In a surprise move, the lately suspended Fr Michael (Wood) of the ROCOR-MP announced today that he had been accepted by the TOC of Metropolitan Raphael of Moscow. Fr Michael subsequently announced that Metropolitan Daniel of Volokomansk had been authorized to establish Western rite missions in the United Kingdom– where there are already Western rite communities under Metropolitan John of the American Metropolia. A further complication is Fr Michael’s wholesale endorsement– while under the ROCOR-MP– of Anglican liturgy under the guise of an “Orthodox Western Rite”.
The move follows the acceptance in January of a suspended Bishop of the Metropolia of Italy and Western Europe by the TOC-PC of Metropolitan Anghelos of Avlonos. In both this case and the previous one, neither Metropolitan– whether in Italy or the United States– were notified.
In the ROCOR-MP, until his suspension, Fr Michael (Wood) established about a dozen missions in Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Prior to January of this year, the understanding had been that Greece and Russia had their respective spheres from which to begin missionary work, with Latin America having remained in dispute since 2010. There, a number of Bishops exist from both Synods, and Metropolitan John was elected as Metropolitan of “North and South America and the British Isles”. However, in correspondence, both the Greek and Russian Synods referred to the Metropolitan without “South America” in their official correspondence.
Meanwhile, both Synods have broken communion with the Metropolia in Italy, while Metropolitan Onufrie stated that he remained in communion with the American Metropolia. Relations between the two Metropolias have been strained since, as Metropolitan John has done his best to keep together what was rapidly falling apart.
It is with this background in mind that initial plans were in the works for the annual meeting in Greece between the heads of the three Churches. That was, of course, before the reception of a priest who had actually convinced clerics of the former Milan Synod Archdioceses just a few years ago to secretly commemorate the Moscow Patriarchate, eventually leading to small schisms from what would become the American Metropolia. Already clerics have expressed suspicion that Fr Michael’s move was carefully orchestrated to attack the Metropolia “from inside”.
Sources within NFTU have heard Metropolitan John’s immediate concern is that the Russians may inadvertently allow the use of Anglican services into the communion and has asked, on the basis of his experience and jurisdiction, to review Fr Michael’s plans.
Considering the treatment of Metropolitan Onufrie in January, and considering the TOC-R has just moved into the British Isles not with the intent of establishing a metochion but a British mission, we are forced to ask if perhaps he should have a different primary concern.
Full Disclosure: the author is a member of the American Metropolia.