Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

WR: The New Hybrid


Les Enfants TerribleAbstract: Enfants Terribles: The Challenge of Sectarian Converts to Ethnic Orthodox Churches in the United States
by Phillip Charles Lucas

[This article] considers two case studies of collective conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy to illustrate the most pressing challenges faced by ethnic Orthodox congregations who attempt to assimilate sectarian groups into their midst. I argue that these challenges include: 1) the different understandings of ecclesiology held by former Protestant sectarians and by “cradle” Orthodox believers; 2) the pan-Orthodox aspirations of sectarian converts versus the factionalism found in ethnically-based American Orthodox jurisdictions; 3) the differing pastoral styles of former sectarian ministers and Orthodox priests; 4) the tendency of sectarian converts to embrace a very strict reading of Orthodoxy and to adopt a critical and reformist attitude in relations with cradle Orthodox communities; and 5) the covert and overt racism that sometimes exists in ethnic Orthodox parishes. I suggest that the increasing numbers of non-ethnic converts to ethnic Orthodox parishes may result in increased pressure to break down ethnic barriers between Orthodox communities and to form a unified American Orthodox Church. These conversions may also lead to the growth of hybrid Orthodox churches such as the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

This is prescient. However, it seems the new hybrid is actually the Western Rite itself!

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January 26, 2008 Posted by | -- Catechesis & Conversion, -- Phyletism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Timeline in the Future


tempus actum praegressus est

2038 The largest and fastest growing (for an estimated 25-30 years) group of Orthodox in the US has been using a Western Rite and refers to itself as Western Orthodox. It is essentially a revised Anglicanism with the filioque stripped out and a few technical changes. The Western Orthodox Church becomes normative for converts to Orthodoxy, and even for children of immigrants, as the older generation dies off. A process of dual-rite and then, in some-cases wholly Western rite services becomes the norm for many historic Orthodox Churches in America. This is never entirely the case, as in fact a new fascination for the perceived byzantine and ethnic content of the old rites is popular in some circles. A trend of condemning such “ethnic-fetishism” prevails.

2039 A US law is passed at the behest of powerful Church leaders, exempting from corporate audit discretionary funds of any amount which are in the direct or general control of a hierarch of any Church which can show existence pre-dating the US Constitution. Critics cry that religious groups are given special favor not available to corporations, and the Act is later modified somewhat, with interesting concessions granted to corporate entities that qualify for a new “super-corporate” status.

2040-2043 A pan-Orthodox American council is convened, out of which a single American Orthodox Church is declared. In 2042, the Metropolitain of the former Orthodox Church in America, who some say was placing too many conditions on union, is forcibly removed from office and placed in a mental institution. Critics are placed under a ban of silence, threatened with deprivation of the mysteries. A suit is filed in US Federal Court in 2043, but the Met. Mark of All America and Canada dies while under care, effectively silencing the argument. Some suggest the death was mysterious, but an official investigative commission is appointed, composed of federal and ecclesiastical representatives, and its official report finds that the Metropolitan’s deteriorating mental condition was due to a physical defect, and no foul play was found. The results of the 2043 sobor essentially eclipse concern about this and it is quickly, in most circles, forgotten.

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January 19, 2008 Posted by | -- Eschatology, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Weirdness | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bishop Anthony’s Concerns


The concerns of Bishop Anthony of San Francisco, expressed in an encyclical to his diocese, have been dismissed, attacked, and ignored, rather than listened to for their pastoral concern, their substantive evaluation (expressed and hinted at) of the implications of the Antiochian WRV, and so deserve quotation and explication here, with commentary, rebuttal, riposte, etc. Likewise, it should be presented, if for no other reason than that the mere expression of an “unfavorable” commentary on the Western Rite is so often treated as unacceptable in the midst of a fever of uncritical enthusiasm and this particular piece is not merely an opinion but an episcopal decision and so should give the more perceptive reader greater circumspection and hopefully, more pause.

October 4, 1995. Protocol no. 3.

To the Reverend Clergy of the Holy Diocese of San Francisco
Dearly Beloved,

The current existence of “western rite” parishes in California, Oregon and Washington within the Antiochian Archdiocese has recently been brought to my attention by a number of clergy seeking direction regarding our relationship as a Diocese to these communities.

These parishes use, as a basis for worship, modified versions of the old Anglican missal or the pre-Vatican II mass. This is, at best, liturgically unsound and pastorally unwise: liturgically unsound because these rites are not in direct continuity with t he worship of the early Church in the West, but are primarily the result of 16th century Reformation and Counter-Reformation debates; pastorally unwise because this adds still further to our fragmentation as a Church in the Americas and creates a tiny grou p of missions and parishes that are liturgically isolated from the rest of the Church.

We are thus placed in the awkward position of having to accept the “western rite” vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese as belonging to the canonical Orthodox Church while at the same time recognizing that this is a foreign element within the Body of Christ, analogous to the creation of the Unia by the Roman Catholic Church.

