Sunday, February 01, 2009

Patriarch of Moscow Enthroned

Many Years, Many Years! Archbishop Kirill was enthroned as Patriarch of Moscow this morning. As important as re-union with Traditionalist groups are conerned, the Holy Father's real focus is forming some of kind of working communion with Orthodoxy. At the heart of this is a need for recovery in the West of a proper understanding of Tradition.


gemoftheocean said...

hey, just let them in the church. No questions asked. They're a lot less looney than the SSPX. I mean apparently you don't have to believe in the authority of the pope anymore. Let's just let bygones be bygones. What's the big deal?

old believer said...

Axios! Axios! Axios!

I watched the service on 'Russia Today' this morning very impressive indeed. There were two Roman Cardinals (I don't know which ones) and several Roman bishops present. I have never seen as many mitres before, there was a sea of them at one point around the throne.

I would far prefer be in communion with Patriarch Kirill than the Lefebvrist sect anytime.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Excommunication of the East has already been removed by Paul VI.

"No questions asked. Yes, you don't have to believe in the authority of the pope, let's just let bygones be bygones", was a principle established, by Paul VI.

Daniel said...


are you familiar with Fr. Zuhlsdorf's policy "Think before you post"? That kind of bitter sarcasm is uncalled for.

Assuming that all faithful associated with the Society and including all priest are "looney" (whatever meaning you fill that word with),is both uncharitable and false.

Let's not forget that even though the Orthodox churches are and should be our closest allies, many of them constitute quite a difficult bunch.

Brian said...

Please notice how the Russian Patriarch is dressed compared to the average priest or bishop in the new mass of the Catholic new Church.

Most Catholic priest in Britain and Ireland currently dress like Protestant ministers - of the low church variety.

Does dressing like a protestant minister reflect their theological beliefs as well?

There are a few good priests trying to bring back Catholic theology and proper liturgy (the traditional kind) but we need more tradtional masses, more good priests and more prayer.

Jane said...

Fr Blake and Daniel

Hear! Hear! I was shocked by the comment.
We should be down on our knees praying that God will continue to give Pope Benedict the strength to go on in the face of what is utterly unfair persecution by the secular Media who only print things that appear to discredit him.

Please everyone pray that the strain of this does not kill him. Sure Fr. knows Ephesians 6: 12-to end chapter, off by heart, but anybody who deesn't please read it. It tells us clearly what our Holy Father is up against. and it also gives us a pen portrit of what he is doing about it.

Rorate C. has a prayer for him as its latest post. Plus ca change and Deo gratias for that!

gemoftheocean said...

DAn, nope. Sorry, don't particularly care for him-of-the-Wanderer's blog, precisely because he is affiliated with the Wanderer. To each his/her own. I'm not against all of it, some posts are quite useful, but the level of sychophancy amongst some followers of his blog can be gagging for me. YMMV.

I did think before I posted. It seems to me Fr. Blake isn't entirely comfortable with Pope Benedict letting the SSPX back in the clan, no questions asked, no repentance for their remarks re: the pope not being legitmate. He's uncomfortable explaning it, and no wonder given the dog's dinner this "Decision" was.

Frankly, the secular press SHOULD be asking questions too.

If it puts the pope in a bad light, maybe HE should have thought beforehand that "gee, some people just might notice that the SSPX harbors a bunch of anti-semites, they have retracted NOTHING of what they've said about my own authority."

Is there some person in the VAtican trying to backstab the pope telling him "this is a really good idea" by letting them back in the fold without preconditions?
"Sure the people will love you for it."

To me, the pope has done his own cause of restoring the EF of the Mass NO GOOD by doing this. Great. He lets the smug SSPX types in who have defecated on Vatican II, which like it or not, was also one of the councils. The EF Mass will be seen as something for the freaks, and not something for the average parishioner. The average parishioner not wanting anything to do with these anti-semites who have spit on the NO, which despite its shortcomings is still a valid, legitmate Mass ... something these SSPX types have long denied. As far as I am concerned the SSPX types who see the error of their ways re: the pope and see the error of their ways regards turning a blind eye to anti-semites can comeback in the church one by one. That door is always open, as former SSPXers can attest.

Benedict has just put some huge nails in the lid of the coffin of getting the Latin Mass accepted by mainstreme clergy.

Besides which, I'd think a pope who'd been forced to don a Nazi designed uniform as a young man would be just a weensie, just a tad bit more concerned about appearing to bend over for anti-semites and those who harbor them.

Jane: I'm betting Fr. Blake was betting someone would say exactly what I did. And yes, it was deliberately sarcastic, and like Old Believer I far prefer the Orthodox to the SSPX freaks. They can pound sand.

old believer said...

