EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): Searching through Google, we retrieved from Goarch.org the “Pastoral Guidelines,” (they happened to be dated 2008) which we have posted at the bottom of this article.
Hiding the Orthodox Rule Book through Sleight of Hand Doesn’t Change the Rules about Orthodox Sacraments!!
By Anonymous Member of the Archdiocesan Council
For those who have been watching the latest Elpidophoros debacle regarding the baptism of a gay couple’s children (https://www.helleniscope.com/2022/07/21/the-end-of-elpi/), it is interesting to see how the Archbishop of America has also been hiding, changing, and manipulating the rules and practices of the Orthodox Church.
Might this be due to his weak understanding of Orthodox theology? It is well known that he does not write any of the talks, sermons, or encyclicals that a staff member cranks out for him. Perhaps it is the result of his deep-seated Turkish way of thinking as if he were a sultan for whom there are no rules, at least none that apply to him. Or perhaps he wants to change the Orthodox Church in America into the Orthodox-Catholic-Episcopalian Church of America?
Let’s look at some of the ways Elpidophoros has “changed the rules” since he has been here.
1) Upon his arrival, he spread the word in the Archdiocesan District that he was “okay” with the non-orthodox spouses of Orthodox Christians partaking in the sacrament of Holy Communion. To some, this might seem to like an “inclusive” policy and a nice gesture to make everyone feel welcome. However, unless he has been granted divine authority to act as an Ecumenical Council of ONE, he cannot change the theology and the tradition of the church unilaterally, and certainly not through an idle and irresponsible off-the-cuff remark. (This is also the mark of a man who was made the Archbishop of America without any significant experience serving in a parish, with actual parishioners, but this is a topic for another discussion.)
2) Then there was “Spoon-gate,” a ridiculous exercise deserving a ridiculous name. Yes, it was Covid, and everyone was afraid, but the Orthodox Church has experienced more than a few plagues over the last two thousand years, and we can be pretty sure that disposable plastic spoons or multiple spoons were not used to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful. That was not only a terrible decision, but it also raised doubts in people’s minds about the very nature of the Eucharist itself and turned our churches into farcical theaters of pseudo-hygiene.
3) Then, he decided to lie to both the Patriarch and the Holy Synod in Constantinople (https://www.thenationalherald.com/intense-rivalry-between-elpidophoros-and-hierarchs-of-the-eparchial-synod/) by telling them that the Eparchial Synod of America voted to request of the Patriarch that the Charter be “suspended and put in abeyance” when in fact no such vote ever took place. So, of course, the Patriarch took the word of his favored hierarch and suspended the Charter, the governing document of the Archdiocese that was granted to the church in America by the Patriarch himself. “Who’s on First, What’s on Second, I Don’t Know who is on Third …”
That lie caught up with him, which is to say that it blew up in his face, and he was finally confronted with it by both the Eparchial Synod and the Patriarch—one bishop even taking his case to the press. What took so long for these spinless Metropolitans of America to grow spines and finally stand up for their church in America? Who knows, maybe honoring Archbishop Spyridon (Elpidophoros’ buddy) finally struck a nerve with the Metropolitans of America, and they finally opened their mouths. Now, magically, the Charter has been restored.
So, while Elpidophoros was working his sleight of hand, smiling his creepy smile, shaking hands, and kissing babies, he secretly “removed the rules” from the eyes of the faithful. What rules are these, you ask? Look at the “2020 Yearbook of the Archdiocese of America.” Specifically, pages 269-273. These are the “Pastoral Guidelines” provided for reference to clergy and lay people in America, including the Church’s position on:
- The Sanctity of Human Life
- Donation of Organs
- Medical Issues
- Weddings / Marriage.
- Day’s Marriage is Not Permitted
- Inter-Christian Marriage
- Inter-Religious Marriage
- Prohibited Marriages
- Rules of Fasting
All these pages are now GONE from the new “2022 Archdiocese Directory”!
Lastly—and most disturbing—is what went missing from p. 273: Information on the Archdiocese Sexual Misconduct Policy and how one can report a case of Sexual Misconduct perpetrated by a Bishop, Priest, or someone in Church leadership. This is now no longer part of the “Directory.”
(The removed pages are on the Archdiocese Website – but look quickly before they are also scrubbed from there and thrown into the waste bin of history!)
Current Archdiocese “Directory”
Past Archdiocese “Yearbooks”
Do we not see a pattern emerging from all of this from the “most transparent archbishop of all time”? Elpidophoros continues to eliminate the rules, practices, and traditions of the church so that he and his merry and gay band of thieves can rape and pillage our Archdiocese. God forbid a priest stands up to question what is going on since his head will be lopped off by Elpidophoros or one of his thugs like Bishop Athenagoras, Fr. Villas, or any of the other members of his corrupt clergy mafia.
