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Question 132

I married a catholic in an Orthodox church. A few weeks later we went back and the priest refused to give her communion. Is that correct? Must you be baptised as a Greek Orthodox in order to receive communion?          

 

Answer to Question 132

 

There can only be one Church because the Church is the Body of Christ and Christ cannot be divided into hundreds and thousands of pieces. For this reason we cannot accept baptisms performed in other churches. Officially Roman Catholics, Anglicans and any other Christian are all unbaptized and cannot take part in any of the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church which are exclusively for her members only. But with mixed marriages the Church has found it necessary to use what in Greek we call “Economia”. This is an idiom of the Greek Church and there is no equivalent translation in English. What it means is that the Church economises on the strictness of the Canons, a dispensation, a concession or special consideration used for the good of someone’s salvation. If we use the opposite which is called “κατ’ ακρίβεια” then everyone who is not Orthodox cannot be married in the Orthodox Church because we do not recognize the Baptism they received in their own Church. With the “Economia” rule we turn a blind eye and accept the baptism of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and some other churches that confess the Holy Trinity making it possible for them to be married to an Orthodox in our Church. But that is all that is permitted. A Roman Catholic cannot receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. Andreas P. says his wife takes communion in the Orthodox Church. I’m sure the priest does not know that his wife is catholic because if he did he would deny her Communion. Of course if someone is not known to the priest he must be prepared to ask them if they are Orthodox, but sometimes it’s easier to assume that everyone coming for communion is Orthodox.