Tag Archives: Eastern Christians

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.

Blessed Martyrs of Pratulin

Pratulin_martyrs_in_1874The Byzantine Catholic Church liturgically recalls Blessed Martyrs of Pratulin: men and boys killed on this date in 1874 defending the Byzantine Catholic Church in Russia.  The martyrdom took place when the Tsar destroyed the last Greek Catholic eparchy in the empire, Chelm, in 1873 – 1875.

More can be read here on the Servants of God Wincenty Lewoniuk and 12 Companions.

Christians At Risk

Help make a difference at ChristiansAtRisk.org


Religious life 2013: Profession of vows, entrances and ordinations

Suscipe me secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam, et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea. (Psalm 118)

abbot & monkEach year at about this time I have published a list of those who have risked everything to follow Jesus Christ more closely as a priest, deacon, monk, friars, nun, or sister. I think it is a good thing to keep this information in front of us, especially as it concerns how each of prays, fasts and financially support  vocations in the Church. Our Christian life helps us to see the need for such witnesses and each of us participates through our good example, by inviting others (even ourselves?) to consider serving the Lord and the Church in this “more excellent” way and by assisting by of the good works.

Let us pray with the psalmist, “The just grow tall like palm trees, majestic like the cedars of Lebanon. They flourish in God’s house, green and heavy with fruit” (Ps 92).

“What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life,” the Lord’s cross, Pope Francis said on July 7.

What follows is an imperfect collection of information; if there are updates, please zap me an email.


Monastic life


English Congregation

Swiss-American Congregation
Subiaco Congregation
American Cassinese Congregation
Other monastic foundations


The active life


  • Daylesford Abbey (the Norbertines): 1 professed simple vows, 1 entered the novitiate;
  • Dominican friars, Province of St Joseph: 6 friars ordained priests; 9 friars profess solemn vows; 8 professed simple vows and  18 entered the novitiate
  • Capuchin friars, Province of St Mary: 2 professed final vows, 4 professed simple vows, 4 invested as novices; 1 ordained to the Order of Deacon and 2 ordained for the Order of Priest
  • Opus Dei: ordained 31 to the priesthood
  • Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo: 1 ordained deacon, 8 ordained priests; -in Chile: 3 received the cassock at entrance
  • Conventual Franciscan friars (of several provinces): 7 professed simple vows; 5 entered the novitiate
  • Friars of the Atonement: 1 entered the novitiate
  • Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word: 2 professed simple vows, 1 entered the novitiate.
  • Order of Friars Minor, Immaculate Conception Province: 2 friars profess simple vows; 1 professed solemn vows; 2 ordained priests; 5 postulants entered
  • Franciscans of the Holy Name Province: 4 profess first vows; 1 novice entered; 1 ordained to the priesthood
  • The Society of Jesuit ordained 16 men to the priesthood for service in the whole USA; the NY-NEN-MD provinces professed 5 in simple perpetual vows; 5 men entered the novitiate.

Endogamous discrimination in the Syro-Malabar Church?

Many times when Catholics think of inculturation they mis-identify the term by saying that the Church just needs to lighten up its rule and fit to the local culture. Others will locate the philosophical and missionary effort inculturation in the liturgical sphere. Inculturation matters are a very contentious matter that gets people in crosshairs. Adapting or in some way making changes to a system  of living so that you can “fit in” is an external fact and is not the method the Catholic Church uses to bring Lord’s Good News to other peoples, that is, those who outside the European and North American context. The Catholic Church tends to focus on the interior life of the person; externals are secondary and may change in time.

There is, however, a more precise way of understanding inculturation deals with adaption in saying that it is “the incarnation of the Gospel in autonomous cultures and at the same time the introduction of these cultures into the life of the church” (John Paul II’s 1985 encyclical Slavorum Apostoli, or his address to the Pontifical Council for Culture plenary assembly on Jan. 17, 1987). It is also understood that inculturation is, as John Paul II said in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, “an intimate transformation of the authentic cultural values by their integration into Christianity and the implantation of Christianity into different human cultures.”

As Redemptoris Missio said, “By inculturation, the church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community” (52). And yet the Church speaks of a interpenetration of the Gospel into a given, that is, a particular socio-cultural context which  “gives inner fruitfulness to the spiritual qualities and gifts proper to each people …, strengthens these qualities, perfects them and restores them in Christ” (Gaudium et spes, 58). More on this issue here.

This is a long way to introduce the sticky issue of Indian Catholics retaining their customs of endogamy and not truly inculturating the Gospel. Judge for yourself: do the adherents to Knanaya customs cause a philosophical and theological problem here is that if we use the definitions noted above, or are we being “too Western” in wanting others to conform to a radical way of thinking which may weaken a culture? How would Christ judge the situation? Who bears the standard? How are the demands of the gospel really lived in this Christian caste? Who has ultimate authority, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, the Holy See, or the persons involved? Can endogamy be tolerated for a greater good?

The story of alleged discrimination among the Syro-Malabars can be read here.

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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