Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

By singing praise to your maternity, we exalt you as a spiritual temple, Theotokos. For the One Who dwelt within your womb, the Lord who holds all things in his hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all to sing to you...

Step-mothers, single mothers, biological mothers, adoptive mothers, estranged mothers, birth mothers, natural mothers, first mothers, religious mothers, spiritual mothers, foster mothers, grand-mothers, godmothers, mothers whose children died in miscarriage or abortion, mothers who placed their children for adoption, mothers whose children live with others, mothers whose children live at home, mothers who made poor decisions, mothers who were not able or allowed to parent, mothers who have sacrificed greatly, mothers whose children are still growing in their wombs or are waiting for them around the world, mothers whose children are grown and gone, mothers whose sons and daughters are in harm's way as they protect and defend others, mothers who visit their children's graves, mothers whose children have no graves at which they can sit and grieve...

However you came to be a mother and wherever your children now are, I pray today as the English world celebrates Mother's Day that our Lord shower you with graces just as He did for His own mother and that the Theotokos--she who bore and gave birth to God and who stood at the foot of the cross as He died upon it--will pray for the salvation of you and your children.

O never failing protectress of Christians and their ever-present intercessor before the Creator; despise not the petitions or sinners who have recourse to you, by your goodness extend your help to us to call upon you with confidence. Hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us, for you have always protected those who honor you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Melkite patriarch tells West not to encourage Arab revolutions

Damascus, Syria, May 5, 2011 / 07:47 pm (CNA).- Patriarch Gregorios III, the Syria-based head of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, is warning Western leaders not to encourage the revolutions currently shaking up the Middle East.
Read about it here...

When Easterners live in Western Territories - Part 3 of 3

Here is Part 3 of 3 from Fr. George Gallaro's discussion of canonical integration of Eastern faithful in Latin dioceses.

Obligations of Latin Diocesan Bishops
Let us examine now can. 383 § 2 of the Latin Code which regards the obligations of the diocesan bishops in assisting the Eastern faithful residing in their dioceses.

Through priests ... of the same rite
The first and simplest way for the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful in the safeguard of their rite is the ministerial service of priests of the same rite as the Christian faithful. As an alternative the bishop can even entrust the pastoral care of these faithful to priests of other ecclesiastical jurisdiction and ritual tradition, provided they are qualified to give such a spiritual assistance. The norms for the pastoral care of the people on the move – Erga migrantes (May 3, 2004) – could also be helpful in this matter.

… Or through parishes of the same rite
A further step along with the designation of priests of the same rite as the faithful is the erection of parishes of that same rite. As mentioned, the Eastern faithful acquire with their domicile or quasi-domicile not only their own hierarch but also their parish priest.

If an eparchy covers a vast territory, it is difficult to establish several parishes. They will necessarily be established in places with greater concentrations of faithful. And in this case the priests will have difficulty in maintaining regular contacts with their faithful. The Eastern Code, in order to assure the pastoral care for all faithful, suggests to the eparchial bishop to designate the pastor of another autonomous Church, with the consent of the eparchial bishop of the pastor to be designated. Should the proper bishop of some faithful be lacking and already been duly entrusted to a bishop of another autonomous Church, even a Latin bishop, he is to take care of these Eastern faithful through priests of their same rite.

... Or through an episcopal vicar
This is the third proposal by the Latin Code which corresponds to the decree Christus Dominus (23,3): “… or through an episcopal vicar endowed with the necessary faculties.” If the groups of Eastern faithful of one or more autonomous Churches residing in a Latin diocese are numerous and well organized, the diocesan bishop is urged to appoint an episcopal vicar for them. Thus the diocesan bishop, through the person of his episcopal vicar, will guide the various groups, study their problems, care for their spiritual needs and coordinate their pastoral activity.

Rights and Duties of a Patriarch and a Major Archbishop

In compliance with the Eastern Code the authority/jurisdiction of a Catholic Patriarch and Major Archbishop is limited to the territory of the respective patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church. There are however cases in which they can intervene outside their territory for the pastoral good of the faithful of their autonomous Church, including those who live in Latin dioceses.

