III. APPLICATION OF THE CANON

III. APPLICATION OF THE CANON

IT WAS previously stated at the beginning of this study that in the eighteenth century, Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council was interpreted in the context of a search for a solution to the problem concerning the reception of converts from the West (i.e. Europe), and especially Latins. There had already preceded a lengthy period of irresolution among the Orthodox over the issue.155  Patriarch Cyril V’s solution (1755) had not been accepted by all as the only prescribed and correct one.156  The question posed by both sides was whether the Second Ecumenical Council’s distinction of the heretics by economia could also be made in the case of the Latins. After all, this was the Canon (and also, of course, Canon XCV of Penthekte) on which those who had applied this solution in the past had relied. The difference we observe on this issue, however, was heightened by the disagreement among the Orthodox over the classification of the Latins: as heretics, or as schismatics.157  For obviously only those who considered Latins heretics were faced with the problem of applying Canon VII to them. Our writers belong to this group, and their relevant teaching we present below.

  1. Latins are “heretics” and “unbaptized”

Possessing a profound knowledge of the Church’s history after the schism and of the disagreement among the Orthodox regarding the characterization of the Latins as heretics or as schismatics, and also expressing their own theological self-awareness, our writers – in absolute agreement with one another and without the slightest doubt – consider the Latins (and by extension the Lutherocalvinists) to be heretics. The Latins “are heretics,” asserts St. Nikodemos; and “we abominate them as heretics, i.e. like Arians or Sabellians or Pneumatomachoi-Macedonians.”158  The aim of the saint’s direct reference to the early, major heretics is to show that the Latins are, as he says elsewhere, “age-old heretics,”159 i.e. in the same sense as those that appeared in the early undivided Church. To support his claim, he invokes the testimonies of Patriarch Dositheos, Elias Meniates, St. Mark of Ephesus, and others.

Neophytos expresses himself in the same manner regarding the Latins. “The Latins differ from Orthodoxy on five points. As regards the other [four] differences, they are schismatics. Only as regards the Spirit’s procession also from the Son are they heretics, together with the Lutherocalvinists who believe the same.”160 The heretical filioque dogma of the Latins161 was sufficient for them to be considered heretics; for, of course, they had not yet dogmatized the papal doctrines on primacy and infallibility. To the commonly advanced objection that there was only one essential Latin dogmatic difference, Neophytos responds that the same holds true for the Latins as did once for the Iconoclasts: “Inasmuch as they differed not from us as regards faith in God, they were not heretics, but schismatics. But since, by rejecting the venerable icons they also rejected Christ who was thereon portrayed, they were worse than heretics themselves.”162  Similarly, the one difference of the Latins, “pertaining directly to the faith in God,” is vital and decisive.163  Besides, heresy, being potent in character, is not judged by the number of deviations from the truth; for, according to the evangelical saying: “Whoever fails in one point has become guilty of all” (cf. Jas. 2:10). Every heresy indicates a prior alteration of the Church’s spiritual presuppositions, i.e. the mystico-niptic, patristic experience. This is the firm conviction of our writers as well.

The Latins are also considered heretics by Athanasios Parios164 and C. Oikonomos, because of the filioque innovation. According to Oikonomos, the Latins, “being heretics and not merely schismatics,”165 “heretically innovate in other matters, and particularly as regards the divine Creed.”166  Hence he also speaks about the “papist heresy,”167 thus intimating the contribution to the dogmatic differentiation of the West made by the papal institution as it developed in history.

To the question prevalent in our writers’ time: When were the Latins condemned as heretics by the Orthodox Church? Neophytos responds that “Councils have censured the Latin belief concerning God, it being a heretical dogma.” Thus, for Neophytos, the synodal condemnation of the filioque was simultaneously a condemnation of the Latins themselves, so that no other specific condemnation of them is deemed necessary. Among these Councils he lists the following: the Eighth Ecumenical Council presided over by Photios (879); the Council at which Michael Cerularios presided (1054); the Council presided over by Gregory II of Constantinople (1283-1289), “which cut off the Latins from the plenum of the Orthodox and disinherited them from God’s Church”; the Council of Sergius II of Constantinople (999-1019), who deleted the name of Sergius Pope of Rome from the diptychs of the Eastern Church; the Councils during the reigns of Emperors Alexios, John, and Manuel Comnenoi (11th-12th cen.); the Council of the three Patriarchs in the East after the Council of Florence (1482); and Local Councils in Russia, Moldovlachia, and elsewhere.168

