What’s Wrong with Inter-communion?

Like many, I was more than a little surprised to see an American Orthodox archbishop of prominence suggest that inter-communion is a good idea—i.e. that an Orthodox priest should give Holy Communion to a non-Orthodox person. Admittedly he was not suggesting indiscriminate inter-communion and giving the Eucharist to anyone showing up from off the street. The situation he envisioned was that of inter-marriage, wherein an Orthodox was married to a non-Orthodox. He thought it was inconsistent to allow the couple to share one sacrament (i.e. Matrimony) and not the other (i.e. the Eucharist). Since, he reasoned, they were one flesh through marriage, both should be given the Eucharist, even though only one was Orthodox. What are we to make of this?

In sorting all this out, we must first look again at why the Church has always refused to commune non-Orthodox, or those in schism. The Church’s practice is rooted in what the Eucharist accomplishes. The classic statement is found in St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:17 where he writes: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

That is, when the many faithful each partake of the one Eucharistic bread, they are re-constituted as one body in the Church. In this spiritual symbiosis, the Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church. Thus the Eucharist not only brings the transforming and healing grace of God to the individual who partakes of it, it also unites that individual to other individuals in the one Body of Christ. In this sacrament one cannot separate Christ from His Church: the Eucharist unites one to Christ because it unites one to His Body, the Church. The Church is not merely a gathered group of individuals. When the Christians gather, Christ is in their midst to such an extent that the Church is Christ.

We see this in Paul’s vocabulary. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:12 he speaks of the various members of a human body all constituting one single body, and when he applies this reality to the Corinthian church, he does not say, “so it is also with the Church”, though this is what he means. Instead he says, “so it is also with Christ”—identifying the Church with Christ. He says the same thing in Ephesians 1:23, where he writes that the Church “is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all”. The Eucharist unites those who partake of it to Christ because it unites them to His Church, re-incorporating them as fellow-members of that Body. In the Eucharist we are not only joined to Christ, but also to all the other members of His Body.

We further ask: what does it mean to belong to a body? Membership in any body—not just the Christian Church, but any corporate reality—involves two things: unity of faith or ideology and commitment to mutual discipline. Take, for example, something very different from membership in the Christian Church, such as membership in the Communist Party. To become a member in this body and remain a member, one must subscribe to certain tenets (i.e. Communism), and abide by its mutual discipline. Thus if one rejected the tenets of Communism or if one profited from certain business enterprises, thereby rejecting its insistence that one forego private property, one would quite properly be rejected for membership in the Communist Party. To be a part of a body which defines itself over against those not a part of that body, one must subscribe to its common tenets/ faith and live consistently with those tenets. That is what it means to be part of a body, and not an outsider.

It is the same with the body of the Christian Church: to be a part of the Church one must subscribe to its tenets (i.e. to the Orthodox Faith) and live consistently with those tenets. If one does not hold to that faith or if one refuses to be bound by the lifestyle it demands, one cannot be a part of that body. Baptists, for example, do not subscribe to the Orthodox Faith (if you doubt this, go into any Baptist Church and begin to offer prayer to the Theotokos), and they do not regard themselves as bound to the disciplines that define and bind the Orthodox. Wonderful as Baptists are, they cannot be a part of the Orthodox Church—not because the Orthodox are so mean, exclusionary, and nasty, but because the Baptists cannot fulfill the requirements of what it means to belongs to a body (in this case, the body of the Orthodox Church).

We now can see why the Church from its inception has steadfastly refused to commune those who were outside it. If one could not properly belong to the Church because one cannot confess the Church’s faith or accept the Church’s moral discipline, one cannot be communed, because communing would unite them to a body to which they cannot properly belong. Receiving the Eucharist unites one to the body that celebrates it, and the heretic or schismatic (to give their classical names) rejects the conditions required for membership in that body. The very nature of the Church (or “the fullness of the Church”, to use the language of the Prayer Behind the Ambo) forbids such communion. It not only would give no benefit to the outsider communed (and might actually do them harm; see 1 Corinthians 11:27f), but it also harms the Church itself, for it would thereby admit alien influences into it, like leaven into a lump.

Not every Christian confession, of course, shares this view of the Eucharist. Some churches view the reception of Communion as entirely an individual matter, with the Communion expressing their commitment to the Lord, but lacking the corporate aspect of uniting them to other communicants in one body. They are quite consistent in offering Communion to Christians of other denominations, since all that Communion does, in their view, is express gratitude to God for Christ’s death on the Cross. Since Christians from other denominations can share their gratitude for the death of Christ, there is no reason why they cannot also share their Communion.

