Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Eastern Catholic Churches: An extended hierarchy update

I wrote yesterday of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States, mentioning Eastern Catholic hierarchies in this country only in passing. Only nine of the twenty-one Eastern Churches in communion with Rome are well enough established in the United States to have either archeparchies or eparchies (i.e., archdioceses and dioceses). Eastern Catholic Churches are autonomous particular churches in full communion with the Bishop of Rome and recognize his universal authority over the Church. The form of ecclesial governance among these churches varies somewhat, with there being four basic forms: patriarchal, major archepiscopal, metropolitan, and other sui juris, a Latin phrase that meaning "of one’s own right," churches. Patriarchal, major archepiscopal, and metropolitan churches are governed in much the same way as Eastern Orthodox churches, which are not in communion with the Bishop of Rome, having a synodal form of ecclesial government. The Pope does not directly appoint bishops of such churches, he merely ratifies, or accepts (he can reject) the appointments made according to their canonically established mode of governance.

Eastern Catholic Churches, along with Eastern Orthodox Churches, have married priests and deacons. Only celibate priests, however, can become bishops. If priests or deacons are married, they must be married prior to receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders. Otherwise, they must vow celibacy. Of course, this is the rule for permanent deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. This means that if we are widowed or otherwise find ourselves no longer married after ordination, we are not free to re-marry without a Papal dispensation.

Christ Icon in the Dome of St. John's Cathedral, the seat of the Ruthenian Metropolitan- Pittsburgh, PA

Of the nine Eastern Churches sufficiently formed in the U.S. to have a hierarchy, only two, the Ukrainians and Ruthenians, have established archeparchies. In both of these instances the archeparchy covers the entire country. In the case of the Ukrainian archeparchy, located in Philadelphia, PA, there are three suffragan eparchies, one in Parma, Ohio, one in Chicago, IL, and one in Stamford, CT. The Ruthenian archeparchy, with its offices in Pittsburgh, PA, has subordinate eparchies in Parma, OH, Passaic, NJ, and Van Nuys, CA. Of the remaining seven churches, all have eparchies, with the Maronites and Chaldeans having two each, that cover the entire country. These are the Armenian eparchy, with headquarters in New York, NY, the Syrian, with diocesan offices in Uniondale, NJ, the Melkite, located in Boston, the two Maronite eparchies, one in Brooklyn, NY and one in Los Angeles, CA, the Chaldean with its two eparchies, one for the East with headquarters in Detroit and the other located in San Diego, CA. Both the Romanian and the Syro-Malabarese Churches have eparchies in the U.S., with the Romanian being located in Canton, OH and the Syro-Malabarese in Chicago, IL. All eparchies that do not belong to an archeparchy are immediately subject to their respective patriarchs, major archbishops, or metropolitan archbishop.

The Chaldean, Syrian, Maronite, Armenian, and Melkite Churches are patriarchal churches. The Chaldean patriarch, who will be created a cardinal in this week’s consistory, Emmanuel III Delly, is located in Baghdad, Iraq. The Syrian Catholic and the Armenian Catholic patriarchs reside in Beirut, Lebanon. The Maronites, being of Lebanese origin, have their patriarchate in Lebanon's Bekka valley. The Melkite patriarch resides in Alexandria, Egypt. The Ukrainian, Romanian, and Syro-Malabar Churches are major archepiscopal churches with their major archbishops in Kiev, Ukraine, Blaj, Romania and Kerala, India respectively. The Ruthenian archeparchy has neither a patriarch nor a major archbishop. So, the Ruthenians in the U.S. constitute a sui juris church in their own right. A major instrument of communion with these churches of the East and Rome is the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The current prefect is Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who, along with the Chaldean patriarch and twenty-two others, will be created a cardinal by our Holy Father during the consistory being held this Saturday, 24 November.

Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir is a cardinal, though a super-annuated member of the Sacred College, due to his being over 80. However, at 87, he still serves as Maronite patriarch. Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III will enter the Sacred College at age 81. Stéphanos II Ghattas, who is both a patriarch emeritus of the Coptic Catholic Church and a member of the Congregation of the Mission, the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul, is another cardinal from an Eastern Church who is over 80. Ignace Moussa I Daoud, formerly the Syrian Catholic Patriarch and pro-prefect for the Congregation for Oriental Churches, and Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Kiev, Ukraine, are the only cardinals of the Holy Roman Church from among the Eastern Churches who are below the age of 80. Both participated in the conclave of 2005.

Eastern Churches have their own unified code of canon law (i.e., one code for twenty-one churches) separate from the Code of Canon Law that governs the Roman Catholic Church. This unified code was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1990 and went into force in 1991. Unlike the Code for the Roman Church, bishops in Eastern churches submit their resignation to the patriarchal synod, or other appropriate authority, not directly to the Pope, who must confirm the decision to accept the resignation or not. Like Roman Catholic bishops, they must submit their resignations at age 75, excepting patriarchs, who can serve for life should they choose to do so.

The current picture posed by the Eastern Catholic hierarchies in the U.S. shows that Bishop Andrew Pataki, Ruthenian Bishop of Passaic, New Jersey, who is 80, and Bishop Manuel Batakian, ordinary of the lone Armenian Catholic eparchy in the U.S., who is 78, are both past retirement age. This makes two of seventeen Eastern bishops who are over the age limit. Among all the various Eastern archeparchies and eparchies in the U.S. there are no vacant sees.

Here in Utah we have only one parish of an Eastern Catholic Church, St. Jude Maronite parish in Murray, which belongs to the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. This means that this parish falls under the jurisdiction of His Excellency, Robert Shaheen, ordinary of this eparchy.

1 comment:

  1. Great job explaining the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is also worth noting that the Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).

    Also, a Latin rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his or her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith at a Maronite Catholic Church.



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