Now that Elpidophoros has his days numbered, if Bartholomew is again looking to Karloutsos as his Orthodox Christian moral compass to find another successor, he’s looking in the wrong direction. The simple fact is that Karloutsos has no moral compass. He is motivated by power, money, and self-aggrandizement, and makes choices based solely on self-interest or opportunity. Sadly, Bartholomew and Karloutsos and his “Saturday morning breakfast club” minions are birds of a feather. Not a shred of moral fiber left in any of them (though one of them seems badly in need of some fiber with his meals).
It has been known for some time now that Karloutsos has been violating Orthodox practice as well as the above-mentioned Spiritual Guidelines of the GOA. He often performs unorthodox sacraments at his elitist country club—also known as the Southampton Church, Dormition of the Virgin Mary—usually on the grounds “outside” to give the illusion of following the rules. All for a handsome price, of course! Some examples are:
- mixed marriages of Jewish individuals and Orthodox Christians (according to canon law, both the Jewish person and the Orthodox person would be considered ex-communicated in the Orthodox Church)
- same-sex marriages (again, according to canon law, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, are ineligible for the sacrament of marriage in the Orthodox Church)
Our Orthodox Christian faith has been handed down to us through Apostolic succession. We cannot and should not alter our faith and beliefs for thirty pieces of silver.
Surely today, we all have friends, relatives, and loved ones who are not Orthodox and/or are homosexual. We should love and respect them and accept them in our lives. They are free to make their own choices. But should we be forced to abandon our faith and tradition to accommodate—and indeed be forced to “celebrate”—their choices? Orthodox Christianity has been our faith in practice for more than two thousand years. In what dark cloud of arrogant delusion must people like Elpidophoros and Karloutsos live where they think they can corrupt our faith and question the words of Christ, the Apostles, and the Saints of the Church?
If you are not Orthodox but wish to be Orthodox, repent, convert, open your heart to Christ, and accept all the mysteries of the Orthodox faith and tradition. If you are Orthodox and want to marry a Jewish person, make a choice. Orthodox marriage is the sacred union of two Orthodox Christians blessed by Christ and centered on Christ. And the mystery of marriage—as the Church publicly proclaims through the Epistle of St Paul read at the sacrament—is that “the two become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31, citing Genesis 2:24). You cannot be Christian and Jewish. They are opposites. It is illogical. It insults both faiths and makes a mockery of them both.
If you are sexually active outside of your marriage, or if you are a sexually active homosexual, you are living a life contrary to the Gospel. You do not live a life rooted in Orthodox faith, tradition, and practice. Your actions are not Christ-centered, and thus, to seek an Orthodox marriage or seek to baptize children that you may have acquired and which you cannot raise in the faith is to place yourself in conflict with God. And this does not change simply because you have millions of dollars and pay Elpidophoros to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver.
If you want to see a list of those who receive special “favors” from Karloutsos and Elpidophoros, look no further than the names of the absurdly pompous and self-important Archons and “Donors” who are listed on the website of the “Bartholomew Foundation.” This foundation was created by Karloutsos to cement his hold over and gain good “favor” not only the Patriarch of today but also the Patriarchs of tomorrow. https://members.archons.org/bf-founders/
Tragically, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, under the inept, incompetent, and corrupt rule of a handful of godless bachelors living in a ghetto in Istanbul, has been bought and paid for and will only be free when, by the grace of God, the faithful clergy and laity of this Church rise up, without fear, and speak out against the corruption, abuse, and lies that are now tearing apart the Body of Christ. The word “devil” means “he who divides,” and who are greater dividers of the Body of Christ than Karloutsos and Elpidophoros.
For the union of a man and woman to be recognized as sacramentally valid by the Orthodox Church, the following conditions must be met:
- The Sacrament of Matrimony must be celebrated by an Orthodox Priest of a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction, according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church, in a canonical Orthodox Church, and with the authorization of the Archbishop or Metropolitan.
- Before requesting permission from the Archbishop or his Metropolitan to perform the marriage, a Priest must verify that: a) neither of the parties in question is already married to another person, either in this country or elsewhere; b) the parties in question are not related to each other to a degree that would constitute an impediment; c) if either or both parties are widowed, they have presented the death certificate(s) of the deceased spouse(s); d) if either or both of the parties have been previously married in the Orthodox Church, they have obtained ecclesiastical as well as civil divorce(s); e) the party or parties who are members of a parish other than the one in which the marriage is to be performed have provided a certificate declaring them to be members in good standing with that parish for the current year; and f) a civil marriage license has been obtained from civil authorities.
- No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted only with extreme oikonomia.
- In cases involving the marriage of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the latter must have been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot bless the marriage of an Orthodox Christian to a non-Christian.
- The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party, but may not exchange the rings or crowns.
