Posted by: fvbcdm | June 26, 2017

Feast of Saint Josemaria Escriva (26 June 2017)

These days, we’re getting lots of news about our Holy Father’s trip to the Ukraine and all the religious and political flack that he is taking for it.  Here we find this wonderfully courageous and devoted man, so sick that he can hardly walk or even speak distinctly, going to an area where his enemies are very numerous because he believes that, by doing so, he can further the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and further the unity that Jesus prayed for during His life on earth.  I stand in immense admiration of this man, who God has given to us as our Supreme Shepherd on earth. I have no doubt that history will regard him as one of our greatest Popes.

Most people find it difficult to understand the various divisions of Christianity that are being talked about during Pope John Paul’s visit to the Ukraine.  Let’s see if we can clarify the situation a little bit. First of all, every person who belongs to a church in communion with Rome is a Catholic.  They accept the Pope as their spiritual leader, who takes the place of Christ.  Now the Catholic Church is divided into approximately 10-24 rites (depending on how you count them), of which the largest, by far, is what we call the Latin Rite.  We belong to the Latin Rite, as do nearly all the Catholics of Europe, North and South America, Australia, and most of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea and the two great oceans.  However, there are various other rites within the Catholic Church, most of them dating back to the ancient church and places like Syria, Lebanon, the Holy Land, Egypt, and even India.  They bear names like the Armenian, the Ruthenian, the Byzantine, the Maronite, the Melkite, the Assyrian, the Chaldean, the Coptic, the Ethiopic, and the Syro-Malabar Rite.  These people are just as much Catholic as we are.  We may attend their masses and receive their sacraments whenever we wish.

But, in the 11th Century, when the split between Rome and Constantinople took place, most of the Catholics of Greece and many of those in the Near and Middle East withdrew their loyalty to the Pope and began to claim that the Patriarch, that is, the Archbishop of Constantinople—which is now the city of Istanbul—was the true head of the Christian Church.  These people came to be known as the Orthodox, and their church split into a number of national churches.  Thus, we hear of the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox, etc.  The Orthodox are not Catholics.  They are not in communion with Rome; hence, we may not receive their Sacraments, except in danger of death, for they are true sacraments, even though the Orthodox Churches are in schism—that is to say split away from the Catholic Church.  It is this split that our Holy Father ardently wishes to heal.  This is principally why he is traveling in those parts of the world now.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

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