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January 17, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite -- Tridentine Mass, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Seminal Material | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reservations: Bishop Kallistos (Ware)


“I understand that there are “western rite” groups in the USA which are using what is basically an Anglican rite, with a Byzantine epiclesis inserted into it. I have some reservations here.

The Anglican service is in large part the work of Cranmer, who was Zwinglian in his theology (i.e., he did not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist): do we make his rite “Orthodox” simply by inserting a Byzantine epiclesis? Indeed, is it right to take the Byzantine epiclesis and insert it into a western liturgical text where it does not properly belong? It is said that St. Tikhon of Moscow, while Archbishop of North America at the start of this century, blessed a rite of this sort. But how carefully was he able to examine the question? And if he were living today, would he recommend the same course? If we Orthodox are indeed to use a western rite, then there needs to be a full discussion on a pan-Orthodox level to clarify what western rite we should employ.” – Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 6, 2008 Posted by | -- Anglican, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Liturgics, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unity vs. Diversity


“I will speak only of the situation in Britain, for I am not qualified to express an opinion about America. Here in Britain we Orthodox, few though we are in numbers, are fragmented into a multiplicity of “jurisdictions”; but at least we are united in the use of the same rite – the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. If a “western rite” is introduced here, it will add still further to our fragmentation. Is this desirable? . . . Is this pastorally helpful? – Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, The Priest. A Newsletter for the Clergy of the Diocese of San Francisco. Issue No. 5, May 1996

January 5, 2008 Posted by | -- Ecclesiology & Ecumenism, Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comment from a RC forum


“As I can’t imagine it being accepted that a local hierarch, or a single hiearchichal structure of a jurisdiction would be accepted to be authorized to radically change the Divine Liturgy unilaterally, I simply cannot see how it is accepted that they may introduce these innovations (of a western rite mass for Orthodox), pronounce them orthodox motu proprio , and have it be accepted that world Orthodoxy stands behind them. Looking back on the decisions to adopt the Gregorian Calendar or Nikonian rites, (Not half the leap of faith!) I am left scratching my head how it can be asserted that the introduction of these various rites, can be seen as Orthodox …

So aside from not being under the pope and having married priests, how are you thinking this would be a better match for them then Rome?” 7/29/07 ASimpleSinner

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WRV = Unilateral Shift in General Policy


“More recently, some Orthodox churches have also accepted the policy of admitting a “Western rite” to be used not by entire ecclesiastical bodies joining corporately the communion of the Orthodox Church, but by smaller splinter groups, who seceded from these Western churches to join Orthodoxy. As is well known, the Roman Catholic Church was–and is– following a similar policy in reverse by accepting small (or big) splinter groups into its own communion with the proviso that they would keep and preserve their Eastern rite.” – Fr. John Meyendorff, SVTQ 1980

One may express concern that this really is, therefore, a shift in general policy in the history of Orthodoxy (there are exceptions, but these demonstrate the rule), and therefore really is a matter for pan-Orthodox consideration rather than the unilateral behavior that resulted in Bishop Anthony’s encyclical, which few have shown that they understand in this light. But this is indeed precisely the driving problem that he addresses.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Platonism, Fullness of Faith, Unity, Open Debate


Fr. John Meyendorff: “I will not try to enumerate here all the dimensions of the issue, which clearly involves the very nature of the current Orthodox witness in the world. The Orthodox Church has never considered its liturgy to be frozen once and for all in the limited cultural forms of tenth-century Byzantium. Of course, these forms are unequalled as an expression of the Tradition of the Church, but even they, as Fr. Schmemann likes to insist in his writings, have been often misunderstood and misinterpreted in categories of a platonizing symbolism of doubtful quality. On the other hand, if it wants to be credible in the West, the Orthodox Church can and should not only liberate itself of that which is unauthentic in its own historical past, but also assume everything which is true and beautiful in Western Christianity. But, in so doing, it must avoid simplifications, amateurism, superficiality, deceit and arrogance, which it so easily condemns in others. The liturgy is not a game of arbitrarily interchangeable rites, but an act of faith reflecting our salvation in Christ within the unity and the catholicity of the Church.

The debate about the Western rite is, therefore, both ecclesiological and pastoral. It is concerned with the relationship between the *lex orandi* and the *lex credendi* in the Catholic Church–a relationship which has remained very real in Orthodoxy, and has been greatly loosened in the West–and with concrete needs of the Orthodox mission. It is not about the legitimacy of a Western rite as such, but about the real situation of today’s Western Christianity, about the confused religious situation in America today, about the highly responsible task of building up an American church truly Orthodox and genuinely united, and finally about the issue of Christian unity in general. What is also needed is a joint pan-Orthodox decision on the matter, and therefore a preliminary open debate.1980 SVTQ [all emphasis ours]

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Western Rite -- Pan-Orthodoxy, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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