Friday, July 12, 2013

Big news for the Western Rite, ROCOR, and Bp. Jerome

NEW YORK: July 12, 2013 (ROCOR) - An Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops is Held

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held, presided over by its First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. Participating in the meeting were permanent members of the Synod of Bishops: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.

Deliberating on the matter of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, the Synod of Bishops made a decision as follows:

“During a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, presided over by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, A DECISION WAS MADE: on the activities of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the President for the Administration of Western Rite Parishes.

After exhaustive deliberation, IT WAS DECREED:

1) To halt the ordination of new clergymen for parishes adhering to the Western Rite.

2) To censure Bishop Jerome for his willfulness in administering the parishes adhering to the Western Rite, and in performing various ecclesial services not approved by the Synod of Bishops, and for criticizing his brethren in letters to clergy and laity.

3) To deny recognition of the ordination of a group of individuals by Bishop Jerome during a single divine service, and to regularize them following a thorough examination of the candidates. This event made big news on the Internet some days ago (pictured at right).

4) To release Bishop Jerome from all duties, including those of Vicar of the President in administering Western Rite parishes, designating him as retired without the right to serve in the Synodal Cathedral “of the Sign” in New York, or to perform ordinations or award clergymen, and designating his place of residence at St Vladimir Memorial Church of the 1000th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia in Jackson, NJ.

5) To bless Bishop Jerome to perform divine services within the confines of the Eastern American Diocese with the consent of its Ruling Bishop.

6) To release Monk Anthony (Bondi) from all of his administrative duties and from the spiritual ministry to the Vicariate of Western Rite Parishes.

7) To establish a commission to examine the means of integrating clergymen and communities of the Western Rite into the liturgical life of the Russian Orthodox Church, consisting of: Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, President; Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; Protopriest David Straut of the Eastern American Diocese, and Protopriest Anthony Nelson of the Mid-American Diocese.

8) To address an epistle to the clergymen and communities of the Western Rite regarding the need for them to adopt the order of divine services of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, while preserving, when necessary, certain particularities of the Western Rite.

9) To emphasize our adherence to the rules and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in general and of the Russian Orthodox Church in particular.

10) To deem this decree immediately valid and to submit it to the members of the Council of Bishops in the form of a questionnaire for confirmation.”

The meeting concluded with the singing of “It is Truly Meet.”

60 comments:

  1. Out of curiosity, who was the group in #3?

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  2. St. Nicodemus and St. Symeon the New Theologian on Mass ordinations:

    “....Hence and for this reason, namely, the Lord’s unique death, only a single deacon, and only a single presbyter, and only a single bishop or other prelate ought to be ordained at any one liturgy, and not two, or several, according to Symeon of Thessalonica (Reply 39), and also according to Job in the Syntagmation of Chrysanthus. As for those who are not uniquely ordained—i.e., who are not ordained once for all—what they are I know not, says the same Symeon, seeing that they have not been ordained in accordance with the tradition of the Church. In spite of the fact that several anagnosts and sub-deacons are ordained at one and the same liturgy; on the theory that they are more imperfect members of the holy orders, and that they are outside owing to their being in a minor service (commonly called “minor orders” in English), according to the same Job (ibid.). For this reason, that is to say, because of the fact that the unique death of Christ cannot occur a second time, the local synod held in the time of Heraclius against Isidorus in A.D. 613 ordained that two liturgies should not be celebrated on one and the same day and on one and the same table, saying: “It is not lawful on one table in the same day for two liturgies to be said, nor on the same table on which the bishop officiated in a liturgy, for any presbyter to officiate in a liturgy in the same day”: which rule the Papists (i.e., the so-called Roman Catholics) transgress. But then the fact is that even our own priests who celebrate liturgy twice in the same day, under the misconception that this conduces to outspoken emphasis and greater impressiveness, are gravely sinning. Accordingly, let them henceforth cease committing this absurd impropriety."

    The Rudder, p. 120, note 2, in reference to Canon 68 of the Holy Apostles.


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    1. This is classic Orthodox cannon grabbing, since "mass ordinations" have gone on in the East for centuries; it's only when the Synod needed an excuse to put the kibosh on Jerome's activities did it become a major canonical problem. So it goes with most Orthodox use/abuse of the canons; whatever happened to "oikonomia"?

