Now and then I get emails from inquirers and others seeking advice on various issues. I'm not sure why, as I'm not a priest. But setting that aside I try to help if I think I can. Which brings me to an email from Ben (not their real name) who is in a situation that I very much fear is not all that unusual these days.
Ben is a small 'o' orthodox Roman Catholic who resides in a diocese (he didn't specify but I can take a guess) with what he describes as a pretty bad bishop who is promoting things that are simply a no no for serious Catholics as well as we Orthodox. Ben used the "H" word in describing him and I'm not going to argue the point. The parish he grew up in and was married in sounds like it has become Episcopalian in all but name. Last summer the priest there gave a homily that was the last straw and Ben realized that remaining there was no longer an option for him or his family.
So they started shopping for a new spiritual home and landed in an Orthodox parish where they have been welcomed with open arms and they are very happy. He and Mrs. Ben love the church, and the liturgy and are very happy with the priest.
I will bet you know what's coming.
The problem is that Ben is not ready to swim the Bosporus. There is much that he admires about Orthodoxy but he is still a Catholic deep down. And of course while he and his family have been warmly welcomed, they can't commune the Holy Mysteries which he, rightly IMO, believes is a problem.
His options vis a vis his own church are limited. There is a fairly conservative parish that is about 90 minutes away. But he would still be within the diocese with a bishop that Ben is convinced is a flat out heretic.
My best advice is to see if there is an
Rite Catholic parish within a reasonable distance. Your mileage may vary, but the Eastern Rites used to be fairly safe compared to a lot of the really dreadful stuff going on in some corners of the Roman Rite. Failing that I would look for a traditional (Tridentine Rite) parish. If necessary, I'd consider a parish under the Society of St. Pius X. Their exact relationship with Rome is not clear. A friend described it as one characterized by strategic ambiguity which seems to suit both sides. To be clear the SSPX has had some issues in the past, but I think they got rid of the more hardcore wing nuts when they expelled Bishop Williamson. Recently the Red Pope granted them faculties for hearing confessions and their Masses are considered valid by the Holy See. For some, in the current emergency in the Catholic Church, the SSPX may well be the safest port in which to ride out the storm.
As for the conservative parish that is an hour and a half away, if all else fails I'd maybe do that once a month, which would permit the reception of confession and holy communion. But I am really reluctant here because that parish is under a bishop that is a heretic. Here I must note my Orthodox side is showing through. In Orthodoxy our connection to the broader Church is through the Holy Mysteries of the Altar which among other things, requires submission to a canonical Orthodox bishop. And to be blunt, if hypothetically my bishop were to be doing/promoting the kind of things that Ben's is, I'd be gone. Which is to say I would never set foot in, much less commune in any parish under their jurisdiction.
The one obvious solution is conversion. But again Ben doesn't sound ready to go there and I for one consider his reluctance to be a sign of spiritual maturity. Conversion should never be done lightly. And as I have noted in the past, it is better to remain in schism from the Church then to enter, only to leave later on. Everything I have heard suggests that this is a chronic problem.
So with my rather lame advice out of the way I am going to open this up in case someone else can offer something a little better. However, I do want to caution that comments need to be constructive and charitable. Any that IMO fail that standard will be quickly dispatched to the cyber trash bin.
Per the suggestion of Dr. Bill Tighe who worries that some of the non-Byzantine sui iuris churches have been "reformed" in unhealthy ways.