Post by frdavidm on Sept 20, 2019 2:35:38 GMT
Friends, full disclosure: I am an Orthodox priest. I have never met nor had any contact with Ambrose Moran. I have no grudge against him, no reason to wish him ill, and no dog in the inter-traditional Catholic fight. However, since it seems that most of the information about Ambrose/Basil/William Moran has been supplied by the man himself, I wanted to contribute a bit of anecdotal evidence that I learned from a person who did know him several decades ago.
My father grew up in Passaic, New Jersey. He knew “Fr. Bill” Moran when he was a young man. Ironically, my father even has a distinct memory of being at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Passaic when Cardinal Slipyj visited in the 1970s. “Fr. Bill” stood in the choir loft. (Of course, this must have been to stay undercover as Slipyj’s coadjutor!)
While my father was raised in the Catholic Church, at the age of 17 he decided to become Orthodox. He was received into the Orthodox Church on February 17, 1979. Now calling himself “Archimandrite Basil” (archimandrite is an honorific title given to monastic priests) and claiming to be Orthodox, Moran showed up uninvited to the service of reception into Orthodoxy. It is important to note that Moran was what we in the Orthodox world often term “uncanonical”—he was not a member of a recognized Orthodox body. However, Moran knew the priest of the (canonical) church, and that priest did allow him to stand at the front of the church without actually participating in the service.
I am attaching two photographs from this event. While untrained eyes may think he is dressed as an Eastern bishop since he is in mantya (mantle) and klobuk (black hat with veil) and holding a staff, he is in fact dressed in an archimandrite's choir dress, with two pectoral crosses. A bishop would wear an “engolpion” or “panagia”, a round medallion with an icon. So, at least on this occasion in 1979, he was not presenting himself as either Catholic or a bishop.
I am also attaching a photo of an interesting inscription he wrote in a service book he gave to my father on that occasion, congratulating him on being received into “the Church.”
Now, all this begs the most important question: if Moran was consecrated by Slipyj in 1975, was always staunchly Catholic, always commemorated the Pope, etc., why would he attend (in full regalia) an event wherein someone very publicly "apostatized" from the Catholic Church? The service itself included abjuration of Catholicism. Why would he offer his congratulations for this and even put this into writing? On February 17, 1979, it seems Moran believed that the Orthodox Church was THE Church, and that the Catholic Church was not. This obviously does not square with his repeated claims.
My father and I were surprised when, after many years, Moran resurfaced for a time with “Archbishop” Gregory Abu-Asaly of Dormition Skete in Colorado. After he faded into the background again, we were even more amused to see him appear among traditional Catholics claiming to be Cardinal Slipyj’s hand-picked yet secret successor!
I have no idea whether Moran was ever validly ordained a bishop by independent Ukrainian bishops, but that is really a moot point. He behaves like a typical “episcopus vagans”--constantly seeking validation anywhere he can find it. Moran seems quite intelligent, has a vast knowledge of the Orthodox and Catholic worlds, and knows how to tailor himself to his audience. When he sought a place in traditionalist Orthodoxy, he claimed amazing things like being tonsured a monk by St. John Maximovich of San Francisco. Once he set his sights on traditional Catholicism, he began to weave a narrative specifically for that purpose.
If Ambrose Moran reads this post, he may respond (in a video denunciation?) that an "apostate" from the Catholic Church cannot be trusted, and/or that my message is part of a grand conspiracy of the Orthodox to defame him for joining the Catholic Church. However, I hope those who already doubt or discount Moran's claims will see this small bit of information as confirming their correct assessment.
With best regards,