Category Archives: Eastern Church

Joy Alappat as new auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabarese USA

Joy AlappatI awoke today to read that His Holiness, Pope Francis, nominated a friend and former colleague to be an auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabarese Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Chicago. Father Joy Alappat, 57, the current rector of Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral in Bellwood, IL, takes on a new ministry: the first auxiliary bishop for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in the USA.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a fast growing Eastern Catholic Church which follows the East Syrian liturgical tradition; it would be a cousin to the Chaldean (Iraqi) Catholic Church. Often this Church is referred to as the Thomas Christians.

Born in Kerala, in 1956 the bishop-elect was ordained a priest of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Irinjalakuda in 1981. Following graduate studies and ministry in India, Father Joy came to the US in 1993 and served as a hospital chaplain at Georgetown University Hospital (1999-2002). Father Alappat worked in New Milford, CT, and Newark and Garfield, NJ.

The Church to which the bishop-elect belongs number about 4 million worldwide, largely in India; it is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church. In the USA, the Malabars  have one eparchy,  St. Thomas the Apostle of Chicago led by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, the first bishop of the eparchy. The official 2010 stats indicated that the eparchy serves 86,000 faithful, with 37 diocesan priests, 10 religious priests, and 18 parishes.

The date of Fr. Alappat’s episocopal consecration has yet to be determined.

May Saint Thomas richly bless my friend, Father Joy, as he takes up the cross of being a bishop in Christ’s vineyard.

Patriarchs Gregory and John meet

Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs 2014The annual Synod of Bishops of the Melkite Church just finished meeting. The Melkite bishops from around the world meet together each year for some time in prayer, discussions on theology, liturgy, canonical process and the election of bishops. This year the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John X, met with Melkite Patriarch Gregory III –a historic meeting.

The Melkites in the USA are governed by Bishop Nicholas J. Samra (of the Eparchy of Newton) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church is awaiting a new head of church since their Metropolitan Philip Saliba died not long ago. The new metropolitan is expected to be announced late next week.

Melkite Synod 2014 meeting with Patriarch JohnSaint Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Francis meets Aram

Francis and AramIn these days approaching Pentecost Sunday, we ought to set our eyes on the coming of the Holy Spirit. I find it striking in these days leading up to the great feast of the Pentecost that there have been many meetings between the Bishop of Rome and those bishops of Eastern Christianity. These meetings happen but so many so close together…and today is no different.

In Rome, Pope Francis met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia. Aram is well-known among the various Christian bodies who work in the World Council of Churches but also in the Middle East Council of Churches. Few of the patriarchs have as personally as Aram have made lasting contributions  in the ongoing work of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Remember, the Oriental Churches are those who historically didn’t share the accepted Chalcedonian Christology (Coptic, Armenian, Church of the East, etc.)

Aram blessing with relicIn the Vatican press we read that Pope Francis noted how he –and the Church of Rome– considers the Armenian Church and the Catholicos Aram I as “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.

Philippa Hitchen and Aram“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith.”

Here is Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Aram. Listen…

Coptic and Byzantine monks meet on Athos

Oriental and Byzantine Orthodox preistsThe events in the Holy Land with Pope Francis’ pilgrimage of which an historic visit with Patriarch Bartholomew was key last week obscured in the Christian world another very significant and historic meeting between the Coptic and Byzantine monks on the monastic republic of Mount Athos.

The meeting was blessed by Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and Pope Tawadros II.

The press release and pictures.

This event needs our prayer and fraternal support in a crucial way. The separation of the Oriental and Byzantine Churches is just as painful as the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches.

Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew

Popes and Patriarchs in the Holy LandPope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, on Sunday held private talks in Jerusalem and signed a Common Declaration in which they pledged to continue on the path towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964. In their joint declaration, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew  said it is their duty to work together to protect human dignity and the family and build a just and humane society in which nobody feels excluded.   They also stressed the need to safeguard God’s creation and the right of religious freedom.  The two leaders expressed concern over the situation facing Christians amidst the conflicts of the Middle East and spoke of the urgency of the hour that compels them to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family whilst fully respecting legitimate differences.

