Posted by: Fr Chris | October 18, 2010

Back to Blogging

Hello Readers. I have not posted anything in months – it was a pretty difficult summer in terms of health, and the autumn has been hard as well. But I have resolved to get back into writing here and to posting at least once a week. Thanks to all who have waited, and those who urged me to get going again ūüôā

The biggest Eastern Catholic news right now is the special Synod in Rome of the Churches from the Near East/ Middle East. As the westernmost outpost of Asia, these territories form the place where God chose to be born in the God-Man of Jesus Christ, to suffer and be raised from the dead, and from which the apostles went out into the Greek, Aramaean, Persian, and Egyptian worlds.  The atrocities of the 20th century included the first genocides, against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and early Turkish republic; against the Syriac Christians in Mesopotamia and southeastern Turkey 1915-1930; and so the steady diminishing of Christianity. Even so, when you look at books from the 1950s, there was hope  for a better future. Those hopes have been cruelly dashed. Turkey had expelled most of its surviving Christians to Greece in 1922 and 1950, but there were sincere hopes for the Church to flourish in Lebanon and Syria, Israel and the kingdom of Transjordania, and Iraq and Egypt. Now, the Church has been shattered. In Egypt, Coptic and other Christians easily count more than 10% of the population, but there are constant Islamic social pressures and judicial inequity. In Iran, Christians are protected but they are emigrating, converting to end discrimination, or sealed into ghettoes. In Israel and the West Bank, towns which were 20% Christian are now barely 5%. In Syria, Christians definitely number 10% or more, but there is the fear of the spread of prejudice. And Lebanon, poor Lebanon: slaughtered by its neighbors and watching its young flee or shift into despair.  And Iraq Рa country which was easily 10% Christian or more in 1980 and now there are barely 400,00o people left.

The Synod is very important. News stories are posted by John Allen at The Hebrew Catholic Vicariate of Israel has an excellent news page: go to the home page: and choose your language, and then go to News. This is a site worth watching.  Catholic Near East Welfare Association has put out a special edition, one that you should bookmark, or order your own copy from them:

This is a very important edition as it goes over every Near Eastern country and gives the most current information on not only the size of the different Churches within, but an up to date commentary on what is happening in these countries. If Christianity ends up becoming a museum piece, then Islam will be monocultural to its own harm, and the local Muslims will have no idea what Christianity is except for what is published in prejudiced literature and websites.

Notice that at this Synod, the bishops have been blunt about the need to respect and incorporate the Patriarchates into Catholic government, the need to end the ban on ordaining married priests to serve Eastern Catholics in the Western countries, and that this is the first Catholic Synod to be addressed by a rabbi.

Pray for the Church’s revival: only then will democracy have a shot at advancing beyond Israel and the hoped-for Iraqi state, and only then will jihadist Islam be countered with the true gospel of peace and love in its own house.


  1. Fr. Chris,
    I have been discussing the matter of married priests with a couple friends of mine from Orthodoxy, one is a very, very good friend. In my research it seems to me that no such “ban” exists anymore. As we see in the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Winnipeg on their vocations page, there are no exclusions for married men entering into vocations.

    I also found this:
    Ukrainian, Ruthenian and Melkite Catholic bishops who support the ordination of married men throughout their communities have said the Second Vatican Council‚Äôs call to respect the traditions and disciplines of the Eastern churches and similar affirmations in the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches have nullified the ban.”

    It seems to me that this “ban” is quite over. Are these Eastern Catholics at this Synod merely requesting an “official” abrogation of the “10 year test period” of the “ban” which was instituted in 1929 (renewed in 1939)?

    I thank you in advance for your insights and/or any light you may be able to shed on this matter.

    CathApol Blog

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