And a parish came back in from the cold…

A link was given by a kind soul in a comment on the Orthodox Blow-Out Department. It is worthy of note here.

In brief, a continuing Anglican parish that joined the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia has returned to continuing Anglicanism. They seem to be retaining the Byzantine style terminology, but that seems to be of little importance. What is of interest is the different theological slant and the idea of liturgical pluralism that might influence its Anglican host Church in a positive way. This influence may be far reaching in time.

This western rite vicariate appears to be a kind of uniatism within continuing Anglicanism, almost the idea of the TAC as a kind of pro-uniate structure at the door of Roman Catholicism. It’s interesting, a kind of “waiting solution” and prototype of ecumenism in the face of conservatism and opposition from “canonical” Orthodox Churches. The idea is intriguing and is a sign of a positive attitude of cultural diversity in ecclesial bodies formed around the historical circumstances of their foundations.

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Just an afterthought of mine in the light of my answer made to a comment by Dr Tighe.

The notion of Western Orthodoxy seems to be precisely defined as being a group of western Catholic or Anglican origin under the jurisdiction of an Eastern Orthodox diocesan bishop or provincial synod or whatever. The use of Byzantine terminology and ecclesiological references would only make sense in that context. Logic would usually dictate that if they are under a generic Anglican jurisdiction, then they are simply Anglican Catholics (high-church Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, whatever name seems most appropriate).

It occurred to me that they wanted to make a kind of model, a laboratory or a prototype for something new – western Catholicism with an eastern Orthodox ecclesiology. I can understand how this this must seem absurd to Dr Tighe, being a member of an eastern rite Roman Catholic parish. Is this a “waiting solution” until they can find a place in another eastern Orthodox jurisdiction, with the APA serving as a temporary platform? Would Archbishop Grundorf not feel he was being “used”?

There is another possibility, using the analogy of a homeless person or a refugee from his original country. That displaced person needs to find at least a temporary home in order to find a job and enrol in the social security system, and then he has hope of finding a more permanent home. This group found itself victim of its host Church’s decision to “pull the plug”, which has its parallel with the TAC and the Ordinariate movement. It didn’t work for everybody. Did this group merely “need a break” as they say over in America?

What would bring this matter out of the realm of pure pragmatism would be a generalised idea within the American continuing Anglican Churches of seeking corporate reunion with the eastern Orthodox Churches as whole ecclesial units, like what Archbishop Hepworth hoped for with Rome.

They also seem to place emphasis on liturgical pluralism outside the usual fare of the 1928 American Prayer Book and the Anglican Missal. I am dubious about Byzantine-flavoured Sarum liturgies and the kind of Gallican liturgy that originated in France in a former Liberal Catholic church that made approaches towards Moscow, the Russian Church in Exile and finally the Romanian Patriarchate – now the ECOF. However, in the context of this issue, the liturgy is only a matter of secondary importance.

Western rite eastern Orthodox under Anglican jurisdiction. This kind of “double turn” does seem surrealistic (unlike a notion of eastern rite Anglicanism or Roman Catholicism), and such an idea wouldn’t interest me. Western Catholicism inculturated into an Eastern Orthodox mould and then putting itself under (generic) Anglican jurisdiction. What reason would they give for not simply returning to Anglicanism? There seems either to be brilliant intuition at play or skulduggery. I fail to see clearly which.

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Although corporate reunion between Eastern and Orthodox Anglican Christians is no longer possible at this time due to the unilateral action taken by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at their Extraordinary Session of the Synod Synod of Bishops on July 9, 2013 and their Decree of July 12th, there still remains great interest in unity among the thousands of self-identified Orthodox Christians in the Anglican tradition who had expressed interest in corporate reunion between Eastern and Western Christendom. In mid-October the House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of America met and after extensive discussions voted unanimously to offer to serve as a center of unity for self-identified Orthodox Christians in the West. The Anglican Province of America‘s House of Bishops offered to enter into unity with congregations and religious communities of the former Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and to restore the Western Rite Vicariate as it existed on July 8, 2013. The new Western Rite Vicariate would remain under its own leadership and function as a non-geographic stavropegial organization, directly under Archbishop Walter Grundorf, primate of the Anglican Province of America. The Western Rite Vicariate would be a further witness to the catholicity of the Anglican Province of America by making it possible for the traditional Roman, Sarum and Gallican Rites to exist side by side with the Anglican Rite in one ecclesiastical body. On October 29, 2013 Fr. Anthony Bondi, former Pastoral Vicar of the ROCOR Western Rite Vicariate wrote to Fr. Victor Novak, rector of Holy Cross parish saying, “I ask that you keep your Orthodox identity and, as archpriest, serve as Dean of the Vicariate.” Fr. Novak has agreed to do this, the Anglican Province of America has given him their recognition, and on November 1, 2013 the Western Rite Vicariate was restored under the Omophorian of Archbishop Walter Grundorf. The Anglican Church in America (ACA) is also in the process of uniting with the Anglican Province of America, and the two jurisdictions will hold their provincial synods at a common location in 2014. A new realignment is taking place that will unite not only Orthodox Anglicans, but Orthodox Christians of other Western Christian traditions in one body. As Blessed James DeKoven, a 19th century Anglican saint said, “I do not know what reason our Church has to exist, except it be, on the one hand, that she is the American branch of the Catholic Church, and on the other that, because she is so, she can do what no other Christian body can accomplish.”

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