Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Bishop Abouna, a Chaldean Catholic, became one of the best known Church leaders in Iraq following his ordination as bishop by Pope John Paul II on January 6 2003 – less than three months before the US-led invasion of his country to oust Saddam Hussein.
Throughout the war years Bishop Abouna ministered to the Christian people of the Iraqi capital who were often afflicted by sectarian attacks from Islamic militants.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that the bishop was a pastor who was “always smiling, even in difficult situations”.
“He was a very close friend not just to me but to so many others,” he told Aid to the Church in Need, a charity for persecuted Christians which had helped to fund Bishop Abouna’s healthcare.
Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk also paid tribute: “Bishop Abouna was a very good and humble man, very open-minded,” he said.
“He really took care of each one of his priests and he always worked for the unity of the Church. I hope he can pray for us from heaven.”
Marie-Ange Siebrecht, the charity’s projects coordinator for Iraq, said: “I had the pleasure to meet Bishop Abouna many times during my visits to northern Iraq.
“He was a very spiritual person and had great concern for the priests and seminarians he was in charge of. Especially in Baghdad he played a great role among the priests to try to show them that there is a future in their country.”
Bishop Abouna was born on March 23 1943 in Bedar, a village outside the northern Iraqi town of Zakho. He entered St Peter’s Seminary, then based in Mosul, and was ordained a priest on June 5 1966. A year later he was appointed to a parish in Basra, southern Iraq, and four years later became pastor of St Joseph the Worker, Baghdad, where he served for 20 years. In 1989 he became secretary to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid of Baghdad. About two years later he moved to London to serve as priest in charge of the Chaldean and Syrian-Catholic Mission in England, a role in which he remained for 11 years.
On November 11 2002 he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad and he returned to his native country the following year. In the aftermath of 2003 invasion he had to deal with bomb attacks on churches and witnessed an exodus of Christian refugees fleeing Islamist violence.
He responded to a shortage of priests by serving at the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in the city’s Al Mansour district.
An appreciation of his life and courageous witness by Fr John Salter, Chairman of the Society, will be carried in the next issue of Chrysostom.
The archbishop presented his letters of credence to Foreign Affairs Minister Sergej Lavrov on July 15. This follows the agreement in December 2009 between Pope Benedict XVI and President Dmitry Medvedev to upgrade relations to full diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Russia, which raises the level of representation to apostolic nuncio and embassy respectively. Since 1990 representation has been maintained at the level below that of ambassador.
In greeting the new Nuncio, Alexander Krusko, the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, observed how relations between the Vatican and Russia are "characterized by a growing understanding and spirit of collaboration." He called for "a fruitful collaboration in the great moral and ethical challenges posed to man today."
Archbishop Mennini in response conveyed the Pope's greeting to the Russian president, promising the Holy See's "collaboration for a further reinforcement of relations with the government, as well as for the spiritual and moral growth of the Russian people."
On June 26, His Excellency Mikolay Sadlichov in Rome had first presented his letters of credence as the first Russian ambassador to the Holy See.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Patriarch Kirill in Ukraine - Catholics and Orthodox Together can Sustain the Spiritual Identity of Europe
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow says that he and Benedict XVI often see eye-to-eye on many issues, especially with regard to those of a moral nature, according to statements reported on July 19th by Interfax as the Patriarch was about to visit Ukraine.
"The position of the present Pope, Benedict XVI leaves room for optimism," he said in an interview on Ukrainian television channels, observing how the Pope is often criticized by "liberal theologians and the liberal mass media in the West" for his opinions. "However, in his approach on many public and moral issues, the Pope coincides fully with the approach of the Russian Orthodox Church. This gives us an opportunity to promote Christian values with the Catholic Church, in particular in international organizations and in the international arena," he asserted.
At the same time, the patriarch discerned "dangerous phenomena" in contemporary Protestantism, in which Christians "let sinful elements of the world enter their interior and justify these elements that the secular society offers them."
As a result, he said, "liberal secular philosophical slogans are repeated within the Protestant churches and grow roots in religious thought." In this connection, Patriarch Kirill referred to the question of the ordination of women, which he said appears in the West because "the secular notion of human rights is incorporated to theology".
