Abp. Elpidophoros publicly reiterates his stance on open Communion for non-Orthodox spouses

New York, April 12, 2020

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In a virtual town hall meeting held yesterday, Saturday, April 11, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople publicly reiterated his belief that non-Orthodox spouses who were married in the Orthodox Church should be allowed to receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church.

“Personally, I would offer … the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist,” to non-Orthodox spouses, he said.

During the meeting, the Archbishop confirmed OrthoChristian’s earlier report that he had expressed this same view at the Leadership 100 conference in Florida in February.

Yesterday’s town hall began with a word from Abp. Elpidophoros largely focused on the current coronavirus pandemic. The question of communing non-Orthodox spouses arose during the Question and Answer session, as it had during the Leadership 100 meeting.

The moderator, Demetria Kalodimos, relayed to the Archbishop the question: “I’d like to know when priests will receive directives to permit Communion to non-Orthodox spouse married in the Orthodox Church. Can you explain this?”

The Archbishop responded by recounting what occurred at the Leadership 100 Conference, which OrthoChristian had reported on:

These kinds of decisions in general are made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, by the head of our Church.

I understand that you are referring to a question that I answered during a webinar, a meeting we had last February, with the Leadership 100 meeting in Florida, where somebody asked me what my opinion was about this issue. And there I said, I asked myself, “How can I offer the Sacrament of Marriage to a Christian who is a not a member of my Church?” You know we do this with mixed marriages. We accept to the Sacrament of Marriage non-Orthodox faithful from other churches. They get married in the Orthodox Church and then they get separated when they have to attend the service and the Eucharist.

So, can you imagine, two people married and blessed in the Orthodox Church, and you remember the prayers that we say in the Church, that these two now become one, and they become one with the blessing of the Orthodox Church. And after becoming one, we force them to separate when the Eucharist comes. And I asked myself in public before all the members of Leadership 100, saying, “How can we do that?” And I said that personally I do not agree; personally, I would offer the other Sacrament—the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist—to those couples who are married and who received the Sacrament of Marriage in the Orthodox Church and in this way I save the whole family, because otherwise I lose the children and I lose the whole family.

And I remind you that mixed marriages in the United States in our Archdiocese are over 65%. Over 65%. So, if we are not inclusive of these families in our Archdiocese, every year, every year we will lose 65% of our members, of our families. Who can afford that? Can a pastor take that responsibility and lose our people because of that only?

The question begins at 34:04:

