Author Topic: So how Orthodox believe canonical bishops are distinguished from non-canonical?  (Read 795 times)

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Offline Xavier

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So in the sedevacantist thread, the question was asked and we discussed how the Catholic Church distinguishes canonical bishops from non-canonical ones - you have to be appointed to episcopal office and receive your jurisdiction from the Pope to be canonical. Now, first question, what is the corresponding Orthodox rule? You have different groups like the Genuine Orthodox Churches, the Old Calendarists and certain others - for someone on the outside looking in, what rule of faith explains and shows that such and such bishops alone are canonical and that the others are not? Who decides which bishops and priests are episcopi vagantes or vagrant bishops/clerics?

Secondly, let's say someone, say Alex, is inquiring into Orthodoxy and to other Eastern Churches - how is he to resolve for himself with certainty which Councils are Ecumenical and which are not. Let's limit ourselves to first millenium councils. He asks (1) an Assyrian Church of the East Bishop, who tells him only Nicaea and Constantinople are such. He explains there were all sorts of issues at Ephesus, 431, which prevents it from being recognized as one. Next, Alex proceeds to ask (2) a Syrian Orthodox Bishop, who assures him Ephesus is certainly a dogmatic Ecumenical Council. Chalcedon is the Council with irregularities and which therefore cannot be accepted as Ecumenical. Finally, he inquires of an Eastern Orthodox Bishop. (3) This Bishop explains to him that in fact 7 Councils in the first millenium are Ecumenical and that there were no issues at Ephesus and Chalcedon that would justify not accepting them - and that these must certainly be recognized as legitimate Ecumenical Councils.

Honestly, how is Alex to decide!? We - Catholics and Orthodox alike - don't tell Protestants that each and every one of the estimated 30 k odd denominations alike must be inquired into. We - again Catholics and Orthodox both - say that the true Church is identified by means of Apostolic Succession, and that therefore the Protestant denominations can be excluded from constituting it. So similarly, what is the simple and easily practicable rule of Faith applicable here, that the Tradition of the Fathers clearly hands down, and reason itself shows to be necessary?

N.B.: You're free to bring up the sedevacantists and other movements within the Catholic Church etc again within this thread, but kindly answer the 2 questions above before doing so. Thanks.
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Offline Iconodule

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There are a number of indicators that one could discuss, and theological discussions that could be had. Perhaps others would care to chime in with them. However, whether any of these reasonings are convincing depends a great deal on Alex's disposition, and what he's really looking for. So I'll just say this: entering the Church of Christ is like falling in love. When you fall in love you don't compile a list of pros and cons about the person in front of you. There might be particular characteristics that stand out to you but your attraction goes beyond them. If that attraction isn't there, nothing else matters. That's why I think it's pretty useless to try to construct these watertight True Church criteria.
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Offline Lepanto

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There are a number of indicators that one could discuss, and theological discussions that could be had. Perhaps others would care to chime in with them. However, whether any of these reasonings are convincing depends a great deal on Alex's disposition, and what he's really looking for. So I'll just say this: entering the Church of Christ is like falling in love. When you fall in love you don't compile a list of pros and cons about the person in front of you. There might be particular characteristics that stand out to you but your attraction goes beyond them. If that attraction isn't there, nothing else matters. That's why I think it's pretty useless to try to construct these watertight True Church criteria.

You know, it´s a feeling... it´s up in the air... one cannot give watertight criteria.
Rings a bit arbitrary in my Western ears - which are of course accustomed to and dulled by legalism.
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Offline Iconodule

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Accusations of arbitrariness are inevitable and, I ween, irrefutable. I am, of course, a Westerner too, so I understand this mania for systems and rules to guide our way. I'm also aware that it really doesn't work to dispel confusion and doubt.
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When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
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Offline juliogb

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I recently discovered that in Brazil there are some fake orthodox churches, with fake bishops. A friend of mine and others here made a montage with all the canonical bishops working here and posted it on facebook.

Offline WPM

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So in the sedevacantist thread, the question was asked and we discussed how the Catholic Church distinguishes canonical bishops from non-canonical ones - you have to be appointed to episcopal office and receive your jurisdiction from the Pope to be canonical. Now, first question, what is the corresponding Orthodox rule? You have different groups like the Genuine Orthodox Churches, the Old Calendarists and certain others - for someone on the outside looking in, what rule of faith explains and shows that such and such bishops alone are canonical and that the others are not? Who decides which bishops and priests are episcopi vagantes or vagrant bishops/clerics?

