7571Baptism of heretics
- Feb 3, 2003JRS wrote:
At the 1971 Sobor in Montreal (I was there, incidentally, as the
secretary of Archbishop Nikon of blessed memory, and heard exactly what
the discussion had been on the day that decision was passed, from him
that evening) -- an *attempt* was made, to pass such a rule, changing
the way in which converts were to be received into the Church.
However, Archbishop Afanassy firmly rejected the change (and it may be
of interest that he was the one who in 1983 suggested the "anathema
Therefore, the bishops never forbade the reception of converts by
chrismation. The matter was still left open, up to the local bishop.
And it is thus even now, today.
Well, it's obviously always possible to read things more than one way, but,
assuming the following decree is not a forgery, it would seem that the
intent of its last paragraph is quite different from a matter "left open, up
to the local bishop."
--- from Living Orthodoxy, #113:
FROM THE DECREES OF THE SOBOR OF BISHOPS OF THE ROCA, SEPTEMBER 1971
CONCERNING THE BAPTISM OF HERETICS (SEPT. 15/28)
On the question of the baptism of heretics who accept Orthodoxy, the
following decree was adopted:
The Holy church has believed from of old that there can be only one true
baptism, namely that which is performed in her bosom: One, Lord, one faith,
one baptism (Eph. 4:5). In the Symbol of Faith there is also confessed ³one
baptism,² and the 46th Canon of the Holy Apostles directs: ³A bishop or a
presbyter who has accepted (i.e., acknowledges) the baptism or the sacrifice
of heretics, we command to be deposed.²
However, when the zeal of any heretics in their battle against the Church
has weakened and when there was a question of a mass conversion of them to
Orthodoxy, the Church, to facilitate their union, has received them into her
bosom in a different way....
St. Basil the Great, and through his words an Ecumenical Council [the
Sixth], while establishing the principle that outside the Holy Orthodox
Church there is no true baptism, allows, out of pastoral condescension,
which is called ³economy,² the reception of certain heretics and schismatics
without a new baptism. And in accordance with such a principle, the
Ecumenical Councils permitted the reception of heretics in various ways, in
accordance with the degree of the weakening of the heretics¹ enmity against
the Orthodox Church.
In the Rudder [Book of Canons] the following explanation of Timothy of
Alexandria is given. To the question: ³Why do we not baptize heretics who
convert to the Catholic Church?² he replies: ³If we did this, a man would
not soon convert from heresy, being ashamed of a second baptism; thus by the
laying on of the priests¹ hands and prayer, the Holy Spirit descends, as the
Acts of the Holy Apostles testifies.²
With regard to Roman Catholics and those Protestants who claim to preserve
baptism as a sacrament (for example, the Lutherans), in Russia since the
time of Peter I the practice was introduced of receiving them without
baptism, through a renunciation of heresy and the chrismation of Protestants
and unconfirmed Catholics. Before Peter, Catholics were baptized in Russia.
In Greece, the practice has also varied, but almost 300 years ago, after a
certain interruption the practice of baptizing converts from Catholicism and
Protestantism was reintroduced. Those received in any other way have
(sometimes) not been recognized in Greece as Orthodox. In many cases such
children of our Russian Church were not even admitted to Holy Communion.
Having in view this circumstance and also the current growth of the
ecumenist heresy, which attempts completely to erase the difference between
Orthodoxy and any heresy so that the Moscow Patriarchate, notwithstanding
the holy canons, has even issued a decree permitting Roman Catholics to
receive communion (in certain cases) the Sobor of Bishops acknowledges the
necessity of introducing a stricter practice, i.e., to baptize all heretics
who come to the Church only in case of necessity and with the permission
of the bishop allowing, for reasons of economy or pastoral condescension,
any other practice with regard to certain persons i.e., the reception into
the Church of Roman Catholics and those Protestants baptized in the name of
the Holy Trinity, through a repudiation of heresy and chrismation.
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