It is hard to fault their consistency. Given this theology, they would indeed be narrow, churlish, and wrong to deny Communion to those in other denominations. The problem is not with their consistency, but their theology. For Holy Communion not only expresses gratitude for the death of Christ on the Cross; it also unites believers to other believers in the one body. The legitimacy of intercommunion depends upon an erroneously individualistic understanding of the Eucharist.

The Orthodox argument that “in a mixed marriage the non-Orthodox partner receives one sacrament, so why not two?” entirely misses the point. (It also sidesteps the issue of whether such mixed marriages are wise in themselves, even apart from the Eucharist. For how will the children be raised?) The issue cannot be resolved by pretending that the discipline applied to one sacrament applies to all. It clearly does not, and it is an astonishing confusion of thought to conflate them like this. The issue is the nature of the Eucharist and of Eucharistic unity.

By definition, therefore, there is no possibility of inter-communion with Christ, only of communion. To quote from an old article by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (so old that he was then “Archimandrite Kallistos Ware”): “The Bible, the Fathers and the Canons know of only two possibilities: communion and non-communion. It is all or nothing.” He goes on to quote Professor George Galitis who observed, “Admitting one to communion and to church membership are identical…The concept of intercommunion is unknown to the ancient church, as it is to the New Testament also”. If one is not yet a member of the Orthodox Church, then communion is impossible.

It is important to recognize that the engine driving toward this unprecedented lapse of historic praxis is emotion, pure and simple. Some find it emotionally difficult to tell people, “No; you can’t have what you want”. One has a terror, seemingly, of making people feel bad. Parents know that such an approach not only represents a failure of nerve, but it is also folly. Children as well as adults cannot always have what they want, and maturity consists of realizing this. And a priest maintaining the Tradition of the Church and refusing to give in to emotion sometimes finds that such a stand can bear fruit.

I remember at my own St. Herman’s Church we once had a couple, one of which was Orthodox and the other a baptized Protestant. They were eventually married and continued to attend church at St. Herman’s, but the non-Orthodox partner was not communed. Eventually the non-Orthodox decided to become Orthodox, and was duly received. Such a happy outcome might never have occurred if we had abandoned Tradition and communed them both all along.

But ultimately it is not about the feelings or fate of any single couple. It is about the preservation of the Church’s faith and tradition throughout the generations. For let’s be clear: if the Church decides to abandon its Eucharistic tradition out of deference to the difficulties of a mixed marriage, it will not end there. It will very soon give Communion to any Christian turning up in the Communion line, for the engine driving the original change was that of emotion. Just as the kind-hearted priest could not bear to disappoint the nice marital couple by refusing one of them Communion, so he will not be able to bear disappointing the nice Protestant individual visiting his parish and joining the Communion line. And then, after that, any nice individual. I remember one Anglican priest saying he communed anyone who was “on a spiritual journey”. The net could hardly have been thrown wider.

Magical thinking will solemnly intone, “That could never happen in Orthodoxy”. That is touching faith in human nature, and wholly unjustified. I admit it seems unthinkable. But a generation ago, an Orthodox archbishop willing to commune a non-Orthodox was similarly unthinkable. We stand at the edge of a slippery slope—or if that metaphor arouses disdain—at the edge of an abyss. Many historic churches have already tumbled into it. Now is the time to remember our apostolic Tradition and back away.

 

29 comments:

  1. The problem is that what makes marriage a mystery (as I understand it anyhow) is that it symbolizes the union of Christ and the Church. The inconsistency isn’t, “well we gave them one sacrament, why not give em all”, it’s that both sacramental marriage and communion are centered around the deep union you described in your article.

    In other words, marriage as a symbol of the union of Christ and His Body doesn’t make sense if the Communion isn’t complete. So the real question is, how is the marriage sacramental I’d the bride and groom aren’t in Communion with each other?

    1. A longer answer will come soon in the form of a blog about mixed marriage. For now I will only say that the mixed marriage is allowed by economia, and it is is wrong to fasten upon the generosity of the economia in the sacrament of marriage to demand more concessions in the sacrament of the Eucharist. If one demands total consistency, the answer would be to refuse economia in mixed marriage and insist of the two sharing the same faith.

      1. I look forward to the blog post. I think you should expand on your last point, and explain why economia in one makes sense but not the other.

