Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I have some wonderful news to share. In early 2014, a whole diocese of the Philippine Independent Church converted to Orthodoxy together with its two bishops, all of its priests, and 28 parishes.

Their example has now been imitated by 8 more PIC bishops and 25 more parishes. In total, 53 parishes in the Philippines have come into Orthodoxy so far this year!

You can read about it on Orthodox Church Cognate website for November 18, 2014: 

The Philippine Independent Church is an independent national Catholic Church in the Philippines. The PIC was established in 1902, by clergy and laity who had left the Roman Catholic Church. Initially isolated, the Philippine Independent Church struggled theologically to find its bearings after its separation from Rome. Eventually, the Episcopal Church USA and European Old Catholics intervened to help the PIC develop as a national Catholic Church. By 1960, the Philippine Independent Church was in full communion with the Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Communion and the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches.

When the Episcopal Church USA abandoned its historic Liturgy and approved the ordination of women at its 1976 General Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Philippine Independent Church repaid their debt and immediately came to the assistance of traditional Anglicans in North America.  When the first four continuing Anglican bishops, James Orin Mote, Robert Sherwood Morse, Peter Francis Watterson and C. Dale Doren, were consecrated on January 28, 1978, one of the consecrators was The Right Reverend Francisco J. Pagtakhan, Bishop Secretary for Missions and Ecumenical Affairs of the Philippine Independent Church.

Sadly, the new-born continuing Anglican Church, called the Anglican Church in North America in 1977 and 1978, struggled to find stability and unity, and began to divide after its very first provincial synod in 1978. Eventually, the Philippine Independent Church tried to intervene to bring the factions together again. Unsuccessful, the Philippine Independent Church later established the “Anglican Rite Jurisdiction in the America’s” (ARJA) in an effort to provide Catholic Anglicans in North America with a stable ecclesiastical life as part of the PIC. That too failed, and the PIC gave up its attempt to establish an Anglican Rite jurisdiction here.

Unfortunately, the same heretical ideas that had forever changed and splintered the Anglican Communion and later the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches also began to make inroads into the Philippine Independent Church, leaving the PIC a house divided against itself and eventually becoming the dominant position in the Church. Fortunately, rather than forming yet another small and isolated “continuing” Church, Orthodox-minded clergy and congregations of the Philippine Independent Church have entered into full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Catholic Church under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. So far they total ten bishops and fifty-three parishes with their clergy. To God be the glory! 

Twenty years ago Anglicans made up the second largest group of converts to the Orthodox Church. Today they may be the largest. In the past most Anglicans entered the Orthodox Church as individuals and families, although a few Orthodox congregations were actually established by groups of former Anglicans. 

Today all of that has changed. Whole parishes with their clergy are coming into the Orthodox Church. Some are entering through the Eastern Rite, while others are entering through the Western Rite. There are now canonical Western Rite Orthodox churches and monasteries in North America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and on the continent of Europe.

The Anglican continuum is now divided into some 46 small and competing jurisdictions in North America alone, with the largest having of less that 5,000 members in the United States. While larger, the new Anglican Church in North America, established in 2009, is a house divided against itself. It is so comprehensive that Zwinglians, Calvinists and Catholics are all found in the ACNA, and there are dioceses that “ordain” women and dioceses that do not “ordain” women. Catholics are a distinct minority in what ACNA primate Archbishop Foley Beach rightly describes as “an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” A house divided against itself cannot stand.

There are still some Catholic Anglicans talking about “Ecumenical dialogue” with the Orthodox Church and “diplomatic missions” to this or that Orthodox See, but what they fail to see is that the door to unity is already open. Both the Russian and the Antiochian Orthodox Churches have Western Rite parishes and monasteries right now. All Catholic Anglicans need do is to walk through the door where they will be warmly welcomed with joy. 

There is nothing more that needs to be discussed. Whole congregations with their clergy are being received into the Orthodox Church. The only requirement is that that the fullness of the Orthodox Christian Faith be embraced without addition or diminution (Jude 3). Our Western patrimony is being preserved and we are rebuilding the Western Church. St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco said, “Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must be Eastern. The West was Orthodox for a thousand years...”

Holy Cross Orthodox Church was received into the Orthodox Church in June of 2013, from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); and we are a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the English parochial tradition. As Anglicans, we had always understood the goal of the English Reformation to be the restoration of the Faith of the Undivided Church. The Orthodox Church is the unchanged and unchanging Undivided Church from which the Roman See tragically fell way in AD 1054. For us, the English Reformation which began in 1534, was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century and the Oxford Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, has finally been completed. Our wanderings in the wilderness are over. We are home. We are happy, and we are not looking back. Would you like to come home? I can help. E-mail me at venovak@hughes.net or call me at (402) 573-6558.