Celtic Orthodox Church

Celtic Orthodox Church

The Celtic Orthodox Church is an indigenous, Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Europe with representation in the United Kingdom for over 100 years. The head of the Church carries the title of "Metropolitan of Dol and titular Bishop of Iona", with residence in Saint-Dolay (Monastery of the Holy Presence [ [http://www.orthodox.ch/metropol.htm Église Orthodoxe Celtique: Éparchie de Suisse] ] in Brittany (current titular : H B Mael since 1995). Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy do not maintain ties with the Celtic Church. The French body recently (late 2006) formed an association called l'Église Orthodoxe Occidentale (The Western Orthodox Church) together with the French Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of the Gauls. [ [http://www.orthodoxie-celtique.net/actualites_2006_10.html Actualités] ]


Established as the Orthodox Church of the British Isles in 1866, Apostolic Succession is claimed to have been derived from the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. With the sanction of the Patriarch Ignatius Jacobus II having first been obtained, on 2nd June 1866, Mar Julius, Metropolitan Bishop of Emesa consecrated Jules Ferrette as Bishop Julius and gave him the title of Bishop of Iona and its Dependencies. This consecration, in Syria, was witnessed and the instrument of consecration was verified before the British Consul at Damascus. Bishop Julius was dispatched to erect an indigenous Orthodox Church in Western Europe, one not in any way subject to Antioch.

The British church has a mixed history. Bishop Julius was not well received, and his successors had great difficulty in maintaining the Church. Resistance was made by Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, but gradually it survived and grew. In 1994 the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria received the senior British bishop (and several members of the laity) into its jurisdiction. The remaining bishops elected Bishop Mael (the Abbot of the Monastère de la Saint-Présence) as Primate and Metropolitan. The Orthodox Church of the British Isles took the title, British Orthodox Church with the unanimous agreement of the clergy at a synod held in London.

Those French members who rejected the opportunity to join the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria assumed the title of the French Eparchy: L'Eglise Orthodoxe Celtique (the Celtic Orthodox Church) to indicate that its jurisdiction covered the area of the former Celtic missions.

In 1998 several of the priests of the British Orthodox Church who had become priests in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria left the wider Orthodox communion and chose to return to the independent movement. Eventually most of them were received by Mar Mael and L'Eglise Orthodox Celtique, though some joined other independent groups.

By 1998 the Church in Britain was given the status of an Eparchy or Province and in 1999 a new Bishop Eparch (Stephen Robson) was elected and consecrated for Britain; he had been one of those British priests who had chosen to leave the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.

In early 2007 the status of the British Eparchy of the Celtic Orthodox Church became unclear. The Eparch, Bishop Stephen, asked for release from the COC and commenced enquiries for entry to the Episcopal Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland under Bishop Basil of Amphipolis (Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe).

Bishop Stephen was received, as a monk, into the Ecumenical Patriarchate January 26, 2008.

He issued this announcement:

"On the 26th January 2008 Saint Anne's House [York,UK] was received into the Ecumenical Patriarchate as part of the Archdiocese of Parishes of a Russian Tradition in Western Europe. We are under the care of Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, Episcopal Vicar of Great Britain and Ireland. This will bring a greater unity of Orthodoxy in Britain.

"Discussions for this move have been taking place since the autumn of 2006 and in talks with Archbishop Gabriel of Comana, the Exarch, and with Bishop Basil, I expressed a desire not to continue my episcopal state and so am pleased to be 'Father Stephen', an idiorrhythmic (i.e. living alone and responsible for my own support), stavrophore ("cross bearing" fully professed) monk.

"It was with great sadness that I left the Monastére Sainte-Presènce in Brittany, where I had discovered Orthodoxy and which had been mymonastic home for so long. It is not possible to express fully my gratitude to Metropolitan Mael and the community for their loving support over the years. They will always have a very special place in my heart.

"Having been at Saint Anne's for thirteen years now, Bishop Basil has kindly given me a sabbatical break, but we will continue in the day to day care of those who come to Saint Anne's for help and to visit prisons, hospitals and those in need.

"We are being fully supported by other clergy of the Vicariate and services continue in the beautiful chapel at Saint Anne's day by day and week by week. It is advisable to check with us as to times of services as, at the moment, these can vary.

"We look forward to this new journey forward in the life of Saint Anne's and hope for your prayers. Our situation of being under the Ecumenical Patriarch (as are the Greek Orthodox) and being of a Russian tradition whilst being essentially a western European jurisdiction, with services in English, brings great blessings. Further information can be found by contactingwww.exarchate-uk.org"

Please pray for us!


Bishop Stephen hit the national newspapers in February 2007, by performing an Orthodox baptism in a public house. [ [http://www.baptism.org.uk/public.htm. Baptism Integrity website] ]


Four clergy remain within the Celtic Orthodox Church in the UK, now directly administered by the French Eparchy. (The French website also presently serves the UK . There are now English translations on the French site.)----

Communion of Western Orthodox Churches 'The Celtic Orthodox Church', 'The French Orthodox Church' and 'The Orthodox Church of the Gauls', obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit, and trusting in the promise of God: I will give them one heart and I will put in them a new spirit (Ez 11:19), founds the Communion of Western Orthodox Churches. At the heart of this Communion, our respective spiritual heritages are recognised and accomplished in the image of the Holy Trinity, in which the Persons are united without confusion and distinct without separation. To this end, our Churches engage in a conversation of the heart and a return to the purity of the Gospel life of the faith of our fathers. The Communion of Western Orthodox Churches is an integral part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. By the grace and mercy of God, our Churches are heirs, through an uninterruppted line, of the historic Churches which resulted from the preaching of the apostles and disciples of Christ in the West. The Communion of Western Orthodox Churches confesses the faith of the first three Ecumenical Counsels, recognised by all Christians, and accepts the dogmatic declarations of the following Four Great Counsels, but not accepting from them certain anathemas and canons which carry exclusions, separations and divisions. The Communion adheres fully to the doctrinal agreements following from the ecumenical dialogue between the Orthodox Churches and other Christian Confessions. Our Churches embody and perpetuate the Orthodox Tradition that the fathers and saints founded through the Holy Spirit, in the West, in the peoples and cultures which characterise them; as it is written, 'Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' (Mt. 28:19). Each of our Churches expresses, by its rites and customs, aspects of this Tradition bringing them up to date, faithful to the call which she has received from God, so that the fullness of the faith and the apostolic kerygma are profoundly entrenched in the history and call of this people. This is why, this Communion is open to other Western Orthodox Churches alive with the same spirit. We hope that our Churches become a humble place of welcome, of reconciliation, of pardon and charity in Christ, that our actions and our liturgical life be a living testimony to the absolute love of God for all people and for all creation. We entrust this beginning to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God and all the Saints. May God keep us in His mercy. To Him be all honour and glory, to the ages of ages. Amen. The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The 25th December 2007. Celtic Orthodox Church Bishop Mael & Bishop Marc Orthodox Church of the GaulsBishop Gregoire

French Orthodox ChurchBishop Vigile & Bishop Martin

ee also

*British Orthodox Church


[ [http://www.thedegree.org/celtic.html History of the independent Celtic churches in the modern era] ]

External links

* [http://www.orthodoxie-celtique.net/ French Eparchy (in French and English)]
* [http://www.orthodoxie-occidentale.org/ Communion of Western Orthodox Churches (In French)]

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