignatius, currying favor with heretics of the Latin faith, accepted Marinka [Marina Mnishek], of the heretical popish faith, in the cathedral church of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos, without performing a holy baptism according to the Christian law, but only anointed her with the Holy Chrism and then crowned [married] her with that unfrocked reprobate and then gave the Body and Sacred Blood of Christ to both of those enemies of God – to the reprobate and Marinka. For this fault he, Ignatius, was deposed from his throne and ministry by the holy hierarchs of the great and holy Russian Church according to the holy canons, as having violated the canons of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers.” 55 After this, Patriarch Philaret placed blame on the locum tenens of the patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Jonah, for not re-baptizing Latins. Professor Kartashev writes:
“An accusation from two Moscow clerics came to Patriarch Philaret that Metropolitan Jonah did not permit a re-baptism of two Poles, Jan Slobodski and Matfei Sventitski, who came into Orthodoxy, but only that they be chrismated and admitted to communion. Reference was made by Jonah upon the ancient practice according to “Niphon’s Questions to Kirik.’ 56 The patriarch summoned Metropolitan Jonah for an explanation and reproached Jonah for introducing a novelty by not ordering the re-baptism of Latins. In order to put Jonah down with his authority, the patriarch included this matter on the agenda for the next plenary session of the Council on October 16, 1620. Philaret himself appeared with an accusatory speech proving that heretical baptism is not a baptism but ‘nothing more than defilement.’ This is why Patriarch Ignatius was deposed, for failing to baptize Marinka . . . . All heretics lack valid baptism. All of Patriarch Philaret’s theological arguments points to the awesome decline in the level of knowledge among the Russian hierarchs of that time and especially that of Philaret himself who was infected with a passionate hatred for the Latin Poles. Patriarch Philaret said: ‘The Latin papists are the most vile and ferocious of all heretics since they include in their law all the condemned heresies of the ancient Hellenic, Judaising, Arian, and heretical faiths, along with the pagan idol-worshipers, along with all the damned heretics with all their imagination and activity.’ Turning towards Jonah Philaret asked: ‘How dare you begin to introduce here in this capital city things that are contrary to the canons of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers and direct that the Latins, who are worse than dogs and conscious enemies of God, be brought in not through baptism but only through Chrismation?’ Then Patriarch Philaret placed a ban on Metropolitan Jonah, forbidding him to serve. All the arguments and references offered by Metropolitan Jonah were rejected by Philaret.” Not concerned with any archival or historical data, simply so to say, on his own, Philaret announced: “In our Moscow State, from its very founding, it has never been that the Latin heretics and other heretics were not baptized.” According to Patriarch Philaret’s declaration, Latinism is the repository and source of all heresies. 57 Within two weeks the question arose about receiving Uniats that were leaning towards Orthodoxy along with other Slavs that were infected by the spirit of Calvinism. Patriarch Philaret decreed that everyone, even those baptized Orthodox who later left Orthodoxy, must be re-baptized. Those who were baptized by pouring and not by immersion must also be re-baptized. These rigorous decisions had unfortunate results. A massive return of fellow Slavs did not take place. In 1630 even a Uniat Archbishop Athenogenes Kryzhanovski was re-baptized. Originally he had purely Orthodox ordinations up to and including the rank of Archimandrite. He was lured away to become a Uniat archbishop. Upon his return and after his re-baptism he was re-ordained.” 58
The decree of the Moscow Council of 1620 about the re-baptism of Latins, Uniats, Lutherans and Calvinists was soon recognized to be in error and was repealed very quickly. The decree was reached only as a result of the hatred towards the non-Orthodox because of the persecution by them, which the Russian Church suffered, as was pointed out by Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow, author of the monumental history of the Russian Church. 59 Another historian of the Russian Church, Archbishop Philaret (Gumilevsky) writes: “The decision is incorrect in the light of the Church’s teaching, but is understandable because of the terrors of that time.” 60 Patriarch Nikon, with his brilliant mind, could not but recognize the error of that decision and rescinded it twice. During the Church Council of 1655, Patriarch Nikon and the Council fathers decreed that the re-baptism of Poles is illegal and repealed the need to receive them into Orthodoxy by re-baptism, directing this to be done by chrismation. 61 At the Church Council that took place in the following year (1666) presided over by the same Patriarch Nikon, the same subject was once again brought up for discussion. Metropolitan Macarius writes:
“It was felt that it was necessary to debate this matter once again. All Russian bishops were invited to this new Council along with the metropolitan of Kazan. The Antiochian Patriarch Macarius again insisted that the Latins should not be re-baptized when converting to Orthodoxy and had a heated argument with the Russian hierarchs. He tried to convince them by making references to their own books of Canons. To support his argument, he presented an extract from some ancient Greek book brought from Mt. Athos, which made a detailed analysis of the subject, and in this way compelled the Russian bishops to submit, however reluctantly, to the truth. This extract, signed by Macarius, was presented to the sovereign (Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich), translated into Russian, printed and handed out. The Tsar issued an Ukaz that prohibited the baptism of Poles and others belonging to the same faith. Not satisfied with all this Macarius, who soon left Moscow, sent a letter to Nikon about the same matter. Along with this Patriarch Macarius wrote to Patriarch Nikon that “the Latins must not be re-baptized: they have the seven sacraments and all seven Councils, and they are all baptized correctly in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit with an invocation of the Holy Trinity. We must recognize their baptism. They are only schismatics, and schism does not make a man unfaithful and unbaptized. It only separates him from the Church. Mark of Ephesus himself, who opposed the Latins, never demanded their re-baptism and accepted their baptism as a correct one.” 62
The final and decisive ruling on this subject was the decree of the Great Moscow Council of 1667. Patriarch Joasaph II took part in the Council, which took place during the reign of the same Aleksei Mikhailovich.
Here is how we read about it in Metropolitan Macarius’ History of the Russian Church:
“The rite for the reception of Latins into the Orthodox Church was now completely changed. It is known that in accordance with Patriarch Philaret Nikitich’s Conciliar Statute, Latins were re-baptized in Russia. Even though at the time of Patriarch Nikon, upon the insistence of Patriarch Macarius of Antioch, who was then in Moscow, it was twice decreed at the Council that Latins would not be re-baptized in the future, the deeply rooted custom of re-baptizing remained in practice. This is why Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich proposed that the Great Council should discuss and make a decision on this question. The Council fathers carefully reviewed Patriarch Philaret Nikitich’s statute and came to the conclusion that the laws were incorrectly interpreted and applied to the Latins. They then referred to earlier Council statutes whereby it was forbidden to re-baptize even Arians and Macedonians in the event of their coming into Orthodoxy, and even more so, the fathers said, Latins must not be re-baptized. They referred to the Council of the four Eastern Patriarchs held in Constantinople in 1484, which decreed not to re-baptize Latins upon their coming into Orthodoxy, but only to anoint them with Chrism, and which even composed the actual rite for their reception into the Church. They referred to the wise Mark of Ephesus who, in his epistle addressed to all Orthodox, offers the same teaching and decreed:
‘Latins must not be re-baptized but only after their renunciation of their heresies and confession of sins, be anointed with Chrism and admit them to the Holy Mysteries and in this way bring them into communion with the holy, catholic Eastern Church, in accordance with the sacred canons (Chapter 6)’.” 63
Since 1718 the Spiritual Council [Synod] decreed not to re-baptize Protestants who were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. 64 From that time the Russian Church never returned to the re-baptism of Latins, Lutherans, Anglicans and Calvinists. Later the Russian Church decreed that confirmed Roman Catholics and chrismated Armenians be received by the third rite, i.e., through confession and repudiation of heresy. Lutherans, Calvinists and other Protestants who were baptized by triple immersion (or by pouring), to be received by the second rite, i.e., by chrismation and repudiation of heresy. They were chrismated because in the first place they do not have such a sacrament and secondly, they do not have a priesthood based on apostolic succession. Anglicans and Episcopalians are likewise received through the second rite because it is questionable (as Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow wrote) whether their church has preserved apostolic succession.
Russian theologians strictly adhered to the view of not re-baptizing Latins, Armenians and those Protestants who were baptized in their churches in the name of the Holy Trinity. Members of the royal household, who previously were Protestants, were received into Orthodoxy through chrismation.
In Archbishop Benjamin’s well-known Novaya Skrizhal’ [“New Tablets of Law”] we read the following:
“All heretics are divided into three types. To the first belong those who do not believe in the Holy Consubstantial Trinity and do not perform baptism by triple immersion into water; these, along with pagans and Muhammadans are to be baptized as directed by Canon 19 of the First Ecumenical Council. Heretics of the second type are those who believe in the One God in the Trinity and are baptized by triple immersion but have their own delusions and heresies and with the exception of baptism either do not recognize other sacraments or, in performing other sacraments improperly, reject chrismation. They are not to be baptized because they are baptized, but, following the repudiation of their heresies and confession of the Orthodox Faith, are to be united to the Church by way of the sacrament of Chrismation, as is prescribed by Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council. The third type of heretics, called dissidents, maintain all the seven sacraments including chrismation, but, having separated from the unity of the Orthodox Church, dare to add to the pure confession of faith their own delusions, which are contrary to the ancient teachings of the Apostles and Fathers of the Church, and introduce many pernicious views into the church and, in rejecting ancient pious rites of the Church, introduce new traditions, which are contrary to the spirit of piety. These we do not baptize for the second time nor do we anoint them with the Holy Chrism. After the repudiation of their delusion and repentance from their sins, they confess the Orthodox Symbol of Faith and are cleansed from their sins by the prayers and hierarchical absolution.” 65
Bishop of Smolensk Parthenius’ book “On the Duties of Parish Priests,” which was approved by the Synod for all churches, contains rules for the proper rites for the reception into the Orthodox Church of those Latins and Protestants that were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. Some are to be received by the third rite; others by the second. Those priests who would like to re-baptize Latins and Lutherans are referred to as “ignoramuses.” (§82)
In 1858 the Sacred Ruling Synod published the rites that detailed in which way and by which rite the non-Orthodox coming into the Orthodox Church are to be received. One of these is titled: “The Rite for Receiving into Orthodoxy Those Who were Never Right-believing and from Their Youth were Not Brought up in the Orthodox Church, but Who had a True Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret prepared a rite for receiving a Roman Catholic priest who is to be received by the third rite, without any repetition of baptism, chrismation or ordination. 66 But such a priest can preserve his sacral rank in the Orthodox Church only in the event that he remains celibate, i.e., he had not violated his vow made at the time of his ordination by marrying. If he had been married before his conversion to Orthodoxy, he is received as a layman and does not preserve his right to his sacerdotal rank. 67
Archbishop of Astrakhan Sergius’ book Rules and Rites for the Reception of Non-Orthodox Christians into the Orthodox Church [in Russian] (Viatka, 1894) gives the three rites for the reception of non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church on the same basis and understanding as of the above-noted authors.
To counter the accusations directed against the Orthodox Church by Old Ritualists of all stripes, for not re-baptizing Latins, Lutherans and Calvinists, Metropolitan Gregory published his book “The Truly-Ancient and the True Orthodox Church of Christ,” which presents apologetic explanations for doing so in Part 2, Chapters 33 and 34. Also see Transactions of the Kiev Theological Academy, June-August 1864, “On the Reception of Non-Orthodox Christians into the Orthodox Church: Historical and Canonical Analysis against the Priestless.” See also the article in Khristianskoye Chteniye, June 1865, “Analysis of the Principle Upon Which the Priestless Justify Their Practice for the Re-Baptism of the Orthodox Upon Converting Into Schism.”
