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Finding it, and passing it on to you.




EDITOR:
Steve Van Nattan

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THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES
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Blessed Quietness Journal, Editor:  Steve Van Nattan--  

My wife and I were missionaries in Ethiopia, and we became very conscious of the Orthodox community of churches.  We have ministered also to Greek saints who fled from the Orthodox darkness.  Also, the Armenian Church has contributed to the chaos in the Charismatic Movement in the person of Demos Shakarian, who I KNOW never made a break from the icon worshipping Armenian Orthodox Church.

The following is the work of Orthodox Church authors.  I am giving it "as is" since I have cut and pasted it into this page.  It would be unethical to edit it.  So, please DO NOT get the notion that I in any way approve of this system.  Indeed, the Orthodox Churches have only ONE redeeming quality-- They let their priests marry, so their priests are not nearly as involved in fornication and molestation as the Roman Catholic priests.  Otherwise, Orthodoxy is very dark.

To give you an example of the darkness of Orthodoxy, it is well known in Ethiopia that the Orthodox priests are the masters of poisoning people.  They are said to have a poison which they can slip into your gravy dish, and in about 4 to 6 months, you will be sitting against the wall drooling on yourself-- your mind totally gone.

  Though this is icon oriented, please note the more realistic imagry. This is because the artists were not Italian sodomites--  
They were Arabs--  Semites like Jesus and Mary.  

The level of paganism in the Orthodox churches is not nearly as bold as in Vatican City.  
It is sad that these dear folks cannot lay aside their trust in creeds and icons and walk, rather, sola fide.

 

THE ONE CHURCH AND THE COMMUNION OF CHURCHES

The Eastern Catholic Pastoral Association of Southern California

February, 1995

INTRODUCTION

This booklet, intended to give a basic synthesis of the history and development of the churches in communion with the Church of Rome and with one another, lists those churches of Apostolic origin which manifest the same oneness characteristic of the Apostolic Church by virtue of their common bond with the Successor of Peter. It is hoped that through this outline the reader will be able to view the splendor of the One Church shining forth through its multifaceted expressions within the communion of churches.

 

HISTORY

General Overview

The Concept of "Church" and the Origins of the Church

The Church has many names: The Bride of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, etc. All Christians have an experience of what a church is and many have studied its great effect on human history for almost 2000 years. Yet, when we consider the grand history of creation from beginning to end, there is a deeper historical meaning to the concept of "church". The fathers of the Church taught that it is very ancient; it is the first of all things created and the reason for which God created the universe! The Church exists wherever Truth exists. It is the part of creation which will endure to the end and which will become glorified.

In the human history the church becomes more and more manifest until its final revelation in Jesus Christ. Beginning with Adam and Eve before the fall, we see the image of a harmonious church-family under God, namely, a "paradise". Adam and Eve were close to God and could talk to him like members of a family. (This family-bond/contract is called a convenant.) When they sinned they broke the unique convenant God made with them; it seemed then that God's plans for his church-family to include the human race would be destroyed. But God cannot be defeated by sin. Although our first parents and their children after them fell into sin, God had a plan to bring all peoples and nations back to him.

At the time of Noah, God was able to find one faithful family; Noah, his wife, their sons and their wives. And although God formed a covenant with them, some of them broke it. God later formed a covenant with Abraham, renewing it with Isaac and Jacob; this covenant made them into a family of God. Through them the family of God became a tribe which became 12 tribes with Jacob's (Israel's) 12 sons, many of whom were unfaithful.

Nevertheless, under Moses, the covenant agreement of the Law formed at Sinai expanded the family of God into a nation, and it was under Kind David that the covenant became a Kingdom. Somehow each successive covenant expended to include more and more people as God's plan to redeem all of mankind matured. Yet these types of convenants were often broken because they depended on weak human beings. Finally, through the long awaited Messiah (christos in Greek), a completely new covenant was established; it was the last covenant and formed the Church gathered from among the nations--the church catholic!

