Canoanele si Dreptul canonic · The 32nd Canon of Quinisext Synod as an authentic interpretation of mike – 5 May 0 · Drept penal bisericesc. , –, –; Floca, Drept canonic ortodox, vol. II, p. .. Milaş, N., , Dreptul bisericesc oriental, Bucureşti, Tipografia „Gutenberg”. Milaş, N., 24 N. Milaş: Dreptul bisericesc oriental, p. 25 I.N. Floca: Drept canonic orthodox. Legislaţie şi administraţie bisericească. Vol. II. Bucureşti , p.

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The principle of ecclesiastical autocephaly and the problems of inter-orthodox jurisdiction. An actual ecclesiological and canonical contribution Ph.

Lecturer Iulian Mihai L. Iorga, Bloc A 53, Sc. Autocephaly, autonomy, ethnic principle, jurisdiction, inter-orthodox relations, Diaspora In the latest decades, in the bosom of ecumenical Orthodoxy were carried numerous discussions on the institution of autocephaly, as form of organization of the orthodox ecclesiastical territorial units [1]as well as the procedure of their constitution and this despite the canonical regulations and the traditional practice of the Church.

Although there were — and still are — numerous dissension regarding the institution of autocephaly and the ecclesiastical jurisdictions, all canonists accept that the interpretation of the canons that concern the principle of autocephaly and the other principles in tight connection it can be realized only in the light of the historical data, data which must also be related to the orthodox canonical doctrine [2].

As the Romanian orthodox canonist Fr. Liviu Stan [3] noted, the new theses [4] issued at the half of the 20th century, besides their provocative character in Orthodoxy, ignored the dogmatic and canonical principles of the Orthodox Church, through these contesting the very canonicity of the proclamation acts of autocephaly by the ancient patriarchates. These theses, unfortunately embraced nowadays too in the Greek orthodox world, were supporting the exclusive competence of authority of the ecumenical synod to proclaim the autocephaly of the ecclesiastical territorial units, all the post-synodal i.

Supporting the idea of canonical incompleteness of the post-synodal autocephalies and the necessity of presenting them for examination to a future Ecumenical Synod, it is questioned not only the concept of canonicity but also the canonicity in the inter-orthodox relations, afer the era of ecumenical synods.

These positions of Prof. All these non-canonical theses legitimately claim the clarification of inter-orthodox jurisdictional relations, the precise distinction between autocephaly and autonomy, as well as the procedure of recognition and proclamation of the autocephaly of local Churches, independently constituted from the administrative-jurisdictional point of view, on a synodal-hierarchical basis.

In this study we will evaluate ecclesiological-canonical and historical the canonical doctrine of the Orthodox Church, regarding the autocephaly, the manner of the constitution, on canonical bases, of the local autocephalous Churches, the problem of proclaiming the autocephaly and of the autocephalous Churches jurisdiction over their own ecclesiastical units in Diaspora, emphasizing the contribution of Romanian theologians and canonists in the inter-orthodox dialogue towards the canonical problems of great actuality.

Although present in the life of the Church — the rights of the autocephalous local Churches being mentioned in the text of numerous canons of the Ecumenical and local Synods — the term of autocephaly does not appear in any canon. Truly, one canon, previous to the era of Ecumenical and local Synods canons, included the two words which the term of autocephaly was born from autoz and kejalhthat is the 34th Apostolic canon.

In consequence, the term autokejaloz autokejalon – used in biology acquires a new meaning, unknown by the profane speaking, which the social sciences used the term autonomia for, understood as the personal independence, the social independence or the sovereignty under juridical aspect. Thus, the word autocephaly continues to appear in the lists of the seats from the canonical territory of the historical patriarchates, although they were modified in time.

Besides the list of Saint Epiphanius and its subsequent versions, the term of autocephaly is mentioned by numerous writers in documents or official acts.

After the 14th century, as Fr. Liviu Stan mentions, the term of autocephaly is used in nomocanonical collections or in historical acts, patriarchal or synodal [11]. The fact that until the 19th century the word autocephaly was rarely used is due to the use of different expressions that expressed the same content or to the use of the term autonomy and of other terms synonym to the one of autocephaly.

