Friday, July 12, 2013

ROCOR Closes Down its Western Rite; Bishop Jerome Retired

NEW YORK: July 12, 2013
An Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops is Held

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held, presided over by its First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. Participating in the meeting were permanent members of the Synod of Bishops: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America. 

Deliberating on the matter of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, the Synod of Bishops made a decision as follows:

“During a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, presided over by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, A DECISION WAS MADE: on the activities of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the President for the Administration of Western Rite Parishes. 

After exhaustive deliberation, IT WAS DECREED: 

1) To halt the ordination of new clergymen for parishes adhering to the Western Rite. 

2) To censure Bishop Jerome for his willfulness in administering the parishes adhering to the Western Rite, and in performing various ecclesial services not approved by the Synod of Bishops, and for criticizing his brethren in letters to clergy and laity. 

3) To deny recognition of the ordination of a group of individuals by Bishop Jerome during a single divine service, and to regularize them following a thorough examination of the candidates.

4) To release Bishop Jerome from all duties, including those of Vicar of the President in administering Western Rite parishes, designating him as retired without the right to serve in the Synodal Cathedral “of the Sign” in New York, or to perform ordinations or award clergymen, and designating his place of residence at St Vladimir Memorial Church of the 1000th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia in Jackson, NJ.

5) To bless Bishop Jerome to perform divine services within the confines of the Eastern American Diocese with the consent of its Ruling Bishop. 

6) To release Monk Anthony (Bondi) from all of his administrative duties and from the spiritual ministry to the Vicariate of Western Rite Parishes. 

7) To establish a commission to examine the means of integrating clergymen and communities of the Western Rite into the liturgical life of the Russian Orthodox Church, consisting of: Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, President; Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; Protopriest David Straut of the Eastern American Diocese, and Protopriest Anthony Nelson of the Mid-American Diocese. 

8) To address an epistle to the clergymen and communities of the Western Rite regarding the need for them to adopt the order of divine services of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, while preserving, when necessary, certain particularities of the Western Rite. 

9) To emphasize our adherence to the rules and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in general and of the Russian Orthodox Church in particular. 

10) To deem this decree immediately valid and to submit it to the members of the Council of Bishops in the form of a questionnaire for confirmation.” 

The meeting concluded with the singing of “It is Truly Meet.”

HT: Dr. Tighe


Unknown said...

Dear Anglicans,

If you were considering taking up our offer, ( we were lying. There is no home for the West in Orthodoxy.



Abbot Theodore said...


There remains a home in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese...

Monk Theodore

The Archer of the Forest said...

I have to admit I am saddened but not surprised. I think I will stick to my conversion to Rome, thank ye.

Unknown said...

That is true Fr. Theodore. But that is not what the statement said. The statement contradicts the statement made two months ago, which seems to have been authorized by Mt. Halarion, inviting Anglicans to become ROCOR Western Rite, with our bishops as mitered archpriests, and seems to say that only the Eastern Liturgies are Orthodox. Perhaps Jonah acted without authorization. But the report at the time was that it was authorized by Hilarion. That offer has been made a lie. The only question: who lied, Hilarion, or Bondi. If Bondi was not authorized, he was lying. On the other hand, if Hilarion authorized it, he has gone back on his word, thus lying.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, it's like people are commenting without knowing what's going on!

This had nothing to do with any supposed animus to the WR (Met. Hilarion's been a supporter of the idea for ages). It had everything to do with Bp. Jerome ordaining any and everyone in sight, and with the WR priests consistently failing to conduct themselves with the basic decorum expected of clergymen (likely because they were ordained on a whim without any training or qualifications).

Anonymous said...

I (anonymously) agree with Anonymous above. Too many people were getting ordained without due examination, with tragic and scandalous consequences. That *had* to stop, and the ROCOR Western Rite was, sadly, collateral damage.

Unknown said...

The problem with that interpretation is that they did not just censure Jerome, and say "we need to slow down" they said that, contrary to the promises to the Anglicans, that there would be no new ordinations, and, also contrary to the promises to the Anglicans that the priests would have to be Eastern Rite. Perhaps Jerome and Jonah overstepped in that speech. But this does not line up with that.

Proskomen said...