The word "Catholic" was used since at least the year 110 AD to designate that church which is spread out all over the world and is for all people versus the church of the one nation (Israel) or a purely national organization. The word Catholic is from the Greek Catholikos, meaning universal. This new covenant cannot be undone because it is based in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lives forever. All who wish to enter into this new covenant, which is the family of God, must be united to Jesus Christ. The collective body in union with Christ is called the Church which also includes the angels and the faithful departed who have gone before us. The mission of the Church is to baptize all nations into Christ. Jesus commanded his disciples,"...go,therefore, make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)

 

The Development of the Apostolic Church

After Pentecost, the Apostles received great power [Acts 2] impelling them to evangelize not only the tribes of Israel but all peoples. Leaving Jerusalem, many went out into various regions of the world. Since they were Jews, the liturgical form they used followed the custom of the Temple and the synagogues: they gathered, sang psalms, said prayers, had Scripture readings and a homily. They also carried out the commandment Christ gave them at the last supper, forming a uniquely Christian way of worship through the breaking of the bread, namely, the Eucharist.

 

The Metropolitan Centers

Although the Apostles along with other evangelists and their successors went to many places, the areas which absorbed Christianity most readily were the cities. The metropolitan areas especially gained many Christians and became strong centers of Christianity which influenced the surrounding areas. In the first two centuries the major metropolitan centers were Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. Jerusalem too began as an influential Christian center, but in 70 AD the city was completely demolished along with the Temple by the Romans during the Jewish war.

After it was rebuilt, it was again completely destroyed in the early second century following another Jewish war. After it was rebuilt, it was again completely destroyed in the early second century following another Jewish uprising. It never recovered as a strong center even; until today. So for about the first 250 years there were three main centers: Antioch, Alexandria and Rome; then later, a fourth, Constantinople.

The church of the apostles spread and developed unique flavors characteristic of the metropolitan areas. In this fashion various liturgical traditions called "Rites" developed according to language, culture and outlook of the people of the different areas of the world. Although all shared a common faith, each metropolitan church developed its own way of expressing that faith. Cities and towns surrounding these metropolises were heavily influenced by them and, in fact, had to receive approval from them for the ordination of their bishops. The metropolises were magnets strongly influencing everything around them including church practice and civil politics. The bishop of these centers was called a "Patriarch" (a venerable way of saying "Father") or "Pope" (a more intimate way of saying "Father).

 

Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople & Others, 30-330 AD

It was in Antioch that the word "Christian" was first used (as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 11:26) and where both Peter and Paul preached; the former generally recognized to be the first Bishop of Antioch. And, it was St. Ignatius (martyred in 110 AD), Bishop of Antioch and disciple of the Apostle John whose use of the word "Catholic" first appears in extant manuscripts. Antioch was heavily Hellenized and its people spoke mostly Greek, but was also a cross-roads for the Semitic and Greek cultures. Many, especially with ties to the countryside, spoke Syriac (Aramaic) which was the language of Jesus; these people had more of a cultural affinity with Edessa (in present day Syria) which became an influential Christian Center almost immediately from the second century on.

From Antioch and Edessa, the gospel reached Persia (present day Iraq and Iran) whose most important area there was the city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. According to tradition this area along with India was evangelized by St. Thomas the Apostle. Later on, Christianity reached China where it began to thrive for several hundred years but could not take root and therefore died out because of persecutions.

Alexandria, according to tradition, was evangelized by a disciple of St. Peter, St. Mark the Evangelist who wrote a Gospel. It quickly became a strong Christian center and took the faith into Ethiopia, an area already acquainted with Judaism and which had received the gospel since the time Philip spoke with the Ethiopian eunuch, (a court official of the queen, see Acts 8:26-39). From there the gospel later spread into Nubia, but Christianity in this area died out during the Middle Ages because of Islamic persecutions.

Rome was the final evangelical mission of Peter. It is the Tradition of the church that Peter became the first bishop there and that both he and Paul were martyred in that city. The Bishops of Rome henceforth had the distinguished honor of being the successors of Peter, the head of the apostles (Mt. 16:16-19, Acts 15:7), and were therefore recognized as having primacy. That, and the fact that Rome was the center of the Roman Empire caused the church there to have a prestigious place among all other churches.

From the first century Christianity reached other areas, including Asia Minor where St. Paul preached and sent several epistles which have become part of Scripture. It is the area of the "seven churches" mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Tradition has it that the apostle Bartholomew evangelized the area of Armenia which became the first region in the world to adopt Christianity as the official state religion in 303 AD.

