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It would be the height of hypocrisy on the part of bishops, who at their consecration had vowed to unfailingly observe the Canons, to shamelessly defy them in practice to the great amazement of the rest of the faithful!"


This law of the Church, her canonical tradition, is an outgrowth of the holy canons; and it appears on the surface to have much in common with secular law, involving persons invested with authority (bishops), as well as the means of creating, formulating, "interpreting", executing, validating, amending and revoking laws (through synods or conciliar actions).

Church and Secular Law

The apparent similarity of the Church's law to secular law led some to contest the integrity of the former. Yet without it, it is clear, there would be many varied problems besetting the Church. In the last analysis, the Church's law exists to safeguard particular interests from the arbitrary intervention of superior interests. It should not be understood as subjecting a person to subservience, but as guaranteeing his freedom.

Because of the absence of a universal codification binding upon all autocephalous or self-governing Orthodox Churches, great importance is attached to the local legislation of each of these Churches. Canon 39 of the Quinisext Synod or the Synod of Trullo, held in 691, recognized the right of a local Church to have its own special laws or regulations: "For our God-bearing fathers also declared that the customs of each church should be preserved."



The Second Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret


The People of the Lord residing in his Diocese are entrusted to the Bishop, and he will be required to give account of their souls according to the 39th Apostolic Canon. The 34th Apostolic Canon orders that a Bishop may do "those things only which concern his own Diocese and the territories belonging to it."

It could not escape the sensitive consciences of many sons of the Church that within the calendar reform, the foundation is already laid for a revision of the entire order of Orthodox Church life which has been blessed by the Tradition of many centuries and confirmed by the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. Already at that Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1923 at Constantinople, the questions of the second marriage of clergy as well as other matters were raised. And recently, the Greek Archbishop of North and South America, Iakovos, made a statement in favor of a married episcopate (The Hellenic Chronicle, December 23, 1971).

May our Lord help each of us to preserve the Truth in the purity in which it was entrusted to us undefiled, and to nurture our flocks in its fidelity and piety.

+ Metropolitan PHILARET