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Author Topic: Canonical Churches  (Read 2734 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 14, 2004, 01:53:59 AM »

Since this term is used fairly frequently in certain Orthodox circles what makes a church canonical compared to uncanonical churches?  I'm struggling to get a working definition used be the SCOBA churches....thanks
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2004, 09:24:42 AM »

It's a real Eastern Orthodox church if it holds the same beliefs as the others, including claiming apostolic succession, and - here's the kicker - is in communion with at least one church in the recognized Orthodox communion. That definition includes all of SCOBA. Most real Orthodox are in communion with all the others, but the big exception is ROCOR because of the leadership it had in the 1970s through the 1990s. But it is still in communion with the Serbian Orthodox Church and maybe the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and all the others recognize it as one of them anyway.
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2004, 10:03:54 AM »

the Kyprianite Old Calandrist Greek Church (and their Bulgarian and Romanian cousins) is in communion with ROCOR and holds to the general beliefs of Holy Orthodoxy.  Would not they also be considered Canonical by this definition?

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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2004, 10:21:35 AM »

Because these groups are part of a real Eastern Orthodox church, in this case ROCOR, they're Orthodox, but they're also schisms from the real Orthodox churches of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. Likewise the ROCOR churches in Russia. More examples of the evil of redundant jurisdictions, like the Eastern Orthodox in America since the 1920s. So my nonexpert guess is the schismatic groups are Orthodox but not canonical.

Makes your head hurt - the schismatic groups are out of communion with the Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian Orthodox churches but in communion with ROCOR, which is in communion with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, both of which are in communion with  the Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian Orthodox churches!

There are three ways to undo or cut this Gordian knot: simply accept the Orthodox communion as is; accept the position of groups I call sincere Eastern vagantes (Old Calendarists out of communion with 'world Orthodoxy'), who like the Old Believer schism of old think they are the only true Eastern Orthodox left on earth and that the larger church at some point became a fake; or, like Fr Deacon Lance but not an option to 'de management' on this board, be under Rome and wish and work for corporate reunion with all these bickering groups!
« Last Edit: April 14, 2004, 10:23:02 AM by Serge » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2004, 11:04:15 AM »

Oy is this ever confusing.  How can one be Orthodox and uncanonical?  to me they are two words for the same thing.

Personally I see a big difference between the "Kyprianite" old calandrists in communion with ROCOR and the other old calandrist groups out there (HOCNA, R**C, GOC, etc.) some of which are just plain bananas and some of the others are deceived to some extent or another.  Truly a sad situation. Schism always is.

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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2004, 11:56:20 AM »

I think that the term canonical is a red herring.  It's really what Serge says ... it's about *communion* more than any canon.
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2004, 12:20:17 PM »

Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote a wonderful article on the subject which can be found here
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2004, 12:50:42 PM »

Joe

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Truly a sad situation. Schism always is.

Then why do you continually rush into situations that place you in schism? Did you not know that being a catechumen is like being betrothed, and that breaking a betrothal is no less an offense to God than divorce (speaking morally, from the Orthodox canonical witness, from the Byzantine legislative witness, or any other way you slice it -- though maybe that's hard for Americans to understand since we see engagement as a sort of "test drive"). Do you realise the magnitude of what you have done over the past year? Do you realise how many spiritual deaths we have watched you go through? And yet you sit there shooting your mouth off about OTHERS being bananas, deceived, and in schism? Good Lord have mercy on you, man!
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2004, 04:57:33 PM »

I think that the term canonical is a red herring.  It's really what Serge says ... it's about *communion* more than any canon.
I tend to agree. I find it rather ironic that SCOBA -Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas - exists precisely to address the weaknesses of an uncanonical situation.
For clarity's sake, I think we should agree that "un-canonical" and "non-canonical", for purposes of this discussion, do not mean exactly the same thing.
I would define "un" as 'anti' or ' against' and "non" as "not" meaning "outside of" or not covered by the canons.
As to ROCOR, if I am not mistaken, they declined membership in SCOBA. Hence, "in communion" issues aside, that to me speaks volumes as to how the churches in America hold ROCOR- fully Orthodox.
Also, there are a few jurisdictions, Moscow's patriarchal parishes and Jerusalem that are without doubt Orthodox Churches, but do not participate in SCOBA.
I look forward to this thread's fruits.

Demetri
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2004, 05:52:38 PM »

Serge,

I would agree that the churches you mention are the OFFICIAL churches in thier lands, but how does official equate to being canonical?   Shouldn't being canonical be based on adherance to the canons and fathers?   The idea that a church has to be in communion is just a different form of papacy and not patristic.
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2004, 05:56:44 PM »

Demetri --

Oh without a doubt ROCOR is Orthodox.  I have seen the communion between ROCOR and the Serbs with my own eyes when I witnessed a concelebrated DL at the local ROCOR parish one early morning Great Feast (I sometimes use Great Feasts to moonlight at other parishes, hehe) where the concelebrant was a Serbian priest.  And the others are Orthodox too.  For the most part the questions arise relating to smaller, splinter jurisdictions who separated themselves from everyone else, mostly due to the so-called "pan-heresy of ecumenism".
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2004, 07:50:17 PM »

I am not sure who's choice it is but I have never seen ROCOR Clergy serve with non-RORCOR Clergy at "Pan-Orthodox" events. But I have seen Serbian and ROCOR clergy serve together and Serbian and other SCOBA clergy serve together. Likewise while the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem  are most definatley in communion I doubt you will ever see their clergy in this country serve together let alone step foot in each other's parishes.

