Possibility of sacraments effective over a distance in Eastern Churches

In the Liturgy and Sacraments forum there is a thread topic that we see every couple of months about confession by phone, or the internet. This is obviously not allowed in the Latin Church, nor I must assume in any Eastern Catholic Church.

My question is whether there is any possibility that the understanding of the mysteries in any of the Eastern Churches would ever allow for this possibility. Generally Eastern theology takes a more holistic approach to issues, so that as long as the overall integrity of say a sacrament seems to be present, oikonomia can sometimes dispense with technical shortcomings. The Western approach is more of a checklist allowing for fewer exceptions. Given that, is it conceivable in any of the Eastern or Oriental Churches that a sacrament over a distance could be accepted in rare cases?

Question: Is confession over the phone invalid or merely illicit?

My pastor was invested as a Monsignor over the phone. Twice. In one day.

His Byzantine bishop invested him over the phone for a reason I can’t remember, but then his Latin bishop found out and told him it was inappropriate that he was a Byzantine Monsignor but not a Latin Monsignor too and thus invested him. He’s biritual.

Of course, this isn’t a sacrament.

The key thing to remember is that we are Catholic. No Sacrament is valid over the phone or internet, just as no Sacrament is valid though snail mail.

No such thing as a Byzantine Monsignor, that is a Latinization that we have thankfully left behind.

I’ve heard of Orthodox priests hearing confessions over the phone.

Yes, as I noted in my first sentence. However, I was guessing that the Eastern Catholics, and non-Catholics, in this forum would be more familiar with some of the various Orthodox Churches which don’t always agree with Rome on finer points of interpretation and application of sacred traditions, such as the mysteries.

I probably could have been more clear on that issue.

That is something I never heard of.

I can imagine spiritual counseling possibly, but not confession with absolution.

I should have Googled this earlier. From this past December,

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s Coptic pope has banned the faithful from confessing their sins to priests over the telephone because intelligence agents might be listening in, a newspaper reported on Friday.

“Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security,” the independent Al-Masri Al-Yom quoted Pope Shenuda III as saying.
The leader of the Coptic minority also said confessions over the Internet were invalid because they might be read by websurfers.

To the extent that we can trust Al-Masri Al-Yom newspaper, it sounds like Pope Shenouda’s issue with phone and web confessions is not the distance or the technology per se, but the risk to the seal of confession.

Dispensations can be granted by phone, thus obviating the later need for confession…

But in general, the only sacraments that I would consider potentially valid are marriage (The church has accepted marriage via radio), and in exceptional circumstances, confession.

Baptism requires the minister be present. But, according to the councils, the minister need not believe, so long as they perform a proper trinitarian baptsim.

Confirmation and Ordination require application of oil and other touches by the minister. Closest they get is ordination by priest (as is done in china for deacons and priests) on the explicit order of the bishop.

The Eucharist can only be remote by reception after carriage by minister; the rubrics require the handling of the gifts by the confecting/consecrating minister.

The sacrament of Annointing of the Sick requires the minister be present to anoint with oils.

There most certainly are Byzantine Monsignors. Some Orthodox ones too, I suspect.

While some Eastern Catholic lesser prelates have used the title, and even been given it, the proper Byzantine title is Archpriest (for a secular priest), Hegumen in various spellings and Archimandrite for priestmonks.

The rite for elevation to any of these requires it be done at the celebration of the Liturgy.

There most certainly are Byzantine Monsignors. Some Orthodox ones too, I suspect.

Actually, there are neither Latin nor Byzantine “Monsignors” in the Catholic Church. Some Latin priests, in recognition of their exceptional service, are, on the recommendation of their bishop, made prelates of the Papal Household; as such, it is customary in North America to address these honorary members of the Papal Household as “monsignor” (my lord). Its similar to how the Church ordains priests, not Fathers - we simply address priests as “Father”. Perhaps some local Eastern parishes use the address “Monsignor” for protopresbyters and other senior priests?


No such thing as a Byzantine Monsignor, that is a Latinization that we have thankfully left behind.

See above - there is no such thing as a “Latin Monsignor” either. That being said, as “monsignor” is a respectful form of address and NOT a title or position, translating as “my lord”, in a North American cultural context why couldn’t Catholics address protopresbyters as “monsignor”? It is simply a North American custom.

I’ll rephrase:
There most certainly are Byzantine Catholic priests addressed as Monsignors. Some Orthodox ones too, I suspect.

You’re kidding, right?

And if you come back saying this is true, than chances are, I probably still won’t believe ya!

I’ve ONLY heard of them being done in the Military Ordinariate.

Also, keep in mind: in the Roman Church, the minister of Marriage is the couple themselves; the cleric only stands witness.
From the roman code of canon law, 1983, as presented in english by the Vatican web site:
Can. 1057
§1. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons quali-fied by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent.
§2. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage.
Can. 1104
§1. To contract a marriage validly the contracting parties must be present together, either in person or by proxy.
§2. Those being married are to express matrimonial consent in words or, if they cannot speak, through equivalent signs.

Can. 1105 §1. To enter into a marriage validly by proxy it is required that:
1/ there is a special mandate to contract with a specific person;
2/ the proxy is designated by the one mandating and fulfills this function personally.
§2. To be valid the mandate must be signed by the one mandating and by the pastor or ordinary of the place where the mandate is given, or by a priest delegated by either of them, or at least by two witnesses, or it must be made by means of a document which is authentic according to the norm of civil law.
§3. If the one mandating cannot write, this is to be noted in the mandate itself and another witness is to be added who also signs the document; otherwise, the mandate is invalid.
§4. If the one mandating revokes the mandate or develops amentia before the proxy contracts in his or her name, the marriage is invalid even if the proxy or the other contracting party does not know this.

“Monsignor” in various spellings was also how bishops were addressed.

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