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Regarding Orthodox

Ordination

in the U.S. Ethnic Orthodox Jurisdictions

General Information

On occasion it has been claimed that it is unorthodox to limit a bishops authority by requiring the synods approval, a mandate, to ordain anyone. Our local canons require this and it is in accordance with Orthodox canons and tradition.

The following information is taken from the official websites of the Church or their seminary named.

O.C.A.

Most of us do not recognize the OCA since they were established 43 years after we were Chartered. They believe they can take our place in North America. They are Orthodox no matter how we feel about them and they are one of the Orthodox Jurisdictions that we know that has a similar local canon that requires a synod mandate be issued for ordinations. Other ethnic Orthodox follow this same type canon.

We suggest you review the following from the OCA website regarding ordaining deacons and priests.

Within the Orthodox Church in America -- unless some extraordinary circumstance exists, all candidates for the priesthood are expected to complete the prescribed course of study at one of the OCA’s three seminaries. Graduation from an OCA seminary, however, does not guarantee ordination. Ordination is not the prerogative of a seminary administration but, rather, of the bishops of the Church.

From their website: The bishop shall ordain Orthodox seminary graduates to the Diaconate and Priesthood for his diocese. Candidates otherwise qualified "must receive the approval of the Holy Synod"; consideration ought to be given to the candidate's wishes as to time and place of ordination;

In exceptional cases the Holy Synod of Bishops may agree to permit the ordination of a man who has been prepared for the priesthood under other circumstances, but in general this option is applied only in the case of non-Orthodox clergy who have converted to Orthodoxy, have successfully completed a specialized course of study, and have passed the standard "late vocations" examination. Mature men who aspire to the permanent diaconate may study in specially designed courses for this purpose. It is made clear, however, that the course of study does not "replace" seminary training, does not guarantee eventual ordination to the diaconate, and does not lead to eventual ordination to the priesthood without further training, usually in a seminary. Again, there have been a few exceptions to the above.

St. Tikhon Seminary trains students not only for the OCA but for the Antiochian's, for saome oriential orthodox and occasionally for others. Graduation does not guarantee Ordination.

Antiochians

The Antiochians have a board of priests that is overseen by a bishop that reviews the credentials of candidates for ordination. They then forward their recommendation to Metr. Philip who has the final say in the matter.

I recall not long ago visiting the Antiochian website and reading their constitutional amendments where they now consider all bishops as Auxiliary or Coadjutor bishops to the Metropolitan. This limits their bishops actions I believe. I do not know exactly why this was done.

Greek Orthodox

The Deacons program does not meet the requirements for ordination to the priesthood nor is the program a first step in the process leading towards ordination to the priesthood. Individuals interested in pursuing ordination to the priesthood are encouraged to apply for admission to the full-time Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program at Holy Cross. Applicants should be aware that admission into and successful completion of the SPD is not a guarantee for ordination. It is understood that the Holy Synod will determine the final criteria for ordinations.

Serbian

In addition to formal studies they require an internship and a training parish, Post Internship Review, Faculty evaluation followed by their decision to support a student's application for ordination.

Other Orthodox

We have heard of Oral exams by bishops and priests boards prior to application. There is at least one group with the ability to allow a priest to be ordained prior to graduation by his bishop but we understand that also requires higher approval.

THEOCACNA

Has a local canon that requires a mandate from the synod be issued for all ordinations. This canon is supported by canon 34 of the 85c (in the Rudder) that states a bishop should do nothing with the advice, consent and approval of all (the synod).

No ordination performed without the required mandate shall be recognized by the Patriarch who by the Constitution has final say to approve and sign any act taken by the Synod.

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[More from the internet on the canons]

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!"

Canons

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."

Authority

In our case the authority of the presiding bishop of THEOCACNA was written by the Synod of Bishops in North America of the Russian Patriarchate for this newly Chartered American Jurisdiction when they drafted the Constitution for this Church in 1927 and appointed Aftimios as first Archbishop. Aftimios did not give himself this authority.

Basically the presiding bishop has final say regarding all acts of the synod - basically a veto. If the presiding bishop does not approve and sign the acts, decisions, judgments, etc of the synod they do not take effect. This is part of the original Church constitution written in 1927 for this Church by the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate who issued our Charter.

Years ago the Synod determined by local canon for the good of the church to extend the canon to mean "anyone" being considered for ordination into any office since they represent the whole church and not just one bishop. Anyone ordained is ordained for the Church and the synod has a right and need to know this person.

Final authority for all acts of the synod, and clergy, rests with the Archbishop President (Patriarch) based on the Church constitution dated 1927 and the 1998 act of the North American Holy Synod.

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Excerpt

The Second Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret

TO THEIR HOLINESSES AND THEIR BEATITUDES, THE PRIMATES OF THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCHES, THE MOST REVEREND METROPOLITANS, ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS.

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."

+ Metropolitan PHILARET