Roman Catholic Church

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Roman Catholic Church


Armenian Catholic Church

c/o Mgr. Mikael Nerses Setian
110 E. 12th St.
New York, NY

Alternate Address: International headquarters: rue de l'Hopital Libanais, Jeitaoui, 2400 Beruit, Lebanon.

The Armenian Catholic Church, an Eastern-rite church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, emerged in the eighteenth century as a result of several centuries of missionary activity among members of the Armenian Apostolic Church residing in Lebanon. The ancient church of Armenia became alienated from both the Roman church and the Eastern Orthodox churches after its bishops refused to affirm the teachings promulgated by the Council of Ephesus in 431 C.E. which made a set of theological decisions concerning the nature of Christ. The Armenian position, traditionally termed monophysitism, held that Christ had only one nature, the divine. Church leaders at Ephesus affirmed that Christ had both a human and divine nature. The argument remained an important issue over the centuries and the majority of Christians considered the Armenians to be heretics.

During the Middle Ages, members of the Armenian Church met the Crusaders who passed through Lesser Armenia (Cilisia), an Armenia land on the southern coast of what is now Turkey. As a result an alliance of the church in Cilesia and the Church in Rome was established in 1198. But the union proved unacceptable to most Armenians and the Tatar conquest of the region in 1375 occasion its end. However, some Roman Catholics kept the ideal alive and convinced the Council of Florence in 1439 to publish a decree affirming the former union.

As opportunities arose, Catholic priests pursued efforts at evangelism and a few Armenian congregations affiliated with Rome. Then in 1742, an Armenian bishop, Abraham Ardzivan (1679-1749) converted to Catholicism, as a result of which Pope Benedict XIV established the Armenian Catholic Church with Ardzivan as their first Patriarch under the name Abraham Pierre I. His successors have included Pierre as part of their episcopal title. With some minor adjustments, the church continued to use the Armenian liturgy with which they were familiar.

The new church came into immediate conflict with the Ottoman Empire, as government authorities wished to relate to their Armenian subjects through a single church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and its bishop in Constantinople. It took more than 80 years (1829) before the government would recognize the Armenian Catholic Church. Finally, the government allowed the appointment of a second bishop who would have his seat in Constantinople where the Ottoman Empire was headquartered. In 1867, the two diocese united into a single Patriarchate in Constantinople.

The church prospered through the late nineteenth century, but was decimated during the Turkish massacre of Armenians as World War I came to an end. It lost more than 100,000 members, seven bishops, and a number of priests and nuns. In 1928, the Patriarch moved to Lebanon.

The Turkish massacre spurred the relocation of many Armenians around the world, including North America. Subsequently, the American diocese was established in 1981. The diocese is headed by His Excellency Mgr. Mikael Nerses Setian.

Membership: Not reported. There are an estimated 150,000 members worldwide. Dioceses are found in France, Argentina, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt.

Educational Facilities: The church supports a seminary in Lebanon and a college in Rome.


Armenian Catholic Church. 11 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches–A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Chaldean Catholic Church

St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Diocese Chancery
25603 Berg Rd.
Southfield, MI 48034

Alternate Address: International headquarters: PO Box 6112, Baghdad, Iraq.

The Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern-Rite church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, was founded in Iraq in the 1550s. The church traces it origins to the fifth century when the Iraqi Christian community separated from Eastern Orthodoxy over an unwillingness to affirm the statements of the Council of Ephesus (351), one of the international gathering of bishops of the Christian church at which decisions on essential Christian doctrines were made. The resulting Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East rejected the Orthodox formulations concerning the personhood of Christ. That church survived through the centuries in spite of the rise of Islam to dominance in Iraq.

In the thirteenth century, Roman Catholic missionaries began to proselytize within the Iraqi Christian community (proselytizing among Muslims being against the law). The missionaries happened to be on the scene in the 1550s, when a problem developed over the appointment of a new Patriarch. The Assyrian church had traditionally passed the office of Patriarch from uncle to nephew within a single family. Occasionally, this practice resulted in the selection of an untrained youth as the new Patriarch. Such a youth was selected in 1552. In reaction, a group of the church's bishops declined to acknowledge the new Patriarch and instead turned to Rome. They selected a new Patriarch from among the adult clergy, and in 1553 the pope put himself into the situation by consecrating him as Patriarch Simon VIII of the Chaldean Catholic Church. The new church accepted Catholic doctrine, especially its understanding of the person and work of Christ, but retained its own rite, the ancient East Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari (with the few changes needed to bring it in line with Catholic belief and practice). The new church faced an immediate crisis when after only two years in office the new Patriarch was arrested and executed by Iraqi authorities. However, the church survived.