On the basis of the above ecclesiological presuppositions, the Latins, as heretics, “are not capable of administering baptism, for they lost the grace to administer sacraments,” as St. Nikodemos observes.169 They have no baptism, according to Neophytos, for they lack “the sound confession of the Trinity”170  Thus, their baptism “deviates from the faith,” according to St. Basil,171 since, “by introducing pagan polyarchy into the monarchic Trinity, the Latins are godless,” and consequently “unbaptized.”172 However, they are also “unbaptized” in the literal sense, according to St. Nikodemos; for “they do not preserve the three immersions,” and thus do not have the Church’s baptism.173 Neophytos observes that, “since they are nowise immersed, i.e. baptized,” they are unbaptized.174 A. Parios reiterates the same.175

Oikonomos further adds that just as the slightest alteration in the sacrament of the holy Eucharist is condemned by the Church, in that it revokes the very sacrament; so likewise in baptism, even the slightest alteration cannot be tolerated.176 In the case of the Latins, though, innovation was not limited to the elimination of the immersions and emersions. But, in accordance with the secular, modernistic spirit prevalent in the West, it has gradually extended to other areas of the sacrament as well, so that their rite has departed even further from the Church’s one baptism.177 Hence, the one fundamental innovation gave rise to all the rest. The departure from Orthodox-patristic spirituality also brought on the differences in the dogmas. The dogmatic differences, therefore, are not to be looked at scholastically, but patristically and spiritually. 

  1. Latins are “in need of baptism”

So, the question arises: Given that the Latins are now heretics, can the Second Ecumenical Council’s  provisional distinction concerning Arians and Macedonians also be applied to them; and thus “by economia” can they be received by chrismation alone without being baptized? As we saw above, in interpreting Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, our writers understood that the Second Council accepted the baptisms of the aforesaid heretics because they preserved the form of the Apostolic baptism which the Church never abandoned, i.e. the three immersions, which is a “true baptism,” a βάπτισμα (tr. dipping) in the literal sense. So, the question is whether, given this stipulation, the Latin “baptism” can be accepted as “Apostolic baptism.”

The West maintained that their baptism in no way differed from the Apostolic baptism. Oikonomos, however, responds that “affusion” (i.e. pouring), and much less “aspersion” (i.e. sprinkling), cannot ever be considered baptism. The first is an “uncanonical innovation,”178 while the second is “unscriptural”179 and void of the character of the “proper and true baptism,”180 according to the holy Fathers.181  Of course, Oikonomos is not referring here to cases of “emergency” baptism, which even he does not rule out. These, however, are performed within the Church, in contrast to those who receive the “baptism” of whichever heresy and who thus receive death instead of life. What he has in mind here is what is done “without urgent necessity,”182 being a practice arbitrarily sanctioned in the West.183  This practice began with Pope Stephen I (253-257),184 and was dogmatized by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), in accordance with the spirit of the West to “canonize” and legalize every innovation. But in no way can this innovation be justified,185 being as it is a practice “odious to God,”186 for it destroys the sacrament’s God-ordered oneness.187

Furthermore, according to St. Nikodemos, the Latin baptism is “falsely so-called.”188 Oikonomos, in many pages, analyzes the meaning of “to baptize,” from a literary, patristic, and scriptural point of view, in order to show that no metaphorical use of the term is possible.189  To those who insist, however, that the Orthodox and Latin baptisms are identical, Oikonomos poses this question: “If Latin baptism is equivalent to ours, then why is it necessary to anoint them with divine chrism when they join us, as if they had not been chrismated at all? For the Latins have chrismation too. But if this is unacceptable for us (as are all other sacraments performed by them), then why not also their baptism by aspersion?”190

Our writers repeatedly found it necessary to refute the disserting view asserted not only by the Latins, but also by “their unsalaried defenders”191 (i.e. Latinizers within the Church), regarding the canonicity of their “baptism.” We shall, of course, concentrate on the more significant. These are an example of pure scholastic sophistry, but they acquaint us with the intellectual climate of the time, and help us to see the splendid theological weaponry of our theologians from their responses.