Secondly, let's say someone, say Alex, is inquiring into Orthodoxy and to other Eastern Churches - how is he to resolve for himself with certainty which Councils are Ecumenical and which are not. Let's limit ourselves to first millenium councils. He asks (1) an Assyrian Church of the East Bishop, who tells him only Nicaea and Constantinople are such. He explains there were all sorts of issues at Ephesus, 431, which prevents it from being recognized as one. Next, Alex proceeds to ask (2) a Syrian Orthodox Bishop, who assures him Ephesus is certainly a dogmatic Ecumenical Council. Chalcedon is the Council with irregularities and which therefore cannot be accepted as Ecumenical. Finally, he inquires of an Eastern Orthodox Bishop. (3) This Bishop explains to him that in fact 7 Councils in the first millenium are Ecumenical and that there were no issues at Ephesus and Chalcedon that would justify not accepting them - and that these must certainly be recognized as legitimate Ecumenical Councils.

Honestly, how is Alex to decide!? We - Catholics and Orthodox alike - don't tell Protestants that each and every one of the estimated 30 k odd denominations alike must be inquired into. We - again Catholics and Orthodox both - say that the true Church is identified by means of Apostolic Succession, and that therefore the Protestant denominations can be excluded from constituting it. So similarly, what is the simple and easily practicable rule of Faith applicable here, that the Tradition of the Fathers clearly hands down, and reason itself shows to be necessary?

N.B.: You're free to bring up the sedevacantists and other movements within the Catholic Church etc again within this thread, but kindly answer the 2 questions above before doing so. Thanks.

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Offline Volnutt

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Honestly, how is Alex to decide!? We - Catholics and Orthodox alike - don't tell Protestants that each and every one of the estimated 30 k odd denominations alike must be inquired into. We - again Catholics and Orthodox both - say that the true Church is identified by means of Apostolic Succession, and that therefore the Protestant denominations can be excluded from constituting it. So similarly, what is the simple and easily practicable rule of Faith applicable here, that the Tradition of the Fathers clearly hands down, and reason itself shows to be necessary?

I don't really see the problem. There's only three major strands of Eastern Churches (Assyrian, Oriental, Eastern) each of which are in communion with most of the others within their strand, just write the bishops. The "how many Ecumenical Councils" question is answered by which of the three you happen to join with. Dissident movements can be identified by the fact that they don't claim to be in communion with any of the other Churches in their strand (something that they're usually quite open about). If you have a bishop who's not in communion with, for example, any of the Eastern Patriarchs, then he's vagante.

Isn't that more or less how it works in terms of RCC flavored splinter groups and vagantes- just write the Vatican about him if you're not sure? I don't see how this can really be compared to all the different Protestant groups with unclear criteria.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 04:06:08 PM by Volnutt »
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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To play devils advocate - and I brought this up on another thread - But then you get complicated with situations where officially a Church is announced as noncanonical, but given the fact that that Church produces Saints and breaks away for reasons of heresy, it seems like they were and still are legitimate (ROCOR specifically)

Finding the Truth is not something that can be done by pure logic alone; it must be done with a Spiritually desire to know the Truth as it's been practiced along with reason.

I mean, Xavier, you know this to be the case (at least perceived to be the case) with the SSPX. It's very clear they have no official logical authority from the Pope to exist and are canonically irregular; however, if one looks at their history you can see their existence is more complicated than that, with what seems to be backhanded justifications for excommunication that don't seem justified (for example, delaying to ordain a new bishop as much as possible in a corrupt fashion) However, following pure logic should forbid you from attending the SSPX - as you would misquote - Rome has spoken, the case is closed.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 04:52:57 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Bob2

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To play devils advocate - and I brought this up on another thread - But then you get complicated with situations where officially a Church is announced as noncanonical, but given the fact that that Church produces Saints and breaks away for reasons of heresy, it seems like they were and still are legitimate (ROCOR specifically)

The canonically consecrated bishops of ROCOR maintained continuous communion with the patriarchates of Serbia and Jerusalem from their inception, and thus the rest of world Orthodoxy.  This was not a schism. They just didn't know what aspects of the church inside of Russia had or had not been infiltrated.

Offline Vanhyo

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Are you asking for some mathematical formula that assures you to be in the right place ? The state of your heart will send you where you belong.

Offline Volnutt

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To play devils advocate - and I brought this up on another thread - But then you get complicated with situations where officially a Church is announced as noncanonical, but given the fact that that Church produces Saints and breaks away for reasons of heresy, it seems like they were and still are legitimate (ROCOR specifically)

The canonically consecrated bishops of ROCOR maintained continuous communion with the patriarchates of Serbia and Jerusalem from their inception, and thus the rest of world Orthodoxy.  This was not a schism. They just didn't know what aspects of the church inside of Russia had or had not been infiltrated.