      Not that I am defending Jerome here. I have no sympathy for Western Rite Orthodoxy, but the canon just cites shows the deficiency in Orthodox sacramental theology and its very, umm, "Byzantine" understanding of how ordinations are performed in the West. Sacraments are not magic, and yet a "magical theology" maintains its place as central to Orthodoxy, even in the canons.

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    2. First off, what evidence do you have of that? Secondly, a vicar bishop has no authority to do something like this on their own. Also, I can tell you that there was a growing outrage outside of ROCOR as word of this was spread. The WRV was a cancer, and and the therapy has finally begun.

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    3. Shame on you, Priest John, for calling your brothers and sisters in Christ a cancer... it is unworthy of someone like you; not to mention the implication that St John the Wonderworker was a carcinogen.

      Like it or don't, but behave yourself.

      Schema-monk Theodore

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    4. Fr. Theodore, Fr. John was saying the Vicariate itself (which I take to mean its faulty administration and structure) was a cancer, not the Western Rite in and of itself, nor its people.

      I do not think he was calling his brothers and sisters a cancer, nor implying that St. John was a carcinogen.

      Please get a hold of yourself.

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    5. Fr. John,

      I am not going to name names, but I think, upon a bit of reflection, you can think of a period of time, not long ago in the U.S., when a certain jurisdiction engaged in "mass ordination" (i.e., ordination of two or more individuals to the priesthood and diaconate); it was not an "infrequent" occurrence, and I believe "oikonomia" was used as the justification. Whether "oikonomia" has been used in other contexts is a point I can't speak to. Perhaps it was just a good old fashioned cases of "bending the rules."

      Like I said, I am not going to quarrel with Bishop Jerome's censure. I'm familiar with ROCOR's troubles concerning the WRV. My eye-rolling comes from the fact the canon quoted, with its decidedly anti-Catholic bent, betrays a silly -- even magical -- notion of the sacraments and how they are (or are not) "effective."

      Of course the Orthodox have every right -- just as the Eastern Catholic churches have every right -- to call the shots on how they want ordinations to take place, just as they have the right to assert that leavened bread should be used for the Eucharist. But the canon you have cited has, at times in Orthodoxy history, been ignored. Had Jerome "played ball" and the WRV not turned into a fiasco, I wonder if he would have met this fate through mass ordinations or if it would have been approved by "oikonomia" or just casually ignored. I guess we'll never know.

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    6. Schema-monk Theodore, St. John the Wonderworker reposed many decades before the Western Rite Vicariate was established, so he cannot be blamed for its shortcomings.

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    7. Something happening once in the 1980's in one jurisdiction is hardly proof that this is a long standing practice in the Orthodox Church. It clearly is not. But even then, there was an actual pastoral need, and a ruling bishop made a decision to do something on an exceptional basis -- though many other Churches raised objections about it even still. There was no pastoral need here. Many of the clergy that I know of who were involved had no functioning parishes. This was done, because it was supposedly the western way to do it. If that was the only problem in the Vicariate, you would not have seen such a strong response. At the very least, before introducing such a novelty it should have been approved not only by ROCOR, but the entire Russian Church... but of course, that would not have happened.

      The bigger problem with the vicariate was its reception of clergy from vagante groups, often sight unseen prior to the date of ordination. That is how we ended up with Nathan Monk renouncing the faith, his priesthood, and endorsing gay marriage on youtube in less than a year since he became an Orthodox Christian. This is unfair to the clergy themselves, unfair to their own people, and unfair to the rest of the Church who are scandalized by such things.

      I could go on, but the bishops have dealt with it, and so there is no need to go into further detail.

      And of course, I was not saying that the people in the WRV were a cancer. It was a growing problem in terms of how it was being administered, and thankfully the Church is correcting its course.