The rites, on the basis of which the Orthodox Church performs the conversion to Orthodoxy of Roman Catholics and Protestants, are given in Fr. K. Nikolsky’s “Manual for the Study of the Order [Ustav] of Services.” It also contains a number of instructions and directives from Church authorities on this subject.
The well-known S. V. Bulgakov’s “Reference Book for Sacred Ministers” lists in detail how to perform each of the three rites by which the heterodox and non-Orthodox are received into Orthodoxy. There is also a listing of directives and instructions from Church authorities on these subjects. 68
We find the same directives and rules in other manuals for parish clergy and collections of Church decrees on various topics. We will now list a number of regulations of the Russian Church on the subject of the reception of Latins and Protestants into Orthodoxy. As we noted above, the ultimate legislation which prohibited the re-baptism of Latins upon their conversion to Orthodoxy, was the decree of the Great Moscow Council of 1667, Chapter 6.
The most recent legislation prohibiting the re-baptism of those Protestants whose baptism is performed by triple immersion in the name of the Holy Trinity was the decree of the Spiritual Council of 1718.
Other decrees and directions later promulgated by Church authorities were based on the above two decrees. These can systematically be given as follows:
The blessing [permission] of the diocesan hierarch is not required for each instance of uniting of Roman Catholics, Armenians, Nestorians, Lutherans and Calvinists to the Orthodox Church. Only in special situations and in the event of a mass conversion must the hierarch be notified in order to obtain his blessing and instructions. 69
Joining the Orthodox Church is preceded by instruction and affirmation of the teachings of the Orthodox Church, with the learning of certain prayers. 70 As for the sick, every accommodation is made for them and the instruction is given in the light of their strength and their reception should not be delayed. 71 A written statement is taken from those coming to Orthodoxy that they are accepting Orthodoxy of their own will. Their reception is entered in part one of the parish’s baptism, marriage and death register. In some parts of the Empire where the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox live together, it is a requirement that the local authorities notify the local Roman Catholic priest or the Lutheran pastor if a member of their parish converted to Orthodoxy.
Then the actual appropriate rite follows by which the non-Orthodox person is received into the Church. Although the following is repetitious, we feel that it is appropriate to reiterate the legislation of the Russian Church on this subject. Non-Orthodox persons are received by one of three rites:
The third rite – repentance of previous errors, repudiation of those errors and a confession of the Orthodox Faith. To be used for persons converting from the Roman Catholic faith and Armenians, provided that the former have received confirmation from their bishop, and that the latter were chrismated by their clergy. If they have not been confirmed or if there is any doubt as to whether they were confirmed, they should be anointed with the Holy Chrism.
The second rite – repentance, repudiation of heresies, confession of the Orthodox Faith and chrismation. To be used for the reception of Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans (Episcopalians). Lutherans and Calvinists, because they do not have the sacrament of chrismation and do not have a clergy with apostolic succession. Anglicans, because the apostolic succession of their clergy is questionable, as was noted by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow.
The first rite – baptism and chrismation. To be used for the reception of pagans, Jews, Muslims and those sectarians that do not believe in the Holy Trinity nor perform a baptism by triple immersion in the name of the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
Persons in danger of death who wish to be received into Orthodoxy are to be received through the priest’s laying on of hands and the dying person’s confession, after which he receives the sacred mysteries. This order is appropriate with respect to a Roman Catholic or an Armenian. Lutherans, Calvinists as well as Episcopalians should be received by the anointing with the Holy Chrism on the brow, followed by communion with the holy mysteries. A funeral is performed according to the Orthodox rite. 72 These were the basic laws of the Russian Church with respect to the reception of non-Orthodox into Orthodoxy. 73
Bulgakov similarly summarizes the methods for the reception into Orthodoxy as follows:
There are three rites for the reception of those turning to the Orthodox Church: baptism, chrismation, and repentance and communion with the Sacred Gifts.
Pagans, Jews and Muslims are received into the Orthodox Church by means of baptism. In addition, those followers of Christian sects that deviate from the fundamental dogmas of the Orthodox Church, reject the Orthodox teaching on the Holy Trinity and the performance of the sacrament of baptism (such as Eunomians who rejected the equality of the Persons of the Holy Trinity and performed baptism with a single immersion into Christ’s death, or Montanists who performed baptism in the name of the Father, Son, Montanus and Priscilla,) are likewise to be received by means of baptism.
Those sectarians who perform baptism correctly by three immersions with the Divinely formulated words: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” but err in particular dogmas of faith (Arians, Macedonians and others) are to be received by means of Chrismation.
Dissenters from the Church who have a legitimate hierarchy but are separated from the Orthodox Church on questions of moral, ritual or disciplinary matters as well as dogmatic teachings of a secondary level (Donatists, Eutychians, Nestorians) are to be received by means of repentance and repudiation of their errors.
The Russian Orthodox Church conforms to the laws of the ancient Church in similar situations. Recognizing that baptism is the essential condition for entering into the ranks of her members, she receives Jews, Muslims, pagans and those sectarians distorting the fundamental dogmas of the Orthodox Church, by means of baptism. She receives Protestants by means of Chrismation. Those Catholics and Armenians who were not confirmed or chrismated from their pastors, she likewise receives by means of chrismation. Those Catholics or Armenians who were confirmed or chrismated, she receives by means of the third rite: through repentance, repudiation of errors and reception of the Holy Mysteries.” 74
With respect to members of the Anglican Church, Bulgakov is of the opinion that a priest cannot assume the responsibility upon himself by receiving them through the third rite and must receive them through the second rite, by means of chrismation, as was done at the time of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. In case of doubt, the priest is obliged to consult with the diocesan authority. 75
Archpriest Nikolsky summarizes the subject of the reception of non-Orthodox as follows:
“The sacrament of chrismation, separate from baptism, is performed upon the heterodox uniting with the Orthodox Church, but only upon those who, having received proper baptism, have not been chrismated, such as Lutherans, Calvinists and those Roman Catholics and Armenians who were not anointed with Chrism (not confirmed).” 76
Roman Catholic clergy, as noted above, are received in their order, following their repentance, repudiation of heresy and confession of the Orthodox Faith. The actual rite for the reception of a Roman Catholic priest into Orthodoxy was compiled by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. 77
With respect to the validity of the Anglican clergy’s orders, Metropolitan Philaret neither rejected nor recognized them and recommended their re-ordination upon coming into Orthodoxy, with the observance of the conditional formula: “If you are not ordained.” In the opinion of come Russian scholars (e.g., Prof. V. A. Sokolov), the Anglican Church preserved the apostolic succession and all sacraments of the Church. In the opinion of others, such is not the case. There have been no authoritative determinations by the Church on this subject. 78
The Russian Church received Uniats who desired to return to the bosom of the Orthodox Church with great joy. They returned to Orthodoxy as individuals, as parishes and as whole dioceses. During the reign of Catherine the Great, up to two million Uniats united with the Orthodox Church. In the 19th century, Uniats converted to Orthodoxy by the thousands. How did the Russian Orthodox Church receive them? She received them with love. Their very desire to reunite with the Holy Orthodox Church was sufficient to proclaim that they were her children. The love of the Mother Church set aside all impediments and all rites by which they should be received into Orthodoxy. Bishop Porphyrius Uspensky, in describing his audience with the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1843 writes that he informed the Patriarch that in 1841, 13,000 Uniats reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Patriarch inquired: “Did you baptize them?” Bishop (then an Archimandrite) Porphyrius Uspensky gave a negative reply, explaining to the Patriarch that “the Uniats, by their inner conviction and faith, have always been in communion with our Church and had no need to be re-baptized.” 79 When the Uniats were reunited with the Orthodox Church in 1916, as the Russian army occupied Galicia, the Russian Church once again expressed an exceptional cordiality: the Uniats were received as “our own.” There was not the slightest emphasis that they are leaving something and coming to something new. The Holy Russian Church received them as her children simply in response to their desire to be children of the Orthodox Church. Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich was in complete accord with this delicate and magnanimous treatment of them. 80
To summarize the material presented on this subject we will say that in ancient times the Russian Church did not re-baptize the Latins who converted to Orthodoxy. Re-baptism was introduced for a brief period (from 1620 to 1667) as a result of those horrors that the Russian Church and the Russian people experienced from the Latins and from Catholic Poland during the Time of Troubles. Since 1667 — with respect to the Latins, and from 1718 — with respect to Lutherans and Calvinists, the law for re-baptism was repealed once and for all. Concurring with the views of our prominent theologians, the Russian Orthodox Church’s legislation followed that tradition and the rite for the reception of non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church was established. These views and these laws were distinguished by the humane and tolerant principles that were characteristic of the Russian Church. Where there is Truth, there will be strength and magnanimity. O, how marvelous is our great and wise Russian Church!
The decision of the Constantinople Council of 1756 establishing the baptism (re-baptism) for Roman Catholics and Protestants converting from their faith to the Orthodox Faith. The history of that decision and the opinions about it of Orthodox theologians not belonging to the Greek Church
The 1756 Council in Constantinople, at the time of Patriarch Cyril, carried out the decision that it is appropriate to receive Roman Catholics and Protestants converting to the Orthodox Church exclusively by way of baptism. In addition to Patriarch Cyril of Constantinople Patriarch of Alexandria Matthew and Patriarch of Jerusalem Parthenios signed this decision. This decree reads: 81
“Among the means by which we are vouchsafed salvation, baptism is in the first place that was entrusted by God to the Holy Apostles. Inasmuch as the question was raised three years ago whether it is proper to recognize the baptism of heretics turning to us (with a desire to be received into our faith) then — inasmuch as that baptism is performed contrary to the tradition of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers and likewise contrary to the practice and decrees of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, — we, brought up by the mercy of God, in the Orthodox Church, preserving the Canons of the Holy Apostles and the Godly Fathers and recognizing our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and her mysteries, among which is the divine baptism, and consequently, considering everything that takes place among heretics and is not performed as commanded by the Holy Spirit and the Apostles and as it is now performed in Christ’s Church, as contrary to all of the apostolic tradition and as an invention of corrupt people — we, by a common decision, sweep aside any heretical baptism and thus receive any heretics turning to us, as not having been sanctified and not being baptized and we first of all, follow in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ who commanded His Apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We further follow the Holy and Divine Apostles who established triple immersion with the pronouncing at each of them, one of the names of the Holy Trinity. We further follow the Holy and Equal-to-the Apostles Dionysius 82 who says that the catechumen, having had all his clothes removed, must be baptized in the font, in sanctified water and oil, calling upon the three hypostases of the All-Blessed Divinity, afterwards anointing him in the divinely-created Chrism, then becoming worthy of the salvific Eucharist. Finally we follow the Second and the Quinisext Ecumenical Councils that prescribe that those turning to Orthodoxy be considered as unbaptized who were not baptized by triple immersion, at each of which the name of one of the Divine Hypostases is pronounced, but were baptized by some other means. Adhering to these Holy and Divine decrees we consider heretical baptism to be worthy of judgement and repudiation inasmuch as it does not conform with but contradicts the Apostolic and Divine formation and is nothing more than a useless washing, according to the words of St. Ambrose and St. Athanasius the Great, neither sanctifying the catechumen nor cleanse him from sin. This is why we receive all heretics turning to Orthodoxy as those who were not baptized properly as not having been baptized and without any hesitation baptize them according to the apostolic and conciliar canons upon which the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ — the common mother of us all — firmly rests. We affirm this, our unanimous decision which is in conformance with the apostolic and conciliar canons, with a written testament subscribed with our signatures.” As Bishop Nikodim Milash points out: “. . . this synodal decision does not mention Roman Catholics by name and does not say that their baptism should be rejected and that they be baptized upon converting to the Orthodox Church; however, this is quite evident from what and how everything is stated in the decision.” 83
The Pedalion (Rudder) openly states that this decision refers to Roman Catholics. In a lengthy discussion about receiving the non-Orthodox by means of baptism we read:
“Latin baptism is erroneously referred to by that name: it is not a baptism at all but is simply a washing. This is why we do not say that we ‘re-baptize’ the Latins, but we ‘baptize’ them. The Latins are not baptized since they do not perform triple immersion at baptism, which has been a tradition in the Orthodox Church from the apostles from the very beginning.” 84
Not a single Orthodox Church, except the Greek, accepted this decision. The Russian Orthodox Church in receiving non-Orthodox converting to Orthodoxy, followed those canons that were adopted in 1667 and 1718, which recognized baptisms performed in the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran Churches as valid and did not repeat them.