The small city of Byzantium already had a minor bishopric at the time of its re-founding by the Emperor Constantine in 330 AD, and became the new capital of the Empire. He named this new capital "Constantinople" and hailed it as the "New Rome". The church of Constantinople instantly attained patriarchal status and gained such honors in rank second only to Rome. Its influence became great, spreading throughout much of the Greek-speaking Eastern Empire, especially into new evangelical frontiers both north and east. Henceforth, political friction between the four metropolitan areas would increasingly trouble the church. At times political disputes erupted into the theological sphere causing myopia and needless misunderstandings which began to cause bitter divisions.

 

Early Heresies & Councils

Heresies in the church are as old as day one. St. Paul had to contend with the Judaizers who were a group of Jews having become Christian and who insisted that all Christians must hold onto the Law given to Moses (see Galatians). The Apostles and other bishops put an end to the controversy by the decision they reached at the Council held at Jerusalem (Acts 15).

The early church had to deal with the Gnostics who denied that Jesus had a human body. They grew in number and threatened the orthodoxy (true faith) of the church. John the Apostle contending with them, wrote, "Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, while every spirit that fails to acknowledge him does not belong to God. Such is the spirit of the antichrist..."(1 John 4:3). This group grew larger after the death of the apostles and took on various forms. They were especially dangerous since they denied the humanity of Jesus, and the goodness of the material creation, while creating their own scripture. And with different varieties of beliefs to suit every ear, these sects died out after a few hundred years.

The greatest heresy, the Arian Heresy, took its name from Arius (a priest in Egypt) who said that the Son of God was created as the first of all creatures and was not eternally begotten. This teaching caused great uproar, especially since Arius had some bishops as sympathizers, and it caused great divisions among Christians all over the world. As a result, a great council was held at Nicea in 325 AD. It was a great gathering of all the bishops of the world or their representatives. Like the council of Jerusalem which the apostles and other leaders had (Acts 15), this council held with the belief that the Holy Spirit would guide them to all truth as Jesus said (John 16:13).

The council of Nicea proclaimed the ancient faith of the Apostles, which is still proclaimed at the Liturgy every Sunday in "We believe in One God...and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, eternally begotten, not made, one in being with the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God..." Those who did not accept the decrees of the council were excommunicated, thus becoming heretics. The Arians spread their heresy far and wide, and it lasted hundreds of years until it finally died out in the Middle Ages.

 

Divisions Which Still Remain Today

Because of various political tensions and theological misunderstandings, divisions which began in the fifth century are still with us today.

When Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, said in a homily on Christmas day that we ought not call Mary the Mother of God, an uproar ensued. This led to a General, Church-wide council at Ephesus, a traditional site of the Dormition of Our Lady. The controversy was serious because failing to call Mary the God-bearer implied a dichotomy in the identity of Jesus. The Council proclaimed that Mary is the Theotokos (Bearer of God) thereby affirming the ancient belief in Christ as a single person. Although Nestorius recanted, a segment of the East Syrian Churches still did not agree with the Council and were subsequently excommunicated. These took refuge in the Persian Empire, the long time Arch Enemy of the Roman Empire. From there the Nestorian form of Christianity spread further east. Today, however, it is generally agreed that divisions were more of a result of political tensions and lack of clear communication across two distinct world views.

In 451 AD the Council of Chalcedon was held to resolve another great controversy which began in Egypt over the identity of Christ. Eutiches, an Egyptian monk, taught that Christ had one nature. (The "nature of a thing answers the question "What is that?"; while "person" answers the question "Who is that?"). The terms "nature" and "person" were not at all clear at that time. These terms, which today we take for granted, were developed as a result of Christological reflections. The council taught that Christ is one person possessing two natures: divine and human united together but distinct. (Example - Who is that? That is Jesus. What is that? That is a human being and a Divine being.)

Three sections of the Church were separated when they did not accept the council of Chalcedon and were referred to as Monophysite (One nature). These include the majority of the Egyptian (Coptic) Church, the majority of the Armenian church, and parts of the Syrian church. These followed the Patriarch (Pope) of Alexandria. Today, however, it is largely agreed that the division is a matter of semantics and does not touch on the essence of faith. These churches agree that Christ is both divine and human, although they use the term "special nature" to express the union of the two. Growing political friction at the time, especially between

Constantinople and Alexandria, fueled the controversy. Unfortunately, Christians fought with great resentment over this issue and even resorted to military tactics. This led to the lightning sweep of Islam in the 7th century throughout the divided Christian territories with no military resistance from Alexandria, the second most powerful military fortress in the world. With the help of Constantinople, Alexandria could not have been conquered. This Islamic dominance caused the Christian controversies to "freeze in place" and the great influence of the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch on the rest of the Church outside their realm waned.

