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Canonical Orthodox Churches


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#1 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:50 AM

hello everyone,

i have a question regarding Canonical Orthodox Churches. i am relatively new to the Faith, being Baptized and Chrismated, along with my wife, for only a couple of years now (with our two year old son being Baptized and Chrismated as well), So i am quite confused on the whole autocephaly,autonomous status of some Orthodox Churches. We belong to an Antiochian Orthodox Parish in southern california.

i guess what i'm asking is this: how do we know which Churches are Canonical? which Churches are The True Orthodox Church with unbroken Apostolic Succession? which Churches are The real Orthodox Church of The Apostles?

i'm not trying to doubt the nature of The Holy Church in anyway, i'm just a little confused, so if you can please help me on this, it will be greatly appreciated.

also, forgive me if i offend any by asking this but, may anyone who answers this please explain it to me in laymans terms? i don't know very much about this situation, so the simpler, the better for me.

i would ask my parish Priest about this, but i usually have alot of personal guidance and questions and Confessions i seek from him, and he is usually busy.

and if you can, can you please pray for our Parish Arch Priest who has pancreatic cancer, His name is Father Michael, also for Father Alexander who also has cancer? thank you!

#2 Kosta

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:28 AM

An autocephalous church means 'self-headed'. It has her own synod which elects its own bishops and runs its own affairs, no longer requiring guidance from its Mother Church. An autocephalous church also consecrates its own chrism for the sacrament of chrismation. When an autocephalous church is recognized by the other patriarchates it usually is added to the ranking of all the other recognized Orthodox churches, and its primate enters into the diptychs of all the Churches.

An autonomous church governs itself as well, but its archbishop/metropolitan is elected by the Mother Church and answers to it.

#3 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:06 AM

On a practical level, a good place to start in the States is the Scoba directory (www.scoba.us/directory.html) - though I don't know how much this is updated. There maybe some crossover here with the Episcopal Assembly as it seems it will take over Scoba's work.

On a more theoretical level, a Church is in communion with your Church if their bishop is in communion with your bishop. I prefer not to use the word 'canonical' as, in a sense, all churches in the west are 'uncanonical' due to overlapping dioceses etc.

In Xp

Alex

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 03:29 PM

There are, indeed, a few vagante groups out there that append "Orthodox" to their names to give themselves more credence than they deserve. Therefore it is a good idea to find out who the bishop of a group is if you are in contact with them, either through the Internet or visiting.

If you are visiting a website and they give a long convoluted "justification" of their existance, then they are probably someone you don't want to get too close to, regardless.

Herman who belongs to the little diocese with the long name.

#5 Kusanagi

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 03:55 PM

I have read that not all disoceses recgonise each other such as Orthodox Church in China and Japan is not widley recognised by the other churches even though they would be in Comunion with the MP.

#6 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:26 AM

thank you for all the answers. i'm still a little confused. again, i'm NOT trying to doubt The Holy Church, or even the Jurisdiction i am currently under, but how is a Church considered the true Orthodox Church? is it by it's being in Communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople? as Herman said alot of groups add Orthodox to their name, so i don't want to be confused on this very important matter.

forgive me, i'm not trying to be blasphemous or skeptical in anyway.

#7 Daniel Williamson

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 07:02 AM

If I may give you a simple answer because it is late and I am typing on my cell phone. We are saved communally are we not? So, in many way canonicity is directly related to conciliar praxis (practice) and phronema (mindset). It is an intrinsic aspect of what holds the faith intact.

If you encounter any group which separates itself from the fold because it 'posseses' something the others don't you can guarantee it is in fact missing what it claims to posses in its very isolation. We are saved communally.

#8 Kusanagi

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 10:35 AM

I don't think it is by communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople as to me that seems like he has a status like a pope, that if you are not in communion with him you are excommunicated. I think it works if you are in communion with the Patriarch or whoever is the head church of the diocese. Such as the old calendar Romanians are not in commuinon with their own Patriarch but other synods they are affiliated with. Fr Cleopa said those churches are being disobedient by not communing with the Patriarch due to calendar issue which they wont be responsible for in the last judgement anyway.

I noticed in US there are some people adding Orthodox to their name such as Orthodox Baptist or the Orthodox Protestant or something weird which kind of makes you think were they Orthodox as in the same sense we know but you have to read a bit and find they just added the name to sound different or maybe exoctic to the other Baptists around.

#9 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 02:31 PM

Anthony G. Peggs wrote:

i have a question regarding Canonical Orthodox Churches. i am relatively new to the Faith, being Baptized and Chrismated, along with my wife, for only a couple of years now (with our two year old son being Baptized and Chrismated as well), So i am quite confused on the whole autocephaly,autonomous status of some Orthodox Churches. We belong to an Antiochian Orthodox Parish in southern california.

i guess what i'm asking is this: how do we know which Churches are Canonical? which Churches are The True Orthodox Church with unbroken Apostolic Succession? which Churches are The real Orthodox Church of The Apostles?



There are actually two different questions here. The first question is about autocephaly or autonomy: Orthodox churches have at various times rejected the canonical propriety of the claim to autocephalous status of other Orthodox churches. However this rejection doesn't necessarily mean that these churches are seen as not being Orthodox. In other words what is at issue is the legitimacy of the claim to independence, not whether that church is actually Orthodox.

