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Metropolitan Philaret and the Reception of MP Clergy

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  • Joshua Fraese
    Greetings on the Feast! I haven t been following the discussions here very closly, so please forgive me if what I m writing here has been said recently. I am
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2002
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      Greetings on the Feast!

      I haven't been following the discussions here very closly, so please
      forgive me if what I'm writing here has been said recently. I am
      posting simply because I would like to share an insight of
      Metropolitan Philaret into the process of receiving MP clergy in
      their orders, and I have no desire to incite a polemical argument or
      anything like that. With that disclaimer in mind, allow me to quote
      the following from a letter of Metropolitan Philaret:

      "I should also like to note the following. The Catacomb Church in
      Russia relates to the Church Abroad with love and total confidence.
      However, one thing is incomprehensible to the Catacomb Christians:
      they can't understand why our Church, which realizes beyond a doubt
      that the Soviet hierarchy has betrayed Christ and is no longer a
      bearer of grace, nevertheless receives clergy of the Soviet church in
      their existing orders, not re-ordaining them, as ones already having
      grace. For the clergy and flock receive grace from the hierarchy, and
      if it [the hierarchy] has betrayed the Truth and deprived itself of
      grace, from where then does the clergy have grace? It is along these
      lines that the Catacomb Christians pose the question.

      The answer to this is simple. The Church has the authority in certain
      cases to employ the principle of economia condescension. The hierarch
      Saint Basil the Great said that, in order not to drive many away from
      the Church, it is necessary sometimes to permit condescension and not
      apply the church canons in all their severity. When our Church
      accepted Roman Catholic clergy in their orders, without ordaining
      them, she acted according to this principle. And Metropolitan Anthony
      [Khrapovitsky], elucidating this issue, pointed out that the outward
      form successive ordination from Apostolic times that the Roman
      Catholics do have; whereas the grace, which the Roman Catholic church
      has lost, is received by those uniting [themselves to the Church]
      from the plenitude of grace present in the Orthodox Church, at the
      very moment of their joining. The form is filled with content, said
      Vladyka Anthony.

      In precisely the same manner, in receiving the Soviet clergy, we
      apply the principle of economia. And we receive the clergymen from
      Moscow not as ones possessing grace, but as ones receiving it by the
      very act of union. But to recognize the church of the evil-doers as
      the bearer and repository of grace, that we cannot do, of course. For
      outside of Orthodoxy there is no grace; and the Soviet church has
      deprived itself of grace."

      This is only an excerpt from a much longer letter dealing with a
      number of disparate topics - if you wish to find context for this
      quote, you may read the complete letter here, and probably elsewhere,
      on the internet:

      www.stvladimirs.ca/library/metropolitan-philaret-potapov-letter.html

      I don't mean to suggest that the above extract be read as an official
      position, or a declaration on the status of the MP, or anything of
      the sort. Fr. Alexander is quite right to point out that the letters
      of hierarchs are not the same thing as official statments, and can't
      be read the same way. I find this letter to be, nonetheless, an
      interesting statement from our former first Hierarch that quite
      succinctly expresses his interpretation of the Synodal procedure for
      receiving MP clergy in their orders. It seems quite certain that
      Metropolitan Philaret understood this reception as an act of
      economia. There is some indication that this was a widespread
      conception of the situation amongst our hierarchs, as MP clergy were
      not always received in their orders.

      With the Feast,
      Joshua Fraese
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