At the request of the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Paulus II Cheikho, Pope John Paul II established the Apostolic Exarchate (protodiocese) for the Chaldean faithful residing in the United States. Rev. Ibrahim N. Ibrahim was named the first Apostolic Exarch in 1982. Three years later the pope elevated the Apostolic Exarchate for the Chaldeans to the rank of Epachy (diocese) and appointed Bishop Ibrahim as the first ordinary of the diocese.

Membership: As of 2000, there were some 500,000 members world wide. There are ten dioceses in Iraq, four in Iran, and seven additional dioceses in the Middle East. Outside the Middle East, there is only one diocese, the Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle, serving the church's members in the United States. It reports twelve parishes: Michigan (5), Chicago (2), California (4), and Arizona (1). There are several missions as well as members living in cities without parishes. There are more than 100,000 members served by one bishop and 18 priests.


Chaldean Catholic Church (American diocese). 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Coptic Catholic Church

St. Mary Coptic Catholic Church
2701 Newell St.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Alternate Address: International headquarters: BP 69, Rue Ibn Sandar, Pont de Koubbeh, Cairo, Egypt. Canadian mission: Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada M4J 1M5.

The Coptic Catholic Church, an Eastern-Rite Catholic church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, traces its origin to 1741 and the conversion of a bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church to Roman Catholicism.

In the fifth century, the majority of Egyptian Christians separated themselves from both the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church by refusing to affirm the promulgations of the Council of Chalcedon (451) concerning the nature of Christ. The orthodox Christian formulation taught that the divine and human natures were present in the one person of Christ. Egyptian Christian tended to follow a position called monophysitism that affirmed Christ's divine nature but not His human nature. The larger world of Christianity considered the Coptic church to be heretical.

A millennium later, representatives of the Coptic Orthodox church attended the Council of Florence (1442), where they signed a document of reconciliation with Rome. However, the church in Egypt refused to support their representatives' action. Roman Catholic missionaries moved into Egypt in the 1600, but produced little result until the 1741 conversion of a Coptic bishop. He would subsequently be appointed vicar apostolic of what became the Coptic Catholic Church. The church adopted Catholic doctrine but continued to use the Coptic liturgy with some minor changes.

In 1824, Pope Leo XIII established an Egyptian Patriarchate, but it remained inoperative until 1899 when Cyril Makarios was named Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts. He retained the office until 1908 when he resigned. The office was again vacant until 1947 when a new patriarch was named. By the end of the 1990s, the Patriarchate was larger than the Latin-Rite Catholic Church in Egypt. Membership is divided into nine dioceses. The church supports six religious orders, an extensive parochial school system, a set of medical facilities, and St. Leo's Theological Seminary in Maadi (a Cairo suburb).

Membership: The Coptic Catholic Church has had approximately 190,000 members, the great majority of whom reside in Egypt. As of 2001 there were about 10,000 Coptic Catholic in the Egyptian diaspora, served by six parishes located in Paris (France), Montreal (Canada), Sydney and Melbourne (Australia), and Brooklyn and Los Angeles (USA), all under the care of the local Latin bishops. There is also a mission in Toronto.


Coptic Catholic Church (unofficial). 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Ethiopian Catholic Church

c/o Kidane-Mehret Ge'ez Catholic Church
Washington, DC

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Catholic Archbishop's House, PO Box 21903, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahado Church, which originated from the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt), followed its parent body in refusing to affirm the doctrine promulgated by the several Councils of the fifth century. The Chalcedonian Creed (451), for example, affirmed that Christ existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. The Monophysites who predominated in Egypt held that Christ had only a divine nature. In the centuries following Islam's coming to dominance in Egypt and across North Africa, Ethiopia was separated from the larger Christian world. European Christians rediscovered Ethiopia in the fifteenth century and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church initiated efforts to bring the Ethiopian Church into union with Rome.

In 1622, the king of Ethiopia declared his allegiance to Catholicism and designated the nation a Catholic state. The following year, the pope named Affonso Mendez, a Portuguese Jesuit, to become the first patriarch of a new Ethiopian Catholic Church. He was installed in 1626, but soon lost popular support when he tried to alter the liturgy (after the model of the Latin Rite). His actions led to his banishment and the end of the union of the Ethiopian Church and Rome.

