And all these things are in accord with even older Fathers going back to the very beginning who have stated there is the Church and there are those in schism from the Church--and that those in schism from the Church do not have the Grace of the Sacraments (and yes, St. Basil's 'First Canonical Letter' stating that was affirmed by an ecumenical council).
Certainly, no saint is individually infallible. But the consensus of the saints, on the other other hand, is authoritative.
Yes, I agree with this but I would take it one step further, in line with what I was taught in Serbia. It is the bishops who hold a greater authority because it falls to them to examine the Fathers and, exercising their apostolic authority, make a decision on what to accept and what to modify and what to lay aside.
Would you let me introduce some of the things which Fr Alexander Lebedeff of the Russian Church Abroad has written because I find them pertinent to our topic, and it is succinct and well expressed....http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/135810
Actually, not just the position [he is referring to recognition of Catholic Sacraments in schism]
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
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
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 Constantinople
in 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 repabtized.
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
"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 chrism
the 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
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
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
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 Lebedeff