lunes, 1 de septiembre de 2008

The Role Of The Patriarch  
Outside The Middle East

Documento enviado por el Lic. Alejandro Kuri Pheres

By Reverend Francis J. Marini, J.D., J.C.O.D. 
Chancellor, Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, New York.

His Beatitude, Mar Nasrallah Boutros Cardinal Sfeir,
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

I. Introduction
Every Maronite knows that the head of the universal Catholic Church is His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, Pope of Rome, and that the head of the Maronite Church is His Beatitude, Mar Nasrallah Boutros Cardinal Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. As Catholics and Maronites we honor and revere both the Pope and the Patriarch.

The authority and place of the Pope is well understood throughout the world, just as the authority and place of the Patriarch is in Lebanon. However, the role of the Patriarch is not nearly so clear, nor so well understood, when it comes to the situation of Maronites who are living outside of the Middle East, like us here in the United States.

II. The Figure of the Patriarch
According to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council, the Patriarch is the “Father and Head” of the Maronite Church. As Patriarch, he enjoys full power over all the Bishops and Faithful of the Maronite Church according to the norm of law approved by the Supreme Authority of the Church (the Pope or an Ecumenical Council acting together with the Pope). He represents in his person the entire Maronite Church, and he is the principal representative and spokesman for the Maronite Church and for all Maronites everywhere.

III. Synodal Governance
The authentic Eastern form of Church governance is synodal, not monarchical, so the Patriarch actually governs the Maronite Church together with the Synod of Bishops. The Patriarch exercises executive power and the Synod of Bishops exercises legislative power, similar to the American secular government. That is the reason that all the Maronite Bishops throughout the world gather at Bkerk? every June for the annual meeting of the Synod of Bishops. There, under the presidency of the Patriarch, all major decisions affecting the Maronite Church are discussed and made.

IV. Powers Inside/Outside Territory
However, the present Eastern Canon Law distinguishes between the powers of the Patriarch and Synod of Bishops inside the “Patriarchal Territory” and outside of it; and it expressly states that their powers are exercised validly only inside the Patriarchal Territory, with certain limited exceptions (CCEO Canons 78, § 2 and 150, §§2 and 3). The basic reality is that all laws enacted by the Synod and promulgated by the Patriarch are effective inside the Patriarchal Territory, but for us Maronites outside the territory, the only laws that are currently effective are Liturgical laws.

V. Historical overview
The reason for this distinction is that, from the very earliest times, Patriarchal power or jurisdiction has been subject to a geographical limitation. This restriction, known as the Patriarchal Territory, refers to those regions in which the proper rite of the Church is observed and in which the Patriarch has the right to establish ecclesiastical provinces, eparchies and exarchies (CCEO Canon 146, § 1). Only the Pope can change the Patriarchal Territory (CCEO Canon 146, § 2). The Patriarchal Territory of the Maronite Church is Lebanon, Syria, the Holy Land, the rest of the Middle East and Egypt.

The Patriarchal jurisdiction goes back to the very earliest times of the Church. This is clear from Canon 6 of the very first Ecumenical Council, Nicea ! (A.D. 325), which recognized the already-existing jurisdiction of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, all based on a relationship to the Apostle Peter. This same canon was cited by the Second Vatican Council in its decision to restore the powers of the Eastern Patriarchs as existing in a special relationship to the Western Patriarchate headed by the Roman Pontiff who has primacy as the Successor of Peter (Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Orientalium Ecclesiarum N. 7, 1.) Throughout the first two millennia of Christianity, the Eastern Patriarchate and the concept or principle of territoriality evolved side-by-side in the Church. A similar evolution occurred in the territoriality principle. In the beginning, the concept was strict territoriality, however, it began to erode almost immediately. Lateran IV’s recognition of the right of Catholic faithful of different rites to pastoral care in their own liturgical tradition and church hastened the formation of Hierarchies for the various rites where faithful of different rites lived together. This in turn led directly to the practice of defining the jurisdiction of the Hierarchy by the double standard of territory and rite, resulting in the application of a principle, not of strict, but of qualified territoriality. The fathers of Vatican II, the heirs of these developments, adopted the Principle of Qualified Territoriality as the norm (Vatican II, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus N. 23, 3), 2). Thus, both territory and membership in a particular Church sui iuris control in both the Latin and Eastern Churches, as is clear even within the Patriarchal Territories, since all of the Eastern Patriarchates overlap to some extent in the Middle East.

VI. The Future
It is true that the authentic Eastern tradition requires a Patriarchal Territory, but it is certainly also true that there is nothing to prevent the expansion of the present Patriarchal Territory or of the jurisdiction of the Patriarch and Synod of Bishops outside the Patriarchal Territory. The Maronite Patriarchal Territory was already extended in 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV, and the Melkite Patriarchal Territory was extended in 1894 by Pope Leo XIII. Recent statements from the Vatican indicate that both expansion of the jurisdiction outside the territory and expansion of the territory itself are open possibilities. Thus, the idea of expanding the Patriarchal Territory to include all erected eparchies wherever they may be, which would include the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, is certainly viable. 
It is necessary for the survival and growth of the Maronite Church to more fully implement the rich image of the Patriarch as “Father and Head” of our Maronite Church. At the present time, Maronite faithful living outside of the Middle East are more like stepchildren than children of the Patriarch. To remedy this situation requires the normalization of our relationship to our Father and Head, by preserving our authentic tradition while adapting to a changed and changing world.

This article is reprinted with permission from the “Maronite Voice”, Eparchy of Saint Maron USA, Special Issue Summer 2000, Volume 6.

Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches: A Latin-English edition of the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium; published by the Canon Law Society of America, 1992; Eastern Catholic Churches: Constitution and Governance by John D. Faris, 1992; The Power of the Patriarch - Patriarchal Jurisdiction on the Verge of the Third Millennium, by Rev. Francis John Marini, J.C.O.D., Maronite Rite Series Volume VI, 1998.

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