Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Key Questions


Although the “western rite” of the Antiochian Archdiocese continued for years as a mere handful of parishes, it has recently received a “shot in the arm” with the reception into Orthodoxy of a number of disaffected Episcopalians – sometimes including entire parishes. It is argued that the existence of a “western rite” within Orthodoxy offers these Anglo-Catholics a virtually perfect solution, since they can enter the Church without substantially changing their way of worship.

After all, why should “unnecessary barriers” be placed in their way? Furthermore – so we are told – these “western rite” communities represent a return to the Orthodox Church of the authentic, pre-schismatic Orthodox worship of the ancient Christian west and therefore enhances her catholicity and appeal to all people.

Compelling as these arguments may seem, the presence of a “western rite” within Orthodoxy represents a change from the way things have been since the Western Schism of the 11th century (or at least since the Fourth Crusade). As such, this innovation needs to be examined very carefully. For the sake of brevity, we will confine ourselves here to “western rite” Orthodoxy as practiced in America and examine it with regards to four fundamental questions:
1.) Does the reconstituted “western rite” actually represent an authentic return to the pre-schismatic Orthodox worship of the ancient Christian west?
2.) If there were a mass return of western Christians to Orthodoxy (say, union with Rome or Canterbury), would this “western rite” provide a workable precedent?
3.) Does the Orthodox Church need a “western rite” in order to evangelize Americans?
4.) Does the “western rite” serve the internal needs of the Orthodox Church in this country today?
Does the reconstituted “western rite” actually represent an authentic return to the pre-schismatic Orthodox worship of the ancient Christian west?

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December 28, 2007 - Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , ,

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