Another matter however is to question the entire canonical legitimacy of a church. Here much more is questioned than just autocephalous status. What is challenged is whether this church is even part of the Body of Orthodoxy.

I see that others here have already given examples of these two situations. Personally, I would say though that the situation is more clear than 20 or even 10 years ago. Context is very important. Certain Orthodox groups & churches during the 20thc found & placed themselves outside of the bounds of mainline Orthodoxy. Due to certain important changes within Orthodoxy during this time, which they were unable to accept, they became 'resisting churches' outside of mainline Orthodoxy but (in most cases) still seeing themselves as playing a crucial role in terms of Orthodoxy as a whole. Whatever separation there was from these groups (and they were usually Old Calendrist groups including rocor) was fundamentally tied into witness to the rest of Orthodoxy. In other words this was not supposed to be separation for its own sake but in fact for the benefit of the greater body of Orthodoxy. For this reason during this time the line between mainline and resisting Orthodoxy was often quite loose (eg back in the 'day', at the Greek Old Calendar parish that our rocor parish helped found, most of the cantors came from the New Calendar Greek parish. They did this by invitation from the OC priest and out of love for the Old calendar, while still making their home parish with the NC).

This is my personal view on this- but in recent years the situation has begun to fundamentally change. And this is because those groups, which have not seriously pursued reconciliation with the larger body of mainline Orthodoxy, have begun to verge into separation for its own sake. From an active and well known witness 20 or 30 years ago such groups are almost invisible now to the rest of Orthodoxy. And so- again from my own personal take on this; but following I think in consistent pattern with my own bishops, such groups are now sadly, truly wandering beyond the bounds of the Church.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#10 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:38 PM

thank you, again, for the responses. Father Bless!, so i'm guessing the simple answer would be: mainline Orthodox Churches, and those they are in full communion with, are the True Canonical Orthodox Churches with unbroken Apostolic Succession? in this question i'm not really saying an either or for the Other Churches, but i'm more or less just making sure which Churches are for sure truly Orthodox.

Kissing your Right Hand,

anthony

#11 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 08:09 PM

Dear Anthony,

Yes, I would say that this is a good way of putting it.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#12 Father David Moser

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 08:23 PM

something no-one has really mentioned to this point is that the recent Episcopal Assembly of North America has recognized the multitude of Orthodox jurisdictions to be an issue. To that end they are also attempting to define who is and who is not recognized as a part of the Orthodox Church. Chances are that if your bishop was not part of that assembly then there are at least questions regarding the authenticity of your Church as an Orthodox Church. Note I do not say it is a definitive yes or no - but it does at least point out that there are/should be questions asked.

Fr David Moser

#13 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:18 PM

Bless Father,

in fact yes, my Bishop was indeed present. i even saw pictures of him there :) so does that mean i have no cause to worry?

thank you for that piece of information i did not know about.

Kissing your Right Hand,

anthony

also thanks to everyone who has responded, and dumbed it down for me.

Edited by Anthony G. Peggs, 21 August 2010 - 12:51 PM.


#14 Anthony G. Peggs

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:51 PM

also, if i can ask, i did find an article on the Orthodoxinfo website that seemed really anti the summoning of The Great and Holy Council. in the article i came across this:

How low, how unworthy of the Christian calling is this betrayal of the Christian flock by its supposedly Orthodox hierarchs! And yet lower is the betrayal of the enslaved Orthodox people of Russia by the acceptance of their false shepherds as true pastors at the "Pan-Orthodox" conferences. May God grant—as numerous indications now give hope for—that the most startling Orthodox "news ' in future years will be the re-emergence of the long-suffering Catacomb True-Orthodox Church of Russia and the collapse of the Soviet puppet, the Moscow Patriarchate, whose authority will crumble with the fall of the regime that gave it birth. How will the present-day "Pan-Orthodox" fawning before the Moscow hierarchs and their Soviet ideology appear then ?
But we need not have such an event before us to know what is the path of true Orthodox Christians today: faithfulness to Christ and His Church, which do not change with the times. If this means being part of a persecuted, ridiculed minority, out of touch with the "spirit of the times"—then let it be so. Only let us be found, not with those who follow the broad path to destruction, but with the "little flock" of Christ's true followers, to whom our Saviour has promised: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom (Luke 12:32).

+ + +


so then i ask, what do i make of this? or those who say such things? this is why i get so confused over things like this. i just want to be assured of The Archdioscese i belong to and be at peace and relax in that. Also in the same article it was stated something like the Bishop or Metropolitan of Rocor was against this summoning of an ecumenical council. so any help in understanding this will, again, be appreciated.



#15 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 03:36 PM

Dear Anthony,

Your church was well represented at that gathering of canonical bishops. Indeed its delegates had second place after the Ecumenical Patriarch (which is first church in pre-eminence).

I haven't looked closely at the article you refer to. But keep in mind that a number of the articles and references at Orthodoxinfo refer to a previous time when the webmaster was part of churches that were/are 'in resistance'. He is now however a member of the Serbian church which is fully part of canonical Orthodoxy and is represented at the conference you refer to.

In Christ- Fr Raphael




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