The two terms, autocephaly and autonomy, were equally used, as synonyms, because both of them express the rapport of independence of the Churches from de similar ecclesiastical organizations in ecumenical orthodoxy [12]although there are differentiations, as we will see below. In consequence, we specify here that the right of each Church to independence or autocephaly was consecrated by ecclesiastical practice transformed in time into a juridical regulation, then in a custom with law power that was mentioned in the text of the different canons.

A historical-canonical view The specificity of the Orthodox Church, both towards de Roman-Catholic Church and towards the Protestantism is the organization of ecclesiastical-territorial units on the ground of the principles of autocephaly and autonomy, i. Despite these, as far back as from the apostolic age until the 2nd — 3rd centuries, the local Churches were ruled in an autocephalous manner by the bishops [14]subsequently the leadership of ecclesiastical units passing to the local, provincial synods 34th37th apost.

Thus, although the term of autocephaly does not appear in canons, not being used in the first centuries, the autocephaly manifested itself through time in different manners [16]. The Holy Apostles, being conscious of dreptt unique and unrepeatable authority received from Savior Jesus Christ, enjoying universal jurisdiction by virtue of the extraordinary grace of apostolacy, preached the Gospel of bjsericesc Savior Jesus Christ as far as the ends of the world Mt These local communities, headed by bishops, administrated themselves independently one from another, although all the bishops governed the whole Church in communion, without enjoying universal jurisdiction, but only a local one, hence limited to the boundaries of their diocese [17].

The bishop, being ordained for the local community, becomes a testimony of the faith of his local community, being integrated in the Episcopal college and therefore he becomes the testimony of the entire apostolic teaching and tradition [18]as the theologian W.

Drept canonic

The ordination of the bishop does not mean dependency or subordination of the one who ordains, but placing the Episcopal seat at disposal towards the service of the local Church which the bishop was ordained for [19]. Liviu Stan shows, standard autocephalous units [20]. To this autocephalous ecclesiastical setup it is given an expression, it is canonically settled, in the text of the 34th apostolic canon, which includes the principle of autocephaly, too, being, in the 5th century, interpreted through the 8th canon of the 3rd ecumenical Synod Ephesus, and rediscovered in the canonical resolutions of the 4th ecumenical Synod Chalcedon, The next step of the ecclesiastical setup meant the apparition, in the 4th century, of the autocephalous metropolitanates 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th cans.


I ec; 2nd, 3rd cans. This kind of evolution of the setup and administrative working of the ecclesiastical territorial units was marked by changes regarding the canonical statute of these local communities. The bishoprics, which were initially autocephalous, kept only the autonomy of one of another, together forming the autocephalous metropolitanates, which later were going to become autonomous, too, in the bosom of exarchates and the in the patriarchates 9th, 12th, 17th, 28th cans.

However, like some exarchates or diocese, some metropolitanates kept their autocephaly, too, either as metropolitanates or as archbishoprics [21] ; we could mention here the Metropolitanate of Tomis [22] or the Archbishopric of Cyprus, which has remained autocephalous until nowadays 8th can.

Other ecclesiastical semi-autocephalous units, called autocephalous archbishoprics, became more and more numerous since 4th-5th centuries. Therefore, the 34th apostolic canon the beginning of the 4th century includes the canonical principles of organization and working of the Church, two of them being the ethnic principle and the autocephaly. Through the application of these principles it was possible to keep the orthodox canonical unity, this ecclesiastical unity receiving its expression even since the apostolic era [23].

Thus, the autocephaly of local Churches, formed in the ethnic framework, is mentioned by the 34th apostolic canon, as we affirmed, its dispositions being taken over by other canons too, these ones showing the criteria for the establishment of the identity of a Church: The constitution of local autocephalous Churches in the ethnic framework is based on some grounds that can be natural, historical, doctrinal, dogmatic and canonical, as it is specified in Fr. Ecclesiastical legislation and administration [25] Drept canonic ortodox.

The Romanian canonist appreciates that the natural grounds consist in the necessity to model the ecclesiastical units according to the same natural laws that are used by all human communities, for their leading and organization. We find the historical ground for the constitution of the autocephalies in the ecclesiastical history and tradition, the whole ecclesiastical regulation being settled as customary law and then found in the text of the canons, precisely on the long practice basis.