Please find below the full text in English of the Common Declaration of Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I:

1. Like our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who met here in Jerusalem fifty years ago, we too, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, were determined to meet in the Holy Land “where our common Redeemer, Christ our Lord, lived, taught, died, rose again, and ascended into Heaven, whence he sent the Holy Spirit on the infant Church” (Common communiqué of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, published after their meeting of 6 January 1964). Our meeting, another encounter of the Bishops of the Churches of Rome and Constantinople founded respectively by the two Brothers the Apostles Peter and Andrew, is a source of profound spiritual joy for us. It presents a providential occasion to reflect on the depth and the authenticity of our existing bonds, themselves the fruit of a grace-filled journey on which the Lord has guided us since that blessed day of fifty years ago.

2. Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity. We call to mind with profound gratitude the steps that the Lord has already enabled us to undertake. The embrace exchanged between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras here in Jerusalem, after many centuries of silence, paved the way for a momentous gesture, the removal from the memory and from the midst of the Church of the acts of mutual excommunication in 1054. This was followed by an exchange of visits between the respective Sees of Rome and Constantinople, by regular correspondence and, later, by the decision announced by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dimitrios, of blessed memory both, to initiate a theological dialogue of truth between Catholics and Orthodox. Over these years, God, the source of all peace and love, has taught us to regard one another as members of the same Christian family, under one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to love one another, so that we may confess our faith in the same Gospel of Christ, as received by the Apostles and expressed and transmitted to us by the Ecumenical Councils and the Church Fathers. While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together towards the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21).

3. Well aware that unity is manifested in love of God and love of neighbour, we look forward in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet. As Christians, we are called to prepare to receive this gift of Eucharistic communion, according to the teaching of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon (Against Heresies, IV,18,5, PG 7,1028), through the confession of the one faith, persevering prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue. By achieving this hoped for goal, we will manifest to the world the love of God by which we are recognized as true disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 13:35).

4. To this end, the theological dialogue undertaken by the Joint International Commission offers a fundamental contribution to the search for full communion among Catholics and Orthodox. Throughout the subsequent times of Popes John Paul II and Benedict the XVI, and Patriarch Dimitrios, the progress of our theological encounters has been substantial.  Today we express heartfelt appreciation for the achievements to date, as well as for the current endeavours. This is no mere theoretical exercise, but an exercise in truth and love that demands an ever deeper knowledge of each other’s traditions in order to understand them and to learn from them. Thus we affirm once again that the theological dialogue does not seek a theological lowest common denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about deepening one’s grasp of the whole truth that Christ has given to his Church, a truth that we never cease to understand better as we follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Hence, we affirm together that our faithfulness to the Lord demands fraternal encounter and true dialogue. Such a common pursuit does not lead us away from the truth; rather, through an exchange of gifts, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it will lead us into all truth (cf. Jn 16:13).

5. Yet even as we make this journey towards full communion we already have the duty to offer common witness to the love of God for all people by working together in the service of humanity, especially in defending the dignity of the human person at every stage of life and the sanctity of family based on marriage, in promoting peace and the common good, and in responding to the suffering that continues to afflict our world. We acknowledge that  hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the inequitable distribution of resources must constantly be addressed. It is our duty to seek to build together a just and humane society in which no-one feels excluded or emarginated.

6. It is our profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us. Therefore, we acknowledge in repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount to sin before the eyes of God. We reaffirm our responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care. Together, we pledge our commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation; we appeal to all people of goodwill to consider ways of living less wastefully and more frugally, manifesting less greed and more generosity for the protection of God’s world and the benefit of His people.

7. There is likewise an urgent need for effective and committed cooperation of Christians in order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith and to be treated fairly when promoting that which Christianity continues to offer to contemporary society and culture. In this regard, we invite all Christians to promote an authentic dialogue with Judaism, Islam and other religious traditions. Indifference and mutual ignorance can only lead to mistrust and unfortunately even conflict.

Francis and Bartholomew May  20148. From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights. We are persuaded  that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.

9. In an historical context marked by violence, indifference and egoism, many men and women today feel that they have lost their bearings. It is precisely through our common witness to the good news of the Gospel that we may be able to help the people of our time to rediscover the way that leads to truth, justice and peace. United in our intentions, and recalling the example, fifty years ago here in Jerusalem, of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, we call upon all Christians, together with believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will, to recognize the urgency of the hour that compels us to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family, while fully respecting legitimate differences, for the good of all humanity and of future generations.

10. In undertaking this shared pilgrimage to the site where our one same Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose again, we humbly commend to the intercession of the Most Holy and Ever Virgin Mary our future steps on the path towards the fullness of unity, entrusting to God’s infinite love the entire human family.

“May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num 6:25-26).

Jerusalem, 25 May 2014

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.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory