Western Rite Oriental Churches

Western Rites (Latin, Independent Catholic, Anglican and Other Rites) in Oriental Orthodoxy

There are few Western-Latin and Anglo Rite Churches within the Oriental Orthodox communion of Churches. One of the largest Western Rite Churches among Oriental Orthodox Churches was the Independent Catholic Mission Church (ICM) of Metropolitan-Archbishop Alvares Julius.

The René Vilatte lineage of Churches is extensive. Some of the Churches are in the Federation of St. Thomas Christians in the USA (a federation of a number of Churches in the USA claiming to have their origin from René Vilatte). A prominent member among this federation is the Marthoma Orthodox Church of America. They claim to practise a mix of Syriac and Malankara Orthodox systems of worship. Another example of this category is the African Orthodox Church (founded by Bishop George Alexander through Archbishop René Vilatte).

Presently, there is a Western Rite Oriental Orthodox presence in the Indian Subcontinent, USA, Europe and several other places. Many Western Rite Churches practise a mix of Latin Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox systems of liturgy, prayers, worship and beliefs.

Independent Catholic movements that constitute the major share of the Western Rite of Syriac and Malankara Orthodoxy were not something that was unique to the Indian Subcontinent. It was a worldwide phenomenon, a part of the larger Independent Sacramental Movement, which includes independent Orthodox, Anglican and other non-Catholic Churches. ‘Episcopal Vagantes’ Arnold Harris Mathew is associated with this movement.

Independent Catholic Churches (sometimes referred to as Movements) and Old Catholic Churches (or Movements) appear to be identical to one another in several aspects, but in principle they are not. Independent Catholic Churches consist of clergy and laity who choose to live the Catholic faith outside the Roman Catholic Church. They are micro-Churches or small denominations, claiming valid apostolic succession and sacraments. Historically, Independent Catholic movements are closely associated with Old Catholic movements. Hence many Independent Catholics mistakenly identify and consider themselves to be Old Catholics.

Old Catholic Churches were founded due to opposition to doctrinal aspects of the Roman Catholic Church, especially after the First Vatican Council, in particular, the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. These Churches associate with each other through the Union of Utrecht. Those who belong to the Union of Utrecht are in full communion with the Anglican Communion, the Philippine Independent Church, the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church and the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church.

Therefore, we may say that Old Catholics are Churches associated with the Union of Utrecht and Independent Catholics are denominations within the larger Independent Sacramental Movement. Both Old Catholics and Independent Catholic Churches oppose several practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

Independent Catholics, Old Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics or any such Church may become a Western Rite Church when it is accepted into communion with Eastern or Oriental Orthodox Churches. They are allowed to preserve and keep their distinct traditions and liturgical rites (Latin, Anglican, Episcopal) in line with Orthodox faith and practice.

Recognized Western Rite Oriental Orthodox Churches 

Unrecognized Western Rite Oriental Orthodox Churches