Catholic missionaries did not reenter the country until the end of the nineteenth century and did not expand significantly until the years of the Italian occupation (1935-41). Finally, in 1961, an episcopal see, headquartered at Addis Ababa, was erected. Additional suffragan dioceses were established in Asmara and Adigrat. In 1993, Eritrea became independent of Ethiopia. Approximately half of the Ethiopian Catholic membership resided in the new country; as a result two additional dioceses (Keren, Barentu) were created.

The Ethiopians and Eritreans migrated to the United States during the last several decades of the twentieth century and parishes of expatriates, attached to Latin-Rite dioceses, began to emerge. The existence of these parishes was given a primary acknowledgement in the mid-1980s by the formation of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Catholic Apostolate in the United States. However, as of the beginning of 2002, the apostolate (association) did not have a national office. The church in Washington, D.C., offers informal national coordination, but it has, as of 2001, no permanent parish building (though it has an expansive Internet site). Other congregations are found in Dallas, Boston, Denver, Chicago, New York City, the Bay Area of California, and Columbus, Ohio.

Membership: In 2001, the church had approximately 190,000 members, most of whom reside in either Ethiopia or Eritrea. There were approximately 300,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean people in the United States, of which about 3 percent (or 9,000) is estimated to be Catholic.


Kidane-Mehret Ge'ez Catholic Church. 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Italo-Albanian Catholic Church

51 Redgrave Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10306

Alternate Address: International headquarters: ℅ Mt. Rev. Vescovado, Corso Skanderberg 54, 87010 Lungro, Italy.

The Italo-Albanian Catholic church is a relatively small Eastern-Rite Catholic Church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church that developed among people of Greek heritage who came to reside in southern Italy and Sicily. In this area, Christianity developed with a Greek liturgical form rather than the Latin, even though the church was included under the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Through the centuries the process of Latinization in the area began, but before it was completed, in the eighth century, the region was transferred from Rome's jurisdiction to that of Byzantium. Subsequently, the process of introducing the Latin Rite was reversed and a revival of Greek Christianity occurred. Then, in the eleventh century, the Normans (Roman Catholics) conquered the region. The area returned to the Roman jurisdiction, and the process of Latinization reintroduced.

The Greek Byzantine Rite seemed destined to disappear in southern Italy, but the process of Latinization was slowed considerably by the migration of a number of Albanians there in the 1400s. Their persistence was rewarded in 1595 when a bishop was appointed for them. While remaining a relatively small community, and declining during the last centuries, the Vatican began a process of nurturing the group and in the nineteenth century recognized it as having equality within the church. In 1732 a seminary was founded in Calabria and two years later a second opened in Palermo. Today the church is served by two dioceses and three bishops, one of whom serves as abbot of the monastery of Santa Maria de Grottaferrata (founded in the eleventh century and the oldest structure in the church).

The Italo-Albanians have no parishes in the English-speaking world, but the identity of the small immigrant communities in these areas has been preserved through such groups as the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Rite Society of Our Lady of Grace based in Staten Island, New York, which has at its goal the re-establishment of the Italo-Greek and Italo-Albanian Rite in the United States. The society is heir to a parish society of what had been the only Italo-Greek Church to have existed in the North America. The society sponsors the celebration of an Italo-Greek Divine Liturgy monthly in different churches in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Membership: At the end of the 1990s, there were some 62,00 members in the church.

Periodicals: Quarterly Newsletter of the Italian Byzantine Rite Catholic Society of Our Lady of Grace.


Italian Catholic Bishop's Conference. (in Italian). 25 January 2002.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Maronite Catholic Church

Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn
109 Remsen St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Alternate Address: Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, 931 Lebanon Dr., St. Louis, MO 63104.

The Maronite Catholic Church, an Eastern-Rite church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See, traces it history to St. Maron, a charismatic figure who converted followers in what is today Syria. They in turn created a monastery west of Antioch (in present-day Turkey). The Maronites relocated to the mountainous region in Lebanon following the advent of Islam in the region where they survived as an isolated community. From among their bishops, they elected their own leader who assumed the title of Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

In the twelfth century, the Maronite leadership made contact with bishops of the Roman Catholic Church brought to the Middle East by the Crusades. In 1182, the Maronites affiliated with the Catholic Church, and were allowed to retain their Syriac liturgy slightly modified to align them with Roman belief and practice (as distinguished from the Eastern Orthodox churches). The Maronites, who had existed in isolation through the period of the break between the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, had seen themselves as never having been out of communion with Rome, though no active relationship had existed since the Islamic move into the region.

