Western Rite Ukase

<H2><B><CENTER>Western Rite Ukase</CENTER></B></H2>

(Ed. Note: Reproduced below in an English translation by the Rev. David F. Abramtsov and the Rev. Peter A. Krochta is a little-known document of paramount importance in the history, not only of the Moscow Patriachate, but of the Orthodox Church as a whole. This year is the 900th anniversary of the falling away from the Church of Christ of the Western Church (1054). The present document shows that the Church is ever-ready to receive back into her fold the dissidents of the West; that she requires of them oneness and uniformity only in the essentials and is happy to allow them to continue to be "Western" in those things which are non-essential.


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HEARD: A Report of the Confraternity of St. Photius of Paris dated 9/22 April of this year, No. 13, in which, among other things it is related that on 18 March of this year the Confraternity received an official letter from Bishop Winnaert, who heads the Catholic Evangelical Church, "with a request to undertake the necessary steps toward uniting his community with the Orthodox Church and to solicit the Moscow Patriarchate for a conclusion on his request.

From Winnaert's "Memorandum," which is appended to the Report, it is apparent that Winnaert was born in the year 1880 in the north of France; was baptized and confirmed in the Roman Church; studied theology from 1899 to 1905 in the Roman Catholic University of Lille; was ordained in 1905 to the priesthood. In 1908, becoming disillusioned with Roman Catholicism, he abandoned it, but continued to serve in the capacity of a Roman Catholic priest for some his parishioners in a church put at his disposal by the Anglican Bishop Bury, and in 1921, for the Old Catholics at Saint-Denis with the blessing of the Old Catholic Archbishop Gul of Utrecht. Because of differences of opinion, he left Archbishop Gul in 1922. In that same year Winnaert's followers formed themselves into an independent ecclesiastical community (The Catholic Evangelical Church) and chose Winnaert to be their bishop. Following the advice of the above- named Bishop Bury to seek a consecration for himself which the Roman Church would recognize, and hence, not an Anglican one, Winnaert received his consecration in London from Wedgwood, Bishop of the "Liberal Catholic Church of Great Britain" whose orders, through Willtz and Mathew, trace back to the same Archbishop Gul. In 1930, in the status of bishop, Winnaert entered into marriage, being guided by the practice of the Anglican and other similar churches. There are at the present time under Winnaertís supervision six priests (apparently ordained by him) and one deacon; parishes in Paris, Rouen, Brussels, Holland and Rome. The faithful number "not more than 1500 people." In its profession of faith the Memorandum repeats the Old Catholic formula: The teaching of the ancient indivisible (undivided) Church as formulated by the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith and the Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The Catholic Evangelical Church accepts the Orthodox ordinances and traditions regarding the Hierarchy, the Sacraments, the veneration of the Mother of God, and the veneration of Saints and Icons. It rejects the Roman innovations, among them the insertion of the Filioque into the Symbol), "unconditionally adhering to the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1849." "In contrast to Protestant tenets" it recognizes the authority of the Church in the interpretation of Holy Scriptures and Tradition "as the expression of the Faith of the Church." It "condemns all contemporary forms of occultism, theosophy, anthroposophies, etc., which are incompatible with Christianity" (apparently. to distinguish itself from the Liberal Catholic Church which diverted into occultism). The Divine Services are celebrated in the French language and follow the Western liturgical tradition in its Order as well as in exteriors (church arrangement, dress, candles, incense, etc.), except that in place of statues icons are accepted as in the Eastern Church. The liturgical texts are taken from the Roman Church but are "adapted" in suitable manner. Furthermore "as it is natural for France, the Gallican tradition is drawn upon more heavily than the Roman customs, since it is more deeply rooted in the Orthodox tradition of our country (St. Irenaeus and the Church of Lyons)." In particular, the Liturgy is "an adaptation of the Latin Mass," but with the following differences: (a) "the Epiclesis remains as in the Latin Mass, before the Words of Institution, but has been made more accurate and strengthened by a special prayer to the Holy Spirit with an Invocation to bless and consecrate the Gifts; (b) Communion is administered under both kinds; (c) the Symbol of Faith without the Filioque (d) Ektenias (Litanies) which disappeared in the Roman Mass have been reinstated."

Winnaert presented his Memorandum to the Constantinopolitan Patriarch in 1932. Receiving no reply, he wrote a letter in 1934 and in 1935 he sent the Hieromonk Leo (Lev) Gillet to Constantinople for personal discussions. Metropolitan Gennadius, Secretary of the Patriarchate, presented the following conditions, orally, for the reception of Winnaert and his community: the laity to be received unconditionally; the Western Rite preserved; the priests and deacons (ordained by Winnaert) to be ordained that they might minister to the needs of the newly united parishes; despite Winnaert's marriage after his consecration, his priestly orders to be recognized, but the question of his episcopal consecration to remain open for an undetermined period of time. Until this question is decided, Winnaert must refrain from celebrating the Liturgy in pontifical as well as priestly rank. He may, however, freely preach and celebrate some minor services. Winnaert submitted to these conditions, in spite of a troubled soul. Nevertheless, Winnaert awaited in vain an official written confirmation of these conditions and was forced to appoint Metropolitan Gennadius a time limit in order that, in the future, not receiving an answer, he could consider the discussions with Constantinople terminated, and himself free to turn in another direction. The time limit expired; no answer was received; and Winnaert, as mentioned above, turned to the Confraternity of St. Photius on 18 March of this year.


