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More on Eastern Catholic Churches
More on Eastern Catholic Churches
My column about Eastern Rite Catholic Churches a couple of weeks ago elicited a lot of response, ranging from people who were totally unaware of the existence of other rites within the Catholic tradition to Eastern Catholic priests sharing their experiences of the ignorance of Roman Catholics and thanking me for contributing to the education of Australian Catholics in this matter.
Here are excerpts from two of these responses which I am using with the permission of the authors:
“Thank you for that article on the Eastern Catholics in Australia. When I was Ukrainian parish priest in Adelaide in the late 90's, more than once I received Confirmation notifications for children baptized and already confirmed/ chrismated in our Church. What amazed me a bit was the fact that each child has to present a baptism certificate to the school before being accepted for Confirmation. It would appear that many teachers were not bothering to read the certificates, which are printed very clearly in both Ukrainian and English.
(Fr Laurie Foote OP)
A couple of years ago I was at a clergy inservice for the Ukrainian Church. I concelebrated the Liturgy with them - wearing Ukrainian vestments, etc. - then sat at the evening meal nextto one of the young priests who, alongwith his pretty young wife, was helping their little kids cut up and eat their meal. Now you don't see that at a clergy conference of Roman priests!
(Fr Peter Brock)
One point that I didn’t express as clearly as I might have was about Eastern Catholic priests being able to marry. It would have been more accurate to say that their priests are allowed to be married. As in the West, once a man is ordained to the priesthood, he is not then allowed to marry. But, unlike the Latin Church, Eastern Catholic Churches regularly ordain married men to the priesthood.
I did not make mention in the original column of the Syro-Malabar Church, which belongs to the Antiochene tradition. This is the Church that claims apostolic foundation from Thomas the Apostle. There are increasing numbers of Indians in Australia (priests, sisters – many of Mother Teresa's Sisters for example, and lay-people) who belong to this Church.Syro-Malabar Catholics come predominantly from the southern Indian State of Kerala. There are currently three Syro-Malabar Catholic priests ministering in Australia.
The three largest Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia are the Maronite, Melkite and Ukrainian catholic churches. As mentioned previously, each of these has been established as a diocese, or ‘eparchy’, with a bishop, or ‘eparch’, who is a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Other differences in practice from the West, apart from the area of initiation, include the prominence given to chant, incense, candles and processions in liturgy, stricter rules for fasting and abstinence, the following of a different (Julian) calendar by some Eastern Churches, and the role of icons in worship and spirituality.
Readers wanting to learn more about Eastern Catholic Churches will find a chapter on Eastern Catholics in Bob Dixon’s book The Catholic Community in Australia, which has just been published by Openbook and is available from the Christian Research Association.
Another correspondent, Steve Cimbaly, informed me of a site which he has developed about Eastern Catholic Churches. The URL is http://members.optushome.com.au/standrew/catholic/.