The problem in this country is that and group can pop up here and call themselves Orthodox and say anything that want about who they are. One such group is the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, they claim to be a western rite group who can trace thier "canonical" status to a oriental church of India. What makes this group far from being Orthodox is that while they serve a form of Western Rite liturgy, some of their priest like to wear eastern rite garb reserved for monastics even though they are married. They also ordain women to the presbyter , have openly homosexual clergy who promote a gay lifestlye, and bishops who promote unitarism. All of these are signs that they are not part of the church but they make they claim that they are the Church of America because the other Orthodox Churches here in America only embrace their own kind.

A unified church here in America would be able to stop these irregularities.
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2004, 08:28:29 PM »

Antiochian priests in America were forbidden to concelebrate with Jerusalem Patriarchate priests in America last year by Metropolitan Philip.

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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2004, 08:31:02 PM »

Vagantes always attack.  It is the nature of them and their master.

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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2004, 10:09:53 PM »

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Shouldn't being canonical be based on adherance to the canons and fathers?

AFAIK from people who've read it, Eastern Orthodox canon law is like a cluttered attic. Does anybody bother with checking if the swimming pool has any Jews in it before going in? The point is who decides canonicity - which old rules to enforce because they still apply and which ones don't apply anymore - in this business is the Eastern Orthodox communion, including the official churches of Greece, Russia, etc., not Nektarios or any one person.

Communion also explains, as written here, why in Orthodox eyes the Greek Orthodox Church for example is in and the 'Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Americas Inc., a Gay-Friendly Community with Women Priests' (to make up a typical example of a silly vagante church), isn't.
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2004, 10:40:30 PM »

The ridiculous groups that aren't even Orthrodox in thier faith (i.e pro - homosexuality) are rather irrelevant to this discussion.  FWIW I am under the jurisdiction of Patriarch Vartholomaios of Conastantinople, thus this is not a justification for me of the legitimacy of any vagante group.  What troubles me / what I do not understand is the idea that canonocity / legitimacy comes from being in communion with official churches.  There are numerous cases of saints breaking communion with other saints in resistance that is very similar to the moderate ecclesiology churches (including the ROCOR!) of today.  

The reason I don't think the idea of being in communion with "official" church makes one automatically canonical is that throughout the history various official churches have been heretical for various amounts of time (i.e Iconiclasts, St. Maximos, St. Mark of Ephesos etc. ).  For example various "world Orthodox" will beat moderate old calendarist with the label un-canonical....I find this the hieght   of arrogance and hypocrisy when the canons clearly condemn the new calendar, ecumenism, the Gregorian dating of Pascha, and various activities done over the years of the so called canonical churches.  So canonical as used by offical churches obviously can't mean adherance to the canons, what exactly does it mean?
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2004, 02:02:08 AM »

... the 'Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Americas Inc., a Gay-Friendly Community with Women Priests' (to make up a typical example of a silly vagante church), isn't.

Oh my; now that's funny  Cheesy. Until you stated that you made this church up, I easily assumed it really existed...

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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2004, 09:57:51 AM »

Nektarios --

That's precisely why the term "canonical" is a red herring.  The real issue is who is in communion with whom.  As Serge has rightly noted, Orthodoxy has a messy set of canons, and there are numerous canons that can be cited to support any side of a given debate, meaning that throwing around the term "canonical" is fairly unenlightening to that type of discussion.

I would say that schism is really hardly ever justified, and only so when serious matters of heresy are involved.  I do not think that canonical irregularities of one sort or other justify schism ... whether they relate to the calendar or ecumenical discussion of anything like that ... but I realize that others disagree.  The issue is, are you willing to risk that your group which holds to the calendar and remains pristine from even talking to the "heretical West" is actually the one making mountains out of molehills and walking out of the Church as a result?  Of course those who are doing are convinced that so-called "World Orthodoxy" is bereft of the Holy Spirit because we simply sit in the same room as Roman Catholics and discuss theology with them, or because we are willing to recite the Lord's Prayer with them ... but that is a gamble, it seems to me, and one with rather long odds .... but that is only my perspective.

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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2004, 10:57:34 AM »

Quote
Posted by: +æ-ü+¦-â-ä+++¦+++«-é  Posted on: Today at 02:02:08 AM  
Quote from: Serge on Yesterday at 10:09:53 PM
... the 'Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Americas Inc., a Gay-Friendly Community with Women Priests' (to make up a typical example of a silly vagante church), isn't.
 