Days When Marriage Is Not Permitted
Marriages are not performed on fast days or during fasting seasons or on the feasts of the Church, specifically: September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross), December 13-25 (Nativity), January 5 and 6 (Theophany), Great Lent and Holy Week, Pascha (Easter), Pentecost, August 1-15 (Dormition Fast and Feast), and August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist). Exceptions can only be made with the permission of the respective hierarch.
It is a fact that, the more a couple has in common, the more likely they are to live together in peace and concord. Shared faith and traditions spare couples and their children, as well as their extended families, many serious problems, and help to strengthen the bonds between them. Even so, the Orthodox Church will bless marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox partners, provided that:
- The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and
- The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and raise and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.
A baptized Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Church, and may not receive the Sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, or become a Sponsor of an Orthodox Marriage, Baptism or Chrismation.
A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not thereby become a member of the Orthodox Church, and may not receive the Sacraments, including Holy Communion, or be buried by the Church, serve on the Parish Council, or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in the Church’s life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation.
Canonical and theological reasons preclude the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacrament of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox and the other partner is a non-Christian. As such, Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages fall out of good standing with their Church and are unable to actively participate in the life of the Church. While this stance may seem confusing and rigid, it is guided by the Orthodox Church’s love and concern for its member’s religious and spiritual well-being.
The following types of relationships constitute impediments to marriage:
- Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
- Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
- Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
- First cousins with each other.
- Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.
- Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of their godchildren.
The parish priest must exert every effort to reconcile the couple and avert a divorce. However, should he fail to bring about a reconciliation, after a civil divorce has been obtained, he will transmit the petition of the party seeking the ecclesiastical divorce, together with the decree of the civil divorce, to the Spiritual Court of the Archdiocesan District or Metropolis. The petition must include the names and surnames of the husband and wife, the wife’s surname prior to marriage, their addresses, the name of the priest who performed the wedding, and the date and place of the wedding. The petitioner must be a member of the parish through which he or she is petitioning for divorce. Orthodox Christians of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese who have obtained a civil divorce but not an ecclesiastical divorce may not participate in any sacraments of the Church or serve on the Parish Council, Archdiocesan District Council, Metropolis Council or Archdiocesan Council until they have been granted a divorce by the Church.
A person who wishes to sponsor a candidate for Baptism or Chrismation must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and a supporting member of an Orthodox parish. A person may not serve as a godparent if the Church has not blessed his or her marriage or, if civilly divorced, he or she has not been granted an ecclesiastical divorce, or for any other reason he or she is not in communion with the Orthodox Church.
Baptisms may not be performed during Holy Week or on any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord.
Funeral services are permitted on any day of the year, except for Sundays and Holy Friday, unless permission is granted by the Archbishop or Metropolitan.
Memorial services may not be chanted from the Saturday of Lazarus through the Sunday of Thomas, on any Feastday of the Lord or any Feastday of the Theotokos.
Just as there are times for feasting, there are also times set aside for fasting. During these periods, certain foods are prohibited. These are, in order of frequency of prohibition, meat (including poultry), dairy products, fish, olive oil and wine. Fruits, vegetables, grains and shellfish are permitted throughout the year. Of course, the Orthodox Church never reduces the practice of fasting to a legalistic observance of dietary rules. Fasting, that is not accompanied by intensified prayer and acts of charity, inevitably becomes a source of pride. The Church also recognizes that not everyone can fast to the same degree, and assumes that individual Christians will observe the fast prescribed for them by their Spiritual Fathers.
- All Wednesdays and Fridays, except for those noted below;
- The day before the Feast of Theophany (January 5);
- Cheesefare Week (the last week before the Great Lent, during which meat and fish are prohibited, but dairy products are permitted even on Wednesday and Friday);
- Great Lent (from Clean Monday through the Friday before Lazarus Saturday, olive oil and wine are permitted on weekends);
- Great and Holy Week (note that Great and Holy Saturday is a day of strict fasting, during which the faithful abstain from olive oil and wine),
- Holy Apostles’ Fast (from the Monday after All Saints’ Day through June 28, inclusive);
- Fast for the Dormition of the Mother of God (August 1-14, excluding August 6, on which fish, wine and olive oil are permitted);
- Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29),
- Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14); and
- Nativity Lent (November 15-December 24, although fish, wine and olive oil are permitted, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, until December 17).
The following are fasting days on which fish, wine and olive oil are permitted:
- The Feast of the Annunciation (March 25, unless it falls outside the Great Lent, in which case all foods are permitted);
- Palm Sunday;
- The Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6); and
- The Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God (November 21).
On the following days, all foods are permitted:
- The first week of the Triodion, from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee through the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, including Wednesday and Friday;
- Diakainisimos (or Bright) Week, following the Sunday of Pascha,
- The week following Pentecost; and
- From the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) through January 4.