Patriarch Kirill went on to stress the importance of the integration of both Russia and Ukraine in Europe for preserving their "national, cultural and spiritual identity" and Erurope's too. "It is a great challenge in conditions of globalization. We must preserve the diversity and beauty of God's world and at the same time promote good international cooperation and peaceful relations between nations."
He said that if Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians reject their "basic values," they would lose their national bearings, causing "a great catastrophe of civilization, the same as with other nations that have lost their identity."
Without their essentially Christian fundamental identity the nations of the world could be "easily manipulated, because this traditional spiritual culture in the majority of the population is the main criterion for them to distinguish good from evil."
Recalling first century harmony as well as experience of historical and contemporary challenges to unity, the Churches and communities of Jerusalem have prepared material with the theme, "One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer," a phrase from the Acts of the Apostles.
Zenit reports (14 July 2010) that the retired Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem of the Latins was among those who collaborated with Orthodox, Lutheran and Episcopal officials and other Christian leaders to prepare the resources.
In the introduction they explain, "The call for unity this year comes to churches all over the world from Jerusalem, the mother church. ... Mindful of its own divisions and its own need to do more for the unity of the Body of Christ, the churches in Jerusalem call all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem, when they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
"This is the challenge before us. The Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church."
The Week of Prayer began as the Church Unity Octave, an Anglican-Papalist initiative in 1908 led by Father Paul Wattson in the US and the Revd Spencer Jones in England. When Fr Paul and his Franciscan community entered the Roman Catholic Church, the Octave became established in the Catholic world. In 1933 it was re-imagined as the Week of Universal Prayer for the Unity of Christians by Fr Paul Couturier in Lyons and gained in popularity among Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed Christians, as well as people of other faiths. After Couturier's death, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the Week of Prayer was entrusted to the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat (now the Pontifical Council) for Promoting Christian Unity as a joint venture.
The international resources for the 2011 Week of Prayer can be found here on the Vatican website. The UK version, developed by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is available here.
Pope Benedict XVI has erected an Apostolic Exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States, and appointed Father Thomas Naickamparampil, 49, of the Major Archieparchy of Trivandrum as its first bishop. He will also serve as apostolic visitor for the Syro-Malankara Catholics in Canada and Europe.
Mar Thomas (left) was born on June 6, 1961 at Mylapra in Pathanamthitta District of the Eparchy of Pathanamthitta. After completing high school, he joined St. Aloysius Minor Seminary, Pattom, Trivandrum, and then later completed his priestly formation at the Papal Seminary in Pune. He was ordained on December 29, 1986. He has a doctorate degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University Gregorian in Rome.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church traces its roots back to St. Thomas the Apostle. The Church split from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in 1930, and then entered into communion with Rome. In 2005, the Eastern Church was elevated to a major archiepiscopal Church. It is currently led by Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis, and currently has eight eparchies and some 500,000 faithful.
The community of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church began to organize in 1984 in New York. Today there are an estimated 10,000 members, 16 parishes and 15 mission stations of the Church in the United States and Canada. It numbers 30 priests, and 34religious. The new Apostolic Exarchate will have its headquarters in New York City, and the main parish will be the Malankara Catholic Church in Long Island. The Syro-Malankara Catholic community in the United Kingdom is co-ordinated from St Anthony's Church in Forest Gate, Diocese of Brentwood, by Fr Daniel Kulangara, who is Special Pastor for five missions in the UK.
Friday, 16 July 2010
"A sign of vitality and hope." Thus, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Louis Sako, describes the ordination of two new priests held today, July 16, in the cathedral of his diocese. It can be said that July saw a real flowering of priestly ordinations which have infused new life into the Christian community, prostrated by continuing sectarian violence and the political instability that plagues Iraq.
Together with the two priests, four permanent deacons were ordained today. Before them, on July 9, it was the turn of another priest consecrated July 9 in Dohok, in the north, while a fourth priest will be ordained on July 23 in Karamless in the diocese of Mosul. Even the Syro-Catholic Church of Bartella and Karakosh were gifted with new priests this month.
