Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Western Rite as Ecumenist Bridge


“With the reception of “western rite” parishes into Orthodoxy, there were some who felt that the Uniate ideal had now found its proper home. Comparison of Western Rite Orthodox to Eastern Rite Catholics is, of course, inevitable. And, we should keep in mind that historically, Rome has often held up its Eastern Rite Catholics as a bridge to union with the Orthodox.” – Father Michael Johnson, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

And… will it work? The answer is a resounding maybe:

“The truth is, Uniatism has been a continuous obstacle to unity between Orthodoxy and Rome. And this recurring difficulty reared its head again only recently, with the breakdown of Communism in eastern Europe. We would be naive in the extreme to suppose t hat “western rite” Orthodoxy will have a more beneficial result. If they grow in numbers, the “western rite” Orthodox will increasingly appear to western Christians as a kind of pseudo-Orthodox whose purpose is not to evangelize but to proselytize.

Some might still argue that the “western rite” would at least demonstrate to “western” Christians what Orthodoxy would expect liturgically if a reunion of Christians should occur. Yet this too is groundless. The simple fact is, those parishes using the ” western rite” within the Antiochian Archdiocese are not following the “western rite” as now practiced by the overwhelming majority of “western” Christians. Indeed, one must ask why the Orthodox Church should have made herself into a safe haven for a tiny minority of western Christians who have rejected the reforms of the liturgical movement. Regarding the “Liturgy of St. Gregory” – it would be ludicrous for the Orthodox to tell the Roman Catholics that they should go back to doing the “last Gospel” at the end of their Liturgy. Or that revisions made by Vatican II to the Roman anaphora to make it read more like a single prayer were somehow misguided. The “Liturgy of St. Tikhon” would be even more indefensible in the case of Anglicans. Many of the recent revisions to the Book of Common Prayer (as with the Roman Missal ) have been based on sound liturgical scholarship – and many are clearly borrowings from the ancient Christian east! Furthermore, since both of these “western-rite” liturgies are being celebrated in “King James” English, are we telling the Christians of t he various western confessions that modern English is unacceptable as a liturgical language? This, in spite of the fact that modern English is now used in many translations of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom?

In summary, a “western rite” Orthodoxy, at least as it is currently being practiced, seems fated to have an increasingly negative effect on our already troubled position in ecumenical relations. ” – Ibid

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January 14, 2008 - Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , ,

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