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Eastern Catholics Offer Much to U.S. Church

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Armenian Bishop Mikael Mouradian of New York, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and an unidentified priest socialize before a meeting at the Congregation for Eastern Churches at the Vatican 15 May. U.S. bishops from the Chaldean, Ruthenian, Maronite, Ukrainian, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac and Romanian Catholic churches were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring) 

16 May 2012 – by Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While their numbers are small and their material resources are few, members of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States have much to offer the country in terms of their fidelity to Christ despite persecution and their deeply religious cultures, said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

Eastern Catholics “are a bridge” supporting Catholics in their homelands with prayers, advocacy and financial support while at the same time enriching the United States with their cultural and religious identity, Cardinal Sandri told U.S. bishops from the Chaldean, Ruthenian, Maronite, Ukrainian, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac and Romanian Catholic churches.

The cardinal met with the 14 bishops May 15 to discuss a wide variety of common concerns at the beginning of the bishops’ “ad limina” visits to the Vatican. Earlier in the morning, the cardinal was the main celebrant and homilist at a Mass with the bishops in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The heads of every diocese or eparchy — as the Eastern Catholic jurisdictions are known — send detailed reports on their dioceses to the Vatican before the “ad limina” visits.

Summarizing what was common in the reports of the Eastern Catholic dioceses, Cardinal Sandri said, “Your territories are enormous, and your communities often find themselves far from each other. Some of the eparchies are young and still in need of adequate structures.” Many of the dioceses — some of which cover the entire United States or even the United States and Canada — have few financial resources and the situation has been “exacerbated by the economic crisis,” the cardinal said.

The arrival of new immigrants, many fleeing persecution in places like Iraq, have increased the size of several of the Eastern churches, like the Chaldean Catholic Church. But the cardinal said other Eastern churches, whose membership is composed largely of people who have been in the United States for several generations, “are experiencing a dramatic fall” in their numbers.

“You are not immune to the same corrosive effect on morals and family life as are your fellow Latin Catholics,” Cardinal Sandri said.

All the churches are hurting for clergy, he said. Even those that have a relatively high proportion of clergy to faithful are stretched by the great distances those priests must travel to minister to the faithful.





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Tags: United States Eastern Churches Cardinal Leonardo Sandri Congregation for Eastern Churches