The Canonical Court Of The Orthodox Church Of Epirus
The Canonical Court of the Holy Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Epirus (OCE) is the ecclesial court of first instance. Court Consistory members are appointed by the Metropolitan or his designee in order to oversee moral and canonical matters pertaining to the Church.
The Court Consistory is assigned to settle charges brought against a person of the OCE that is accused of acts contrary to the doctrines of the Orthodox Church and the Canons or Guidelines of the OCE.
Formal charges, addressed to the Court Consistory, may be brought by any Orthodox clergy or layperson, but not by individuals or organizations outside the boundaries of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
When the Court Consistory has accepted a case, the Metropolitan must be informed.
The Court Consistory cannot make any civil, legal recommendation or determination, as this is privileged to secular authorities (attorneys & courts). The Consistory’s jurisdiction is merely ecclesiastical.
The Court Consistory is required to report to the secular authorities any known criminal activity of their case, such as child or adult abuse. Before taking on a complaint, the Court Consistory must inform their party or parties of this obligation.
Both, clergy and laymen are subject to this Canonical Court in the following instances:
In all matters concerning the declaration of invalid and illicit marriages.
In cases of attestation to the validity of marriages and legitimacy of birth.
For various misdeeds and infringements that subject any faithful or clergy to penance by the Church or to disciplinary measures up to and including excommunication from the Church.
§4 Final Determination
The Court Consistory, after hearing and reviewing of each case, makes a recommendation to the Metropolitan for final determination.
The accused party has the right to appeal (in writing) the Consistory’s decision to the Metropolitan directly, in which case he will review the case with the Court Consistory.
The Metropolitan is not bound by the Consistory’s ruling. His decision is final.
§5 Grounds For Dissolution of Marriage
The Holy Councils of the Orthodox Church have recognized the following reasons for dissolution of a marriage that has been sanctified by the Church. Note that this does not apply to heterodox marriages, as the Orthodox Church does not recognize such.
Open apostasy from Holy Orthodoxy
Adultery and unnatural vices (perversions)
Incapacity for or refusal of marital cohabitation
Affliction by leprosy or syphilis (permanent contagious condition)
Unknown absence (abandonment) for a longer period of time
Jail sentence with deprivation of rights (restraining order)
Infringement upon the life and health of spouse and/or children (abuse)
Incest or prostitution of spouse
Secular divorce and/or entering into new marriage without church divorce/annulment
Serious, incurable mental illness
§6 Guidelines For Church Divorce Petitioners
The Court Consistory hears petitions for ecclesial divorce. Any petition must include the following documents:
Certificate of Orthodox Church marriage
Civil divorce papers
Current address(es) of both concerned parties
Statement of reasons (see above) for dissolution of civil marriage, incl. the presenting of evidence
Confirmation of statement (witnessed) by an Orthodox priest
§7 Reasons For Clergy Discipline
Repeated or habitual violations of clergy conduct according the OCE Guidelines of Clergy Conduct.
Violation of the Guidelines for Clergy Compensation and Employment
Repeated or habitual violation of the Guidelines for Clerical Attire
Any violation of the Code of Conduct for all Clergy
Repeated violation of the Liturgical Guidelines respective to each Rite
§8 Guidelines For Filing
The Court Consistory hears all petitions of suspected misconduct. Any petition must include the following documents:
Narrative (in writing) of acts or neglect committed
Respective witness statements and/or precise documentation
Measures that repeatedly failed in order to correct the situation