Thus, the view had been stated that, since even the most minute particle of the consecrated bread “is the whole body of Christ,” consequently, even “a drop” of sanctified water “has all the power of baptism.” Neophytos’ response is as follows: “The consecrated bread of the Eucharist, before communion, and in communion, and after communion, and simply even when no one communicates it, is nonetheless the body of Christ. Baptismal water, on the other hand, is and is called baptism not before the immersion, nor after the immersion, but only in the actual immersion, i.e. actual use; before and after, it is merely baptismal water, not baptism.” Moreover, at baptism we do not have a “drink,” but a “deluge”192 (according to St. Dionysios Areopagite: “complete covering”).193

In response to the argument that the Latin aspersion “contains sanctification and grace by virtue of the invocations of the Holy Trinity,” St. Nikodemos says that “baptism is not consummated by the invocations of the Trinity alone, but also necessarily requires the image of the Lord’s death and burial and resurrection.” Belief in the Holy Trinity, even when correct, must be supplemented by the “belief in the Messiah’s death.”194  The mere invocation of the Holy Trinity does not sanctify the procedural violation of the sacrament.195  Thus, according to St. Nikodemos, “since…the Latins are not planted together with Christ the dual-natured Seed in the baptismal water, then neither is their body fashioned by God, nor their soul; and simply speaking, they cannot burgeon salvation, but they wither and perish.”196  Neophytos comments that the Lord “ordained birth by water and spirit. But it is not she who sprinkles who gives birth, but she who is pregnant. Likewise, it is not the sprinkled fetus that is born, but the one that was carried in the womb.”197  The conclusion drawn from the above is given by Oikonomos as follows: “So, the Latin aspersion, being destitute of the immersions and emersions, is consequently also destitute of the image of the Lord’s three-day death and burial and resurrection…and destitute of all grace, and sanctification, and remission of sins.”198

Justified, of course, was the question: Why cannot “the same likeness of death” also be expressed through affusion or aspersion? Oikonomos’ answer centers around the following four points: 1) the Latin innovation is an “intentional” violation of the Lord’s commandment and the Church’s tradition; 2) it is contrary to the single and canonical Apostolic tradition; 3) it alters the meaning of “to baptize”; and 4) it is contrary “to the Apostolic likeness of the death, and the burial, and the resurrection of Christ, as this likeness was interpreted by all the divine Fathers.”199

Our writers flimsy the argument that chrismation remedies the “deficiency” with respect to the procedure of the Latin baptism. It does not follow, says Neophytos, that through chrismation the Latin baptism becomes “acceptable,” inasmuch as chrismation is distinct from baptism; it constitutes a separate sacrament, and makes the already baptized person a participant in Christ’s kingdom (cf. Canon XLVIII of Laodicae). One, therefore, who has not been canonically baptized and regenerated cannot become “a participant in Christ by mere chrismation,” since man’s regeneration is not accomplished through chrismation, but through baptism, which “also unites him with the likeness of Christ’s death” (cf. Rom. 6:5).200

Likewise very often stated was the argument of the so-called “clinical” baptism.201  In fact, it was upon this argument that the Council presided over by the Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos in 1932 based its renowned decision202 according to Anastasios Christophilopoulos, clinical baptism was administered by affusion. Even so, the Church always viewed with skepticism those persons who received such a baptism,203 and thus, if they recovered, they were deprived of the right to be ordained, for their baptism was considered imperfect.204 Of course, to the above sophism one could simply respond that the clinical baptism, in whatever way administered, took place not in heresy, but within the Church! In any event, Neophytos’ response to this argument is that this kind of baptism is contrary to the word of the Lord, who “did not also teach us to baptized by affusion.”205 Therefore, he adds, no matter how these people had been baptized, i.e. by affusion or by aspersion, if they survived, “they were no less [considered] in need of baptism.”206

