Over at the Byzantine Forum, Fr Ambrose posted the following postings from Fr Alexander Lebedeff (ROCOR). At the very least they witness to a diversity of both practice and understanding within Orthodoxy:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/133733
In reality, the Russian Orthodox Church fully recognized the validity of apostolic succession in both the Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches (Copts, Armenians, Assyrians, etc.).
I can find, rather easily, at least fifty pre-revolutionary official sources of the Russian Orthodox Church that state, unequivocally, that the Roman Catholics have apostolic succession--these are textbooks of Canon Law, Manuals and Handbooks for Clergy, and other sources that reference official Decrees of the Holy Synod.
The Baptism of Roman Catholics and Monophysites was recognized as completely valid and salvific, as were the Mysteries of Confirmation, Marriage and Ordination.
Remember, the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church was that none of these Mysteries should be repeated if a roman Catholic were to wish to become Orthodox.
Orthodox priests were explicitly **forbidden** to "re-baptize" Roman Catholics. And Roman Catholic priests who became Orthodox were accepted simply by Confession of Faith and then vesting--they were not baptized, chrismated or reordained.
And-- the Russian Orthodox Church issued an official decree allowing Roman Catholic Uniates to be given Holy Communion by Orthodox priests in those areas where they could not be ministered to by a Uniate priest.
In the "Handbook for Priests" by Bulgakov, a discussion is found regarding whether Episcopalian (Anglican) priests could also be received in full ecclesiastical rank when becoming Orthodox, as were Roman Catholics. The question revolved as to whether the Anglicans had preserved valid apostolic succession **AS HAD THE CATHOLICS**.
So-- there is no question that the Church of Russia considered the Roman Catholics to have valid apostolic succession.
With love in Christ,
Prot. Alexander Lebedeffhttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/135810
Actually, not just the position of the Russian Orthodox Church during the past 400 years, but the position of the whole Church up until Patriarch Cyril and the Tomos of 1755.
I would suggest careful reading of the following.
The best Greek theologian and scholar to write on this issue, Fr. George Metallinos, in his book "I confess One Baptism" (available on-line) writes:
"According to the prevailing view, after the schism the Orthodox Church recognized ''the validity of the Latin sacraments,'' and indeed that of baptism. Upon their conversion, the Church applied Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council or XCV of Penthekte to them, or occasionally received them by a mere recantation of their foreign doctrines. Even after the Crusades and the Council of Ferrara/Florence (1438-1439), when the relations between Orthodox and Latins became strained, and the stance of the Orthodox East in dealing with the Latins became more austere,  the East considered the application of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council to be an adequate measure of defense, that is she received them by chrismation and a written statement. This action was officially ratified by the Local Council of Constantinople in 1484, with the participation, moreover, of all the Patriarchs of the East.
This Council also wrote an appropriate service. Thus, according to I. Karmiris (and also according to the arguments of the Latinizers and pro-westerners during the Turkish rule), the cases of ''rebaptism'' were exceptions, owing ''to individual initiative,'' and ''not to an authoritative decision of the Church.''
"This custom, however, was overturned in 1755 under Cyril V, Patriarch of Constantinople, by the imposing of the (re)baptism of Latins and all Western converts in general, again through the application of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council and the other relevant Canons of the Church. This action, to this day the last ''official'' decision of the Orthodox Church, was opposed by those who disagreed. It was considered to have subverted the decision of the Council of 1484. because of its circumstantial character, not having gained universal acceptance and application, it was often not adhered to. In addition, the practice of the Russian Church from 1667 differed from that of the other Orthodox Patriarchates, and indeed that of Constantinople. This, then, is what is commonly accepted to this day concerning the issue in question."http://www.oodegr.com/english/biblia/baptisma1/B6.htm
Here we see that the prevailing view was that the Orthodox Church, since 1054, "accepted the validity of the Latin sacraments" and that even after the Council of Florence, when relations between the East and the West had totally deteriorated, the Council of Constantinople of 1484, at which all four Eastern Patriarchs participated, decreed that Latins should be accepted by Chrismation and a written statement, and, more importantly, this Council created a special service for the Reception of Converts according to the mandated form (Chrismation after giving a statement renouncing false teachings and professing the Orthodox faith).
