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Economia and Pastoral Guidance
by Bishop Athenagoras (Peckstadt) of Sinope[1]
International Congress
Catholic University of Leuven (18-20 April 2005)

The question is often asked what the Orthodox position is on marriage. The answer to
this question should be sought in the Orthodox teaching on the mystery or the
sacrament of marriage. We also know that the Roman Catholic Church considers
marriage as a sacrament. There is however a very important difference which should be
clarified here. In the first place, the Roman Catholic Church holds that the bride and
bridegroom execute the marriage themselves, in their vows to each other. In the
Orthodox Church it is the priest or the bishop who consecrates the marriage, who calls
upon God in the name of the community, and asks that the Holy Spirit be sent down
(epiclesis) on the man and woman and in this way make them into one flesh. In
addition marriage is for the Orthodox Church rather a spiritual path, a seeking after
God, the mystery of oneness and love, the preparatory portrayal of the Kingdom of
God, than a necessity for reproduction.


Marriage is a mystery or sacrament that has been instituted with Gods blessing during
creation. The chosen people saw it then as a mystery that had its beginnings at the
divine creation. This is confirmed by Christ who says: But at the beginning of creation
God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and two will become one flesh. (Mark 10, 6-8).
According to the Holy Scriptures marriage is built on:

1. the distinction, at the first creation of man, between man and woman (Also God
created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and
female he created them, Gen. 1:27)
2. the creation of the woman out of Adams rib (Gen 2:21-24);
3. the blessing of God on the first created with the words: be fruitful and increase
in number (Gen. 1:27-28).

These three elements make marriage a spiritual praxis par excellence, not only due to
the simple covenant between two people, but especially due to the fact that it is an
expression of Gods will. The natural covenant of marriage becomes as it were also a
divine covenant, hence also its fully mystical character which the church emphasizes.
The principal and therefore the most essential element of marriage is the joining of each
person with one single person of the opposite sex. This element of one single person in
marriage is maintained even after the fall of the first created creatures in the Old
Testament, although this may not always have been adhered to in practise.[3] This
element of marriage assumes a resemblance to the relationship between God and the
chosen people. This element of one single person in marriage is confirmed by Christs
teaching on marriage.
Paul is the first to understand the essence of Christs teaching on marriage and its
sanctity. He describes it as a great mystery in Christ and in the Church (Eph. 5, 32)
The definition in Christ and in the Church means, according to Paul, that the spiritual
bond of love, of commitment, and of the reciprocal submission of the partners which
is the bond of their complete oneness only exists when it conforms to the love of
Christ for His Church (Eph. 5, 22-33). The relationship of the partners that grows out of
marriage is, in other words, so essential, so intense and so spiritual, as the existing
relationship between Christ and the Church.[4] The oneness of the Church as
community of the baptised with Christ, and its maintenance, takes place through the
sacrament of the Divine Eucharist. This is the centre of all the sacraments and puts
mankind in an eschatological perspective. In this way marriage also transfigures the
oneness of man and wife into a new reality, namely, seen in the perspective of life in
Christ.[5] This is why the apostle Paul does not hesitate to call this decisive step in
human existence mystery (or sacrament) in the image of Christ and His Church.
This is the only reason why a truly Christian marriage can be unique, because it is a
Mystery of Gods Kingdom, that introduces mankind to eternal joy and eternal love.[6]
This oneness brought about with the sacrament of marriage is no one-sided action
of the Church. Man is not called after all to participate passively in the grace of God,
but as Gods co-worker. And even when man becomes a co-worker, he remains subject
to the weakness and sinfulness of human existence.
In this light even reproduction (1 Tim. 2, 15) is seen as mans co-operation with creation.
The mystery or sacrament of marriage becomes immediately related to the mystery of
life, of the birth of human souls, of immortality and of their death.


