General and Introductory Materials
Part 7 Non-Roman Rites
(Rites other than "Roman" both Orthodox and Catholic)

Chapter 71  Introduction

Preliminary Questions


List of the Churches

The Eastern Eparchies of the United States

Guidelines on Eucharist
Between Chaldean and Assyrian Churches



Robert Taft:  Communion, not Union

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

Taft (and many others) would like to see:  "The immediate offer [by Rome] of reciprocal communion, with no strings attached, to any Orthodox Church that will accept it." (Op cit below, Taft, p 14) Do you think this is practical?  Do you think this is possible theologically?

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Pontificium Consilium Ad Christianorum Unitatem Fovendam. Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.  Vatican City, March 25th, 1993. [Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy,President. + Pierre Duprey Tit. Bishop of Thibar, Secretary].  Text available on the web at:

Parts IV and sections of Part V are printed in The Liturgy Documents, Volumn 2.  LTP Chicago.  With an introduction by Paul Turner. 

Eastern Catholics in the United States of America, Committee on the Relationship between Eastern and Latin Catholic Churches, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1999.  USCCB publcatication No. 5287.

Ronald Roberson, CSP.  The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey.  Edizioni "Orientalia Christiana", 1999.  ISBN 88-7210-321-5.  Roberson gives a brief description of approximately sixty Eastern Rite Churches and identifies their location, membership, and leadership.

The Gospel of the Day -- "al-Ingil al-Yawmi" -- is now available in Arabic, free by e-mail.  Jesuit Father Ronney el Gemayel, coordinator of the Arabic service, told ZENIT that, for technical reasons, the Arabic version is following the liturgical Gospel proposed in the calendar of the Latin-rite Church.  The service plans to offer other versions in Arabic, following the calendars of the Maronite, Chaldean, Melkite, Syrian and Coptic rites. Each of these Churches has its own cycle of biblical reading and its own liturgical version of the Bible in Arabic.  The Arabic service, like the other seven language versions, aims to offer other liturgical readings, reflections of Church Fathers, and a biography of the saint of the day.  The Gospel of the Day is available thanks to the collaboration of volunteers in the Holy Land, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the Netherlands. The editors are seeking Arabic-speaking Christians who would like to help with the digitalization of the texts. To visit or subscribe to the Gospel of the Day in Arabic, see, or send a message to  

Robert F. Taft S.J., "In Faith and Worship Can Orthodox and Catholics Ever Be One? Communion, not Reunion, in a Future Church of Sister Churches”. Worship, 89:1 (January 2015), pp 2- 20.

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List of the Churches

The Catholic Church is a communion of twenty three autonomous Churches:

The Latin Church and twenty two Eastern Catholic Churches all have Catholic in their name. These include:

Alexandrian tradition
    Coptic Orthodox Church
    Ethiopian Catholic Church
Antiochene Tradition
    (West Syrian)
        Maronite Church of Antioch
        Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
    (East Syrian)
        Caldean Catholic Church
        Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Armenian Tradition
    Armenian Catholic Church
Byzantine (Constantinople) Tradition
    Albanian Catholic Church
    Bulgarian Catholic Church
    Belourussian Catholic Church
    Croatian Catholic Church
    Greek Catholic ChurchGreek
    Melkite Catholic Church of Antioch Hungarian
    Catholic Church Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
    Macedonian Catholic Church
    Romanian Catholic Church
    Russian Catholic Church
    Ruthenian Catholic Church
    Slovak Catholic Church
    Ukrainian Catholic Church
    Chaldean or East Syrian Tradition Chaldean Catholic Church
    Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

The Non-Catholic Eastern Churches

Armenian Apostolic Church
Coptic Church of Alexandria
Ethiopian Church
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
Jacobite Church of Syria
Syro-Malabar Church

 Orthodox Churches

The Greek Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Constantinople
Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Orthodox Church of Antioch
Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
Orthodox Church of Cyprus
Russian Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Carlovitz
Orthodox Church of Czemagora
Church of Sinai
Orthodox Church of Hermannstadt
Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Czemovitz
Serbian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church
Polish Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Albania
Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia
Ukranian Orthodox Church
Finnish Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of Belarus
Orthodox Church of Montenegro
Japanese Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Chinese Orthodox Church
Estonian Orthodox Church
Latvian Orthodox Church
Lithuanian Orthodox Church.