 

Oh my; now that's funny  . Until you stated that you made this church up, I easily assumed it really existed...

This Church really does exist and the whole reason I brought them up is because they try to justify their existance by the canons. Using the words for canonical church is misleading. It comes down to is there is only one church and you are either in communion with it or not.

I say again we will always have problems with "canonical" and "un-canonical" groups until we have a unified church here in America and a great council is called to deal with issues like that of the calendar.

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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2004, 04:43:50 PM »

Christ is Risen!

I think you are right there---a unified Orthodox Church with a unified mission is what we need throughout world Orthodoxy, however, I believe that the so-called non-canonical churches would boycott any such meeting believing it had an worldly ecumenical (read that sinister) purpose of making everyone new calendar, changing not only the calendar but the law of the fast etc.

I can not say I blame them after looking at the debacle of Patriarch Melotios's Pan Orthodox Council in the early quarter of the 20th century---it proposed remarriage of widowed priest, married bishops, and changes in the fasting laws---it gave us the "Revised Julian Calendar" but compromised with Pascha being celebrated the same throughout Orthodoxy---this is the true start of the many schisms that have hit World Orthodoxy.

Would it be different today?  I do not know.  I do know that the absence of the Russian Church and Hierarchs, as well as many other representatives of Orthodox Churches in the world actually allowed the council to do the damage that hurt World Orthodoxy in general.  It set up the scandal  that is the multijurisdictional Orthdox Witness in the US.

What do you think?

Your brother in Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2004, 09:21:57 AM »

In reading Thomas's comments I find myself also wondering about how we Orthodox will handle this situation.
Surely, the actions of Pat Melotios were controversial, but the "Pan-Orthodox" synod is not without precedent in the past. Several local or less than general synods were later held to be ecumenical or at the least their actions confirmed in a later general council.  Pat Melotios' council has failed that test to date (keeping in mind that 80 years is a short period relatively speaking).
As to "the multijurisdictional Orthdox Witness in the US", this problem exists virtually everywhere Orthodoxy is outside of the traditional sees - western Europe, Australia, as well as the Americas.
An interesting perspective as to canonical status can be found in the EP's communication re: the churches of the Ukraine.

http://www.ukrainianorthodoxchurchusa.org/news/EP_contraMP.shtml

I found the document rather surprising.

Demetri
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2004, 02:40:42 PM »

What I find wierd though is that throughout Orthodox history it is confession of the true faith that makes one Orthrodox, not being in communion with the official patriarchs.  That is setting up each patriarch as a mini-pope which he is NOT.
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2004, 03:36:17 PM »

Quote
What I find wierd though is that throughout Orthodox history it is confession of the true faith that makes one Orthodox, not being in communion with the official patriarchs.  That is setting up each patriarch as a mini-pope which he is NOT.

If that's entirely true then why not ditch bishops entirely, nail an iconostasis to a wall and join the Priestless Old Believers? That's their paradigm - that they're the only Orthodox left and no-one else is, based on their own reading of canons, etc. (Some of the sectarians online might end up doing that - it would make sense.)

I don't speak for the factions here but ISTM a patriarch in the Orthodox communion is a mini-Pope of sorts, of his own autocephalous church. Just like the Pope is of the Latin Church. The difference is in Eastern Orthodoxy there is no super-patriarch of the whole operation but rather a communion (-ü-+-¦-+-Ç-+-+-ü-é-î) united by right beliefs and the sacraments including the apostolic ministry of episcopacy, which includes, yes, patriarchs. Having the right beliefs and being in this communion are equally important.

Some here will read that and say I don't 'get' Orthodoxy, and to quote Al Franken as Stuart Smalley, 'and that's ... OK!'
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2004, 04:12:10 PM »

Quote
If that's entirely true then why not ditch bishops entirely, nail an iconostasis to a wall and join the Priestless Old Believers? That's their paradigm - that they're the only Orthodox left and no-one else is, based on their own reading of canons, etc. (Some of the sectarians online might end up doing that - it would make sense.)

My argument is not against the episopcay itself as that would be absurd.  It is holding up a single bishop and saying communion with his see is the sine qua non of being Orthodox.  

Under normal conditions there should be a single communion of all Orthodox bishops (and by extension people).  But the human element of the church changes that radically.... even Saints have broken communion with other Saints over issues of discipline (such as Saint Theodore and Saint Tarasios).  There is a difference as well between the moderate stance of resistance (walling off, considering otherside to have gracefilled mysteries but waiting until a Synod is called to settle matter) and the extreme stance that is definetly schismatic (we're the last Orthorox on the planet!).
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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2004, 12:56:36 AM »

Nektarios,

XA!

Under normal conditions there should be a single communion of all Orthodox bishops (and by extension people).

This "single communion of all Orthodox bishops" is called the canonical Orthodox Churches.  There have been local bishops from the earliest times (how could there not be?) and the national Churches of today are heirs of that.
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