The well-known canonist of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop Nikodim Milash, explains:
“Non-Orthodox are received into the Church either: a) through baptism, or 2) through chrismation, or 3) through repentance and confession of the Orthodox Faith. This was established back in the 5th century, to which the Presbyter Timotheus of the Church of Constantinople testifies in his epistle to his concelebrant John. The Kormchaya gives this epistle wherein he writes:
“There are three rites for accepting those coming to the Holy Divine, Catholic and Apostolic Church: the first rite demands holy baptism, the second one — we don’t baptize, but anoint with the Holy Chrism, and the third — we neither baptize nor anoint, but demand the renunciation of their own and all other heresy.” The basis for this is Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council. These three rites for receiving the non-Orthodox into the Church remain in full force today in the Orthodox Church. By the first rite the Church receives those heretics who wrongly teach about the Holy Trinity, who do not recognize baptism or do not perform it according to the Divine commandment. By the second rite, i.e., by means of chrismation, those heretics who are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and do not reject the Holy Trinity, but are in error about certain aspects of the faith; as well as those who do not have a legitimate sacred hierarchy nor the sacrament of chrismation. This includes all of the various Protestants. This rite is also used in receiving Roman Catholics and Armenians who have not been anointed with the Holy Chrism by their bishops or priests. But if they, i.e., the Roman Catholics and Armenians, were anointed with Chrism in their Churches, they are received into the Orthodox Church by means of the third rite in which those who are received, following a certain period of time in studying the Orthodox catechism, then in a verbal or written repudiation of their former beliefs, they solemnly confess the Symbol of Orthodox Faith and then, following prescribed prayers on the part of the Orthodox bishop or priest, are communed with the Holy Gifts.” 85
With respect to the decisions of the 1756 Constantinople Council we read the following views of the same Bishop Nikodim Milash:
“The decision that each Roman Catholic as well as each Protestant who wishes to convert to the Orthodox Church is to be baptized anew was made by the 1756 Council in Constantinople during the time of Patriarch Cyril V. This conciliar decision was motivated by the Western Christians’ being baptized by pouring and not by three immersions. Since the only proper form of baptism is only that which is performed by three immersions, it follows that Western Christians must be considered not to have been baptized since they were not baptized in that manner and consequently, they must be baptized when they want to convert to the Orthodox Church. This decision by the above mentioned Council in Constantinople was called for by extraordinary circumstances, which arose in the 18th century in the relations between the Greek and Latin Churches, and was a reaction on the part of the Greek Church towards the aggression against that Church on the part of Latin propaganda. From a formal point of view the motivation for this decision has some basis since the Orthodox Church’s canons call for the baptism to be performed by triple immersion of the one baptized into the water and the term baptism itself, is derived from the act of immersion, and the same canons condemn that baptism which was done by a single immersion as was done by various heretics of the first centuries of the Christian Church. But the Church has never condemned that baptism which was done by pouring. Not only that, but the Church itself permitted such a form of baptism in the event of need and considered baptism by means of pouring as not contrary to the apostolic tradition. Therefore, the above-noted decision of the Constantinople Council cannot be considered as binding for the whole Orthodox Church since it is contrary to the practice of the Eastern Church of all centuries and particularly, to the practice of the Greek Church itself from the time of the division of Churches to the time of that Council in Constantinople.” 86
And still more:
“As a result of the exceptional conditions that arose in the relations between the Greek and the Latin Churches, the 1756 Council in Constantinople promulgated a requirement to baptize anew every Roman Catholic desiring to convert to the Orthodox Church. A similar requirement called forth by a similar set of circumstances as was faced by the Greek Church was decreed by one of the Moscow Councils in 1620. But these requirements, deviating from many centuries of practice by the Eastern Church, were looked upon as an extreme example of strictness, inevitably called for by the unfavorable circumstances of the times, and do not have, nor can have, a universal significance.” 87 This then is the opinion of one of the best known canonists of the Orthodox Church. We will repeat that not a single Orthodox Church, with the exception of the Greek, adopted the decisions about the re-baptism of Roman Catholics or Lutherans during their conversion to Orthodoxy.
We will now look at the circumstances that prompted the decision of the Constantinople Council of 1756, which was cited above in full. Professor A. P. Lebedev in his “History of the Greco-Eastern Church under the Power of the Turks” writes as follows:
“The Council under the patriarchate of Symeon (taking place in Constantinople in 1484) required on the part of a Latin renegade (i.e., a person desiring to convert from the Roman Catholic faith to the Orthodox faith) that he would only renounce his Roman Catholic errors. The act of reception was that the renegade was anointed with the Holy Chrism, as it is done during the baptism of infants. The rite was notable for its simplicity. In this respect the Greek Church of the 15th century stood much higher than the Greek Churches of the 18th and 19th centuries. As is known, the Greek Church in the 18th century raised a noisy argument about the means for the reception of Latin converts — as well as of Protestants — to Orthodoxy, and began to lean towards the opinion that such renegades must be re-baptized as actual heretics who do not believe in the Trinitarian dogma. As a result of those arguments, there arose in the Greek Church a practice contrary to the canons which could serve to cool the desire of the renegades to convert to Orthodoxy, with the result that those seeking the Orthodox truth began to be re-baptized.”
Professor Lebedev writes further:
“One of the most convincing examples, which serves as evidence to what a great degree of instability existed in the Church in Constantinople, was the history accompanying the arguments about the baptism of the Latins. In 1751, during the reign of Patriarch Cyril V, in the region of Katirli in Nicomedea there appeared a certain monk, Auxentius, who was a deacon and who began to preach to the people about the errors of the Latins. With a particular insistence he began to preach against the validity of Latin baptism coming to the conclusion that the Latins (and the Protestants along with them) must be re-baptized upon their conversion to the Greco-Eastern Church. Patriarch Cyril, although fully aware about Auxentius’ preaching, gave the appearance of knowing nothing about it, acting so out of fear of bringing about a hatred from the papist side, although deep in his soul he was in full accord with the preacher. The number of those in agreement with Auxentius’ teaching grew from day to day, but the Patriarch out of caution expressed neither sympathy nor a lack of sympathy with the prophet, as Auxentius was looked upon by the people. Auxentius insinuated himself as a prophet by malice and cunning. He managed to learn from their confessors about the sins of some of his own and their spiritual children and upon meeting them would accuse them of their sins when they believed that these sins were not known to anyone, and insistently admonished them to refrain in the future from the greater of such sins threatening them with eternal punishment. The one who was so accused, naively believed that Auxentius was privy to secrets. Because of this he was perceived as a prophet. Auxentius was seen as a holy man, and he attracted any number of men and women who would hang on to his every word, repented of their sins, begging for an imposition of his hands and asked for his prayers and blessing. Soon, in the following year of 1752, there was a change in the patriarchate. In place of Cyril, Paisius II became patriarch. He immediately ordered Auxentius to stop his preaching about the re-baptism of Latins and Armenians. Yes, Armenians, because the seer of Katirli pronounced that Armenian baptism was invalid. But, the latter did not want to listen to the voice of the patriarch of Constantinople. Once or twice Auxentius was summoned to the synod where he was admonished collectively, but he had no thought about leaving his delusion. Then, in order to admonish Auxentius of Katirli, a didaskolos [teacher], a certain Kritios, was sent, but the crowd, aroused by the fanatical preacher, could barely be restrained from tearing the didaskolos to pieces. The public excitement grew and grew. Auxentius was listened to not only by the simple people, but also by archons and archontes, and a large part of his hearers came over to his side and joined him in expressing their obvious dissatisfaction with Patriarch Paisius and the synod. Supported by the mob, Auxentius not only did not want to hear the reproofs and the orders of the patriarch and the synod, but he publicly dared to name as heretics the patriarch himself along with the synod, declaring them to be devotees of papacy. In opposition to Paisius, Auxentius praised the former patriarch, Cyril V, as a truly Orthodox person because, to be sure, Cyril was inclined to share the views of that extreme and unreasonable opponent of the Latins. The patriarch and the bishops, in an attempt to end the controversy and to dampen the discord between the Greeks and the Armenians and the Papists, once again forbade Auxentius to continue his illegal preaching. But these new pressures on the part of Church authorities against Auxentius resulted in the public’s expression of their hatred towards the patriarch and the bishops. The opposition of Auxentius’ partisans against the Church authorities took on the characteristics of a riot. Thus the Turkish government became involved in the affair, in all probability at the insistence of the patriarch and the synod. That government approached those responsible for social unrest in its own fashion. It understood that a direct and open action against Auxentius would not be without danger and thus initiated a ruse. Once, during the night, a very important Turkish official was sent to Auxentius in Katirli in order to invite the false prophet to Constantinople, supposedly for a distinguished audience with the Grand Vizier. The plan was successful. Ambition reared itself in Auxentius. His admirers on their part urged him to accept the Vizier’s invitation. But as soon as Auxentius got into the boat and moved away from the shore, as if on a previously arranged cue, the troublemaker was strangled and his body was thrown into the sea (according to another version, Auxentius and two of his chief admirers were hanged). On the following day Auxentius’ followers arrived in Constantinople and went right to the Grand Vizier’s palace; but they did not get any news about the fate of their leader. Following this they, as a mob, moved towards the Patriarchate, yelling and screaming abuses against the patriarch. Finally they seized the patriarch and subjected him to a beating. The Phanar police were barely able rescue the patriarch alive from the hands of the enraged mob. Then the patriarch hid himself and sailed into the sea. The mob could not be calmed. Some 5000 people moved towards the Porte and started to yell in one voice that they did not want Paisius as patriarch and demanded the restoration of Cyril V to the throne. The mob yelled with fury: “We don’t want Paisius! He is an Armenian! He is a Latin! That’s why he refuses to baptize Armenians or Latins! He wants to destroy the Venerable One (Auxentius)! We don’t want him!” And so Cyril became patriarch. In ascending the throne he did everything he could to benefit the party of Auxentius. He issued an official document by which he decreed to re-baptize Roman Catholics and Armenians when they convert to Orthodoxy. Not everyone went along with the Patriarch’s determination — the more senior of the bishops were against it, an especially strong protest in defense of the truth came from Metropolitan Acacius of Cyzicus and Samuel (later patriarch) of Derconium. There was even a tract proving the illegitimacy of re-baptism. There is a strong attempt in the patriarch’s document to tone down the effect of that tract upon the mind. We read in Cyril V’s document: “. . .We triply condemn the senseless and anti-canonical composition. Whosoever would now or in the future accept this composition, we proclaim them to be excommunicated, whether they be priests or laymen. Their bodies upon their death would not turn into dust and will turn into timbrels. Stones and iron will decay, but their corpses, never! Their fate should bring them a pox and strangling like Judas! Let the earth swallow them up like Dathan and Abiram! May the angel of the Lord pursue them with his sword to the end of their days.” A learned Greek author, Vendotis, filled with a feeling of indignation towards Cyril’s determination about re-baptism, could not find sufficient words to express his feelings adequately. He noted: does not Cyril wish to proclaim God himself as a protector of every profanity and heresy? Does he not want to proclaim that the Holy Apostolic Church is capable of falling into error? He writes that Cyril was able to support his determination only with the help of Turkish authorities. According to him, the incumbent Sultan, Osman, having learned about Cyril’s determination said that the patriarch acted like an Islamic Mufti who had the right to define Islamic religious teaching and that all metropolitans are obliged to defer to the patriarch in this decision, and whoever does not wish to do so, let him return to his diocese so that the arguments may cease in the capital.