Lastly, the Great Schism between East and West took place in 1054 when the great majority of the Eastern churches became separated from the West. The rivalry was between the Church of Rome (which holds the primacy) and the Church of Constantinople, the "New Rome". Since the fifth century, the Western Empire was in anarchy and under constant invasions from various northern tribes. Rome had declined in prestige and political influence. But Constantinople held out, even against the greater blunts of the Islamic invasions, while also holding out against the attacks of the northern tribes. Because of the complex political climate, tensions built to a breaking point between Rome and Constantinople until both sides divided in 1054, at which time the controversies remained hierarchical; the common peoples did not really consider any serious differences until the sacking of Constantinople by the Latin crusade in 1204. Henceforth, the divisions that could have been healed with a little resolve became very bitter and still remain with us today.

 

 

 

CHURCHES IN COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH OF ROME

Complicated are the historical circumstances which led each particular church to either continue communion with Rome, or to separate, only to later reunite, at least in part. These historical circumstances involve centuries of shifting relationships of churches with one another, intricately interwoven and influenced by linguistic, political, economic and cultural variations. Here, the history of each of the 23 churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome will be dealt with briefly.

 

The Roman Tradition

Latin Church - Today, the Latin church is the largest by far of all other churches combined. It has a long history which spans the greater part of the globe. Until the second Vatican Council the liturgical language was Latin, which was the language of the Western Roman Empire at the time of the growth of the church. When the Northern tribes invaded and settled over the course of several hundred years they adapted the Latin alphabet as the written script for their own tongues, but the language of education remained Latin for centuries. Over the course of the centuries, these tribes mixed with the indigenous local peoples and were converted to Christianity. They comprised the modern nations of Europe.

The history of the Latin Church is the history of Western Europe. It should also be noted that when the Americas were discovered the indigenous peoples eventually converted and today comprise a large part of the Latin Church. Worthy of mention in our discussion are the series of tragic divisions of the 16th century, primarily the Lutheran, Calvin and English (Anglican) separations. Since then, hundreds of denominations have developed. The proliferation of non-apostolic churches that we see today are a natural consequence of the original breaks of the 16th century. They are unhealed wounds in Western Christianity.

The Bishop of Rome is the successor of St. Peter, and as such, is not only the Patriarch of the Latin Church, but is also the Pope of the entire Church.

The world population of the Roman Catholic Church is about 900 million.

 

 

Several other liturgical rites are celebrated in the Roman Tradition. Unlike other Eastern Catholic Churches, the following selections of Western Liturgical rites are not self-governing churches:

Ambrosian: Celebrated (at times) in the Archdiocese of Milan and surrounding areas. A few years ago it was restored to its original form.

Mozarabic: Celebrated through the eleventh century in the Iberian Peninsula. This Liturgical rite has Moorish influence. It was suppressed (at times) and became nearly extinct, confined to occasional celebrations in the Cathedral of Toledo and nine churches. In 1993 its use was restored to all regions of Spain and wherever its celebration is desired. Many Hispanic customs for weddings, baptisms and Holy Week are derived from this rite and its derivative, the Braga Rite of Portugal.

Gallican (Rite of Lyon): This rite developed as one of those Gallican group of rites which were practiced from about the 5th century in Gaul. It has strong Eastern influence. Ireland too is known to have had a form of this Gallican Liturgy mixed with Celtic customs. Today this rite is still in use in the Archdiocese of Lyon, France.

 

The Alexandrian Tradition

Coptic Church - The Moslem Arab invaders referred to the indigenous peoples of Egypt as Gypt (Copt) from the Greek word Egyptos meaning Egyptian. Copts take pride in the ancient tradition that Mark the Evangelist founded the See (seat) of Alexandria, and take even more pride in that Egypt is part of the Holy Land since it was the country of refuge for the Holy Family. The church of Egypt also gave monasticism to the world in the 4th & 5th centuries (everyone knows about St. Anthony the Great). The Coptic Church was also one of the great theological centers of the world. Missionary activity from the Coptic Church spread in all directions and was particularly successful southward, reaching deep into Nubia before the Islamic domination in the late 7th century.