Oikonomos offers a different, and therefore interesting, explanation: “When out of necessity they baptized such bed-ridden persons…they did not merely sprinkle them (in the Latin fashion), nor did they pour the hallowed water over their head, but thoroughly drenched their entire body (in Latin: perfundebant).”207 This kind of baptism would not be repeated, “but it was considered an imperfect seal.”208 So, according to him, clinical baptism cannot be admitted as an argument in favor of the Latin aspersion. For it was permitted “out of necessity, and partly,” and therefore “does not make it a law of the Church.”209 The Latin aspersion, on the other hand, is done “intentionally and without necessity.”210  Furthermore – and this is most essential – the Latin baptism is not a “drenching like clinical baptism, but a sprinkling, and it is administered by sprinkled priests devoid of priesthood and unbaptized.”211  But if we accept their aspersion, then we also have to accept the rest of their sacraments, which is impossible according to Apostolic Canon XLVI.212

Thus, our writers conclude that the Latin baptism “deviated both in practice and in faith.”213  Since it is administered in heresy, i.e. outside the Church, it is in itself without substance (Apostolic Canon XLVII). It cannot be accepted by economia when Latins convert,214 for it is imperfect, and is denounced by Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council as an unjustifiable innovation as regards the ritual. By the same Council, it is rejected together with the “single-immersion” baptism of the Eunomians, i.e. as being “inefficacious and ineffectual.”215

Moreover, by rejecting the Church’s tradition through this innovation of theirs, the Latins are, according to the Seventh Ecumenical Council (act viii), “anathematized.”216  Truly of the gravest import are the following questions posed by Oikonomos: 1) If there is a demand for the Latin aspersion to be accepted by economia, then why do not the Latins exercise some “economia” themselves, “and again resume what from the beginning was delivered to them from the Fathers and the Apostles, and abandon their innovations?”217 and he continues: 2) “If he who joins the Church in fact accepts all the dogmas and sacraments of the Orthodox faith wholeheartedly and genuinely, and anathematizes all his patrimonial erroneous beliefs, how then does he hold as correct the wrongdoing with regard to baptism (the foundation of the faith)?”218 and, 3) “If indeed the Church accepts the candidate’s written statement, in which he anathematizes all his patrimonial erroneous beliefs, how then can she herself accept the innovation with regard to his baptism, it being one of the erroneous beliefs he anathematized?”219

One hundred years and more after Oikonomos posed them, these questions received the following reply by the Second Vatican Council: “The sacrament of baptism may be performed by immersion or by affusion. Baptism by immersion is the more indicated form, as it signifies the death and the resurrection of Christ. In accordance with our prevailing custom, the sacrament of baptism will generally be performed by affusion”!…220

In light of what has been said above, it is easy to understand why our writers maintain that the Latins cannot be placed in the category of the Arians and Macedonians for the economia of the Second Ecumenical Council to be also applicable to them. For, “they are not at all immersed, i.e. baptized, but sprinkled,” according to Neophytos. If their aspersion counts as baptism, then “it is wholly necessary either to establish two baptisms, or having established the one, to reject that by trine immersion”221 On this point also, Oikonomos comments that “the Latins…limp…on both legs as regards the correct baptismal rite; in the other words, as regards the three emersions and immersions, which the sons of Arius and Macedonius genuinely performed according to the Apostolic tradition.”222  Moreover, according to A. Parios, the Latins are in a worse position than the very Eunomians, who at least preserved one immersion.223 As a consequence, according to Parios’ epigrammatic expression, “they who convert from the Latins must indisputably, indispensably, and necessarily be baptized.”224

Of course, the baptizing of the Latins does not mean that the dogma, “I confess one baptism,” is rejected. “No, not at all,” replies Oikonomos regarding this.225  “When the heretics are administered our rites,” says Neophytos, “they are not being rebaptized, but baptized.”226 For, as St. Nikodemos says, “their baptism belies its name.”227 therefore, “the Canons baptize those who had received a different [baptism] contrary to church law, and thus overturn not the one and only true baptism, but every alien and pseudonymous human invention.”228  Consequently, the (re)baptizing of the Latins does not have the meaning of simply making them members of the Church, but above all of accomplishing in them the regeneration that sprinkling is incapable of  imparting to them.  

