Voices from Russia

Saturday, 13 February 2016

13 February 2016. A Word or Two on the Brouhaha Surrounding the “Catholic Church of the East”

01 smoke and mirrors


Firstly, there’s no official “word” out on this yet. NONE. Ergo, none of the internet Sturm und Drang has any actual backing in the real world. That goes for that Uniate poseur “Josephus Flavius”, too (there’s no “Eastern Church”… that’s a damnable heresy)… he has no real information. He has no more than I do… that is, word from OCA and ROCOR clergy on unpublicised chancery doings. The word “out there” is that the ROCOR suspended the so-called “Archbishop” Ramzi, who became the canonically ordained Hieromonk Elias, as for unknown reasons he still referred to himself as a bishop. I think it was a nice idea to want to bring in 60 parishes, but I don’t think it’s clear that they had intent to be Orthodox. Why do we keep accepting groups that insist on doing their own thing? It seems that Hilarion Kapral is too nice and accepting of people; he needs to learn to say “no” sometimes. It seems that we didn’t learn from the Blanco TX (Christ of the Hills Monastery) and other Western Rite fiascos, nor from those crazy nuns in DC.

One of my sources sent me this (from the ROCOR Western Rite FB Page):

These communities are under the oversight of Metropolitan Hilarion and Metropolitan Jonah as they make their conversion and transition to Holy Orthodoxy.

So, Paffso rides again… but I reiterate… there’s no OFFICIAL word yet. NONE. NONE WHATSOEVER. There’s NOTHING out of the ROCOR Holy Synod nor from any other official source. Just because a Uniate blogger is out there shouting away doesn’t bind the ROCOR Holy Synod. Let’s wait for the official word from the Church. So far, there’s none… be patient… don’t let loudmouth Uniates colour your opinion (what I do know from clergy sources is that there’s no final word on the situation as of now). There WILL be a definite dénouement for this…

Saturday, 24 December 2011

24 December 2011. The Intel Flows In on Jerome’s Folly…


A kindly interlocutor sent me this (it stands on its own… it doesn’t need my two cents):

Yuck, Barbara, did you have to post snaps of Bishop Jerome on your blog without a kindly warning for the sensitive? 😦  According to a ROCOR clergyman, Shaw received the delightful Brother Nathaniel. I wonder if anyone has a photo of them together? I think the best thing about the MP subsuming the ROCOR would be the end of those Western Rite people. Anthony Bondi, the person in charge of it, is “interesting”. He’s only Subdeacon Anthony Bondi. They promised him the priesthood when he and his vagante sect entered, and then (only then?) discovered that he’d been married twice, and his second wife had been the wife of an OCA priest who’d left him to shack up with … get this… “Archbishop” Bondi. Can you believe that they really didn’t know that until after they’d received him? Has any vagante “bishop” not been dodgy in the relationship/marriage department? I suppose it’s a cause for rejoicing when the dodginess is only canoodling with adult women, but come on. Anyway, his “Fraternity of St Gregory” runs the Western Rite in the ROCOR now and they’ve frozen out the original people that Metropolitan Hilarion originally encouraged. They claim on their web page (click here) that they were originally encouraged by Fr Daniil Sysoev to come to Moscow and be received with their Western Rite crapola there. The mind boggles at it, doesn’t it? {What tips off all comers that Bondi’s lying is that he juxtaposes Sysoev and the Blunder, when the two couldn’t stand one another’s presence: editor}

I don’t know how true it is, but I hear Bondi’s liturgy’s more modern Roman than Sarum or anything else they pretend to (from what I’ve personally heard of their version of “Sarum”, its warmed-over BCP) and there was a priceless exchange on the Occidentalis list a while back… Bondi’s people discussed in nauseating detail how much Roman tat they could wear. You should know that those cream/gold vestments Shaw wore in the image are pure silk and were made by a young struggling vestment maker whose original customer, a ROCOR priest sucking up to Shaw, refused to pay up. The boy sent them to Shaw anyway, but no one anywhere gave him a penny, yet he spent his tax refund on food and gas to get them finished as well as buying the fabric. It makes me sick every time I see a snap of him in them.


