Old Roman Orthodoxy

Old Romans are simply orthodox Catholics, nothing more, nothing less; who believe what Catholics have always believed, worship as Catholics in the western Latin Rite have always worshiped and live as Catholics have always lived. Since the early 20C orthodox Catholics, known as Old Romans, accomplished the reunion of western Latin Rite orthodoxy with the Orthodox East.

messarra-matthew-clergyAn orthodox Latin or Western Rite mission is distinguishable from Eastern Orthodox or Byzantine Rite parishes by the liturgy. When the Latin Church in the west became separated from unity with the Orthodox East, the venerable and ancient western Latin liturgy was lost to the Orthodox East. In the Nineteenth Century, when the Papal claims of supremacy culminated in the new doctrine of “papal infallibility,” the Orthodox Church was approached by western Old Roman 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, preserving the western Latin Rite liturgy and faith for the Catholic Church.

The Holy Synod of Moscow responded by approving the restored form of the Latin 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 recognition of and communion with Old Romans formerly of the See of Utrecht, and later establishing a Western Rite Vicariate in North America.

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 bishop. 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 See of Utrecht. After a long and full discussion, the faith of the Old Romans under Archbishop Mathew was considered in full accord with that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Archbishop Mathew was then solemnly recognised by Mgr Messarra on behalf of Patriarch Gregory IV (Haddad) and the Old Romans under Archbishop Mathew entered into communio in sacris 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.

The Brighton Oratory belongs to the European region of the Orthodox Old Roman Catholic (Western Orthodox) Communion. The Province of Europe is a communion of localised churches faithful to the principles of Old Roman Catholicism. The Old Roman Catholic (Western Orthodox) jurisdiction (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 spiritually united to 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 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].