New York, April 12, 2020
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: