Diocese of Etna and Portland, Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, Ἐκκλησία Γνησίων Ὀρθοδόξων Χριστιανῶν Ἑλλαδος (Ekklesia G.O.Ch. Hellados)

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Some years ago His Emi­nence, Metropoli­tan Chrysos­to­mos, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with his spi­ri­tual fa­ther at the time, the late and ever-me­mo­ra­ble Me­tro­po­li­tan Cyp­rian of Oro­pos and Phy­le, drew up a list of brief ge­ne­ral guide­lines for the con­duct of pa­rish life in tra­di­tio­nal Or­tho­dox pa­ri­shes in this coun­try. I would like to adopt them as Guide­lines for the clergy and faith­ful of our dio­cese. Some cler­gy and faith­ful may look at these guide­lines as though they were mere “rules” and “laws.” They are not. As the in­tro­duc­tory note be­low, writ­ten by Me­tro­po­li­tan Chry­sos­tom­os, sug­gests, they are of­fered in a spirit of free­dom and should be read through the prism of love for the pre­ser­va­tion of tra­di­tion wi­thin that spi­rit. They also as­sume, as al­ways, the spi­rit of oikonomia, by which what is sa­lu­tary in ge­ne­ral can be made harm­ful in spe­ci­fic ca­ses, if one acts out­side con­cerns for the weak, for those still young in the Faith, and for those whose cir­cum­stances call for spe­cial con­si­de­ra­tion. How­ever, if they are read with these ca­veats in mind, I think that they can, as many have told us, serve to pro­vide a ge­ne­ral over­view of our dio­cese and the prin­ci­ples at which we aim and the spi­rit that guides us.

† Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland

An introductory note. These guide­lines should be read in the spirit of the freedom af­for­ded by the Church and which pre­vails in the spi­rit of the Church Fa­thers. They are rules and guide­lines to which a prac­ti­cing Chris­tian is at­tra­cted, which dis­tin­guish Gen­uine Or­tho­dox Chris­tians from the in­no­va­tors, and which bring be­lievers the se­cu­rity and firm­ness of faith that are re­flec­ted in or­der and in love. Where love pre­vails, rules be­come be­lo­ved guides. And where guide­lines are ob­served with fi­de­li­ty to the Faith, love is en­gen­dered and the Faith is spread by our good ex­ample. The en­force­ment of all Church guide­lines must, of course, en­tail af­fe­ction, mild cor­re­ction, a spi­rit of tea­ching, and the goal of en­su­ring the pro­per pra­ctice of the Faith. If at times cor­re­ctive action of a stern kind must be ta­ken, this should be done only with the goal of cha­sti­sement, cor­re­ction, and hea­ling, and not in­hum­ane, cold pu­nish­ment, in mind.

I. Clergy are asked to fol­low the Canons of the Church with re­gard to dress. Dea­cons and Pres­by­ters must wear their rasa (cas­socks) in Church, on the streets, and at home. Cle­ri­cal dress is not “Church dress”; it is the “uni­form” of the ser­vants of the ser­vants of God and a di­vine ar­mor against that which is not ac­cording to our spi­ri­tual na­ture. These ranks of clergy should al­so have un­cut hair and beards. Mar­ried clergy se­cu­lar­ly em­ployed may slight­ly trim their beards, as re­quired by em­ploy­ers. Hair may be tied in back in the Greek style or worn under the col­lar. If the rason can­not be worn during work hours, it must be worn im­me­diately be­fore and af­ter. Those who vio­late these guide­lines wi­thout rea­son are sub­ject to su­spen­sion, since it is the cler­gy who set an ex­ample for the faith­ful, in abi­ding by tra­di­tion.
It is also whol­ly ap­pro­pri­ate that the so-cal­led “lower clergy” (Sub­dea­cons, Chan­ters, and Rea­ders) have some fa­cial hair (at least a mous­tache) and wear their cas­socks (the outside cassock, in Greek tra­di­tion) when in Church and on Church grounds. This custom is un­for­tu­nate­ly often ig­nored to­day.

II. Converts will be re­ceived by Bap­tism with full three­fold im­mer­sion and gi­ven Or­tho­dox names, drawn from the Ca­len­dar of Saints, that should be used at all times. Re­quests for re­cep­tion by eco­no­my, in in­stan­ces of ge­nuine need, must be sub­mit­ted to the local Bi­shop or to the Holy Sy­nod for con­si­de­ra­tion.

III. Cler­gy and faith­ful alike should ob­serve a fast on all Wed­nes­days and Fri­days, as well as du­ring all ap­poin­ted len­ten pe­riods, from meat, fish, dai­ry pro­ducts, wine, and olive oil, ex­cept dur­ing fast-free pe­ri­ods or days when fish, wine, or oil are per­mit­ted. Couples are ex­pec­ted to ref­rain from ma­ri­tal re­la­tions du­ring fas­ting pe­riods. Mo­nas­tics are re­quired to re­frain from ea­ting meat at all times and to main­tain the ad­di­tio­nal Mon­day fast, un­less other­wise in­struc­ted by a phy­si­cian for health rea­sons. The re­cep­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion should also be pre­ce­ded by a pe­riod of fas­ting and by con­fes­sion, ac­cording to the rules set by one’s spi­ri­tual Fa­ther, who, in turn, must be en­rolled in our Syn­od's list of ac­tive cler­gy, or, in spe­cial cir­cum­stances, the anal­o­gous list of one of our Sis­ter Church­es. The in­firm, those un­able to fast, preg­nant wo­men, and very young chil­dren may be ex­emp­ted from fasts as di­rec­ted by a faith­ful phy­si­cian and as bles­sed by their spi­ri­tual Fa­ther. Those who choose in­de­pen­dent­ly not to fast are, by the Holy Ca­nons, sub­­ject to ex­clu­sion from Ho­ly Com­munion.

IV. Men and wo­men should dress well but mo­dest­ly both in Church and in dai­ly life. Men should avoid tight clo­thing and, af­ter the age of ma­tur­ity, try to main­tain at least a mous­tache. Wo­men should, in kee­ping with ol­der tra­di­tions, try to avoid wea­ring pants, ex­ces­sive make-up, and ex­ces­sive cut­ting or sty­ling of the hair. Mo­dest, dig­ni­fied, and at­tra­ctive modes of dress, not fa­shion­able, ob­scene, and “sho­wy” styles, should guide a so­ber Chris­tian in these mat­ters. Wo­men should also co­ver their heads in Church, as St. Paul sug­gests. None­the­less, those who do not choose to fol­low these guide­lines should in no way be sub­ject to de­ri­sion or ex­clu­sion from Church acti­vi­ties or trea­ted in a rude or im­pro­per man­ner. Such is also whol­ly in­ap­pro­priate.

V. Churches should be de­signed in a tra­di­tional man­ner (ac­cording to the na­tio­nal cus­tom pre­fer­red). While a few simple ben­ches or taste­ful chairs (pre­fe­rably tra­di­tional sta­si­dia) may be placed on the pe­ri­phery of the Church so that the aged or in­firm may sit, it should not have pews or rows of chairs. Not only do such wes­tern in­no­va­tions im­pede the ma­king of pro­stra­tions, which are a ne­ces­sary part of Or­tho­dox wor­ship, but stan­ding is the an­cient and tra­di­tio­nal norm in Or­tho­dox wor­ship, wo­men to the left, as one en­ters, men on the right (all but the young­est chil­dren should be se­pa­ra­ted by gen­der, as well, and at a young age should be taught to at­tend to the ser­vices qui­et­ly and be­have ap­pro­pri­ate­ly). No or­gans or other mu­si­cal ins­tru­ments are al­lowed in wor­ship. Chur­ches should al­ways have a Tem­plon (Icono­stasis or Icon screen), as well. So-cal­led “Wes­tern rite” Li­tur­gies are di­sal­lowed as vio­la­tions of the li­tur­gi­cal un­ity and tra­di­tio­nal ethos of Or­tho­dox ob­ser­vance. Li­tur­gy should be pre­ce­ded by the pre­pa­ra­tory ser­vices (Ves­pers, Ma­tins, etc.). Ser­vi­ces should also be in the lang­uage of the ma­jo­ri­ty of the mis­sion or pa­rish or, if pos­sible, chanted in more than one lang­uage, so as to ac­com­modate all na­tio­nal groups. Wor­ship will fol­low the Or­tho­dox Church (Ju­lian or “Old”) Calendar.

VI. Dio­cesan cler­gy and pa­rish bo­dies (Pa­rish Coun­cil, Board of Di­rec­tors, etc.) may not charge for any of the Mys­te­ries (the cor­rect Or­tho­dox word for “Sa­cra­ments”) of­fered by the Church. This in­cludes, but is not li­mi­ted to, Bap­tism, Mar­riage, Holy Com­mu­nion, Con­fes­sion, Fu­ne­rals, a Sup­pli­ca­tory Ser­vice (Pa­ra­klesis, Mo­lie­ben), or Com­me­mo­ra­tions. Faith­ful may, of course, make vo­lun­tary do­na­tions to clergy in ap­pre­cia­tion for their ser­vi­ces. Many of our clergy serve without sa­la­ries, and such free-will of­fe­rings help them to sup­port their fam­ilies. This should be done out­side the con­text of the ser­vice, how­ever, and the poor man’s mite con­si­dered as va­lu­able as the rich man’s abun­dant gifts.

VII. I ask all cler­gy and faith­ful to main­tain cor­dial and res­pec­tful Chris­tian re­la­tions with those of non-Or­tho­dox con­fes­sions. Ho­we­ver, the Holy Ca­nons of our Church pro­hi­bit ecu­me­ni­cal joint services or prayer and com­mu­nion with non-Or­tho­dox.

VIII. Clergy and faithful should re­frain from av­ai­ling them­selves of Mys­te­ries of­fered in ju­ris­dic­tions with which the Church of the Ge­nuine Or­tho­dox Chris­tians of Greece does not main­tain Com­mu­nion. This rule em­pha­si­zes the na­ture of our re­sis­tance ag­ainst the in­no­va­tions em­braced by some Or­tho­dox Chur­ches, the in­volve­ment of others in the ex­ces­ses of po­li­ti­cal ecu­men­ism, the me­nace of va­gan­tism in the name of tra­di­tion, and the dis­un­ity which all de­via­tions from the Holy Ca­nons (which are de­signed to unite Or­tho­dox in the Truth and in Holy Tra­di­tion) in­tro­duce into the Church.

IX. Clergy com­ing to our jur­is­dic­tion from ca­no­ni­cal Or­tho­dox jur­is­dic­tions should apply for a ca­no­ni­cal re­lease from their for­mer jur­is­dic­tions, as the Ca­nons di­rect. If they are re­fused a re­lease, the mat­ter will then be sub­mit­ted to the Holy Sy­nod. In any event, the re­cep­tion of cler­gy from other jur­is­dic­tions must in all ca­ses be ap­proved by the Sy­nod of Bi­shops. Cler­gy im­pro­perly re­ceived into mo­der­nist jur­is­dic­tions or im­pro­perly or­dained must pre­sent their in­div­idual ca­ses be­fore the Holy Sy­nod for scru­ti­ny and fi­nal re­solution.

X. Dio­cesan clergy, while en­cour­aged to in­vite po­lite in­ter­ac­tion with our Or­tho­dox bro­thers, may not con­ce­le­brate or par­ti­ci­pate in ser­vi­ces with New Ca­len­darists or in­no­va­tors. Con­ce­le­bra­tion is only al­lowed with clergy with whom our Synod main­tains Com­mu­nion.

XI. It is paramount that our pla­ces of wor­ship be kept clean and or­der­ly, that they be adorned in tra­di­tio­nal man­ner, and that even the poo­rest mis­sions and pa­ri­shes sa­cri­fice to build mo­dest but at­trac­tive Chur­ches, which are a tri­bute to God and to our Or­tho­dox Faith.

XII. Aside from these re­la­tively for­mal rules, a most im­por­tant over­ri­ding prin­ciple go­ver­ning the spi­rit of our dio­cese is that of com­mu­ni­ca­tion: as long as a cler­gy­man and his flock main­tain good con­tact with their Bi­shop—es­pe­cial­ly when they have to deal with prob­le­ma­tic cir­cum­stan­ces—a spi­rit of mu­tual re­spect, con­ci­lia­rity, and fruit­ful col­la­bor­ation is pres­erved. As Ab­ba Do­ro­theos (fl. 6th century) once wise­ly ob­served, there is no sin that does not be­gin with self-re­liance. Hence, if the guide­lines that main­tain order among us are im­por­tant, the per­so­nal con­tacts and af­fec­tion bet­ween us are es­sen­tial to the very main­ten­ance of our Faith and un­ity. The spi­rit of keep­ing the Bi­shop dis­tant, or of the Bi­shop re­mai­ning dis­tant from his flock, is a spi­rit un­known to Or­tho­do­xy. It should not be cul­ti­va­ted on the ba­sis of oc­ca­sional state­ments by mon­as­tics and her­mits of­fered not so much as pres­crip­tive words, but as a chas­tise­ment to Shep­herds who for­get their sta­tus of ser­vi­tude before the ser­vants of God. A dio­cese is a fa­mi­ly and the ties between its mem­bers sa­cred.

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Standards of Etiquette for
the Public Use of the
Internet by Clergy*

In the con­tem­po­rary era, dom­i­nat­ed as it is by In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­o­gy (ICT), uti­liza­tion of the In­ter­net by cler­gy has the po­ten­tial for serv­ing as an ex­treme­ly use­ful pas­toral tool. This, how­ev­er, pre­sup­pos­es that use of the “elec­tron­ic pul­pit” will be as cir­cum­spect and care­ful as that of the ac­tu­al pul­pit. Hence, the Holy Syn­od of the Church of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Chris­tians of Greece has de­cid­ed to pre­scribe stan­dards of eti­quette for the pub­lic use of the In­ter­net by cler­gy.

We de­fine as “pub­lic use of the In­ter­net” any use of ICT in which in­for­ma­tion is com­mu­ni­cat­ed to more than ten re­cip­i­ents. Thus, un­der this cat­e­go­ry fall web­sites, blogs, and so­cial me­dia main­tained by cler­gy, and the send­ing of elec­tron­ic mes­sages to mul­ti­ple (more than ten) re­cip­i­ents, etc.

In their elec­tron­ic pub­li­ca­tions:

1. Cler­gy are not per­mit­ted in any way to em­ploy in­de­cent or vul­gar ex­pres­sions.

2. Like­wise, in no way are they per­mit­ted to use ob­scene in­nu­en­does or to in­dulge in pub­lish­ing third-par­ty doc­u­ments, pho­tographs, or videos of ob­scene con­tent.

3. By the same to­ken, they are not per­mit­ted to in­volve them­selves in po­lit­i­cal is­sues, by tak­ing pub­lic stands for or against po­lit­i­cal fig­ures. They may, how­ev­er, com­ment on spe­cif­ic ac­tions or words of politi­cians from an ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal stand­point. This must be done through com­pe­tent and the­o­log­i­cal­ly sub­stan­ti­at­ed ar­ti­cles that they them­selves have writ­ten and not by reprint­ing the po­lit­i­cal opin­ions of oth­ers or by com­ment­ing on such ar­ti­cles on oth­er web­sites.

All cler­gy ought al­ways to bear in mind that they have been called to of­fer a good wit­ness at all times and to set an ex­am­ple for the laity. For this rea­son, they must act in a man­ner con­so­nant with their vo­ca­tion by us­ing the In­ter­net pri­mar­i­ly for the ser­vice of a good wit­ness and con­fes­sion.

Any cler­gy who vi­o­late the afore­said stan­dards will be di­rect­ed in the first in­stance to re­frain from us­ing the In­ter­net. All who per­sist will be sub­ject to canon­i­cal penal­ties.

Fur­ther and more de­tailed clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the fore­go­ing rests with the lo­cal Hier­ar­chs.

* Translated from the Greek original.