I find myself empathising with Gem.

Perhaps those so keen on seeing Lefbvrist integration (pun intended) should start reading some of the cult's propaganda and nonsense. The Swedish documentary containing the now infamous comments by Williamson is now available with English subtitles ( and gives a good insight into what Lefebvrism is about - and it certainly is not about good liturgy.

As to the idea of any closer theological discussion with the Orthodox how do you think Lefebvrism would view that?

If Benedict carries this out it will be the greatest disaster of his papacy and will be the cause of much evil and suffering for the Roman Church.

George said...

Gem says - 'To me, the pope has done his own cause of restoring the EF of the Mass NO GOOD by doing this'.

Gem - I firmly believe that Pope Benedict knows exactly what he is doing and the abundant fruits he sees will come from this reconciliation - after all isn't reconciliation what this world so desperately needs. What better a sign for the whole world than to see the Catholic world unite.

I'm sure however that Rome has taken your comments on board and will consult you in future before making such 'bad and rash' decisions! (Tongue firmly in cheek - Ha ha ha!) God Bless.

Old believer said...

Brian: "Please notice how the Russian Patriarch is dressed compared to the average priest or bishop in the new mass of the Catholic new Church."

Well it would be rather strange if an 'average priest' were to wear pontifical vestments and a mitre! And if he were to wear and green mantiya and the kerol (my spelling probably incorrect) I would think them insane as the Patriarch of Moscow is unique in wearing them.

'Average' Russian priests at the service were wearing stikhar or alb, epitrakhil or stole and felon or chausuble. In other words exactly the same vestments as their Western counterparts would have worn at Mass. The only difference is that Orthodox priests wear a pectoral Cross reserved in the West to Abbots and certain Protonotaries Apostolic.

Michael Petek said...

Let's put the Holy Father's war service in some context.

He was but a teenager conscripted into the German Army during the last months of the war in 1945. The fact that he deserted was a matter of no small courage.

In the same year my father was in the German Army, waiting in Vienna to be sent to the Russian front.

He had some time to kill, so he decided to go and see a girlfriend of his in St Poelten, to the west of the city.

He boarded a train and headed west, only for the train to be held up because someone's air force had dumped the wrong kind of bombs on the track.

So he changed trains and headed back to Vienna. Then the military police came on board and asked for everyone's papers.

They told my father that he was lucky to have been travelling east when they boarded. Had he been travelling west, they would have had no choice under their orders but to take him off the train and summarily shoot him as a deserter.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Haha, Gem, might was well right, the local parish at least here in the US is of the Roman Protestant variety.
(Sarcasm off)

But onto a more serious comment. I fully agree with you Brian, everything, even when it comes down to vestments reflects our lex credendi as Catholics.

This is why the re-orientation of the Liturgy, the coming out of the closet of traditional vestments, and all things "lost" is important. If we fail to have our identity as Catholics, what are we? That'd make us just like everyone else.

Axios to Patriarch Kiril. I hope that they (the Russian Orthodox, along with the rest of the Orthodox) come into full Communion with Rome.

I happen to love Eastern Culture myself (my best friend is Russian..and more of an excuse to go is one I wouldn't mind)

PeterHWright said...

Fr. Ray says, if I have understood him correctly, that recovery of tradition in the West is "at the heart" of closer union with the East.

This is undoubtedly true.

The Orthodox Churches are nothing if not traditional, especially in their liturgy, and largely regard innovation and "aggiornamento" with deep suspicion.

Therefore, Rome first needs to put its own house in order, at least liturgically, and this appears to be what is happening, though I find it difficult to read the present situation.

Rome would also have to come to terms, somehow, with the autocephalous nature of the Orthodox Churches.

Communion with, say, the Ecumenical Patriarch, would not mean communion with, for example, the Patriarch of Moscow, and vice versa.

The situation is complex, but until Rome overcomes, and is seen to have overcome, the violent rupture with its own tradition dating back to the 1960s (if not earlier), then, in my opinion, any move to union with Orthodoxy will be impossible.

Momcilo said...

I'm amused by the pro-Orthodox, anti-SSPX people. They clearly have no idea about the liturgical and theological conservatism of the Orthodox Church. "Ooh, what pretty Churches and hats!, we should be friendly with them". Are you aware of Kirill's attitude to Church reform? Are you aware that the late Patriarch congratulated the Pope on the moto proprio? Are you aware of the spokesman of the ROC comments hostile to the changing of the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews?
I doubt it. You patronising, liberal idiots.

old believer said...

As, it seems almost always, I agree with Peter Wright with most of what he says.

