Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is intercommunion a reality?

Many have written in regards to the massive issue of intercommunion, since Bulgakov introduced it in 1933 at a conference held by the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. He claimed that the Anglicans and Orthodox (within the Fellowship) who were in agreement on major doctrinal issues should ask their respective Bishops to sanction their communion at each other’s altars. The Episcopal blessing given to those who were ready to take part in this action would signify repentance for the sin of division and the desire for divine assistance in repairing the breach between East and West.  However, the issue of intercommunion has a canonical side; therefore no alteration can proceed without the blessing and approval of the canonical authority, i.e. the Church. 

Since then many have supported this view, such as Nicolas Zernov, and many have fought against Bulgakov and his belief on this matter, such as Fr. George Florovski. Nevertheless does intercommunion exist today? Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia explains in his book ‘The Orthodox Church’ (London, Penguin Books, 1997), p. 311, what currently happens:
“Virtually all Orthodox Churches permit what is termed ‘economic’ intercommunion, whereby non-Orthodox Christians, when cut off from the ministrations of their own Church, may be allowed – with special permission – to receive communion from an Orthodox priest. But does the reverse hold true? Can isolated Orthodox, with no parish of their own near at hand – and this is frequently the situation in the west – approach non-Orthodox for communion? Most Orthodox authorities answer: no, this is not possible. But in fact it happens, in some instances with the tacit or even explicit blessing of an Orthodox bishop. There is also the question of mixed marriages, a human situation in which separation before the altar is bound to be particularly wounding: here again some measure of intercommunion across the Church boundaries is occasionally permitted, although by no means regularly so. The great majority of Orthodox insist, however, that despite flexibility in special cases the basic principle still holds good: unity in faith should precede communion in the sacraments”.


  1. Please inform us what the icon accompanying this article is. Thank you.
    May the heresies and separations of Christians cease.

  2. The icon depicts the Divine Liturgy. On one side Jesus is giving the bread (body) on the other the wine (blood). This icon is to be found, normally, within the sanctuary!