The controversy, which arose about the question of re-baptism, continued during the time of Cyril’s successor — Callinicus IV. This is what happened to this patriarch. When Callinicus celebrated for the first time in his new office, as he stood on the solea to impart his blessing to the people he heard a frenzied cry from those present: “Down with the Frank, brothers! Down with the Frank!” Then the mob threw itself upon the patriarch and dragged him out of the church not wishing to desecrate the church’s dais with blood. It was barely possible to rescue the unfortunate patriarch from the hands of Auxentius’ fanatical followers. The patriarch, half-dead and stripped of his clothes, barely survived with his life thanks to the bravery of his clerics. The people’s anger was directed at the patriarch completely by chance. It was said that he supposedly thought like the Latins and this view was based on the fact that prior to becoming patriarch he lived in multinational Galata, and so they thought that he was a creature of the Latins who also lived there. Callinicus remained patriarch for only several months. These then, were the lamentable circumstances which brought about the repeal of the Church’s ancient practice of receiving Latins and Armenians who converted to the Orthodox Church — by means of their rejection of their former errors and followed by chrismation.” 88
It can be added to the words of our great scholar that this determination about the re-baptism of Latins who converted to Orthodoxy was the result of ignorance and bad faith in the preparation of the determination. There is a total absence of any reference to the decisions of previous Councils, opinions of the Holy Fathers such as St. Mark of Ephesus and St. Gennadus II (Scolarius) Patriarch of Constantinople. It was the result of demagoguery and narrow chauvinism. Thus, this determination can in no way be called “Ecclesial” but as something alien to those great Church canons and the opinions of the Holy Fathers that were known to the Universal Orthodox Church. Thus, it is clear why the other Orthodox Churches did not accept it as such.
Although it is an uncontroversial fact that this was an expression of hatred towards the Latins, the circumstances can in no way be compared to what happened in Russia at the time of Patriarch Philaret and what took place in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the 18th century. There was an unprecedented and cruel onslaught of Latins upon Russia. There was the martyrdom of Patriarch Hermogenes and a persecution of the Orthodox Church and her bishops. There were malicious plans on the part of the Latins, working through the False Dimitri, to destroy all champions of Orthodoxy in Russia. In the Greek world there was the presence of Latin propaganda spread primarily by Jesuits (such as what they spread in all other lands). That propaganda had a minimal effect in Greek lands and was even contained by the Turkish powers and, it can be said, was of a rather limited scale. 89
As was pointed out, Greek chauvinism that was to grow in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in monstrous strides, played no small part in Patriarch Cyril V’s determination. After Byzantium ceased to exist, the great-power pride of Byzantine Empire and of its Church was replaced by an unhealthy chauvinism among the Greeks and especially among the Greek hierarchy. This chauvinism projected in a passionate hatred towards the non-Orthodox, a contempt towards other Orthodox peoples and malevolence even towards Russia, her people and her Church, from which the Eastern Church received countless benefits and wealthy gifts, enjoying the protection of the Russian monarch and the Russian Church. They looked down upon the Russians and would not look for anything authoritative in the legislation of the Russian Church, which could have been of benefit to them.
In his book The Character of Russian Relations towards the Orthodox East in the 16th and 17th Centuries [in Russian], Professor N. F. Kapterev writes:
“Arriving in Moscow to beg for alms, the Greeks went out of their way to praise and glorify the Russians. They would be touched upon encountering their proper and firm piety, however, in this case they frequently spoke without sincerity, without a genuine respect for Russian piety, but with a desire to please the Russians in every way, to be liked by them and thus curry favor with them in anticipation of more generous alms. They looked upon the Russians as a people, although strong and wealthy, but at the same time coarse and ignorant who were still in need of care and guidance from the more mature and educated Greeks. It is self-evident that the Greeks did not express their unflattering opinions while in Moscow, where they were strictly watched, but when they were out of Russia they were not so constrained.” 90 “In the eyes of the Greeks, the Russian people were coarse and ignorant and stood on the lowest step in their Christian understanding and life.” 91
Further Professor Kapterev gives several examples of Greek bad attitudes towards the Russians. He gives some of the Russian complaints about the extreme and contemptuous attitude of the Greeks:
“In 1650 Pachomius, a cleric of the Chudov monastery, upon returning from Moldavia, reported to the Tsar: “Those Greeks abroad hate the Russian people from Moscow and Kiev, and those who come through are called dogs.” He writes further: “And the icons that your Royal Mercy gave as gifts to the Greek elders for various monasteries in Palestine, the Greek elders sell them and carry them about the marketplaces as if they were plain boards. They do not venerate those icons and do not place them in their churches.”
The Greeks burned the service books that the Tsar sent to the Greek monasteries in Athos, which extremely upset the Russians and which was done for lack of respect towards them. The compiler of the Russian Menologion noted that “. . . the Greeks are proud and contemptuous” towards the Russians, scorning their piety. One of the Greeks, in a letter to his kin in Constantinople, writes: “God wants to rescue me from the crude and barbaric people of Moscow . . . they are hardly Orthodox Christians.” 92 Especially characteristic was the information — based on primary sources — given by Professor Lebedev:
“It is pointless to think that the Greek hierarchy looks kindly upon the Russians, who hope to do away with the triumph of the crescent over the cross in the ancient lands of Orthodoxy. The Greek hierarchs know very well that there is no greater threat to the Ottoman Turks than that from Russia. However, blinded by their Phylletism, they look down upon her from on high hardly concealing their contempt. According to their thinking, to fall under the dominion of Russia would mean to be embraced by crudity and barbarism. The Greeks think: “What is there in common between the Russian whip and the noble Hellenic nation? Between despotism and freedom? Between the Scythian darkness and Greece of the South? What is there in common between that radiant and noble Greece and the gloomy Ahriman [the spirit of evil in Zoroastrianism.- Tr.] of the North? The dreams about their spiritual union is merely the fruit of the mob’s ignorance for whom the peal of bells is worth more than those enlightened thoughts accessible only to the best of the Greeks.”
The Greeks have looked down on the Russian with such scorn not just since recent times, not only in the 19th century. They did so even earlier. Already in the middle of the 17th century some Greek peddlers, dealing in their moldy merchandise in Moscow, afterwards dared to spread preposterous stories about Russia in Constantinople. For example, they said that there were no teachers in Russia and that the Tsarevich himself was taught by them, the peddlers, to “play with spears” and that some monk “conjured the Russians” never go to war against the Tartars and that the Russians paid heed to that monk. They made light of the Russian Tsar himself saying that he got so involved in the crafting of a silver font for the baptism of the (Danish?) king’s son that he completely neglected all of the most important matters. But the disdain towards the Russians, as towards people less cultured than the Greeks, was not the only reason. This was the fear among the senior clergy of a possible conquest of Constantinople by the Russians. The hierarchy was afraid that if the Russians expelled the Turks from Europe, the bishops would be forced to live and act according to the Church’s canons, something that the bishops were no longer accustomed to do. One very learned Greek bishop, in the 1860s, summed up the thinking of all the earlier bishops when he said: “You Slavs (i.e., Russians) are our natural enemies. We must henceforth support the Turks. As long as there is Turkey, we are taken care of. Pan-Slavism is dangerous for us.” As the result of all these attitudes on the part of the Greeks and especially the bishops, one Russian traveler to the Middle East noted that beginning with the lowest monk and ending with such representatives of the Church as the patriarch, all the Greek clerics hate us instinctively, but also from the bottom of the heart. We will give some examples of this hatred with which the most senior hierarchs of the Greek Church are animated. These facts bring about a morally difficult situation, and we will refrain from any comment. Let the facts speak for themselves.
The Right Reverend Porphyrius (Uspensky) in one of his works dedicated to the study of Greek church life relates an incident, a “marvel of marvels” as he describes it. The Patriarch of Constantinople Meletius (in 1845), when he appeared before Sultan Abdulla-Medjid, kissed his foot and said: “Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared.” (All this was directed to the Sultan.) The narrator adds: that patriarch was a friend of the Turks and an enemy of Russians and allegedly he said: “Let me have a small piece of some Russian’s flesh, and I will chop it into the tiniest particles.” The same Right Reverend Porphyrius writes in another of his articles: “In 1854, when the war was raging in our Sebastopol, the ecumenical patriarch (naturally, of Constantinople, but the author does not give his name; probably Anthimos VI), in response to Sultan Abdulla-Medjid’s orders, published a prayer for Orthodox Christians, composed by him in the flowery style, in which God is begged for victory for our enemies and for us (i.e., for our Christ-loving army) — defeat. The prayer reads:
“O Lord our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who hast created all in wisdom . . . O King of glory, receive Thou now the prayer of Thy humble and sinful servants, which we now offer on behalf of the most-sovereign, meek and most-merciful king and autocrat, Sultan Abdulla-Medjid, our master. O Lord God of Mercy, hear us Thy humble and unworthy servants in this hour and by Thine invincible might protect him, strengthen his army, grant him every victory and spoil, destroy his enemies, who rise up against his power, and do all in his favor, that we my live a quiet and peaceful life, praising Thy most holy name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
There is no doubt that the patriarch of Constantinople and the Greek bishops prayed not only with one mouth but also with all their hearts. This prayer, the Rt. Reverend author adds, was even sent to Athos. But there it was not read, not in churches nor in the cells.” And finally, an episode from the last Russian-Turkish war over Bulgaria. When the Russians occupied Bulgaria, the chief military commander, Count Totleben was returning from Livadia, i.e., from the Russian Tsar himself. In Adrianopole he was met by clergy of all denominations — Bulgarians, Armenians, Jews and even Muslims. They all came to the count to demonstrate their gratitude for the protection provided by the Russian authorities. They all came, — with the exception of the Greek Metropolitan Dionysius. The Russian military authorities concluded from this and other incidents that “the attitude of the Greek clergy towards the Russians was not friendly and that they attempted to express that even in the smallest details.” Adrianopole again reverted to the Turks. When the new Turkish governor-general Reut Pasha arrived there, the Greeks arranged a solemn reception, and it was said in one of the speeches: “. . . for too long we were in captivity, finally we see our liberator.” 93
In the “Letters from the Holy Mountain” we see that the Greek monasteries in Athos refused to admit Russian scholars to use their libraries under the pretext that the Russians steal their ancient manuscripts.