  1. Explanation of the Orthodox Church’s action in dealing with the Latins

In confronting the arguments of the Latins and Latinizers of their time, our theologians also found it necessary to explain the Orthodox Church’s past action in dealing with the West. As we know, this action “was not single and uniform, but fluctuated between acrivia and economia,” since “this or that policy and action of the Church was usually determined by more general reasons and aims of greater benefit to her, or to avert any harm and danger threatening her.”229

According to the prevailing view, after the schism the Orthodox Church recognized “the validity of the Latin sacraments,”230 and indeed that of baptism. Upon their conversion, the Church applied Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council or XCV of Penthekte to them, or occasionally received them by a mere recantation of their foreign doctrines.231 Even after the Crusades and the Council of Ferrara/Florence (1438-1439), when the relations between Orthodox and Latins became strained, and the stance of the Orthodox East in dealing with the Latins became more austere,232 the East considered the application of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council to be an adequate measure of defense, that is she received them by chrismation and a written statement. This action was officially ratified by the Local Council of Constantinople in 1484, with the participation, moreover, of all the Patriarchs of the East. This Council also wrote an appropriate service.233 Thus, according to I. Karmiris (and also according to the arguments of the Latinizers and pro-westerners during the Turkish rule), the cases of “rebaptism” were exceptions, owing “to individual initiative,” and “not to an authoritative decision of the Church.”234

This custom, however, was overturned in 1755 under Cyril V, Patriarch of Constantinople, by the imposing of the (re)baptism of Latins and all Western converts in general,235 again through the application of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council and the other relevant Canons of the Church. This action, to this day the last “official” decision of the Orthodox Church,236 was opposed by those who disagreed. It was considered to have subverted the decision of the Council of 1484 because of its circumstantial character,237 not having gained universal acceptance and application, it was often not adhered to. In addition, the practice of the Russian Church from 1667 differed from that of the other Orthodox Patriarchates, and indeed that of Constantinople.238 This, then, is what is commonly accepted to this day concerning the issue in question.

Among our writers, Neophytos and C. Oikonomos deal with the history of the problem more extensively than the others. They begin by calling upon the testimony of those who reject the Latin “baptism.”239  Then they note the cases in which Latins were received by baptism, and likewise justify the cases (propounded by those who disagreed with them) wherein either the Latin “baptism” was overlooked as unimportant, or wherein the economia of the Second Ecumenical Council was exercised towards the Latins.240 Their teaching specifically can be summarized as follows.


  1. Until the Council of Florence

1) The Ecumenical Patriarch Michael Cerularius, in his epistle to Peter of Antioch, includes, together with the other Latin innovations, also their baptism “by one immersion.”241  According to Oikonomos, if this was not “declared to be a common crime of the entire Western Church,” and thus specific measures were not taken, it is due to the fact that this type of baptism was not yet universally prevalent in the West, but “usually the Apostolic baptism” was administered.242 It is significant, however, that the papal legate Humbert criticized the East for baptizing Latins.243

2) Likewise, the Lateran Council of 1215 “accused the Greeks…that they baptize the Latins who join their Church.” Since, however, according to Oikonomos, “the baptism by single immersion, or by affusion or aspersion, was sometimes performed by the West in some areas and only sporadically,… the Greeks baptized only those who had been baptized in this manner.” And that is what the testimony of this Council is referring to.244

3) Even the “highly renowned exegete of the sacred Canons, Theodore Valsamon,” affirms that “those baptized with one immersion are all to be baptized again,” having in mind the practice of his time (12th-13th cen.).245 True, a problem arises from his fifteenth reply, in which, explicitly referring to the Latins, he says: “Those of Latin descent should not be sanctified by the divine and immaculate mysteries [i.e. the Eucharist] at the hands of the priests,246 unless they first declare their decision to desist from the Latin dogmas and customs, and are, in accordance with the Canons, catechized and made equal to the Orthodox.” The problem, according to Oikonomos, lies in the fact that he did not expressly add, “and baptized.” The answer, according to him, is that the Latins had not yet universally accepted the “baptism by one immersion.”  Therefore, so that the one group not be confused with the other, “he used more general terms, saying, in accordance with the Canons,’ and the ‘equality’ of the converts with the Orthodox.”  “In saying Canons,” he means XCV of the Sixth Council and VII of the Second.247  And if Valsamon’s contemporaries, the pro-union Nikitas Mytilineos Archbishop of Thessaloniki, John of Kitros, and Demetrios Chromatinos Archbishop of Bulgaria, “say nothing about the baptism,” this was so because the Franks, already masters of Constantinople, “were raging against the Orthodox”; but also they had in mind the three immersions which the Latins as yet still officially preserved.248