Here it becomes evident that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church
differ in their understanding of the purpose of marriage. In orthodox theological
thinking this is firstly the reciprocal love, the relationship and the help between the
marriage partners with view to their completion in Christ. Only subsequently comes the
restraining of their sexual passion[7] and the reproduction of the human race.[8] It is
remarkable that in the New Testament we find no reference relating marriage to
reproduction. In the Roman Catholic Church it is evident that the ultimate purpose of

marriage is procreation or reproduction. To see reproduction as the principal purpose

of marriage is a narrow perspective on the conjugal life of man and wife. What value
does sexual intercourse have between man and wife in the case of sterility or after the
menopause, or if the wife is medically unable to have any more children? It is certain
that the married couple have precedence above the family, however praiseworthy the
purpose of family is.[9] The story of the establishing of marriage is found in the second
chapter of the book Genesis, which deals with the fact that a man will leave his father
and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen. 2, 24),
without mention of reproduction. The Holy John Chrysostom refers to this: There are
two reasons for which marriage was established to cause the man to be satisfied with
one single wife and to give him children, but it is the first which is the most importantAs
for reproduction, marriage does not necessarily include thisthe proof is to be found in
the many marriages for which having children is not possible. This is why the primary
reason for marriage is to regulate the sexual life, especially now that the human race has
already populated the whole world". [10]


The Church Fathers say it characteristically: Where Christ is, there is the Church,
which demonstrates that the marriage relationship has a church character. This is why
Paul speaks of the church that meets at their house Rom. 16, 5) and John Chrysostom
of the small Church.[11] At Cana in Galilee Jesus revealed his glory (John 2, 11) in
the womb of a house church. Paul Evdokimov suggests, this marriage, as it were, is
the marriage of the bridal couple with Christ. He is the one who leads and according to
the Church Fathers does so in all Christian marriages".[12] The reciprocal love of man
and wife is a communal love for God. Every moment of their lives becomes a glorifying
of God. John Chrysostom says it this way: Marriage is a mystical icon of the Church.


We have already said that marriage in its purest form is a natural order according to
divine intention. It is the basis of the family, which is the community where mans
noblest feelings are able to develop. Marriage is in its essence a holy institution and its
holiness has been sealed through the Church, which views marriage as a divine
institution and mystery.[14] It is not therefore the agreement and free will of the
marriage partners that establishes the marriage, but it is the grace of God in particular
which is essential, and this is given through the approval of the Church, in the person of
the bishop.[15]
Doctrine regarding the indissolubility of marriage is based on its holiness. The holiness
and indissolubility of marriage exalt monogamy. References are often made to the Old
Testament in this regard (Mal. 2, 14).
But as mystery or sacrament the Christian marriage is undoubtedly confronted with the
fallen state of mankind. It is presented as the unachievable ideal. But there is a

distinct difference between a sacrament and an ideal, for the first is an experience
involving not only man, but one in which he acts in communion with God, in this he
becomes a partner of the Holy Spirit while remaining human with his weaknesses and
The theory of the indissolubility of marriage has a strong pedagogical significance. The
motivation Christ gives is a command. Those who commit themselves to the covenant of
marriage should do all they can not to separate, as they have God to thank for their
oneness. But the additional motivation: Therefore what God has joined together, let man
not separate. (Mark 10, 9; Math. 19, 6) does not signify a magical adherence. In every
mystery or sacrament, excluding baptism, the exertion of mans free will is required.
The not separate is a divine request, as is do not kill. But man is free and can
dissolve his marriage and kill his fellow man. In both cases he commits grievous sin.[17]
The Church has been faithful throughout the centuries to the principle referred to by
Paul, that a second marriage is an aberration of the Christian statute. In this sense the
orthodox doctrine confirms not only the indissolubility of marriage, but also its
uniqueness. Every true marriage can be uniquely the only one.

The problem of divorce is a very delicate question as it often touches on a painful
human reality.
The tradition of the Church of the first centuries which continues to have authority
for the Orthodox Church put the emphasis very strongly on two related points:

1. the uniqueness of the authentic Christian marriage,

2. the permanence of married conjugal life.