Whoa, what brought Jonah into this? Metropolitan Jonah has nothing to do with this. He was the guy who was drummed out of the OCA's top spot, then the accusations against him were taken down after they turned out to be total crap.

The head of ROCOR is named Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral. He with the rest of the ROCOR bishops have decreed the above regarding Bishop Jerome and the Western Rite Vicariate.

For what it's worth, I believe that this decree amounts to a temporary interruption in new ordinations, an interruption that will last only until ROCOR can get the critical issues straightened out. It does not appear to be a total dismantling of the rite as some have portrayed.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The Western Rite is an experiment which probably needs to be ended. The orthodox rites pre-dating the schism are mostly lost to history. Anglicans (i.e., cultural/ethnic Anglo's) can start with the Byzantine rite like everyone else did. Over the next several centuries, assuming an organic Church in an Anglican homeland, an orthodox Western Rite can develop. The current context, with numerous Churches establishing eparchies in the Americas, is not conducive to this process.

Anonymous said...

T Nathan Monk show probably had a lot to do with this. Converts were being ordained too fast with the usual consequences causing all kinds of problems.

Anonymous said...

Metropolitan Hilarion is a firm supporter of the Western Rite as a tool in missionary work. I cannot believe the rite is been dismantled, but if this is so, there is still an Antiochian Western Rite, which to all accounts is still alive and well.

Matthew M said...

As stated, sad but not a surprise. Something went awry in the rOCOR western Rite. Don't know what don't care. I saw this coming. The Antiochian Western Rite is pretty much dead as well. After all the scandal with Metropolitan Philip and the shutting down of of all the Western Rite blogs or anti-Philip blogs, there has been no missionary work and groups that were on the way have not been received and at least one has returned to a continuing Anglican body after being fully catechised.

So much for the Western Rite which I supported for years. Now you know why I have returned to Rome.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

If Rite is more important than the Faith then it was indeed a mistake to enter the Orthodox Church. Some of the comments I have seen here and elsewhere on this topic are extremely disturbing. It really does seem like there is a significant body of WR people who were just looking for a place to be either High Church Anglicans or Tridentine Catholics, sans the Pope.

I have been a cautious supporter of the Western Rite, but I am starting to see that its critics may have had legitimate concerns.

Matthew M said...

@Archer of the Forest -
What up? You don'y respond to comments or questions on your blog. I tried e-mailing you but your e-mail address no longer functions and you drop a comment that you are going over the bridge to Rome but don't let anyone know on your site?
Come on! Man Up!
Rome is home.

Unknown said...


I'm Anglican. What troubles me is 1) less than two months ago it looked like ROCOR was setting up something like Anglicanorum coetibus, now they're completely backpedaling. 2) Point 8 seems to be saying that rite is more important than faith. Perhaps in the letter it will come out that they misspoke, or were vague. But, though it can be done, it's difficult to read point 8 as saying anything other than that to be Orthodox you must be Eastern (your patron, I believe, had something to say on this matter)--that is, that the Eastern Rite is more important than the faith.

In that light, the responses seem understandable, if not justified. People have joined, or are thinking of joining, as Western Orthodox, emphasis on Orthodox, but still western. Now suddenly they are very bruskly brushed aside, and seem to have been told that to be Orthodox you must be Eastern. How would you expect someone to respond?

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox Liturgy (for scholarly purposes termed "Byzantine") is not Eastern. It is universal. There's nothing "Eastern" about it except its provenance. And insofar as Western liturgies for centuries admitted influences from the East (cf. the reforms of Popes Gregory, Zacharias, et. al), the distinction is dubious.

Unknown said...

The Byzantine typicon is not Orthodox, as such. That is, it is a means of celebrating the Orthodox faith, but there have been others--otherwise the Rite is more important than the faith.
It may be by an accident of history that it's all that's left, and it may be that trying to return to an old liturgy inadvisable, for whatever reason. But the Byzantine typicon is definitely *an* Orthodox typicon, not *the* Byzantine typicon. (Though again, it may be the only remaining one.)

That attitude also has severe consequences regarding the Orientals. If it should be decided that the faith is the same, it would be a first order scandal if reunion is halted because the rite is greater than the faith--that is, because the Byzantine Rite is The Orthodox Rite.

