ASIA/LEBANON - The Melkite Greek-Catholic Church prepares the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the re-establishment of full union with the Church of Rome

Monday, 26 June 2023 middle east   oriental churches   ecumenicalism   orthodoxy

Rabouè (Agenzia Fides) - The celebrations for the three hundredth anniversary of the re-establishment of full communion of the Melkite Church with the Church of Rome will begin in Damascus on November 11, with a solemn liturgy presided by Patriarch Youssef Absi in the patriarchal Cathedral Our Lady of the Dormition. The news was released at the end of the Synod of Melkite Bishops which was held in Raboueh (Lebanon) from June 19 to 24. The program of celebrations - we read in the statement issued at the end of the days of synodal work - will have the general title "The Melkite Greek-Catholic Church: the ecumenical journey 1724-2024", and will include liturgical celebrations, study conferences, publications and insights on historical, theological and ecumenical nature, as well as exhibitions on the spiritual and artistic heritage preserved by the Melkite communities in the Middle East". The Melkite Greek-Catholic Church was born in 1724 on the initiative of Seraphim Tanas, elected Patriarch of Antioch in that year under the name of Kyrillos VI. This election was contested by the Patriarch of Constantinople, who excommunicated Seraphim Tanas and imposed another Patriarch, Sivestro of Aleppo, on the seat of Antioch. Kyrillos then had to flee to Lebanon to avoid being arrested by the Sultan's guards. It was not until July 8, 1729 that the Holy See, in a decree published by Propaganda Fide, approved the "valid and free" election of Kyrillos VI, who thus became the first Patriarch of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church. The Melkites follow the Byzantine rite codified and systematized by Saint John Chrysostom, and use Arabic as a liturgical language, alongside Greek. The Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarchate extends its jurisdiction to all Catholics of the Byzantine rite residing in the territory of the ancient patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria in Egypt, as well as the communities born in the diaspora. About 1.7 million baptized Catholics belong to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 26/6/2023)