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John C Kassatkin1/26/2022 11:42 pm
By "Economia" the Holy Russian Orthodox Church permits the Sacrament of Matrimony to be administered to individuals who are Baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Of those individuals, some, and many, may not have ever received the Sacrament of "Confirmation". The Moscow Patriarchate (during the Dark Ages of existing under Soviet Rule) there was a mutual agreement between Moscow and Rome, that, if there was the need for the time, Roman Catholic tourists (having a valid Confirmation) desiring to receive Holy Orthodox Communion (because there wasn't (Locally) a Roman Catholic Temple (Church) available, they could receive Holy Communion in a Russian Orthodox Temple (Church)!
Samuel10/30/2020 7:46 pm
Barbara Tkach: Wouldn't it be more compassionate to first catechize and baptize those non-Orthodox spouses, and then give them Holy Communion, so they do not commune to their own condemnation? How can a person who has not embraced the Orthodox faith dare to approach Holy Communion? Some Protestant who has a "problem" accepting the Ever-Virgin Mary and the saints as intercessors, who has always thought that we commune not of the Body and Blood of Christ, but only do this "in remembrance of Him",just comes up and receives what is most most sacred in the Orthodox Church? Or a Catholic who has no intention of renouncing his belief in "Christ's vicar on earth", comes and receives Christ's Body and Blood, even though he's scorned Christ by believing He needs a vicar on earth? Think about it.
Barbara Tkach10/30/2020 7:21 pm
to me it is an extremely compassionate, merciful and non-legalistic stance on the subject- think of how often Christ and Paul showed this compassion
Agatha Mantanes9/24/2020 1:27 am
As soon as he stops marching with terrorists we will take him seriously until then a huge amount of Greeks will stop all donations to any Greek church. By the threatening to excommunicate those that don't agree with him is not a good look.
Mavra Patropulos6/26/2020 9:27 pm
We do not need to change our canons to accommodate other belief systems. If a non Orthodox desires to enter into the sacrament of marriage and also wish to receive Holy Communion, they must except all sacraments and be confirmed into the faith. We need to remember that our commitment is to Christ, not to an institution. Jesus’s Law is to confess before we approach His Holiness. “Be imitators of Me” to be Holy as He is, before we can approach Him. Up to the last minute we ask for forgiveness because of the constant attacks of the evil one. First and most important thing is, how much we truly love Christ to commit our selves 100% to His Love? To unite with Him for eternity. Eternity begins at the point and time we except Him as our Lord and Savior. From this moment on He is our Guide to eternity when we follow His Law. We all know that Jesus hates division, whether it is in the Body of Christ, His Church, for which He shed His Blood for, or within a marriage which He sanctified. His prayer was, “they may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also be one in Us.” The unity of His Church is the number one thing in His message, through our humility and love for Him. He is very explicit in scriptures, so we don’t need to analyze or add our opinions. And, since marriage is based on love and uniting with Him, who IS the elixir of Love, this commitment should be carried through the sacramental life of His Church.
Fr. Benedict 6/13/2020 10:16 am
There are simply too many theologically competent and historically informed clerics and monastics in Orthodoxy today for the heresy of ecumenism to triumph over Christian truth. Say what they will and do as they may, Orthodoxy is neither defeated nor diminished by the efforts of erring prelates and deceitful hierarchs. Fallacy and spiritual delusion are like the common cold: you can only disguise the symptoms for so long before your condition is plain for all to see. We understand what’s happening; moreover, we know what the end game is. In order for the “The New World Order” to take hold, an age of corruption and distortion must precede: postmodernist ideologies must deconstruct the absolutes of Orthodoxy; syncretism and the reductionist approach must be peddled as genuine wisdom and profundity; and appeals must be made to the emotive faculties. How else could such an apparatus of deceit survive the rigours of Orthodoxy? What more specious way than by the misapplication and misrepresentation of our most sublime tenets and cherished ideals of charity and disinterested love? The hashtag of the age: #mangle the Gospel truth; supplant Patristic teaching with contemporary notions of “peace” and political correctness. Indeed, for New-Age alchemists the prospect of transforming the deceit of lead into the truth of gold is still a tenable pursuit. Apparently they take lightly the One whom they are warring upon: “ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Amen!
Theo4/13/2020 11:55 pm
He also just neutered the sacrament of confession, if Protestant spouses can receive Orthodox communion without it. Guess sin doesn't matter anymore. The Orthodox are starting to look like Episcopalians, just a little more esoteric.
Paul4/13/2020 10:30 pm
To Lupe: You are correct, orthodoxy is under huge attack, but unfortunately it is not just simply in the GOA, but also in the Antiochian, OCA and to a certain degree with Romanian and Serbian. It's a spiritual virus corrupting all of the local churches, and it is being led by the Greek Archdiocese of America. Its very nice to be loved by the worldly powers, invited to conferences and be respected by the media, so the other Jurisdictions seem to want what the Greeks have. I have watched ROCOR become more and more lax with every passing year since 2007, and there appears to be nothing that can be done to stop it. Even Mt. Athos is not what it was a decade ago, since many of the monks there appear to be modernists, ecumenists and loyalists (to the Phanar). Holy Elders have reposed, and there is nobody to take their place. They Orthodox Church is controlled by politicians in the west who are not even Orthodox. Moscow is afraid to take charge, and follow the path of Patriarch Alexi, which is why P. Bartholemew is in the position he is in today. Patriarch Kyrill invited PB to Moscow, served with him, legitimized and enabled him in front of Russia and the worlds faithful back in 2008/2009, so what do you expect will happen? Patriarch Alexi wouldn't even talk to the Phanar because he knew their kind, and their fruits. He was a champion, and it is very very sad that he is no longer with us. May His memory be eternal. Georgia and Bulgaria is to small and insignificant, so who can help us? Only Christ and His Holy Mother, along with Saints and Martyrs can deliver us from their plans. May God have mercy on us all!