Anonymous said...

As an Orthodox priest for 10 years, I spent a year at a WR parish (Antiochian). My agonized conclusion after several months of kidding myself is that the WR is truly an "Emperor without clothes"; an entity filled with people who indeed want to be High Anglican or pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic without women priests, homosexual bishops or a Pope. The Western Liturgy is sparse and arid, (some say simple and dignified), compared to the richness, depth, sobriety and joyfulness of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Anonymous is right on the mark stating that the Byzantine Liturgy is not "eastern" but universal. The whole raison d'etre for WR; keeping Western worship while embracing Orthodox belief seems to me rank ethnocentrism -- recognizing the truth of Orthodox belief, yet being unwilling to embrace the worship which reflects and expresses this belief. "Lex orandi, lex credendi." Can anyone really say that the Western Liturgy reflects Orthodox belief with any of the profundity of the Byzantine Rite. Three cheers for the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, who seem to be recognizing that the Emperor has no clothes

Unknown said...

If that was addressed to me:

My gut reaction to Western Rite Orthodox is that it tends to be digging up dead roots, rather than accepting the flourishing flower--that is, it seems to suffer from some of the worst aspects of Protestantism. On the other hand, it has seemed to be an important thing for some, for instance, Fr. Fenton, or the Episcopalian parishes that left for Orthodoxy, and I wouldn't want to judge their piety. At the same time, it often seems anti-Ecumenical--"here is the true Western Church"--which may be right or wrong, but is different from some of its appeal of maintaining a western heritage.

What troubles me about this isn't so much that the Western Rite has (seemingly) been ended, but *how*. Just two months ago, it seemed that ROCOR was creating an offer something like Anglicanorum coetibus, which perhaps would have the potential to save the splintered Continuum (where I am currently), and perhaps allow a dying shoot to be grafted into a lively vine. This going back on that is personally disappointing, and I feel tricked. (I would be willing to bet many in the WR feel similarly, though for different reasons.)

And second, point 8 does not say "this was a failed experiment, and we are trying to breath life into something that has died" but seems to imply that the Byzantine typicon is *the* Orthodox typicon, not *an* Orthodox typicon (perhaps the last left surviving). And that seems to me to be to set the rite over the faith, and to cast doubt on the ancient Western Church.

Regarding the beauty: But the Western family of typica was used in the Orthodox for a thousand years, and if it's been uprooted and died in the sun now, it was once lively.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

As much as I appreciate Anglo-Americans acting out of a staunch ethno-cultural sense, I second John's observation. The Western Rite is filling with people who don't want to be Catholic, only to discover that Orthodoxy is actually catholic.

You don't like a pope? Then you are not going to like Orthodoxy because we've got nine of them.

Rome left Orthodoxy, and then the Anglicans left Rome, and then the Anglo's and even Rome herself left monarchy, which is to say the West left nationhood. So at this point, there is no Anglican nation to which a Church can conjoin in order to develop an organic, orthodox Rite. The Anglicans lost their place in line. They put themselves on terra nova geographically as well as spiritually, so now they have to go to the back and start over. Holy Rome and Byzantium are no more so it is every Church for herself. If the West ever sorts itself into actual nations again, then we can see what develops at that point.

Greg DeLassus said...

Can anyone really say that the Western Liturgy reflects Orthodox belief with any of the profundity of the Byzantine Rite.

I am Catholic, not Orthodox, so it is nothing to me whether the Orthodox decide to have a Western rite or not. Nevertheless, when I read something like the above, I have to wonder what the author means.

St. Agatho of Rome did not celebrate the Constantinopolitan liturgy on Roman altars. He celebrated the Roman liturgy. Does this mean that St. Agatho lacked the profundity of the Orthodox faith? If so, pray, where did those in Constantinople acquire this profundity, because as I recall it, St. Agatho had to set Constantinople straight on the monothelite heresy.

Evidently the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, beautiful and worthy though it may be, is not really sufficient to preserve one against heresy. Evidently the Roman liturgy, "sparse and arid" though it may be, is not really destined to lead one into perdition. The argument that St. John Chrysostom's liturgy is the one and only authentic expression of Orthodoxy seems rather at odds with the historical evidence.

