What is "canonical"?

The essence of being canonical constitutes following the teachings of Jesus Christ:

(a) in the dogmatic proclamations of the Seven Oecumenical Councils;

(b) in a diocese or church body being in communion (whether formally or not) with all jurisdictions or branches which have remained faithful to the Orthodox Christian way of life in both teaching and practice;

(c) in the bishops having a legitimate Orthodox Apostolic Succession and Tradition. This means that Apostolic succession is always rooted in Apostolic tradition, not a mere independent laying on of hands.

In all due respect, being part of a particular branch or Synod obviously does not make one canonical. This is especially crucial, as certain parts of Orthodoxy in modern times seem to have changed the Orthodox understanding of ‘canonical’ into a new version of papacy. Their definition of ‘canonical’ is focused on being recognized, for instance, by the Patriarch of Constantinople (as if he were some sort of Eastern pope), whereas there is no such rule in the entire Canon Law (PEDALION ["Rudder"]). They appear to have adopted the corrupted Ecclesiology of Roman Catholicism by making legitimacy or canonicity dependant upon recognition by a particular Patriarch or Pope. This "neo-papal" concept has no historical precedent in Holy Orthodoxy and contradicts centuries of Orthodox tradition back to the times of the Holy Apostles. It is as if by being in communion with a particular segment of Orthodoxy, whether Patriarchal or not, somehow would make one Orthodox.

Seeking worldly recognition in the eyes of men and a corrupted society by merely understanding the administrative, legal unity of the church instead of the true unity, which only can exist in the authentic Orthodox way of life, is spiritually detrimental, utterly false and not at all Orthodox. The forming of self-styled organizations in mutual recognition with the purpose of denouncing others as being not canonical or in proclaiming themselves as the only legitimate ones, constitutes the grave sin of "condemning one’s brother and sister" (St. Ephraim).

What is our call in this situation? - In order to remain canonical, we cannot join in such unholy endeavors. Living the Orthodox way of life must be most important to us. Engaging in assaults on others is contrary to the holy faith and most sinful. Let us continue to live as true Orthodox Christians who obey the Gospel commands as we invite those "of good will" (Luke 2:14) to join us. Once the worldly-minded through the grace of God will understand what ‘being canonical’ really means - then the truth shall be revealed: Where faith, doctrine and practice prevail, there is Orthodoxy. Where faith, doctrine and practice are compromised, canonicity, catholicity and Orthodoxy are absent despite any claims of communion or sort of recognition that may exist through artificial means.