Friday, May 18, 2012

for all Catholics who pray for unity


A letter from Fr. Thomas J. Loya sent to Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan (Archbishop) William and others regarding the recent speech by Cardinal Sandri: 
Christ is Ascended!

Archbishop William,
I take this opportunity of your still being in Italy, and therefore, in or near Rome, to make a formal request to you. My request is actually meant for all of the Eastern Catholic Bishops from North America, but most particularly to you as the ranking prelate of my own Church, the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh.

The remarks by Cardinal Sandri in his homily to the Eastern Catholic bishops of America have filtered back and are reverberating through the clergy and laity of our Churches in America, as well as the Orthodox Churches. In a similar way that the Health and Human Services controversey in America finds the issue of contraception itself being expressive of a deeper and fundamental issue of religious liberty, so too the remarks by Cardinal Sandri for the Eastern Catholic Churches to "embrace celibacy in respect to ecclesial context" are reflective of a deeper and more fundamental attitude from Rome and the Latin Rite that simply can no longer go unanswered by the Eastern Catholic Churches.
In addition to being chillingly reminiscent of the demeaning attitude of the Latin Rite bishops toward the Eastern Catholic Churches during the beginning of the last century in America, the Cardinal's remarks about celibacy seem to confirm what so many Eastern Catholics in America have suspected for too long: Rome and the Latin Rite see the Eastern Catholic Churches in America as essentially inconsequential, perhaps even in the way of ecumenism between Rome and the Orthodox Churches.

Essentially the Cardinal's remarks send the message that the Latin Rite Church is the 'real' Church, superior to the Eastern Catholic Churches and therefore the Eastern Catholic Churches could be ordered to compromise themselves in deference to the Latin Rite Church, the 'real' Church. To us in America the Cardinal's remarks reflected a paternalistic attitude toward the Eastern Catholic Churches in America. Rome seems to see our Churches in America as simply a diaspora having little value other than ethnic customs and the degree to which we can support our Churches in their homelands. 
Archbishop William, my request to you, as the ranking prelate of my Church and especially, if it is still possible while you are in Italy at this time, to meet again with Cardinal Sandri, on behalf of your Church back in America, regarding his remarks and the reaction to his remarks reverberating through the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches in America at this time. Our Ruthenian Church in particular needs to establish a better and more consistent dialogue with Rome so as to present a more accurate picture of the real gift and evangelical power of the Eastern Catholic Churches in America. The Eastern Catholic Churches, and in particular the Ruthenian Church, are actually in a position to indeed supply what is lacking in the whole Church in America and to confront secular society with type of vocabulary and spirituality that we alone can bring to the war on secularism and moral relativism. It seems that Rome understands none of this about us.

For the good of the whole Church and for the good of souls, it is time for our Ruthenian Church in particular stop acting like co-dependent children of Rome. It does not really serve Rome, the whole Church or the people of God for the Ruthenian Church (or any Eastern Catholic Church) to assume a position of weakness and inferiority helplessly waiting for what to many of us is essentially a 'phantom' indivdivual or department in Rome, with so little understanding of our Churches, to singularly decide the fate of our Churches in America. Surely we should have more pride in our Church than this and more regard for the memory of our members who, during Communist oppression, shed their blood out of loyalty to the Pope of Rome. 

Thank you for consideration of my request,
--Fr. Thomas J. Loya, STB.,MA.

21 comments:

  1. I am glad you posted this. What a disgrace.

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  2. i'm speechless (which you know is rare for me).

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  3. I don't understand the context... links to articles and the history to which this priest is talking about? Sorry for my ignorance!

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  4. When I read this speech couple of days ago, I too found the beef good Cardinal had with married Eastern priesthood very striking to me. Fr. Thomas expressed the problem very well.

    Marcin

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  5. Here is some balanced context for the Cardinals statement. http://orthocath.wordpress.com/ (Rome to US Eastern Catholics: New Priests Should “Embrace Celibacy”). While I see the cause for some controversy it must be admitted that the push of modernism against the celibacy of the Latin rite would be a reason to exercise some caution in how married priests are handled in US..not because there is anything wrong with the married priesthood but because it could cause problems for both rites if married men from the latin rite decide that they wish to change rites to become priest. If there were safeguards such as the censure to ordain anyone not born and baptized in the rite it might help. I respectfully disagree that the Cardinal's comments demean the Eastern rites in a step towards unity with the Orthodox because the issue of celibacy is actually one of the dividing issues there as well, so for the Cardinal to reenforce the discipline does nothing for unity from that standpoint. Therefore it is more likely that the direction of interpretation should be with the relationship between the USCCB and the US eastern rites.

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    1. Manuel, your argument is EXACTLY the argument that Bishop Ireland used when he forced Rome to change Eastern American Catholics traditions. It is a bad one. Here is reality. Celibacy is new to the Western Church. It is new. There are reasons that the Western Church decided to adopt it, but it is tradition with a little t, NOT a big T. There are very very good reasons that the Western Church should re-examine its commitment to celibacy, in my opinion, ESPECIALLY when you consider that the only way you can be a legitimate Western Catholic married priest is that first you were a Protestant pastor who converted. That is DEEPLY unjust to all devout, married Catholic men who would make fine priests.