Diane said...

Amen, Gregory, amen.

Anti-Westernism and anti-Catholicism are so antithetical to the whole idea of the Catholica. I can't believe that those who espouse such sentiments can't see what a turn-off that is.

Diane said...

Rome left Orthodoxy....

Yeah, right.

As Perry Mason would say, you are assuming a fact not in evidence.

But I won't argue with such historical illiteracy. Life is way too short.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

"As Perry Mason would say, you are assuming a fact not in evidence."

Says you. Our Patriarchs disagree.

"Anti-Westernism and anti-Catholicism are so antithetical to the whole idea of the Catholica."

This makes sense, since it was the Western European nations which comprised the Roman pontiff's jurisdiction.

Catholic universality is on a collision course with itself, as the formerly Western European Church becomes Central and South American.

Anonymous said...

Umm... We are hardly talking 7th century Liturgies here.

Greg DeLassus said...

Umm... We are hardly talking 7th century Liturgies here.

Sure, fair enough. That said, it is not as if the 7th century Roman liturgies were particularly more elaborate or verbose than anything that the ROCOR-WR was using. Roman liturgy has always been more "simple and dignified" than Byzantine liturgy. If anything, the later Roman rite forms are more elaborate than the liturgy that St. Agatho would have known. I think my point still stands: it is difficult to reconcile a denial that "the Western Liturgy reflects Orthodox belief with any of the profundity of the Byzantine Rite," with the historical reality that Orthodox belief was nourished by terse, Western liturgies for several centuries.

Anonymous said...

Just read (or attend) the two Liturgies side by side (Chrysostom and Tridentine--which is *not* a 7th century liturgy. After that; not much more needs to be said.

Unknown said...

The Ambrosian rite *is* though. Are you saying the Liturgy of Chrysostome is more Orthodox than the liturgy of Ambrose?

Greg DeLassus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg DeLassus said...

Just read (or attend) the two Liturgies side by side (Chrysostom and Tridentine--which is *not* a 7th century liturgy. After that; not much more needs to be said.

I am still not sure what this is supposed to prove. Let us stipulate, for the sake of argument, that the Tridentine liturgy is somehow meaningfully different from earlier Roman liturgies. As I said, the funny thing about that line of argument is that St. Pius V took very little out of the liturgy. Trent did codify a number of medieval accretions in the liturgy, so the Tridentine liturgy is, if anything, more effusive and fulsome than the earlier Roman liturgies. And yet, your objection to this is that "[t]he Western Liturgy is sparse and arid, (some say simple and dignified), compared to the richness, depth, sobriety and joyfulness of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom." In other words, the criticism you level against the liturgies of the WR could be leveled with equal force against the liturgies celebrated by Latin fathers such as Leo, Gregory, and Agatho. Somehow, that observation strikes me as problematic.

Diane said...

Says you. Our Patriarchs disagree.

So? Since when are patriarchs trained historians? Let alone infallible?

As to that "collision course," are you kidding me, mon ami? The Catholic Church has always been much more varied, diverse, and multicultural than any other communion on earth. Always. This is demonstrably true. The old canard that we are just a bunch of Western Europeans is utterly silly. And BTW...South America isn't exactly new to Catholicism. Africa, yes, to some extent. But South America, no.

Collision course my foot. The Church welcomes the Global South. There's this thing called the Great Commission. Perhaps you've heard of it. ;)

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The Catholic Church has always been much more varied, diverse, and multicultural than any other communion on earth. Always. This is demonstrably true. The old canard that we are just a bunch of Western Europeans is utterly silly.

Okay. You do have Ireland, Scandinavia and Poland.

Collision course my foot. The Church welcomes the Global South. There's this thing called the Great Commission.

Except this time it's not Iberian conquistadors and their fascist descendants, but indigenous social democrats with folk services and liberation theology. Rome will indeed no longer be Western European, but Latin American. European Catholics, who are mostly North American at this point, will continue their withdrawal into traditionalist movements.

Anonymous said...

I think the words of St John of San Francisco ought to be remembered by all: "Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must also be eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies."

peggy38 said...

I will point to this now everytime I hear from an Orthodox that I should join a Western Rite parish. It used to be I couldnt find one within 100 miles of my home when they were open for business.