"It 's a sign of vitality and hope to see these young people consecrated to the Lord and to the service of their brothers living in great suffering, in this time of tribulation and darkness," said Msgr. Sako to AsiaNews.
Today, the mass celebrated by Msgr. Sako, was attended by many faithful, united in prayer and joy, "so that these new priests may bring the message of God who is love and peace to all without distinction" the prelate said. In his homily, the Archbishop reminded the new priests to live the gift of God as Mary did, as a personal relationship that changed her life: "Like Her, we must 'keep all these things, reflecting on them in our heart' (Lk 2 19:51). Prayer is a true shield of protection, provided that it is done in humility. Mary said, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord', we too are servants of the Lord. Prayer is the distinctive characteristic that allows people to see Christ in our apostolate".
Friday, 9 July 2010
The archivist of the Oriental Congregation, Gianpaolo Rigotti’s recent article “Uomini e attività della Congregazione per la Chiesa Orientale tra i motu proprio Dei providentis (1917) e Sancta Dei Ecclesia (1938)” deals with key figures that served the Congregation of the Oriental Church(es). However, one person is conspicuously absent from among these figures: Monsignor Enrico Benedetti. For twenty years, Benedetti was one of the most important employees of the two oriental departments of the Roman Curia, from 1904 to 1924. After this date he largely vanishes from history and obtaining his biographical data continues to be difficult. There are few overt references to his person and activities in the archives of the Oriental Congregation but, surprisingly, more significant information is to be found in other archives of the Apostolic See and in works dealing with Ukraine and the Greek-Catholic Church. Recently, Benedetti’s memory was brought back to life by the research of Monsignor Giuseppe M. Croce. In his now famous edition of Cyrille Korolevskij’s autobiography and correspondence, there are significant references to Benedetti, a protagonist of Byzantine Catholicism in the Roman Curia. Croce’s work has finally lifted the veil from the mystery of aspects of Benedetti’s curial career. This brief biography, based on what appears to be left of Benedetti’s personal file and supplemented by other archival sources, is intended as a modest addition to such research.
Enrico Benedetti was born in Rome in 1874 and was ordained for his native diocese in 1897, at the age of twenty-three. He subsequently obtained a teaching degree, as well as degrees in theology and in canon law, the latter for which he received top marks. In 1899 he was taken on provisionally at the Congregation of the Council [of the Clergy]. On 13 January 1900, he was given the chair of letters at the schools of the Pontifical Urban College run by the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide where he later taught ecclesiastical history. It was in this teaching capacity that Angelo Roncalli (future Blessed John XXIII) remembered Benedetti in his famous memoirs, Journal of a Soul.
Propaganda Fide called Benedetti to additional responsibilities in 1904. At that time the minutante for the Ruthenian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Georgian Rite affairs received another posting and resigned his charge at the Congregation. According to the custom of the time, Italian priests were asked to submit their names for the vacant post. Among the eighteen contestants, Benedetti ranked among the top three for “the best physical, intellectual and moral requisites.” Benedetti was further prized for his knowledge of Greek, French and a little English and German. On 4 July 1904, the cardinals selected Benedetti and Pope Pius X approved the selection the following 12 July. The new minutante was informed of his appointment in a letter from the Assessor of the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide for the Affairs of the Oriental Rite, Monsignor Savelli Spinola, dated the following day.
When Pope Benedict XV suppressed the old Congregation De Propaganda Fide for the Affairs of the Oriental Rite, in 1917, Benedetti passed over to the newly created Congregation Pro Ecclesia Orientali [for the Oriental Church]. In the new department, his past faithful service and expertise earned him the promotion from simple minutante to official, in which capacity he could co-sign documents with the cardinal-secretary or the bishop-assessor. Additionally, Don Enrico was granted the honourary distinction of papal chamberlain which carried with it the title of Monsignor.
The new Congregation was charged with demonstrating a more sympathetic image to Eastern-Rite Christians and its modus operandi was to be exclusively attuned to their needs. For this purpose the Pope chose Cardinal Marini, who had a certain interest in oriental scholarship, as the Congregation’s head. As second-in-command the Pope chose a Greek-Catholic, Bishop Isaias Papadopulos.
