Greek Archbishop of America Declares Open Communion for Non-Orthodox Spouses

Alpo2

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This is so blatantly wrong that no bishop in their right mind would say anything remotely like this. Don't believe everything you read on internet.
 

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Another apparent eyewitness on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristTheSaviorOrthodox/posts/2473077246132166?comment_id=2474464892660068&reply_comment_id=2476327769140447

I was at the conference. During the Q and A,several people asked -and he reiterated that spouses who are christian and NOT Greek Orthodox are welcomed to receive communion.
 

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I have to admit, this does look like fake news.

It is possible that the archbishop said something that was taken out of context and attacked.

 

Alpo2

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Mor Ephrem said:
Alpo2 said:
This is so blatantly wrong that no bishop in their right mind would say anything remotely like this. Don't believe everything you read on internet.
Don’t underestimate bishops.
Don't underestimate the internet.  :police:
 

Fr. George

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I'm not sure anything i can say will help anyone.

Did the Archbishop say something to the folks in Boca at the Leadership 100 conference?  Yes.

Did he "declare open communion?"  No.

Does he have any type of Synodal blessing / backing?  No.

Has he issued anything in writing to his clergy to instruct them on the issue?  No.

Even if he did, would it affect anyone outside of his direct jurisdiction (NYC, upstate NY, half of CT, Washington DC, and the Bahamas)?  No.

Do I agree with him?  No. 
 

Ainnir

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I think it will at least help calm the speculation.  :)
 

Mor Ephrem

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Fr. George said:
I'm not sure anything i can say will help anyone.

Did the Archbishop say something to the folks in Boca at the Leadership 100 conference?  Yes.

Did he "declare open communion?"  No.

Does he have any type of Synodal blessing / backing?  No.

Has he issued anything in writing to his clergy to instruct them on the issue?  No.

Even if he did, would it affect anyone outside of his direct jurisdiction (NYC, upstate NY, half of CT, Washington DC, and the Bahamas)?  No.

Do I agree with him?  No.
Thank you.  I think this reader understands.
 

rakovsky

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The traditional RC practice, which is still the usual RC practice in the US AFAIK, is to allow communion for EO , ACE, and OO spouses, but not for Protestant spouses except for extreme cases with the bishop's specific permission.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding HOLY COMMUNION TO A PROTESTANT SPOUSE.
https://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu365.htm

One of the reasons is that the Protestants have qualified the Eucharist to reject the RC transubstantiation doctrine, whereas the Orthodox have not rejected Transubstantiation.

Theologically, this reasoning would tend to apply to most Protestant groups as well from an EO perspective.
The EO idea is that there is a problem if someone dogmatically rejects that the Eucharist is objectively Christ's body. So if a Reformed/Calvinist/Evangelical Protestant teaches that Jesus' body is stuck in heaven and the Eucharist is only objectively bread in every way, then it creates a theological conflict for the EOs. This is one reason BTW that the EP gave some years ago on why we don't have intercommunion with Anglicans (they are conflicted on the question).

But the RC Church is apparently changing now on the open communion topic. Recently the Pope gave communion to Lutherans visiting the Vatican. The Lutherans accept a version of the Objective Presence doctrine.

See also
Vatican cardinal: allow Communion for Protestant spouse ‘every time’ , August 02, 2018
https://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=38000
 

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I can see the difficulty of non Orthodox spouses giving up everything associated with there passed. Im sure its not easy. Yet, the ruling of allowing mixed marriage itself.  Created this issue.  All the churches are guilty of this.
 