We may recall here the analogy that Paul makes between the unity of Christ and his
Church and that of the bride and bridegroom. This analogy that is as it were at the root
of the mystery assumes the real and continuing unity of the married couple, which
therefore totally excludes a simultaneous polygamy and views one single marriage as the
Divorce does not heal the diseased marriage but kills it. It is not a positive action or
intervention. It is about dissolving the mini-Church that has been formed through the
marriage relationship.[18] The Holy Scripture attributes divorce to the callousness of
man.[19] This is seen as a fall and sin. And yet the Orthodox Church can however
permit divorce and remarriage on the grounds of interpretation of what the Lord says
in Matt. 19:9: I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital
unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. According to Bishop
Kallistos Ware divorce is an action of economia and expression of compassion of the

Church toward sinful man. Since Christ, according to the Matthaean account, allowed
an exception to His general ruling about the indissolubility of marriage, the Orthodox
Church also is willing to allow an exception.[20]
A question we can ask ourselves is whether Christ considered marriage as being
indissoluble? We need to be very clear in this as when Christ teaches that marriage may
not be dissolved that does not mean that He is stating that it cannot occur. The
completeness of the marriage relationship can be tainted by erroneous behaviour. In
other words, it is the offence that breaks the bond. The divorce is ultimately a result of
this break. This is also the teaching of the Eastern Church fathers. A quotation from the
testimony of Cyril of Alexandria will be sufficient to make our point here: It is not the
letters of divorce that dissolve the marriage in relation God but the errant behaviour.[21]
The violation of a marriage relationship is divided into two groups:

1. those resulting from adultery (unfaithfulness and immoral behaviour)

2. those proceeding from the absence of one of the partners (this absence must
however have certain distinctives).

According to the spirit of Orthodoxy the unity of the married couple cannot be
maintained through the virtue of juridical obligation alone; the formal unity must be
consistent with an internal symphony.[22] The problem arises when it is no longer
possible to salvage anything of this symphony, for then the bond that was originally
considered indissoluble is already dissolved and the law can offer nothing to replace grace
and can neither heal nor resurrect, nor say: Stand up and go.[23]
The Church recognizes that there are cases in which marriage life has no content or
may even lead to loss of the soul. The Holy John Chrysostom says in this regard that:
better to break the covenant than to lose ones soul.[24] Nevertheless, the Orthodox
Church sees divorce as a tragedy due to human weakness and sin.

Despite the fact that the Church condemns sin, she also desires to be an aid to those who
suffer and for whom she may allow a second marriage. This is certainly the case when
the marriage has ceased to be a reality. A possible second marriage is therefore only
permitted because of human weakness. As the apostle Paul says concerning the
unmarried and widows: If they can not control themselves, they should marry (1 Cor. 7,
9). It is permitted as a pastoral concession in the context of economia, to the human
weakness and the corrupt world in which we live.
There is in other words a close relationship in every dimension between divorce and the
possibility of remarriage. It is important here to explain a fundamental element of the
Orthodox Churchs doctrine, namely that the dissolving of a marriage relationship does

not ipso facto grant the right to enter into another marriage. As we look back to the
time of the primitive Church, the Church of the first centuries, then we will have to
agree that the Church did not have any juridical authority with regard to marriage, and
did not therefore, make any statement concerning their validity. The Holy Basil the
Great, for example, referred not to a rule but to usage, as far as this problem was
concerned.[25] Speaking concerning the man who had been cheated by his wife, he
declares that the man is pardonable (to be excused) should he remarry. It is good to
remember that the Orthodox Church has in general always had a sense of reluctance
regarding second marriages. It would subsequently be completely wrong to assert that
orthodox Christians may marry two or three times!
Orthodox canon law can permit a second and even a third marriage in economia, but
strictly forbids a fourth. In theory divorce is only recognized in the case of adultery, but
in practise is also recognised in light of other reasons. There is a list of causes of divorce
acceptable to the Orthodox Church. In practise the bishops sometimes apply
economia in a liberal way. By the way, divorce and remarriage are only permitted in
the context of economia, that is, out of pastoral care, out of understanding for
weakness. A second or third marriage will always be a deviation from the ideal and
unique marriage, but often a fresh opportunity[26] to correct a mistake.[27]

