THE prospects for speedy reunion with the schismatic Churches of the East appear to be somewhat blighted by accusations made recently by prominent Uniates, accusations which will only serve to confirm the suspicion of Rome ingrained in the schismatic Churches.
This serious problem will be discussed in this country by members of the Society of St. John Chrysostom, which, as announced recently in the CATHOLIC HERALD, is being revived in London for the study of the liturgies and history of the Eastern Churches.
Archbishop Medawar, auxiliary to the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, has alleged that, despite the promises of the Popes, Latin rite Catholics are attempting to lower the status of the Uniate Churches, and that the new Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches is an attack on the dignity of the patriarchal system.
Eastern Christians in communion with Rome contend that their Patriarchs should continue to enjoy the eminent positions of prestige and jurisdiction that were theirs before the schism. Some patriarchates — notably Antioeh, Alexandria, and Jerusalem — go back to the time of the Apostles: thus the Melkites, who follow the Byzantine rite. point out that St. Peter was Bishop of Antioch before he went to Rome.
In the spring issue of Unitas, the international quarterly review edited in Rome by Fr. Charles Boyer, Si., Fr. C. Dumont, OP., makes this remarkable suggestion: "The forthcoming General Council might discuss the collegiate principle in the structure and government of the Church, aprinciple which has never been doetonally defined or effectively repudiated by the Catholic Church and which seems to us to be perfectly compatible with the primacy in theory and in fact of the Bishop of Rome.
"It is well known that the Vatican Council was suddenly cut short and had no time to deal with the proper powers of the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles."
A Melkite priest, Fr. P. I. Dick, is reported in the February issue of the Louvain monthly Reponse as saying to a meeting in Antwerp: "We [the Melkites] are suspected of trying to inject a new virus of Gallicanism into the body of the Church."
The trouble arose when the Holy See directly appointed the present Maronite Patriarch of Antioch. This action, it is alleged by both Uniates and schismatics, is a denial of the right of the Eastern Churches to make their own appointments to vacant sees.
The fact that the Pope appoints bishops to Latin sees ought not to be a precedent, they argue: he does this by virtue of his position as Patriarch of the Latin Church. Thus the Eastern Patriarchs should continue to exercise similar rights over their own prelates.
The new Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches caused considerable consternation in Egypt, where the Melkite Patriarch summoned a special synod of his bishops and theologians. It was averred that the Code had relegated Eastern Patriarchs to a position inferior "not only to the 72 Roman Cardinals, but to the 100 or so Apostolic Delegates, be they only priests, and even sometimes to simple bishops of the Latin rite."
Archbishop Medawar. auxiliary to the Melkite Patriarch, has alleged that the new Code of Canon Law enacts "that the oriental non-Catholic entering the
This picture, showing part of the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima at Fatima, was taken on May 13 during the celebrations honouring the 42nd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the three children. The occasion also marked the beginning of several days of celebration during which Portugal's national shrine of thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart, an immense statue standing on the Tagus opposite Lisbon, was inaugurated. On Sunday, church bells throughout Portugal and in Portuguese territories overseas pealed joyfully as the 91 ft. statue on a 266 ft. plinth was blessed in the presence of the President of Portugal and of many members of the Hierarchy. 6,000 pigeons were released from the monument and aircraft scattered flowers. The Pope in a special radio message, commended the Portuguese bishops for their resolve, when faced with imminent threat of war, to erect such a monument if
the nation be spared.
Catholic Church can choose what rite he prefers (or rather which is preferred for him)"; whereas the Popes have ever insisted that such converts must. on reception, follow the rite from which they came.
The upshot of the extraordinary synod held by the Melkite bishops in Egypt was that their complaints were forwarded to Rome towards the end of Pope Pius XII's reign. However, concerning the question of which rite converts should follow, Archbishop Medawar has since reported:
"Rome has explained that the new rule has been adopted at the demand of the American bishops and has given us to understand that it ought not to be applied to the East, which should remain regulated by the rule of Orientalium Dignitas [Pope Leo XIII's edict respecting the independence of Eastern rites]."
Immediately on his election, the prelent Pope turned his attention tr the problems of the Eastern '.lurches, and the Ecumenical Council he has called will try to smooth the way for reunion.