        To me it would make sense to allow a mixed marriage but not treat it as a sacrament.

        1. Orthodox Marriage is by definition a sacrament; the good Abp.’s equivocation of the meaning of Eucharist notwithstanding, the sacrament of Orthodox marriage is intended for a man and a woman who are oontologically able to participate in it and Eucharist. The economy of giving marriage to non-Orthodox is extended with the purpose of their subsequent conversion to Orthodoxy and their ability to commune once they are full members of the Body of Christ through proper initiation.
          We should not overlook the context of the Abp.’s opinion for communing those who actually cannot receive the Body and Blood of Christ. That is, the demographic and fiscal collapse of the Greek Archdiocese he heads. He made this very explicit and it would be disingenuous to ignore the conditions that obviously concern him as leader of the GOA. The immanent exodus of some two-thirds of his polity is what he explicitly cites as his fear.
          So Abp. Elpidophoros is doing his pastoral theology out of fear, which explains some of its weakness.
          Rhetorically, he places the onus for ‘separation’ of spouses from the Eucharist on the priests in the parishes. He blames them by implication for ‘unkindly depriving spouses of the Eucharist’ after (hypocritically) extending the sacrament of marriage to them, as though the priests had deceived the spouses.
          By blaming parish clergy Elpidophoros makes himself out as the humane source of decency, respect and pastoral wisdom, in contrast to the straw man of over-zealous clergy.
          I hazard to suggest we view this rhetoric in light of the privilege of wealth, as those who hold it were the ones to whom the Abp. first addressed these comments, in a Q&A with the Leadership 100 whom he hoped will fund the completion of his construction project in Lower Manhattan.
          Abp. Elpidophoros then shows us how the canons of the church are mooted in changed circumstances; since his Eparchial Archdiocese faces real threats of decline, the content of the constitutive theology of the church is subject to modification, as it is better apparently to sacrifice One Man for the putative good of all.

  2. Father, thank you for the post, I appreciate it very much.

    Would you say that you are at least sympathetic to the person who is perhaps wanting to partake more fully in the Orthodox life (in this case, the non-Orthodox person in the mixed marriage, perhaps), yet can’t – because, well, they’re not Orthodox? What I mean is, if the Eucharist unites one most fully in Christ, and Christ is ultimately who that person is seeking, then to “limit access” appears on some level exclusionary. A possible metaphor to make here would be that one needs to practice with a basketball in order to become a basketball player. So, wouldn’t one need Christ (the basketball) in order to even approach the reality of what becoming Orthodox (becoming a basketball player) means in its fullest sense? Without the Eucharist, the “basketball player” must instead use a volleyball or something. It’s still a ball, but it’s not *the* ball, as it were.

    I suppose that the distinction I’m musing over is whether to receive the Eucharist one must be fully Orthodox over simply being an honest seeker, or even any other Christian from another expression. If one attends an Orthodox Church, and has at the very least discerned that Christ must be working through him/her, such that he/she has been brought to at least observe the Divine Liturgy, then in what way is the priest who says no to him/her in partaking of the Eucharist saying no to Christ in him/her who has brought the very person into the Temple in the first place? It seems to me at least that it’s more likely that there are Orthodox who receive the Eucharist despite poor faith or lack of faith than what could be seen as a caricature of some destructive non-Orthodox entering a church building and messing up the true meaning of Church and Christ in the Eucharist. But, perhaps this is a both/and, not an either/or, however.

    1. I do have sympathy for the person in a mixed marriage. I also have Chrism to receive him or her. The limited access you mention is rooted not in my exclusion, but in their decision not to convert. I am not saying “No” to the non-Orthodox person who attends Liturgy. I am inviting them to come home. My question for them is: what’s stopping you from becoming Orthodox?

      1. Thank you for the reply, Father.

        Might you say, then, that you’re not saying “no”, but are offering them a different “yes” than the “yes” of receiving the Eucharist?

        1. I am offering them both! I am saying, “Come, join the family and feast with us at the Lord’s Table”.

      2. This refusal to confess Christ in the Orthodox manner and be initiated into membership in Christ is the ‘scandal of particularity’ that the good Abp. is ashamed to address. Did not our Lord state that whomever is ashamed of Him He will be ashamed of at the Judgment? The Abp.’s hierarchical peers ought to confront him with this question, because he is showing craven cowardice in the face of the challenges of his ministry. His brother bishops in the Assembly ought to show their love and the love of Christ by encouraging him to be a bolder confessing priest.