The dogmatic grounds have their source in the harmony between the organizational regulations of the ecclesiastical units and the truths of faith, mentioning here the two canonical principles with dogmatic and juridical background, the synodal principle and the hierarchical one.

The canonical grounds are included in the canons that mention the constitution of autocephalous Churches in the apostolic era 34th, 35th, 37th apost. III ec; 9th, 12th, 17th, 28th can.

IV ec; 8th, 36th, 38th can VI ec. Ant; 3rd, 6th Sard. Besides these grounds there can be added some political grounds, i. The canonical regulations concerning the organization of an autocephalous Church were established in time, by ecclesiastical practice, being the true expression of the canonical and dogmatic principle established in canons, firstly in the text of the apostolic canons and subsequently through the authentic interpretation of these by the ecumenical and local synods in their canonical work.

These regulations were accepted through consensus Ecclesiae dispersae, showing here, briefly, some of the aspects of the necessary conditions for the canonical constitution of the autocephalous Churches: The autocephaly of the ecclesiastical territorial units must be legitimately requested by its hierarchs, who can form a local synod at least four bishops who could ordain the bishops of their local Churcheswithout producing schism or heresy, but in complete obedience to the superior hierarchy.

The Church must prove the stability in the right faith and it must keep unaltered the canonical and liturgical regulations of the Orthodox Church; 2. The autocephaly must be canonically conferred, i.

Iulian Mihai L. CONSTANTINESCU: The principle of ecclesiastical autocephaly

Another regulation is the canonical recognition of the autocephaly [27]being necessary the recognition and acceptance in the orthodox communion of the autocephalous Church by all the autocephalous Churches; it is also necessary the agreement of the state on whose territory the autocephalous Church is constituted. Therefore, the autocephaly is not requested in random conditions, but the constitution of an autocephalous Church must fulfill certain conditions, mentioned above.

To obtain the autocephaly, the autocephalous Churches can interfere, having in the same time the right not to recognize some autocephalies, more than that they can interfere to withdraw the autocephaly, if there are not fulfilled all the conditions.

The proclamation of autocephaly by the mother-Church means, in fact, the execution of this act in the name of the Ecumenical Church, by exercising the authority that the whole Church possesses solidarily [28]. The consequence of proclaiming the autocephaly is the obtaining of rights by the Church recognized as autocephalous [29]. Thus, the autocephalous form of organization of the Church is a traditional form in the bosom of ecumenical Orthodoxy, asserting itself as the fundamental canonical-juridical institution.

We have to mention that this traditional form of organization and working of the Church is not essential, that is it can be missing from the life of the Church, existing numerous possibilities to create new forms of ecclesiastical organization by adopting the forms corresponding to its mission. In the constitution of autocephalies there will be taken into account, besides the ethnic principle that must not be putted in doubt, other realities, too, as the geographical and political framework of the national or multi national state.

This term was not used in history, but is recent, although it refers to ecclesiological realities present even since the apostolic era. Thus, the apostolic Canons forbid the trespassing of the ecclesiastical boundaries by bishops and clergy, being combated the practice of bishops and priests who left their dioceses and went to officiate services in other ecclesiastical units 14th apost.


The same manner, the bishops are not allowed to ordain outside their diocese 35th apost. We may say that the notion of canonical territory at the level of the Episcopalian Churches appeared in the times of the Holy Apostles and developed in the ecclesiastical practice from the 2nd and the 3rd centuries and later, through the apparition of new forms of ecclesiastical organization. We will mention below some actual aspects regarding the canonical territories of the autocephalous Churches and the application of this notion to the jurisdictions.

The ethnic principle — a divine and canonical fundament of the autocephaly and of the jurisdictional right over the own Diaspora.

As the Romanian canonist Prof. Iorgu Ivan affirms, the family constitutes the ground of every nation and the language of every nation is a distinctive sign and a means of externalizing the religiosity, being a divine regulation that every nation to have its own language [31].

Not to respect the specificity of each nation, of its language and traditions is truly a trespassing of the divine regulation.

Drept canonic – OrthodoxWiki

All these are easier to understand by considering the divine Revelation of the Old and the New Testament.