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    8. Fr. John,

      I never said that "mass ordinations," which would be more accurately labeled "ordaining two or more at once," was a "longstanding practice of the Orthodox Church." My point is that it has occurred throughout the centuries, and my identification of the example from a certain jurisdiction was to highlight that this practice is not some obscure, random act that occurred centuries ago. Also, I have no quarrel with any Orthodox jurisdiction believing there is a compelling need for multiple ordinations. Like I noted, I find the "canonical bar" to multiple ordinations to be thin in terms of theological justification, but I don't object to the Orthodox making a determination of sticking to single ordinations. They have a right to do so, just as the Western tradition has a right to practice multiple ordinations at once.

      It seems to me that you have at least acknowledged the point that when it comes to the canons, "pastoral need" (or "oikonomia") trumps strict adherence. Fine. And I agree with you that the problem with ROCOR is that one of its hierarchs didn't get the proper permission that he ought to have when it comes to whether "oikonomia" should be applied (or, really, if the canon should be ignored). So, again, I have no issue there.

      What I do wonder, however, is what ROCOR means when it says it will "deny the recognition of the ordination" of the men ordained by Bishop Jerome. Does this mean they are not real clergy? Does this mean that ROCOR acknowledges they have received sacramental orders but not the right to exercise them in ROCOR? Does this mean the are "sorta ordained, sorta not"? I think you can see where the absurdity lies in this. Either they are ordained or they are not ordained, regardless of the canonical strictures involved. And that goes exactly to my point about "magical theology." Either a sacrament has been performed or it has not, and if it has not, it must be because there was something intrinsically defective in it (e.g., a 5-year-old kid playing priest and "consecrating" a loaf of Wonder Bread). In this instance you have a validly ordained and consecrated bishop performing a valid sacramental rite of ordination on several men with the intention of ordaining them to the priesthood. A canonical violation -- by Orthodox lights -- has occurred, which, while sinful, does not nullify the sacramental validity of the act. And yet that appears to be what the Synod is saying. Pardon me, but that don't make no sense.

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    9. Modestinus,

      Did you actually read what the Synod said about the clerics who had been ordained en masse? The Synod said, "and to regularize them following a thorough examination of the candidates." They are NOT being treated as un-ordained, they are NOT being subjected to "magical theology". The Synod is simply being careful with these clerics, who must now undergo, post-ordination, the careful screening that they should have undergone before ordination.

      Your severe anti-Orthodox bitterness is well known but this time it has led you to neglect something that is right before your eyes.

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    10. Fr. John,

      I think Symeon of Thessaloniki is different than Symeon the New Theologian. The quote from Note 2, on Canon 68 (and, technically, it is a quote from a Note and not the Canon, but, the note represent the universal praxis of Orthodoxy, speak of Symeon of Thessaloniki, whereas the New Theologian is a different Symeon. The one of Thessaloniki lived in the 14th century, whereas the New Theologian lived in the 11th century.

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    11. The ordinations are considered to be invalid, however, after examining the candidates their ordinations may be regularized (which means some may not be).

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    12. Also, I have never seen any evidence of mass ordinations in the past few centuries. I only know of the one in the 80's, and then more recently, Patriarch Ignatius ordained 3 bishops at one time, because he was old, and didn't want to have to do 3 liturgies in a row. Whatever one may think of that, what happened here was quite different.

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    13. Ordo,

      Fr. John's reply to me seems to cut against your rebuke to me. The Synodal statement is, at best, ambiguous, and Fr. John seems to read it like I do: The Synod is doubtful that some of the men ordained by Bishop Jerome were truly ordained. For reasons I already listed, that seems queer to me, but it's ROCOR's mess to sort out.

      As for sacramental theology, the canon Fr. John quoted has the "magical sacrament" flavor to it which I am, for reasons I have discussed before, critical. The anti-Western tilt of the canon is also contemptible and unnecessary. Calling a spade a spade is not tantamount to being "anti-Orthodox." Grow up.

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    14. I doubt that the Roman Catholic Church does not have criteria that if you violate would result in them considering an ordination invalid. For example, when woman have been ordained priests, they have said so. If a bishop is suspended and he ordains someone, it is likewise considered invalid.

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    15. I think it could easily be determined that the "intrinsically defective" aspect of the ordination is that it was done by an auxiliary bishop without the approval of the diocesan bishop, and in a manner outside the mainstream tradition, to say the least, of the Orthodox Church. He exceeded his authority.