As for the nomination of a priest, a pastor or an episcopal vicar
In these cases, as mentioned above, one deals with internal norms of the receiving diocese, and therefore the choice of the candidates is exclusively up to the local bishop (CIC cc. 477, 515, 523). A previous consultation with the hierarchy of the autonomous Church of the faithful in question would be commendable, especially in dealing with a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church. It also would be highly desirable that the designation of more suitable candidates could come from the patriarch or major archbishop.

The Eastern Code is more demanding in this matter. In fact, its can. 193 § 3 requires that the local diocesan bishop for the faithful of a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church acts in agreement with its respective superior authority. However, can. 193 regards only Eastern eparchial bishops. The Papal Commission for the review of the Eastern norms proposed in 1988 to include “also the Latin bishops,” but in 1990 the supreme legislator did not want to bind by this norm the Latin bishops. However, since the more frequent cases regard the Eastern faithful present in Latin dioceses, it could be said that said omission has made useless the content of the norm.

Since one deals here with a norm of papal law, the patriarchs and major archbishops could equally demand the observance of this norm which gives them an important faculty/power. The Latin bishops, on the other hand, could make a stand against this presumed “intrusion” of other hierarchs in the internal affairs of their dioceses, since the norm in question is present only in the Eastern Code. Then what? It is desirable that the good common sense and ecclesial spirit of these hierarchs incite them to willingly cooperate for the well-being of the faithful, to quickly resolve eventual conflicts, and to avoid all opposing trends.

Seeking Information on Eastern Faithful
The Eastern Code foresees another right of the patriarch and major archbishop which could create conflicts with the Latin bishops. “It is the right and the obligation of the patriarch (and major archbishop) to seek appropriate information concerning the Christian faithful who reside outside the territorial boundaries of the Church over which he presides, even through a visitor sent by himself with the assent of the Holy See.” (c. 148).

The patriarchs and major archbishops visiting their faithful are generally well received by the Latin bishops. But how would these Latin bishops react if the said patriarchs or major archbishops were to criticize the way in which the pastoral care is carried on in their dioceses? Once again, the Latin Code does not say much on the matter!


The Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches have the right and duty not only to preserve the traditions of their own Church and to worship God according to the their liturgical customs in their historical territories or in other regions of the world, but also, insofar as possible, when they live under the jurisdiction of bishops of a different autonomous Church.

We have just considered the case of Latin bishops, and seen as they are invited to meet the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful through qualified clergy and convenient facilities in order to preserve their traditions. This is not only a right of the faithful but also a pastoral requirement since their separation from the original milieu could cause doctrinal and moral confusion.

Vatican II and the Latin Code offer to the Catholic bishops some trusty guidelines, while the Eastern Code gives to the patriarchs and major archbishops the faculty to assess the state of their faithful in the so-called diaspora either personally or through appointed visitors. Also the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, follows these faithful and, when necessary, proposes to the Roman Pontiff the practical norms to solve the various issues.

The Christian faithful of the so-called diaspora are not neglected by their particular Church nor by the Universal Church. The successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, also continues to promote the progress of the faithful custody and diligent observance of all the Eastern Ritual Churches.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When Easterners live in Western Territories - Part 2 of 3

Here is Part 2 of 3 from Fr. George Gallaro's discussion of canonical integration of Eastern faithful in Latin dioceses.

Duty of the Faithful to Observe Their Own Rite

The Vatican II decree On the Bishop’s Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus, states: “...Where there are faithful of a different rite, the diocesan bishop should provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of that rite or through an episcopal vicar endowed with the necessary faculties. Wherever it is fitting, the latter should also have episcopal rank …” This passage is confirmed by both current codes: CIC cc. 372 § 2, 383 § 2 & 518; CCEO cc. 193 & 280 § 1.

I would like to raise here two questions: Do Eastern faithful in the so-called diaspora have the right to this pastoral care or are they persons which arouse the generous solicitude of the Council Fathers? Furthermore, does not the implementation of this norm upset the internal equilibrium of the diocese and endanger the unity of the diocesan community?

The Latin Code answers to the first questions. In dealing with the obligations and rights of all the Christian faithful, its can. 214 states, “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.” Although the first part of the canon seems to simply refer to the external ritual aspect of liturgical prayer, the second part, with its reference “to follow their form of spiritual life of the faithful,” opens new horizons.