Whether as a result of deteriorating relations between the Russians or the Greeks, or independently of that, the Sacred Ruling Synod in 1721, according to Professor Kapterev, “. . .solemnly and officially repealed the elevation of the patriarch of Constantinople’s name during divine services, which up to this time was always done in Russia, — not wanting to see even a hint or shadow of preference or pre-eminence of the patriarch of Constantinople in the Russian Church.” 94
This has all been discussed not to bring about some kind of antagonism towards the Greek people and their Church. All this has changed and improved over time and become past history. Today relations between the Greek and Slavic Churches are fraternal and collegial. Even relations with the non-Orthodox, that have at times been hostile, now reflect mutual respect and cordiality.
We have discussed all of this to show the atmosphere that existed during the era when the Church of Constantinople promulgated its decrees about the re-baptism of Roman Catholics and Lutherans that desired to convert to Orthodoxy, and when there were debates and interpretations of the canons in the Pedalion (Kormchaya). This was taking place during the gloomiest period of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate’s history, when the Church’s decrees, although written in flowery and ecclesiastical language, were in substance motivated not by the true needs of the Church, but came about because of ignorance, demagoguery and extreme chauvinism, and were regressive with respect to the Canons of the Universal Church and a repudiation of the beneficial experience of the Russian and other Slavic Churches. The great Russian Church, moving along the path of magnanimity, broad vision and kindness as well as upon canonical principles of the Universal Church and her own experience, not only rejected this Greek decision about the re-baptism of Latins and Lutherans who converted to the Orthodox Church, but even made the path towards Orthodoxy easier for the non-Orthodox. We introduced the reader to her wise and considerate Canons in the previous chapter of our essay.
How the question of receiving non-Orthodox is resolved by the Orthodox Churches in the United States and Canada. Decisions on this question and some conclusions
In contemporary times there are two distinct understandings of how to receive non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church. The first method, which Greeks refer to as “Russian” consists of dividing non-Orthodox into three categories for the purposes of conversion. In the first category, those who convert are baptized. In the second, they are chrismated. In the third, they are received by the rite of repentance, a repudiation of heresy and confession of the Orthodox Faith. As has been demonstrated above, this practice is based on the canons of the Ecumenical Councils, on the direct authority of St. Mark of Ephesus, the Constantinople Council of 1484, the decisions of the Moscow Councils of 1655 and especially of 1667, the decisions of the Holy Council of 1718 as well as later decisions and directives of the Holy Ruling Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is true that there was a time in the Russian Church when Roman Catholics (and Protestants) were received into Orthodoxy by means of baptism, but throughout the thousand year history of the Russian Church this was only in effect for 45 to 47 years after which that practice of receiving all non-Orthodox without distinction was condemned and repealed once and for all. As a result, three forms or rites were developed for receiving non-Orthodox into the bosom of the Orthodox Church.
In the second method, any and all non-Orthodox are received by baptism followed by chrismation. This was adopted by the Greeks at the Council of Constantinople in 1756 and is described in the Pedalion.
Not a single non-Greek Orthodox Church adopted this practice. Instead, the non-Greek Orthodox Churches firmly adhering to that practice, which is designated as “Russian.”
In recent times, the Patriarchate of Constantinople rescinded the use of the second method and now receives non-Orthodox by means of the “Russian” rite.
All of the Greek Old Calendarist jursidictions (of which there are at least seven), both in the United States and in Greece, adhere to the “Greek” rite for the reception of non-Orthodox into Orthodoxy, i.e., exclusively by means of baptism as this was decreed by the 1756 Council in Constantinople. This “Greek” practice, with certain modifications, and the turning away from the “Russian” practice, recently became the rule for the Russian Church Abroad, according to the decision of the Council of Bishops on September 15/28 1971. The complete text of that decision will be given at the end of this chapter.
The Orthodox Church in America (the former “American Metropolia”), founded by Russian missionaries and later forming a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church with its center first in San Francisco and then in New York, and which for a time had as her diocesan bishop the future [Saint] Patriarch Tikhon, inherited the traditions of the Russian Church with respect to the rite for the reception of the non-Orthodox converting to the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church in America receives non-Orthodox by three rites:
Those converting from Judaism, paganism, and Islam, as well as those who distort or do not accept the dogma of the Holy Trinity, or where the baptism is performed by a single immersion, by means of baptism. Those whose baptism was valid but who either do not have sacrament of chrismation or who lack a hierarchy with apostolic succession (or if it is questionable), by means of chrismation. This group includes Lutherans, Calvinists and Episcopalians (Anglicans). Those whose hierarchy has apostolic succession and whose baptism and chrismation (or confirmation) was performed in their church, by means of repentance and repudiation of heresy, following instruction in Orthodoxy. This group includes persons of the Roman Catholic and Armenian confessions. If it happens that they were not chrismated or confirmed in their churches or if there is any question about this, they are anointed with the Holy Chrism. Exactly the same rules are found in all the non-Greek Orthodox Churches in America and Canada.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople itself has radically moved away from the spirit which motivated the decisions of the 1756 Council in Constantinople. In its “Circular Epistle to all Christian Churches” in 1920 the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople appealed to all Christian Churches with a proposal to do everything to set aside the mutual mistrust between the churches. Instead, the feelings of love must be regenerated and it must be intensified so the churches would not look upon each other as strangers or even as enemies, but would see in each other their own kin and friends in Christ. The epistle proposes that there would be mutual respect for the customs and practices which are particular to each of the churches which are graced by Christ’s holy name, no longer forgetting and not ignoring His “new commandment”, that great commandment of mutual love. 95
During the last session of the Second Vatican Council at the end of December 1965 there was an announcement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Roman Pope and the Second Vatican Council about the mutual lifting of the anathemas which were “exchanged” between the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church during that tragic year of 1054, the year of the great division of Churches. 96
In the chapter “On Ecumenism” in the collected documents and decrees of the Second Vatican Council, the Orthodox Church is spoken of with exceptional warmth. As one who was present at the Second Vatican Council in the capacity of an official observer from the Russian Church Abroad, I can be a witness to the exceptionally cordial and attentive relations towards all of the observers from the Orthodox Churches on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. To be sure, how firm those relations were, remains under question.
Following the Second Vatican Council an agreement was worked out between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Church that, in the case of extreme need and in the complete absence of their clergy, members of the Roman Church could receive the Holy Mysteries in Russian Churches and likewise, the Orthodox in Roman Catholic Churches. 97 We have no knowledge whether this agreement was realized in practice or whether it only remains on paper. Not a single Orthodox Church, with the exception of the Russian Church Abroad, reproached the Patriarch of Moscow for this decision which was called forth by the terrible times and persecutions of Christians under godless regimes. 98 Nonetheless this decision has not been rescinded even now, and the recently printed catechism of the Roman Church published with the blessing of Pope John Paul II speaks of the full recognition of the sacraments of the Orthodox Church. However, there is no doubt that as the result of the proselytism among the traditionally Orthodox population — by Roman Catholics and by Protestants — to which the Orthodox Church reacts with great distress, as well as on the repression against the Orthodox in Western Ukraine and even in Poland — there is no longer that warmth and cordiality towards the Orthodox as there was during the Second Vatican Council and for some time afterwards. However, the incisive question today is this: Has there been any change in the practice of the Roman Catholic or Lutheran Churches with respect to their sacrament of baptism? And the answer is this: Nothing has changed. Thus, our Churches (with the exception of the Russian Church Abroad), recognize the sacrament of baptism performed by Roman Catholics and Lutherans as valid.
So, to return to the subject at hand, we repeat that the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its Exarchates in America and in Europe have adopted that practice for the reception of non-Orthodox to Orthodoxy, which the Greeks call “Russian,” and effectively rejected the decision of the 1756 Council of Constantinople (which was motivated by intolerance) and the explanation in the Pedalion.
Thus, in the “Guide for the Orthodox in Connection with Contacts with the Non-Orthodox Churches,” published in 1966 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America, recommended for guidance by the clergy of our Orthodox Churches, the following rule is given:
“Upon the reception into the Orthodox Church of one who converts of his own will from non-Orthodoxy, the priest receives the candidate by means of one of three rites, prescribed by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council: by means of Baptism, Chrismation or the confession of faith, depending on the case.” 99
In the “Instructions for the Relations with Non-Orthodox Churches,” published by the same Conference in 1972, we read the same rule concerning the reception of the non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church, i.e., “Those non-Orthodox converting to Orthodoxy who were baptized in their churches can be received without a repetition of baptism if such could be accepted by the Orthodox, i.e., by means of chrismation or the confession of the Orthodox Faith, according to the rite appropriate for the given situation.” 100
This rite is found in the “Guidelines” of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America, pp. 53-55. Or one can use that rite, which was printed in Russia and is found in the Book of Needs: “The Office for Receiving into the Orthodox Faith such persons as have not previously been Orthodox, but have been reared from infancy outside the Orthodox Church, yet have received valid baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This rite has been translated into English and can be found in the book published with the blessing of the [Saint] Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon: Isabel Florence Hapgood, “Orthodox Service Book,” 1954 ed., p. 454ff.
We see from Church history that it was the lot of the dissident sects such as Novatians, Montanists and Donatists to re-baptize those converting to them. Considering themselves “pure” and “better” and seeing themselves as the only ones who will be saved, they abhorred everyone else. They could have earned respect because of their high moral demands, but pride did them in. They cut themselves from the main body of the Church where life and grace did abide, and thus completely died out within a short period of time. “The Lord resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34 LXX). Even in Russia, certain dissidents, especially the Priestless Old Ritualists, likewise performed re-baptism on the Orthodox if they converted to them. The humble, kind, compassionate, benevolent and condescending Orthodox Church possessed and possesses and will continue to possess Grace and along with it, the vitality and the strength to be magnanimous. That re-baptism, which the heretics and the dissidents performed upon the Orthodox, harbored within it their inner weakness. The strong and righteous is not afraid to be magnanimous, but the weak and unrighteous cannot permit this for himself. As we have seen, in ancient times (particularly in the Third century) and within the Orthodox Church there have been tendencies to re-baptize dissidents who convert to the Orthodox Church. But the Church decisively opposed this, forbidding, with her canons, the re-baptism of those who were validly baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. The Ecumenical Councils, the Second and especially the Sixth, directed by their decisions, who should be received into Orthodoxy by means of baptism, who — by means of chrismation and who — by means of repentance, the repudiation of heresy and confession of the Orthodox Faith. By this it piously maintained the rule about the non-repetition of a valid baptism even if it was performed outside the Orthodox Church. In Russia, as we have later seen, for a short time it was decreed to receive all non-Orthodox by means of baptism. But this “re-baptism” called for by the horrors of those times was as something erroneous quickly rescinded once and for all by the councils and decrees of the Holy Russian Church. Finally, as we have seen the patriarchate of Constantinople factually rejected that radical decree about the re-baptism all non-Orthodox converting to Orthodoxy, pronounced by the 1756 Council in Constantinople.