In the book Comparative Sacramental Discipline in the CCEO and CIC (edited by Francis J. Marini; published by CLSA) there is an excellent list on pages 256-257.

In a footnote on page 256 it says, "Some authors hold that there are twenty-two Eastern Churches sui iuris. The official number is twenty-one because the Georgian Catholics of the Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) Rite do not possess their own hierarchy, one of the canonical requirements of a Church sui iuris. See CCEO, c. 27."

The Eastern Chrches know that they are called, in the words of St. Peter, "to become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). The theological term for this vocation is "Theosis," literally "becoming God," which is become familiar to Western theologians.  For Eastern Catholics salvation is primarily an invitation into the inner life of God. For Western Catholics salvation is primarily liberation from sin.

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The Eastern Eparchies of the United States

This information is accurate as of June 1, 2002.  The Cities indicate the location of the eparchies' U.S. headquarters.   (As Roman Catholics speak of "diocese" Eastern Catholics speak of "eparchy.") 

Eparchies of Near Eastern Origin

Armenian -- New York, NY
Chaldean -- Southfield, MI, Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle  Headed by (2003) Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  [NCR January 24, 2003, p 13. "Vatican Radio said Christians in Iraq number about 670,000 or about 3 percent of the population, and a large majority of them are Catholic.  The Chaldean Catholic Church is one of the seven (?) non-Latin traditions in communion with Rome, While most of its members live in Iraq, approximately 160,000 nor live in the United States.  Of that number about 100,000 live in the Detroit area."]

On December 4, 2003 the synod of the 22 bishops of the Chaldean Church elected Emmanuel III Delly their new patriarch. (Raphael I Bidawid, died July 7) The new patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, whose see is in Baghdad, was born Emmanuel Karim in Iraq, in the town of Telkaif, on Oct. 6, 1927. Until now, he was archbishop of Kaskar of the Chaldeans. Chaldean Catholics constitute about 70% of the 800,000 Christians in Iraq. Baghdad has the largest Chaldean community, more than 350,000 faithful. The official language in the Chaldean liturgy is Aramaic, the tongue spoken by Jesus. Its liturgy also uses Arabic. Chaldean communities also reside in America, Europe and Oceania. (Condensed from an announcement on Zenit, ZE03120402)

Maronite -- Brooklyn, NY, Eparchy of St. Maron; and Los Angeles, CA, Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Melkite -- Newton, MA
Syriac -- Union City, NJ, Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance

Arch/Eparchies of Central and East European Origin

Romanian -- Canton, OH
Ruthenian -- Pittsburg, PA and Phoenix, AZ
Ukrainian -- Philadelphia, PA, Parma, OH, Chicago, IL and Stamford, CT

Eparchy of South Indian Origin

Syro-Malabar -- Chicago, IL, Eparchy of St. Thomas  [The Knanaya Catholics are subject to the Syro-Malabar Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Thomas in Chicago. When the Apostolic Visitator met with Cardinal Bernardin and me in 1996, it was clear that the Holy See considered the Knanaya community to be members of the Syro-Malabar Church and when the Syro-Malabar eparchy would be created for North America, that the Knanayans would be part of that eparchy, but would not receive their own separate and distinct hierarchy for North America.  The issue, of course, is endogamy, which prohibits marriage outside the community. People who marry outside the community are considered outcasts and are no longer welcome in the community.]

Syro-Malankar -- Syro-Malankars in India which on February 8, 2007 elected His Beatitude Issac Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum, to be the chief leader and shepherd of the Malankar community. The Syro-Malankar community was established in 1932.