Undoubtedly the remote cause of the mess the Western Church is in is its separation from the East. Clearly an admirable objective would be to recover some of the theology and charism that was lost by that disrupture.

However giving in to Lefebvrism is not going to bring such a situation nearer but actually move it further away. Lefebvrism would say that the wonderful ceremony this post is about was a schismatic act that could not convey any Grace. Lefebvrism would say that would have the Most Holy Father Kyrill on his knees begging forgiveness for belonging to a 'false religion' and have him dangling a few beads and going to Low Mass.

Ironically many of the liturgical reforms have brought the Roman rite closer to Orthodoxy e.g. - the reinstatement of Holy Communion under both Species in accord with the Dominical command; the importance of the epiclesis in the anaphora; the restoration of the permanent diaconate; the use of living languages in worship etc., etc.

A sensitive re-evaluation of the reforms is one thing, and indeed something to be desired but the restoration of communion with a group of aliturgical, lying, revisionist, fundamentalist nutters a prospect to be truly horrified at.

And Momcilo please cut your sanctimonious BS - I am sure many commenters here are neither liberals or idiots and indeed know far more about both the SSPX and the Orthodox Church than you do.

JARay said...

Well, I'm not so sweeping in jumping up and down about union with the Orthodox. Not only do they deny the authority of the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church, they also deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Whilst the attitude of the SSPX to the Magisterium of the Church can certainly be questioned (they run their own magisterium) nevertheless, they are 100% sound on the position of the Pope and on the "Filioque" question.


Momcilo said...

What exactly was BS? You don't address a single one my points. In no way does the Novus Ordo bring us closer to the East! Even the most primitive understanding of how the Orthodox view liturgy would make that clear to you.
I laughed at the use of "living languages" in light of what Kirill has said about the retention of Old Slavonic in the liturgy.

I would love to see a reunion between the two apostolic Churches but would the Orthodox wish to return to communion with a western Church so totally infected with modernism? I'm not in the SSPX, nor have ever been, but it's clear we need them inside the Church to foster unity and fulfill another Dominical command.

P.S Is Old Believer meant to be ironic?

lizard said...

"gemoftheocean said...
hey, just let them in the church. No questions asked. They're a lot less looney than the SSPX."

"old believer said...
I would far prefer be in communion with Patriarch Kirill than the Lefebvrist sect anytime."

This is certrainly wrong. Eastern Orthodox are denying several important Catholic dogmats, SSPX accept all the traditional teaching of the Church. There is actualy no schism with lefebrists (only serious disciplinary problems). With Orthodix, it is real schism. This is very serious.

lizard said...

"gemoftheocean said...
They're a lot less looney than the SSPX"

Gem, do you know there is a very powerful ultra-conservative wing, who believe in numerous conspiracies (most from Jews, the protocols of Elders of Zion and numerous other completely wierd things), hold unusual superstitions (e.g. consider the use of mobile phones a serious sin, as the use of personal ids), lunatic superstitions about devil and dark spirits etc etc? You should better try to come to a book shop in average Russian Orthodox Church (in Russia) and just look the books sold there.

Momcilo said...

Lizard; They don't know, nor do they care to know. Very well put. Hopefully people like this will abandon the veneer of Catholicism and become Anglican, Methodist or some other kind if sect.
Old Believer and Gem; there are others on this blog who certainly know more than me about the SSPX and the Orthodox Church. You and your ilk however, do not.

lizard said...

"Old believer
In other words exactly the same vestments as their Western counterparts"

I only partly agree with you. An average modern Catholic priests wears westments that are plain and boring and look very similar to protestant. Eastern Orthodox wear those of similar type but much more ornamented.

lizard said...

The Orthodox Churches are nothing if not traditional, especially in their liturgy, and largely regard innovation and "aggiornamento" with deep suspicion."

Yes. But I suspect one of the aims of the Vatican II lithurgical reform was to make the Mass more similar to the Eastern Orthodox Lithurgy. Eastern Lithurgy, for example, does not tolerate silence. Introduction of epiclesis, responses and singing by the members of the congregation etc etc. This was probably wrong. It did not help to unite the churches, it made the situation even worse because Orthodox now blame Catholics not only in incorrect lithurgy, but also (in addition) in "innovations."

lizard said...

"Momcilo said...
Are you aware of Kirill's attitude to Church reform?"

