Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Questions on the Edict


In 1958, Met. Antony issued his Edict of August, setting forth the general and provisional basis for establishing Western rite parishes within the Antiochian Archdiocese. Among the Edict’s stipulations are the following (with commentary):

1. All converts to the Church must accept the full Orthodox doctrine of Faith.

This is probably the most serious areas of concern. It is easy to say that one accepts the doctrine of the Faith in toto, but can one accept it truly with insufficient understanding of and education in it? Does this mean just the creed? The speed at which many converts are being funneled into the WR, and the inadequacy of the catechetical instruction and requirements, is a reasonable point of concern. Is it really acceptance of the *full* Orthodox doctrine of Faith, if that faith is not adequately understood.

2. Parishes and larger units received into the Archdiocese retain the use of all Western rites, devotions, and customs which are not contrary to the Orthodox Faith and are logically derived from a Western usage antedating the Schism of 1054.

This is probably the second most serious area of concern. One the one hand, how can churches that barely observe the pieties and pious customs of the East ensure that Western Rite missions they’re setting up are observing the genuine and full expressions of Orthodox piety. In parishes where there is barely any keeping of the fasts, where liturgy and the liturgical prayers are spectator behaviors, where the non-Sunday services are barely attended, Confession barely a regular practice, and nearly all semblance of the asceticism that shapes *all* Orthodox worship is missing, from where is this surety to come? And in the absence of such things, will we not see the filling of the void with precisely such heterodox devotions as the Roman Catholic rosary and the Stations of the Cross. There is a very real dearth, in theatre-like Orthodox Churches, of anything approaching a full expression of Orthodox worship, devotions, and customs.

3. All individual converts must be integrated into parochial life; there can be no individual converts to the Western rite unless to an established parish.

Again, another area of concern. In parishes that are “planting” Western Rite Missions, converts are easily run through a quick catechesis and given a choice of “going East” or “going West”, and then it’s a rush to get the storefront built out, and the clergy chrismated and ordained, and everyone into their building. Just as children are stunted if they do not spend adequate time building relationships with adults, one worries about creating parallel communities that aren’t truly integrated with each other, and so have a false basis for integration in their separate communities.

7. Western rite parishes and clergy are subject to the canons of the Orthodox Church and the laws of the Archdiocese.

To what degree are they or their parent churches really familiar with the canons to treat them with due reverance and observe them faithfully? It is of some interest whether the canons are truly being respected in general, but what about their observance in the conduct of a Western Rite in the first place? Will the canons be observed with regard to fasting? Are they known? etc.

The goal in asking these things is to convey substantial and justifiable concerns with what is and is not being done in the name of setting up Western Rite missions and parishes, aside from the cheerleading in various media.

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January 17, 2008 - Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, Western Rite -- Stations of the Cross, Western Rite -- The Rosary, Western Rite Questions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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