Thursday, 28 May 2009

East and West

Pope John Paul II always stressed as does our present Pope that the Church breathes with both lungs of East and West. To many of us here in the West that means the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Churches and we forget the Eastern Catholic Church. I was fortunate to attend a primary school in Manchester which had a number of Ukrainian Catholics as fellow pupils. One of them was in fact a good friend and so even if I did not understand all the differences I was aware of fellow Catholics who were slightly different. Ukrainian Greek Catholics who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome celebrate the Byzantine rite rather than the Latin rite. Among other differences is that they have married priests, at least in the Ukraine. The picture above shows Bishop Hlib Lonchyna celebrating Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile in London.

Currently there are only occasional non-Latin rite liturgies celebrated in the Diocese. We do however have a Melkite-Greek Catholic Deacon, Richard Downer who is resident in the Diocese. He belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic Church that celebrates using the Byzantine Rite. The Melkite Catholic community he serves is based in London. As it consists in the main of people from the Middle East, Arabic and English is used in the Liturgy. Also because they have no resident Melkite Bishop in the UK, the community is deemed to be an Ethnic Chaplaincy by the Diocese of Westminster. For more information on Melkites see an excellent English language Melkite website in the USA. Richard reminded me recently that the Pope visited the Melkite community and other Eastern rite Catholics in Jordan and celebrated Vespers (Evening Prayer) with them. The Melkite Patriarch of Antioch presented Pope Benedict with his Patriarch's staff both as a symbol of their unity but also as a reminder of the need the Western Church has to remember its Eastern brothers and sisters who are part of the same Universal Church. The Pope echoed this in his speech during Vespers which can be seen on the YouTube entry below."

'The next night, the Lord appeared to Paul and said, 'Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.' (Acts 23:11)

1 comment:

  1. Why do you continue to ignore (I dare say supress) other Eastern Catholics? I am aware of Kerala Christians not receving any support, and being asked to forget/ignore their faith! Are their any priests or deacons responsible for encouraging these sizable numbers of faithful here? What is your own responsibility towards these neighbours or brothers in Christ? If we can't be an encouragement, please let us not discourage them either...