- Monday, 16 December 2013 14:36
Significant roots of Christianity exist with the Coptic Church. Liturgy, theological reflection, the monastic witness, culture and education are gifts to the entire worldwide Christian community. These desert Christians are living testimonies to a vital faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and victor over sin and death. It is difficult to exaggerate the contributions of Coptic Christians.
It is estimated that at there about 8.5 million Copts but that equals about 10% of the Egyptian population. It is not just fear that’s running through the hearts and minds of the Coptic about Islamic persecution of Coptic Christians, it is a reality. There are documented attacks on Coptic people but just there are on the Coptic institutions of church, monastic life, school, economy and culture.
The 60 Minutes news organization made this presentation, The Coptic Christians of Egypt. This presentation is OK. It lacks some substance and nuance, and it is slanted toward the Coptic Orthodox Church while there are Coptic Catholics who face similar struggles and aspirations. But the report of 60 Minutes ought to open for you an interest to know more, and to pray for Christians in Egypt. One of the unique pieces about the Coptic Orthodox Church is the manner in which the Pope is elected (you’ll have to watch the presentation).
May the Holy Family bless the Coptic Christians, Catholic and Orthodox.
Saint Anthony and Saint Mary of Egypt, pray for us.
- Monday, 25 November 2013 08:53
Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainians offered the Divine Liturgy on 25 November with the special permission of Pope Francis at the altar of the Vatican Basilica. The Ukrainian Church is observing the 50th anniversary of the laying of the relics of Saint Josaphat, martyr for Church unity.
The praying of the Liturgy in Saint Peter’s is a terrific sign of diversity and unity of the Catholic Church. The Byzantine Church exists in Rome, Catholic and Orthodox. The beauty of the faith in all its specificities.
This week another group of Byzantine Catholics are meeting in Rome with their Patriarch and some bishops, that of the Melkites. A delegation from the USA just arrived in Rome today. The eternal city is being overrun with the Eastern Church.
Two notes: 1) it is a rare circumstance that a bishop other than the Bishop of Rome offer Mass on the altar of Saint Peter’s because it is a reserved altar. When John Paul was ailing we saw designated cardinals offering Mass at this altar. Recall that Major Basilicas belong to the Pope and have certain privileges; 2) In Church law and ecclesiastical custom (at the moment) the Ukrainian Church has a leader who does not officially carry the title of “Patriarch”; he holds the title of Major Archbishop —and there is no canonical difference in titles, but…— yet in a variety of places the Ukrainian faithful rightly use the term Patriarch as a few Vatican news agencies did today to relate the event. I hope that Sviatoslav will be granted the official use of the title of Patriarch, as he ought to have.
Saint Josaphat, pray for us.
- Saturday, 23 November 2013 16:37
You will think I am silly for saying this, but who cares: I think that Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk is a good man for Christ’s Church.
Who is Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk you ask? Please recall that he is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (a major archbishop is the equivalent of a patriarch in church law without the title of patriarch).
He’s now 43 and he’s been a priest for nearly 20 years, a bishop for nearly 5 years and he’s been the head of the largest Eastern Catholic Church for the since March 2011. Shevchuk is a man to watch. I just hope he’s not going to cave the to bourgeois mentality which afflicts many ecclesiastics.
The archbishop is in Rome now for a month for a series of meeting, not least was the recent meeting of the Plenary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and a meeting with the Holy Father and other Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. Using his time wisely, the archbishop spoke with Andrea Tornielli of the Vatican Insider (who is a friend of Pope Francis); Tornielli’s interview, “Ecumenism from the bottom up: Now Vatican II is coming into effect.”
In the Tornielli interview you’ll read about his connection with Pope Francis, the desire of the faithful for a deeper unity (a ecumenism that’s full & visible) and note of contrast on marriage between the churches. Perhaps you’ll learn something. I did. You don’t have to agree with everything the interview reveals, but you would be wise to read carefully and between the lines.
To get a flavor of this young Father of the Church, please read and watch the following:
- Thursday, 21 November 2013 10:26
As the Roman Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, the Pope meets with the Fathers of the Churches who are in communion with him to be updated on the life of particular churches. The Patriarchs and Major Archbishops from the Eastern Churches are in Rome this week for a plenary meeting of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Who are these bishops? The current (2013) patriarchs and major archbishops are:
- Patriarch Gregory of the Melkites
- Patriarch Bechara of the Maronites
- Patriarch Ignatius of Syrians
- Patriarch Louis of the Chaldeans
- Patriarch Nerses of the Armenians
- Patriarch Ibrahim of the Copts
- Major Archbishop Sviatoslav of the Ukrainians
- Major Archbishop Lucian of the Romanians
- Major Archbishop George of the Syro-Malabars
- Major Archbishop Baselios of the Syro-Malankars
- Archbishop Fouad, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
This year’s meeting centered around the theme of religious liberty, an issue that is at crisis proportions around the world, even in the Western nations.
From Vatican Radio, “Citing the words of his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the post-Synodal exhortation, Ecclesia in medio oriente (nn. 39-40), Pope Francis said, “[You are] watchful guardians of communion and servants of Ecclesial unity,” adding, “that union, which you are called to realize in your Churches, finds natural and full expression in the ‘indefectible union with the Bishop of Rome’.” Pope Francis went on to say, “In order that our witness be credible, we are called ever to seek justice, mercy, faith, charity, patience and meekness.”
As you know, the current Pope and the previous one has had a deep appreciation for the patrimony of Eastern Christianity. They are brothers.
The Vatican Radio report can be heard here.
Rome Reports has filed a report here.
- Saturday, 09 November 2013 14:29
Eastern Christianity confuses some very faithful Christians, Catholics and Orthodox people especially.
I recommend this brief essay by Jesuit Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples, “Eastern Christians and Their Churches” (Catholic Information Service, Knights of Columbus)
From the Catholic perspective, here are some videos to watch:
Eastern Catholic Church – An Introduction by Father Thomas Loya
Eastern Catholic Theology – Part I by Abbot Nicholas of Holy Resurrection Monastery
Eastern Catholic Theology – Part II by Abbot Nicholas of Holy Resurrection Monastery