Synodal Statement regarding the
Faith and Discipline of the
Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church
A. We, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church, do hereby confess that it is the indisputable faith and most strictly required belief and teaching of the Church and all of our clergy and faithful:
1. Concerning the Church: That the Church of Christ, the Bride and Body of Christ, is One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic institution; a divinely created and governed living Organism existing visibly and invisibly in this world and through all ages; and that the Bridegroom and sole Head of Holy Church is Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ Himself; and that the Guide of Holy Church is the Holy Spirit, infallibly directing into all truth and preserving from all error; in sacramental union with which Holy Church alone is there assurance of salvation and life, and separation from which Holy Church is separation from the Visible Body of Christ. That Holy Church, first and foremost, is One, just as Christ is One, and cannot be divided by man, and, therefore, that the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church jurisdiction thereof is now and shall remain ecumenical; that is to say, We, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church, hold and consider all believing Christians to be within the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God and we do and shall treat all believing Christians, including those who are not Orthodox Catholic, as brothers and sisters in Christ and members of His Holy Church; and that this does not at all mean that we do not see any difference amongst the various denominations and confessions of Holy Church but, rather, that we see the members of those various bodies as varying in the extent of their receipt of the fullness of Orthodox Catholic Faith and Discipline, and that we reject the idea that any person who honestly believes the Good News of Jesus Christ and truly confesses Christ as Lord can or should be excluded from Holy Church.
2. Concerning Faith and Doctrine: That the Faith and Doctrine of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church are infallibly true, and are derived from or witnessed by the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as sources and witnesses of equal authority and weight, and are formulated, accepted, and determined by the infallibly inspired, directed, and governed life and consciousness of the Holy Church.
3. Concerning Morality: That the Morality which has, from the time of Christ our Lord, been taught within the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is a true manifestation of the Life in Christ according to the Law of God, and is derived from and required by the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, and is necessary for the holiness of the Church of Christ. That Christian Morality can not and must not be modified or diluted, from time to time, to appease or accommodate the ephemeral and often barbaric or decadent social values and customs of various societies, lands, and peoples. That Christian morality, not science, defines which behaviors are natural and which are unnatural. That Christians must not condone, much less adopt or accommodate, any of the fundamentally anti-Christian social-political agendas of these late, evil days, such as, but not limited to, those of: capitalists, communists, hedonists, isolationists, and activists of the culture of death for homicide in the forms of abortion, euthanasia, and war. That, with respect to the particularly egregious current moral issues of modern society:
Abortion is homicide in all cases. Human life begins at the moment of conception. Abortion for the sake of convenience is barbarous and wanton murder.
Homicides by euthanasia, war, and assisted suicide are all sins against God's commandment not to kill; the degree of suffering, the emotional and physical pain involved, any number of compelling circumstances, do not change the fact that we are forbidden to take a human life.
All behaviors, such as prejudice and pollution, which oppose Almighty God's Creation, which seek to destroy the natural relationship of earth and man in a family created according to God's plan - which behaviors also include gender-hating (misandry and misogyny), racial intolerance, and willful apathy - all such behaviors are sinful and are worthy of condemnation.
That, entirely consistent both with our condemnation of such immorality and with our Christian beliefs, while we condemn sin, we do not condemn sinners, rather, we confess before God Almighty and the entire family of man that we also are sinners and daily fall short of the holiness to which we all are called. That our hatred of sin does not obstruct our love of our neighbors, whom we love as ourselves in imitation of Christ, our Lord.
4. Concerning cumenical Councils: That General Church Councils, properly and lawfully called and convened, representing the whole Church, are canonical and rightful organs of the mind and voice of the Church; that the dogmatic decisions and definitions of such councils, when found by experience in the life and consciousness of the Church, to be conformable to and consonant with Her Spirit, and partake of Her truth in the Holy Spirit, become, by virtue of their acceptance and subsequent ratification, binding and obligatory on every member of the Church and truly cumenical in their character, force and authority; that the generally accepted decisions and definitions of the universally recognized Seven cumenical Councils of the first millennium of the Undivided Holy Church are of this binding and obligatory, infallible, and cumenical nature, truth, and authority.
5. Concerning the Three Ecumenical Orthodox and Catholic Creeds: That (i) the Symbol of the Faith of the Holy Apostles (that is, Symbolum Apostolorum, the Apostles' Creed). (ii) the Symbol of the Faith of the Three Hundred Eighteen Holy Fathers of Nicæa as ratified by the Council of Constantinople (that is, the Nicæan-Constantinopolitan Symbol, also called the Nicene Creed), and (iii) the Athanasian Creed ("Quicunque vult"), must be accepted without any ambiguity, evasions, or evasive interpretation, by every member of the Christian Church. That, by the use of the irregularly interpolated Filioque clause in the Nicæan-Constantinopolitan Symbol of the Faith, no deviation from the true Orthodox and Catholic doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit is taught or intended, but that the sole meaning that is taught or intended to be taught thereby is the safeguarding of the absolute and unmitigated equality and unity of the Three Persons (Hypostases) of the Holy Trinity in the Godhead.
