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Uniate Church / Greek Catholic

Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) rite
Albanian ChurchAlbania
Belarussian ChurchBelarus
Bulgarian ChurchBulgaria
Greek (Hellenic) Church Greece
Hungarian ChurchHungary
Italo-Albanian ChurchItaly
Eparchy of Križevci Croatia
Melchite-Greek Catholic Church Lebanon
Romanian Greek CatholicRomania
Russian Catholic ChurchRussia
Ruthenian Church Ukraine
Ukrainian Greek Catholic ChurchUkraine
Alexandrian Monophysite Rite
Coptic ChurchEgypt
Ethiopian ChurchEthiopia
Antiochene (West-Syrian) Nestorian Rite
Syro-Malankara ChurchIndia
Maronite Catholic ChurchLebanon
Syriac Church of Antioch
Chaldean (East-Syrian) Monophysite Rite
Armenian Church Armenia
Chaldean Patriarchate of BabylonIraq
Syro-Malabar ChurchIndia

Eastern Rite Churches in Communion with the Holy See of Rome are under the canon law of sui juris. These Eastern Churches with autonomous powers are limited by the authority of the Bishop of Rome (Pope) through the Congregation for the Eastern Churches (Congregatio proEcclesiis Orientalibus). They are also known as Oriental Catholic Churches or Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite. They were earlier called also Uniate Churches.

The Roman Catholic Church gained over the entire tribe of the Maronites, as well as portions of the Nestorians and the Jacobites in Asia, and of the Copts in Egypt. The United Nestorians are generally called Chaldeans, while the United Jacobites are designated United Syrians. The aggregate number of these religious denominations is not large. The number of Chaldeans (inclusive of the congregations in Persia) was estimated around 1900 at from 20,000 to 30,000, that of the Syrians at from 9000 to 30,000, that of the Copts at 10,000. From 1870 to 1879 almost the entire community of the Chaldeans, including their patriarch, Andu, and all their bishops, was in a state of open rebellion against Rome. The patriarch desired to extend his jurisdiction over the Christians of St.Thomas in British India, who, like the Chaldeans, are United Nestorians, and numbered about 100,000.

The Uniate Church is an Eastern Christian Church that preserves the Eastern rite and discipline but submits to papal authority. The Ukrainians of Galicia were the first people to accept these terms, and they were soon followed by their kinsmen on the other side of the Carpathians, Russians of Hungary. The movement thus started has had some success in almost every Orthodox country, so that there are now Greek Catholic Rumanians, Croatians, Lithuanians, Syrians, Copts, Armenians, Italians, and Greeks. Its strongest hold, however, is still among the race who were the first to adopt it, and who are variously known, according to location or to political nomenclature as Little Russians, Ruthenians, Russinians, Uhro-Rusins or Ukrainians.

The term United Greek Church was generally used at the close of the 19th Century to designate all the Churches of the Byzantine Rite in communion with the See of Rome. Thus the Ruthenian Church of Galicia, the Rumanian Church of Austria-Hungary, the Bulgarian Church of Turkish Bulgaria, the Melchite Church of Syria, the Georgian Church, the Halo-Greek Church, and the Church of the Greeks in Turkey or in the Hellenic Kingdom-all of them Catholic-are often called the United Greek Churches. The term was inappropriate, and belonged of right only to the last two Churches. The Ruthenians and Bulgarians are Slavs who followed the Byzantine Rite, but used a Slavonic translation; whereas the Rumanians are Latins who follow the Byzantine Rite, but in a Rumanian translation, etc.

Instead of United Greek Church, the term Uniat (or Uniate) Church was often used; and in like manner the word Uniats is used instead of United Greeks. These words are by no means synonymous. Uniat Church, or Uniats, has a much wider signification than United Greek Church or United Greeks, and embraces all the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, but following another than the Latin rite, whether it be Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Maronite, or Coptic. The Uniat Church is therefore really synonymous with Eastern Churches united to Rome.