Among those who showed the greatest interest in the Christian East was Monsignor Benedetti himself, especially in his area of competency, the Greco-Slavic Churches, the largest among which was the Byzantine-Ruthenian, which comprised several of what we now call ecclesiae sui iuris. Benedetti soon began publishing material about the history of the Ruthenian Churches. In 1916 he published Punti di storia religiosa del popolo ruteno (Notes on the Religious History of the Ruthenian People) in Cardinal Marini’s journal Bessarione. The article was later printed as a booklet. Another important work appeared in 1922, entitled Le Chiese Orientali (The Oriental Churches).
One of the early issues that the new Oriental Congregation had to tackle was the Ukrainian problem. Benedetti had developed a relationship of trust with the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchs, the most senior of which was Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky. Ukrainian political leaders, Catholic and Orthodox, also reached out to the Apostolic See to secure political recognition. In exchange for which they promised freedom for Catholicism in Ukraine, especially for the Eastern-Rite variant. The Congregation, however, was not authorized to address political questions. These were the responsibility of the papal Secretariat of State and the Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, which dealt with any religious questions connected with state governments. The Ukrainian question was, in the language of the Curia, a questione politico-religioso (a political-religious mix). The religious values that the Apostolic See intended to promote were intertwined with the political questions of the day. And therein lie the seeds of conflict over Ukraine within the Roman Curia.
With Europe in flux, Benedict XV and his secretary of state Cardinal Gasparri showed significant openness to Ukrainian independence. In 1919 an extraordinary Ukrainian diplomatic representation was received at the papal court. In turn, the Oriental Congregation recommended a papal representative to the Ukraine. Such a pontifical liaison was to assess the situation and present the religious goals of the Apostolic See to Ukrainian notables. The Pope accepted these recommendations and appointed Father Giovanni Genocchi as apostolic visitor to Ukraine.
But who recommended Genocchi to this post? According to his friend and biographer Vincenzo Ceresi: “Enrico Benedetti was a faithful admirer of the religious and devoted to him like a son.” Genocchi’s charming personality had made him many friends in Italian social and intellectual circles but these associations had made him enemies in the Curia, especially during the Modernist Crisis. As had been his predecessor Pius X, so too was Benedict XV an admirer of Genocchi and recognized his fidelity. Pope Benedict sought Monsignor Benedetti’s counsel to find a way to remove Genocchi from the climate of curial suspicion. Benedetti proposed the apostolic visitation to Ukraine and Eastern Galicia at the beginning of February 1920 and, according to Ceresi, the Pope accepted the proposal a week later, naming Genocchi on 13 February.
The instructions that Genocchi received from the Oriental Congregation in March 1920 had been composed by Benedetti and contained a long and sympathetic summary of the history of Ruthenian-Ukrainian questions. Don Enrico’s sympathy was keenly felt by Ukraine’s religious and political men, who, together with Genocchi, corresponded privately with him, seeking counsel and encouragement.
Benedetti also helped many Ukrainian priests. Through the mediation of Ukrainian diplomatic representative Father François-Xavier Bonne, in January 1920 Don Enrico arranged for the future Cardinal Josyf Slipyj to further his studies in Rome. Slipyj received funding through the Congregation for which he wrote to thank Benedetti in November. Two years later, with the Ukrainian diplomatic cause going badly, Bonne himself received a stipend through Benedetti’s intercession.
The turning point in Enrico Benedetti’s curial career occurred at the beginning of 1922 regarding political ramifications to the Ukrainian religious question; namely, the restoration of the ancient Byzantine bishopric of Lutsk.