Fr. Metallinos underscores that the Oros of 1755 under Cyril V **overturned** this previously established custom.
It is critical to note that the Russian Church **NEVER** accepted the Oros of 1755 as being binding for it, and continues to this day to consider as prevailing the decision of the Council of Constantinoplein 1484, which directed that Latins NOT be baptized. This was confirmed at the Council of the Russian Church in 1667--the last time that a Council of
the Russian Church addressed this issue.
In fact, it would have been impossible for a Council of the Russian Orthodox Church to have accepted the Oros of 1755, since there WERE NO Councils of the Russian Church held from 1690 until 1917!!!
The Russian Church Council in 1667, at which two Patriarchs of the East participated, had previously sent queries to ALL of the ancient Patriarchs, asking for their opinion on this question. The unanimous reply of all four Patriarchs confirmed the position of the 1484 Council of Constantinople--that Latins were not to be rebaptized.
Fr. George Metallinos writes: "The Council of Moscow in 1620-21 decided to baptize Western converts. However, the ''great'' Council of Moscow in 1666-67, in which the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch also participated, approved the decision of the 1484 Council of Constantinople, and thus rejected the (re)baptism of Western converts."
We must remember tyhat Fr. George Metallinos' work is based on the positions of the Kollyvades Fathers, especially Neophytos and C. Oikonomos. Still, he admits:
"Nevertheless, the Council of Constantinople in 1484 creates the greatest difficulties for an acceptance of our theologian's position on Latin baptism. This Council decided ''only to anoint with chrismthe Latins who come over to Orthodoxy,.after they submit a written statement of faith.'' In other words, it ranks them in the class of the Arians and Macedonians of the Second Ecumenical Council (Canon VII)."
In a footnore, Metallinos quotes Bishop Kallistos Ware:
"Ware writes in this connection: ''Neither of these Councils [i.e. Constantinople, 1484, and Moscow, 1667] was exposed to foreign pressure or acted from fear of Papist reprisals"
So it is totally incorrect to attribute the position of the Russian Church regarding accepting as valid the baptism of the Latins to Peter the Great or to Western influence.
Actually, regarding Peter I, Metallinos quotes from a reply in 1718 of Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias III to Czar Peter the Great, in which the Patriarch directs the Czar to receive Latins ''by mere chrismation,''
Metallinos is forced to admit that even the theologian he uses as the basis for his thesis, C. Oikonomos, wrote the following:
"''I honor and respect the Russian Church as the undefiled bride of Christ and inseparable from her Bridegroom, and in addition as my own benefactress, by which the Lord has done and shall do many great and marvelous things, as she unerringly and verily follows the rule of piety. Hence, I do not doubt that it was in a spirit of discernment that she chose the older rule, in accordance with which she accepts the baptism of the other Churches [sic], merely chrismating those who join when they renounce their patrimonial beliefs with a written statement and confess those of the Orthodox faith.''"
Here we have the clear statement of Metallinos chief theologian that the Church of Russia chooses to follow what he calls "the **older rule**, in accordance with which she accepts the baptism of other Churches."
Now, please tell me how is the position stated by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk any different from the position of the Russian Church has held since 1667, which is based on the decision of the Council of the Four Patriarchs of 1484?
With love in Christ,
Prot. Alexander Lebedeffhttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/135709
Thursday, December 31, 2009, 7:38:45 PM, you wrote:
> On the other hand, you will find Orthodox who accept the "validity" of the
> Roman Catholic episcopate and the Sacraments which flow from it. Saint
> Philaret Metropolitan of Moscow is of this opinion.
As I mentioned before, it is far more than the opinion of St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow.
Every Handbook for Clergy, every textbook on Canon Law, Comparative Theology, Liturgics, and Pastorral Theology published in Russia before the Revolution states that the Roman Catholics have valid Mysteries and true apostolic succession, and that in no way should Baptism and
Chrismation, or ordination of them be performed again.
One can like it or not, but that was the official position of the Russian Church, without question or exception.
With love in Christ,
Prot. Alexander Lebedeff