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Question 18.

Τα μυστήρια της Δυτικής Εκκλησίας θεωρούνται από την Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία ως μη έγκυρα, εξαιρουμένου του Βαπτίσματος. Σε περιπτώσεις επιστρεφόντων, η είσοδος στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία γίνεται μόνο δια του μύρου. Που όμως έγκειται η διαφορά μεταξύ των μυστηρίων; Η θεία χάρη ή θα επενεργεί επί όλων ή δεν θα τελειώνει κανένα.


Translation of Question.

The Sacraments of the Western Churches are seen by the Orthodox Church as non valid except that of baptism. In the case where people return to the Orthodox Church, they are received only though the Mystery of Holy Chrism. But on what does the difference between the sacraments rest? Either Divine Grace acts on all or does not accomplish any.


Answer to Question 18.

Dear Constantine,
Greetings in Christ.
There seems to be some confusion on the subject of the Baptism from western churches and how people are received into the Orthodox Church. Not all Orthodox Churches receive converts from the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England only through the mystery of Holy Chrism. If am not mistaken, the Monasteries of Mount Athos and the Russian Church insists that all converts must be Baptized. The truth is that if we accept their previous baptism, even though it was a baptism in the Holy Trinity, it means that we accept their priesthood which means we accept their church which means we accept their heresy. The argument that their priesthood has apostolic succession is not a reason for us to accept any of their sacraments. Arius and Nestoras and many others were of the Orthodox priesthood yet the Church condemned them as heretics when they taught something other than that which the Church held as the truth. After the Great Schism, the Roman Catholic Church was originally considered as a schismatic church, but as time passed they added dogmas that are in complete conflict with the teaching of the Orthodox Church. One such dogma is the dogma of the “Immaculate Conception”, which says that Mary was born without original sin. This is ludicrous and blasphemous because then Mary would no longer belong to the human race and in fact would be God incarnate. Joachim would not have been her father and Anna, her mother, would have been the Mother of God. God himself would not have needed to become man to save us, because if Mary was born outside of original sin, she would have been a perfect human being, thus not needing to be saved and we could all find salvation through her. You see then that from a schismatic church, the Roman Catholic Church became a heretic church. The Church of England which is a schismatic church from a schismatic church has not only done away with the authority of Holy Tradition, but has also of recent years made a mockery of their own priesthood by allowing the ordinations of women. The Orthodox Church should not accept any of the sacraments of these churches not even their baptism and in theory at least she doesn’t. This “Economy” (if we can call it this) of receiving westerners into the Orthodox Church only through the Mystery of Holy Chrism is what I personally call church politics and church diplomacy. It seems to have come into affect from the time the Greek Orthodox Church first opened Churches in England and other Western Countries. In England for example they needed the approval of the Church of England to have an Orthodox Church in their country. Orthodox Bishops were not allowed to take a name of a See that was already allocated to an English Bishop, thus the Orthodox Archbishop could not use the name of London and call himself the Archbishop of London which resulted in the Orthodox Bishops taking names from Asia Minor like Thyatira. Being in new countries which were considered to be Christian, they had to be diplomatic with the “natives”. They couldn’t just come straight out and say we consider you heretics. So the “Economy” of accepting their baptism was created to help the establishment of the Church in a strange land. Of course I might have it wrong but my “church politics” theory is supported by the Euchologion. Do you remember your question on why the Church performs oaths in her services which are also included in her Liturgical books. We saw that the service was only found in the small euchologion and not in the Great Euchologion which is the official Euchologion of the Church. We have the same thing also with the service of receiving someone into the Church with Holy Chrism. The service is not found in the Great Euchologion and therefore its addition to the small euchologion is something new. The Church did not need such a service while in her own country. It was taken for granted that all people entering the Church must be baptized. The need came later with the Diaspora and Mixed marriages. As an English speaking priest, one of my duties is to give catechism instructions to English speaking people who want to be Orthodox. Among these there are many who come from the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. As it is also by duty to baptize them after catechism, I make it known to them from the start that I will not receive them unless they are re-baptized. In 15 years of being a priest I have baptized many adults but have never performed only the service of Holy Chrism. Today, the establishment of the Orthodox Church in Western societies and the freedom of religion, releases us from “church politics and church diplomacy.” and so we can do away with the “Chrism Only”. Many Priests today understand that proper reception into the Orthodox faith must and can only be though baptism, but until the Holy Synods who make the decisions take a stand and insist on rebaptism, “Chrism Only” will continue to appeal to those who don’t understand the difference. To these priests, it is also appealing because the service of Holy Chrism is very easy and can be accomplished in less than 5 minutes whereas baptism requires at least 45 minutes.