Orthodox Church of France

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The Orthodox Church of France (OCF, French: L'Église orthodoxe de France, formerly The Orthodox Catholic Church of France, French: Église catholique orthodoxe de France) is an Orthodox church in France, composed of a single diocese, which uses the Western Rite. Though the OCF has been in communion with various canonical Orthodox churches during its history, at present it is not.

Foundation[edit]

In 1936, the Russian Orthodox Church received a small group under Louis-Charles (Irénée) Winnaert (1880–1937), under the name l'Eglise Orthodoxe Occidentale (Western Orthodox Church). Winnaert's work was continued, with occasional conflict, by Evgraph Kovalevsky (1905–1970) and Denis (Chambault), the latter overseeing a small Orthodox Benedictine community in the rue d'Alleray in Paris. After 1946, Kovalevsky began to restore the Gallican usage based on the letters of Saint Germanus, a sixth-century Bishop of Paris, as well as numerous early non-Roman Western missals and sacramentaries. The restored liturgy, which included some borrowings from the Byzantine tradition, is known as the Divine Liturgy according to St Germanus of Paris.

Archimandrite Alexis van der Mensbrugghe was also associated with the Kovalevsky group, desiring the restoration of the ancient Roman rite, replacing medieval accretions with Gallican and Byzantine interpolations, though Alexis remained separate from the OCF. Father Alexis was eventually consecrated a bishop of the Church of Russia's episcopate in 1960, continuing his Western Rite work under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Relations with other Orthodox churches[edit]

After some years of isolation, Kovalevsky's group came under the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia between 1959 and 1966. In 1964, Kovalevsky was tonsured as a monk with the name Jean-Nectaire, and consecrated as the first modern Bishop of Saint-Denis. His principal consecrator was St. John (Maximovitch) (the ROCOR's representative in Western Europe at the time). John Maximovitch’s death in 1966 was a serious blow to the Western Orthodox Christians in France.

While Moscow's Western Rite mission withered and ended, Bishop Jean's church continued to thrive, however, without canonical protection after St. John's repose. Bishop Jean reposed in 1966, but in 1972, the church found a new canonical superior in the Church of Romania. Gilles Bertrand-Hardy was then tonsured as a monk with the name Germain and consecrated as Bishop of Saint-Denis. In 1993, after long conflict with the Romanian Synod regarding canonical irregularities, the latter withdrew its blessing of the French church and broke communion with OCF. The Romanian Orthodox Church took the decision, which is contested by OCF, to depose Bishop Germain from all sacerdotal functions. This decision (which was never accepted by the OCF) is applied by the canonical dioceses of the AEOF (Assemblée des Evêques Orthodoxes de France). The sanction was confirmed and explained in 2001 by another document, "Avis d'expertise canonique", from the Secretary of the Romanian Synod (a document which the OCF considers to have no value). The Romanian patriarchate established a deanery under Bishop Germain's brother, Archpriest Gregoire Bertrand-Hardy, to minister to those parishes which chose to stay with the Romanian Patriarchate.

In 2001, after the scandal caused by the revelation inside the church of the marriage of Bishop Germain in 1995 (which was subsequently annulled), ten parishes left the OCF and formed the Union des Associations Cultuelles Orthodoxes de Rite Occidental (UACORO - the Union of Western Rite Orthodox Worship Associations) and began negotiations in 2004 with the Church of Serbia to be canonically recognized, with the intention of the UACORO entering the Diocese of France and Western Europe. The UACORO was received individually, laity and priests, into the French diocese of the Serbian Patriarchate in 2006.

External links[edit]