promise to come over to the Orthodox faith".
And it is worth noting that this Canon confirms theabove mentioned 31st Canon of Laodicea, namely that conversion to Christianity is a prerequisite for the celebration of a marriage.The fullest and most explicit directive of the Church over this issue, however, is the 72nd Canonof the Quinisext Ecumenical Council in Trullo (692). This particular Canon not only spoke aboutimpediments of mixed marriages, but it also prescribed the sanctions to be applied against thosewho would transgress the rules of the Church. This Canon reads as follows:
"An Orthodox man is not permitted to marry a heretical woman, nor an Orthodox woman to wed a heretical man. And if anything or this sort should appear to have been done by anyone at all,the marriage is to be considered null, and the unlawful wedlock is to be dissolved. For it behooves not to mingle together the things that ought not to be mingled, nor it is right that thewolf be joined with the sheep, nor the lot of sinners with the portion of Christ («
», namely the Church). But if anyone shall transgress what we have decreed, let him beexcommunicated".
This rigid canonical measure continued in the post-Byzantine period, and until the beginnings of the 19th century. Thus, a decree of Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem in 1706, ruled that
"fromnow on, any woman marrying an Armenian, should not be allowed to enter the Church, and should be deprived of Holy Communion, as well as of proper Orthodox burial “
Onecentury later, in 1806, the Ethno-martyr Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V, with an encyclicalletter, instructed diocesan Bishops
"not to issue marriage licences to those Orthodox intending tomarry a heterodox or a heretic"
In spite Patriarch Gregory V of this rather rigorous stand of the Church in relation to mixedmarriages, however, we ascertain a tendency to tolerate such marriages. For example, as early as1782, during the pontificate of Ecumenical Patriarch Gabriel IV, the Church allowed by
Orthodox migrants in India to marry Armenian and Papist (sic) women and virgins, because of the total absence of homogeno
us ( ὁμογενήν ) women in this country, on condition
that both the marriage and the baptism of future children would be performed by an Orthodox priest (3). It is quite interesting to note that this measure was taken in order to prevent the"perdition" of these men, in case they consorted with prostitutes and other disrespectful women.With time we see that the strict application of the Canons regarding mixed marriages is no longer observed and that the Church appears more relaxed and tolerant in such cases, having a tendencyto apply " oikonomia ". This new tendency is even validated by a decree issued by theEcumenical Patriarchate in 1887. With this decree the Patriarchate granted to Diocesan Bishopsthe freedom to judge with discernment and pastoral wisdom the emerging cases, and bless suchmarriages in a "non-scandalizing manner" (4). By this last term meaning that such marriagesought to be celebrated in a way that would not hurt the religious feelings of the wider community.It goes without saying that the leniency observed during the second half of the 19th century over this issue, paved the way for the
abolishment of the centuries old rules forbidding thecelebration of marriages between Orthodox and heterodox. And no doubt this new ecclesiastical