  3. Spot on, Father. Statements attributed to that particular Archbishop have caused upset across the Orthodox world. Shock, but sadly not surprise. For many years my wife remained Roman Catholic. Not sharing Communion was painful, and marked a point at which our marriage had not yet become a perfect union. We accepted the pain as a reflection of a disunited Christendom. I was advised by my parish priest, the then Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, never to try to persuade my wife to become Orthodox. I was to leave such things in the hands of the Holy Spirit. And in due time, my wife asked to become Orthodox. Not only were we united in Christ and in His Church, but our marriage reached a deeper Union. Nowadays, as a parish priest, I am often asked the question “When will I be ready to be received? How will I know when I am ready?” My answer is always simple. “You will be ready to be received, and to come to Communion, when you can no longer cope with the pain of being outside the Church. “ And for several weeks before their reception, I ask each catechumen to step outside the church building or worship area at the point when catechumens were sent out in the early days. Psychologically this has impact, and people say that it feels right. Entering the Body of Christ is the only way to receive Communion, and for all my converts there could be no other possibility.

  4. Father,

    There is another side of the ‘coin’ (as it were) that often gets overlooked.

    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

    “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”

    Communion is direct contact and union with the Living God through the deified Flesh and Blood of His Son. It is, therefore, a judgement. For those who are prepared, who have been made ‘worthy’ (which is to say capable) of union with God, direct contact with Him is a life-giving Grace. For those who have not been prepared, who have not been made ‘worthy’ (capable), this direct contact with God is, as one of the lesser known pre-communion prayers says, “a coal that burns the unworthy.”

    Let us never forget the other side of the coin. Communing only those who are truly members of His Body (and fully prepared) PROTECTS those who are not yet prepared, who have not yet been made ‘worthy’ of withstanding the judgement inherent in direct contact with the Living God.

  5. Father,
    I have to admit that emotion got in the way while reading your post – more than one, actually: the apparently latent rather than extinguished fear I brought with me as baggage to my Chrismation 12 years ago as a refugee from the Episcopal Church. What you describe in your post was frighteningly familiar (the only thing missing was “hospitality”), and I had thought this type of stuff was safely in the past.

    The second emotion was gratitude for your calm, reasoned, and strong voice in holding the traditional line in love – for the sake of the Church, for the sake of the faith, for the sake of us who having found the pearl of great price are loath to see it spoiled.

  6. Thank you for your article, Father!

    I heard about this when it was just announced a few months ago, but has this indeed become the practice within a certain Archdiocese of a certain Archbishop?

    In Christ,
    Ilja

    1. I do not know if this is practised within his archdiocese, since I have no connection with it. I hope not.

      1. No, it has not become a practice in the GOARCH. Though I’m afraid that some priests may read into that statement tacit approval, especially in the archbishop’s own metropolis.

        Like your Anglican acquaintance, then that net would hardly have wider holes; it’d catch no one.

    2. We attend a Greek parish part time and I can say without equivocation the priest will not commune spouses who have not been charismated. That said, all this convert exactness is kind of funny – the truth is until recently in North America, the priests communed non Chrismated spouses often without question. Also true that the priests often didn’t speak english so probably couldn’t even ask (funny story: the Russian priest assigned to what is now an OCA parish baptized my father with the wrong name; different priest regularly communed my anabaptist mother without question, as was the norm; Orthodox were encouraged to commune at Episcopal churches if not near an ethnically matched Orthodoc parish…. convert Orthodoxy tends to be more exacting and rigorous than has actually been the case, where the Church was truly a “family affair.”)

  7. “A longer answer will come soon in the form of a blog about mixed marriage. For now I will only say that the mixed marriage is allowed by economia, and it is is wrong to fasten upon the generosity of the economia in the sacrament of marriage to demand more concessions in the sacrament of the Eucharist…”

    I look forward to your future post about this Fr. Farley. Beyond a ‘reductio ad sentimentalism’, there seems to me to be a legitimate sacramental theological question behind Abp. Elpidophoros opinion – as you acknowledge his’ is not an opinion which is “indiscriminate” and/or based on Protestant ecclesiology, individualism, “branch theory”, or the like.

    In particular, does the Church really have a theology of “economia”, and if so on what basis is economia permitted for the Sacrament of marriage such that “inter-marriage” is simply an ontological fact and every day part of the life of the Church, where as a similar economia is not permitted around the Eucharist? Is there a “hierarchy” to the Sacraments, and if so what is the relationship of economia to this hierarchy? Why is it “wrong” for economia to apply to some of the Sacraments, but not others?

