Our Church

A Latin or Western Rite Orthodox parish is to be distinguished from the more usual Eastern or Byzantine Rite parishes. When the Latin Church in the west separated itself from the unity of the Orthodox Church, the venerable and ancient Western liturgy was lost to the Church. In the Nineteenth Century, when the Papal claims of supremacy culminated in the novel doctrine of “papal infallibility,” the Orthodox Church was approached by Western Catholics seeking the apostolic unity of the ancient, unchanging Orthodox Faith wherein the Bishop of Rome would be considered to have primacy of honour. They would utilise their own familiar and theologically Orthodox liturgical forms, while coincidentally restoring the Western liturgy to the Orthodox Church.

The Holy Synod of Moscow responded by approving the restored form of the Western Liturgy, the ancient Liturgy of St. Gregory the Great. This is the oldest Orthodox liturgy of the undivided Church still in use. The balance was struck involving the Eastern and Western traditions of Orthodoxy. In the twentieth century, the Patriarch of Antioch established Western Rite communities, the first being the reception of former members of the Old Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht, and later establishing a Western Rite Vicariate in North America. The Orthodox Church reclaimed what was rightfully hers.

The Church of Antioch was established by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D., with St. Peter serving for the next eight years as its first prelate. The Church of Antioch is one of the five ancient Patriarchates of the Christian Church, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome. Many of the great saints of the Church, including St. Ignatius and St. John Chrysostom, have come from Antioch.

On August 5th, 1911, a conference took place in Bredon’s Norton, Worcestershire, attended by Metropolitan Gerassimos Messarra, Archbishop of Beirut, Legate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East together with Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew and others in Great Britain, formerly a mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht. After a long and full discussion, the faith of the Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Mathew was considered in full accord with that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Archbishop Mathew was then solemnly received by Mgr Messarra on behalf of Patriarch Gregory IV (Haddad) and the Old Roman Catholic Western Orthodox Church into union with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East as an autocephalous i.e. self-ruling jurisdiction of the Holy Synod. On February 26th, 1912, His Holiness, Photius, Pope and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria also accepted and recognised this union.

Today the Antiochian Patriarchate has endured despite centuries of oppression, and shepherds over half a million Christians in Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East along with communities throughout the Americas, Australia and Europe.

Our Oratory belongs to the Province of Europe of the Orthodox Old Roman Catholic (Western Orthodox) Communion. The Province of Europe is a communion of national churches faithful to the principles of Old Roman Catholicism and Western Rite Orthodoxy. The Old Roman Catholic (Western Orthodox) Church (via Great Britain prior to expansion) being received as an autocephalous member of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in 1911, considers itself ultimately under the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East: St. Peter’s Chair, His Holiness John X of Syria presiding; as affirmed by the joint Holy Synod of Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions in Europe, 2014 and in Chicago 2017. We are in spiritual union with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople the New Rome, with the Moscow Patriarchate and with all the Canonical Sees of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church.

The Old Roman Catholic Church in Europe is a member of the International Council of Community Churches and through that body enjoys membership of the Worldwide Council of Churches, Churches Uniting in Christ and the National Council of Churches USA.

Our Parish Mission is a member of Churches Together in Central Brighton, and has a desire to work towards the realisation of “…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” [Ephesians 4:5].