Author Topic: Re-instating defrocked priests  (Read 100630 times)

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Offline BasilCan

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Re-instating defrocked priests
« on: May 17, 2008, 10:07:22 PM »
I recently read on the OCA website:

http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=1542&SID=19

about some priests who had been defrocked (returned to the laity) but had been reinstated as priests - years after their laicization. For example, from the same website:

"His Eminence, Archbishop NATHANIEL presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America the details of the circumstances surrounding the deposition from the Holy Priesthood of Priest Viorel Dumitrascu and the details both of his repentance and of the canonical reasons for lifting this deposition.

"After hearing the report from Archbishop NATHANIEL concerning Priest Viorel Dumitrascu, the Holy Synod of Bishops, on May 15, 2008, meeting in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, resolved that the deposition on October 20, 1999 of Priest Viorel Dumitrascu be lifted immediately. He is restored to the active exercise of the Holy Priesthood and his name is to be returned immediately to the clergy list of the Orthodox Church in America.

"Effective immediately, he is placed under the omophor of Archbishop NATHANIEL of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate for further assignment."

So, my question is this:

Can priests, once laicized, be "reinstated" as priests by their bishop (after their repentance) under canon law? Is this only an OCA thing? Has this happened with other jurisdictions?

Basil

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2008, 10:39:37 PM »
So, my question is this:

Can priests, once laicized, be "reinstated" as priests by their bishop (after their repentance) under canon law? Is this only an OCA thing? Has this happened with other jurisdictions?
If this practice is NOT canonical, on what other grounds would the OCA have any authority to do what they did?
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2008, 11:28:48 PM »
I do not know what the canons have to say about reinstating unfrocked clergy.  However, there are two noteworthy incidence of this practice in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

In the 1920's, a metropolitan attached to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Vasilios, was elevated to the See of Chaldea, but declined the assignment and ventured to America, without authorization.  Seizing on the Venizelists (a Greek republican political faction) versus the Royalists faction, which political dispute existed in American parishes, formed an "independent" diocese in America.  The Patriarchal Synod unfrocked this hierarch.  In order to heal the resulting schism, in 1930, the Patriarchate recalled the American hierarchy (the Archbishop and two diocesan bishops), transferring them to vacant dioceses in Greece, to clear the way for Athenagoras, of Thrice Blessed Memory, to stabilize the fragmented Archdiocese of America. Vasilios, likewise, was reinstated to hierarchal dignity and reassigned to a vacant diocese in Greece.

In the 1930's, another schism occurred with an archdiocesan priest, leaving the jurisdiction without permission, Fr. Chistoforos.  Upon Archbishop Athenagoras' request, the Holy Synod of Constantinopole unfrocked Christoforos.  The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad ordained this priest to the episcopacy.  Seizing upon the Calendar change, Christoforos, created an "autocephalos Archdiocese of America and Canada,"  which followed the Julian Calendar.  The Archdiocese of America proclaimed Christoforos non-canonical.  Christoforos filed a civil law suit challenging this proclamation, which was argued in the court system for some time.  The suit was ultimately settled by retraction of the unfrocking, an act that took quite a bit of negotiation to accomplish.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2008, 11:37:15 PM by BTRAKAS »
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2008, 12:18:04 AM »
I was under the impression if any ordained person was defrocked, such a defrocking was permanent and could not be revoked.  For example, those priests defrocked due to sex abuse allegations will hopefully remain laymen and not have their defrocking revoked under any circumstances.

In the previous examples, only economia (especially if the defrocking was more political punishment rather than mere ecclesiastical error) could be the reason that these clergy and Hierarchs had their defrocking revoked.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2008, 12:26:04 AM »
I recently read on the OCA website:

http://www.oca.org/News.asp?ID=1542&SID=19

about some priests who had been defrocked (returned to the laity) but had been reinstated as priests - years after their laicization. For example, from the same website:

"His Eminence, Archbishop NATHANIEL presented to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America the details of the circumstances surrounding the deposition from the Holy Priesthood of Priest Viorel Dumitrascu and the details both of his repentance and of the canonical reasons for lifting this deposition.

"After hearing the report from Archbishop NATHANIEL concerning Priest Viorel Dumitrascu, the Holy Synod of Bishops, on May 15, 2008, meeting in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, resolved that the deposition on October 20, 1999 of Priest Viorel Dumitrascu be lifted immediately. He is restored to the active exercise of the Holy Priesthood and his name is to be returned immediately to the clergy list of the Orthodox Church in America.

"Effective immediately, he is placed under the omophor of Archbishop NATHANIEL of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate for further assignment."

So, my question is this:

Can priests, once laicized, be "reinstated" as priests by their bishop (after their repentance) under canon law? Is this only an OCA thing? Has this happened with other jurisdictions?