i. The Apostles' Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit. The holy catholic Church, the communion of saints. The forgiveness of sins. The resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen."
ii. The Nicene Creed: "I believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God, of very God begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, and through Whom all things are made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and became incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became a man. And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, and Whose Kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]*, and together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and Who spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism, for the remission of sins. I look for the Resurrection of the dead. And life in the world to come. Amen." [* The Filioque insertion]
iii. The Athanasian Creed: "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith, except everyone do keep it whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father Uncreated, the Son Uncreated, and the Holy Spirit Uncreated. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Spirit Etneral and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
"So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there are Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
"So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Spirit, not Three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is before or after Another, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
"Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
"God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved."
6. Concerning Spiritual Authority and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction: That in no manner or sense is it possible to derive, directly or indirectly, spiritual authority or jurisdiction from civil governors, heads of state, or royal sovereigns, nor is it possible that the spiritual Headship of the Visible Church, or any part of it, should reside in, or be exercised, directly or indirectly, by any head of state or royal prince or sovereign, as such, but must inhere solely in, and be exercised only by, the ecclesiastically lawful and canonical Bishops and other proper spiritual authorities; that to admit or submit to any such lay, civil, or royal usurpation of authority, in ecclesiastical or dogmatic matters, is to fall away from the unity and authority of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; and that no civil assembly or parliament is able to define or establish formularies or standards of doctrine without the free action of the ecclesiastical assemblies of Bishops and clergy; and that to submit in matters of faith or doctrine to such lay civil coercion, direct or indirect, is to be separated from the faith and unity of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. That, completely without prejudice to, nor in contravention of, the freedom of Holy Church from lay civil control of faith and doctrine, the existence in any state of an Orthodox and Catholic monarchy or other form of government which patronizes, promotes, and protects Holy Church within its jurisdiction is a most salutary and God-pleasing arrangement worthy of commendation and of the gratitude and support of Holy Church and her flock.
7. Concerning the Sacraments (the Mysteria) in general: That regular and valid Sacraments of the Church, as means of Grace, are necessary, and are divinely instituted for the salvation of Christians; that such Sacraments are only certain within the Authority of the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; that these consist in the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, through the ministration of a validly ordained Priest or Bishop in and with the divinely instituted form, matter and ritual of the Church. That the number of Sacraments is seven, no more and no less, which are: (i) Baptism; (ii) Confirmation [Chrismation]; (iii) Holy Communion (Eucharist); (iv) Repentance (Penance, Absolution, Confession, Reconciliation); (v) Holy Orders (Ordination, Priesthood); (vi) Holy Matrimony (Marriage); and (vii) Holy Unction (Anointing the Sick for Healing).
8. Concerning Baptism and Confirmation [Chrismation]: That in the Sacrament of Baptism, the indelible Mystery of Christian initiation and Salvation, there is forgiveness of all sin, both ancestral sin (also called original sin) and personal sin, and also an infusion of renewing and revivifying divine Grace and Energy, moving the recipient to faith and all good works and giving the recipient a new life of grace, making the recipient a Christian, a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven. That Baptism is administered by immersion in water three times, or by the pouring of water three times, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; but is not administered by sprinkling. That the indispensable and necessary compliment of Baptism is the Sacrament of Confirmation [Chrismation], the confirming and sealing of Baptism for the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, administered by a Priest or Bishop in accordance with the tradition and orthopraxis of each jurisdiction of Holy Church; that Confirmation [Chrismation] is the indelible Mystery that confirms our faith and confers the Holy Spirit to the confirmant in a special way to enable him or her to live out the Christian faith, and through which the confirmant may receive all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and become a perfect Christian.
9. Concerning Holy Communion (Eucharist): That in the Holy Eucharist the Bread and Wine, when consecrated by the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the Priest, are changed into the true and real Body and Blood of Christ, Crucified and sacrificed, and are effectual for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, of both the living and the dead. That the terms "Body and Blood of Christ" are not taken or used in any metaphorical or figurative or typical sense, but actually and literally; that the sacrifice in the Eucharist is truly and really a sacramental sacrifice of Christ Himself on behalf of all men, and is not a mere service of "memorial" or of "praise and thanksgiving" only; that the Body and Blood of Christ is really and actually present after the Bread and Wine have been changed by the Holy Spirit in consecration and is not dependent on reception by communicants either in manner of reception or in character or nature of communicant; that the communicant receives the Body and Blood of Christ really, actually, and truly, and not merely spiritually, and is thereby united anew to Christ unto sanctification and eternal life; that the true sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist is effectual for the souls of the departed as well as for those present. That Holy Communion is administered by the Priest in the form of pure wheat bread and pure grape wine which have been changed into the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Mass / Divine Liturgy; and that for one to receive Holy Communion, one must be a Christian, must be in a state of grace, and must believe in the True Presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Christ in Holy Communion, for to receive without believing is a terrible sacrilege.
