Page 3, 20th April 1935

20th April 1935
Page 3
Page 3, 20th April 1935 — THE CHRISTIANS OF PALESTINE Minority Among Jews and Mohammedans

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Locations: Antioch, Ankara, Jerusalem, Rome


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THE CHRISTIANS OF PALESTINE Minority Among Jews and Mohammedans


of the year onr kbe Holy Land, the material earth thougltts naturally turn to Palestine,

!trodden by those feet which nineteen hundred years ago "were nailed for Our advantage to the hitter cross." And we may vell wonder, after its

'turbulent and unhappy history, how the Church of Christ fares in ' that land 2o-day.

Five Christian Bodies

In Palestine and Syria, which should properly be regarded as one country, there are five distinctly organized bodies of Christian, each of them being an historical evolution from the original native local church of our Lord's land; three of these bodies are Catholic, two of them non-Catholic. Antioch very early displaced JernSalem as the Christian rentre of these parts, and it was not till 451 that the Holy City was made the centre of a small separate patriarchate. After the Council of Clialeednto, at which this was done, many Christians adhered tc the :Monophysite heresy, and thenceforward there Werc t WO CiltirCileS, of the orthodox Catholics and that of the heretical Jacobites, sn tolled after their leader, Jacoh al-llaradai. During the fifth-sixth centuries a third hotly appeared, the Maronites, wipe whatever they 1113y have twee at ono time, have been Catholic at least since the Crusades.

The Great Schism

At the 'great schism of the lost iii 1054 the orthodoK Catiii1i, under their Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, followed the Patriarch of Con• stantinople into separation from Rome, and so remain—the Orthodox Eastern Christians of the Levant (often but improperly called " Greeks").

Since the seventeenth century many foof these Orthodox Easterns have returned to Catholic. unity and now form a church of Catholics of the Byzantine eite, generally distinguished as Melkites (or, again inaccurately, as " Greek Catholics"). Finally, numbers of Jacobites have abandoned their hereey and 'returned to the Church during the last three centuries, and these are organized Acparatcly as the Catholic Syrians.

Many Rites and Customs

The native Christians of Syria then the Melkites, Maronites, and Syrians (who are all Catholic), the Orthodox, and the Jacobites, who are non-Catholic and not in communion with one another.

Each of the Catholic bodies has not Dilly its own hierarchy, but also its own liturgy and canon law. The Melkites use the Byzantine rite ill Arabic and Geet.eke th.C...E.YrIams ihealaya.lituuz.y.j,n old Syriac; and the t aron ites another form of that liturgy in the eame Ian e nage. Among the customs of the Melkites

and Syrians communion under hoth kinds and the ordainingof married men TO the priesthood. The schismatical Orthodox use the same liturgy as the Melkites, and the heretical Jacobites the. sante as the Cathrilic Syrians.

In Syria itself (which is over ball Mohammedan) there are some 360,000 Catholics, mostly of the above rites, with a number of Armenians and a few Latins, with their three patriarchs (all " of Antioch ") and other archhisleee and bishops.

In Palestine proper the situation \wry different, Among its roughlr 1,200,000 people, some 700,000 are

1)1 iam111e4 I an s, 300,000 J c w s, and 100,000 Christians of all sorts.

Of these, about 00,000 are Catholics. They include only a number of Melkites, with two bishops, and a fcw Syrians, Maronites and Armenians, who have no bishops but arc governed by vicars patriarchal; the majority of Catholics in Palestine itself arc therefore Latins, like ourselves. They are under an archbishop at Jerusalem who has the honorary title of patriarch (there is only one real Latin patriarch, and that is the Pope himself). But, though there have been Latin Catholics in the country at least since the time of St. Jerome (fourth century), and though there are Latin priests and layfolk who are natives, it must always be borne in mind that the Catholic orientals spoken of above represent the real native Catholic church of Palestine.

The Orthodox and the Holy Places

The biggest Christian burly in Palestine, somewhat exceeding the combined Catholics, is that of the Orthodox, who a-re all Palestinians, under the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem with a few prelates and monks, who are of Greek nationality. This is a matter of great


Continued from previous column disconteet to the native lower clergy and laity.

And though the Catholic Church undoubtedly has the most respect, prestige and influence in the Holy Land, the influence of the Orthodox Church is also very great and it is treated as the principal church of the country. The Turks used to encourage the Orthodox at the expense of the Catholics, because the Orthodox had their headquarters in the Turkish capital at Constantinople, while the Catholics were then practically all Latins and subjects of the European powers.

So it is that in the principal holy places to-day the churches of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre) and of the Assumption at Jerusalem. and of the Nativity at Bethlehem, the Orthodox still have the premier and some csclukiyc riahts..

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