Orthodox Uniate Churches: The boot is on the other foot now!

There is an opinion that if something may possibly exist, then it will.

An anonymous comment on a previous blog alerted me to the existence of an Orthodox “Western Rite”, in effect the mirror image equivalent of the Eastern Rite Catholic Liturgy. Whereas Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome use Eastern Rites, this is a case of Western churches in full communion with the East using Western (Latin or Anglican) rites. For full info, see http://www.antiochian.org/western-rite.

The fact that the Moscow Patriarchate was the first to allow such a phenomenon may well cause the minds of modern watchers of the ecclesiatical world to boggle. Are these not the same bunch who are accusing the Catholic Church of proselytism and “uniatism” through the Eastern Rite Catholic churches?

Personally, I rejoice to hear that such opportunities exist for those who desire them (perhaps Frederic J. Einstein might find this to his tastes). Nevertheless, it does rather put the boot on the other foot for once.

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7 Responses to Orthodox Uniate Churches: The boot is on the other foot now!

  1. john w fenton says:


    This link may interest you.


    (Sorry, don’t know how to imbed the link in comments. Your help–or the help of any–in this regard is appreciated.)

  2. Schütz says:

    Interesting justification. The main point seems to be that there is “a huge difference between allowing an individual parish to follow a different rite in order to make it easier for separated Christians to enter into Catholic fulness, and setting up a “second Church” alongside the canonical Church.”

    I acknowledge the difference, but would question the use of this point in defence of Orthodox objections to Eastern Rite Catholic Churches while maintaining Western Rite parishes of their own.

    For a start, the parish that is allowed so to do is acting in a strange way that could not be called “canonical” either. For instance (to take the Catholic equivalent mentioned in the blog), if an Anglican parish comes into full communion with a Catholic diocese and is allowed to continue to use an Anglican rite under the Pastoral Provision, this may all be very well according to the canons of the Catholic Church, but it is certainly against the canons of the Anglican Church! For that matter, if an Anglo-Catholic bishop swans into the diocese of a liberal Episcopalian bishop and sets up his own jurisdiction over a parish within that diocese, that is also non-canonical by Anglican standards.

    In the same way, I don’t see how it can be seen to be “canonical” for an Eastern Orthodox bishop to establish a Western Rite parish within the diocese of a Latin bishop. It may be “canonical” according to the Eastern Bishop, but not according to the West.

    The other point is that the blog seems to imply that the Eastern Catholic Churches were established by Rome in parallel and in opposition to already existing local Eastern Orthodox Churches. This is not historically accurate. Eastern Rite Churches (except perhaps the Maronite which has always been in full communion with Rome and has no Orthodox comparison) generally came into existence when some Eastern Bishops of local Eastern Churches sought full communion with the Bishop of Rome. The Orthodox authorities then responded by regarding such bishops and their churches as apostate and non-canonical and re-establishing (in their place) Churches and bishops continuing in full communion with themselves. Of course, they regarded these replacements to be the true continuation of the true local Orthodox Church, but in historical fact, these, and not those in communion with Rome, were the newly established “parallel” churches.

    So there is perhaps not such an “huge difference between allowing an individual parish to follow a different rite…and setting up a “second Church” alongside the canonical Church” as is perhaps argued. Yes, there is a difference in kind, but the one is no more canonical (or ethical?) than the other.

  3. Anonymous says:


    There is a big difference. The history of Uniatism is one of political intrigue and power politics, rejected even now by the RC (see the Balamand Agreement). The sole purpose of “Uniatism” was to forcibly and surreptitiously bring those recalcitrant Orthodox into subjection to the Pope.

    The Western Rite Orthodox are those who wanted to become Orthodox in a free society but wanted to retain their rite. The first group to do so were the Old Catholics in France who could not abide Vatican I. In the US, most of those who belong to the Western Rite were former Episcopalians and now Lutherans.

    Reader Patrick (Brian)

  4. Benjamin says:

    The only other thing I would add, reiterating the comments on my blog, is that there is a good sense of the term “Uniate” and a negative, pejorative sense of the term “Uniate.”

    I would contend that Western Rite Orthodox are “Uniates” in the best sense of the word – we have found union with the ancient Apostolic Patriarchates of the East, the Petrine See of Antioch in particular. This is a very good thing from our perspective!

    In this sense, we should not be ashamed to be called “Uniates”! Presumably Eastern Rite Catholics would feel the same way.

  5. Schütz says:

    Yes, the Eastern Rite Catholics do feel the same way.

    I don’t see what the big deal is. The “RC” (as Patrick calls it) has rejected “Uniatism” as a means of “political intrigue and power politics”–not a hard thing to do since it never officially endorsed any such thing.

    But it hasn’t rejected the so-called “Uniate” Churches. Quite the contrary. How could we since they are our brothers and sisters in Christ?

    As Benjamin says, “Uniate” is a bit of a pejorative term anyway. No Eastern Churches entered into communion with the Pope of Rome unwillingly and none have remained so because of a lack of an alternative. Presumably the Eastern Rite Catholics see it as a point of conscience that they are should be in communion with the Pope. They were fiercely persecuted under the Communist regimes and still are not very popular among their fellow countrymen. Do you think Rome is forcing them to remain in communion with her? Of course not! They are because they desire to be and because they see it as an important issue of conscience.

    I can’t see the point of arguing about this. Rather, I pointed to the Western Rite Orthodox as an example of the freedom that Western Christians have to enter into communion with Eastern Churches. So–my point is–why should not Easterners have the right to enter into communion with the Western Church?

    It doesn’t really fuss me that there are Western Rite Orthodox–what gets me is why it should fuss the Orthodox that there are Eastern Rite Catholics! Why should Christians anywhere be constrained against their conscience because of their geographical location?

  6. Schütz says:

    By the way, Benjamin, I would like to read your blog, but can’t get access to it. Could you give us a link?

  7. john w fenton says:


    Here is Sbdn Benjamin’s blog:


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