Perhaps I should answer that question, since I have known Vladika John for many years and was involved in the process of trying to have the consecration take place in Erie during the Conference.
When Vladika John was informed by the Metropolitan that he had been approved by our bishops as a candidate for the episcopacy of the Church, Vladika John was overwhelmed by the significance of this decision of the bishops. After conveying to me his strong concerns at accepting this position because of the awesome responsibility it would place on him before God, he indicated his desire to have some time to reflect on what he should do. After I had a night to think about his concerns, I suggested to him that perhaps if it could be possible for him to be consecrated as a bishop in an Old Rite church during an Old Rite service, this might help comfort him because of his personal love and dedication to the Old Rite. I reminded him that although Bishop Daniel had been consecrated as an Old Rite bishop, he was assigned to Australia to act as the temporary administrator of the Church there for a number of months (perhaps it was more than a year- I can't remember how ong he was there). Thus, even if consecrated as a bishop according to the Pre-Nikonian Rite of the Russian Church, this certainly wouldn't preclude Bishop John from serving in the "New" (post-Nikonian) Rite for non-Old Ritualists. Even I, when I serve in New Rite churches, serve according to the "New" Rite (except for the fact that I always pray with the two-fingered sign of the Cross - as I'm sure "New" Ritualists pray with the three-fingered sign of the Cross) in my church when they are here). Nevertheless, I don't think that anyone would question the fact that I am an Old Rite priest.
I know that it has been Vladika John's practice to wear the monastic clothing according to the Old Rite style when he is present in an Old Rite community, and the New Rite syle when he is in a New Rite community. My point is that Vladika John will not try to force the Old Rite on any New Rite parishes - which are certainly going to be the overwhelming majority of parishes for which he will serve. On the other hand, there are a significant number of Old Ritualists in South America, and they may be willing to look to him as an intermediary with our Church since he was consecrated in an Old Rite parish according to the Old Rite.
To the great credit of our bishops (including the Metropolitan), they showed all the devotees of the Russian Old Rite the truth of the promises made during the 3rd All-Diaspora Sobor in 1974, and again in the year 2000 when they stated their desire for forgiveness for the wrongs done to the Old Ritualists over the past several centuries. By not encouraging or forbidding Vladika John from wearing Old Rite monastic garb at his consecration to the episcopacy and, also allowing him to be consecrated during an Old Rite Liturgy in an Old Rite church, they have shown an attitude that upholds precisely the decisions of the MP in its Sobor in 1971 and the ROCOR Sobor in 1974 which lifted the anathemas against the Old Rite and promised to respect the Old Rite and ordain clergy for the Old Rite according to the Old Rite. The only proviso has always been that the Old Ritualists must respect the "New" Rite as Orthodox as well, and neither Rite should be used where it is not the normal Rite of the parish. Vladika John will certainly follow that procedure. And let me also add that when the late Metropolitan Vitaly served here in 1986 and 1987, he served according to the Old Rite (at least to the best of his ability considering that was not his norm). And also when the late Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles, Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Bishop Hilarion (who served here many years ago before he was elevated to the position of Metropolitan) served here, they all served according to the Old Rite. Certainly that did not make them Old Rite bishops. Is Vladika John an Old Rite bishop? He is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He may prefer the Old Rite, but like any of us who are sober about this whole issue, "in Rome he will do as the Romans do".
Please forgive my verbosity in answering this question, but I have been feeling that this very question might be "out there" and needed to be addressed. Your question, Timothy, provided the impetus.
With love in Christ,
Fr. Pimen SimonFr. German,
I have some questions. I know Fr. John Berzins has always had
a closeness to the old believer ritual. Was it his decision to dress
and be consecrated like an Old Believer or was it a synodal decision?
Are their Old Believers in South America? Is his bishopric going
to be a missionary one in trying to bring them back to Orthodoxy?
Asking for your blessing