    In my opinion, this is a very old problem in all likelihood. On the one hand apparently the Church took the Eucharist out of the sacrament of marriage very early on, and yet on the other hand the “typology” of marriage is central to the narrative of the Gospel’s, the relationship of God to man, and the essence of Christianity itself. Indeed, I will be so bold as to suggest that there is at least an apparent, if not real, contradiction in the Church’s self understanding of the Sacraments and the sacremental life in this rendering.

    1. I will say more later on this topic of mixed marriage. But here I would like to underscore your comment that the Church took the Eucharist out of the sacrament of marriage early on precisely because there can be no economia communing outsiders, given what Communion accomplishes. It is just here that the western practice of inventing a category of “sacraments” is so unhelpful, for the different things that the Church does must each be considered on its own, and not as items from a list of comparables.
      It is true, as another commenter has said, that earlier pastors in North America took a very lax approach to receiving/ communing non-Orthodox. That was in part because the difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism was then not as great as it is now, and also because Orthodox pastors then had little real knowledge of non-Orthodox churches. This was particularly true in the conversations Orthodoxy had with its closest ecumenical partner, the Anglicans. The happy and cavalier approach to Anglicans obtaining earlier can scarcely be applied to Anglicanism now. The once-warm Anglican-Orthodox dialogue has all but broken down, and no one now regards Eucharistic sharing with Anglicanism an imminent possibility. It is not just that Anglicanism has changed; it is also that the Orthodox know much more about how Anglicanism really functions.

      1. ” It is just here that the western practice of inventing a category of “sacraments” is so unhelpful, for the different things that the Church does must each be considered on its own, and not as items from a list of comparables.”

        This is an excellent point and very helpful. Still, beyond the Eucharist and considering marriage as sacrament in of itself, I have many questions. Given the centrality of marriage parabolically (i.e. within the Gospels “theologically”) and anthropologically, how is it that there can be a mixed marriage sacramentally *at all*? What is the theology behind “economia” such that it applies here, but not there?

        circling back to the Eucharist, Ian said something that struck me:

        “It seems to me at least that it’s more likely that there are Orthodox who receive the Eucharist despite poor faith or lack of faith than what could be seen as a caricature of some destructive non-Orthodox entering a church building and messing up the true meaning of Church and Christ in the Eucharist….”

        This is a hard truth about our actual life in the Body that many of us recognize. What about a certain formalism, or is it idealism, about our actual life and the Eucharist – and how is this related (or not) to “economia”?

        1. In lieu of another blog piece, two brief replies.
          First, it all depends upon what is the essence of the sacramental reality in question. In the case of Christian marriage, the essence involves the shared life of the spouses centering upon Jesus. This means that the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian is impossible, but the marriage of a non-Orthodox Christian to an Orthodox Christian is possible, since in the latter the two can still focus upon Jesus in a way that the parters can’t in a marriage where one of the partners is a non-Christian. Economia is possible in the latter, but not in the former. In the case of the Eucharist, the essence involves joining other Christians in the one body, which cannot be properly done unless one can meet the requirements for membership in a body–which the non-Orthodox Christian cannot do. That is why the Church has always refused to commune the non-Orthodox.
          Secondly, “poor faith” in Orthodox communicants, though regrettable, does not violate the essence of the sacrament. If they confess the faith and strive to live consistently, they fulfill the requirements for membership in a body, and so may be communed. If they refuse to meet these requirements by confessing heresy or living immorally, they should be excommunicated and refused Communion. If they confess that they do not believe, I recommend that they also step back from the Chalice. Simple honesty and integrity would demand as much.

          1. Two things.

            “In the case of Christian marriage, the essence involves the shared life of the spouses centering upon Jesus. This means that the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian is impossible, but the marriage of a non-Orthodox Christian to an Orthodox Christian is possible, since in the latter the two can still focus upon Jesus in a way that the parters can’t in a marriage where one of the partners is a non-Christian.”

            Hm… This seems very wishy washy. For example, an evangelical who thinks that works play no role in our union with God may have less in common w/ an Orthodox Christian’s approach to life than a Jewish one (which is more “works” based ala Orthodoxy). Why one and not the other?