Momcilo, as to the election of the new Patriarch Kyrill, I think he is the best candidate (or one of the best). He is not conservative (in the worst sense of this word). Orthodox conservators frequently accused him in "philocatholicism." I read passages in his books which clearly point that he supports ideas very similar to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of our Holy Lady (although he certainly opposes using this exact term at least). He seems to be not so hostile to 'filioque.' he is in very good personal relations with many Vatican officials. Not the least is that he is one of the loved pupils of the deceased Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov. Metropolitan Nikodim is an extraordinary personality who undertook enormous efforts for the unification of the Church, very serious dialogue with the Catholic Church in the 60s (including communion with catholics, for which he was severely accused), yes, under the communist regime. Metropolitan Nikodim died in Rome during the audience with the Pope, on the John Paul I's hands, which is a sign. Some conspiracy theories say that he was poisoned by KGB.

This provides for some hope that the relations between the Russian Church and the Rome may intensify. I do not believe in unification of the churches in near future, it is a long way. But the usual hostility towards catholicism may significantly reduce.

old believer said...


Could you kindly explain if Orthodoxy opposes the use of 'living languages' as you claim that most parishes in this country under Patriarch Kyrill use English for their services?

Visit the Cathedral of the Dormition in South Kensington and you will find vibrant and beautiful liturgy sung in Church Slavonic and English. Go to English speaking parishes such as the one served by a friend of mine in Devon and English is used exclusively. Are you suggesting that Patriarch Kyrill will stop that? The substitution of Russian for Church Slavonic is another matter.

As 'Lizard' points out some of the reforms do bring modern Roman liturgy closer to the East - the idea of said services and silence is foreign to Orthodox worship; the concept of the whole Church worshipping in their respective roles; the introduction of the epiclesis too is considered important etc. Don't forget too that Abp. Bugnini wanted to introduce the anaphora of St. Basil the Great (the older of the two anaphorae generally used in the Byzantine rite used but ten times a year) but instead along came EP IV.

Of course go into a Russian Church on Great Saturday morning for the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil (Easter Vigil) and the similarities with the Old Roman rite are striking with seven of the fifteen readings being essentially the same and a colour change etc. On the negative side many liturgical features common to both the Roman and Byzantine rites were lost between 1911 and the time of Vatican II.

As to 'Lizard's point about vestments of course I agree. Many modern Western vestments are cr*p but so were many mass-produced fiddleback chasubles from the 1940s and 1950s. However what I would suggest is, like so many areas of Western praxis, bad taste and minimalism go hand in hand. Once the argument is made that a hurried Low Mass in a fiddleback or, for that matter, a hurried sloppy 'Eucharistic Celebration' in a polyester bin bag, is spiritually and theologically as efficacious as a three and half-hour liturgy with the finest music, vestments and other externals it opens a dangerous road to minimalism and reductionism.

The Russian Church experienced the consequeces of 'liturgy by decree' in the seventeenth century when Patriarch Nikon imposed what were effectively modernised books on a deeply conservative Church. The resulting riots and even burnings of the 'Old Believers' should be a salutary lesson.

Whilst I would welcome a general re-alignment of the West towards Orthodoxy I believe Lefebvrism makes this even more difficult and not more likely to happen.

lizard said...

old believer
The Swedish documentary containing the now infamous comments by Williamson is now available with English subtitles ( and gives a good insight into what Lefebvrism is about - and it certainly is not about good liturgy

Dear old believer, I have seen this documentary. And please< I must assure you that I have not found any even minimally serious fact about the society itself. It is a complete demagogy in the best spirit of Yemelyan Yaroslavskii (you must probably know this figure renown for the atheistic propaganda in the USSR).

The allegations are these: SSPX is a ulta-right-wing political movement promoting antisemitism nazism etc blah blah blah. The film strongly promotes fear, uncertainty and doubt against the whole society: it is significantly growing in the country and is extremely dangerous. It was able to collect millions of euros, and it works in a secret way. Everything is very scary. Alright, the journalists made their best to expel the society from Sweden.

The facts, however, as reported in the documenmtary, are these: there is one nationalistic interview of Marcel Lefebre; one bishop of the society denies gas chambers; there is another ultra-right Jonas de Geer. Ooops. these are all. The documentary told that more than million people support SSPX. Well, there ARE nationalists, but they compose less than 0.0003%. Is this enough for prosecution?

Parenthetically, why not they make a similar nonsense in the UK, by saying that ultra-right are often monarchists. They may then cite writings of a few aristocrats (one or two will be enough). The next ligical culprite is accusing the Crown and the Queen in in ultra-right extremism. Complete nonsense? Yes, but it is too easy to make such a dicumentary by arranging facts and providing a series of appropriate pictures. Haha - they may even cite memories of people from British concentration camps in South Africa and emphasize that concentration camps were invented by the Crown (rather than Stalin or Hitler).