      And regarding how you "respectfully disagree," frankly, your opinion does not matter here. What matters is the opinion of thousands of Christians, whose traditions date to Jesus' times and THEY know their Church history, they remember the oppression, and know that when the head of Eastern Catholic Churches at Rome says everyone needs to be celibate? We have problems. Furthermore, what the Catechism calls the "Eastern Lung of the Church" the Orthodox are looking at this and it only confirms their deep hesitation to EVER be unified with Rome. Rome is being plain stupid over this. Really.

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    2. Clerical celibacy has been part of the Western Church since the Gregorian reforms of the 11th Century - so it is not so old.

      In the Eastern Churches, Bishops have always been celibate, as they have been in the Western Church. Also, in the Byzantine Church (I am not so sure about other Eastern Churches), there has always been a high regard for monasticism: so celibacy not necessarily completely foreign to Eastern Christians. However, it is another question to impose a particular clerical discipline on these Churches, without consideration of the pastoral needs.

      I am also very uncomfortable with the comment about it being unjust for the Latin Church to restrict ordination to unmarried men: this implies that people have a Right to be Ordained. I certainly disagree with this notion, but it is also the same argument used by the proponent of Ordination of Women.

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  6. Truly sad. I find that, from the laity right on up to the Clergy, Roman Catholics have precious little understanding or even willingness to understand the Byzantine Catholics. I've witness Roman Catholics argue against such things as using leavened bread for the Eucharist and having a married Priesthood against Eastern Orthodox, totally oblivious of the fact that these are perfectly Catholic and legitimate practices and that Byzantine Catholics use both. I can recall other examples along the same lines as well.

    I'll admit that I don't understand all of the complexity of the relationship between the Roman and Byzantine Catholic perspectives no the Faith, but these sort of things like a married Priesthood truly have no complexity to it at all. It's orthodox and ancient, let it lie. It's a shame to hear something like that from a Roman Cardinal.

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  7. Manuel- thanks for commenting- I agree that the tradition of the Latin-rite should be protected from men who are 'playing around' and who change rites for the sole purpose of trying to be ordained while married- BUT there is a place for TRUE change of heart with rites- and also- what about the many people who 'should' be Eastern-rite yet were 'forced' to be Latin- rite (either to attend Catholic schools in the US (this was a past practice) or when the Eastern rite Churches were illegal under communism in E Europe...etc)

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  8. anonymous- The priest is alluding to some history in the US that caused thousands of people to leave the Catholic Church (Byzantine rite) and to form the OCA ('Orthodox Church in America')---one reason for this split was not allowing married Byzantine priests to serve and be ordained in the US (Bishop John Ireland was chief in making this happen)---I've written about Bishop Ireland before, but I can't find the post! here's something that might interest you: http://east2west.org/mandatory_clerical_celibacy.htm

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  9. here's an interesting post (caution- one bad word- so no kids over the shoulder, please)
    http://followedbyglory.blogspot.com/2012/05/really-rome-again.html

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  10. As a Latin Rite Catholic with a deeply Eastern Sympathy...let me add this. I'm sick of the Latin Rite Church imposing it's will on the Eastern Churches. We need to be faithful to our traditions East and West. And I also agree, perhaps celibacy in the Western Rite needs to be looked at again. I know for one, I sometimes have that longing to be a priest even though I plan to be married within the coming year. J.A.P

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    1. ...Joe- for now- focus on being the pastor of your domestic church- maybe the diaconate is in your future!

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  11. Truly hope that the good Cardinal's words are softer in heart than orally spoken, but I wonder how much of this has to do with some recent discussions regarding Latin Permanent Deacons and celibacy and chastity.

    To add to some of the discussion, other Ukrainian Catholic immigrants to Western Canada (primarily from Austrian Galicia/Halychyna) often converted to Russian Orthodoxy due to a reluctance of Old Country priests to come/insistence of Latin bishops on unmarried clergy. Others split and created the Autocephalous Ukr. Orthodox Church in Canada over Latinization and other mistreatment.

    On the flip side, some of our first clergy were French Oblates who were given a crash course in Slavonic and the Divine Liturgy, then when their necessity was over rejected a "return" to the Latin Rite. Personally, I consider myself Eastern even though baptized et al Latin. I did this even though my father's etc ancestral Church is Ukr Orthodox due to some misinformation regarding the ability to marry a RC I was going to propose to (coming on three years married now...).

    What I wish Cardinal would remember is that at one point the diaspora Ukrainian and Ruthenian Catholic Churches were the only legal option for those Catholics.

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  12. Let's get something straight. If the Eastern Bishops in America got together and starting ordaining married men to the presbyterate there would be nothing stopping them. All this anger is doing nothing but dividing us from the real issues. There will always be opinions of others that we disagree with. Rome is not stopping our churches here but rather we are doing it to ourselves. Let's get mad at the fact that some of our churches don't need presbyters because they are disappearing. Let's get mad that our churches are not evangelizing. Let's get mad that many of our people have lost the simplicity of the Christian message. Where is the outrage? Instead we get all worked up over a meaningless comment that should have been ignored.