The question arises here, what is this economia[28] exactly? In a theological, scholarly
contribution, the present Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, while still the
Metropolitan of Philadelphia, explained in a clear and concise way what economia is.
He suggests that it is generally accepted that the ecclesiastical economia is an image of
the divine economia and love and kindness. That the economia is as old as the Church
itself is evident from a reading of the New Testament. This is very clear for example in
Acts 16, 3 so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all
knew that his father was a Greek. However the economia in the Orthodox Church has
never been systematically or officially defined. It concerns a characteristic, a true
privilege and precious treasure of the Church.[29] In the pan orthodox meetings of the
20th Century there have been attempts to give a definition to economia, but in the end
this has been abandoned, because economia is something that is rather experienced than
described and definedin the Orthodox Church, in which it is a characteristic and ancient
But now the question remains, what is economia? Well, according to the canon law of
the Orthodox Church economia is the suspension of the absolute and strict
applications of canon and church regulations in the governing and the life of the Church,
without subsequently compromising the dogmatic limitations. The application of economia
only takes place through the official church authorities and is only applicable for a
particular case.[31] This is allowed for exceptional and severe reasons, but creates no
precedent. The Church, which continues to extend Christs redeeming work in the
world, has on the basis of the Lords commandments, and of the apostles, determined a
number of canons. Through these the Church helps the believers to come to salvation.
But it should be noticed that these rules are not applied on a juridical basis, for the

Church always holds in mind what the Lord Himself has said: The Sabbath is made for
man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2, 27).
A canon is a rule or guide for the service of worship, the sacraments, and the
governing of the Church. There are canons determined by the apostles, the Church
Fathers, the local, regional and the general or ecumenical councils. Only the bishop, as
head of the local Church, enforces them. He can enforce them rigidly (akrivia), or
flexibly (economia), but precision is the norm. Once the particular circumstance has
past - that demanded a conceding and accommodating judgement akrivia assumes
once again her full force. It cannot be that the economia, which was necessary in a
specific situation, should become an example and should be later be retained as the rule.
[32] The economia is for the Orthodox Church a notion that cannot be compared to
dispensation in the Roman Catholic Church. Dispensation is an anticipated exception,
which provides a juridical norm parallel to the official regulation.
Economia is based on Christs command to his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you
forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven (John 20, 22-23). This is the case when the
human marriage experience becomes impossible, due to the spiritual death of love. It is
then that the Church as the Body of Christ with understanding and compassion and
out of personal concern, can apply the economia by accepting the divorce and not
rejecting the sinful humanly weak believers, or depriving them from Gods mercy and
further grace.[33] It is the precise goal of economia that the weak person not be
irrevocably banned from the church communion, according to Christs example, who
came, after all, to save the lost.

Before the church authorities acknowledge the divorce in the context of economia,
pastoral counselling should be given in each and every case, through which attempt is
made to reconcile the married partners. Only when this is no longer possible should
permission for remarriage be referred to, provided a form of penance can be imposed,
in light of each individual case. In this way the Orthodox Church should take a clear
point of view regarding this problem, and priests should be more motivated to take a
greater role regarding explanation, counselling and psychological healing.[34]
a. Preparation for marriage
In his book Marriage: an orthodox perspective Father John Meyendorff points out the
danger of enforced marriages, where the couple themselves have no desire for a positive
commitment. It may have been desired as a social happening or whatever. This, and
many others, are problems that the priest needs to discuss when he meets the couple to
help them prepare for their marriage. He has the responsibility of helping them to
understand the meaning and significance of Christian marriage. This meeting may by
no means be, or seem to be, an exclusively administrative matter, in which many
documents are collected together with the intention of ascertaining the approval of the
bishop for the marriage celebration. He also must be on the alert to ensure that no
marriages are consecrated where the married couple does not accept its true
significance. This is a problem that one frequently encounters with mixed marriages.

