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05-Sep-2015 06:29

Failed Attempt to Rewrite History December 1994By Patrick Viscuso Patrick Viscuso, of Chantilly, Vir­ginia, is a priest and canonist of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. The ceremony was conducted by a priest for two males in church, and contained symbols common to Byzantine marriage rites including holding candles, joining hands, receiving Communion, and processing three times around a table used in the celebration.He has written numerous articles in the area of Byzantine marriage theology and canon law in scholarly journals. Prayers used for the sacerdotal blessing referred to God establishing "spiritual broth­ers" (pneumatikous adelphous) and contained references to sainted pairs, including most no­tably SS Sergius and Bacchus, who were famous for their friend­ship.During these arrangements, the spouses each agreed to a written marriage con­tract by signing a cross.The con­sent of the families to the union was expressed when the fathers of the future spouses touched the pens used by their children during the signing.Our concern in this analysis will not be to examine the content of the prayers involved in the rites, as has already been accomplished in sev­eral reviews of Boswell's work, but to focus on the context in which the rites were used and described in late Byzantine society.In late Byzantium, marital union was established through a process involving several stages: engagement, marriage contract, betrothal, and crowning. They were a prom­ise of future union by the heads of households acting for their pre­adolescent children.

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His main contention is that the Byzantines regarded the rite of adelphopoiesis, a Greek term translated as "same-sex union" by Boswell, as a form of marriage contracted between two males and blessed by the Church.They were not regarded as having any ecclesiasti­cal significance and could be dis­solved merely with the civil penal­ties related to breaking a legal agreement.Marriage contracts also were a civil arrangement, most probably the "cross bonds" discussed by the 15th-century St. These consisted of agreements made before a repre­sentative of the state prior to the church ceremonies. Yale professor John Boswell's book purports to find precedents for homosexual marriage, particularly in Eastern Orthodoxy during the late Byzantine period.

Writing the history of a religious institution involves understanding concepts and language within their historical and cultural context.

The contracts signi­fied the agreement of the couple and their families to the union, as well as the transfer of property into the marital community — e.g., the dowry of the bride and the ante-nuptial gift of the bridegroom.



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