Patriarchate Allows Widowed / Abandoned Priests to Remarry

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

CONSTANTINOPLE – The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has rendered a historic decision to allow priests whose wives died or abandoned them to enter into a second marriage. Priests who abandoned their own wives, however, to pursue other women, will not be allowed by the Church to remarry.

The Patriarchate will consider requests to remarry on a case-by-case basis, and will decide on such requests for evaluation sent to it by the respective hierarch.

The sacrament of the second marriage will be different; a simple prayer with close family members present.

The Patriarchate will issue a Patriarchal Letter soon outlining the details and directives.

The National Herald has learned that many hierarchs of the Metropolises of the New Lands in Greece were relieved to learn of this news, because there are many cases in their Eparchies of widowed or abandoned priests. TNH is also aware of several priests in the United States in the same situation; many left the priesthood, were defrocked, and married again. Others continue to serve in parishes while divorced, and one joined a monastery.

Also married Bishops – including Apostles Peter and Philip – was the Church’s Ancient tradition in the Apostolic era, and even as recently as the ninth century.


  1. Yes good move finally — but not fair to divorced priests; some were abandoned by wives… it’s not always priests’ fault.

    Next indeed is married Bishops please!
    Like wonderful Fr. Alex Karloutsos on being Bishop would be superlative!
    He & Xanthi – truly a class act. ?

  2. Priesthood is a VOCATION and not a CAREER, as there is a total misunderstanding of this by many within the priesthood itself.

    There is an initial and very fair option awarded prior to being ordained.
    A candidate for the priesthood has of his own free-will and volition and his personal calling the right to become either a celibate priest ( and continue forward to the episcopacy in due time) or to marry and have a family.

    At one point in time in church history, bishops were allowed to marry which created a very serious and problematic situation in every respect, creating land ownership issues, financial interest issues, inheritance issues of title and privileges, etc. making for feuding ecclesiastical “dynasties”.

    To resurrect this approach at this point in time without retrospect to past history is indeed foolish, especially in consideration of the contemporary mentality of today’s priesthood which considers themselves privileged enough as it is!

    I am more than personally familiar of priests who have been ordained, married, and had families and then divorced ( for various similar reasons as existent in the “lay world”) and have gone on without any recourse.

    I am also personally familiar of priests who have divorced ( civil divorce) BUT never applied for an annulment to their Orthodox marriage in receiving and being granted an ecclesiastical divorce by the Church ( Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America).

    In all reality these priests are STILL married in the “eyes of the church”, and so are bona-fide adulterers, that the Church (G.O.A) condones in some arcane manner.
    This is beyond belief, but true!

    At the same time the (civil divorced) spouse suffers a similar stigma, and of also being held captive in limbo, unable to remarry should she wish to do so and not be able to move forward with her life in a positive Christian manner reflective of Orthodox ideals.

    Shouldn’t the Church ( G.O.A.) and its respective hierarchy ( Metropolitans, Chancellors, and finally the Archbishop himself adamantly request the priest has BOTH a Civil and Ecclesiastical divorce, instead of a perpetuating a “spiritual malfunction” with the priest still continuing to perform the Sacraments, distribute the Holy Eucharist, and attend to all other parish business!?

    The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is nothing more than an “old boys club” no different, no better than any other institution that is liable to corruption of moral values from within.

    These same priests are well-established in their parish, officiating Sacaraments and

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