I know that the Patriarch of Constantinople has no binding authority over individual bishops and there is no doctrine of infallibility, but what about the authority that bishops and priests have over lay Orthodox Christians? Are there any teachings one can dissent from or rules one can break and remain in communion? In general, is there more room for divergent viewpoints than there is in the Catholic Church?

  • Interesting question. The problem is "than there is in the Catholic Church" – there is significant discussion about the "room for divergent viewpoints" in the Catholic Church, both in theory (church law, theology) and praxis. I suspect this could be even more complex in the Orthodox Churches.
    – K-HB
    Commented May 24 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


How do you define freedom? And dissent?

As I see it, the Catholic Church doesn't bind me, control me, forces me, into having certain political or social views. Even though I am not a lay person. My obedience is by choice, and is part of my ordination.

The problem I am wrestling with in this question is: what exactly is this freedom? Is the idea that life starts at conception a political view? I don't think so. I would say it is a combination of biology and philosophy. Is the idea that abortus provocatus is evil a political view? Not in my mind. I would say it is a view of ethics.

Except for views based on facts, there is no lack of freedom, I think. And yes, I know these aren't undisputed facts, but still, for me, they are facts. And the facts would remain so, should I no longer be Catholic.

The political begins where a population makes a decision from different options. I don't know if you can say that the Catholic Church limits the freedom to make political decisions within the realm of the ethical.

  • @GratefulDisciple By "dissent," I mean disagreement in thought or deed. By "freedom," I mean the ability to receive communion with a clear conscience despite such dissent. I was wondering if Orthodox Christians are supposed to be in agreement with all Church teachings to be in communion, or if some teachings are more essential than others. (Granted, it would be impossible for anybody except God to enforce such a rule without the ability to read minds.)
    – K Man
    Commented May 24 at 22:45

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