Summary 2005  At the Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 11, 2005, Byzantine Archbishop Basil Schott, O.F.M of Pittsburg reported: 

There exists in the United States 17 eparchies of the Byzantine, Antiochian, Chaldean and Armenian traditions:  four of the Byzantine Ruthenian, four of the Byzantine Ukrainian, one of the Byzantine Melkite, one of Byzantine Romanian, two of the Maronite, two of the Chaldean, one of the Syrian, one of the Syro-Malabar, one of the Armenian, each with their own hierarchy and eparchial structures.  There are also faithful and priests of the Syro-Malankar, Ethiopian and Coptic Catholic churches without their own hierarchy.  There also exist eparchies of our brothers of the Orthodox churches of the same traditions. 

This is a unique ecclesial situation in the world, and it has its blessings.  This allows us the fertile ground for a unique ecumenical dialogue both formally and informally with our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox churches.  Practically speaking, we often pray together, even attending the eucharistic celebration of each other.  However, the pain remains of not being able to partake of the eucharist in these celebrations. 

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Guidelines on Eucharist
Between Chaldean and Assyrian Churches

July 20, 2001

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2001 Chaldean and Assyrian Churches Sign Pact on Eucharist. Access to Communion Approved in Special Cases. (Text taken from

The Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East have taken a decisive step toward East-West unity by offering access to the Eucharist to each other's faithful in special instances. An agreement published Thursday by the Vatican Press Office states that, when "necessity requires, Assyrian faithful are permitted to participate and to receive Holy Communion in a Chaldean celebration of the Holy Eucharist."  The text was prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

The guidelines permitting this change were signed July 20, but the Vatican has only now made them public, thus accepting the proposals of Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East, and Patriarch Mar Raphaël Bidawid of the Chaldean Church. The Chaldean patriarch is attending the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

The guidelines constitute notable progress in ecumenical relations. However, as the document indicates, the measure "is not equal to full Eucharistic communion," although it spells real progress "toward that blessed day when it will be possible to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in peace."

This is a special decision from the pastoral point of view, as the faithful of these Churches often live in minority situations, and sometimes have great difficulty in gaining access to the Eucharist.  The majority of these faithful live in Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Assyrian Christians number about 400,000. They are in Iraq, the Mideast, Northern Europe, the United States and Australia.

The Chaldeans number 800,000 and they live primarily in Iraq. Both communities suffer from great poverty. The Vatican note explains that for many it is difficult to have a "normal sacramental life," hence the importance of this decision.

The Assyrian Church of the East isolated itself from the rest of Christianity after the Council of Ephesus in 431, which condemned the heresy of Patriarch Nestorius, who suggested that there were two persons (one divine, one human) in Jesus Christ.   In 1552, following a series of individual conversions of bishops, part of this Church re-established communion with Rome, giving birth to the Chaldean Church. Its see is in Baghdad.  Both the Chaldean and Assyrian Churches have continued to share the same theological, liturgical and spiritual tradition. A joint Christological declaration, signed by Mar Dinkha IV and John Paul II in Rome in 1994, eliminated the error of attributing monophysitism to the Assyrians, thus overcoming the cause of the schism.

Summary by John F. Baldovin, S.J. Weston Jesuit School of Theology:   summarizes the issue in this way: "The Pope has decided that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (which does not contain the institution narrative as such) can be considered valid since it virtually contains an institution narrative. This means that "in principle" at least the words "This is my body...." do not absolutely have to be considered the only possible "formula of consecration." I am not advocating dropping the institution narrative so much as pointing out a profound theological implication of this landmark decision."  (Baldovin, Worship)

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The term "Greek Orthodox" in the Middle East means a member of a Christian body in communion with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the Middle East there are distinct Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria of Egypt. There is also the autonomous Greek Orthodox Church of the Sinai Peninsula.

These are the Byzantine-rite Churches that profess the Nicene-Caledonian faith, but are not currently in communion with the See of Rome.

Confusingly, the Arabic for "Greek Orthodox" is precisely "Roman Orthodox" (Rum Orthodox), in consideration of Constantinople's ancient claim to be the new, second, Rome.