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    16. Fr. John,

      Yes, the Catholic Church has rules regarding matter, form, and intention of a sacrament in order to determine its validity. If an ordained priest intended to confer Baptism with water, but did so in the name of the "Father, Son, and Mother Earth," it would not be a valid sacrament because the form is flawed. Moreover, a Catholic priest could not consecrate Coke and Doritos at the Mass because the matter is incorrect. So no, it's not a free-for-all. Also, if a priest didn't believe in the sacramental system or held to a belief that the Eucharist is not what the Church believes it is, then the sacrament is, in all likelihood, invalid.

      123's explanation is only a matter of following certain canons and conventions which, as has already been discussed on here, can be waived. No priest, however, can "waive" intending the Bread and Wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ, just as a bishop cannot waive whether he will ordain a woman instead of a man. The problem here, it seems, is that this is an ad hoc determination which takes the conventional and conflates it with what should be universal with respect to the Sacraments. It's almost as absurd as those who hold -- and there are some Orthodox who hold this, contra the Didache -- that baptism by pouring is invalid. Perhaps my expression "magical sacramental theology" doesn't entirely apply; it's more like ad hoc sacramental theology.

      But to reiterate, the Orthodox can establish whatever conventions they want for conferring sacraments under penalty of sin. However, the way the aforementioned canon is phrased, coupled with way seems to be the understanding of many Orthodox, betrays a problematic view of the sacraments which, I would argue, is a serious defect in contemporary Orthodox sacramental theology. However, I wouldn't be the least surprised if some of this defectiveness is motivated by a desire to find polemical opportunities against Western praxis. Myopia runs amok.

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    17. A priest cannot serve liturgy without the authority of his bishop. Similay, an auxiliary bishop cannot act without the authority of the diocesan bishop.

      RC annulments in the US could provide a good example of how the most clear rules can still be bent to pastoral ends or even quite contrary to the intent of those rules. There are also examples in earlier church history of reincorporating schismatic and heretical groups and overlooking 'imperfections' pastorally.

      Within aocal church these issues are usually pretty straightforward. It's only between local churches or in relation to distinct groups within a local church, especially relative to the incorporation of an entire ecclesial body.

      Also, note that Met Philip's mass ordinations have not been repeated in that jurisdiction, and the incorporation of the CSB took place in a way that took into account the lessons learned through the reception of the EOC.

      According to the late canonist Abp Peter L'Huillier, reception to the Eucharist is a reception into the Church. No need to go back and redo any 'missed' sacraments as the has accepted the person into the Body of Christ. It is why the sacraments must be so well guarded.

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    18. 123,

      It seems to me that this is a clear instance where "Latin distinctions" are necessary to inject coherence. A priest cannot licitly (lawfully) serve the Liturgy without permission of the Bishop, but if goes ahead and does it anyway, he may be guilty of sin, but the Sacrament is not invalid; the consecration of the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ still occurs. Hierarchical permission is not some floodgate for Grace; it's a mater of lawfulness and order in the Church. Even the canon quoted by Fr. John, when dealing with the issue of a priest serving multiple liturgies, seems to implicitly acknowledge that, while unlawful in the East, the liturgies performed are still valid, i.e., a Sacrament has occurred.

      I don't follow your point on annulments, though I will say there is an open question on where contemporary Catholic annulment praxis is consistent with the Church's historic approach to the matter. Because of the kangaroo-court nature of the process now, I think there is still a reasonable doubt to be had that some of these annulled marriages are still valid, though that's on the conscience of the tribunal, I suspect. And yes, of course there was practices about regularizing heretical groups, etc. The Catholic Church, when in doubt, will confer conditional sacraments.

      Again, my point isn't to say that the Orthodox Church has no right to set the rules for how they want to do ordinations. But those rules are canonical rules; they are not dogmas, and the one at issue here has nothing to do with the validity of a sacrament. If it did, then no bishop or synod of bishops could ever "waive" the requirement for any purpose, just as no priest can "waive" Baptizing someone in the name of the Holy Trinity or "waive" the use of Chrism for Crisco.

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  3. Sad. Chalcedonian Orthodoxy really is just for Byzantines I guess.