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Tzimis said:
I can see the difficulty of non Orthodox spouses giving up everything associated with there passed. Im sure its not easy. Yet, the ruling of allowing mixed marriage itself.  Created this issue.  All the churches are guilty of this.
Not all Orthodox allow mixed marriages.  In my jurisdiction it’s just called schism.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
Tzimis said:
I can see the difficulty of non Orthodox spouses giving up everything associated with there passed. Im sure its not easy. Yet, the ruling of allowing mixed marriage itself.  Created this issue.  All the churches are guilty of this.
Not all Orthodox allow mixed marriages.  In my jurisdiction it’s just called schism.
That said I think Pan-Orthodox marriages of the sort now allowed between Syriacs and Antiochians, and Copts and Alexandrian Greeks, are good.  I would also support intermarriage with the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.
 

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I’m still an RC and this is quite shocking to me. I’m still considering coming over the Orthodox Church some day but I doubt I would join the GOA because of this other recent issues. It’s getting a bit too liberal in their church.
So sad.
 

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Paradosiakos said:
I’m still an RC and this is quite shocking to me. I’m still considering coming over the Orthodox Church some day but I doubt I would join the GOA because of this other recent issues. It’s getting a bit too liberal in their church.
So sad.
You do realise that jurisdictions are not elite clubs with exclusive memberships, right?
 

hecma925

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Arachne said:
Paradosiakos said:
I’m still an RC and this is quite shocking to me. I’m still considering coming over the Orthodox Church some day but I doubt I would join the GOA because of this other recent issues. It’s getting a bit too liberal in their church.
So sad.
You do realise that jurisdictions are not elite clubs with exclusive memberships, right?
I can't use the fellowship hall, unless I pay my dues.
 

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hecma925 said:
Arachne said:
Paradosiakos said:
I’m still an RC and this is quite shocking to me. I’m still considering coming over the Orthodox Church some day but I doubt I would join the GOA because of this other recent issues. It’s getting a bit too liberal in their church.
So sad.
You do realise that jurisdictions are not elite clubs with exclusive memberships, right?
I can't use the fellowship hall, unless I pay my dues.
Fellowship is overrated. :p
 

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Alpha60 said:
Mor Ephrem said:
Tzimis said:
I can see the difficulty of non Orthodox spouses giving up everything associated with there passed. Im sure its not easy. Yet, the ruling of allowing mixed marriage itself.  Created this issue.  All the churches are guilty of this.
Not all Orthodox allow mixed marriages.  In my jurisdiction it’s just called schism.
That said I think Pan-Orthodox marriages of the sort now allowed between Syriacs and Antiochians, and Copts and Alexandrian Greeks, are good. 
The agreement between these churches for Orthodox marriages was synodal, at least for the Alexandrians. Each patriarch had the approval of their respective synod and formulated an official letter. It was not a Q&A session.

I would also support intermarriage with the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.
How is that any different from Roman Catholic, Protestant or any other non-Orthodox marriage with the Orthodox? The intermarriage with Syriacs and the Alexandria only happened because of bilateral joint dialogue and pastoral economia, not popular preference.
 

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Paradosiakos said:
I’m still an RC and this is quite shocking to me. I’m still considering coming over the Orthodox Church some day but I doubt I would join the GOA because of this other recent issues. It’s getting a bit too liberal in their church.
So sad.
I hope you realize the statement that he is purported to have delivered... is merely hearsay.  The Greek Church has not published any such claims, or announced anything officially.

1. Perhaps he said nothing even close to what is claimed
2. Perhaps he meant to say one thing, but, it came out completely wrong (I know I am guilty of this all the time.)

We just don't have all the facts... and judging him, much less the entire Greek Orthodox Church would be a mistake.

....and certainly do not rob yourself of the salvation offered by the Church, simply based on someone's warped agenda.  ;)

 

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LizaSymonenko said:
I hope you realize the statement that he is purported to have delivered... is merely hearsay. 
Sure, all 4 or more witnesses could have misinterpreted what he said, and it's hearsay. But their hearsay would be admissible because it's a statement against their own interests (FRE Rule 804 b 3), and it's backed up by the circumstantial evidence that we've been discussing.
4 witnesses who are giving their Greek names publicly and have Facebook photo profiles, saying that they were at the Leadership 100 Conference, are saying that they heard him make this announcement in the Q&A session. You have to pay to attend the conference, and the conference is for "leaders" of GOARCH's community. They have an interest in getting his statements right and it's against the interest of their organization to make up statements that make their Church look bad or conflict with Orthodoxy.

