Tag Archives: Eastern Christians

Father Taft: we need a new ecclesiology –a startling revolution– Catholics are the no longer the only kids on the block

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It is said that “The Eastern Churches have a special vocation in the contemporary world, which is both distinct from, and complementary to, that of the Western Church. Pope John Paul saw it thus, but he was not the only one. The language of the ‘two lungs’ of the Church suggests that the Church’s activity in the world is much diminished when one of the lungs is operating at a reduced capacity – which it certainly is if it is not fully being what it is meant to be.”

A vocation to serve the Churches, East and West, has been radically lived by a New England Province Jesuit priest, Robert F. Taft, for nearly a half-century. Christopher B. Warner published a terrific interview in the Catholic World Report, “Building Bridges Between Orthodox and Catholic Christians” is required reading to get a sense of the Church’s teaching and life.

Father Taft was a professor of mine, and he remains an inspiration and mentor.

Popes of Rome and Alexandria meet: Francis and Tawadros

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A rare meeting between two Popes, that is, between the Patriarch of the West and the Patriarch of Alexandria happened earlier today in Rome when Pope Francis received Pope Tawadros of Alexandria, who heads the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. The first meeting between the two churches happened 40 years ago to the day with the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III; at that meeting a Christological agreement was signed and a hope expressed to find a path to unity. Tawadros is on his first pilgrimage outside of Egypt since becoming the head of the Coptic Church in November. He is in Italy for 5 days. 

Pope Tawadros proposed that 10 May each year should be marked as a day of celebration between the two churches. He also invited Francis to visit his Church, founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist around the middle of the First century.

Here is Pope Francis’ address:

For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.

Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.

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Clarence Gallagher, SJ, RIP

The Church mourns Father Clarence Gallagher, SJ, who died yesterday in England.

My friendship with Father Clarence didn’t run long or deep as though who studied under him or sought him for spiritual counsel. But knowing him was a delight; he was helpful in some matters pertaining to me several years ago when he was just leaving the office of rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO), Rome (1990-95).
His mission in England and later in Rome was as being the formation director of Jesuits in formation and who also served as professor, spiritual father, Dean of Canon Law and Rector of the PIO. Moreover, he was also a judge in the canon law courts of the Second Instance of the Lazio dioceses. Father Clarence is remembered for his humor and availability in a Church facing many ecclesial changes in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s as he ably guided people of all ranks in the Church through the changes that came with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and later the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Church.

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New Haven Orthodox Christians celebrate Pascha

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The beauty and triumph of the Lord Jesus over death by His own death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead is sadly celebrated by Christians on different dates. The divisions are scandalous. Western Christians had Easter on March 31, and Orthodox Christians will have their Easter, or Pascha, tonight. I hope, one day soon, all Christians can witness to the Lord’s resurrection on the same day. As Jesus said, ‘that they be one.”

In the meantime, New Haven’s Greek Orthodox community is small yet lively at Saint Basil’s Church. Connecticut has a rich history of Eastern Christianity, one that still needs to be told and appreciated. Ed Stannard of The New Haven Register wrote a story on the festivity and hope of Saint Basil’s.
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Trappistine nuns in Syria

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The mostly Italian group of Trappistine nuns forming a monastic colony in Syria are not moving, even in the face of violence.

Since 2005, Mother Marta Luisa Fagnani and the other nuns have committed themselves to prayer and work in a country in crisis. Their witness at the Monastery of Blessed Mary of Font of Peace (in Arabic, Dier al Adrha Yanbu’a-s-Salam), is a foundation of the Valserena Monastery in Guardistallo, Italy.

They write a blog, Ora pro Siria, in Italian and not frequently updated, but you can get a sense of their witness there. BUT, the monastic project of the nuns is explained here, which also asks the reader to help with prayer, friendship and money.

Yesterday, the daily Il Sussidiario published an English translation of an interview with one of the nuns.

Two years ago today, Traces magazine published a story, “The Sisters of Syria,” where the nuns talk about their call to make a monastic foundation in Syria, what freedom, the Encounter with the Lord and others and silence means. Few know, for example, that the Middle East had 11 monasteries of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (the Trappists) but dissolved due to the Islamic invasion. This is something to think and pray about. Do you have the same commitment to the Lord and to missionary zeal as these nuns?

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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