Update 10/6/2015: The below statement that Bishop Ambrose Moran was part of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church appears to be a mistake. Please see the follow-up post on this matter for more details.
Last week I posted about the case of one Bishop Ambrose Moran, an Eastern hierarch who had been linked previously to the Genuine Orthodox Church in America and now, apparently, is aligned with the so-called “Resistance” traditionalist Catholic movement. After having the opportunity to conduct research both online and through personal contacts, it appears that Moran’s claims regarding his past ecclesial affiliation with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Patriarch Josyf Slipyj are fabrications. Not only is there no record that Moran had ever been consecrated by Patriarch Slipyj, but it appears that he was brought up and ordained in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church — one of three Orthodox jurisdictions currently operating in Ukraine. Although it is likely that he has — somewhere along the line — been validly ordained, clearly the ordination did not come from the Catholic Church.
This is all very unfortunate for several reasons. First and foremost, Bishop Ambrose has willfully shattered any and all credibility which he may have had by fabricating an elaborate tale about his relationship with Patriarch Slipyj and his activities as a Catholic priest and bishop. Had Ambrose simply come clean about his prior affiliations with two (uncanonical) Orthodox jurisdictions before pledging to join the Catholic Church, none of this would be a big deal. Now, however, it appears that Ambrose is (opportunistically) looking for a new outpost to hang his hat, and he’s perfectly willing to lie in order to make it happen.
Second, by aligning with the “Resistance,” Ambrose is not so much joining the Catholic Church as he is assisting those who are effectively outside of her borders. Recognizing neither the authority of any legitimate Orthodox body nor the Catholic Church, Ambrose is vesting himself in the mantle of a true schismatic. If Ambrose honestly desired unity with the Catholic Church, his first order of business should be to submit himself to Patriarch Sviatoslav and go from there. Instead, he is lending his hand to the “Resistance” and attempting — unsuccessfully it seems — to boost their credibility. The irony here is that by letting themselves be conned, the “Resistance” appears even more deluded and foolish than it already was.
Last, Ambrose’s behavior has, sadly, inspired certain traditional Catholics to issue uncharitable and ignorant remarks about the Eastern Orthodox. Ambrose’s case is not normative. Most Orthodox bishops are upstanding servants of their respective churches who carry out their mission with honesty, integrity, and humility. No, the Orthodox Church’s episcopate isn’t perfect and, yes, there remains some substantial (but not insurmountable) disagreements between Catholics and Orthodox that need to be resolved before full communion can be restored. But the case of Bishop Ambrose should not be leveraged into an excuse to engage in needless, and indeed un-Christian, polemics against the Orthodox.
Pray for the man. Pray for his soul, and pray that he finds his way back into the flock of Christ.