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    1. Being canonical or worshipping with the rites of Chrysostom and Basil is not exclusively or even distinctly "Byzantine" (an anachronism), as these were practices and rites common throughout the entire Roman Empire at various points in history.

      If there are legitimate, Orthodox, Western Rites, may the Lord be praised through them. We are not at a point of clarity and holiness in the West to be making things up as we go, however.

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    2. Can you direct me to where I might find more info on this? I'm very interested in the liturgical rites and practices of ancient and medieval Christianity in the Roman Empire. I don't know much about the Western rite or its history, or the history of Orthodox Christian liturgical practice in pre-schism western Europe.

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    3. http://christminster.org/about/western-orthodoxy/

      There's a ton of reading you can do about the liturgics of the Ambrosian, Gallican, Mozarabic, and Roman Rites, but I'll leave that research to you. The above is a brief introduction from a lovely Western Orthodox Benedictine monastery that I've taken retreats at in the past.

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  4. Whenever such a union of two disparate groups is proposed, proper work should be done to resolve any issues before the union is formalized. This did not occur. From the moment that the Metropolitan placed his omophorion over them, I heard wails of dismay from may ROCOR priests. Now certainly, certain issues came up that needed to be dealt with in an orderly manner, but even more, in an atmosphere of Christian charity. What has occurred is a sin against charity. It is an exercise of Orthodox pharisee-ism. The clear command of the Lord that when there is a disagreement, there should be a face to face meeting, so that both sides can be heard in a context of brotherly love. Did this happen? NO. Now we build cases and judge people via email, social media, innuendo, 2nd hand information, gossip, and misrepresentation. I have left the ROCOR clergy lists. I'm not leaving ROCOR, unless they boot me out; but today, all I feel is shame. God bless my WR brothers. I hope they will find a home where you are loved and appreciated and the ancient WR liturgies will be honored. Poor Bishop Jerome. As I understand it, he was not even allowed to speak.

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    1. Fr. John, the mass ordination of clergy is a violation of the ancient and universally accepted practice of the Church. St. Symeon the New Theologian says that such ordinations are invalid, and there are only three saints in the history of the Church who have been given such a title. Surely every bishop has had an occasion in which ordaining two or more priests in a single liturgy would have been convenient, and yet for some reason (theological reasons cited by St. Symeon) for all of our history this has not been the accepted practice. Why do you suppose that is? Also, these ordinations were not even done in the context of a liturgy. How can the office of Deacon or Priest be so abstracted from the Liturgy?

      And this is not the first time that the excesses of the Western Rite Vicariate have been discussed by our bishops. This is just the first time that they have gone so far over the line that our bishops had no choice but to do at least as much as they did.

      This was not a sin against charity. Those who did this could have found themselves facing a canonical trial, but the bishops have acted in a very pastoral but decisive way... which was very much needed. We can't have more and more Nathan Monks popping up around the world because we have people being ordained without any real preparation or vetting.

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    2. "God bless my WR brothers. I hope they will find a home where you are loved and appreciated and the ancient WR liturgies will be honored."

      Amen.

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    3. Agreed, Fr. John. It is incredibly sad. If they were Russian I'm sure it would be overlookable, but obviously they're not...

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    4. Being Russian has nothing to do with this. Any bishop who did this would be retired... at least.

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    5. I believe 'mass ordinations' were common in the West on Ember Days, at least in some places. So, this could also be a case of differences in Rite, though perhaps one that the Synod and other Orthodox Churches would not have been comfortable with meaning especial care should have been taken to decided conciliarly and synodically whether and how such a practice was to be renewed.

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  5. The Antiochians started this sad modern trend with what happened in the 80s under Met. Phillip. But, it continued in 2004(?) with multiple bishops being given cherothonia at one Liturgy:

    http://tinyurl.com/ns2r9sr

    And, of course, it was still being practiced in 2011 with three additional Antiochian bishops being given cherothonia at the same Liturgy:

    http://tinyurl.com/pxmj6bt

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    1. leave my Church out of your Russian Mess!!!!! Metropolitan Phillip had perfect right to Ordain all those Priests and Deacons like he did in the 80s because the Patriarch gave him permission.

