Patriarch Cyril V of Constantinople

Patriarch Cyril V of Constantinople
Cyril V
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Church Church of Constantinople
In Office 28 Sept 1748 – end May 1751
7 Sept 1752 – 16 Jan 1757
Predecessor Paisius II
Paisius II
Successor Paisius II
Callinicus IV
Personal details
Died 27 July 1775
Mount Athos
Previous post Metropolitan of Nicomedia

Cyril V Karakallos (Greek: Κύριλλος Ε΄ Καράκαλλος) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for two periods from 1748 to 1751 and from 1752 to 1757.

A controversial figure, often blamed for his ideas about the baptism,[1] in 1755 he issued the Oros, a canonical document which, superseding the previous use of accepting Christian converts by Chrismation, stated that all non-Orthodox (including Catholic) baptisms were not valid and all converts needed to be re-baptized.[2]



Cyril was born in Dimitsana,[3] in the Peloponnese. Still young, he was taken captive during the Ottoman–Venetian War (1714–1718) and after his release he went to Patmos where he became a monk. In Patmos he also continued his studies but he was expelled by the school for behavior issues before graduation.[1]

In 1737 he was appointed Metropolitan of Meleniko and in 1745 he was promoted to the See of Nicomedia.[4] On 28 September 1748 he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople for the first time in place of Paisius II,[5] even if some days before he had sworn to Paisius that he would not try to depose him.[6]

As Patriarch Cyril had three priorities: the recovery of the patriarchal finances, the fight against Catholic positions and the instruction of the monks. To improve the finances he raised taxes on the metropolitan bishops and relieved the little parishes: this action was quite successful but made him unpopular among the bishops. He strongly supported the need to re-baptise all converts, and especially women,[7] because he considered the Armenian and Catholic baptisms as not valid. These positions created discontent among the metropolitans, who deposed him in May 1751 and reinstalled the moderate Paisius II in his place. Cyril retired on island of Halki, near Istanbul.

Cyril however was supported by a large portion of the populace, both because of his regulations on taxes and because of his opposition to the Catholic Church. In this regard Cyril was helped by the thaumaturgic and demagogic monk Auxentios[6] who preached strongly against the Catholics and instigated riots which culminated with a violent assault on the Patriarchate and the seizure of Paisius himself.[7] The riots were crushed, but the Ottoman authorities requested the deposition of Paisius and,[6] in exchange for a considerable amount of money (45,000 piastres[8]:166), appointed Cyril V, who was reinstalled on 7 September 1752.

With regards to the instruction of the monks, Cyril established in 1749 the Athonite Academy on Mount Athos, and in 1753 he called the eminent theologian and scholar Eugenios Voulgaris to guide it. However the Enlightenment ideas of Voulgaris were too modern for the monks, and he had to resign in 1758.[6]:220

The opposition to Cyril was led by the Metropolitan of Proilavo (Brăila in Romania) and future Patriarch, Callinicus. After Cyril ordered Callinicus into exile in the Sinai, the latter took refuge in the French embassy in Istanbul. Here Callinicus obtained a large amount of money which were given to the Sultan Osman III and resulted in Cyril's second and final deposition on 16 January 1757.[7]

Cyril was exiled to the Sinai, and later under Serapheim II he was allowed to move to the skete of Agia Anna on Mount Athos. In 1763 he returned to Constantinople to attempt a restoration to the patriarchal throne, but he was promptly and forcibly taken back to Agia Anna, where he died on 27 July 1775.[1]

The Oros and the validity of baptisms

From the beginning of his reign Cyril took a stand against the validity of the Armenian and Catholic baptism, and consequently of all their other sacraments. This view was known as Ana-baptism, a term and a doctrine unrelated to the Protestant Anabaptism. The issue was rooted by the heavy anti-Catholic polemic typical of the 18th century, probably fed by the alarm caused by Catholic proselytism. Its main representatives were Eugenios Voulgaris, the lay Eustratios Argenti and the thaumaturgic and demagogic monk Auxentios, who was able to stir up anti-Catholic mobs.[7]

The issue of the validity of baptisms arose after the Ottoman–Venetian War, when the Venetian-ruled Peloponnese was reconquered by the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled the Christians through the millet system and subjected the Catholics to the civil authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, causing numerous conversions to Orthodoxy. Cyril's actions to require the re-baptism of converts was due both by his fierce anti-Catholic position and by his sincere desire to provide what he considered to be a valid baptism.[6]

As of 1752 Cyril ruled that in any case the Armenian and Catholic converts should be re-baptised. The Holy Synod met on 28 April 1755 and formally voted against Cyril's position, considering it an innovation not envisaged by the ancient canons and contrary to the liturgical praxis. At this point Cyril exiled the members of the Holy Synod who were contrary to his view.[7]

In June 1755 Cyril issued a circular letter with title "Anathema of those who accept papal sacraments", and a month later he issued the formal order "Oros (Tome) of the Holy Great Church of Christ" which required the re-baptism in any case for any converts. The Oros had at least seven editions[8]:197 and was edited a year later by the so-called Constantinople Council of 1756 with the signatures of Patriarch Matthew of Alexandria, and of Patriarch Parthenius of Jerusalem.

It is important to note that the lack of validity of non-Orthodox baptisms was not declared in relation to the "heretical" doctrines of the other Churches, but simply as a consequence of baptisms not performed in strict accordance with the Orthodox uses, i.e. with a triple full immersion by an Orthodox priest or believer.

Not a single Eastern Orthodox Church, except the Greek churches, accepted the Oros.[9] The Russian Orthodox Church went on following the previously adopted canons, which recognized baptisms performed in the Catholic and Lutheran Churches as valid and did not repeat them.[9] The Oros was never formally retired, but since the beginning of 20th century the Greek Orthodox Church authorized different forms of reception for the converts.[2] The Oros is still today deemed as binding by some conservative Orthodox circles.[10]

According to scholar C.A. Frazee, the Oros, rather than the 1054 events, marked the true East–West Schism.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Moustakas Konstantinos. "Kyrillos V of Constantinople". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Meyendorff, John (1981). The Orthodox Church : its past and its role in the world today. Crestwood, N.Y: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 9780913836811. 
  3. ^ The scholar Gedeon (Πατριαρχικοί Πίνακες, 1890) suggested Nafplio in place of Dimitsana
  4. ^ "Κύριλλος Ε´". Ecumenical Patriarchate. Retrieved 19 June 2011. (Greek)
  5. ^ Kiminas, Demetrius (2009). The Ecumenical Patriarchate. Wildside Press LLC. p. 41. ISBN 9781434458766. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Runciman, Steven (1985). The Great Church in captivity. Cambridge University Press. pp. 357–9. ISBN 9780521313100. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Frazee, Charles (2006). Catholics and sultans : the church and the Ottoman Empire, 1453-1923. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 160–2. ISBN 0521027004. 
  8. ^ a b Papadopoullos, Theodōros (1952). Studies and documents relating to the history of the Greek Church and people under Turkish domination. Brussels. pp. 166, 197. 
  9. ^ a b Ambrosius Pogodin. III, The decision of the Constantinople Council of 1756. "On the Question of the Order of Reception of Persons into the Orthodox Church". Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniya (173 I-1996 and 174 II-1996/I-1997). Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Meyendorff, John (1975). Christ in Eastern Christian thought. Crestwood, N.Y: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780913836279. 
  11. ^ Frazee, Charles (1997). World History the Easy Way: A.D. 1500 to the present. Barron's Educational Series. pp. 105. ISBN 9780812097665. 

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