Each of the Orthodox Church’s mysteries has a dogmatic side. Forms may change and the canons may be amended, but their dogmatic aspects remains immutable, For example, the forms of the Divine Liturgy changed during the course of centuries, but the dogmatic essence of the Divine Liturgy remained and remains without change namely, that under the appearance of bread and wine we receive the True Body and Blood of Christ, which change takes place through the sacred action of the bishop or the priest. Thus, in the mystery of baptism its dogmatic foundation, its substance is that it is performed by triple immersion (or by its equivalent) 101 pronouncing each of the Persons of the Divine Trinity, individually, and then — in the non-repetition of this mystery, since it was the spiritual birth of the Christian into eternal life in Christ. Just as our birth in the flesh occurs only once, so does our spiritual birth occurs only once in the mystery of baptism. This non-repetition of valid baptism, as a dogma, is sealed for all times in the Symbol of Faith: “I believe . . . in one Baptism.” Even if the baptism was performed in a non-Orthodox church, but in the same form as it is performed among the Orthodox, it is accepted, according to the canons of the Ecumenical Councils. 102 The Blessed Augustine wrote that the sacrament of baptism was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and even the perversion (perversitas) of the heretics does not deprive that sacrament of its veracity and validity. Thus it follows that re-baptism violates the dogmatic principle of the non-repetition of baptism. 103 In September 1971, the Russian Church Abroad, rejecting the “Russian” practice for the reception of non-Orthodox, adopted the “Greek” practice, i.e., the practice followed by the Greek Old Calendarists, based on the decisions of the 1765 Council in Constantinople, decreeing that all non-Orthodox Christians converting to the Orthodox Faith must be received exclusively by means of baptism permitting only “for reasons of necessity” their reception by another rite, but only with permission from the diocesan hierarch.
This decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad of 15/28 September 1971 reads 104 :
“On the question of the baptism of heretics who accept Orthodoxy, the following decree was adopted: The Holy Church has believed from time immemorial that there can be only one true baptism, namely that which is performed in her bosom: ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ (Eph. 4:5) In the Symbol of Faith there is also confessed ‘one baptism,’ and the 46th Canon of the Holy Apostles directs: ‘A bishop or a presbyter who has accepted (i.e., acknowledges) the baptism or the sacrifice of heretics, we command to be deposed.’
“However when the zeal of some heretics in their struggle against the Church diminished and when the question arose about a massive conversion to Orthodoxy, the Church, to facilitate their conversion, received them into her bosom by another rite. St Basil the Great in his First Canon, which was included in the canons of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, points to the existence of different practices for receiving heretics in different lands. He explains that any separation from the Church deprives one of grace and writes about the dissidents: ‘Even though the departure began through schism, however, those departing from the Church already lacked the grace of the Holy Spirit. The granting of grace has ceased because the lawful succession has been cut. Those who left first were consecrated by the Fathers and through the laying on of their hands had the spiritual gifts. But, they became laymen and had no power to baptize nor to ordain and could not transmit to others the grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves fell away. Therefore, the ancients ruled regarding those that were coming from schismatics to the Church as having been baptized by laymen, to be cleansed by the true baptism of the Church.’ However, ‘for the edification of many’ St. Basil does not object to other rites for receiving the dissident Cathars in Asia. About the Encratites he writes, that ‘this could be a hindrance to the general good order’ and a different rite could be used, explaining this: ‘But I am afraid of putting an impediment to the saved, while I would raise fears in them concerning their baptism.’”Thus, St Basil the Great, and by his words the Ecumenical Council, while establishing the principle that outside the Holy Orthodox Church there is no valid baptism, allows through pastoral condescension, called economy, the reception of some heretics and dissidents without a new baptism. On the basis of this principle the Ecumenical Councils allowed the reception of heretics by different rites, in response to the weakening of their hostility against the Orthodox Church.”The Kormchaya Kniga gives an explanation for this by Timothy of Alexandria. On the question ‘Why do we not baptize heretics converting to the Catholic Church?’ his response is: ‘If this were so, a person would not quickly turn from heresy, not wanting to be shamed by receiving baptism (i.e., second baptism). However, the Holy Spirit would come through the laying on of hands and the prayer of the presbyter, as is witnessed in the Acts of the Apostles.’”With regard to Roman Catholics and those Protestants who claim to have preserved baptism as a sacrament (for example, the Lutherans). In Russia since the time of Peter I the practice was introduced of receiving them without baptism, through a renunciation of heresy and the chrismation of Protestants and unconfirmed Catholics. Before Peter, Catholics were baptized in Russia. In Greece, the practice has also varied, but after almost 300 years after a certain interruption, the practice of baptizing converts from Catholicism and Protestantism was reintroduced. Those received by any other way have (sometimes) not been recognized in Greece as Orthodox. In many cases such children of our Russian Church were not even admitted to Holy Communion.”Having in view this circumstance and also the current growth of the ecumenist heresy, which attempts to completely erase any difference between Orthodoxy and any heresy — so that the Moscow Patriarchate, notwithstanding the holy canons, has even issued a decree permitting Roman Catholics to receive communion (in certain cases) — the Sobor of Bishops acknowledges the need to introduce a stricter practice, i.e., to baptize all heretics who come to the Church, and only because of special necessity and with permission of the bishop it is allowed, under the application of economy or pastoral condescension, to use a different method with respect to certain persons, i.e., the reception of Roman Catholics, and Protestants who perform baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, by means of repudiation of heresy and Chrismation.” (“Church Life,” July-December 1971, pp. 52-54)
As one who does not belong to the clergy of the Russian Church Abroad, I do not consider myself to have the right to comment on this decision.
In my “Notes on the Second Vatican Council” I brought out a number of examples showing that the patriarchs of Constantinople in the course of centuries had cordial relations with the popes of Rome. During the Second Vatican Council these relations were especially improved. In the light of this, Patriarch Athenagoras’ trip to Jerusalem for a friendly meeting with Pope Paul VI becomes understandable, followed by the patriarch of Constantinople’s visit with the pope and the latter’s response to the patriarch, as well as the return of those sacred items to the Orthodox which it times past the Latins took for themselves namely: the return of the head of Apostle Andrew the First-Called whom the Church of Constantinople claims to be her founder, and the return of the relics of St. Sabbas to the cloister bearing his name. The return of these sacred items without a doubt served to bring about closer relationships between the Greeks and the Roman Catholics. A Greek deacon and professor, who witnessed the return of the head of the Apostle Andrew told me about the grand solemnity with which the transfer of the relic, sacred to the Orthodox, took place. Apostle Andrew’s revered head, stored in a silver casket in St. Peter’s Basilica, was escorted by the pope and the Latin clergy and delivered by airplane to the Greek island of Patras by Cardinal Bea with his escort. The island’s populace all gathered at the airport. The prime minister, representing the King of Greece, presented a high Greek decoration to the cardinal from the king. Numerous religious processions, clergy in their vestments and up to thirty bishops met the sacred relic, the head of the First-Called Apostle, after its 600-year absence. It is difficult to describe the joy and the excitement when the elderly cardinal brought out the sacred relic. Preceded by the religious procession the relic was carried into the cathedral where Archbishop Athenagoras, head of the Hellenic Church along with the whole Greek episcopate and numerous clergy, celebrated a Divine Liturgy. At the end of the service the archbishop took Cardinal Bea by the arm and came out towards the people. There was an ovation by the people for the cardinal, asking him to relate the people’s profound gratitude to the pope. “We all cried,” my informant told me, “the people cried, the bishops cried, the elderly cardinal cried.” A Divine Liturgy, celebrated by a bishop, was served for forty days. The escorting and reception of the other sacred item — the return of the relics of St. Sabbas from Venice to his cloister in Jerusalem was just as solemn and touching. St. Sabbas told his pupils that his incorrupt body would be removed from his cloister and later would rest in the Lavra, which he founded. He pointed out that he would return to his cloister near the end of the world. A detailed description of the relic’s transfer from Venice to Jerusalem appeared on the pages of “Russkaya Zhizn’,” No. 8793, by Mrs. V. Arturova-Kononova.
During the final session of the Second Vatican Council, an event took place that left a great impression upon all those present. Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI announced simultaneously that they are mutually lifting the excommunications and proclaim ineffective the anathemas placed upon each other in 1054. In Rome it took place as follows: The pope sat on his throne in St. Peter’s basilica. The senior cardinal read, on the pope’s behalf, an epistle sent by the pope to Patriarch Athenagoras in which the Pope expresses his regret that the Church of Constantinople was offended by the Papal legates. We deeply regret this and “all excommunications and anathemas that the legates placed upon Patriarch Michael Cerularius and upon the Holy Church of Constantinople, we declare to be null and void.”
Just before that an epistle from Patriarch Athenagoras addressed to Pope Paul VI, in French, was read to all the people, in which the Church of Constantinople declared that all excommunications and anathemas that were placed upon “our sister, the Holy Roman Church, are declared to be null and void.”
Following this, after both epistles were read, Metropolitan Meliton, chairman of the Rhodes convocation of Orthodox bishops and a senior representative of Patriarch Athenagoras, approached the pope. He was vested in a gold royal mantle and was escorted by two archdeacons. When the Papal epistle was read, the pope rose from his place, unrolled his manuscript-epistle, which was embellished in gold as befits those golden words to be written in gold, and showed it to the people. He then rolled it up and gave it to Metropolitan Meliton. When the metropolitan accepted the manuscript, kissing the pope’s hand, the pope embraced the metropolitan and exchanged the kiss of peace with him. The metropolitan’s back was towards us, thus we were unable to see the expression on his face. The pope was facing us, and at that moment his face was so radiant that it is only right to say that this was the face of an angel. It is difficult to convey that joy, that excitement, which at that moment seized all those present who numbered in the thousands. Many cried, everyone applauded as is done by the Italians and some, falling on their knees, raised their hands towards heaven in an expression of profound gratitude to God for that moment. When the metropolitan returned to his place, his path was accompanied by ovations which, I would say, were even louder than those accompanying the pope. Many, in tears, turned to me as a representative of the Orthodox Church saying that if the Vatican Council was convened only for this moment, it was worth the effort and the means expended for it. We all felt that we were present at one of the most notable, beautiful and moving moments in history. And I noted, not daring to affirm, that this was a special sign of a blessing from God. Perhaps it was only a natural phenomenon, but this was winter, the end of December. It was cold and heavily overcast. But at the very moment when the pope handed his epistle to Metropolitan Meliton, a bright ray of light broke through the basilica’s side window and the sun illuminated the pope and the metropolitan.
The Russian Church Abroad did not recognize Patriarch Athenagoras’ act, feeling that the patriarch was obliged to do something like this only with the consent of all the Orthodox Churches because the matter of the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches concerns all the Orthodox Churches. This is not only a personal relationship between the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople. We, the observers from the Russian Church Abroad, received a directive by telephone from our Church authorities not to be present during the ceremony of the mutual lifting of anathemas between the Churches of Constantinople and Rome. But we, after consultation with each other, felt that such a demonstration would be harmful for our Church, which we honorably represented. Our demonstration would not have been noticed. Of what significance would have been the absence of three individuals in the face of a mass of tens of thousands?