Strictly speaking, the responsibility for the preparation of marriage lies not only with
the priest, but also with the teachers, the parents, and certainly, first and foremost, with
the young engaged couple themselves.[35]
For marriage to live, and possibly also to survive, there is need of spiritual life. This
spirituality is experienced firstly in the school of the Church itself, where we can
participate par excellence in the gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit in the celebration of the
sacraments. It is by the way in one of these sacraments, that man and wife become one,
or house-Church, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the ecclesiological and
spiritual perspective which we just referred to, marriage enters into a dynamic action.[36]
The path taken is determined in particular by the married couple themselves, any yet
they find themselves in a world of surprises and miracles. The path becomes narrower
and narrower as it is walked side-by-side, with 2 or 3 children following behind. The
path of orthodox spiritual life is a path of liturgy, mystique, asceticism, and
eschatology.[37] It is the life of and in the Church and this life gives to the married
couple and the whole family, another dimension, and another approach to life and to the
problems one has to face.
It is very important that the Church provides the correct reflection of everything related
to marriage and the family, and their value from the perspective of faith, especially to
the youth and future bridal couples and their parents. There are for example, in many
diocese of the Orthodox Church in Greece, schools for parents, where attention is
given specifically to the preparation of their children for marriage. This is also possible
through a lecture on this subject.[38]
b. What is the best way to respond to those who are living together and are not yet
This problem was cited in a discussion that Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and all
Estonia had with Olivier Clment concerning this subject, which has been published in
the book Office and charismas in the Orthodox Church: it is true that many young
people no longer have this Christian identity to be able to say: We love each other,
therefore we will marry. They have not as yet committed themselves completely enough to
say: We are going to get married because we as a couple, as a future family, will be a
core-group of the Church, and will give an example of evangelical commitment. () It
happens that young people in this sense experience something worthwhile, something that
prepares them for lasting love. For a true love demands that one does not compromise.
Each needs to be able to retain his own identity, have his own structure, to be able to truly
meet the other. Whatever is at hand, it happens that young people who find themselves in a
similar situation, convert and in the end seek a closer relationship with the Church, so
speaks Olivier Clment. And the renown French orthodox theologian continues, saying
that the role of the priest is of infinite importance here, immensely in explaining the
meaning of love and marriage, immensely in explaining that love is possible, immensely
in explaining that the sacrament of marriage can give them great strength, this will be
a strength in receiving the other, in forgiving the other, and therefore of permanence with
the other.[39] What is certain is that one should not be moralising or too severe in these
situations with regard to the youth, otherwise one will certainly not be heard.
c. Pastoral approach to the problem of divorce

The church community needs to be vigilant and give sufficient attention to married
couples and families that have been affected and disabled by divorce. The married
partner who has been abandoned by the other partner finds themself subsequently in a
situation of discouragement and loneliness. The fate of the children is often much worse.
From pastoral experience we know that the social and psychological assistance is
insufficient. They especially need strengthening through a spiritual and pastoral
approach, which will hopefully again give meaning and significance to their lives.
The Church, as community, can continue to involve them in the liturgical gatherings. It
is clear that a discrete commission of love[40] is reserved for every Christian towards
those who are divorced. This too is consistent with what the Holy John Chrysostom has
called the sacrament of the brother. One must certainly avoid judging or condemning
ones brother or sister.