Okay, their Facebook profiles could be a ruse created by opponents of GOARCH to make up stories of things that fake people heard....  But then the normal thing for GOARCH to do would be to immediately make a public clarification...
 

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Eyewitnesses to the same event have very different stories, even five minutes later.

Considering the hullaballoo, there will probably be an official announcement, but nothing in the Church is done quickly.
 

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Arachne said:
Eyewitnesses to the same event have very different stories, even five minutes later.
Sure, that often occurs in general with witness testimony. In this case, one reason why the four witnesses might be in agreement is that he reiterated his same point when he was asked a follow up question for clarification.

It reminds me of a youth group Q&A that I attended with Bp. Job 15. I asked him, "Can I still be Orthodox if I disagree with the Czar's canonization?" He thought for a moment, and said, "Yes... But why wouldn't you want to?" I replied by referring to an incident where the Czar had congratulated cossacks for suppressing a demonstration where they used what I called "flogging" (the cossacks in the era had lashes, and would ride into crowds with them to disperse them). Bp. Job wanted to use light humor, so he joked, "I flog my staff sometimes..." Nonetheless, I think that he got my point about what is real saintly behavior and spirituality. Bp. Job was nice, and I miss him.

To relate this story to the thread topic, Bp. Job's reiteration of his point clarified his intention. The combination of his question back to me, and his joke back implied that he agreed with the Czar's canonization. But he did not berate me over it, so I think that at some level he sympathized.

In the case of Abp. Elpidophoros, supposedly he was asked about heterodox spouses communing, and he answered that they could, and on a follow up question to clarify if this is what he actually meant, he responded by asking back why shouldn't they be allowed to commune if they were married in the Church. Supposing that the witnesses are being honest, then the conversation went basically like that. His reiterating clarified his position on the matter. OK, skeptics are right to question if he really said this, and whether he gave it as official policy, and that we should wait for an official announcement. Still, the fact that four named L100 witnesses claim it, and it was reiterated by him, and they haven't responded yet, and the build up to the announcement all comes together to suggest that he probably did say this.

Another piece of evidence is his announcement in October:
Every faithful marriage is a miracle marriage—a miracle of God’s love and a Mystery to be celebrated with joy and embraced with thanksgiving. Whether or not the spouse joins the Church in a formal way through Chrismation, they are still 100% part of our community, and should be embraced as such.
The October statement is ambiguous. When he says that they had a "miracle marriage" but didn't join "the Church in a formal way through Chrismation", does the statement imply that they may have joined the Church in an informal way? If someone is "100% part of the community", does that entail that they joined the Greek Church too? Wouldn't someone who isn't part of the Greek Church be less than 100% part of the Greek Church community? Or does "community" mean the Greek cultural secular community, and you can join the latter through marriage? Without clarification, I would have taken his October statement to mean nothing more than spouses of Greeks joining the secular Greek community and being welcomed in Church.

But his follow up this February, appears to be that they can commune, because why shouldn't they commune if they've married in the Church? Putting together what he said on both occasions, he is taking the concept that he called in October a "faithful" "miracle marriage" by God as a Church sacrament to entail that they joined the Church in an informal way through marriage, although not "in a formal way through Chrismation."
He interprets the marriage this way, because, he asks, if they've been married in the Church, then why shouldn't they? The implication of his rhetorical question is that the marriage implies that they should commune.

So how would one interpret the announcement?
Laying down a blanket rule that anyone who marries a Greek in Church can take communion would not make sense, because it could include anyone from Hindus to Evangelicals to RCs to OOs.
I would interpret it to signify that the Archbishop would allow priests under him to commune Trinitarian spouses, and that he is off-the-record encouraging GOARCH to make the same policy.
 