The Catholic "counterpart" are the Greek-Melchite-Catholics headed by the Greek-Melchite-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. Confusingly again, the Byzantine-rite Greek Catholics are called in Arabic precisely 'Roman Catholics" (Rum Catholiques).

The Syrian Orthodox Church is quite different. This refers to the heirs of the Jacobites, a non-, or pre-Chalcedonian Church - which in pre-ecumenical times we used to call Monophysites. Its rite is West Syrian, essentially like that of the Maronites. The Catholic counterpart is the Syrian Catholic (not Greek Catholic) Church, whose former Patriarch is now, incidentally, one of the major officials of the Roman Curia, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

The Syrian Orthodox Church is one of the several Churches that used to be called Monosphysite, on account of their non-reception of the Council of Chalcedon, the others being the Armenian Orthodox (or Apostolic,), the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox. The Nestorians of Assyrian form s a Church is by itself, since, at least originally, it did not even accept Ephesus I. In ecumenical language they are often called in the aggregate the Ancient Oriental Churches.

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On January 19, 2005 Pope John Paul II blessed a statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator which now stands in one of the exterior niches of St. Peter's Basilica.  It is the first time that a statue of an Eastern-rite saint -- in this case, the apostle of Armenia -- has been placed among the founding saints that surround the exterior of St. Peter's.  The ceremony was attended by Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX of Cilicia of the Armenians, whose see is in Lebanon.  Nerses Bedros XIX leads approximately 10% of the Armenian Christians who are in communion with Rome.  Some 90% of Armenian Christians obey the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate, which separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451.  A key step was taken in 1996 to overcome this division, when John Paul II and then Patriarch Karekin I signed a joint declaration that resolved misunderstandings on the nature of Jesus.  With this gesture, the Pope wished to culminate the celebrations for the 1,700th anniversary of the Armenian people's conversion to the Christian faith. According to Armenian tradition, Gregory, who was born around 250-252, miraculously cured Armenian King Tiridates III, who converted to Christianity in 301 together with all his court, making Armenia the first Christian nation.  [Adapted from Zenit ZE05011923]

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Rites Should Not Cause Divisions, Pope Tells Bishops of India Concluding Their 'Ad Limina' Visit

VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2003 "Authentic evangelization is sensitive to local culture and customs," John Paul II said when receiving the Catholic bishops of India.

The Indian bishops met the Holy Father before concluding their 'ad limina' visit to Rome in two separate gatherings, one for the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Churches, the other for the Syro-Malankara Churches. Their origins, according to tradition go back 1950 years, when they received the Gospel from the lips of the Apostle, St. Thomas.

The Holy Father stressed, particularly to the Eastern rite Catholics who have an extraordinary cultural richness, that differences in rituals should not be the cause of divisions within the Church.

Christians of the Syro-Malabar Church, belonging to the Chaldean ritual tradition, have Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil as their pastor. This Church numbers over 3.5 million faithful. In 1992, John Paul II recognized it as an "autonomous Church" in full communion with Rome.

The great vitality and growth of the Syro-Malabar Church is reflected especially in the great number of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Close to 70% of the 120,000 vocations in India -- whose Catholic population numbers 15 million -- come from this Church.

The Syro-Malankara Church belongs to the Antiochian ritual tradition, and has as its pastor, Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios of Trivandrum who is also president of the episcopal conference of India.

This Church of 400,000 faithful, 4 dioceses, 7 Bishops, and 4 religious Congregations, recovered full communion with Rome in 1930, at the time of Pius XI.

"Evangelization lies at the heart of the Christian faith. India, blessed with so many different cultures, is a land in which the people yearn for God; this makes your distinctly Indian liturgy an excellent way of evangelization," the Pope said.

"Authentic evangelization is sensitive to local culture and custom, always respecting the 'inalienable right' of each and every person to religious freedom," he added.

