Thursday, May 29, 2008

From the Mailbag: Which Jurisdictions Have a Western Rite?

Q: What are the Orthodox Churches that currently allow Western rites? I know OCA and Antioch do, but does anyone else?

Through the wonders of the internet, this question comes from overseas. We're glad to have inquirers of Orthodoxy, whether in its Western Rite expression or not, around the world. I know North American jurisdictionalism and the attendant issues of who allows or disallows Western Rite worship must be as confusing from afar as they are unedifying up close. I hope this clarifies things a bit.

A large number of Orthodox churches have celebrated, approved, or agreed to the concept of a Western Rite within the last 140 years, including among others Constantinople (briefly), Antioch, Alexandria, Moscow, ROCOR (when it was not yet in communion with Moscow), Romania, and Poland.

Only two canonical Orthodox jurisdictions officially allow the use of Western Rite worship at this time: the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

In Antioch, Western Rite Orthodox worship was approved by the 167th patriarch of Antioch, H.H. ALEXANDER III (Tahan) in 1958. The largest concentration of Western Rite parishes, under the Antiochian patriarchate or anywhere in the world, is in North America under the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate. In the Antiochian Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, there are also Western Rite parishes.

In North America, ROCOR currently has one monastery with a mission, Christminster of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and one bi-ritual parish, that being St. Benedict of Nursia in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, pastored by Protopriest Fr. Anthony Nelson. Outside of North America, ROCOR has one monastery: St. Petroc, in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. That monastery celebrates the Sarum Liturgy as approved by ROCOR (N.B.: Not the "Old Sarum Rite Missal," a radically different liturgy, which Fr. Michael of St. Petroc has described in negative terms). St. Petroc has a number of dependencies around the world, which celebrate either Sarum or The English Liturgy.

Unfortunately, the OCA not only does not have any Western Rite churches under its care, but I have been told the OCA gave a firm (official or unofficial?) "no" to the Western Rite a number of years ago. If this is so, it is disappointing and at odds with its own history within Russian Orthodoxy. However, the OCA certainly has no Western Rite parishes at this time and has a somewhat dismissive comment about the WR on its website.

There are reports of Moscow Patriarchal churches celebrating the Liturgy of St. Gregory and/or the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, as well as an OCA establishment using Western Rite prayers. However, neither church has any official information available, so one couldn't say anything about such reports.

I hope that helps. Thanks for writing!

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Blogger Ad Orientem said...

I think that the link you have for the ROCOR homepage is the old one. They moved a while back to a new site. The current ROCOR website is here.


7:50 PM  

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