10. Concerning Repentance (Penance, Absolution, Confession, Reconciliation): That Repentance is the Mystery through which the sins we commit after Baptism are forgiven, through which we receive forgiveness of our sins from God by true contrition and the sincere repentance of sins through the acceptance of Christ, through Whom we are justified before God. That Repentance is necessary to the spiritual strength and life of a Christian, and to the proper reception of the Holy Eucharist. That the Sacrament of Repentance for an individual penitent (that is, auricular confession) consists of the penitent's true repentance for, and contrite oral confession of, his or her sins to a Priest-Confessor; and of the Priest's counsel and his prayer, and of his pronunciation of the absolution by God of the penitent's sins. That the Sacrament of Repentance may be administered liturgically for several penitents and then consists of the penitents' true repentance for, and contrite silent confession of, their sins to Almighty God before the Priest-Confessor; and of the Priest's prayer, and of his liturgical pronunciation of the absolution by God of the penitents' sins. That the Seal of the Confessional, that is, the binding law of the total and perpetual silence of the Priest-Confessor with respect to sins confessed to him in the Sacrament of Repentance, is absolute and without exception, and that any violation of this sacred law is a heinous betrayal of a sacred trust and shall necessitate the most severe amercement of the offending Priest.
11. Concerning Holy Orders (Ordination, Priesthood): That in the Sacrament of Holy Orders alone lies the authority for ministering all of the other Sacraments (Mysteria); that through Holy Orders, men receive the grace to perform the sacred sacerdotal (priestly) ministries of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; hence, that the office of Priest is primarily mediatory and sacrificial in character, and not merely one of teaching or preaching the Word. That Ordination may be carried out only by a Bishop, and is administered through the laying-on of the Bishop's hands. That, while there are many other ministers in the Church, the Mystery of Ordination is given only to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.
12. Concerning Holy Matrimony (Marriage): That the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the Mystery through which two Christians are united in lawful Marriage; the Mystery through which two are united by love with the express purpose of the formation of a family of two or more members, for mutual love and support. That Holy Matrimony is administered by the couple exchanging vows and rings, and by the Priest blessing the union of the couple.
13. Concerning Holy Unction (Anointing the Sick for Healing): That Holy Unction is the Mystery through which we obtain the grace of spiritual and physical healing; it is the Mystery to heal the infirmities of humanity. That Holy Unction is administered by the Priest's anointing with the Holy Oil of the Sick and by prayers of faith.
B. We hereby further declare, with respect to discipline and to relations with other religious bodies:
1. Concerning discipline: That teaching and holding of the faith according to the dogmatic definitions detailed above, is absolutely obligatory upon all of our clergy; and, that the teaching or holding of anything contrary thereto or inconsistent therewith, or the failure to teach or hold faithfully and literally without evasion or evasive interpretations, shall necessitate the most severe amercement of the offending parties.
2. Concerning Rites and Controversies: That we remember and follow the words of His All-Holiness, PHOTIUS, Patriarch of Constantinople (circa 800 A.D.), "In cases where the thing disregarded is not the faith, and is no falling away from any general and catholic decree, different rites and customs being observed among different people, a man who knows how to judge rightly would decide that neither do those who observe them act wrongly, nor do those who have not received them break the law." [PHOTIUS, Epist. iii, §6.] That we remember and follow the words of His All-Holiness, ANTHIMUS, Patriarch of Constantinople, "In saying this, we do not at all refer to the differences regarding the ritual of the sacred services and the hymns, or the sacred vestments, and the like, which matters, even though they still vary, as they did of old, do not in the least injure the substance and unity of the faith; but we refer to those essential differences which have reference to the divinely transmitted doctrines of the faith, and the divinely instituted canonical constitution of the administration of the Churches." [ANTHIMUS, 1895 A.D., The Reply of the Orthodox Church to Roman Catholic Overtures on Reunion, §5.] That the Undivided Church of Christ of the first millenium of the Christian era was One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic, and included within the Catholic fullness of Her Tradition the liturgies, rites, and usages of the ancient Churches of the West as well as of the ancient Churches of the East. That both the Eastern and the Western liturgies, rites, and usages are within true orthopraxis and that no authority within the Church has the right to eliminate the traditional uses of any particular Rite, nor should any berate, rebuke, or condemn any other for such uses, for to do so is to attack the Catholicity of Holy Church. That, with respect to matters of orthopraxis which, in the many centuries since the Seventh cumenical Council, have become controversial within Holy Church, and also with respect to any uses which became controversial within Holy Church because of the tragic separation of the Western and Eastern Patriarchates, the greatest Economy should be exercised until a genuinely cumenical Council resolves these matters by the action of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Church.
3. Concerning relations with other Religious Bodies: That in our efforts toward Godly Unity, we will consider matters relating to the holding and teaching of the faith and to discipline of any Church, Jurisdiction, Order, or Community that seeks union or sacramental intercommunion with the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church in the light of this statement.