However, we felt that the mutual lifting of the anathemas, although it was a beautiful and noble gesture, added nothing of substance to the relations between the Orthodox and Roman Churches, since even prior to the Vatican Council, the relations between the Churches have of late, improved. The Vatican Council merely strengthened them thus the mutual lifting of the anathemas was a natural progression of these improved relationship between the Churches. If only such a mutual lifting of anathemas occurred in 1054 or shortly after, when there was still a unity of faith and dogmas between the Eastern and Western Churches, this would have brought about a oneness of the Church and without a doubt, the fate of the world would have been different.
In one of its decrees the Vatican Council felt it possible and even desirable that Roman Catholics finding themselves beyond the vicinity of a Catholic Church, could receive the holy sacraments, including Holy Communion, from Orthodox Churches in their vicinity. Only the Moscow Patriarchate responded to this and announced a decision favorable to the Catholics, allowing them to receive Communion in Orthodox Churches where there were no Roman Catholic churches. This decision was accepted by the Patriarchal Synod on December 16, 1969 and was also affirmed at a later date. See Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate in English, 1983, No 4, p. 76.
Sometime before the Vatican Council a Polish priest who spoke fluent Russian told me, with great feeling, of his experience. He was exiled to Siberia by Soviet authorities. Then, during the Second World War a Polish contingent was organized to be part of the British 8th Army. The Poles released from Soviet camps began to organize their own divine services. But they had no vestments, nor sacred vessels. They made vestments from sacking. Then they were told to contact the local Orthodox bishop. When the Polish priests came, they were warmly received by the Russian bishop who told them that he was really in a position to help them. He gave them Roman Catholic vestments, sacred vessels and other church articles. These items came to the bishop in the following manner. When the destruction of churches began in the Soviet Union, the local Roman Catholic bishop instructed his clergy to bring all church articles to the local Orthodox bishop saying, “Perhaps the Orthodox Church will manage to survive, but we Catholics don’t have a chance. So, let the Orthodox bishop have all our church articles and when he has the opportunity, he will return them to us.” The Orthodox bishop, in returning all of the church articles said that he is overjoyed that the day did come when they could be given back to their owners. It goes without saying that this Polish priest became a friend of the Orthodox Church.
I had a minor experience, which I will now dare to relate. In 1952, I had a parish in Bradford, England. There were many refugees in this industrial city that had their own churches: Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and others. There was a substantial community of Galician Ukrainians here, who were Uniats. I was told that they were quite hostile towards us Russians. Once, at night, I had a call from the local hospital telling me that a woman “of your religion” was near death. Taking the Holy Gifts I hurried to the hospital. The night was not only dark but a heavy fog covered everything. One had to walk from one streetlight to another. I reached the hospital and was shown the ward where the seriously ill woman was laying in an oxygen tent. Here I learned that she was not Orthodox but a Galician Uniat. Her husband was sitting next to her, crying. I told him that she was not Orthodox but belonged to the Roman Catholic faith. It was urgent that any Roman Catholic priest be called. At the same time I assured the husband that I will not allow her to die without Communion, and if the Catholic priest could not come or does not come in time, I will give her Communion myself. The Catholic priest arrived quickly. He was an Englishman and did not know Russian or Ukrainian. I offered my help. I asked the sick woman if she repents of her sins and does she want to receive Communion. She answered, “Yes, Father” in her Ukrainian accent. I related her words for the priest and he gave her Communion. I was at the hospital several days later and was overjoyed to see that the sick woman was recovering quickly, and she was happy to see me. After this, I was walking on the street past a Galician club and was pleasantly surprised when all those who were outside the building doffed their hats and greeted me, a Russian priest, warmly. I told of this to our great hierarch, Archbishop John [Maksimovich] and said to him that I would have given Communion to the dying woman even though she was a Uniat. After this I was ready to accept any punishment that the Holy Orthodox Church would give me. Archbishop John’s reply was worthy of his sanctity and love towards people: “No punishment would have been given to you.”
While in Sydney, Australia, in 1956, I was called to see a dying infant. The tiny child, a boy, was in an incubator. I reached my hand through the opening in the incubator and sprinkled the infant with holy water three times, pronouncing the formula of baptism. I even had time to anoint him with Chrism. How can we speak about any kind of immersion?
While a priest in one of the villages in Srem, in 1949, I had the occasion to baptize an infant brought into my church. The winter was severe. The church was unheated and we were all dressed in overcoats, nearly shivering from the cold. The infant was well wrapped, only his head was showing. How was he to be baptized? The elderly priest, the parish’s former rector, told me to sprinkle him three times with Holy Water using a basil branch and say: “The servant of God (his name) is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.” This is what I did and this was the only way it could have been done.
Source: Originally published in Russian in Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniya (Messenger of the Russian Christian Movement. Nos. 173 (I-1996) and 174 (II-1996/I-1997).
- Apostolic Canons 46, 47, 49, and 50 ↩
- St. John Damascene, On the Holy Fasts, ch. 3 P.G. 95, col. 64-76 ↩
- 2 Thess. 2:7 ↩
- It is without question that the Sacred Canons are promulgated by the episcopate and priests are obliged to carry them out, but it is presumed that in this case it would be beneficial if in our times the episcopate, before promulgating one or another set of rules which have a direct relationship to parish life, would solicit the views of parish clergy. In ancient times bishops were also pastors of parishes which explains why there were so many bishops and chor-bishops in relatively small territories, which at times would number hundreds of bishops within its boundaries and who, as a result, would have been cognizant with the needs of parish life.
Among the Eastern Fathers we do not find such a sharply defined concept of episcopal authority within the Church. St John Chrysostom said that in the ancient Church the terms “bishop” and “presbyter” signified an identical service and in his writing he had high praise for the service of presbyters in the Church. The Eastern Church¹s canons prescribe total obedience by the clergy towards their bishops, but they also provide an opportunity for the offended cleric to complain about his bishop to the territorial metropolitan, and the metropolitan is required to look diligently into the complaints of offended clerics at the regular sessions of the Synod of Bishops. A cleric offended by his bishop had the right to appeal directly to the patriarch of the territory.
A sharply defined concept of episcopal authority in the Church is more likely to be found in the West and belongs primarily to St. Cyprian of Carthage (3rd century) whose writings reflect the following axioms about episcopal authority in the Church: the bishops are established by God; the Church is based upon the bishops; Christ has entrusted his Bride the Church, to the bishops; they are successors of the Apostles; the bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop; those who are not with their bishop are not with the Church; without the bishop there is no Church. At the same time, the same St. Cyprian writes that from the beginning of his episcopal service he determined not to decide anything without consultation with the clergy and the people (P.L. 4, col. 240. Epistola V). Calling bishops “sacerdotes” he uses the same term for the presbyters (P.L. 4, col. 333-334) and says that those of them who were most worthy were in session with him in correcting Church matters. St. Ambrose writes that there were worthy priests around the bishop to help him and were ready for immediate appointment to widowed cathedras. He writes that bishops and presbyters were of the same order, both being “God¹s priests,” but nonetheless, the bishops were in the first place: because he is the bishop who is first among the presbyters (P.L. 16, col. 496).
The Blessed Augustine wrote that it is fitting for the clergy and laity to receive directives from their bishops because the bishops are the custodians and pastors, but themselves were under Christ the Chief Custodian and Pastor. In another place he writes that bishops are servants of the Church; in his letters addressed to presbyters he signs himself as “co-presbyter,” in his letters to deacons he signs as “co-deacon.”
In the Church the authority and the significance of the episcopate is unique and sacred. But the Church can also benefit from the blessed experience of parish priests. Membership in the [Russian] Sacred Ruling Synod consisted not only of prominent bishops but of prominent presbyters as well. ↩
- As an example we can point to the Apostolic Canon 5 which forbids the bishop to terminate his marriage with his wife. On the other hand Canon 6 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council forbids the bishop to have a wife. Apostolic Canon 37 prescribes that bishops¹ councils take place twice a year. Later canons prescribe different schedules. Apostolic Canon 85 lists the canonical books of the Holy Scripture. Later canons decrease the number and others add the Revelation of St. John the Theologian. Canon 15 of Neocesarea prescribes that there shall be seven deacons in any city regardless of size and makes reference to the Acts of the Apostles (Ch. 6). Canon 16 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council repeals this canon which was decreed by the Fathers in Neocesarea. A number of canons in the ancient Church prescribe the age for candidates for the order of presbyter and deacon. Later Church legislation does not require this and adheres to its own understanding. ↩
- Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38ff; Acts 8:12, 38; Acts 19:1-7ff. According to an ancient tradition preserved by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Apostles, as commanded by the Savior, baptized each other and Apostles Peter and John baptized the Theotokos. P.G. n. 78/3 col. 3372 ↩
- Apostolic Canons 24, 47, 49, and 50. ↩
- Ephesians 4:5. ↩
- Ap. Canons 46, 47, 68; Laod. 8; Basil Gr. I; 2 E.C. 7; 6 E.C. 95; Carth. 59 ↩
- The text reads: “We ordain that a bishop, or presbyter, who has admitted the baptism or sacrifice of heretics be deposed. For what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath a believer with an infidel?” ↩
- The text reads: “Let a bishop or presbyter who shall baptize again one who has rightly received baptism, or who shall not baptize one who has been polluted by the ungodly be deposed, as despising the cross and death of the Lord, and not making a distinction between the true priests and the false.” ↩
- We refer to the 1901 Moscow Synodal edition, pg. 26. [There is a more detailed note in Milash who also refers to the Synodal text. Trans.]. ↩
- M .E. Posnov, History of the Christian Church [Istoriya Khristianskoy Tserkvi], Brussels, 1964, p. 146. ↩
- Circular Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848, §§ 2 and 3. Cited in the Manual for Descriptive Study.. . . , p. 729 ↩
- Posnov, Op. Cit., pp. 147-148. ↩
- Canonists agree that the “Apostolic Canons” were compiled at the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd centuries. Some of the canons have even a later origin. See the discussion on this point in Posnov, op. cit., pp. 317-318. ↩