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    2. If that's who I think it is, Hieromonk Enoch has no "Russian Mess". His (and my) Metropolia was granted jurisdiction over the West by Archbishop Auxentios of the True Orthodox Church of Greece in 1984.

      The Patriarch must still be obedient to the canons.

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    3. "Those who did this could have found themselves facing a canonical trial, but the bishops have acted in a very pastoral but decisive way... which was very much needed."

      I would have preferred the canonical trial. My guess that that Bp Jerome doesn't take this sitting down; there's probably a letter being composed and going to Moscow as we speak.

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    4. Have none of you heard of the principle of economy? Metropolitan Philip had the permission of the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch for the multiple ordinations as an exercise of economy. When His Beatitude consecrated more than one Bishop at the same time, he also exercised economy.
      There were other problems with the ROCOR Western Rite. Some of the candidates for ordination did not undergo proper screening and training. In two cases of which I know ROCOR ordained two men who had been rejected by the Antiochian Western Rite. One of them a leftist political activists has since left the Orthodox Church and endorsed same sex marriage.

      Fr. John W. Morris

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  6. Aren't the "ancient WR liturgies" an abbreviated Mass from St. Gregory and a compilation of modern era Anglican services? The Western Rite is an experiment which needs serious examination, and probably needs to end. We Americans can start at the back of the line like the rest of the world, and let an organic and orthodox Rite develop over the next several centuries as God wills.

    Too many of the WR adherents seem not to want to be Orthodox so much as they do not want to be Catholic, only they're finding out the Orthodox Church is actually catholic.

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  7. "7) To establish a commission to examine the means of integrating clergymen and communities of the Western Rite into the liturgical life of the Russian Orthodox Church,"

    As predicted: to be Orthodox you must become Russian and Greek. No thanks.

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    1. That's funny. I'm Orthodox and I'm just about pure Anglo-Saxon. I know Orthodox Syrians and Lebanese as well. I've even seen some non-Russian Slavs around my parish, hiding in the shadows to avoid Russian conquest. There are several Greeks as well.

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    2. Our services are entirely in English, and I wear cowboy boots. We are Russian Orthodox, but few of us are Russian.

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    3. His point stands. Russo-Byzantine worship in English isn't English Orthodox - it's still just as Byzantine as it is in Greek or Slavonic.

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    4. And that's what we all started with, so that's the hand you're dealt. Three centuries from now, when the Church is an organic part of an English nation and you've developed an Anglican Rite that passes muster, then God be praised.

      There have been no "English Orthodox" for over a millennium. We lost our place in line, so now we have to go to the back. Nobody said Orthodoxy was easy.

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    5. Few are those with any experience of a traditional WR anymore - whether of the old BCP or the pre-V2 rite much less pre-Schism versions of the same. The various WRO rites are just as foreign and exotic to most Westerners as the Byz Rites. And the Byz Rite is a lot more familiar to the average Westerners than were the early Christian rite to converts in the Roman Empire and beyond, and they didn't have to become Jewish, the Slavs didn't have to become Greeks, etc.

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    6. @The Anti-Gnostic: And that's what we all started with, so that's the hand you're dealt.

      I always find it interesting that the Orthodox has to be revisionist. The Roman Canon is as old, and in many case older, than most Orthodox liturgies. And, since I anticipate some arguments concerning the current state of the Roman Rite, I will add that all genuine liturgies develop over time. They grow.

      @The Anti-Gnostic: Three centuries from now, when the Church is an organic part of an English nation and you've developed an Anglican Rite that passes muster, then God be praised.

      I’m guessing that ‘passes muster’ is newspeak for ‘identical to whatever the Orthodox do.’

      @The Anti-Gnostic: There have been no "English Orthodox" for over a millennium. We lost our place in line, so now we have to go to the back. Nobody said Orthodoxy was easy.

      And the English wasn’t Orthodox to begin with. They were influenced primarily by St. Augustine of Canterbury, who was a papal delegate and Celtic Christians, who traces back to St. Patrick, another papal delegate and a Roman to boot.

      I am not saying that Orthodox liturgy is wrong. I am saying that it is not Western, and Western Christians should be able to celebrate in their ancient customs, whether in or out of communion with Russian-Orthodox churches.