Then, in the sixteenth century, the Maronite homeland was incorporated into the rising Ottoman Empire, and in spite of periodically suffering persecution from the Turkish authorities, has survived to the present. A particularly horrendous incident, the massacre of thousands of Maronites in 1860, caused the French to intervene and eventually establish French control over Lebanon following World War I. The patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church still resides in Bkerke, a small community near Beirut, Lebanon. The church sponsors two seminaries and a college in Rome. The University of the Holy Spirit at Kasnik offers advanced theological training.

The 1860 massacre also led Maronites to begin their migration from their homeland, and by the end of the century they had founded expatriate communities in North and South America and Australia. The establishment of an independent Lebanon in 1944 and the civil war that began in 1975 has encouraged further migration.

In the United States, the first congregations of Maronite believers were founded in the late nineteenth century and integrated as parishes into Latin-Rite diocese. Finally, in 1966, by Papal decree, the Maronite congregations were regrouped into the Maronite Apostolic Exarchate (proto-diocese). Mt. Rev. Francis Mansour Zavek was selected as the first exarchate (bishop). His Episcopal See was in Detroit and he served as the suffragan bishop for the Latin Rite archdiocese. The exarchate was elevated to the status of eparchy (diocese) in 1971 and named the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Detroit. In 1977, the eparchy moved to Brooklyn, New York, and the named changed accordingly. A second eparchy was created in 1994 and Mt. Rev. John George Chedid selected as the first bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles.

In 1996, Archbishop Francis M. Zayek retired and was succeeded by Hector Doueihi, the current Bishop for the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. In Bishop Chedid retired and was succeeded by Robert Shaheen as second bishop of the Eparchay of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles (headquartered in St. Louis).

Membership: At the end of the 1990s, internationally, the church claimed some three million members. There are ten dioceses in Lebanon and six additional dioceses in neighboring countries. Additional dioceses exist in Cyprus, Greece, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and Australia, with scattered congregations across Europe. There are 72 parishes in the two eparchies in the United States.

Educational Facilities: Maronite Seminary, Washington, D.C.


"Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn." 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

"Maronite Catholic Church." 25 January 2002.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Melkite Catholic Church

158 Pleasant St.
Brookline, MA 02446

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Melkite Catholic Church, BP 22249, Damascus, Syria.

The Melkite Catholic Church is a Greek Catholic church that originated in Syria and Lebanon. Its liturgy is derived from the Greek liturgy developed by the Eastern Orthodox churches and widely utilized by a variety of churches around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See.

The church emerged in the eighteenth century in Syria following a schism within the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. Antioch, an ancient center of Christianity (see Acts 11: 26) is the home of one of the four ancient jurisdictions of Eastern Orthodoxy; however, in 1724, the Syrian church split into two parties, each of which elected their own patriarch. The Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul (the nominal head of Eastern Orthodoxy) declared the candidate of the party based at Aleppo to be the new Patriarch of Antioch. The other candidate, Cyril VI who resided in Damascus, was deposed and forced into exile in Lebanon. Then, in 1729, Pope Benedict XIII intervened in the situation and declared Cyril as the new Patriarch of Antioch. Cyril led his followers into communion with the pope and formed the Melkite Catholic Church.

The new church retained its Eastern liturgy and traditions (including the ordaining of married priests), but adopted Roman Catholic doctrine, especially on those matters in which the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy has disagreed upon since the eleventh century.

The majority of the church's members reside in Syria and Lebanon, but members have spread to Palestine and Egypt, and the Patriarch was given the additional titles as Patriarch of Jerusalem and Alexandria (the two sites of the other ancient Christian patriarchates). In 1848 the church was granted recognition by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire, and it headquarters were moved to Damascus from its original site in Sidon (Lebanon). Beginning late in the nineteenth century, Melkite Christians joined in the dispersion of Syrians and Lebanese around the world. Communities were established in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, and the United States, all of which evolved into new dioceses.

Through the twentieth century, Melkite parishes were founded in the United States and, as occurred with other Eastern-Rite congregations, incorporated into the Latin-Rite diocese. During his years as Archbishop of Boston (1944-1970), Richard Cardinal Cushing (1895-1970) took a particular interest in the Melkite faithful and lobbied for a separate diocese for them. That diocese (or eparchy) was established in 1966 under the leadership of its first bishop, Kyr Justin Najmy. It is currently led by Mt. Rev. John A. Elya.

Membership: The Melkite Catholic Church has approximately one million members worldwide. In 2002, the American eparchy had 36 parishes scattered in 20 states.

Educational Facilities: St. Basil's Greek Melkite Catholic Seminary, Methuen, Massachusetts.