From what has been said, we bear in mind that marriage is a sacrament or mystery,
because it is a living experience of the Kingdom of God. It is an entry into a new life, a
communal growth in the Holy Spirit. This new life enters as a gift, not as an obligation.
Man is free to enter into this new life through this door or not. But this new life only has
meaning if it actually leads to entry into the sacramental life of the Church. Marriage
gains perfection when the married couple regularly share in the Eucharist, in the Body
of Christ. In this way marriage gains a sanctifying character. This holiness of marriage
should however be protected by certain canons, not because this is the spirit of the
Church, but in order to demonstrate the ideal for Christians. The Christian doctrine of
marriage is a joyful responsibility.[41] It demonstrates what it means to be truly
human, through which one receives the joy of giving life, in the image of the Creator.
Concerning on the other hand the orthodox perspective on the subtle problem area of
divorce and possible remarriage, one needs to say that this is steeped in wisdom. It
confirms the primary value of the steadfast and unique Christian marriage, which does
not mean that this steadfastness should be seen, in all of lifes circumstances, as the
downright irrevocable preservation of a juridical affirmation. The Orthodox Church
does not want to shut the door of mercy inexorably, but holds still, to the teaching of the
New Testament.[42]
[1] Mgr Athenagoras Peckstadt is the assistant Bishop of the Orthodox Archdiocese of
Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Ecumenical Patriarch of
Constantinople) and studied theology at the Aristoteles University of Thessalonica and
at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva.
[2] In Greek mystery has the meaning of sacrament.
[3] It is good to be reminded here of the fact that, in the story of creation, monogamy is
assumed to be the norm.

[4] The apostle Paul sees therefore the parallel between the marriage relationship of
man and wife and the oneness between the bride the Church and the bridegroom
Christ. This is not only as descriptive picture, but also an explanation of the real and
essential oneness in the sacrament of marriage. See N. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and
symbolic theology, Thessalonica, 1988, pp. 496-497 (in Greek).
[5] G. Mantzaridis, Christian Ethics, Thessalonica, 1995, p. 321 (In Greek).
[6] J. Meyendorff, Marriage: an orthodox perspective, New York, 1975, p.21.
[7] The physical unity of which the apostle Paul says that they are temples of the
Holy Spirit is a great deal more than simple pleasure or a remedy for the sexual urge!
See Ign. Peckstadt, in Het orthodox huwelijk in Een open venster op de Orthodoxe Kerk,
(The orthodox marriage in An open window on the Orthodox Church), Averbode, 2005.
[8] Ch. Catzopoulos, The holy sacrament of marriage mixed marriages, Athens, 1990,
p.39 (in Greek). See also Ch. Vantsos, Marriage and her preparation from an orthodox
pastoral point of view, Athens, 1977, pp.83-99 (in Greek).
[9] Ign. Peckstadt, Het orthodox huwelijk in Een open venster op de Orthodoxe Kerk,
(The orthodox marriage in An open window on the Orthodox Church), Averbode, 2005.
[10] Speech on marriage. See P. Evdokimov, Le sacerdoce conjugal essai de thologie
orthodoxe du mariage, in Le mariage glises en dialogue, (The conjugal priesthood
essay on the orthodox theology of marriage, in The marriage churches and dialogue),
Paris, 1966, p. 94.
[11] Homilie 20 on Ephesians; P.G., 62, 143.
[12] P. Evdokimov, Sacrement de lamour le mystre conjugal la manire de la
tradition orthodoxe, (Sacrament of love the conjugal mystery according to the orthodox
tradition), Paris, 1962, p. 170.
[13] P.G. 62, 387.
[14] P. Rodopoulos (Metropolitan), Lessons in canon law, Thessalonica, 1993, p. 216 (in
[15] The Holy Ignatius of Antioch said in his letter to Polycarp: The men and women
who marry, should enter into their unity with the approval of the bishop, see Ignatius of
Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrne, Letters, in coll. Sources Chrtiennes, (Christian Sources)
Paris, 1958, p. 177 (A Polycarpe V, 2).
[16] J. Meyendorff, Marriage: an orthodox perspective, New York, 1975, p. 21.
[17] N. Matsoukas, Dogmatic and symbolic theology, Thessalonica, 1988, p. 497 (in
[18] G. Patronos, Marriage in theology and in life, Athens, 1981, p.119 (in Greek).

