Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Rains on the Parade

Update: a couple of blogs discussing the question with some interesting comments:

HT – Young Fogey on ROCOR stops its Western Rite

* * *

I put his link – ROCOR Synod meeting – on the Orthodox Blow-Out Department. Given the importance of this new development, I decided to dedicate a brief article to the question.

I leave readers to interpret the decision of that Church’s Synod the way they think is right. I am not sufficiently well-informed to offer an intelligent judgement.

We live in a time when communities, people and priests are going to go through a lot of pain – and those who are responsible will be entirely unconcerned. Now where have I heard that one before?

The only thing I can suggest is that we were all born into different traditions and ways of going about things. The Roman Catholic Church is for “cradle” Catholics and Orthodoxy is for people of those ethnic origins and cultures. Anglicans are even worse – we’re not easy to “convert to”. The grass may seem greener on the others side of any fence, but that is usually an illusion.

We generally do better to stick to our original culture with the small amount some of us may have picked up from cultures to which we have been exposed. We have not to stay in the same institution – for example if we cannot accept the ordination of women – but we do better to stick with the same tradition.

We cannot expect the Roman Catholic Church to acculturate Anglican liturgical customs and the general spirit more than a small extent. The Orthodox are a Church of eastern and Byzantine tradition. Some of us Anglicans are Protestants and want rid of the Anglo-Catholics, and the other half are Anglo-Catholics wanting rid of the Reformation baggage. Why should they (or anyone) welcome “refugees”?

An example of a modern parable. Going to the supermarket with my wife this morning, we used two caddies since we needed packs of bottled water and a big bag of dog food, the other for our general groceries. I had to park my van on a sloping part of the car park, and the caddies had to be stopped from rolling away until I could find a piece of rope to attach them to the van to enable me to unload them. A man on one side offered to help by holding the caddies whilst I opened the van to get my piece of rope. The man on the other side said that he wanted me to clear the way immediately so that he could get his car out of its parking slot. These represented two different attitudes and responses to a single situation in one place and time. What an amazing study of human nature!

Maybe the Russians outside Russia had good reasons. Perhaps they over-reacted to a situation they did not understand. It reminds me of the way many Roman Catholic bishops and Curial officials reacted to Anglicanorum coetibus. The parallels are exact, so it seems. I don’t blame them – I can’t let just anyone into my home. They might turn me out and leave me homeless as they were!

The signs of the times, as I see them, indicate extreme prudence and sobriety. Conversion is conversion, and I no longer see any way to get around it. You go to another Church – you adopt their way and you leave your own behind. Fine if that is what you want or think to be the right thing for you. The little Continuing Anglican body I belong to may wither and die, as some of my critics point out, and I have no cause for triumphalism. We also have to decide to what extent it is all worth it. Noses back to the grindstone! If the will of God can be discerned from reading the signs of the times, it seems as though Christians have missed the train centuries ago and are condemned to the torture of Tantalus! That is at least the impression I get.

Please keep comments on this precise subject (the decision of the ROCOR hierarchy about the WR community) or use the Orthodox Blow-Out Department.

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4 Responses to Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Rains on the Parade

  1. Michael Frost says:

    It will be interesting to see if any additional information comes out about the activities of Bishop Jerome that the Synod apparently didn’t like. It seems hard to believe that he could be doing something on such a large scale over the past few years that was highly inappropriate without others becoming aware? The ROCOR WR mission in my area was formed in 2010. I guess only time and additional information will shed more valuable light on the totality of circumstances. In the mean time, we can at least pray for these WR clergy, laity, and churches.

  2. Michael Frost says:

    Reading around the blogosphere, seems like everyone should Stay Calm & Be Prepared? Looks like lots of raw speculation, conjecture, opinion and rumor. Not a lot of factual data or temperate analysis of same. What little we do know (e.g., the Synod’s press release) should be studied very carefully! That appears to be the biggest data point. Only time till tell exactly how it is implemented and how it will impact specific individuals and groups. Or how other groups may react, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. (Reminds me a bit about the time in 2009-2010 when the Anglican blogosphere was commenting on the RC Ordinariate initiative?)

    • I am inclined to agree with you. I am determined that there will be no Schadenfreude or nastiness on this blog, however predictable we suspect these events were. As you say, time will tell, but the experience of Archbishop Hepworth and the TAC showed that things usually happen in the most predictable and expected way. Eleventh-hour reprieves, when the executioner is about to switch on the electric chair, are only found in movies.

      I suggest we leave this subject now and entrust those good people to God in our prayers, regardless of which Christian community or church we belong to. Many will go through hardship, and in some cases will mark the last time they go into a church. This is why I discourage anyone from persuading anyone else to convert to anything other than God himself.

  3. Dale says:

    It is indeed very interesting to read of this development on the Orthodox site “Ad Orientem”; the level of anti-western nastiness is really quote appalling. It would appear that if one declares that Orthodoxy is only the Byzantine rite, one is only interested in Orthodoxy, but anyone supporting a western rite is some type of fifth columnist infiltrator of Orthodoxy who is only interested in rites. I especially like the comment that seems to imply that Orthodox heaven is divided into a caste system based upon ethnicity, of which the Anglo-Saxons are at the end of the queue; it is all quite interesting:

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