On Minor Liturgical Differences

Ecumenical Patriarch Paisios Epistle to Patriarch Nikon of Moscow May 15, 1655

You complain strongly regarding disagreements in certain practices which exist in local churches, and you wonder whether these various practices damage our faith. We praise this notion, for whoever is afraid of falling into minor sins protects himself from also falling into large sins. But we correct this thought, for, with regard to heretics, we do in fact have a commandment from the Apostle to avoid them as perverted after the first and second admonitions (Tit. 3:11), just as schismatics who, although they agree with the Orthodox in the most important dogmas, still have certain peculiar beliefs foreign to those accepted by the entire Church. But if it happens that a certain church differs from another in certain practices which are not important and essential to faith, or which have nothing to do with the chief articles of faith, but only in insignificant practices, such as for example the time celebrating the liturgy, or which fingers a priest uses to give the blessing, and the like, then this should not cause any division, as long as one and the same faith is preserved. This is because our church did not receive the entire present typikon from the beginning, but little by little. (Paul Meyendorff: Russia, Ritual and Reform pg. 56)

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