Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blanco: Yes, They Are Vagantes

"I don't know whether any of these individuals is a legitimate clergyman or not," said [Blanco County, TX] District Attorney Sam Oatman. "We'll find out, but I don't believe they are."
He seems not to be the only one confused about the issue, as more questionable information comes in from our longtime detractor Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller. He wrote: "The Blanco monastery has no Old Catholic history. They went from being Roman Catholic monks to the Pangratios group, and from there into ROCOR, then Kyiv [sic.], then back to Pangratios."

The fact remains Blanco was not legitimate Orthodox, and thus could be classified as vagante, for the better part of its foul existence -- and remains so today.

The history of Blanco, as with most such groups, is difficult to track with certainty. The fact that Samuel A. Greene was known as "Bishop Benedict" when Christ of the Hills came (briefly) under its only canonical jurisdiction, ROCOR, should be sufficient to settle this contention.

Apparently this group had a number of vagante experiences. It is reported to have had some germination as part of the Roman Catholic Church. Then in the 1970s, it went under its own banner, "Ecumenical Monks Inc.," a "non-denominational" outreach to anyone interested in monasticism, regardless of confession. This has all the marks of a vagante era, though it is not a well documented time.

Blanco gained its only period of legitimacy as part of ROCOR, 1991-99. After ROCOR expelled it in early 1999, it then joined an alleged "Ukrainian Orthodox" church -- not the Kievan patriarchate, but what seems to be another claimant of dubious canonicity.*

For the vast majority of its career -- before ROCOR and after this Kiev group -- COTH has been under an episcopoi vagante named "Pangratios" (Demetrios G. Vrionis) -- not to be confused with a priest of the same name arrested last Monday. This "Pangratios" was "bishop" for the "Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis" (Queens), which he founded personally after being deposed by the Greek Orthodox Church. He was later convicted of child molestation. Met. ISAIAH of Denver told the press: "None of our bishops consecrated him as a bishop...It's like a doctor operating without a license." Vrionis's own website refers to his group as "an independent Orthodox church," the definition of vagante. Whether his group was technically under an offshoot of the Union of Utrecht or not is semantics, of which Keller is a past master -- Vrionis is not a legitimate Orthodox bishop but part of the broader vagante movement, which appropriates the Orthodox name for its own purposes (in Blanco's case, pederasty and fraud).

One can see why Keller may wish to obscure Pangratios' legitimacy. According to Al Green, an Orthodox authority on Pseudodox groups, "A cohort of Pangratios is 'Vicar Bishop' Kyrill (Esposito), reputedly consecrated by Pangratios in 1999."** This would be the same man listed as "H. Ex., Rt. Rev. Bishop Kyrill (Esposito), Vicar Bishop of the Archdiocese" on the archdiocesan directory of the Milan Synod, Keller's longtime ecclesiastical home.

Blanco has dishonored the term "Orthodox" too long; good men would not aid them.

* - I've the Milan Synod claimed it had ordained him as a bishop and that he denied (or obscured) that ordination when applying to the OCA.

** - Incidentally, Dennis "Kyrill" Esposito is also listed as a professed lay member of the Roman Catholic "Third Order of Carmelites" (an "Isolate Member" of the "Most Pure Heart of Mary Province"), as well as Chaplain General for the Most Honourable Order of Christian Knights of the Rose. Here's a picture of his coat-of-arms. (I guess it really is all about SCA.)



Blogger Merlyn said...

Oh, brother! I knew this character when I was with "Bishop" Seraphim (Hill) (his claim to the episcopacy was that he put the Hapgood Service Book on his head and made himself a "bishop". So now Esposito is a bishop, too?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

"Bp. Kyrill" Esposito was a bishop at the time that post was written. As you know, he had quite a trek and eventually got accepted by the Milan Synod "Orthodox," which received him, Abp. John LoBue, and Abp. Hilarion Williams and all of St. Hilarion Monastery in Austin, Texas, without reordination, which was one of its clergy's prerequisites. (They had approached others with the same insistence and gotten turned down.) Someone told me "Bp. Kyrill" announced online that he is going to the Byzantine Catholic church. I doubt he will be received in orders....

What you say very much calls into question the ordination of anyone associated with this strange group.

I have to say I had not heard of that form of "ordination to the episcopate" before! If he held a Bible on his head long enough, he might have claimed he was Moses.

3:45 PM  

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