The Latin Code uses here the term “rite” (ritus) as in Christus Dominus (CD 23,3) and Orientalium Ecclesiarum (passim), that is, as the synonym of a particular Church. The Latin Code thus underlines the inner element of rite, considered in its wider and fuller meaning, as indicatory of the face of each Church.

The Eastern Code, instead, stresses the extrinsic element of the individuality of the Eastern Churches by the supreme authority (there can be in fact several different Churches having in common the same liturgical tradition and spirituality). By using more precise terms, canon 17 of the Eastern Code eliminates every ambiguity: “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescriptions of their own autonomous Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life in accord with the teachings of the Church.” This twofold right is so important - dealing with the spiritual life of the faithful - as to be part of the category “of the proper original elements of the ecclesiological and spiritual fabric of Vatican II,” or still as “an articulation of divine law.” In order to attain this specific right, the faithful enjoy another right, that of addressing their needs to their shepherds who in turn have the obligation to assist them.

Plurality of “Rites” in a Latin Diocese
The other question derives from the difficulty of some Latin bishops to meet the needs of their Eastern faithful for fear of throwing out of balance the unity of their diocese. To justify that, they call on can. 225 of the Latin Code which deals with the “general obligation and the right of individuals to work so that the divine message of salvation is made known” under the guidance of the ecclesiastical authority.

One cannot exclude that the carrying out of the right of the faithful to observe their own rite may sometimes encounter serious difficulties, as, for example, the small number of faithful of a particular rite scattered throughout a vast territory. On the whole, the fact that within a diocese there are ritual differences should not create any problem, as for the presence of different languages. On the contrary, the ritual differences enrich a local Church as a witness of the universality of the Christian message and the wealth of the Catholic Church. However, the Fathers of Vatican II clearly affirmed that the “variety of rites within the Church in no way harms her unity, but rather manifests it.” This text regards not only the Universal Church but also the Particular (Ritual) Churches.

The diocesan bishop, in his ministerial service, has to take care of all the faithful entrusted to him, including those who find themselves in singular circumstances. Vatican II and the two Codes, the Latin and the Eastern, clearly underline the bishop’s obligation towards the faithful of different ritual traditions, for whom he must, among other things, guarantee the right of fidelity to their ritual tradition.

The Eastern Code, more sensitive to this issue, dedicates one full canon (c. 193) to the bishop’s obligation towards the faithful of other autonomous Churches. In the first paragraph, “the eparchial bishop is bound by the serious obligation of providing everything so that these Christian faithful retain the rite of their respective Church ... and to ensure that they foster relations with the superior authority of their Church.” The next paragraph corresponds to the Council’s text and the mentioned Latin Code’s canon, while the third paragraph imposes to the eparchial bishop “to draw up a plan in consultation with the respective patriarchs (or major archbishops) for the care of these faithful.”

Tune in tomorrow to read part 3 where Fr. George explains what remedies and solutions are available to those issues raised by easterners in western territories...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Easterners live in Western Territories

Fr. George Gallaro is a professor of canon law and ecumenism at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, among many other distinguished positions he's held in these fields over the almost four decades he's been a priest, such as being a judicial vicar and a staff member for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He holds a licentiate in ecumenical theology and a certificate in liturgical theology as well as a doctorate in Eastern canon law.

I asked Fr. George about the Italian Episcopal Conference's leaked decision to forbid married Romanian Catholic priests from serving their faithful in Italy. Below is part one of three in which he presents the issues that occur when easterners live in western territories.

Canonical Integration of Eastern Faithful in Latin Dioceses
Fr. George Gallaro

In compliance with the Church common law, every faithful acquires a domicile or quasi-domicile in a diocese or parish from the place where he/she resides. In order to understand the obligation of a Latin bishop towards these faithful present in his diocese, it is necessary to see when Eastern Catholics “enter” into a Latin diocese and are therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the local bishop.

The 1917 Latin Code of Canon Law (cc. 215-217) underlined the territorial aspect of the diocese, and the jurisdiction of its bishop extended on all faithful residing within its borders. As a consequence, the faithful subject to another personal jurisdiction had to be explicitly indicated, as free from the jurisdiction of the bishop “of the place,” who normally was a Latin.

