thank you and one last point
- Thank-you all for the informative answers and I just have one
last point. According to this article on father alexander's site
the Holy Synod adopted a rigorous position on baptism of
converts in 1971:(My question is: Has the synod reverted back to the
less rigorous position in recent time or do individual bishops/priests
always have the right to exercise economia at all times or am I
mistaken in that THIS is the actual historical Russian position?)
This decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad
of 15/28 September 1971 reads:
"On the question of the baptism of heretics who accept Orthodoxy, the
following decree was adopted: The Holy Church has believed from time
immemorial 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 'one baptism,' and
the 46th Canon of the Holy Apostles directs: 'A bishop or a presbyter
who has accepted (i.e., acknowledges) the baptism or the sacrifice of
heretics, we command to be deposed.'
"However when the zeal of some heretics in their struggle against the
Church diminished and when the question arose about a massive
conversion to Orthodoxy, the Church, to facilitate their conversion,
received them into her bosom by another rite. St Basil the Great in
his First Canon, which was included in the canons of the Sixth
Ecumenical Council, points to the existence of different practices for
receiving heretics in different lands. He explains that any separation
from the Church deprives one of grace and writes about the dissidents:
'Even though the departure began through schism, however, those
departing from the Church already lacked the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The granting of grace has ceased because the lawful succession has
been cut. Those who left first were consecrated by the Fathers and
through the laying on of their hands had the spiritual gifts. But,
they became laymen and had no power to baptize nor to ordain and could
not transmit to others the grace of the Holy Spirit from which they
themselves fell away. Therefore, the ancients ruled regarding those
that were coming from schismatics to the Church as having been
baptized by laymen, to be cleansed by the true baptism of the Church.'
However, 'for the edification of many' St. Basil does not object to
other rites for receiving the dissident Cathars in Asia. About the
Encratites he writes, that 'this could be a hindrance to the general
good order' and a different rite could be used, explaining this: 'But
I am afraid of putting an impediment to the saved, while I would raise
fears in them concerning their baptism.'
"Thus, St Basil the Great, and by his words the Ecumenical Council,
while establishing the principle that outside the Holy Orthodox Church
there is no valid baptism, allows through pastoral condescension,
called economy, the reception of some heretics and dissidents without
a new baptism. On the basis of this principle the Ecumenical Councils
allowed the reception of heretics by different rites, in response to
the weakening of their hostility against the Orthodox Church.
"The Kormchaya Kniga gives an explanation for this by Timothy of
Alexandria. On the question 'Why do we not baptize heretics converting
to the Catholic Church?' his response is: 'If this were so, a person
would not quickly turn from heresy, not wanting to be shamed by
receiving baptism (i.e., second baptism). However, the Holy Spirit
would come through the laying on of hands and the prayer of the
presbyter, as is witnessed in the Acts of the Apostles.'
"With regard to Roman Catholics and those Protestants who claim to
have preserved 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 after almost 300 years after a certain interruption,
the practice of baptizing converts from Catholicism and Protestantism
was reintroduced. Those received by 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 to completely erase any 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 need to introduce a stricter practice, i.e.,
to baptize all heretics who come to the Church, and only because of
special necessity and with permission of the bishop it is allowed,
under the application of economy or pastoral condescension, to use a
different method with respect to certain persons, i.e., the reception
of Roman Catholics, and Protestants who perform baptism in the name of
the Holy Trinity, by means of repudiation of heresy and Chrismation"
("Church Life," July-December 1971, pp. 52-54).