Metropolitan Sheptytsky had ordained Josyf Botsian Bishop of Lutsk (Volyn) in 1914, using special powers granted him secretly by Pius X. But when Botsian attempted to begin his mission in Volyn he was blocked by Polish civil and religious notables. They feared that the restoration of the illegally suppressed Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Lutsk would help the Ukrainian independence movement and block centuries-old Polish hegemony over the territory. Following his release from Russian captivity in 1917, Sheptytsky made repeated attempts to have Botsian’s appointment legitimized. Finally in 1921, Metropolitan Andrei was able to prove to Benedict XV the existence of the secret faculties granted by Pius X. Thus on 21 February 1921, Pope Benedict did not hesitate to confirm Botsian’s appointment. However, due to the extreme opposition to Botsian in Poland, the Pontiff added the reservation that, although truly Bishop of Lutsk, until a modus vivendi with the Polish government could be achieved, Botsian was not to exercise episcopal jurisdiction.
One of Monsignor Benedetti’s duties was to correct the drafts of the papal Catholic directory, the Annuario Pontificio. In doing so, he added the name of Josyf Botsian under the resident diocese of Lutsk. Shortly before his death in January 1922, Benedict XV had examined these notations, but had made neither comment nor objection. During the sede vacante, Polish prelates in the Curia put pressure on the papal secretariat of state to have the entries removed. Monsignor Borgongini Duca ordered the head of the Annuario to remove Botsian’s name; but the priest in charge replied that, since the late Pope had approved the drafts, he required a written order. Borgongini complied with the request and the name was removed from the list of resident bishops (page 161). However, the priest-in-charge apparently forgot to remove the name from the index (page 902). Several copies of the first and second editions had already gone into circulation, before the third and final edition removed Botsian’s name altogether.
News about the original versions of the Annuario reached Ukrainian diplomatic representatives resulting in a series of articles in the Italian journal Il Popolo Romano, written by the secretary of the Ukrainian Legation in Vienna, Volodymyr Bandrivsky. A diplomatic incident occurred, resulting in vehement protests from the Polish Legation to the Holy See. Following an internal investigation, Cardinal Gasparri wrote a strong letter to Cardinal Marini blaming Monsignor Benedetti for divulging confidential information. Gasparri argued that, Benedetti, who had added the entries by hand, could not possibly be free from blame because he was aware that the late Pope had ruled that Botsian was not to exercise episcopal jurisdiction. “Mons. Benedetti put the Holy See in a very embarrassing position before the Polish Government.”
Benedetti ardently denied the charge but someone had to take the blame. Recently uncovered archival sources point to the fact that Ukrainian priests in Rome had been the source of the information, especially Basilian Father Lazar Berezovsky who carried on written correspondence with the Ukrainian diplomatic representatives. Pius XI was very annoyed by the incident, especially by the fact that Ukrainian politics seemed to be limiting the Church’s freedom of action. As a result, Cardinal Gasparri summoned Father Berezovsky, informing him that the Pope did not want to hear of “Ukrainians” but only “Ruthenians”. The rector retorted that they were indeed Ukrainians and that no one had the right to take away their name.
The upshot was that the Apostolic See had to give strong assurances to the Polish Government that Bishop Botsian (at least for the time being) would remain a bishop in name only. Enrico Benedetti received a reprimand in kind: his name was also removed from one section of the Annuario, the list of papal chamberlains. This honour, once conferred, remained in force only during the lifetime of the reigning Pope but had to be reconfirmed by his successor. Father Cyrille Korolevskij recounted the affair to Metropolitan Sheptytsky three months later, ended his letter by stating that “Today, the incident has calmed down but Benedetti was not confirmed in his title of “Monsignor” by the new Pope, who said: “We’ll see about it later.”
Even though he was soon restored to his monsignorial title, the Lutsk-Annuario incident had marked Benedetti’s curial career at the very inception of the new pontificate. In Korolevskij’s words: “Benedetti [...] is not in the [new] Pope’s good graces.” The Polish legation was especially on guard against any initiatives of Bendetti and his department, whose attempts to protect Eastern Catholics were regarded as inimical to Poland. Ambassador Skrzyński complained to Genocchi that "as long as Msgr. Benedetti is there, nothing good will be done" by the Oriental Congregation. Leading Polish curialist Monsignor Kazimierz Skirmunt suggested that Botsian’s title be changed without the knowledge of the Congregation so that it "and with it the whole Oriental universe" would not be given the opportunity to protest. Benedetti earned further papal displeasure in 1924, due to his participation in that year's Velehrad Congress. Pius XI complained that he did not want members of the Congregation to participate at such events in an official capacity.