4) During the reign of the pro-union emperor John Dukas (1206), according to an “unverifiable” opinion, “it was synodically voted only to anoint with chrism those who join the Church.” This, according to Oikonomos, is not curious, for “it was because of the current circumstances that such a decision was taken by a Local Council,” given that the “genuine baptism” still survived in the West.249 The uncertainty that prevailed in the East regarding the  form of the Western baptism made the Orthodox hesitant to make a definite decision, this uncertainty, among other things, is apparent in the following words of Matthew Vlastares (in 1335): “If in fact, as some say, they baptize by one immersion…”  The distance, therefore, but also the rupture in ecclesiastical communion, did not allow the Orthodox to have direct knowledge and to determine a specific position for dealing with the West.250

5) Someone anonymous,251 writing against the Latins during the reign of Manuel Paleologos (1391-1396), and basing himself on Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, remarks: “[The Canon] does not deem necessary the rebaptism of those who, equally as with us, were administered divine baptism by three immersions.” Oikonomos points out here: “The prevailing order in the Orthodox Church, in accordance to be sure with the canonical definition, considered that the Latins were at that time still being administered the salvific baptism equally as with us.” Besides, this work, he says, was written during a period of preparation for union talks,252 and thus it avoided all acuteness in expression.

6) One of the strongest arguments of those of the opposite mind, however, was that nothing was said about the Latin baptism at the Council of Florence (1439). If the Latin innovation constituted such a significant difference, why was it not included in the list of topics for discussion? Oikonomos responds that the Council limited itself to the “five” most fundamental dogmatic differences; that is, “the already legislated papal illegalities,”253 inasmuch as the innovation regarding baptism still had not yet become general practice in the West, nor been officially and synodally ratified, but continued to be an occasional, local custom.254  Neophytos adds that other differences too were not discussed at Florence, such as fasting on Saturdays, kneeling on Sundays, divorce of the clergy, eating of blood and strangled animals, etc., for other reasons, but also “because of the hurry to return.”255 But, again according to Neophytos, even if this Council had decided something regarding this problem, its decision would not be of any special significance, for “correct sacramental practice, like Orthodoxy itself, has its origin and institution and proof not from what was said or done in Florence, but from the Evangelists and the Apostolic and synodal Canons.” What is significant in this regard is primarily the practice of the early Church, rather than the current tradition, and indeed of those who participated in the Council of Florence. “For is it because we lack proofs dating back any earlier than Florence that we must pay attention to – I am loathe to say traitors of the faith – men of but yesterday.”256

Of those who participated in this Council, St. Mark of Ephesus of course is of especial importance. He is usually presented as an unshakable argument in favor of receiving Latins by economia. For, while absolutely Orthodox as regards the faith, yet in testifying “about the Orthodox Church’s universal practice,” he admits that “we chrismate those who come over to us from them (i.e. the Latins)…as being heretics”,257 that is, he affirms the way if economia. To this our writers respond as follows:

St. Mark and those around him, according to Neophytos, gave priority “to the faith issues.” They did not deal with the problem of baptism, for “the baptism issue was secondary.”  It is, however, significant that St. Mark does bluntly call the Latins “heretics,” and he does reject and “dauntlessly expose” the aspersion that was spreading among them, writing that “twofold are the baptisms” of the Greco-Latin Uniates.258  St. Mark explicitly includes the Latins, as heretics, in the group of early heretics mentioned in Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council. If he seems to affirm their reception by chrismation, i.e. in the manner prescribed for the Arians and Macedonians, this, according to Oikonomos, is due to the fact that up until the Council of Trent (16th cen.) – and even up until the eighteenth century – “the Apostolic form” of baptism also survived in the West. Thus, St. Mark went along with the reception of Latins by economia, 1) to avoid repetition of the one baptism due to indiscriminate zeal or ignorance; and 2) as a concession, in order to expedite the union. Thus, St. Mark applies Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council to the Latins in part, receiving them “as having kept the form of the Apostolic baptism.”259