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rakovsky said:
Okay, their Facebook profiles could be a ruse created by opponents of GOARCH to make up stories of things that fake people heard....  But then the normal thing for GOARCH to do would be to immediately make a public clarification...
Not necessarily.  They are just ignoring the nonsense.

Did Christ defend Himself... or just let His accusers hang themselves with their false witness... and then He prayed for them, and asked the Father to forgive them?

Sometimes, it is better to just let the fire die out all on its own.
 

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So the way I understand you Rakovsky, is that a Greek Orthodox married to say a protestant, the protestant may receive Communion in the Greek Church? There was a similar dilemma in the RC Church that the bishops in Germany tried to allow the same thing there. There was a lot of confusion in the RC Church about it. Finally the Pope settled the issue and did not allow it although the bishops are still trying to seek approval from him.
I’m having a tough time trying to stay an RC because of other things that are going on because of the Pope. I’ve researched the OC and have spent several years studying the religion. I’ve discovered a lot that is very convincing to me that the OC is the one true Church.
This Greek Communion issue may just be a big misunderstanding. I’ve had to deal with a lot of misunderstandings from the Pope, some which turn out to be fact. I’m just very cautious. I’m trying very hard to sift what I feel in my heart as coming from the Holy Spirit and what may be from the evil one.
 

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May God grant you discernment and direction.
 

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Paradosiakos said:
So the way I understand you Rakovsky, is that a Greek Orthodox married to say a protestant, the protestant may receive Communion in the Greek Church?
Based on what Fr. George is saying, the Greek bishops in the US aren't giving those instructions to their priests. It is just something that the GOARCH head hierarch announced according to 4 or more witnesses at L100. So it's a very new policy and isn't really settled IMO until GOARCH makes it official.
 

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SolEX01 said:
This morning, my priest said that Holy Communion was only for Orthodox Christians.  He didn't mention anything about the non-Orthodox spouses receiving Communion.
The last 2 Sundays, my priest hasn't said anything about Holy Communion being only for Orthodox Christians.  I wonder if he's abiding by the Archbishop's directive.  I try not to pay attention to who's taking Communion since that's not my business.
 

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SolEX01 said:
SolEX01 said:
This morning, my priest said that Holy Communion was only for Orthodox Christians.  He didn't mention anything about the non-Orthodox spouses receiving Communion.
The last 2 Sundays, my priest hasn't said anything about Holy Communion being only for Orthodox Christians.  I wonder if he's abiding by the Archbishop's directive.  I try not to pay attention to who's taking Communion since that's not my business.
Why not?
 

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hecma925 said:
SolEX01 said:
SolEX01 said:
This morning, my priest said that Holy Communion was only for Orthodox Christians.  He didn't mention anything about the non-Orthodox spouses receiving Communion.
The last 2 Sundays, my priest hasn't said anything about Holy Communion being only for Orthodox Christians.  I wonder if he's abiding by the Archbishop's directive.  I try not to pay attention to who's taking Communion since that's not my business.
Why not?
I would be judging my priest if he administered Holy Communion to a known non-Orthodox person.  I've seen my priests turn away people from the chalice although I try not to pay attention for reasons stated.  :)
 

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Back in late February, four or more attendees of GOARCH's L100 Conference reported that at the Conference, Abp. Elpidophoros stated in a Q&A that heterodox spouses may commune. Some witnesses said that he was asked to clarify what he meant and that he reiterated that they may commune. Unfortunately, the GOARCH never put out a transcript of the Q&A session.