Alexandria provided grain for Constantinople, which had grown in dominance over Alexandria. Both cities had cultural and language differences and arguments over trade. Egypt, after all, was once an empire itself. Now it was subservient to Constantinople. The Hellenization of the Coptic Liturgy was resisted for the most part, and the Coptic language (a mixture of the old Egyptian and Greek) and way of worship prevailed. The greater part of the Coptic Church divided from the rest of the church in 451 after the Council of Chalcedon; those who accepted the Council faded away during the long period of Islamic domination. In 1442 at the Council of Florence an agreement of unity was reached but did not materialize in practice. Around the middle part of the 18th century, Franciscan and Jesuit influences resulted in a small number of converts. In the 19th century a Coptic Catholic Patriarchate was established. Today the Coptic Catholic population consists of about 2.5% of the overall Coptic population of over 8-10 million and has churches in Canada, USA, Australia and various other parts of the world.

Ethiopian (Geez) Church - Although there were Christians there from Apostolic times, large scale conversions, including the King, did not take place until the 4th century when the Coptic St. Frumentius evangelized the area. The Ethiopian Church, part of the Coptic Church until the Marxist revolution of 1974, was the state religion.Among the Coptic Orthodox it received independent status from Alexandria in 1950 and became an autonomous church.

At the Council of Florence communion was achieved with the Ethiopian Church but could not take hold because of the forced introduction of Latin Liturgical practices. This caused great resentment and finally reversion to a state of division. In the 19th century missionary activity resumed and in 1960 a metropolitan see was established. Today the Ethiopian Catholic Church comprises less than 1% of the overall Ethiopian Orthodox population of over 12 million.

At the left is Saint George slaying the dragon. This legend is found in all Orthodox Churches. Some Western Orthodox churches have dropped this and other extreme tales from their regular teachings.

 

The Antiochean Tradition

The West Syrian Tradition

Maronite Church - The Christian roots of the Maronites reach into Apostolic times and come from an area between Antioch and Edessa that resisted, for the most part, the influence of Hellenization, thereby retaining the ancient Semitic thought forms in culture, politics, language and liturgical expression. However, the Maronite Church did retain the Antiochean structure of the liturgy.

The name "Maronite" comes from a priest-hermit by the name of Maron (d. 410 AD) in the region of Apamea along the Orontes River, which is in present day Syria. When he died, his disciples built a church, then a monastery. This "Monastery of Saint Maron" grew large and influential, and branched out. This group of monasteries stood as staunch defenders of the Council of Chalcedon. Those who came under their direction came to be referred to as Maronites.

Maronite evangelization and influence spread east toward the Euphrates, north to Antioch, west to Cyprus, and South to Lebanon. It was this last evangelical front which became a refuge for Maronites during the terrible persecutions, especially from the 7th century on. In the late 7th century the See (seat) of Antioch became vacant due to political turmoil and persecutions. A Maronite bishop, St. John Maron, was therefore elected as Patriarch by bishops affiliated with the monastery of St. Maron. He moved the patriarchal see to Lebanon. Henceforth, the Maronites would shape the culture and history of Lebanon and its surrounding areas.

Outside of Lebanon there are today 3 dioceses in Syria, a diocese each in Cyprus, Egypt, Europe, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and two in the USA. The Maronite Church, (except for the Maronites of Cyprus for a time) never broke communion from Rome and has no Orthodox counterpart. Population: over 3 million.

Syrian Church - The Semitic minded Edessa and Aleppo and the surrounding areas in Syria staunchly resisted Hellenization and the influence of Constantinople. Many of these rejected the Council of Chalcedon (451). Under the efforts of Jacob Baradai, the non-Chalcedonian movement gained strength and hence this church was referred to as Jacobite (a term rejected by the Syrian Church). Negotiations for the re-establishment of communion began in the 12th century, and unity documents were signed at the Council of Florence in 1442, but nothing materialized. In the 17th century, Latin Catholic missionary activity and Maronite influence succeeded in persuading many Syrian Christians to enter into communion with Rome. Ever since, a Catholic patriarch has been elected. The Syrian Church suffered terribly during the chaos of World War I under the Turks. Today there are over 100,00 Syrian Catholics mostly found in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, but also in the Americas and Australia.

