Category Archives: Eastern Church

Pope meets with Melkite Synod of Bishops

Earlier this month the Patriarch and bishops of the Melkite Church met in Synod in Lebanon to deliberate on some serious matters concerning the Church, including the election of new bishops. Following the Synod, the bishops travelled to Rome to make a pilgrimage to the holy places –the shrines of Saints Peter and Paul– and then to meet with the Roman Pontiff in addition to meeting with the various heads of the Roman dicasteries. When the Synod met last year the only substantial thing done was to elect a new Patriarch. Meetings of substance now. At 11.45 this morning (Feb 12, 2018), the Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the Melkite Synod, and addressed the following words to them:

Beatitude, dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

Thank you for your visit. The happy occasion is given by the public event of the Ecclesiastical Communion, which will take place tomorrow morning during the Eucharistic celebration and which I have already had the opportunity to grant to Your Beatitude in the Letter of 22 June, after your [Joseph Absi, MSP] election as Patriarch, Pater et Caput, on the part of the Synod of Bishops.

So, as today, dear Brother, I assure you of my constant closeness in prayer: that the Risen Lord will be near you and accompany you in the mission entrusted to you. It is a prayer that cannot be dissociated from that for the beloved Syria and for all the Middle East, a region in which your Church is deeply rooted and performs a precious service for the good of the People of God. A presence, yours, which is not limited to the Middle East, but has extended, for many years now, to those countries where many Greek-Melkite faithful have moved in search of a better life. My prayer and my affectionate remembrance goes also to those faithful in the diaspora and to their Pastors.

In this difficult historical period, many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to live their faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of many hardships. I sincerely hope that, by their testimony of life, the Greek-Melkite bishops and priests can encourage the faithful to remain in the land where Divine Providence wished them to be born. In the aforementioned June Letter I recalled that like never before, “pastors are called upon to manifest communion, unity, closeness, solidarity and transparency before the suffering People of God”. I invite you fraternally to continue on this path. As you know, I have called a day of prayer and fasting for peace on the 23rd of this month. On that occasion I will not fail to make special mention of Syria, afflicted in recent years by unspeakable suffering.

You come to Rome as pilgrims, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, at the conclusion of your last Synodal Assembly, which took place in Lebanon in the first days of the month. It is always a fundamental moment of common journey, during which Patriarch and bishops are called to make important decisions for the good of the faithful, including through the election of new bishops, of pastors who are witnesses to the Risen Lord. Pastors who, as the Lord did with His disciples, revive the hearts of the faithful, staying close to them, consoling them, stooping to them and to their needs; pastors who, at the same time, accompany them upwards, to “set their minds on things that are above, where Christ is, not on things that are on earth” (cf. Col 3: 1-2). We are in great need of pastors who embrace life with the breadth of God’s heart, without settling for earthly satisfactions, without contenting themselves with carrying on what is already there, but always aiming high; pastors who are bearers of the High, free from the temptation to stay “at low altitude”, freed from the restricted measures of a warm and habitual life; poor pastors, not attached to money and luxury, in the midst of a poor people who suffer; coherent announcers of Paschal hope, in perpetual journey with their brothers and sisters. While I am pleased to grant Pontifical Assent to the bishops you have chosen, I would like to experience the greatness of these horizons.

Beatitude, Excellencies, I reiterate my heartfelt gratitude for your fraternal visit. When you return to your sees and meet with the priests, men and women religious and the faithful, remind them that they are in the heart and in the prayer of the Pope. May the All Holy Mother of God, Queen of Peace, guard and protect you. And as I have the joy of giving my Blessing to you and your communities, I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.

Armenians restore female diaconate

The female diaconate has been restored with the ordination of Ani-Kristi Manvelian, 24, in Tehran as a deacon for parish life who is not a nun.

It is understood as a “restoring” rather than “reinstating” of the Order of Deacon for women. This act is see as a precedent. The ordination happened  at St. Sarkis Church on 25 September 2017 by Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, the Primate of the Diocese of Tehran (Catholicosate of Cilicia).

Archbishop Sarkissian said:

“Today, our Church is confronting the imperative of self-examination and self-critique. It is imperative to rejuvenate the participation of the people in the social, educational and service spheres of the Church. It is our deep conviction that the active participation of women in the life of our Church would allow Armenian women to be involved more enthusiastically and vigorously, and would allow them to be connected and engaged. They would provide dedicated and loving service [to the people]. The deaconess, no doubt, would also be a spiritual and church-dedicated mother, educator, and why not, a model woman through her example. It is with this deep conviction that we are performing this ordination, with the hope that we are neither the first nor the last to do it.”

The narrative of the event was communicated by Hratch Tchilingirian on his blog.

The Armenians have had a tradition of female deacons serving, like the male deacons, at the Altar.

Deaconess  Ani-Kristi Manvelian served the Christmas Eve Liturgy on January 5th. For the Archbishop his act as the head of diocese is “to revitalise the participation of women also in our church’s liturgical life,” adding, “do not be surprised, a woman could also become a servant of the Holy Altar.”

Milan Lach appointed to Parma Eparchy

Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, as Apostolic Administrator for the Eparchy of Parma (OH). He is currently auxiliary bishop of Prešov of the Byzantines, Slovakia.
 
Bishop Milan Lach, S.J. 44, was educated at the Greek Catholic Theological Faculty of Prešov and then in 1995 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Trnava. As a Jesuit scholastic he earned a degree in theology which led to his being ordained priest in 2001 in Košice.
 
From 2001 to 2003 Lach studied at the Center of Spirituality East-West of Michal Lacko in Košice and later (2009-2011) he was Superior of the same center; he also studied at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute. Among the other ministries he engaged he was the spiritual father at the Pontifical Collegium Russicum and also as spiritual assistant of the Federation of Scouts of Europe in Rome.
On 19 April 2013, Pope Francis appointed Lach as auxiliary bishop of the archieparchy of Prešov of the Byzantines, Slovakia. Since 2016 he has been visitor of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches of the Seminaries and Oriental Colleges in Rome.
The Eparchy of Parma has been vacant since Bishop John Kudrick resigned in 2016. The Eparchy cover 12 US states.
Bishop Milan said,
“It’s interesting that my grandfather on my mother’s side, John Zavacky, was born near Chicago, on the territory of the present-day Parma Eparchy, and at age 4 returned with his parents and siblings back to Osturnja in Austria-Hungary, today in Kežmarok district. And so you see, history repeats itself. Just as my great-grandfather went off to the U.S. to find work more than 100 years ago, so will I go there now, so with God’s help I can guide these faithful and be a father to them.”
May Our Lady and St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for Bishop Milan, and us.

Joseph Absi new Melkite Patriarch

Archbishop Joseph Absi, Patriarchal Vicar for Damascus, has been elected as the new Melkite Patriarch. Axios!‬

The new Patriarch celebrated his 71st birthday yesterday. He is 44 years a priest and 15 years a bishop and a member of the Melkite Paulist Order.

Eis pollá eti Déspota!

Husar was remarkable

Last week the Catholic Church lost the former head and father of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the person of Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, the emeritus patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

After years of diminishing health, the Patriarch-cardinal-monk was called home to the Father at the age of 84. Many have said Husar was the voice of the voiceless, and friend to many, and moral conscience in the reawakening of Ukraine. Of the many things written of His Beatitude recently I think George Weigel’s piece in the National Review is a very good one to sit with, and reflect upon, to offer a prayer in gratitude for Lubomyr Husar.

I recommend “The Remarkable Life of Lubomyr Husar.”

Eternal Memory, Your Beatitude. Pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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