[19] Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was
not this way from the beginning (Matt. 19, 8).
[20] T. Ware (Bishop Kallistos), LOrthodoxie lEglise des septs conciles, (Orthodoxy
The Church of seven councils), Paris 1997, pp. 380-381.
[21] P.G. 72, 380 D.
[22] See P. LHuillier (Archbishop), Le divorce selon la thologie et le droit canonique de
lEglise orthodoxe, in Messager de lExarchat du Patriarcat Russe en Europe occidentale,
(Divorce according to theology and cannon law in the Orthodox Church in Messenger of
the Exarch of the Patriarch of Russia and Western Europe) (no 65), Paris, 1969, pp. 2536.
[23] P. Evdokimov, Sacrement de lamour le mystre conjugal la manire de la
tradition orthodoxe, (Sacrament of love the conjugal mystery according to the orthodox
tradition), Paris, 1962, p. 264.
[24] P.G. 61, 155.
[25] P. LHuillier (Archbishop), Les sources canoniques de saint Basile, in Messager de
lExarchat du Patriarcat Russe en Europe occidentale (no 44), (The canon origins of saint
Basil, in Messenger of the Exarchat of the Patriarch of Russia and Western Europe),
Paris, 1963, pp. 210-217.
[26] Father Meyendorff explained concerning this that: the Church neither recognised
nor granted divorce. It is seen as a great sin, but the Church has never ceased to offer
sinners a new opportunity and she was always prepared to receive them again, as long as
they were penitent. See J. Meyendorff, Marriage: an orthodox perspective, New York,
1975, p. 64.
[27] Ign. Peckstadt, Het orthodox huwelijk in Een open venster op de Orthodoxe Kerk,
(The orthodox marriage in An open window on the Orthodox Church), Averbode, 2005.
[28] One finds the term economia or oikonomia as it is here understood in the
New Testament and in the texts of the Church Fathers and church authors. Even
although one does not find a systematic writing concerning this subject by the Church
Fathers, it was used by them frequently all the same in the sense of deviating from the
precision of the rule. See P. Rodopoulos (Metropolitan), Introduction to the topics of the
fifth international congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches I.
Oikonomia, II Mixed marriages, in Studies I canon, pastoral, liturgical and various (in
Greek), Thessalonica, 1993, p.244. It is a theological concept unique to the Orthodox
[29] B. Archondonis (Ecumenical Patriarch), The problem of oikonomia today, in Kanon,
Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft fur das recht der Ostkirchen, (Yearbook of the Society for the
law of the Eastern Churches) Vienna, 1987, p. 42.
[30] Ibid., p.40.

[31] P. Rodopoulos (Metropolitan), Oikonomia nach orthodoxem Kirchenricht,

(Economia according to the Orthodox Church law), in Studies I canon, pastoral,
liturgical, ecumenical and various (in Greek), Thessalonica, 1993, p. 231.
[32] P. Trembelas, Dogmatique de lEglise orthodox catholique, (Dogmatics of the
catholic orthodox Church, part III), deel III, Chevetogne 1968, p. 61.
[33] Ign. Peckstadt, Het orthodox huwelijk in Een open venster op de Orthodoxe Kerk,
(The orthodox marriage in An open window on the Orthodox Church), Averbode, 2005.
See also: Ign. Peckstadt, De economia in de Orthodoxe Kerk, in 25 jaar Orthodoxe
Communauteit Heilige Apostel Andreas Gent (1972-1997), (The economia in the Orthodox
Church, in 25 years Orthodox Community Holy Apostle Andreas Gent (1972-1997), Gent
1975, p. 65.
[34] J. Meyendorff, Marriage: an orthodox perspective, New York, 1975, p. 65.
[35] Ibid., p. 54-56.
[36] A. Stavropoulos, Concerning marriage and the family, in Snapshots and excursions
on paths of pastoral service, part 3, Athens, 1985, p. 116 (in Greek).
[37] Ibid., p. 117.
[38] Ibid., p.118.
[39] S. Charalambidis (Metropolite), Ministres et charismes dans lEglise orthodoxe,
(Office and Charismas in the