Please do not be fooled by such nonsense which tries to zombie viewers by facilitating purely emotional excitation against one group. It is dishonest and insulting. In legal terms, it is a clear example of slander, hatred and abuse, and discrimination of a group of people based on religious grounds. It may be a reason to go to court!

I imagine people caught by this sort of propaganda must be characterised by easily manipulable ehhalted emotionality, ignorance and absence of any disciplined thinking.

old believer said...


Based on my own experience of the SSPX during the years 1988-1991 I thought the documentary was very accurate. As to the right-wing groups one only has to read our host Fr. Ray's earlier post (

During my time it was something called 'The Third Position' that was in vogue at the London chapel with the late Fr. Michael Crowdy acting as its 'chaplain'.

My biggest disappointment was the first and last time I visited Econe. I was expecting some decent liturgy and all of the Office. My visit coincided with the feast of SS Peter and Paul. There were first Vespers but no Mattins and Lauds and no Little Hours at all the next day. It was a great let down.

Even small Orthodox churches will have a Vigil Service (if of the Russian tradition) on a Saturday and Greek ones Mattins before the Liturgy on Sundays. Larger one will have the Hours as at the Russian Cathedral in London. In contrast I do not believe any SSPX centre has any Office function on a regular basis at all.

lizard said...

"old believer said...
Visit the Cathedral of the Dormition in South Kensington and you will find vibrant and beautiful liturgy sung in Church Slavonic and English."

old believer, I personally love the Orthodox Church and especially the Eastern Rite (my older son was baptised in Eastern Rite, although in full comunion with the Bishop of Rome). But I must remind that what is the most important is the doctrine, not external beauty of the appearance. The Orthodox church has serious doctrinal errors and is currently in the state of schism. This says all. Your example shows how dangerous is this for faith. In my opinion, even the most modernist (some people might say "ugly," but I disagree, because even in this reduced form it remains the same Sacrifice of Christ) Mass provides far more means for salvation than the most beautiful of Eastern Orthodox services.

old believer said...


Ever heard of the Balamand Agreement? (

To quote “(15) While the inviolable freedom of persons and their obligation to follow the requirements of their conscience remains secure, in the search for re-establishing unity there is no question of conversion of people from one Church to the other in order to ensure their salvation.”

So I am afraid your comment about salvation is not what the Roman Church actually teaches.

lizard said...

Old believer,

Ever heard that the Russian Orthodox Church actually repudiated the Balamand Agreement? Also, I never wrote that the Orthodox Church cannot ensure salvation. But it is a serious sin against the truth (very dangerous for salvation) to deny certain doctrinal positions in view of the overwhelming liturgical, patrological and historical evidence. This evidence is quite abundant WITHIN the Eastern Rite, Orthodox Church documents, writings of Eastern Fathers etc.

Neither the Second Vatican Council nor the Balamand Agreement abrogated any one of the anathemsa proclaimed by the previous Councils or doctrinal documents of the Church. The Teaching of the Church remains one and the same irrespective of the political and other winds.

old believer said...


Compare Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII with both the Balamand Agreement and the Documents of the SVC. When have you heard popes Paul VI, John-Paul I, John-Paul II or Benedict XVI tell the Orthodox they have to submit to Rome to be saved as Boniface taught?

This is a pointless discussion and for my part am not engaging in further 'ping-pong' comments with you. The subject of the post was the splendid event on Sunday in Moscow. Comments have explored the relationship between Rome and the SSPX and with the Orthodox. We have been told that the Orthodox don't use living languages in worship etc. and that the association between some SSPX and the extreme right wing is false despite plain evidence to the contrary in both cases.

Personally I don't believe that it is ever likely that there will be full Communion between Rome and Orthodoxy but I believe there can be much deeper co-operation in many areas. I would welcome that but still maintain that this would be made far more difficult and indeed impossible if Lefebvrism gains a foothold in Rome.

May the Lord shine the light of His countenance on you and yours.

lizard said...

old believer,

I agree that we must not expect full communion soon. But I hope the joint theological commission could clear the important obstacles to the unity. I disagree only on your point to "Lefebrism." We cannot approach unity with the Eastern Churches by changing and adopting theology and lithurgical practices to a strange averaging admixture, nor by using a confusing language in a false hope to smooth over contradictions in an imperceptible way (that seemd to be a tendency in the past, incl. the Balamand Agreement). The only way to find resolution of theological and political questions is only in the common tradition, in what united the East and West before the great schism. Even though SSPX may currently have serious disciplinaty and other problems, they adhere to the tradition. I am sure the current traditionalistic trend in Rome will significantly facilitate reconciliation with the Orthodox. I prey for you.