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Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches

Well. The ordinary Catholic in Western Europe or the Americas is unaware of the existence of the Eastern or Uniate Churches, which WAIS has discussed as part of its global mission. At 2:30 a.m. I turned on EWTN, which broadcasts Catholic propaganda (de propaganda fide) and stumbled across the first in a series of programs entitled "The Light of the East", devoted to telling Americans about the Eastern Churches. There was a map of the Middle East, indicating that the series was about the churches there, not about the Uniate churches in the Slavic world. The two fathers presenting the program clearly did not plan an erudite account of the historical origins of these churches, but rather their promotion as rooted in the Holy Land. They also promised to talk about the Eastern Churches in the US, about which we normally hear nothing. It sounds as though, faced with the scandals resulting from clerical celibacy, there is a move to promote the Eastern rites which permit the marriage of the clergy. The two fathers talked about the rich and varied traditions of the Catholic Church. To simply abolish clerical celibacy would seem like a rebellious move toward Protestantism. However, individual churches could say they were simply adopting the Eastern rite within the Catholic Church and going back to early Christianity. What is going on? In this just a US phenomenon? Does the Pope know and approve? Can an expert on canon law tell us what obstacles such a switch would encounter?

Ronald Hilton - 7/15/02