Yeah, there's was never a time when ROCOR was completely cut off from the rest of Eastern Orthodoxy. Old Calendarists, et al. can't really say the same.
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So in the sedevacantist thread, the question was asked and we discussed how the Catholic Church distinguishes canonical bishops from non-canonical ones - you have to be appointed to episcopal office and receive your jurisdiction from the Pope to be canonical. Now, first question, what is the corresponding Orthodox rule? You have different groups like the Genuine Orthodox Churches, the Old Calendarists and certain others - for someone on the outside looking in, what rule of faith explains and shows that such and such bishops alone are canonical and that the others are not? Who decides which bishops and priests are episcopi vagantes or vagrant bishops/clerics?

Secondly, let's say someone, say Alex, is inquiring into Orthodoxy and to other Eastern Churches - how is he to resolve for himself with certainty which Councils are Ecumenical and which are not. Let's limit ourselves to first millenium councils. He asks (1) an Assyrian Church of the East Bishop, who tells him only Nicaea and Constantinople are such. He explains there were all sorts of issues at Ephesus, 431, which prevents it from being recognized as one. Next, Alex proceeds to ask (2) a Syrian Orthodox Bishop, who assures him Ephesus is certainly a dogmatic Ecumenical Council. Chalcedon is the Council with irregularities and which therefore cannot be accepted as Ecumenical. Finally, he inquires of an Eastern Orthodox Bishop. (3) This Bishop explains to him that in fact 7 Councils in the first millenium are Ecumenical and that there were no issues at Ephesus and Chalcedon that would justify not accepting them - and that these must certainly be recognized as legitimate Ecumenical Councils.

Honestly, how is Alex to decide!? We - Catholics and Orthodox alike - don't tell Protestants that each and every one of the estimated 30 k odd denominations alike must be inquired into. We - again Catholics and Orthodox both - say that the true Church is identified by means of Apostolic Succession, and that therefore the Protestant denominations can be excluded from constituting it. So similarly, what is the simple and easily practicable rule of Faith applicable here, that the Tradition of the Fathers clearly hands down, and reason itself shows to be necessary?

N.B.: You're free to bring up the sedevacantists and other movements within the Catholic Church etc again within this thread, but kindly answer the 2 questions above before doing so. Thanks.

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Offline Dominika

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So in the sedevacantist thread, the question was asked and we discussed how the Catholic Church distinguishes canonical bishops from non-canonical ones - you have to be appointed to episcopal office and receive your jurisdiction from the Pope to be canonical. Now, first question, what is the corresponding Orthodox rule? You have different groups like the Genuine Orthodox Churches, the Old Calendarists and certain others - for someone on the outside looking in, what rule of faith explains and shows that such and such bishops alone are canonical and that the others are not? Who decides which bishops and priests are episcopi vagantes or vagrant bishops/clerics?

Secondly, let's say someone, say Alex, is inquiring into Orthodoxy and to other Eastern Churches - how is he to resolve for himself with certainty which Councils are Ecumenical and which are not. Let's limit ourselves to first millenium councils. He asks (1) an Assyrian Church of the East Bishop, who tells him only Nicaea and Constantinople are such. He explains there were all sorts of issues at Ephesus, 431, which prevents it from being recognized as one. Next, Alex proceeds to ask (2) a Syrian Orthodox Bishop, who assures him Ephesus is certainly a dogmatic Ecumenical Council. Chalcedon is the Council with irregularities and which therefore cannot be accepted as Ecumenical. Finally, he inquires of an Eastern Orthodox Bishop. (3) This Bishop explains to him that in fact 7 Councils in the first millenium are Ecumenical and that there were no issues at Ephesus and Chalcedon that would justify not accepting them - and that these must certainly be recognized as legitimate Ecumenical Councils.

Honestly, how is Alex to decide!? We - Catholics and Orthodox alike - don't tell Protestants that each and every one of the estimated 30 k odd denominations alike must be inquired into. We - again Catholics and Orthodox both - say that the true Church is identified by means of Apostolic Succession, and that therefore the Protestant denominations can be excluded from constituting it. So similarly, what is the simple and easily practicable rule of Faith applicable here, that the Tradition of the Fathers clearly hands down, and reason itself shows to be necessary?

N.B.: You're free to bring up the sedevacantists and other movements within the Catholic Church etc again within this thread, but kindly answer the 2 questions above before doing so. Thanks.

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Offline RaphaCam

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There were once grey areas, but now that ROCOR is fully reconciled and the internet can quickly inform anyone interested, I doubt there's any bishop in the world whose Eastern Orthodox canonicity is doubted: it's easily either confirmed or denied. We are, thanks be to God, in a period of homeostasis, which should be the norm. Confused cases such as early Old Calendarism, which had a lot of grey areas, no longer exist, and traditionalist groups are majorly either reconciled with the Church or openly schismed. We have at least one problem of perfect communion between autocephalous churches (Antioch/Jerusalem) right now, but literally no one in a good mind would say either of them have departed from the Church. 