Ioannis4/13/2020 10:21 pm
His novel "orthodoxy" is most probably a transit period before the new world "church", partly Papal, Orthodox, Protestant, ...muslim, ...etc.
Alex4/13/2020 4:33 pm
Somebody call the circus and let them know that the clown car forgot to pick up one of their performers!
Michael4/13/2020 7:47 am
And again, the P.C. steps outside of Orthodoxy. Their Patriarch celebrated with Lutherans at a 'milestone' event regarding Luther's heresy a couple of years ago. So, Elpidophoros continues the heretical, 'ecumenical' trend of the Greek 'church'.
Lupe4/13/2020 7:04 am
Wake up people! Did you hear the other parts of this debacle? He said that the spoon which administers Holy Communion can carry disease!!! He needs to be deposed. If the other Bishops remain silent, Holy Orthodoxy may collapse in America.
Jk4/13/2020 4:18 am
In his attempt to be inclusive and keep people in the church, which is important, he makes a faulty choice. I laud his willingness to acknowledge the primary challenge of the GOA, loss of people but he doesn't address the real problem-language. He speaks in English so people can understand and then worships in Greek so people can't understand.
George Larin4/12/2020 11:34 pm
Our Church will marry Her members with non-Orthodox CHRISTIANS, but ONLY IF BOTH SOLEMNLY PROMISE to baptize and raise their children (if any) as ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS. The non-Orthodox party is NEVER GIVEN HOLY COMMUNION. n e v e r !!! Fater George Larin, member of R.O.C.O.R.
anonymous4/12/2020 8:22 pm
"I would offer the other sacrament......." "I lose the children......." "I lose the whole......" First of all, how do you know that? Maybe you would save the children and family. Second of all, and maybe more importantly, in this case, It's not about you. Most of the other denominations have dumbed down to give the people what they think they want. And how's that working out. Really? And, btw, if you think you are losing members now, implement something like this and see how many members you lose. Or should I say, the Church lose.
Timmy4/12/2020 5:57 pm
For the sake of argument, if we overlook the propriety of "mixed marriages" in the first place, which St. Paul advised against in the scriptures, the fundamental misunderstanding that the Archbishop makes is assuming that all the holy mysteries are of the same importance. They are not. The eucharist is paramount. Now that the pastoral economia of "mixed marriages" has moved from the exception to the rule for the US church he's advocating a form of open communion based upon this faulty logic, and the fact that it is a new idea that is contrary to the 2,000 year-old holy tradition should be proof enough that it's a heresy. For Pete's sake, in the early church even catechumens & penitents had to physically leave during the second half of the liturgy because they couldn't even be present when the faithful received the eucharist. Having just prayed the prayers for Christ to protect His church from schism & heresy I'm reminded that once you pull out the stops of holy tradition, and start to make changes based upon the conventional logic of the day & age there is literally no end to the things that will come out of Pandora's box. Next we may be hearing arguments for limited forms of open marriages; after all, we can't be so narrow-minded & exclusive as to prevent certain others from sharing in the richness & fulfillment of the marriage bed...that would be arcane & xenophobic!
Arthur Soares4/12/2020 5:56 pm
I have been taught that one who wants to marry a non-orthodox that one must convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Before anything, I know of one couple and they're happily married.
Alexander Leitner4/12/2020 5:32 pm
Cast the New calendar greeks out from Holy Orthodoxy, condemn Bartholomew. Bring the Old Calendarists into communion.
Antiochene Son4/12/2020 1:45 pm
They already can receive communion. They just have to join the Orthodox Church first. Think about it: if the non-Orthodox spouse wants to receive communion, presumably they are attending our services and have developed a hunger for the Eucharist. Presumably they know what we believe about it, that it is the true body and blood of Christ as the prayers say. So if they are present, attentive, and have desire, why don't they just convert? The Orthodox church has allowed mixed marriages for a long time (maybe too freely, as this situation shows), but the church has never seen the need to go this far. Why does the Archbishop think he knows better than all our holy fathers who came before? I also wonder what the Archbishop would say about an Orthodox spouse receiving "communion" at the church of a Protestant or Catholic spouse. How could it be denied under his standard?
Menas4/12/2020 12:58 pm
And our bishops won’t dare say anything about it. How any faithful Orthodox can stay in the Greek Archdiocese is beyond me
Maria Kay4/12/2020 9:16 am
I have great respect for our Acb Elpidophoros and his enthusiasm to Express his personal opinions. Mind you, I am not a theologian, but a daughter, greatgrandaughter and sister to two theologians who is not at all shy to discuss my opinions on this matter as well. If a person is willing to accept one sacrament, then they should accept all the sacraments of "THE CATHOLIC & APOSTOLIC ORTHODOX CHURCH". We are all human and have free will. We cannot pick and choose what is convenient to follow and what is not because it suits us. The first mistake was made by not baptizing the individual spouse comming into our community. All of our sacraments are a gift and privilege including the upcoming Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday to our individual burials. If I were to go to any other denomination and receive a sacrament(like communion for example), they will gladly give it,but I would be excommunicating myself. It's free will. What we need is CATECHISM. God Bless our Church Leaders to Guide us wisely.
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