- See the word “Baptism” in the Encyclopedia Britannica as well as in Hastings in his Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. See the word “Bapteme” in the Dictionaire de Theologie Catholique. ↩
- The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Henry Percival, Oxford, 1900, p. 40 ↩
- See details in Puller, The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome. ↩
- Noted in Percival’s reference to the Councils at Carthage. ↩
- This is how the followers of Novatian were described in the Book of Canons published by the Sacred Ruling Synod which we cited: “They who called themselves ‘Puritans’ were followers of Novatus, a presbyter of the Roman Church, who taught that those who fell during persecution were not to be received through repentance nor were bigamists ever to be received in communion with the Church and who claimed purity for his society on the basis of pride and total lack of love for others.” (p. 41) It should be noted here that the “Cathars” (“Puritans”) as well as Montanists re-baptized those Orthodox who came into their schism. ↩
- Paul of Samosata’s (260 A.D.) heresy had a Jewish character: it introduced circumcision, did not recognize the Trinity, did not recognize Christ’s divinity in His essence but rather as a some kind of an elevation in rank. The heresy was condemned twice at the Antiochian local Council in 264 A.D. and in 269 A.D. See for more detail in J.H. Blunt’s Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, etc., 1874, p. 515. ↩
- Council in Trullo. ↩
- The Council in Trullo took place in 691-692 A.D. St. Basil the Great died in 379 A.D. The local council in Laodicea took place in 363 A.D. ↩
- This is found in the Great Trebnik, Kiev-Caves Lavra edition, 1895, p. 408. ↩
- See the special book published by direction of the Sacred Ruling Synod in 1895. We find the same designation in Part Three of the Trebnik published in Jordanville in 1960. ↩
- H. Percival, op. cit., pp. 405-406. ↩
- Canons 59 and 68. ↩
- Not having access to the Kormchaya Kniga, which today is a bibliographic rarity, I am citing the text from Bishop Nicodemus Milash’s Orthodox Church Law, Belgrade, 1926, p. 590. ↩
- See Archimandrite Ambrose, St Mark of Ephesus and the Florentine Unia [In Russian], Jordanville, 1963, p. 313. ↩
- Ibid, pp. 40 and 41 ↩
- Ibid, p. 41. ↩
- Ibid, p. 40. ↩
- Ibid, p. 171 ↩
- Ibid, p. 214. ↩
- Nomocanonis, tit. XII c. 2; Pitra, Juris ecclesiastici Graecorum, t. II, p. 600. ↩
- Theodori Balsamones, Responsa ad Interrogationes Marci, P.G. 138, col. 968. ↩
- Cited in Archimandrite Ambrose, St Mark of Ephesus and the Florentine Unia, pp. 333-334. Circular Epistle of St. Mark of Ephesus § 4. Greek text Patrologia Orientalis T. XVII, p. 460-464 and in Migne, P.G. t. 160. ↩
- Paterikon of Athos, v. II, pp. 230-250 and pp. 282-283. ↩
- The Blessed Augustine notes that baptism is a mystery, established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and thus this mystery cannot lose its validity through the depravity or perversity (perversitas) of the heretics. De Baptismo, lib. V, cc. 2-3-4. P.L. 43. ↩
- he spirit of tolerance was always inherent in the Orthodox Church. As one of many examples we can point to the service of the first week of Great Lent, where it relates how the Great Martyr St. Theodore of Tyro came before the Bishop of Constantinople and warned him that the produce, set out in the marketplace on that day, were profaned by blood offered to idols by order of the emperor Julian the Apostate who wanted, by this act, to cause mischief to Christians (see the Synaxarion for the first Saturday in Great Lent). Throughout this service the local bishop is referred to as “hierarch,” “chief pastor” who prays throughout the night for his flock, and “patriarch.” However, at the time all this was taking place, the bishop of Constantinople was Eudoxius, a prominent Arian. Constantinople did not have an Orthodox bishop at that time. ↩
- Prof. A. V. Kartashev, Outlines of Russian Church History [in Russian], v. 1, pp. 264-265. ↩
- Prof. N. Talberg, History of the Russian Church [in Russian], p. 71. ↩
- Kartashev, op.cit. Chapter on The Uncoupling from the West, pp. 263-266. ↩
- Ibid, p. 263. ↩
- Talberg, op. cit., pp. 71, 73. ↩
- Kartashev, op. cit., p.264. ↩
- Ibid, p. 264. ↩
- Ibid, p.266. A number of works are devoted to the description of relations between the Russian Church and the West. One of the most significant examples on this subject, in our humble opinion, is the three volume work of P. Pierling, La Russie et le Saint Siege, Paris, 1897. ↩
- The popes were strict rulers. Thus, one pope is gratefully remembered for making the streets of Rome safe for residents and pilgrims. He did this by ordering that all suspicious characters be hanged. The popes had a good and loyal police force. “Santa Uffici” (Sacred Chancellery) had a “Bocca de la Verita,” an opening in the wall where anonymous denunciations could be dropped off and that brought about a great fear among the Roman residents. The popes may have had personal enemies, but the popes had no fear of enemies on the principle of faith. Such were unknown in Rome. ↩
- Lives of the Saints [in Russian], compiled by St. Dimitri, Metropolitan of Rostov, for May 14. See also Fools-for-Christ in the Eastern and Russian Church by Ioann Kovalevsky, Moscow, 1895, pp. 238-249. ↩
- Kovalevsky, op. cit., pp. 249-251. ↩
- Ibid, p. 161ff. ↩
- We can note here that Russian historians characterize Marina Mnishek’s reception of Orthodoxy as strictly a political act. The policy of the False Dimitri was permeated by the goal to Latinize the Russian Church. See: Metropolitan Makarii, History of the Russian Church, v. X, pp. 99-122. See also Prof. Kartashev, op. cit., v. II, p. 60. ↩
- Kartashev, vol. 2, p. 98. ↩
- Idem. ↩
- Kartashev, pp. 96-97. ↩
- Ibid, p. 99. ↩
- Metropolitan Makarii, History of the Russian Church [in Russian], v. XI, p. 232. ↩
- Cited in Prof. Talberg, op. cit., p. 467. ↩
- Metr. Makarii, op. cit., vol. XII, pp. 175-175. ↩
- Ibid, pp. 196-197. ↩
- Op. cit., p. 786. For the original text see Acts of the Moscow Councils 1666-1667 [in Russian], Moscow, 1893, pp. 174-175. ↩
- Nikodim Milash, op. cit., p. 592, note II. ↩
- Archbishop Benjamin, Novaya Skrizhal’, 16th ed., SPb, 1899, pp. 475-476; [see also Jordanville reprint of the 17th edition, §79, p.506]. ↩
- Found in Nikolsky, Manual for the Study of the Order [Ustav] of Services [in Russian], 1900 ed., pp. 685-686. ↩
- Bulgakov, Reference Book for Sacred Ministers [in Russian], 1900 ed., p. 947, note 2. ↩
- Ibid, p. 929 and notes on p. 948. ↩
- Decrees of the Holy Synod, 1840, II, 20. 1865, VIII, 25. Statute of the Spiritual Consistory, 22, 25. ↩
- Tserkovnye Vedomosti, 1893, 28. Practical Instruction [for Rural Pastors], 181ff. ↩
- Tserkovnye Vedomosti, 1891, 21, p. 280. ↩
- Instruction of the Sacred Synod, 1800, Feb 20, note 4. See more details about this in Nikolsky, op.cit., p. 684. ↩
- About some special situations of some heterodox coming into Orthodoxy, which are not directly related to our subject, see Compilation of Directives and Notes on the Problems of Pastoral Practice, Moscow, 1875, pp. 73-75. ↩
- Bulgakov, op. cit., pp. 928-929. ↩
- Ibid, p. 929, note 1. ↩
- Archpriest Nikolsky, op. cit., p. 678. ↩
- In the journal The Annals of the Imperial Society of History and Antiquities (1892, book 3), there is material indicating that clerics, uniting with the Orthodox Church from heresy whose baptism and ordination is unquestioned, should be received only by giving a written confession of the Orthodox Faith and the repudiation of their heresy, as was the practice of the Seventh Ecumenical Council with respect to bishops and other clerics who were Iconoclasts. These must be received in conformance with Canon 8 of the First Ecumenical Council, each in his clerical rank, by vesting them in accordance with their rank. See Archpriest Nikolsky, p. 686, note I. ↩
- See Bulgakov, op. cit., p 948, notes. ↩
- Porfirii Uspensky, Book of My Life [in Russian], v. 1, p.173. ↩
- Protopresbyter George Shavelsky, Memoirs of the Last Protopresbyter of the Russian Army and Navy [in Russian], v. II, pp. 33ff.
The Russian Church was tolerant towards the non-Orthodox. Prof. N. Zernov’s book Orthodox Encounter (1961) gives some historical material about the meetings of Russian theologians and hierarchs with non-Orthodox theologians and hierarchs, especially with Anglicans, from which one can appreciate the broad views of the Russian Church. Narrow views and confessional fanaticism was foreign to her. I would like to add on my part that while I was at the ancient Cathedral of York I saw, preserved under glass with great reverence, an Omophorionof a Russian hierarch that the latter presented to the Archbishop of York. We can recall how cordially the Russian Church received the well-known Palmer and how open she was towards him. He, on his part, enriched the Russian theological literature with his remarkable work about Patriarch Nikon.
Russian hierarchs in most cases stood by the principle that “the divisions between Christian denominations do not reach the heavens.” It is well known how tenderly and attentively the righteous Father John of Kronstadt related to the non-Orthodox, maintaining a correspondence with them. Queen Victoria, to whom the English translation of Father St. John of Kronstadt’s work My Life in Christ was dedicated, reverently received the book and reflected upon its author with the greatest respect. Here is an extract from the Anglican theologian Birkbeck’s book Two Days in Kronstadt (1902), pp. 277-295:
“[Fr. John’s] face was as usual, calm and had a bright smile. He moved with difficulty between the rows of attendants, all of them pressing to kiss his hand or receive his blessing. Among them I noticed not only several German Lutherans, but also two Muslim Tartars who were waiters in the restaurant and who also asked for and received his blessing. His influence reached far beyond the boundaries of the Orthodox population.”
Father John of Kronstadt had conversation with an Anglican archbishop and upon his exit from the guesthouse he was pressed once again by the attendants. (As is known, Metropolitan Anastassy participated in the writing of this book, having been a student of the Theological Academy).
The relations of the Russian Orthodox Church with the non-Orthodox was permeated with such nobility and cordiality. It is not likely that anyone could accuse St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, or the righteous St. John of Kronstadt of not being firm in their Orthodoxy! On the contrary, it is precisely this strength — theirs and that of the Russian Church — that allowed such magnanimity and tolerance in the approach towards the non-Orthodox. Where there is Truth — there will be freedom, and strength, and magnanimity. ↩
- Given in Nikodim Milash, Canons of the Orthodox Church with Commentary [in Russian], 1911, vol. I, pp. 589-590. ↩
- The reference is to the works of Pseudo-Dionysius, which are not of the apostolic times but of later centuries. ↩
- Milash, supra, p. 590. ↩
- Pedalion, 1800 edition. English translation from Greek, 1857 edition, pp. 68-76, p. 402, note 9. Citations also taken from Bishop Nikodim’ Orthodox Canon Law, p. 591. ↩
- Bishop Nikodim Milash, Orthodox Canon Law [in Russian ], pp. 590-591. ↩
- Ibid, pp. 591-592. ↩
- Bishop Nikodim Milash, Canons of the Orthodox Church. . . , vol. I, pp. 119-120. ↩
- A. P. Lebedev, History of the Greco-Eastern Church under the Turks [in Russian], 1903, pp. 270, 323-328. ↩
- See Pichler, Geschichte der kirchliche Trennung, 1865, v. II, S. 107. ↩
- N. F. Kapterev, The Character of Russian Relations towards the Orthodox East in the 16th and 17th Centuries, 1914, p. 427. ↩
- Ibid, p. 435. ↩
- Ibid, pp. 428-429. He also says that the Russian monarchs, during a period of two centuries, spent massive sums for the benefit of the East (Ibid, p. 144). ↩
- Lebedev, op cit., pp. 174-177. ↩
- Kapterev, op cit., p. 473. ↩
- Guidelines for the Orthodox in Ecumenical Relations, 1966, pp. 8-13. ↩
- See Appendix One. ↩
- See Appendix Two. ↩
- See Appendix Three. ↩
- See note one. ↩
- Ecumenical Guidelines, 1972, p. 11. ↩
- See Appendix Four. ↩
- Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council; Canon 95 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. ↩
- De baptismo, lib. V, cc. 2-3-4, Z.D. 43. ↩
- This document was originally translated into English and published in Orthodox Life, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1979, pp. 35-43 ↩