The Oriental Congregation’s wings had been clipped in March 1922. Shortly after the Annuario incedent, its head, Cardinal Marini, became ill and was replaced by Cardinal Tacci. Marini had not demonstrated any remarkable capacity and Tacci turned out to be even worse, particularly due to an undiscovered brain tumour. During the latter’s term, many affairs were left unresolved and a number of important documents were mislaid, only to be found among the cardinals papers after his death. By 1924, in the words of Korolevskij, Benedetti had become “disgusted”. He left the Congregation on 31 December 1924 and passed to the Vatican Library the following year.
Although he ceased active service, Enrico Benedetti was well respected in the Roman Curia for his erudition and for many years of service he had given in no less than three Vatican departments. As a result, following his curial retirement, Don Enrico was called upon to serve as consulter to the Consitorial and Oriental Congregations; charges which he fulfilled until his death.
The Ruthenian bishops would have been devastated to see one of their few overt sympathizers retire from the Roman Curia. The relationship of trust that they had formed with Benedetti induced Metropolitan Sheptytsky to propose him for yet one more service. At their Episcopal Conference of 1928, the Ruthenian hierarchs of Poland (Ukrainians) and Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia (Carpatho-Ruthenians) and Bulgaria agreed to Sheptytsky’s proposal to appoint Benedetti as their man in Rome. On 8 July 1928, Sheptytsky wrote to Monsignor Giuseppe Pizzardo, head of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, asking him if the Curia had any objection to the bishops’ recommendation: The Bishops “considered Msgr. Enrico Benedetti, whom all have known for a long time, and who has always shown great devotion to the interests of their Churches and possesses all the necessary experience.”
Pizzardo asked the opinion of Monsignor Eugène Tisserant, a co-worker of both Benedetti and Korolevskij at the Vatican Library. Tisserant replied that he could not see any difficulty with the appointment. The matter was then forwarded to the Oriental Congregation, which also found no objection. Cardinal Sincero wrote to Sheptytsky on 19 July 1928 that “This Sacred Congregation is very happy to inform Your Lordship that it has nothing against your wish [...] as it has nothing against the person chosen for this office.” Once he had received Benedetti’s consent, Sheptytsky formally presented him to the Apostolic See on 27 November 1928 as procurator of the Ruthenian Episcopate in Rome for the affairs of the Ruthenian Churches.
Being familiar with both worlds, Benedetti was perfectly suited to act as a liaison between the Roman Curial offices and the Ruthenian hierarchy. Among notable affairs handled, in 1929 he made important oral clarifications regarding the candidates for auxiliary bishop to Metropolitan Sheptytsky. Two years later, in 1931, he rendered an important service when, together with Korolevskij, he was consulted by the Congregation on the history and status of Sheptytsky’s title Metropolitan of Halych, as distinct from to that of Archbishop of Lviv and Bishop of Kamiamets-Podilsk.
In his final years, Benedetti endured a long illness. Shortly before his death, which occured on Monday, 10 March 1941, he received a special blessing from Pope Pius XII. Monsignor Professor Enrico Benedetti’s funeral took place three days later, on Thursday, 13 March 1941, at the Roman parish church of the Sacred Heart on the Lungotevere Prati. The funeral rites were attended by numerous officials of the Oriental Congregation, among whom many counted themselves as admirers of their former colleague. Eugène Tisserant, now the cardinal-secretary of that department, subequently paid high tribute to Benedetti’s example of generous and loyal service to the Church.
Benedetti's memory continued to endure in the tiny community of Ukrainian priests and religious in the Eternal City, especially among those whom he had known and helped. As late as 1998, Ukrainian historian Liliana Hentosh identified his photograph, still displayed in the corridors of Piazza Madonna dei Monti, the seat of the Ukrainian procurature. The photo had been displayed at the orders of Cardinal Slipyj, whose first Roman sojourn had been arranged by Benedetti. Sadly, with recent renovations to the Madonna residence, even this last vestige of his memory has vanished.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Byzantine Romanian Catholics celebrated on July 4 their first Mass in 62 years in the parish church of Bocsa, with what was described as a "festive and moving" atmosphere.