Nearly every one of the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine Rite had a corresponding Greek Catholic Church in communion with Rome. As with the majority of the Orthodox Churches, so in the case of the Uniat Churches, they were Greek only in name. Altogether eight divisions were recognized around 1900: (1) Pure Greeks, (2) ItaloGreeks, (3) Georgians, (4) Grasco-Arabs (or Melchites), (5) Ruthenians, (6) Servians, (7) Bulgarians, and (8) Rumanians. The total membership of these various Churches did not exceed 6,000,000 souls [according to figures furnished by the 1907 edition of "Missiones Catholics;", published at Rome (p. 743).; the exact figure was computed at 5,564,809, of whom 4,097,073 belonged to the Ruthenians and Servians, 8488 to the Bulgarians, 1,271,333 to the Rumanians, 138,735 to the Melchites, and 49,180 to the Italo-Greeks and Pure Greeks. The number of Catholic Georgians was unknown, but it was small.

  • (1) Pure Greeks. - Their Church had not been organized as of 1907, it was under the Apostolic Delegate at Constantinople. Parishes and missions existed at Constantinople, Cadi-Keui, Peramos, Gallipoli, Malgara and Cicsarea in Cappadocia. The faithful numbered about 1000, under the care of a dozen priests, of whom seven are Assumptionists. There were also Catholics of this rite in Greece. They were subject to the Delegation at Athens.
  • (2) The Italo-Greek Church. - These Catholics are of Greek or Albanian origin, and used the Byzantine Rite. They lived mainly in Sicily and Calabria, and have some fixed colonies in Malta, at Algiers, Marseilles, and Carghese in Corsica. Their number in 1907 was not more than 50,000. Ecclesiastics in Calabria and Sicily are ordained by two Italo-Greek bishops. Their liturgical language is Greek, but for the most part the vernacular of the faithful was Italian.
  • (3) Georgian Churches. - Russia, unwilling to tolerate within her dominions an Orthodox Georgian Church distinct from the Russian, was all the more opposed to the creation of a Catholic Georgian Church. Out of from 30,000 to 35,000 Georgian Catholics, in 1907 about 8000 followed the Armenian Rite, the remainder having adopted the Latin Rite. The only Catholic Georgian organization in existence was at Constantinople.
  • (4) Graco-Arabs (or Melchites).- All these were under a patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, and who, moreover, had jurisdiction over all the faithful of his rite in the Ottoman Empire. Their number in 1907 amounted to about 140,000 and they were subject to twelve bishops or metropolitans. The liturgical language is either Arabic or Greek.
  • (5) Ruthenians. - The Uniat Church of Russia disappeared. Its last two bishoprics, those of Minsk and Chelm, were suppressed in 1869 and in 1875 respectively. Since the disorders of 1905 many availed themselves of the liberty of returning to the Catholic Church, but as a precautionary measure they adopted the Latin Rite.
  • (6) Servians. - In Austria-Hungary the ancient Ruthenian Church survived with a little more than 4,000,000 members by 1907. It had six dioceses, of which three are in Galicia (the Archbishopric of Lemberg, and the Bishoprics of Przemysl and of Stanislawow) and three in Hungary (the Bishoprics of Munkacs and of Eperies under the Latin Archbishop of Grau, and the Bishopric of Crisium, or Kreutz, in the archiepiscopal province of Agram, and of which the Catholic population was mainly Servian).
  • (7) Bulgarians. - The movement for union with Rome, very strong in 1860, was, owing to political reasons, not a success. By 1907 there were hardly 10,000 Catholics between the two Apostolic vicariates of Thrace and Macedonia. The seminary of Thrace was under the care of the Assumptionists, that of Macedonia under the Lazarists.
  • (8) Rumanians. - The Rumanian Catholic Church uses the Byzantine Rite, but the liturgical language is Rumanian. As of 1907 tt was established only in Hungary and counted four dioceses, viz., the Archdiocese of Fogaras with the suffragan Dioceses of Armenopolis, GrossWardein, and Lugos, having in all 1,300,000 members.

The other Oriental Churches in communion with Rome, e.g. the Armenian, the Coptic, the Abyssinian, the Syriac, the Maronite, the Chaldean and Malabrian Churches, do not use the Byzantine rite, and have no claim to be considered as Greek Churches, even in the wider meaning of the word.

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Page last modified: 05-08-2011 20:02:19 ZULU