            “Secondly, “poor faith” in Orthodox communicants, though regrettable, does not violate the essence of the sacrament. If they confess the faith and strive to live consistently, they fulfill the requirements for membership in a body, and so may be communed. ”

            I think the point is that “poor faith” is an aspect of Orthodox “living” that would render it unwise to commune; there is certainly no shortage of anecdotes from the desert Fathers to this exact point.

          2. To briefly answer your two questions:
            1) Because a relationship to Jesus is crucial. Saying that a Jew has more in common with an Orthodox Christian than an Evangelical Christian does is nonsense.
            2) It all depends upon what is meant by “poor faith” (the phrase is not mine). We commune based on our confession of Orthodoxy and our desire to serve the Lord.

  8. Father, thank you for both your patience and your insight and patience. I find it sad that it even has to be discussed.

    However I think the real culprit is not the communion of Orthodox spouses but the larger story of Pat. Bartholomew’s courtship with Rome.

    1. I absolutely agree. I note a tendency to such an approach in his recent public utterance asking that Allah would accept the prayers of Muslims during Ramadan, which savours more of a secular diplomat than a Christian bishop. (See https://orthodoxtimes.com/ecumenical-patriarch-offers-greeting-for-ramadan/ ). It is, however, consistent with his book Encountering the Mystery, (reviewed here at: https://www.oca.org/reflections/fr.-lawrence-farley/encountering-the-patriarchs-book.

      1. Having been a convert from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy, I find that Patriarch Bartholomew speaks more as a Roman Catholic Bishop than a Orthodox Patriarch. Concerning, but, not surprising coming from him or his Patriarchate. That other Orthodox patriarchs have not corrected him or chided him is of equal scandal

  9. Father, I was surprised to learn of mixed marriages here in America. I thought that if you wanted a sacramental marriage, you both had to be Orthodox. I thought the only economia was the communing of an Orthodox in a civil wedding with permission from a spiritual father. This was the situation of Russians and others that I knew in China. In Russia and Serbia (and probably other Orthodox countries), you must have a civil wedding before a Church wedding. I did not have my Church wedding until a year later than my civil because of various circumstances.
    I look forward to your blog on mixed marriages.

  10. Thank you for this article Fr.

    One thing that I don’t understand about the reasoning the Archbishop has are two-fold:

    1) If the spouse of someone who is married to an Orthodox wants to receive the Eucharist that much, WHY do they not just become Orthodox? It seems they could care less what the Eucharist actually means and just want to stand in line with their spouse.

    2) The Archbishop alluded that this was a way to keep these families in the parishes. Are they really willing to sacrifice this for the sake of everyone else in GOARCH? Why not preach authentic Orthodoxy? For the mainline Protestants who have done this, it has not turned out well for them.

  11. Greek News Online has a March 22 report on Abp. Elpidophoros’ answers in the “Opening Forum” that was part of the L100 Conference including his explicit answers:
    {{Archbishop Elpidophoros’s reply to the first question, whether the Church will address the issue of parishioners in interfaith marriages leaving the Church because their non-Orthodox spouses are not allowed to receive Holy Communion, was perhaps the most prominent in this category, “Thank you for this question.  It gives me the opportunity to repeat to all of you what I say to my priests when they address this question to me,”  said the Archbishop, “It is primarily a pastoral question how we deal with mixed marriages when one member of the family, the husband or the wife, is not Orthodox but still attends church every Sunday, is faithful to the services, and bring their children to the church.  And my answer is that the communion in this family is already realized.” 

    For accuracy, we continue His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros’s complete answer to that question: “We offer to this couple the sacrament of marriage.  Is marriage a sacrament or not?  Is there a categorizing?  Can we distinguish between Sacraments?  Is there a category of Sacraments we can attend, and a category we cannot?  If we are accepted in one sacrament, we cannot exclude another sacrament.  That’s my principle.  Marriage is a miracle that our faithful realize in daily life.  How can the church give resistance to a miracle that has already happened?  It’s a miracle of love; two people, who through love, are united in Christ.  They already have received the sacrament of matrimony, so my direction to the priest is that we cannot exclude one Orthodox member from the Holy Communion.  You know I follow always the directions and the principles that our Lord Jesus Christ Gave us:  ‘Ο άνθρωπος δεν έγινε για το Σάββατο. Το Σάββατο έγινε για τον άνθρωπο.’}}
    https://www.greeknewsonline.com/archbishop-elpidophoros-supports-offering-of-holy-communion-to-everyone-married-in-orthodox-church-his-views-on-priests-appearance/

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