1. That the Moscow Patriarchate, in taking under its judgment the matter of Winnaert and his community, cannot overstep the framework of the competency of the Russian Orthodox Church, namely, as merely one of the Regional Churches. This, on the one hand, restricts or narrows down the matter in certain respects - placing before the Patriarchate merely the question of the reception of the petitioners into the bosom of the Russian Regional Church and into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and thus allows us a certain freedom of decision; while on the other hand it leads us to the necessity of adhering to the canons and regulations effective in our Regional Church, not reserving the petitioners any kind of dispensations which require synodal concurrence of all the Regional Orthodox Churches but which has not yet been received.

2. Some diversity in secondary points of doctrine, in the administration of the Sacraments and ecclesiastical discipline, which may be freely tolerated on an inter-Church scale, is naturally subject to restriction when the talk concerns uniting with a Regional, for example, the Russian Church. In particular, hierarchs and clerics, upon entering the ranks of the hierarchy and. clergy of the Russian Church, become teachers not only of their former, but, in general, of the Orthodox Russian flock, and therefore, must adhere to the forms of teaching accepted in the Russian Church. Likewise, also, in the administration of the Sacraments, there should be no such essential divergences as to cause the Russian Orthodox flock to be cautious of resorting to the new clergy for the Sacraments. In general, the newly united community, while preserving its Western peculiarities consecrated by Church antiquity, should not remain something foreign, segregated from the corporate life of the one Body of the Church which received it.

3. Even though opinions were expressed in Russian Orthodox theological studies favoring the recognition of the Utrecht and, in general. of the Old Catholic hierarchv, despite its origin from a single consecrator, nevertheless a conciliar recognition of the Old Catholic hierarchy binding for all the Regional Churches is lacking. This compels the Russian Church to receive those who come to her from Old Catholicism as she receives those coming to her from communities not possessing the Priesthood, i. e., through Chrismation.

4. Also, despite one or another evaluation of Old Catholic orders, the episcopal consecration received by Winnaert from Wedgwood is in itself doubtful. It must be ranked among the "vagrant" (vagans) consecrations, which are now apparently not few in the heterodox world. Wedgwood performed this consecration for a community wandering in the inter-Church expanse and had by no means in mind, through this consecration, to bring this community within the portals of his Church, and Winnaert into the body of his hierarchy. Wedgwood permitted them to go wherever they wished, and to organize their ecclesiastical life as they liked. On the other hand, Winnaert himself turned to Wedgwood for his consecration merely by chance and as an outward token -thinking to find in him a more or less undisputed consecration and, seemingly, not especially caring about the measure of catholicity of Wedgwood's community in its doctrine or in the whole of its Polity. It seems to follow, at least from Winnaert's Memorandum, that he did not accept an Anglican consecration, despite his closeness with Bishop Bury, not because of differences with Anglicanism, but because Anglican orders were disputed by the Roman Church. Holy Orders, however, cannot be thought of as something separate from the Church. The Priesthood is the property of the Church, i.e. exists only in her and for her. This is why a postulant, before consecration, takes a vow of fidelity to the Church consecrating him, and to her doctrine. The mystical essence of orders is indissolubly and, one may say, sacramentally united with the canonical regularity of orders. To receive ordination from Wedgwood and not to enter his Church or to leave it at that very time (keeping in mind that the the Wedgwood community in its essence is not under judgment) means leaving with nothing. Such a mechanical (even half materialistic) view of the essence of the Sacrament and such hopeless attempts to acquire Grace -continuing to remain outside of the Church from which it was acquired, is, in fact, characteristic of "vagrant" consecrations. Winnaert compares his consecration to the case when an Orthodox Metropolitan consecrates a bishop for an independent Orthodox Church. There can be no comparison here. In the Orthodox case the concern is, essentially, with the division of one eparchy into two. Even though the separated part received another jurisdiction it still remains flesh and blood of the Mother Church from which it separated. And both the ordaining metropolitan and the bishop ordained by him were and remain among the ranks of the former ecclesiastical hierarchy. In this case, however, Wedgwood and Winnaert met by chance at the consecration and then each went his own way.