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    7. First, this is a family dispute. Catholics can mend their own tents. But now that you're here, it's ironic how "Orthodox" the Catholic universalists start sounding when the Orthodox cross into the Occident.

      Second, we no longer know what those "ancient customs" were, any more than the neo-pagans know what "Druidic" customs were.

      This experiment has faltered badly in this instance so it has wisely been shut down.

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  8. I am glad to see that these ROCOR WR parishes are going to be integrated into the rest of the dioceses, but I am saddened greatly that the Synod is trying to make them Eastern in order to be Orthodox. Does this not go against everything St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco said and did? What of St. Tikhon? St. Raphael of Brooklyn? These bishops and saints wanted to see Western liturgies of Orthodoxy restored.

    Being an 'Eastern Rite' Orthodox Christian, I value the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil (among the others) that are celebrated in the East, however I understand and appreciate the ancient Roman and English Rites that have remained in use through the centuries since the schism (albeit by heterodox groups). We have these liturgies and forms and customs that predate any heresy of the West, and it seems too many of us Orthodox ER Christians are so quick to throw them away because, "oh, they're actually Papist customs," or, "nah, it must have suffered some irreparable change during the English reformation."

    WR parishes have worked out quite well, just as ER parishes have. WR parishes have also not worked out so well, just like ER parishes have. I would not be quick to condemn an ancient and venerable Rite just because of a few bad eggs and experiences. Had I done that when first coming to Orthodoxy, I would have still been a Protestant, at best. In fact, if any converts here would have dropped Orthodoxy because of some bad experiences or difficulties accepting some things.... you get it, I hope.

    Now, if ROCOR will not give our Orthodox WR brothers and sisters the courtesy of remaining in their Rites, I am sure the AWRV would be. It seems to have worked just fine there.

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  9. The big question here has to do with living tradition. The Orthodox Church has no living tradition of the Western rites. What is left of the Western rites has gone through centuries of Anglican and Roman Catholic use. Sifting through centuries of heterodox debris to recover what is authentic in the Western Orthodox heritage will take a very long time, at least.

    There is a similar debate in Roman Catholic Traditionalist circles. Should the pre-1955 Holy Week and Missal be used? The one used by Traditionalists right now was already greatly changed by Pius XII and John XXIII and some want to go back and use the Missal as it was before them Popes. Should the Sarum Rite be used? Should the different French, Central European and German rites and uses that had been abolished in the last 5 centuries be used? The overwhelming sentiment among Catholic Traditionalists is that the disused rites and uses were beautiful, but it is best to stick to the "1962 Missal" as they like to name it because it is the one that most of them are familiar with.

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  10. "We have these liturgies and forms and customs that predate any heresy of the West, and it seems too many of us Orthodox ER Christians are so quick to throw them away because, "oh, they're actually Papist customs," or, "nah, it must have suffered some irreparable change during the English reformation."

    Who decides what is "them"-- the "liturgies and forms and customs that predate any heresy of the West"? The bishops of the Orthodox Church. The bishops have the added work of finding out if it is expedient to restore them even if orthodox. You seem to think that what is orthodox in the Western rites should therefore be restored. This is not necessarily so. In the Eastern liturgy much that is undoubtedly orthodox has fallen by the wayside in the last few centuries but they are not being restored to actual use by the Orthodox bishops. The bishops also have to think of what can be practically done.

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  11. I should remind you that the Western Rite is alive and well in the Antiochian Archdiocese. The services that they use were carefully prepared using standards set by the Holy Synod of Russia in the early 1900s. However, to be honest, the Western Rite in ROCOR was not well administered. People like Monk and others who were refused or discouraged by our Western Rite authorities went to ROCOR and were ordained with no more requirements than that they pass a background check and a theology exam. The Antiochian Archdiocese is much stricter in what we require. It takes several years of instruction and examination before someone is approved for ordination.
    Despite my support for the Western Rite, I strongly object to the argument that the Byzantine Rite is too Eastern for Americans. Since most American belong to non-liturgical churches, any form of liturgical worship is foreign. Except for Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, the Western Rite is just a foreign to most Americans as the Byzantine Rite. The Byzantine Rite transcends ethnicism and is followed all over the world. It is a timeless and universal expression of the Orthodox Faith.