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  13. Ric- yes- I really see where you are coming from BUT these words from the cardinal are actually having an effect-like in Rome where they want to stop allowing married Byzantine Catholic priests in to minister to Byzantine Catholic faithful (and they are large numbers because of Rome's proximity to the old countries)---in any case, I appreciate the direction you have taken your blog with its emphasis on evangelization, spirituality- etc. It's a good resource

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  14. Our priest included some bits of articles re: this topic in this week's bulletin, but I'm confused. Also, during this time, the archbishops & Metropolitans were also in Rome for their ad limina meetings, so there's a lot of news floating around re: Eastern Rite Catholics, which is great, but I need to stop and figure out what's what before I can comment effectively.

    I'll return when I am educated :)

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  15. to the owner of the blog: thanks for posting this. i think i'll bookmark this blog. seems like the insight of a priest's wife would be a fabulous thing...especially for my wife :)

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  16. I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian. I fervently hope and pray for the legitimate restoration of the unity between the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Church, especially in these times when Christians are increasingly under serious attack. I am the only Greek Orthodox I know who quaffs his beer from Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club steins! But this directive from Argentinian Cardinal Sandri is a terrible shock and a significant setback - apparently my enthusiasm for the Holy Father is misplaced with respect to East/West rapprochement, as I doubt Sandri would have launched that little warhead without clearance from Rome.

    Orthodox Christians worldwide have learned over the centuries to keep their antennae fine-tuned for the well-known signs of hubris, arrogance, ignorance and control from the Vatican. A great disappointment to see it displayed again so indisputably, but we must be grateful for timely warnings. Unfortunately, it appears that the most "unity" I can hope for in my lifetime may be the welcome return of the Eastern Catholics to the bosom of their co-religionists in the Orthodox world.

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  17. Well that is a real bummer. I am currently attending a byzantine catholic church. Though I am of a latin rite I enjoy getting to know the eastern rite. I plan to stay Roman rite but continue to attend the byzantine rite. This is just an opinion but, Catholics and Orthodox Christians will be attacked in the future by "Non denomination Christians" in particular. They try to say that we are wavering against our beliefs and that we are not Christians. They continually speak against our churches and say that we are of the anti-Christ and not of the original church. They train their students to particularly target Catholics mainly and convert them (I have seen this because I attended one of my friends' prayer services out of open mindedness). They twist the words in ways to make it seem like we are the deceivers. Now our freedom of religion is in the balance in the U.S. This affects us all Orthodox and Catholic alike. That is why I think that in these harsh times, we must do our best to stick together. To turn against each other will allow them to become stronger and possibly deepen the divide in the future. I hope that there will be something that will help to forward our union. We will become stronger in our reunion. I will pray for you all and please do the same for me Christian to Christian. I am saddened by what the Cardinal said. I hope like every one else here that it will be revisited. Please forgive me if this sounds misguided. I welcome any reply.

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  18. Joe, you wrote: "Now our freedom of religion is in the balance in the U.S. This affects us all Orthodox and Catholic alike. That is why I think that in these harsh times, we must do our best to stick together. To turn against each other will allow them to become stronger and possibly deepen the divide in the future."

    I agree with you completely on this point. Now more than ever. A good friend of mine is an Arab Christian from Gaza, who knows the true face of anti-Christian persecution. He is Eastern Orthodox as I am, but is adamant in his insistence that all Trinitarian Christians, and Orthodox and Catholics particularly, must truly practice humility and learn to love and support each other NOW, as the threats to all of our religious freedoms are genuine, and accelerating in ways we seem oblivious to in the United States and W. Europe. Let the Holy Spirit bring doctrinal unity and clarification to those empowered by our hierarchs to work in those areas - that effort may still take centuries - but let us as laypersons reach out to each other in love, and support each other where we can. Cardinal Sandrini's remarks seem to work directly against this - how can this be the result of love and understanding? And certainly, some Orthodox hierarchs have made inexplicably stupid and damaging decisions - disastrous ones in the chaos and evil and fear of wartime and persecution by atheist regimes, but also particularly shocking ones in recent decades that have deprived some Eastern Catholics of their church property in Eastern Europe.

    Here's a fact: since the Congregation for the Eastern Church was created in 1917, there have been 14 cardinals "in charge" (first as Cardinal Secretaries, then called Cardinal Prefects from 1967). Of these, unless I am mistaken, a grand total of TWO prefects (a Syrian Catholic and a Syrian Melkite) have actually been Eastern Christians, leading the Congregation for a little under 8 years out of a total 95 years of its existence. Other than the Syrian bishops, the Congregation has been led by Italians, Frenchmen, a Pole, a German/Dutch nobleman, a (Western-rite) Indian, and now an Argentinian. If the Roman Catholic church genuinely values its "Eastern lung", as JPII styled it, why would it not trust Eastern Christians to administer the Congregation charged with regulating the affairs of their own faithful?

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thoughtful comments are welcome to the conversation! (moderation on posts older than a week...)

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