The choice now is dump the whole ancient heritage of the church in England and adopt exotic traditions that have no feeling of home for me or else stay where I feel both comfortable and close to God. Sorry, its a no-brainer for me.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Hi Peggy
A few quick points, I don't think anyone should join a Western Rite parish or an Eastern Rite parish. I do think they should be Orthodox. The rite is secondary. The Faith is paramount.

With regards your ancient Anglican heritage, to what are you referring? The CofE dates only to the reign of Henry VIII. Before that Britain was Roman Catholic. Even during the reign of bloody Henry the rites of the church remained largely unchanged. Major changes did not occur until the reign of Edward VI. The 1662 BCP, widely regarded as the gold standard for Anglican worship, is less than 400 years old. Most current forms of worship in the Anglican Communion are no more than decades old.

But let's set all of that aside for now.

The real question, is do you believe in what the Anglican Church believes? If so then you should certainly remain Anglican. If you believe what the Roman Church teaches (love it or hate it they are crystal clear on that) then you should go Roman irregardless of all the problems that church has. And if you believe in what the Orthodox Church teaches then you should be Orthodox. Not because of the pretty pictures or the smells and bells, but because that's where we find right belief and right worship of God.

All the other stuff is incidental.

But if Rite makes right in your book, then you definitely should not attempt to enter the Orthodox Church. Because that is a very un-Orthodox position. And while I have no idea what the Anglican Communion believes these days (does anyone?) I do know that Orthodoxy does stake out some very firm positions.

And ethno-phyletism, which your comment smacks of, is a condemned heresy.

peggy38 said...

John, I wouldnt make snap judgements about me.

I thought that cultural context was considered an important aspect of worship in Orthodoxy. Not the most important but certainly of value.

And you chop up the history of the Church in England as you please. 400 years is not ancient because you say so? Whatever your issues with where the narrative is now, the church in England has always been and always will be a product of the culture and history of England. Like it or not, it grew organically from that soil and that fact has to be accounted for in some way. Its a reality that has to be dealt with. That same culture produced the world as we Americans know it. I do not see how some cherry picked events somehow represent a complete break in that cultural stream and now the old England is wholly separated from the new.

I also found your comments to be very uncharitable. Sometimes you talk as if you have charity for Anglicans and then at other times your contempt shows through. It is my primary experience with the Orthodox and Catholics as well and the holier than thou attitude is the primary reason why I don't segregate myself off into some exotic tradition that has no roots where I live and call home.

I would never EVER choose a rite over truth. So you are right about that much. I see and experience truth in Anglicanism. I would have to see something different from Orthodoxy to get me to leave. In fact my hope for a Western Rite was that it was not as you describe. I thought it was about more than a change in jurisdiction. Indeed I would not be interested in it is that is all it is. My beef is that there is not a true Western Rite created with both rigor and imagination which respects the cultural heritage of the West and in particular its hymns. It looks like I will have a wait a long time for that.

Young fogey emeritus said...

Okay. You do have Ireland, Scandinavia and Poland.

Not Scandinavia anymore. They've long been indifferent Lutherans.

Antiochian WR is traditional Catholicism without the Pope, not anti-Catholic. ROCOR WR is anti-Catholic. The issue seems to be the breakdown in discipline in the ROCOR WR vicariate. So the vicariate was abolished; WR is stavropegial. Its future is up in the air.

'Rite over faith.' Some Catholic critics would say that's what ACROD's founding was about. I don't talk like that but I see the point. They were right about the original issues, they weren't heretics, and our own churchmen being idiots pushed them out of the church for no good reason. It wasn't really about theology and never should have happened.

VFPDissident said...

I am curious to know whether Bishop Jerome's retirement had anything to do with Nathanael Kapner, who claims he is "blessed by Bishop Jerome," apparently of ROCOR.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

There were a lot of factors. But the bottom line is that ROCOR's Western Rite was out of control. This was recognized and it has been dealt with.

Zach said...

I am 5 years late to this party, but this is the biggest crock I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. It sounds like this: “the Western Rite is and the Eastern Rite is , therefore the bishops were right and they should force x on all Christians.”

Absolute garbage comment.