Basil

Check the details: the term used in your quotes is "deposed" which is much different than "defrocked." "Deposed" means that he was unseated from his place and not permitted to serve as a clergyman - however, this does not imply that he is no longer a clergyman - he can still receive as one, and should be referred to as one.  "Defrocked" means that he is no longer a clergyman, thus also de facto deposing him as well.  A "deposed" clergyman can be reinstated, sometimes with little difficulty.  Some have been deposed multiple times (for political reasons).  I don't know if I've ever heard of a person who was "defrocked" being reinstated, but I certainly know that if a synod did this, the only way for it to be overturned is if (a) it were appealed and overturned by a synod of higher authority, or (b) the laity rejected it in a vehement way (a la the Council of Florence).
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2008, 12:31:37 AM »
"Deposed" means that he was unseated from his place and not permitted to serve as a clergyman - however, this does not imply that he is no longer a clergyman - he can still receive as one, and should be referred to as one.

Is a liturgical suspension similar to being deposed because one can no longer serve as a clergyman while maintaining any offikia and the like?

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2008, 12:37:50 AM »
Is a liturgical suspension similar to being deposed because one can no longer serve as a clergyman while maintaining any offikia and the like?

I suppose so.  Except "deposition" does not have the same implication of being temporary that "suspension" does.
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2008, 09:23:11 AM »
If a defrockment (I think the two words deposition and defrockment are often used interchangeably in our day and age so it would probably be nice if someone wrote an article on this all for OCnet hint hint) was overturned it seems to me that it would not be saying that he was not a priest and that he is now a priest again but rather that in fact, the original deposition is annulled and is null and void. Otherwise, you would have an untenable situation: someone becoming a layman again and then becoming a priest again without ordination.  So a lifting of a deposition or defrockment would imply the original one was invalid to begin with.
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Offline Pravoslavbob

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2008, 11:17:55 PM »
I'd always thought that "defrocked" was a term that we used loosely that had been borrowed from the West and that the Orthodox don't officially use at all.  By my way of thinking, to be deposed is to be "defrocked."  While a clergyman is under suspension, he is not allowed to serve, but he is expected to attend services and receive communion at the altar as clergy. wearing cuffs and stole.   I don't know how they do things in the GOC or the GOA, but in the OCA, if you are deposed I believe you are not just laicized but also excommunicated.  If you are laicized, it is something quite different from being deposed: you are considered a layman and treated as such.  Once laicized, you do not receive communion as clergy, nor are you referred to in any way as clergy, although you could be reinstated under the right circumstances.  Obviously( after seeing the article in question), under rare cirumstances deposed clergy can also be restored. 
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Offline prodromas

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2008, 11:25:49 PM »
The Greek slang for a deposed priest is "Xeristican" which roughly translates as he has been shaved.
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2008, 11:56:39 PM »
I'd always thought that "defrocked" was a term that we used loosely that had been borrowed from the West and that the Orthodox don't officially use at all.  By my way of thinking, to be deposed is to be "defrocked."  While a clergyman is under suspension, he is not allowed to serve, but he is expected to attend services and receive communion at the altar as clergy. wearing cuffs and stole.   I don't know how they do things in the GOC or the GOA, but in the OCA, if you are deposed I believe you are not just laicized but also excommunicated.  If you are laicized, it is something quite different from being deposed: you are considered a layman and treated as such.  Once laicized, you do not receive communion as clergy, nor are you referred to in any way as clergy, although you could be reinstated under the right circumstances.  Obviously( after seeing the article in question), under rare cirumstances deposed clergy can also be restored. 

You are making a distinction between depose and laicize while Cleveland is making a distinction between defocking and deposing. To my knowledge the only distinction is between suspending and deposing. I could be wrong though as it has been awhile since I read up on that.

No, you are not excommunicated if you are deposed/defrocked/laicized unless as we discussed in another thread a few weeks ago you committed multiple offenses and they excommunication is for another offense. That's because you can't be punished twice for the same offense.  I was taught this in seminary--run by the OCA of course.

I think someone needs to do a quality research paper on this topic as it is kind of confusing and not well understood in our times.
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Offline arimethea

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Re: Re-instating defrocked priests
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2008, 12:33:47 AM »
I think someone needs to do a quality research paper on this topic as it is kind of confusing and not well understood in our times.
The big problem with this discussion is that almost every jurisdiction in the US has a different way of dealing with the problem. The other wrench is that almost every case is unique since these are matters of last resort and should not be handed out lightly.

I don't have a copy of the canons handy but I think it is canon 8 of Nicea that talks about the often used "one bishop, one city" that so many like to talk about when critiquing the situation in the Americas. When looking at the historical background of this canon it is dealing with those former Bishops who had left the Church and are now coming back in repentance. These fallen Bishops had be excommunicated from the Church and new Bishops where installed. The canon places the decision to allow the ex-bishop to return and function as a bishop to the current Bishop of the city. I bring this up because there is precedent in the canons to allow for those who have been removed from their office due to heresy to return to their former state after repentance.
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