"Here the principle remains valid: 'The Church proposes, she imposes nothing' (Redemptoris Missio, 39)." This "openness, however, can never diminish the obligation to proclaim Jesus Christ as 'the Way, and the Truth, and the Life' (John 14:6). For the Incarnation of the Lord enriches all human values, enabling them to bear new and better fruit," he said.

In this connection, the Pope made several recommendations to Eastern rite Catholics.

Addressing the Syro-Malabar bishops, John Paul II urged them to keep the Eucharist as "the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history, in particular, "against unwarranted experimentation by individual priests which violate the integrity of the liturgy itself and can also cause great harm to the faithful."

The Holy Father also invited them to renew their "ritual patrimony," but emphasized the "urgent need to overcome the fears and misunderstandings which appear at times between the Eastern Churches and the Latin Church."

When addressing the bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church, the Holy Father said: "At a moment of growing secularism and, at times, of blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life, bishops are called to remind the people by their preaching and teaching of the need for an ever deeper reflection on moral and social issues."

"All Christians are obliged to participate in this prophetic mission by taking a firm stand against the current crisis of values and by constantly reminding others of the universal truths which must be manifest in daily living," the Pope concluded. (ZE03051306)

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Robert Taft:  Communion, not Union

What follows are a few "points for class discussion" taken from an article by Robert F. Taft S.J., "In Faith and Worship Can Orthodox and Catholics Ever Be One? Communion, not Reunion, in a Future Church of Sister Churches”. Worship, 89:1 (January 2015), pp 2- 20.

An important starting point:  "The ancient apostolic Christianity of the East continues to exist without interruption in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. This Christianity is as old, venerable, apostolic, and complete in the East as is the Catholic Church in the West. Later divisions, for which both West and East bear responsibility, have disrupted that pristine unity."  (Taft, p 3)   "The Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches are ancient Churches tracing their roots, like those of the Roman communion, to apostolic Christianity and are recognized by Rome as possessing the full panoply of what makes them merit the title “Church” as Catholics understand it: a valid apostolic episcopate and priesthood ensuring their apostolic heritage of valid baptism, Eucharist, and other sacraments and means of salvation needed to sanctify their flocks. ...  Note that this new “Sister Churches” designation represents a startling revolution in how the Catholic Church Views itself: we Catholics are no longer the only one, whole, true Church of Christ, but one Sister Church among others. Previously, the Catholic Church saw itself as the only one, true Church of Christ from which all other Christians had separated for one reason or another in the course of history and held, simplistically, that the solution to divided Christendom consisted in all other Christians returning to Rome's maternal bosom where they belonged." (Taft, p 5)    

We have come to see that doctrinal problems can be resolved by asking the right questions.” (Taft, p 7)

What can be done to foster Communion?  Taft suggests:  "To foster communion with Orthodox East, the Catholic Church should have the courage to moderate ad extra its overly centralized government both in the way in which it is exercised and in the theology by which it is justified." (Taft, p 7)  "My own view is that Catholic papal authority as it is currently exercised, and as some Catholics would propound it as an authority without limits, is not necessitated, mandated, or justified by the New Testament teaching on the church and on Peter. The only absolute and unlimited authority in God's church is God's. So the possession of legitimate Petrine authority, which I in no way challenge, does not automatically justify its every exercise." (Taft, p 8)

"Furthermore, papal authority as conceived and exercised today is totally extraneous not only to the Orthodox tradition but also to the collegial ecclesiology of Vatican II, which says that the pope governs the church not alone but together with the college of bishops. Today's version of papal authority will never be accepted by the Orthodox, nor do I see any convincing theological or historical reason why, in its current shape and exercise, it should be. (Taft, p 8-9)

Taft (and many others) would like to see:  "The immediate offer of reciprocal communion, with no strings attached, to any Orthodox Church that will accept it." (Taft, p 14)

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To Think About

"A conversion is required of the Latin Church, that she may respect and fully appreciate the dignity of Eastern Christians, and accept gratefully the spiritual treasures of which the Eastern Catholic Churches are the bearers, to the benefit of the entire catholic communion,"  (Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter Orientale Lumen, no. 21)

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