  1. After Florence

1) Concerning the Council of Constantinople in 1450, called “the last in Hagia Sophia,”260 the argument was propounded that “this one also did not mention baptism,”261 in spite of the fact that it dealt with the Latin innovations which led to the schism. Indeed, here we have a very strong argument, and even Oikonomos is forced to admit that this is “most extraordinary.” His attempted critical analysis of the text leads to the conclusion that there is a “deletion of words” in the copying of the Acts of the Council.262 Neophytos, however, in his own peculiar manner, responds to the problem with the following counterargument: “Well, then, I suppose we should not even chrismate Latins, since the aforesaid Council did not mention chrism, i.e. chrismation. And not only that, but I suppose we should also ordain for money, since it somehow attempts to applaud this as well!” he continues, though, with the observation that, before this Council, St. Mark had already expressed his view concerning the Latin innovation in baptism and had disapproved of it, and that this constituted the “opinion on the Latin baptism” of those synodal Fathers as well.263

2) Nevertheless, the Council of Constantinople in 1484 creates the greatest difficulties for an acceptance of our theologian’s position on Latin baptism. This Council decided “only to anoint with chrism the Latins who come over to Orthodoxy,… after they submit a written statement of faith.”  In other words, it ranks them in the class of the Arians and Macedonians of the Second Ecumenical Council (Canon VII).264 Both the Kollyvades and Oikonomos, of course, are well aware of this, but they offer the following response.

According to Oikonomos, “since among the Orthodox there existed no formula concerning the reception of these (i.e. the Latins) by concession (inasmuch as from the beginning most preserved…the acrivia of the Ecumenical Councils), this Council ruled to imitate the followers of St. Mark,”265 and thus it took the above decision, again, inasmuch as in the West neither affusion nor aspersion had yet been synodally canonized.266  Yet how can we explain the fact that this synodal decision was not universally accepted in the East, if it was an official decision of the Orthodox Church? For, even after this Council, “neither did the Latin baptism seem acceptable…nor did [the Orthodox] think of the Latins as having priesthood, referring to the innovation regarding the rite which again had spread in many places.”267  Hence, despite the synodally given solution and the composition of a special service, “the East, aiming with conviction at the acrivia of the holy Ecumenical Councils,” in practice received Western converts by baptism, for they saw no benefit arising from the concession made by economia, but rather “harm…to the simpler and afflicted Orthodox.”268

Moreover, it was observed that the cunning of the Latins had increased. For in their proselytization, they took advantage of the willingness on the part of the Orthodox to make this concession, and interpreted it as proving that there really was no difference between Orthodox and Latin baptism. From that time, continues Oikonomos, “this custom [of baptizing converts] prevailed in the Great Church [i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarchate] and also in all the Patriarchates of the East to this day,” the synodal decision notwithstanding.269

Neophytos and the rest offer a more realistic interpretation on this issue. The reason for the lack of daring on the part of our people to call the Latins heretics after the fall of Constantinople and to condemn their “baptism” was, according to them, the fear arising from the situation that had developed in the East. They avoided this “from cowardice alone,” says Neophytos. And he cites the following testimony of George Scholarios: “For it is not ours, being in such a state of poverty and weakness, to use such epithets on a Church of such power…”  This was the first reason. However, Neophytos does not exclude the “hope of rectification” of the Latins, i.e. their conversion.270