There one has it. The perspirin’ minds are talking… and the story that they tell is disturbing. Let’s not lose sight of the prize. What we see in both the OCA and ROCOR apparats is a wholehearted willingness to step on the believers… a haughty contempt that you can feel. Whether it’s Jerome Shaw or JP Fathausen… or Victor Potapov or Alexander Webster, they’re a prize lot, with absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. They’re not like Lebedeff, who’s a competent historian and canonist, besides being personally nasty, or like Mel Pleska, who has the right instincts, but who’s outvoted by his bovine colleagues on the OCA Holy Synod (Mel should pull out the Jenga block to topple the whole edifice and embarrass ‘em all in public… it’d cut short the present charade that we’re all suffering through). However… Nathaniel and Jerome Shaw… if like calls unto like… WOW! As for Daniil Sysoev of happy memory having ANYTHING to do with this dodgy nutbag lot, I asked Russian friends, and they said NADA, NO WAY. This is what’s out there… have a care, kids, there be dragons, and some of ‘em are dressed as “sheep” (that is, “pastors” of the flock being devourers of the flock, instead)…


Western Rite Not in the Russian Tradition


Two images of Jerome Shaw (1946- ) in Western vestments… is he a Russian bishop or a Western one? Perspirin’ minds wanna know! I believe that it’s unwise (at best) to allow a former Anglican to prance about like this… but that’s my POV, isn’t it?


Editor’s Foreword:

This is what’s out there. As an MP priest wrote me:

He’s put into words everything that everyone, except Hilarion Kapral and his sidekick Jerome Shaw, thinks about this ridiculous and scandalous Western rite. The man has no diplomatic skills whatsoever, so he just blurts it out. In this case, he blurts out what many in the ROCOR think.

Is the so-called “Western Rite” Orthodox? I have my doubts. In any case, what follows is valuable as a bellwether of what people think, if nothing else.



A statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) on 10 December 2011 said, “The ROCOR was created to unify the Russian people trapped in foreign exile, who wanted to remain faithful children of the Local Orthodox Church of Russia, who longed for its rebirth, and, from its very beginning, had the missionary task of disseminating Orthodox faith amongst the people living in its host-countries. These objectives remain unchanged”.

Indeed, throughout the history of its existence, The ROCOR maintained Russian Orthodox traditions and spread these traditions amongst the indigenous populations of its host-countries. However, in recent years, especially since 2007, the ROCOR began to spread the so-called “Western Rite”. The very existence of this rite questions the assertion in the letter of the ROCOR Holy Synod of the immutability of the tasks of preserving and disseminating the traditions of Russian Orthodoxy, as such traditions don’t apply to the “Western Rite”. The Western Rite contains nothing special, let alone anything terrible. It isn’t just another eastern (not “Orthodox” in its modern sense) liturgical tradition.

The main service of the daily liturgical circle in both Eastern and Western recensions is the Liturgy. This service embodies the sacrament of the Eucharist, that is, the remembrance of the Perfect Saviour’s redemption of the world, offering the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine as a sacrifice to God, and distributing them to believers as a symbolic meal. Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Divine Liturgy is its repetition and it’s a memorial of the Lord. This, the most ancient rite of the Liturgy is the ritual of the Jewish Passover Supper.

In the ancient Church, there were dozens of official liturgies. By the 7th century, in the East, the Liturgies of John Chrysostom and St Basil the Great and  were the usual forms used in the Roman Empire. Although it had wide usage in the West, the Roman Mass only gained formal approval in the 16th century at the RC Council of Trent. Therefore, there were two traditions, Eastern and Western. It’s worth noting that both traditions allow the use of earlier forms of divine service. For example, some Orthodox churches still serve the Liturgy of St James on his feastday, 23 October. Some in Africa serve the Liturgy of St Mark in the Egyptian style.

In Orthodox tradition, the practise is to serve the Liturgy of John Chrysostom, and, on particular days marked in the Typikon, the Liturgy of St Basil the Great. In addition, on the weekdays of the Great Lent, when the canons don’t allow us to celebrate the Eucharist, we serve the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts of St Gregory the Dialogist. The Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t have any other official liturgies. Russian liturgical usages are distinct, especially in the service of the Liturgy, which we don’t find in the Greek usage. For example, the Russian usage artificially inserts a prayer of the Third Hour in one Eucharistic prayer. There are other differences. When you look at a Russian priest, his vestments distinguish him from a Greek priest. You can say that’s not important, it’s secondary. However, it’s precisely these minor points that formed the Russian tradition, which serve to protect our Russian Orthodox clergy and their parishioners. The Russian Orthodox Church always understood missionary activity as spreading the Russian Orthodox tradition in indigenous languages. Many of our English-speaking priests are wonderful ascetics and guardians of the Russian tradition.

