Orthodox divorce?

If one married civilly, but not in the Greek Orthodox Church, and civilly divorced, does one need a ecclesial divorce from the Greek Orthodox Church before marrying in the Church?

Parties in question are non practicing Greek Orthodox, and Romanian Orthodox.


Have to ask the Priest on that one.

Orthodox marriages are administered by the priest, not the couple, so my guess is that no “divorce” is necessary if a priest wasn’t involved.

Agreed. Ask the priest. It’s an interesting situation because someone who didn’t feel compelled to marry in the church the first time now wants to marry in it the second time. Tell your story to the priest and he’ll sort it out.

If one didn’t have a Church marriage then why would the Church be involved in its dissolution? The real question is when are these two going to go to confession and start practicing their faith again? Right now they aren’t anything. Non-practicing means self-ex-communicated. Will the people in question get upset when they’re told they can’t marry during Lent or that they will preferably get married on a Sunday or that they will almost definitely have to attend mandatory marriage preparation? Will they stop going to church shortly after their marriage and only show up again when they want a child baptized?


I’m Catholic. And I know that the Catholic Church would have a say in the situation above.
So I’m asking what would the Orthodox Church do?

The Eastern view of marriage, whether EC or EO, is that (contrary to what some folks on this forum will attempt to tell you), is that the priest, rather than bride and groom, is the minister of the Sacrament. The priest crowns the couple, and confers the Sacrament.

The marriage simply isn’t possible–to the point that if an RC and EC attempt marriage before a deacon, it is not valid. The tribunals were swamped with these some years ago . . .

SO the orthodox view would be that there was no marriage.

So does this mean my friend doesn’t need to do anything?
Or does she need to get a decree of some sort from the Church before she starts planning for a EO wedding?

I am Catholic, and if this situation was about the CC, she would have to get a decree of nullity.

OCA = Orthodox Church of America (not the Romanian or Greek)
An OCA website states: “The Orthodox Church never forces its members to marry outside the Church. It is the decision of the person who is planning to enter a marriage which cannot be sacramentalized in Church to marry outside the Church. How can the Church recognize a non-sacramental marriage as a sacrament when the individual performing the non-sacramental marriage does not recognize what he is doing to be a sacrament? With regard to divorce, the Church recognizes civil divorce precisely because the Church does not grant divorces! In general, divorce is a civil matter with no corresponding state or ceremony in the life of the Church. One cannot compare the recognition of a civil divorce and the recognition of a civil marriage; it is a matter of apples and oranges. The Church does not deny that those involved in a civil marriage are married civilly; it would make no sense for the Church to accept a civil marriage as a sacrament since the person who performs civil marriages would deny that they are sacraments in the first place.”

It would be really beneficial to explain the whole scenario to a priest. Our church doesn’t have a catechism, though we do have guidelines. We view things by scenario and what’s best for the salvation of the person, but that would be for the priest to figure out. I’m sorry if this sounds like a non-answer; sometimes it’s hard to explain the Orthodox mindset.

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It means she needs to talk to her particular Orthodox priest, and possibly to his bishop.

I can’t tell you the rules that her jurisdiction (whichever it may be) uses; I simply know some of the general theology.

Many Orthodox do, though, handle things a the parish level that the RCC would handle at the diocese.

Yes. My cousin was divorced and remarried as a Protestant, and when she entered the Orthodox Church, my other cousin, her brother, was pretty sure that there wasn’t any formal process to deal with it, and if there was, it was dealt with strictly by the local priest.

Jurisdiction seems to be a HUGE issue for Orthodox at the macro level…like GIGANTIC in a way that Latin Catholics can’t comprehend (look at the issues with Moscow and the EP over Ukraine), but a non-issue at the personal/individual level. My cousin was baptized into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada then started attending an OCA parish…the OCA parish told him there was no process to transfer jurisdictions…just attend. Now he’s off to Scotland to potentially join a Romanian Orthodox monastery there, without any input from the jurisdiction that baptized him.

Father Seraphim’s monastery in Mull?!

Yep, that’s it :).

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I just met him in person at our church a couple months ago. He seemed very light-hearted to me, humorous, humble. He runs the entire monastery by himself as he waits for novices.

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So I hear. He visited my cousin’s parish in Alberta.

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