The ethnic link is a canonical principle of organization of the Church, as Lord Jesus Christ founded the Church for all people, endowing it with principles of organization and bisericesv. The principles of ecclesiastical organization and leading, together with the spiritual means at the disposal of the Church for the fulfillment of its existential purpose, were going to ensure, fooca time, the unity of the Church, with all the diversity of nations and languages of those who were becoming subjects of law in the Church, through the administration of the Holy Sacrament of Baptism.

The divine authority of flica principles established by the Holy Apostles in organizing and governing the Church cannot be put in doubt. These principles were settled in the text of the canons, relevant in this sense being the 34th apostolic canon, which, besides other organizing and working principles of the Church e. Considering the development of the ecclesiastical organization and its adaptation to the administrative organization of the state, we note that the Fathers of the Ecumenical synods affirmed the equality and independence of the greater autocephalous ecclesiastical units, without enjoying jurisdictional rights one towards another.

In the same time, they strengthened the indispensability of the ethnic element in organizing an autocephalous Church, as a divine regulation. The ethnic principle was invoked by Churches to obtain their independence srept foreign jurisdictions — the case of Georgian or Russian Church; the Ecumenical Patriarchy itself quoted the text of the 34th apostolic canon at the recognition of the autocephaly of the Russian Church Later, this term was misinterpreted by the Greek historians and ddept, exactly to justify their illegitimate pretentions of the Ecumenical Patriarchy on the jurisdiction of the entire Diaspora [33].

Despite these, the ethnic link is a ground of the right and obligation of every autocephalous Church to organize and guide the religious life of its own Diasporas, in order to keep the ancient orthodox faith, as well as in order benefit in Diaspora from the spiritual content shared by bisericesd Church with its sons in the respective national state.

Even since the bisericec of Christianity the Diaspora kept a tight relation with the bishop in whose community drpet had received the baptism, this way having the complete sentiment of being in permanent spiritual communion with the members of bksericesc community they had left and with the entire Church. This fact is expressed by the 2nd canon from the II Ecumenical Synod, which establish that all the Diasporas outside the Roman Empire to be governed by the bishops who had the respective area under their jurisdiction, before being occupied by the barbarians.

A century later, the Fathers of the fourth Ecumenical Synod from Chalcedonthrough the 28th canon, a controversial one [34]unaccepted by the Roman-Catholic Church bisericcesc long debated in the ecumenical Orthodoxy, recognized the jurisdiction of the Constantinopolitan seat over the dioceses of Asia, Pontus and Thrace. This sort of exception, adopted because of political reasons, could be considered, as Prof.

Iorgu Ivan affirms, as a confirmation of the old custom at which referred the 6th can. The heads of the autocephalous Churches enjoyed equal bisericeesc, non-existing the confusion between the jurisdictional rights and the honorific primacy. This fact is highlighted by the great canonist of the 13th century, Joannes Zonaras who, interpreting the 17th can. In consequence, the metropolitans found under the jurisdiction of the other historical Patriarchies are not under his authority.

In fact, even the Constantinopolitan seat recognized in the Tomos of autocephaly, on the ground of the 34th apostolic canon [36]that bisericesx Churches organized in an ethnic framework, Churches that had been by then under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, now are independent and with their own administration, due to attainment of the autocephaly.

In consequence, the Patriarchy of Constantinople itself, with all its privileges recognized by the ecumenical synods 3rd can. Any pretention of an autocephalous Church to have jurisdiction over other autocephalous Churches or over their Diasporas was against the teaching of the Holy Bible and the canons of the Orthodox Church.

The 34th apostolic canon expresses in a positive manner the importance of the ethnic principle as a fundament of the ecclesiastical organization and of the exercise of jurisdiction over the own Diaspora [39]. The filetism is regarded by these theologians, supporters of the Constantinopolitan seat, as a nationalist principle applied in biseeicesc ecclesiastical area, ignoring in the same time the word of our Saviour, addressed to His disciples before His Ascension: The greek canonist, Fr.

Grigorios Fkoca maintain that those who support the ethnic principles make a confusion between Church and Bisricesc [45]assimilating the Church to the Nation, non crept accepted the jurisdiction over an ethnic group and in conclusion bisricesc jurisdictions, but an universal jurisdiction, the one of the Ecumenical Patriarchy. We respond here to the Greek theologian through the words of an authoritarian voice of the Orthodoxy from the 20th century, the greatest orthodox dogmatist of his time, Fr.