A precise determination on Eastern faithful without their own Church Shepherd goes back to Pope Leo XIII - in the Apostolic Letter On the Eastern Churches, Orientalium Dignitas, November 30, 1894. In its directive part of the document, Leo XIII solved the issue of the faithful residing outside the territory of their own ritual patriarchate (or equivalent) and lacking their own clergy, by establishing the norm that these Eastern faithful were subject to the jurisdiction of the local Latin bishop. By the same apostolic L\letter Leo XIII extended the jurisdiction of the Greek Melkite Patriarch to all the territory of the Ottoman Empire (later on, all the other Patriarchates followed this norm).

In 1949 these directives were still in force, even though outdated, as it appeared more and more clearly that each jurisdiction was and is at the same time territorial and personal. These groups of Eastern faithful were ritually different but subject to the local Latin bishop. These norms which considered the Latin diocesan bishop as the only bishop “of the place” were out-of-date with the promulgation of the canons On Marriage in the Eastern Church, Craebrae Allatae (1950). This motu proprio in fact recognized the co-existence of more jurisdictions in the same territory. The canons clearly indicated who, in case of a plurality of bishops or pastors, is competent in single cases to assure the validity of marriages celebrated by Eastern faithful residing outside their own territory.

The norm relating to domicile or quasi-domicile on the part of Eastern faithful lacking their own ritual authority was extracted from the canons On Persons, Cleri Sanctitati (1957) - not yet promulgated. It became then unequivocally clear the link between the single Eastern faithful and the bishop and pastor endowed with the faculty to validly assist and bless their marriages, although they were of “different rite.”

In those territories where there was more than one ritual bishop, the local Latin bishop was not automatically in charge of the Eastern faithful residing in his territory. These faithful were subject to Latin jurisdiction only when explicitly designated by the Holy See or, in specific cases, by their patriarch.

Finally, the Second Vatican Council underlined the community aspect within a diocese. Indeed, Vatican II describes a diocese prescinding from its territorial limits: “a diocese/eparchy is a portion of the people of God that is entrusted to a bishop and gathered in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist.”

The 1983 Latin Code (c. 372) also states that “a diocese is limited to a definite territory” so that it includes all the faithful living in the territory. But it adds that “where in the judgment of the supreme authority of the Church it seems advantageous after the conference of bishops concerned have been heard, particular churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or some other similar reason can be erected in the same territory.”

The erection of an ecclesiastical province or region, even in the case of a patriarchal or major archiepiscopal Church (but “outside of their territory”) is in fact of exclusive competence of the Holy See. Such an erection is indicated by the decree on the Eastern Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum ( N. 4), as a provision to be adopted when it’s necessary. The norm is resumed by the decree On the Bishops Pastoral Office in the Church, Christus Dominus (N. 23, 3) which quotes the aforesaid paragraph of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, but only as a last resort. The Latin Code limits further this provision as it imposes on the supreme authority of the Church ( = the Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council) to hear the Episcopal Conference concerned.

The pre-Vatican II Eastern norms – On Marriage (1949) and On Persons (1957) - is now incorporated, with due updating, in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (1990). Can. 916 § 4: “If there is no pastor for the Christian faithful of a certain autonomous Church, the eparchial/diocesan bishop for those same faithful is to designate the pastor of another autonomous Church, who is to assume their care as their proper pastor.” § 5: “In places where not even an exarchy has been erected for the Christian faithful of a certain autonomous Church, the local hierarch of another autonomous Church, even the Latin Church, is to be considered as the proper hierarch of these faithful. If, however, there are several local hierarchs, that one whom the Holy See has designated is to be considered as their proper hierarch or, if it concern the Christian faithful of a certain patriarchal (or major archiepiscopal Church), the one whom the patriarch (or major archbishop) has designated with the assent of the Holy See.”

I leave to others the answer to the question that could be raised by the term “as their proper pastor” (tamquam parochus proprius) used in the canon, and other canonical directives mentioned in cc. 148 & 193 of the Eastern Code. It could be in fact raised the doubt if the designated bishop and parish priest are truly (de iure) the bishop and parish priest of those faithful, or only temporary carers or simple substitutes.

Looking at the issue from the faithful’s side, one could ask if they are full-fledged members of those dioceses and parishes of acceptance, and have thus double membership, their own autonomous Church and the diocese or parish of their domicile, or if, as “entrusted” faithful, they are in a sense only “guests/visitors.”

Tune in tomorrow to read part 2 where Fr. George discusses the canons that come into play when easterners live in western territories...
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