Melkite Church - See "The Byzantine Tradition"

Malankar Church - See "The Christians of St. Thomas" under "The East Syrian Tradition."

 

The East Syrian Tradition

Chaldean/Assyrian Church - Not only did the area of ancient Babylon & Assyria resist the influence of Antioch from the beginning. This East Syrian Church and its liturgy developed from Palestinian Christianity through Antioch and Edessa with minimal Greek influence. The Mesopotamian region was evangelized in the second half of the 1st century by Mar Addai and Mar Mari. In the 4th century Seleucia-Ctesophone became the ecclesiastical center and self governance was proclaimed in 424. The Chaldean/Assyrian Church adopted Nestorianism in 486 soon after the council of Ephesus in 431. This division reflected a political and theological tension between two distinct world views.

The Chaldean/Assyrian Church continued its missionary activity in Persia, India and China, particularly from the 8th to the 13th century, but began to decline in the 14th century following the conversion of the Mongolian invaders to Islam. Communion with the Church of Rome began in the 16th century and has continued with more and more success. The Moslem Turks inflicted cruel persecutions upon the faithful during World War I and greatly reduced their number. Today the Chaldean/Assyrian Catholic Church has over one million members, about 75% of the total Assyrian Christian population. They exist in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Europe, USA, Australia, Indonesia and other areas.

 

The Christians of St. Thomas

Malabar Church - Malabar is a region in Southwest India in Kerala. According to local tradition, St. Thomas the Apostle evangelized the area and was martyred there; because of this these Christians in this area are therefore called Christians of St. Thomas. This Church was under the Assyrian Patriarch and was involved in the schism which occurred shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431. In 1498 Portuguese missionaries made contact and were received as brothers of the same faith; communion with Rome ensued. But forced Latinization efforts caused many of the St. Thomas Christians to turn away. One branch broke off and joined the Syrian Orthodox Church which accepted the council of Ephesus. They became known as Malankara.

Like the Syrian Church, the Malankar Church employed the Antiochene Liturgical Rite using the West Syriac script. In 1926 reestablishment of communion took place involving a bishop and several priests. Today this Malankar Catholic body constitutes about 16% of the overall Malankar Christian population of almost 2 million.

The other branch of the Malabar Church which had broken communion with Rome retained the Assyrian Liturgical usage. The great majority, however, returned once again and today comprise over 92% of the overall Malabar Christian population of over 3 million. Liturgical reforms and restorations are presently taking place along with missionary activity in other parts of India.

 

The Armenian Tradition

Armenian Church - Tradition attributes the evangelization of the Armenian area to the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew. Ancient Armenia lay outside the borders of the Roman Empire (in what is today Eastern Turkey) and between the Black and Caspian Seas and the bordering areas of Iran. In the 10th century the area of Cilicia was also populated by Armenians. Armenia became the first State to adopt Christianity in 303 AD after King Tiridates III was converted to Christianity by St. Gregory the Illuminator (who came from Cappadocia). The Armenian Church was a daughter church of Antioch.

For theological, political and cultural reasons the Church of Armenia rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and split from the rest of the Catholic body. During the Crusades the Armenian Orthodox (known as Armenian Apostolic) Church of Cilicia established communion with Rome, but when both the Crusader Kingdom and the Armenian Kingdom collapsed, communion was broken. At the Council of Florence in 1439 a decree of reunion was published but did not materialize. Catholic missionary work intensified and in 1740 an Armenian Catholic Patriarch was elected and later became established in Lebanon. The brutal massacres by the Turks during World War I greatly reduced the number of Armenians and scattered them all over the world.

The Armenian Liturgy combines elements of the Byzantine and Syrian traditions. Of the approximately 3.7 million Armenian Christians, about 7% are Armenian Catholic and are spread throughout the world.

 

 

The Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) Tradition

All of the fourteen following Churches follow the Byzantine Liturgical Rite but have their own variations and history. (Some population estimates may be inaccurate for churches which were affected during Communism).

Albanian Church - Christianity came to Albania before the 4th century. Most Albanians have since become Moslem. After the schism a small group became Catholic in the 16th century, but soon disappeared. In 1920 a small group became Catholic. in 1967 the government of Albania outlawed all religion. Today Albanian Byzantine Catholics have become dispersed and numerically are only a few hundred.