In March, Greek News Online published a text of his answers on this topic in the Q&A,
but the Greek News report has seemed to have been overlooked. The Greek News Online reported:
Archbishop Elpidophoros’s reply to the first question, whether the Church will address the issue of parishioners in interfaith marriages leaving the Church because their non-Orthodox spouses are not allowed to receive Holy Communion, was perhaps the most prominent in this category, “Thank you for this question.  It gives me the opportunity to repeat to all of you what I say to my priests when they address this question to me,”  said the Archbishop, “It is primarily a pastoral question how we deal with mixed marriages when one member of the family, the husband or the wife, is not Orthodox but still attends church every Sunday, is faithful to the services, and bring their children to the church.  And my answer is that the communion in this family is already realized.”

For accuracy, we continue His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros’s complete answer to that question: “We offer to this couple the sacrament of marriage.  Is marriage a sacrament or not?  Is there a categorizing?  Can we distinguish between Sacraments?  Is there a category of Sacraments we can attend, and a category we cannot?  If we are accepted in one sacrament, we cannot exclude another sacrament.  That’s my principle.  Marriage is a miracle that our faithful realize in daily life.  How can the church give resistance to a miracle that has already happened?  It’s a miracle of love; two people, who through love, are united in Christ.  They already have received the sacrament of matrimony, so my direction to the priest is that we cannot exclude one Orthodox member from the Holy Communion.  You know I follow always the directions and the principles that our Lord Jesus Christ Gave us:  ‘Ο άνθρωπος δεν έγινε για το Σάββατο. Το Σάββατο έγινε για τον άνθρωπο.’

“We’re not here to make the life of our people more difficult,” His Eminence continued, “We are here to bless them; to accept them to our Lord Jesus Christ and make their life easier.  And blessed.  That’s why we are here.  If we use rules And practices that are made for different contexts, for different historical moments, then we are out of space, out of time…we are not here…we are not in the United States; we are elsewhere, and we need to realize and accept the realities that are valued here, to support our parishes, our families, and our faithful accordingly.” 
https://www.greeknewsonline.com/archbishop-elpidophoros-supports-offering-of-holy-communion-to-everyone-married-in-orthodox-church-his-views-on-priests-appearance/

I take this answer to mean that he tells his priests that heterodox spouses may commune. Taken alone, his statement is not very clear that "the communion in this family is already realized", because the heterodox spouse does not take the sacrament of communion in the mixed marriage ceremony.

Next he asks a series of questions that normally and traditionally Orthodoxy would answer "Yes" to:
We offer to this couple the sacrament of marriage.  Is marriage a sacrament or not?  Is there a categorizing?  Can we distinguish between Sacraments?  Is there a category of Sacraments we can attend, and a category we cannot?
As I understand it, the Church's position is that Communion and Anointing of the Sick are a category of sacraments that the heterodox can attend and that Chrismation and the Eucharist are ones that they cannot attend. If you don't want to be Orthodox, you don't want chrismation.

But whereas those answers would normally be straightforward, he seems to consider "No" to be the right answer to some of them, since he next says: "If we are accepted in one sacrament, we cannot exclude another sacrament." So he is saying that we cannot exclude the heterodox from one sacrament, the Eucharist, since we have accepted them in another, marriage. In light of this clarification, his statement "my answer is that the communion in this family is already realized" implies that the sacrament of communion is realized in the marriage sacrament because of his rhetorical question that somehow we can't distinguish between the sacraments in the sense of allowing a person to have one sacrament (marriage) and not another (communion).

Later, in  Q&A in April, he said that he wanted to clarify what he said on the topic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veR4kioP920) In his clarification, he said that he had just been giving his own view on the topic, not setting the Church's rule.

