Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More on the ROCOR Western Rite

For the record H.B. Metropolitan Hilarion has issued a brief memo to the Western Rite community regarding the Holy Synod's recent and somewhat controversial decree. The memo offers little in the form of details but does seem to suggest that ROCOR is not abandoning the idea of the W/R.

It may be read here.

Update: Fr. John Whiteford has a post up on one of the major problems with ROCOR's W/R. This is not a blanket endorsement of his post. Frankly, some of it has the unfortunate tone of that knee jerk anti-Westernism which exists in certain quarters of the Church. Having said that, he raises some really important points.

Setting aside for the moment the arguments about whether or not the W/R is a good idea, I think it is now pretty clear that ROCOR's W/R had some very serious disciplinary problems, some of which were causing scandal, even rising to the point of calling into question the validity of sacraments. When you have that kind of situation, decisive action becomes imperative. We are not Episcopalians.

Based on what I've heard so far, I believe the Holy Synod needed to move quickly, and they did. Beyond that I am content to wait and see what develops before forming any definitive opinions on the matter.

10 comments:

Fr. John Whiteford said...

I know what you are talking about when it comes to those who have a knee jerk reaction to anything Western, but what I would say is the difference between what I argue in that article and that is that the knee jerk reaction is based simply on the fact that something is western. I am pointing out issues that the Orthodox have criticized the west for since at least the Quintisex Council.

Gregory DeLassus said...

The memo... does seem to suggest that ROCOR is not abandoning the idea of the W/R.

Really? From where in the memo are you getting this sense? I am not seeing anything in the text that would lead me to that conclusion.

Mind you, I do not mean this as any sort of criticism. I am wholly indifferent to the question of whether ROCOR should or should not have a Western rite. I can easily believe that the ROCOR synod would be well advised to suppress the Western rite. I am merely confused as to what in that letter makes you think that they are not going to suppress it altogether.

John Meese said...

At least in my opinion, this excerpt seems to encourage the Western Rite rather than claim to absolve it:

"...the Synod of Bishops has made some administrative changed that will help the Western Rite communities work toward and achieve unity, fellowship and participation in the rich spiritual life of the Church as we work together to serve the Lord..."

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

The idea that there have not been "mass" ordinations in Orthodoxy for "century after century" is pure fantasy; at least one has occurred within living memory in the Antiochian jurisdiction in North America, as is well known.

The canons treating ordination are neither so neat, nor so regularly and universally followed, as many like to believe. I document all this in a chapter on Orders in the forthcoming *Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology* under Matthew Levering and Hans Boersma’s editorship (Oxford UP, forthcoming, 2014). Inter alia, some of the things I demonstrate: “Mass” ordinations have been performed down through the centuries, not often, but often enough; “athroon” ordinations are equally to be found in both East and West; and the use (or setting aside, according to whim) of the “cursus honorum” finds clear examples in both East and West. On each of these examples, and others, you find both East and West doing things they will later reprobate, or later criticize the other for doing–or not doing. As the Byzantine historian Robert Taft would say, nobody’s got clean hands here.

Dn Paul said...

It seems to me that the biggest problem with the WR in general is one of obedience: to one's bishop, to the wider Church, and to both tradition and Tradition. While there are undoubtedly many WR communities that simply get on with working out their salvation, and with proclaiming Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, there are several others which seem to exist as cysts: they do not appear to be Orthodox in any meaningful, ontological sense, but rather they seem to exist to preserve their own traditions and cultural prejudices unsullied by the zeitgeist and the foibles of their erstwhile denominations. Unfortunately, it is this subset which both makes the most noise, and has the most noise made about it. I can understand why the mere mention of the WR is enough to bring most bishops out in a rash.

Not that I'm not casting stones here. The catalog of my own disobedience would fill several pages, and the sad tale gets longer every day.

Fr. John Whiteford said...

I would be curious to know from Dr. Adam DeVille what documentary evidence he has of Eastern multiple ordinations prior to 1980. But any practice that has ever been condemned by a canon was in practice on at least one occasion before hand. In this case, there is no canon that spells out this practice, and yet it is a practice that every Orthodox bishop is clearly aware of.

Fr. John Whiteford said...

And by the way, I don't believe the plan is to force anyone off the Western Rite. From what I can gather, the plan will be to end further expansion of it in ROCOR, and to more narrowly define what the Western Rite in ROCOR will be... in other words, no more making things up, picking and choosing what parts of the Eastern Typikon you like. Probably, they will be told to follow the standard Orthodox calendar of feasts and fasts, with standard fasting rules, and of course with the addition of western saints. At some point down the road, if we see healthy signs of growth in these parishes that remain western rite, there might be some reevaluation of whether or not they should be allowed to expand further.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jack Turner said...

With regards to the Council in Trullo, I wrote an article several years ago questioning the approach of laying an Eastern canonical tradition on top the Western liturgy without asking very serious questions. The article was "Western Rite Orthodoxy as a Canonical Problem," LOGOS: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 51 (2010) 229-48. I essentially conclude that the Christian East's canonical tradition, as typified by the Council in Trullo, does not envision a liturgical tradition other than it's own and has actively sought to suppress variances with and within that tradition. This was something that other Westerners recognized in Trullo, hence their rejection of the council; I propose that the council was not so much anti-Western as pro-Byzantine, if you will forgive the anachronism. Consequently, if Orthodoxy is to have communities using the Western liturgy (or any rite besides the Byzantine Rite), there must be a re-evaluation of a council, deemed ecumenical by the Orthodox, which was never accepted as ecumenical by half of the Church.

webmasterNW52HR said...

I think the main problems that the ROCOR synod had was with the personalities and misdeeds of the two leaders of ROCOR's Western Rite. One a Bishop (albeit a vicar) and one a Sub Deacon unable to be Ordained further - yet given the apparent powers of a bishop. I think that absent these two, revert to the previous situation of three Western Rite Monasteries having missions, and there would never have been a problem.

webmasterNW52HR said...

WebmasterNW52HR is me - Abbot Michael (Wood)