Bishop Anthony Issues Encyclical on "Western Rite"

His Grace Bishop Anthony [of San Francisco - GOANSA] recently issued an encyclical concerning the "Western Rite" Orthodox parishes. These are Orthodox Churches which do not use the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil, but instead celebrate revised versions of the Anglican and Roman mass. In America there are such parishes under the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Moscow Patriarchate and the so-called Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. In the geographical area or the Diocese of San Francisco there are several such parishes, most notably in Whittier and Concord, California and in Spokane, Washington. His Grace issued this encyclical in response to numerous inquiries by the clergy and lay people on how to treat these parishes.

His Grace makes clear that while we accept the priests and lay people of these parishes as fully Orthodox we are to avoid any activity which would tend to imply agreement with the formation of such parishes. The reason for this disagreement is twofold: it is both liturgically unsound and pastorally unwise. "Liturgically unsound because these rites are not in direct continuity with the worship of the early Church in the West, but are primarily the result of 16th century Reformation or Counter Reformation debates; pastorally unwise because this adds still further to our fragmentation as a Church in the Americas and creates a tiny group of missions and parishes that are liturgically isolated from the rest of the Church."

The encyclical includes guidelines avoid improper activities:

"1. 'Western-rite' clergy of the Antiochian Archdiocese may not serve or receive communion in the parishes of this Diocese unless vested in traditional, 'eastern' Orthodox vestments.

"2. Clergy of this Diocese may not serve or participate in 'western-rite' liturgies.

"3. The participation of our laity in any pan-orthodox liturgical activity specifically with 'western-rite' parishes is to be actively discouraged."

Reprinted from the _Diocesan Voice Supplement_, Official Publication of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco.


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