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Question 28.

Why is it allowed in Greece to get married or Christen a child outside the church in the church garden but it is not allowed in Cyprus? Is it not the same rules?      

 

Answer to Question 28.

 

During the Byzantine era ecclesiastical weddings were adjoined to the morning Divine Liturgy and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Proof of this is that the wedding service we have today follows the exact order of the Divine Liturgy. For practical reasons or more specifically because the church couldn’t give Holy Communion to a non-Orthodox the service was severed from the Divine Liturgy and became a separate service which could be performed at any time and instead of Holy Communion a common cup of wine was offered to the couple. This common cup is what people partake of at weddings even today and wrongly do many people think that they are partaking of the precious Body and Blood of our Lord. But having said this, the wedding service is still a sacrament and a sacred ceremony and so must be conducted in an Orthodox Church. This unfortunately pretty much rules out parks, hotels and romantic beach weddings that we see in films. In Cyprus, even having the wedding outside the church is generally not allowed even if the church is a small chapel and cannot accommodate the wedding party. We do have hotels that have small chapels and would be ideal if this was allowed because the church and venue would be in the same place. In Limassol our bishop would never give his blessing for such a wedding, but I have personally performed many weddings in English at a hotel chapel in the Paphos area, because the Bishop of Paphos gave his consent. The chapel is very small and so the services were performed immediately outside the chapel. So what I am saying is that it is not up to us priests where a wedding can take place. If someone wants to have an outdoor wedding then he should make an appointment with his bishop and try to get his consent, because only the bishop can make such a decision. This is what special circumstances mean. I haven’t been ask to perform a wedding at this chapel for at least four years so it is possible that the Bishop of Paphos has decided that no more weddings should take place there.  What has been said for weddings also applies to Baptisms. With the exceptions that baptisms can be performed in “living water” meaning a river, stream or the sea. These have been performed even on Mount Athos, but the candidates were adults. Such baptisms would be extremely unsuitable for babies.