    Archpriest John Morris

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    1. It should also be noted that any number of Eastern Rites also went by the wayside in favor of the Byzantine Rite, the synthesis of Constantinopolitan and Sabbaite practices, prayers, etc. The Old Ritual in Russia is one well-known example, as were the component rites mentioned above, as well as the Liturgy of St Mark in Alexandria, of St. James in Jerusalem, etc. It's not as if the Orthodox are simply anti-Western when it comes to rites.

      The tendency in liturgics over the history of the Church has been the consolidation of rites regionally, which was seen in the development and spread of the common Tridentine Rite, for instance. It is also seen simply in the use of the Roman Rite throughout the West over and against more local rites, which is the same thing that has taken place throughout the various "Easts".

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    2. @Archpriest John Morris: Since most American belong to non-liturgical churches, any form of liturgical worship is foreign.

      Can you back that up with actual numbers? There are a lot of Episcopalians and Catholics in the US, not to mention a few million Lutherans. And the fact is that in American culture, people know about Catholic/Western liturgies, even if they haven't participated in it.

      @Archpriest John Morris: The Byzantine Rite transcends ethnicism and is followed all over the world.

      Wishful thinking, and it would have been equally wrong if you had said it about the Western rite. Neither of these are more 'transcendent' then the other in terms off ethnicity. The Byzantine Rite is rooted in Byzantine culture as much as the Western rite is rooted in Roman culture.

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    3. I will agree with Fr. John that Fr. Nathan is an embarrassment. No question, I never knew why precisely why he was not allowed into the Antiochian WRV, but I assumed it had been resolved.

      Fr. John may or may not be correct about lack of strictness in the ROCOR WR candidates. The degree of strictness for incoming clergy candidates is debateable.

      Some beleive the Antiochian WR is too strict, for example they don't allow a parish that does not own property to become part of them or is it that the parish must cede the property to be owned by the diocese. (If I recall correctly).

      There will be plenty of reflection about all this.

      Nevetheless, Fr. John may have a point on the way candidates were vetted. I'll leave that for others who know more about the situation to mull over. I am glad that he is supports the concept of the WR on some level.

      Antioch has a respectable model, criticisms aside.

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  12. One of the men pictured in this photo is Ryan Lozano formerly a "bishop" of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, a strange cult headed by a man claiming to be the Patriarch of said "church", Rutherford Cardinal Johnson. Johnson also claims to be the Crown Prince of Etruria, a non-existent country. He has descended from his lofty throne and now manages a Gigi's Cupcake franchise in Mobile. Men like Anthony Bondi, a soi-disant vagante "bishop", Nathan Monk, a liberal social activist, and Ryan Lozano have destoyed any chance of the ROCORWRV ever becoming more than a collection of exotic characters.

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  13. Here are two links to Johnson's strange websites.

    http://www.anglicanritecatholicchurch.org/

    http://www.regno.org/household.html

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  14. I go away for almost 14 years, and come back, and NOT ONE of you folks have shed your 'I'm more orthodox than the Phanar' phyletistic heretical racist p.o.v's, because you are all acting as selbsthass Westerners, not wanting to fill with grace the already extant BCP or Gregorian liturgies, because that would smack of your own pre-Orthodox worlds- yet, if YOU are to be redeemed, can't Anglican Thump, the BCP, and the KJV? Of course it can! But y'all don't want to go there. And you haven't since Hawa-weenie restored the 'ethnic' minority voice to the incipient White, Anglo-Saxon world that St. Tikhon was ready to give to the Episcopal Anglo-Catholics of Nashota House, when he made his pastoral visitation, over 100 years ago. For many of us, we're still waiting for the establishment of an Anglo Orthodox Church- and all we are getting from the 'conservatives' here, are liturgical nit-picking, while the SCOBA-dox excommunicate the 'two matthews' for daring to call them the WASP's (White Anglo-Saxon Pravoslavniye) we merely want to be, apart and away from the Byzantines, and their ethnic conflation of Orthodoxy with a baklava worldview!

    - Fr. John+

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