I point this out about the internet because once people would have a hard time figuring out if certain bishops were canonical, while a simple call to the synod would have sorted the whole thing out. IIRC, my own archbishop was kept out of the Latin American version of SCOBA for years and years due to rumours and confusion, even as he was a perfect member of the Polish Orthodox Synod! So the easeness with which one can access information nowadays really changes things for better canonically-wise.

The Abyssinian Oriental Orthodox have a few problems right now for which we should pray to be over, but I'm not sure whether these constitute grey areas or if the general church outright knows what's the deal with them. Among the Syriacs, as between EO Antioch and Jerusalem, there is an internal schism that doesn't affect the rest of the communion, but it's definitely more dramatic since it's much longer and results from and affects more faithful. AFAIK, Armenians are canonically just fine despite any internal dispute.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 08:21:21 AM by RaphaCam »
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Offline RaphaCam

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There were once grey areas, but now that ROCOR is fully reconciled and the internet can quickly inform anyone interested, I doubt there's any bishop in the world whose Eastern Orthodox canonicity is doubted: it's easily either confirmed or denied. We are, thanks be to God, in a period of homeostasis, which should be the norm. Confused cases such as early Old Calendarism, which had a lot of grey areas, no longer exist, and traditionalist groups are majorly either reconciled with the Church or openly schismed. We have at least one problem of perfect communion between autocephalous churches (Antioch/Jerusalem) right now, but literally no one in a good mind would say either of them have departed from the Church. 

I point this out about the internet because once people would have a hard time figuring out if certain bishops were canonical, while a simple call to the synod would have sorted the whole thing out. IIRC, my own archbishop was kept out of the Latin American version of SCOBA for years and years due to rumours and confusion, even as he was a perfect member of the Polish Orthodox Synod! So the easeness with which one can access information nowadays really changes things for better canonically-wise.

The Abyssinian Oriental Orthodox have a few problems right now for which we should pray to be over, but I'm not sure whether these constitute grey areas or if the general church outright knows what's the deal with them. Among the Syriacs, as between EO Antioch and Jerusalem, there is an internal schism that doesn't affect the rest of the communion, but it's definitely more dramatic since it's much longer and results from and affects more faithful. AFAIK, Armenians are canonically just fine despite any internal dispute.
BTW, I'm not trying to categorically delegitimise groups outside mainstream Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, but rather to be analytical about both churches. It would be pretty inconsistent to believe Copts are Orthodox without granting the same to, say, HOCNA or the KP. But I believe the fact these recent and fresh schisms don't have one millenium and a half of tradition and thousands of millions of faithful to work out aggravates the whole thing.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 08:27:43 AM by RaphaCam »
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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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There were once grey areas, but now that ROCOR is fully reconciled and the internet can quickly inform anyone interested, I doubt there's any bishop in the world whose Eastern Orthodox canonicity is doubted: it's easily either confirmed or denied. We are, thanks be to God, in a period of homeostasis, which should be the norm. Confused cases such as early Old Calendarism, which had a lot of grey areas, no longer exist, and traditionalist groups are majorly either reconciled with the Church or openly schismed. We have at least one problem of perfect communion between autocephalous churches (Antioch/Jerusalem) right now, but literally no one in a good mind would say either of them have departed from the Church. 

I point this out about the internet because once people would have a hard time figuring out if certain bishops were canonical, while a simple call to the synod would have sorted the whole thing out. IIRC, my own archbishop was kept out of the Latin American version of SCOBA for years and years due to rumours and confusion, even as he was a perfect member of the Polish Orthodox Synod! So the easeness with which one can access information nowadays really changes things for better canonically-wise.

The Abyssinian Oriental Orthodox have a few problems right now for which we should pray to be over, but I'm not sure whether these constitute grey areas or if the general church outright knows what's the deal with them. Among the Syriacs, as between EO Antioch and Jerusalem, there is an internal schism that doesn't affect the rest of the communion, but it's definitely more dramatic since it's much longer and results from and affects more faithful. AFAIK, Armenians are canonically just fine despite any internal dispute.
BTW, I'm not trying to categorically delegitimise groups outside mainstream Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, but rather to be analytical about both churches. It would be pretty inconsistent to believe Copts are Orthodox without granting the same to, say, HOCNA or the KP. But I believe the fact these recent and fresh schisms don't have one millenium and a half of tradition and thousands of millions of faithful to work out aggravates the whole thing.
I think there is a distinction: a given group can have Orthodox beliefs but be outside the Church nevertheless, e.g. because their bishops got deposed for other transgressions, and instead they form their own fake synod. This tends to happen a lot with the Old Calendarists.

The HOCNA is also on the border of actually being Orthodox in belief, but it is unlikely their views on the name of God being an energy of God will be examined any further unless they did want to reunite with the Church.

Oriental Orthodox: hopefully that schism ends before the Second Coming.
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