Św. Męcz. Nicefor
On refusing to accept a heterodox as a godfather
Kallinikos, by the mercy of God, archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
We have received the letter of your prelacy, in which a question is raised, that is, what events are possible to take place if the Latins living there, papists or protestants, request that a sacrament be given to them; is this possible or isn’t it?
First, if a papist in danger is about to die and asks for Holy Communion, is it possible to give it to him? Everyone knows the answer to this question, namely, if he is willing to reject his latin faith, that is, his latin way of thinking, and to accept the faith of the Eastern Church, nothing can prevent him from receiving the Holy Communion. If, on the other hand, he sticks to his own religion, but nevertheless requests Holy Communion, it cannot be allowed; for the same Chalice is intended for only those who have the same beliefs, as alien minds are impossible to be in communion.
Second, there is the question, what should be done if a papist or protestant dies, and a request for a priest is made to carry out the burial service. The answer to this question is definitely no, as it is not right for the priests to beg God to put an anathematized person to Paradise along with the righteous. There is no question that they are heretics; and they have synods that anathematize us as heretics, and they clearly preach this. We, on the other hand, consider them heretics, under the anathema of many ecumenical councils, which anathematize those who trample on the dogmas of the Eastern Church, which they do not even consider Church. Given that the civilian laws of the christians decide that whoever tramples on a single dogma is a heretic, then how can we not consider them heretics, since they have not left any dogma unchanged? Consequently, whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not collect along with me dissipates. Since they were separated from the Eastern Church and created their own, which is different, monstrous, and completely separated from the Eastern Church, there is no question that they are inexcusable heretics. They have no communion with us, as the united are not divided, and the divided are not united; their preachings are in vain. Therefore, it is impossible for orthodox priests to bury heretics.
Third, a question arose when the British Consul’s wife, who is orthodox christian, gave birth to a child, and requested that the infant be baptized, with the French Consul as the Godfather, the question being whether this is possible. The answer is in the nagative; the baptism can be done only if the godfather is orthodox. She should be careful enough not to agree to implement the baptism with a heterodox godfather, papist or protestant. To avoid any political harassment by them, keep a distance from them peacefully and without fights by telling them that we are unable to do things that our Church forbids us to do.
That is all. May the grace of God be with your prelacy.
November 25, 1701.
Τhe original text in the Greek language is here:
and here (page 80): https://archive.org/details/kanonikaidiataxe01gede and here (manuscript, f. 441-443): https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.gr.2427
Special thanks to Dr. Hatzinikolaou Dimitrios [Associate Professor, University of Ioannina] for the translation).