The Bosca parish is unique because, thanks to an agreement between Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics, it will be shared between the two Churches.
The parish has been hailed as an example of conflict resolution between the two Churches, often at odds over patrimonial issues in former Soviet countries.
The Bocsa parish was confiscated by the Communist authorities in 1948 and given to the Orthodox Church, after the forced abolition of the Romanian Catholic Church. Catholics went underground until legalization was regained. Pope John Paul II re-established their hierarch y in 1990.
Since then, the Romanian Byzantine Catholic community has worked legally for the devolution of confiscated churches (some 2,600 properties), whereas the Orthodox requested that the new balance of faithful be kept in mind, given that the Byzantine Catholics have decreased significantly in numbers over the last decades.
In the specific case of Bocsa, the Romanian Catholic community asked the Orthodox to return the parish, or to seek an alternative over the use of the church.
The case was taken to court, while the Romanian Catholics continued to propose an agreement. At the beginning of 2010 the court decided in favor of the Romanian Catholics, though they continued to offer an agreement to the Orthodox.
The court proceeded last July 1 with the execution of the sentence, returning the church to the Catholics. A few hours later, the Orthodox accepted the proposal of an agreement, which was subsequently signed before the judicial authorities of Salaj.
Now both communities have committed themselves to share the use of the church with different timetables.
The first Romanian Catholic Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 9 a.m. last Sunday. It was presided over by Father Valer Parau, dean of the Romanian Catholic Church of Zalau.
Father Valer insisted on forgiveness "to be able to heal wounds," the Romanian Catholic agency Catholica.ro reported.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God," he recalled. "We believe that with this realistic, pragmatic relationship in accord with the spirit of the Lord's Gospel, other cases can be resolved in which Greek Catholics are obliged by the circumstances to pray in inadequate places. There is space for one another in the same church."
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Thus writes Dr Timothy Bradshaw, Tutor in Doctrine at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, in The Times of 21 October 2009:
Third, the 21 Eastern Catholic Churches - specifically those of Byzantine Rite, such as the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, or the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church - are not properly seen as the result of proselytism away from Orthodoxy. They see themselves as Orthodox Churches which historically never lost communion with the Roman See, or recovered and retained it, even at great cost. Both the Ukrainian and Melkite Churches, furthermore, have a strong record of efforts towards reconciliation with their Orthodox neighbours. In Ukraine, for instance, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was highly regarded by members of the Russian Orthodox faithful for his practical solidarity and aid during its dark hours after the Russian Revolution. And the Patriarchates of Antioch - Melkite and Greek Orthodox - are renowned for their progressive efforts towards imaginative reconciliation. So, again, the misrepresentation of the complex history of Catholic-Orthodox relations and of the real circumstances concerning Eastern Catholic Churches is a very inexact comparison for the forthcoming provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus and their implementation in practice.
In the second place, the analogy simply does not stand up. Each of the Eastern Catholic Churches is, precisely, a Church: a distinct, episcopally and presbyterally structured body with its own identity, history and character. The proposed ordinariates, however, are not Churches, but groups of disaffected Anglican lay people.
"In Cyprus, in order to avoid misunderstandings, I immediately told our Orthodox counterparts that this is not a matter of proselytism or a new Uniatism. ... Uniatism is an historical phenomenon involving the Eastern Churches, while the Anglicans are from the Latin tradition. The Balamand Document of 1993 is still valid, according to which this is a phenomenon of the past that took place in unrepeatable circumstances. It is not a method for the present or the future. The Orthodox were mainly interested in understanding the nature of the personal ordinariates for the Anglicans, and I clarified that this is not a matter of a Church sui iuris, and therefore there will not be the head of a Church, but an ordinary with delegated powers."
In simpler terms: while a "Uniate" Church has its own structured hierarchy, with a patriarch and territorial dioceses, none of this will apply to the former Anglican "personal ordinariates", which will provide pastoral care for the faithful but without their own ecclesiastical territory, a little bit like the military ordinariates.