(Vatican Radio) Bishops of the Catholic Eastern Rite Churches in Europe are meeting in Portugal from 20-23 October to discuss the challenge of the pastoral care of Eastern Catholic migrants in Western European nations, especially the preservation of their cultural and ecclesial identity.
Please find below a press release in English on the upcoming meeting published by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences:
The annual meeting of the Bishops of the Catholic Eastern Rite Churches in Europe is taking place this year at Fatima (Portugal), at the invitation of the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente, President of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference.
In this meeting-pilgrimage at the Marian Shrine of Fatima, which in 2017 is celebrating the centenary of the apparitions, the bishops representing 15 Catholic Eastern Rite Churches in Europe, along with bishops representing various episcopal conferences from Western European nations (France, Germany, Portugal, England and Wales and Spain), will examine the challenge of pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in these countries. In effect, since the collapse of the totalitarian regimes in Eastern European countries, a massive flow of Eastern Rite Catholic migrants, therefore belonging predominantly to sui iuris Churches, have started new lives in Western countries. After twenty years, with a fairly constant flow of new migrants and the birth of the second generation among those first arrivals, the welcoming local churches, largely Latin Rite in the Western nations, are faced with new challenges in terms of the preservation of the cultural and ecclesial identity of these migrants.
At the Marian Shrine, along with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, participants will therefore analyse some issues and challenges linked to this particular migratory phenomenon. The economic situation of the countries of Eastern Europe which leads to migration will be examined with the help of the economist Prof. João Luís César das Neves; the issue of integration will be enriched by the testimonies of a Romanian family and a teacher working daily with the “children” of migrants; and there will also be an examination of the relationship between the welcoming church and the church of origin.
The meeting, marked by the daily celebration of Mass in various Eastern Rites, testifying to the riches of the different liturgical traditions in the Catholic Church, also envisages a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Nazaré and a prayer of entrustment, in the Shrine at Fatima, presided over by the Secretary of the Vatican dicastery in charge of the Oriental Churches, Slovakian Archbishop Cyril Vasil’.
Participants at the meeting, organised by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), also include Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, attending his first meeting as the new President of CCEE.
The meeting will end on Sunday 23 October with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy presided over by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and the procession through the Holy Door of Mercy.
Information for journalists
The meeting is behind closed doors, apart from the opening session on Thursday 20 October from 1600 in the parish hall Rua dos Jerónimos, 3 in Lisbon, which will be followed by Vespers in the Byzantine Rite in the adjacent church.
A news release will be published at the end of the meeting on Monday 24 October. The full programme and list of participants are available at the website: www.ccee.eu
The meeting will take place at the Casa de Nossa Senhora das Dores (Fatima).
Within the Catholic Church there are particular Churches, called sui iuris Churches or Rites, in full communion with the Church of Rome but which are distinguished from the Latin Catholic Church by their different forms of liturgical worship and popular piety, sacramental (administration of the sacraments) and canonical discipline (legal norms), theologcial terminology and traditions. Throughout the world there currently exist 24 sui iuris Churches with different liturgical rites in full communion with Rome, 15 of which are of the Byzantine Rite.
List of the sui iuris Churches present at the meeting
• Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (dioceses of Lungro and Piana degli Albanesi, in Italy)
• Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church (Belarus)
• Byzantine-Slav Rite Catholic Church of Bulgaria (Bulgaria)
• The Maronite Archdiocese of Cyprus and Maronites in Europe (Cyprus, France and Western Europe)
• Greek Byzantine Rite Catholic Church (Greece and Turkey)
• Greek-Catholic Church in Poland
• Romanian Greek-Catholic Church (Romania)
• Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church (Eparchy of Mukačevo, Ukraine)
• Slovakian Greek-Catholic Church (Slovakia, Czech Republic)
• Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (Ukraine, Poland, United States, Canada and Ukrainian communities throughout the world)
• Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church (Hungary)
• Armenian Catholic Church (Europe)
• Church of the Chaldeans in Europe
• Syrian Catholic Church
• Greek-Catholic or Melkite Church
The first meeting took place in 1997 in the diocese of Hajdúdorog (Hungary) and was promoted by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who wanted to create a space where the bishops of those churches, which had been particularly damaged by atheistic regimes, “may find with ever greater clarity their role in today’s Europe and be loved and respected for their history of loyalty to the Church and to the Pope, paid at a dear price” (From Cardinal Achille Silvestrini’s Introduction to the Acta of the first meeting).
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