Bulgarian Church - The Bulgarian Catholic Church had its beginnings in 1861. Today a small community remains of approximately 25,000 mostly in bulgaria whose bishop resides in Sophia.

Byelorussian Church - The Byelorussian Catholic Church had its beginnings at the Union of Brest in 1596. Today they number less than 1% (about 120,000) of the Orthodox population.

Croatian Church - Although most Croatians belong to the Latin Church, some use the Byzantine Liturgy (these were Orthodox who, by 1613, entered into communion with Rome). In 1777 a permanent diocese was extablished in Kirzevcy. Today they number almost 50,000. Closely associated with the Croatian Church are also about 10,000 Macedonian faithful who practice the Macedonian Rite. They are under the jurisdiction of the Latin bishop of Skopje.

Georgian Church - Georgians adopted Christianity early in the 4th century through the ministry of a woman, St. Nino. Originally it was a daughter church of Antioch but became independent in 467. It gradually came under the influence of Constantinople. The church originally rejected the council of Ephesus but accepted it in 607. The establishment of communion with the Catholic Church has not been successful. In 1905 a group of 5000 was established as the Georgian Catholic Church. Today there are about one million Georgian Orthodox, possibly more.

Greek Church - Today's Greek Orthodox Church is independent of the Patriarch of Constantinople. In the second half of the 19th century a very small group of Greeks from Constantinople (Istanbul) became Catholic. Today they number a couple of thousand who live in Greece.

Hungarian Church - The Hungarian (Magyars) received their faith from Byzantium but sought the jurisdiction of the Latin Church until 1696. The influx of refugees from Byelorussia and Serbia increased in number and melted with the local population. In 1912 a diocese was created for them. Today they number about 345,000.

Italo-Albanian Church - Since Sicily and southern Italy were heavily Greek in culture at the time of the early church, many of the people of those regions adapted the Byzantine Liturgy. But as the centuries passed, the region came more and more under the control of the patriarch of the West, who is the Pope of Rome. The Byzantine influence on the region nearly disappeared when, in 1453, the fall of Constantinople brought a new wave of immigrants from Albania, most of whom were Byzantine Christians. The faithful number about 61,000. There is no Orthodox counterpart.

Melkite-Greek Church - Also referred to as "Roum Catolike". It is erroneous to translate this literally as "Roman Catholic" since "Roum" really refers to New Rome (Constantinople, the new capital of the Roman Empire) previously known as Byzantium. The Melkite Church is an Antiochian Church in the Middle East which remained in communion with the Emperor of Constantinople and the church there, even after the Arab invasions. "Melkite" comes from the Syraic Malko which means King, in reference to the Emperors who accepted the Council of Chalcedon.

The early Melkite tradition included syriac speaking Christians and Syriac Liturgical usage. At the time of the Islamic invasion Byzantine Liturgical influence gradually increased until the Melkites finally adopted Byzantine Liturgical usage by the thirteenth century. After the schism between Rome and Constantinople in 1054, the Patriarch of Antioch did not immediately break off relations with Rome. There are many examples of sacramental sharing in the centuries that followed. A distinct Catholic/Orthodox hierarchy emerged in 1724 when a patriarch having clear Catholic sympathies was elected. Those opposed to Catholic communion elected their own candidate.

Today the Melkite Patriarchal seat is in Damascus with residences in Lebanon and Cairo. The Patriarch has the title of "Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem". The faithful are mostly Arabic speaking from all the countries of the Middle East. Melkites living outside of their native lands today make up the greater portion. There are dioceses and churches in America, Australia and various parts of the world. There are over one million Melkite Catholics worldwide, and even more Orthodox.

Romanian Church - Christianity first came to Romania in the 3rd century in the form of the Western Liturgical tradition. The area however gradually adopted the Byzantine usage although culturally and linguistically it remains Western. After the Great Schism between East and West, Romanian Christians took on Orthodoxy. In the beginning of the 18th century some were made to reunite with Rome. After the 1948 Russian revolution all the Byzantine Catholic Bishops and many priests died in prison and the church was made illegal. Today the Byzantine Romanians are undergoing a revival and number almost 20 million; 8.6% of these are Romanian Catholic.

Russian Church - One of the last of the Byzantine Catholic Churches to be formed is the Russian Greek Catholic Church. In the nineteenth century some prominent figures and intellectuals in Russia became Catholic. However, it was illegal to be a Russian Catholic until an edict of tolerance was issued in 1905. Small Catholic groups then began to form in St. Petersburg and Moscow as well as in Kursk and Karkhov. They called themselves the "Catholic Old Believers". In 1917, with the Bolshevik takeover, the Catholic Exarch who had been appointed that  same year was imprisoned and his flock subsequently scattered. Today there are small communities in Paris, Brussels, the Hague, Rome, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, el Segundo and San Francisco, with a combined population of about 5,000 with possibly more in Russia.

Ruthenian Church - The Ruthenians are of the Carpatho-Ukraine region. They are related to the Ukrainians and speak mostly a different dialect of the same language but consider themselves ethnically Ukrainian, Slovak and Rusin. Some Ruthenians came into formal communion with LRome in the 17th century. Today the Ruthenian Catholic Church numbers 670,000 including over 200,000 in the U.S.

Slovakian Church - The Slovaks have been closely linked to the Ruthenians and, in fact, indistinguishable until national awareness arose in mid 19th century. Catholic Slovaks were outlawed by the Communists until 1968. Today there are about 400,000 Slovak Catholics in Slovakia and an additional 30,000 in Canada. In the U.S. they identify themselves with the Ruthenians.

Ukranian Church - Although Christianity among the Ukrainian people is ancient, the Rus-Ukraine Nation did not convert in mass until 988 following the conversion of Prince Volodymyr. The divisions of 1054 would later affect this area of the world too. The Union of Brest in 1596 began reestablishment of communion with the Orthodox of Ukraine. By the 18th century 2/3 of the area of Western Ukraine was Catholic. In the 19th century the Russian Czar officially suppressed Catholic Churches, but many communions still flourished in the area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Poland. Under Communism, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was oppressed and forced to join the Russian Orthodox. Most bishops and many priests died imprisoned while some others were exiled. But the events of 1989 have brought the Ukrainian Catholic Church from its underground. Numbering over 7 million faithful, the Ukrainian Catholic Church constitutes the largest Catholic Church in the former Soviet Union and the largest Eastern Catholic Church in the world.

 

GONGS AND TRINKETS:

LINKS: 

HERE ARE ORTHODOX PEOPLE WHO PRAISE ISLAM-
What treachery and blasphemy

THESE PEOPLE DO HAVE ZEAL
Unlike the Roman Whore in the West, the church in the East has some light.
It is like entering a huge Orthodox cathedral. Now and then a beam of light will shine
through a window, but the dominance of the place is darkness.
I have to say though that there is much more life in the Orthodox zeal than in ANY
of the great denominations of the Western world, such as the Methodists and the
Reformed churches by and large. The Orthodox Church will have NO other Bible in
English than the King James Bible. That is not possible to say for ANY of the big
denominations, who walk not after the Spirit but after the flesh.
Their belly is their god, their glory is their shame, and they mind earthly things.

WE SALUTE THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH -- This is one thing they got right

EFFORT BY ORTHODOX PRIEST TO JUSTIFY ICONS:
http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/articles_b/shrines.htm

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN MICHIGAN, USA
http://www.pluralism.org/resources/slideshow/slideshow.php?show=jacobs&shownumber=&slide=21

SEE THE ICONS OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH:
http://www.goarch.org/access/resources/clipart/Mary_Magdeline.html

TAKE A VERY FASCINATING TOUR OF MOUNT ATHOS.  
This is the spiritual focal point of Greek Orthodoxy and far less pagan than the Vatican.  
It still does sadly represent many soul damning superstitions:
http://www.cohums.ohio-state.edu/cmrs/rcmss/graphc01.htm

There is a discussion of each of the highlighted individual church groups in the above article at:
http://www.connecti.com/~metabet/communon.htm

Visit a very interesting Egyptian music page with an Orthodox Coptic canter clip--
http://www.mordor.com/hany/egypt/eg_snds3.html

DEFENDERS OF EASTERN ORTHODOXY AGAINST ECUMENISM WITH ROME
AND WORLD CHURCH MOVEMENTS:  This is interesting since these E. Orthodox
members are determined to resist the coming Antichrist and counterfeit church:  
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/main/resistance.htm

 

 

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spchk