St. Nikodemos responds in much the same way. In receiving the Latins by chrismation in accordance with the decision of 1484, the Church expressly declares that she considers them heretics.271 The early Canons were, therefore, not annulled, but “the Church wanted to use some big economia on the Latins, having that great and holy Second Ecumenical Council as an example to this end.”272  That is to say that the saint discerns in the fourth and fifteenth centuries a similarity of conditions and decisions. Thus, he continues, whereas in earlier times the East baptized the Latins, “later they used the chrism method,” i.e. the way of economia, “for it was not good, given the utter weakness of our nation, to further excite the fury of the Papacy.”  Besides, “much agitation” had been created among the Latins because of the pan-Orthodox rejection of the Council of Florence.273 And while the Orthodox East groaned under the yoke of slavery, “the Papacy was at its height, and had all the power of the kings of Europe in its hands, whereas our kingdom was breathing its last. Hence, if this economia had not been exercised, it was imminent that the Pope would have roused the Latin nations against the East.”274  In other words, both before the fall of the Ruling City (i.e. Constantinople), but more so after, the political situation demanded avoiding by all means the irritation of the West which was hostile towards Orthodoxy. So, it was political and not ecclesiastical criteria that took precedence. Therefore he concludes: “With economia passed, the Apostolic Canons should resume their place.”275 This means that in his time (18th cen.) the West was incapable of politically threatening the nation under Turkish rule, and thus there was no reason to fear the West.

Athanasios Parios also offers a similar response: “Those who propound the so-called synodal decree of 1484, which received Latin converts by chrismation, do not understand that the churchmen of that time were using economia, and that they thus formulated their decree because of the Papacy’s agitation and tyranny.”  He, too, observes: “Now the season of economia has passed…and the papal fury no longer has any power over us.”276

3) As it spread more and more, the innovation of the Latin baptism provoked reactions on the part of the Orthodox. This is apparent from the decision of a twenty-four bishop Council in the year 1600 in Constantinople, which decreed the reception of Latins by chrismation. This synodal formulation permits us, according to Oikonomos, to conclude that the East was in fact baptizing Latins. The decision of this Council can be explained “in two ways: for either it had in view the previously published earlier Definition (1484), without meddling with it any further,” for as long as trine immersion survived in the West, the fear existed of repeating the correct baptism a second time; or, for the sake of economia, “to mollify the West’s…brutal impulses and attacks,” and to attract them to Orthodoxy.277

4) The Council of Moscow in 1620-21 decided to baptize Western converts.278 However, the “great” Council of Moscow in 1666-67, in which the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch also participated, approved the decision of the 1484 Council of Constantinople, and thus rejected the (re)baptism of Western converts.

The decision of this Council is explained by Oikonomos as follows: a) the Council of Moscow wished to remain loyal to the Council of Constantinople; b) Czar Alexios “was forced by local circumstances” to side in favor of such a decision, because of the inroads of the “neighboring pro-Latin Poles and Lithuanians, and especially those among them who had become Uniates”; c) this Council in no way conflicted with that of 1621, for the first “voted in accordance with acrivia,” while this one “in accordance with concession.”  But “concession” was possible for the following reason. Among Russia’s “enemies” were Uniates who had received “the genuine baptism of the Church.” Hence, the Council “correctly combined acrivia with concession,” so that the baptism of the Uniates who became Orthodox not be repeated a second time, and so as to attract the Latins more easily, after the example of Mark of Ephesus; d) this concession was confined within Russia and was not practiced in the other Patriarchates, just as the decision of 1484 had also not taken a universal character.279

5) The Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheos, although he accepts the “concessive discernment” of Mark of Ephesus, is nevertheless in favor of baptizing the Latins, in accordance with acrivia.280

6) The reply in 1718 of Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias III to Czar Peter the Great, i.e. to receive Latins “by mere chrismation,” had in view only the situation in Russia, and the “internal peace of…that multi-ethnic realm of Orthodoxy.”281

7) Finally, the Council of Constantinople at which Cyril V presided in 1755 decided and imposed the baptism of Latins,282 the decision of 1484 notwithstanding. The Council’s Definition (known as the Oros), which was also signed by the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem, continues to be the Orthodox Church’s last official decision on the issue.283 Regarding its application during the eighteenth century, Neophytos notes: “Let me also point out, for the sake of the coming generation,” that, as regards the Latins, while Mark of Ephesus baptized “with reserve,” and “the bishop of Smyrna baptized openly,” Cyril V, on the other hand, ordered “all to be baptized.”  And after Cyril, the Ecumenical Patriarch Sophronios II (1774-1780), “in the Great Church publicly also baptizes the Armenians, the Arians, and the Nestorians together with the Latins who join the Church, and by own example has predisposed his people everywhere to do the same.”284 It is also known that the Ecumenical Patriarch Procopios (1785-1789) enforced the Oros even on the Uniates who converted in 1786.285

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