It's true that in the text from the March publication in Greek News Online, he adds, "That’s my principle." So it could sound like he is just giving his own view. But then, he follows it by saying,
They already have received the sacrament of matrimony, so my direction to the priest is that we cannot exclude one Orthodox member from the Holy Communion.  You know I follow always the directions and the principles that our Lord Jesus Christ Gave us:  ‘Ο άνθρωπος δεν έγινε για το Σάββατο. Το Σάββατο έγινε για τον άνθρωπο.’[ie. Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."]
So he is saying that he gives instructions to the priests that we cannot exclude an "Orthodox member" from Communion, and by "Orthodox member", he apparently means the heterodox spouse, not the Orthodox spouse, because (A) the question and context is about whether the heterodox spouse can receive, not whether the already-Orthodox spouse can receive, and (B) he connects his instructions with the fact that they have already received the marriage sacrament, and (C) when he said in the preceding paragraph, "my answer is that the communion in this family is already realized”, he did not qualify this as a matter of just his own view, and (D) back in October he ambiguously told the Archdiocese Council that heterodox spouses could join the church or its community "100%" by marriage, saying: "Whether or not the spouse joins the Church in a formal way through Chrismation, they are still 100% part of our community, and should be embraced as such."
Plus, in the text of his L100 Q&A, he says that he always follows the directions that man was not made for the sabbath, which when applied in this context means that he puts man over religious rules, ie. against working on the Sabbath, or in this case, the rule against heterodox communing.
So what he was saying was not just his view on the topic, but also "the directions and the principles" that he follows, which the context leads one to believe entails communing heterodox spouses.
 

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Archbishop Elphidophoros explains his thoughts on Orthodox/Non_Orthodox marriage at the annual lecture below:

What should we do? What is the perimeter of oikonomia? Marriage is not a precondition for Holy Communion, but baptism and chrismation are. In the daily life of our communities and parishes, there is much to do to serve our ecumenical families, to be more aware of their needs and particularities. The Eucharist is only one aspect, an important one, but still only one response among many others that we should look into. The inclusion of the non-Orthodox spouse is a vital question for the spiritual well-being of the entire family that has been blessed by the blessing of the Church, welcoming all its members into a divine plan, the economy of salvation. In his famous book, Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective, Rev. John Meyendorff reminded us of the perspective and vocation of all marriages towards the Kingdom of God[17]. This idea is also present in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia[18]:
Source: The Future of Orthodox-Catholic Relations in the U.S.A
 

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The Holy Eucharist is the holiest thing we have.... If an Orthodox individual marries a baptized heterodox (as Church Law mandates the spouse be a baptized Christian)... then that non-Orthodox spouse who wishes to partake... should also convert.

If they realize the importance of the Eucharist and wish to benefit from it... then they must see the value of the Church, and wish to join it.

If they simply want Communion because their spouse and children are standing in line... leaving them behind in the pew alone... and they want to be included... then it is best they abstain... because partaking is a serious thing... to their salvation or condemnation.
 

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The mystery of Marriage in Church is as holy as picking the color of bride's maids' dresses.
 

youssef

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If she truly believe that is the body and the blood of the Christ I am not seeing where is the problem.
 

youssef

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“Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
You believe that is the body and blood of Christ. So who are you to refuse to give it to someone he is asking for it. Just because he is not in the same club that you are.
Maybe this person he live in the Christ and it will be just his problem if he take what he don't deserve.
Really I cannot see this kind a problems just as a problem of egoism.
 
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So, what would result from creating what is a loophole in participating in the Eucharist? If a non Orthodox spouse is Christian ( which i respect) but receives communion in the Orthodox Church, will the Orthodox spouse feel it is ok to commune elsewhere? Which Protestant group meets an increasingly vague criteria towards Holy Communion? What is the non Orthodox to think? A Trinitarian Pentecostal might be acceptable for communion but what about a non Trinitarian, “Oneness” Pentecostal ( they are not Arians ) but obviously not Trinitarian? Understandably, there are probably devotees within both Pentecostal groups who are probably unaware of their own differences ( as some Orthodox barely know the Creed ). One may feel slighted for being denied while another may not care less.

There are reasons for basic rules so everyone knows what is acceptable & not. No one is forbidden from becoming Orthodox, should be respected for most non Orthodox identities, and most know & accept the status quo. A recipe for chaos harms everyone.
 
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