5. Winnaert's entrance into marriage after his consecration undoubtedly transgresses the 26th Canon of the Holy Apostles (Ec. VI:6). Nevertheless, both justice and church economy require us to keep in mind that Winnaert entered into marriage while outside of the Orthodox Church and while wandering in the inter-Church expanse among arbitrary undertakings and general disorder. In such an environment it was easy for any consciousness of the obligatory precepts of the Orthodox Church to become dimmed, and the example of the Anglicans and others could seem an adequate justification for Winnaert also to enter into marriage. To accuse him of evil and premeditated transgression of the Church's canons would not be right. Therefore, we can apply to Winnaert the exception made by the Ec. VI:3 Canon, according to which, persons entering into marriage after their ordination up until 15 November 691 (i.e., carried away by former examples and having broken the law without evil intent), remain in their rank under the condition that they dissolve their improper marriage and remain without hope of elevation to the next degree of priesthood.

Determination of 16 June 1936, No. 75.

IT is DECREED: To recognize the possibility of the reception of Fr. Winnaert and his community into communion with: the Holy Orthodox Church on the following conditions:

I. Fr. Winnaert can be recognized only in the rank of presbyter, in which rank he may be received into communion, according to the canons in force in the Russian Church, with, however, the express condition of the dissolution of his improper marriage and without hope of attaining the episcopacy. After fulfilling the designated conditions and his elevation to the rank of archpriest or archimandrite (if he accepts the tonsure), Fr. Winnaert may be left at the head of the united community in the capacity of district dean (or administrator) under the usual diocesan supervision of the Most Reverend prelate ruling the Russian churches in Western Europe.

II. The clergy and laity of the united community who possess Confirmation (or Chrismation) recognized by our Church, are received into communion by the third form (through the Sacrament of Penance), while those without it, by the second form (through anointing with Holy Chrism). To enter the Orthodox clergy those of either category must be ordained by an Orthodox bishop. Clerics who have orders recognized by the Church may be received in their existing rank without hindrance.

III. In their doctrine of Faith the united community must, without deviation, follow the form of teaching held by the Orthodox Church. Hence the priests of the community must study thoroughly the Orthodox Faith, for example, by means of texts acceptable to the Orthodox Church (Dogmatics, Catechism, "Accurate Exposition", Confessions, etc.). In instances of doubt directions should be sought form the Diocesan Bishop and such followed.

IV. In it Divine Services and, generally, in the liturgical cult, the united community may preserve the Western Rite which it has maintained until now; however, the liturgical texts must be expurgated (even though gradually) of all expressions and thoughts not acceptable to the Orthodox Church.

V. The united community receives into it Menology all of the Saints who are venerated by the Eastern Church, but only those of the West who were canonized before the separation of Rome from the Orthodox Church.

VI. In the Liturgy it is indispensable that: [a] only leavened bread be used; [b] the Invocation of the Holy Spirit (the Epiclesis) and the Consecration of the Gifts be placed, not before, but after the words of Institution in order to remove all misunderstanding concerning the moment of consecration; [c] the laity be communicated under both kinds concurrently by means of the spoon; [d] the Liturgy be celebrated on a Antimins, consecrated and issued by the Most Reverend prelate ruling the Russian churches in Western Europe, in token of canonical unity with the Orthodox Diocese.

VII. The Sacrament of Baptism must be administered by triune immersion and only in view of an exception - by pouring or sprinkling; in Chrismation, Holy Chrism which is received from the Diocesan Bishop must be used; it must be indicated in the rite of Holy Unction that it is given not only in the capacity of "extreme unction" but also for the healing of the souls and bodies of the sick.

VIII. Fr. Winnaert, and the others seeking to be united with the Orthodox Church, are to submit a deposition (either individually or from parishes and groups) to the Most Reverend Eleutherius, Metropolitan of Lithuania and Vilna, the ruler of the Russian churches in Western Europe, who, if he himself is unable to be present to perform the Rite of Reception, shall delegate the execution of the same in an Orthodox church of one of the uniting churches, to someone of the clergymen in the Most Reverend Metropolitanís supervision who is able to perform the service in the French language.

IX. The united parishes, using the Western Rite, shall bear the name "Western Orthodox".

X. Those destined to be priest, deacons and minor clerics for the Western Orthodox parishes shall be subject the established examinations in regard to canonical impediments and as to knowledge of the doctrine of the Faith and church ritual. At their ordination they are to be vested in dress of Western form. When participating, in the future, in Eastern Orthodox Divine Services, they may vest without distinction in either Western or Eastern vestments. The Eastern Orthodox clergy shall do likewise when participating in Western Orthodox Divine Services.

XI. All matters concerning not only the reception but he further ecclesiastical organization of the Western Orthodox parishes are delegated to the Archpastoral care and direction of the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Lithuania, and the Diocesan Bishop of the Russian churches in Western Europe.

Thereto Ukases shall be sent to the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Lithuania and Vilna for guidance, and to the other Bishops for information.

Wherefore is this present Ukase sent to YOUR EMINENCE.

Substitute of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens;

SERGIUS, Metropolitan of Moscow.

Administrator of the Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate:


23rd day of June
The year 1936
No. 1250