Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Melkite bishop explores ordaining married men, again

News seems to be made about a Catholic married clergy in the USA, at least among the Eastern churches. It’s not new news but it is an interesting development in the USA that needs insight and pastoral action. The new bishop of the Melkite Church in the USA, Bishop Nicholas Samra (btw the first American born leader of the eparchy), spoke of the need of having a properly formed clergy to pastor the 27,000+ souls of the Melkite Church in the USA, even ordaining married men. In the coming year there may be one celibate man ordained.

This is not the first time the Melkite Church is doing such. More than 3 decades ago several married men were ordained in Canada but judged by the Holy See to be illicit; the former eparch Bishop John Elya ordained 2 married men and his hand was slapped.
In the western world married clergy is not viewed by the Holy See to be pertinent whereas in the old world, married men serve as priests. This carries the old prejudice of Archbishop John Ireland who demanded a celibate clergy of the Eastern Churches; his unreasonable proposition helped create the Ruthenian Orthodox Church in the USA.  With the Eastern Catholic Churches it is part of their venerable ecclesiology to ordain married men to the priesthood. On a pastor’s side, the needs of the laity to follow their traditions. Looking at reality in front of him, there is a demonstrable need for Samra (and other Eastern Churches in the USA) to provide a clergy for his people. The eparchy doesn’t have enough single men willing to do the work, nor does it seem reasonable to hope beyond all hope for an exclusive celibate priesthood. The gospel needs to be proclaimed and sacraments administered for our salvation.
Pray to great Mother of God and Saint Nicholas for the grace of prudence for Bishop Nicholas!
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Maronite Bishop admonishes Obama for rebuff of Patriarch Béshara Raï

Béshara Raï, 71, is making a pastoral visit to the Maronite Catholic
communities in both US eparchies from 4 to 23 October 2011. His Beatitude will visit Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon  and the Eparchy of St Maron of Brooklyn.

President Barack Obama has roundly refused to meet the Patriarch. Bishop Gregory openly makes the case that it is a mistake of the current administration to ignore His Beatitude’s visit to the USA.

Béshara Raï, was elected on March 15, 2011 as the 77th Patriarch of the Maronite Church.

Bishop Gregory’s letter:

Patriarch Rai2.jpg

September 30, 2011

Dear Mr. President:

I am terribly
disappointed with the rebuff of Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai who is the Catholic
leader of the Maronites worldwide and one of the most respected Christian
leaders in Lebanon and the Middle East . The motto of his coat of arms
reflects his personality and is call for “communion and love.” He has been
trying to achieve what no other Middle Eastern political or a religious leader
has been able to do: meet others with respect and love, not take sides,
and build bridges to a future that will hopefully lead to peace and happiness
for all people in the Middle East.

Muslim and Christian groups have all found
in him a real father, a Patriarch.  Because he has spoken out expressing
his concern for the future of Christians in the Middle East , he has been
rebuffed by you and your Administration. It is pure hypocrisy for the
leader of the free world to refuse to meet with Patriarch Rai especially since
the Prime Minister of Israel can come and completely disregard essential parts
of a peace plan and still be given a warm welcome, and the King of Saudi
Arabia, where Christians have no freedom whatsoever, can be received with highest
honors. Mr. President, you are ignoring the plight of Christians in the Middle

Patriarch Rai’s warning about the future of Christians in Syria is not
taboo. Christians are in a state of peril in the same way that Christians of
Iraq were a few years ago when two thirds of them migrated out of the country
and are still not protected to this day. To say the Patriarch supports
dictators and sides with terrorists is pure nonsense. With his own unique
charisma, Patriarch Rai has reached out to all Lebanese with whom he has to
live side-by-side. It is a beautiful outreach, one that is uniquely his,
without having to be beholden to anyone.  He speaks with love and tempers
the divisive, hateful talk of many. He gives hope

A new day is dawning in the
Middle East. The Arab Spring is happening with little vision for the
summer that will ensue.  Mr. President, you do not have to agree on
everything with Patriarch Rai, but there is no need to avoid or rebuff
him.  By doing so, you are showing your disrespect for him and for all
Christians of the Middle East.

Mansour, Gregory John.jpg+ Gregory J Mansour

Bishop of the Eparchy of
Saint Maron of Brooklyn

Saint Maximus the Confessor

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Saint Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662) taught, 

To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil – such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.

St Basil’s Cathedral at 450

google st basils cathedral.jpg

The famously beautiful Cathedral of Saint Basil’s in Moscow’s “Red Square” marks its 450th birthday. The origins of the church date back to the 14th century and is dedicated to the Trinity, but the structure really shows several churches linked together. The one currently known was built by Ivan the Terrible in 1554, the church’s domes are an icon really to the Blessed Virgin Mary and later named popularly to recall the life of a local saint, Basil.
Google commemorates this history. Rome Reports has a video story.

Reciprocal festal gestures for Sts Peter & Paul feast: Pope and an Ecumenical delegation meet

It’s like having your favorite but not too seen aunt Gretchen over the house for coffee to remember what she looks like and to keep up some appearances of genuine love. I shouldn’t make light of such encounters; they are important. It’s tradition and tradition is a very good thing. On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul a delegation is sent to Rome to meet the Pope, to exchange fraternal greetings, to listen to a brief discourse that’s on the mind of the Pope, to hear what the Patriarch of Constantinople has to say, etc. The whole thing is repeated on November 30 when Rome sends a delegation to Constantinople for the feast of Saint Andrew. The trouble is, does anything concrete result from these yearly meetings? What are the implications of this type of high level meeting?  Note the Pope’s perspective and his hope. There is an important rhythm of dialogue that happens in coming to understand human and ecclesial complexities which have an end in mind. Two of the Pope’s paragraphs are noted below. 

The Orthodox delegation included: His Eminence, Emmanuel, metropolitan of France and Director of the Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, Bishop Athenagoras, Bishop of Sinope and auxiliary to the metropolitan of Belgium and Archimandrite Maximus Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switerland.

Watch the video report from H2O News.

Orthodox rchbishop with Pope June 28 2011.jpg

We follow with great attention the work of the Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. From a purely human point of view, one might have the impression that the theological dialogue is having trouble in progressing. In reality, the rhythm of dialogue is linked to the complexity of the themes being discussed, which call for an extraordinary effort of study, of reflection and of reciprocal openness. We are called to continue this course together in charity, invoking light and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the full accomplishment of the will of Christ: that they may all be one (John 17:21). I am particularly grateful to all the members of the Mixed Commission and in particular to the co-Presidents, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis and His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their tireless dedication, their patience and their competence.

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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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