Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pope of Rome, Melkite Patriarch concelebrate mass

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2018 / 06:55 am (CNA) - At Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass with the patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Youssef Absi, saying that offering the liturgy together is like an embrace between the two Churches.

“This is what the ceremony of today means: the embrace of the father of a Church with Peter. A rich Church, with its own theology within the Catholic theology, with its own wonderful liturgy, and with a people,” the Pope said Feb. 13.

Speaking in place of a homily, Francis noted how a great number of the people of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church are being “crucified, like Jesus.”

He also said that the Mass was being offered “for the people that suffer, for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, who give their lives, give their goods, their properties, because they are driven away. And we also offer Mass for the ministry of our brother Youssef.”

At the end of the Mass, Patriarch Youssef, who concelebrated, offered his own words to the Pope, saying that he was moved by “his fraternal charity, by the gestures of fraternity, of solidarity that he has shown to our Church during this Mass.”

“We promise to keep it always in our hearts, in the heart of all of us, clergy and faithful, and we will always remember this event, these historical moments, this moment that I cannot describe for how beautiful it is: this fraternity, this communion that binds all disciples of Christ.”

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite in full communion with Rome. It consists of some 1.5 million members and is based in Syria and Lebanon, with most of its eparchies in the Arab world. It also has structures to serve the Melkite diaspora in Australia, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis met with bishops of the Greek-Melkite synod, assuring the patriarch and bishops of his closeness in prayer.

In his speech, the Pope remarked on the presence of their Church in the Middle East, in particular Syria, where their Church “is deeply rooted and performs a precious service for the good of the People of God.”

He also extended his prayer for all the people and priests of the Church throughout the world. “In this difficult historical period, many Christian communities in the Middle East are called to live their faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of many trials,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that with their testimony of life, the Greek-Melkite bishops and priests can encourage the faithful to remain in the land where Divine Providence has wanted them to be born.”

Francis said that on Feb. 23 he has called for a special day of prayer and fasting for peace, and that on that occasion he would not fail to make special mention of Syria, which has been hit in recent years “by unspeakable suffering.”

Referencing the most recent assembly of the synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which took place in Lebanon earlier this month, he said that those meetings are both an important moment of communion and when important decisions are made for the faithful.

Among these decisions is the election of new bishops, which Francis said are called to be shepherds, accompanying their people and helping them to seek the things of Christ, not of the world.

“We need so many Pastors to embrace life with the breadth of God's heart, without settling on earthly satisfactions, without being content to carry forward what is already there, but always aiming high,” he said.

He also asked the bishops and the patriarch, when they return to their offices, to remind the faithful, and the men and women religious, that they are “in the heart and in the prayer of the Pope,” and gave his apostolic blessing.


  1. I did not know Melkites use wafers!!

    1. They do not. The Melkite Patriarch was con-celebrating at a OF Latin Mass with the Pope. As you know the Latin rite uses unleavened bread in the Eucharist.

  2. so, the melkite rite is second class, as it seems all the easgtern rites are in the roman church --- what would have been significant and respectful is that the melkite liturgy in its entirety was celebrated -- reminds me of the infamous photo of fulton sheen in byzantine vestments with western appointments, including white gloves

    and our eastern rite bretheren seem to be ok with such slights of respect

    just boggles the mind

    1. Robert -

      It is not that we are ok with such slights but, what are we to do? There is no question it would have done Francis well to see the Eastern liturgy respectfully celebrated in his presence (and, hopefully without any latinization as a result of that presence).

  3. How is a Latin Rite Mass in the Pope residence a slight to Eastern Catholics??? I guess I could see your point if the Pope was visiting at the Melkite Patriarch's temple and the Latin Rite was celebrated instead of the Divine Liturgy, but that would never happen. And that Fulton Sheen photo was like 50 years ago, when admixture and Latinizations were common. Not so anymore.

  4. This Pope is actively doing everything in his power to undermine the discipline and faith of the Western Church. One of his closest aids just declared that Communist China is the best country in the world when it comes to implementing Catholic Social Doctrine. We have Bishops and at least one cardinal openly discussing blessing sodomitical unions. Conservative and traditionally minded Catholic clergy are being ridiculed by the Pope and in some cases repressed. The Pope is encouraging the giving of Communion to those divorced and civilly remarried (and no that is not Orthodox). In short the Pope is rapidly reducing the Roman Catholic Church to just the latest liberal Protestant Denomination. But we are worrying about which rite is being used or whether unleavened wafers were employed? Seriously? We need to stop worrying about where the deck chairs are and start focusing on the iceberg that is ripping a hole in the side of this particular ship.

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