We can’t call the Western Rite adopted in the ROCOR “Western” in its purest form. When the Orthodox entered into the Unia with the Vatican, they kept the Orthodox liturgical tradition. It really is true Oriental tradition, but in the Western church. It seems strange, but the Uniates better preserve the Orthodox rite than some of the Local Orthodox Churches do. Thus, Ukrainian Greek-Catholic parishes outside of the Ukraine almost universally maintain the old (Julian) calendar, but most Ukrainian Orthodox churches in the west use the Gregorian calendar. The ROCOR’s Western Rite parishes don’t use a “pure” Western liturgy. There, the liturgical text inserts the Proskomedia and Eucharistic canon of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Therefore, this isn’t a true Western Rite; it’s a warped Western Rite. I don’t know what you’d call it, but it’s not of the Russian Orthodox tradition and irrelevant to its missionary calling.

In 1978, the ROCOR Holy Synod issued its verdict on the so-called Western Rite. Here’s the verbatim text of this decision:

RESOLVED: The Western rite in its present form came into being after the defection of the West from the Orthodox Church; so, it isn’t in accordance with the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, with whom she shared a common life for many centuries. It (Western Rite) doesn’t reflect the liturgical traditions of the Orthodox Church. Thus, we can’t sufficiently amend it to Orthodox standards, even when we review it to a greater degree, and nowhere is it (Western Rite) a success. Because of this, the Synod doesn’t recognise the possible use of the traditions of the Western Rite in the Russian Church.

The question of the equality of the Eastern and Western Rites came to our Church from a Catholic origin. This is the so-called “Neo-Unia”. For almost four centuries, the Jesuit Order raised the issue of equality rites in Rome. In 1923, Rome adopted a plan of Catholic Archbishop Ropp on biritualism under the authority of the Roman See. In the same way, the Western Rite in the form of biritualism entered into the life of the ROCOR. Biritualism allows the same priest to perform the services in both Eastern and Western fashions.

Russian media sources reported that the ROCOR created a Western Rite Vicariate, but that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t a vicariate… it was just one vicar bishop allowed to serve in such a manner. If he visits a traditional ROCOR parish, he wears the usual Orthodox vestments. If he goes to a Western Rite location, the same hierarch uses Western vestments. Photos of a Russian Bishop in Western garb caused no little embarrassment amongst Orthodox believers, including in Russia, where the photographs were widely distributed. In the Russian Church, there’s no equality of rites. It utilises Russian Orthodox ceremonies. Even the most “lenient” Local Church, Antioch, forbids biritualism amongst its clergy. Only Antioch and the ROCOR allow the practises of the Western Rite.

In 1959, St John Maximovich, when he was the ruling bishop of the ROCOR Diocese of Western Europe, took under his omofor the group of Kovalevsky, the so-called “Catholic Eglise de France Orthodoxe”, which used a revised version of the Roman Mass. However, even then, the ROCOR allowed no biritualism. After the death of St John in 1966, this group left our church. There have been other isolated cases of the adoption of Western Rite communities into the ROCOR. They all eventually left us, being essentially foreign bodies. This ended with the ROCOR Holy Synod saying enough with such experiments and made the decision cited above.

Now, we’re again trying to revive a dead tradition. If we don’t watch out, then, we’ll restore the usages of the ancient Jewish Vespers. After all, no one has any doubt that this was the first Orthodox liturgy, during which the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and Communion of the Holy Apostles. Clearly, we’re witnessing a sad time when the ROCOR has lost its bearings. In recent years, we’ve evolved from one of the most conservative Orthodox Churches to one of the most liberal. Our bishops ceased to be guardians of the Russian Orthodox tradition. They allow themselves to wear Western vestments and not serve liturgy with Orthodox New Calendarists. More and more, they talk about universality of Orthodoxy, and they talk less and less about Russian traditions.

18 December 2011

Archpriest Igor Shitikov

Website St Andrew Russian Orthodox Church (St Petersburg FL USA)



Editor’s Afterword:

You don’t have to agree with someone to see that they’re making a useful contribution to the debate… it’s true that Shitikov (as some clergy say, “He’s like his name”) is a no-goodnik brought in by Vitaly’s bunch when they welcomed all sorts of dodgy oddbods from Russia, as long as they spoke Russian. However, that’s not the point! Let’s just say that one of my contacts whispered to me, “As a ROCOR priest said to me recently, word for word, ‘If we keep taking on all these Western Rite weirdoes, we’ll end up like the OCA’”. There’s SERIOUS grassroots discontent in both the OCA and the ROCOR, that’s the main point on even bringing up this topic. I say, “Mark Golovkov for Metropolitan of New York and all the USA in a United Russian Orthodox Church”… and I think that many of you would say, “Amen!” Oh… there’d be separate metropolitans in a United Russian Orthodox Church for Alaska, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, too… which would be as it should be.


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