Descy, Serge. The Melkite Church: An Historical and Ecclesiological Approach. Newton, MA: Sophia Press, 1993.

Elias Zoghby. A Voice from the Byzantine East. Yonkers: Educational Services, 1992.

——. We Are All Schismatics. Yonkers, NY: Educational Services, 1996.

Eparchy of Newton. 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Melkite Catholic Church (Australian). 25 January 2002.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Roman Catholic Church

National Conference of Catholic Bishops 1312
Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20005

[Introductory note: The Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest ecclesiastical community in the United States, more than three times as large as the Southern Baptist Convention, its closest rival. That fact, coupled with its position as the largest Christian body in the world and as such the bearer of much of the Christian tradition, gives it a special position in any survey of religious bodies. Overwhelmingly Western Christian churches can trace their origins to dissent from Roman Catholicism, on one or more points. Even within a predominantly Protestant country such as the United States, the Roman Catholic Church provides a measuring rod by which other Christian groups (approximately two-thirds of those treated in this Encyclopedia) can locate themselves. Understanding the lives of these groups presupposes some knowledge of their variation from Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church was also one of the first churches to come to America, bringing with it the long history of Western Christianity. The matter of the origin of the Roman tradition and of the emergence of the See of Rome as the dominant body in the West is a matter of intense debate among ancient-church historians. Most agree, however, that by the fifth century Rome was the ecclesiastical power in the West, and Rome's bishop was the leading episcopal authority. Further, for the next millennium, the story of Christianity in the West is largely the story of Rome. The detailing of this story and the elaboration of this developing tradition is far beyond the scope of this volume. Interested readers are referred to the volumes cited at the end of this entry for a sample of books which treat those topics. This volume will merely provide a summary of basic material about the Church and its historical development in the West, the emergence of religious orders, its history in the United States, its basic beliefs and practices, and its organization. The long history of the Church and some of its sanctioned but less than universal practices (Eastern rite liturgies, localized forms of piety, etc.) will be treated primarily as background for understanding those groups that have dissented with the Church.]

History. The Roman Catholic Church is that Christian religious community whose members are "baptized and incorporated in Christ, profess the same faith, partake of the same sacraments and are in communion with and under the government of the successor of St. Peter, the pope, and the bishops in union with him." (quoted from A Concise Guide to the Catholic Church by Felician A. Foy). The rise of the Roman Catholic Church to a position of dominance within the Christian community can be traced through a series of steps beginning with the geographical spread of the Church throughout the Roman Empire and beyond and the emergence of an authority structure built around bishops (mentioned in the New Testament, but hardly the figures of authority as exist today). Then the conversion of the Emperor Constantine pulled the Church out of its role as just another religion competing in the Roman forum.

In 303 C.E. Diocletian initiated a plan designed to stabilize the vast empire he ruled. He divided it into Eastern and Western sections. Over each section he placed a senior emperor assisted by a junior emperor with the right of succession. Diocletian then voluntarily resigned and the four appointees took his place: the senior emperor Constantius Chlorus and his junior partner, Severus in the West, and Galerius and his junior partner, Maximinus, in the East. However, upon the death of the emperor in the West, his son Constantine usurped the power and Severus, the rightful successor, was killed.

In the midst of his rise to power Constantine identified himself with (only much later was he baptized) what was at the time a very small Christian community. According to Christian historian Eusebius, he saw a vision over the Milvian bridge where he was to meet his rival. The vision was of a cross in the sky with words around it saying, "In this sign you will conquer." Constantine ordered this sign painted on the shields of his soldiers; defeated his rival, and emerged as sole ruling power in the West. One of his first acts was to give Christianity freedom by granting it an equal legal status with paganism. In the East, Galerius followed Constantine's lead. Under Constantine, the idea that Christianity best flourished under the protection of the empire began its ascendancy along with its corollary that the empire and the emperor were not only capable but were in fact divinely appointed to rule and to render that protection. Both the centuries of intimate union between the "Christian" state and the Christian Church and the church-state theory based upon that union were initiated at this time, even before the Church became the dominant religious power in the empire.

Then in 330 C.E., Constantine transferred his capital from Rome to Byzantium (now Istanbul) in the East. He renamed it Constantinople and over the next decades initiated a whole new thrust in culture. But in so doing, he abandoned Rome and created a severe power vacuum throughout the West. The Church and the bishop of Rome, the Pope, emerged as the organization with both the will and the ability to accomodate to the new situation. Christian bishops took up temporal authority and, given the emperors' acceptance of their role, became an elite ruling class. The bishops in the more important towns of the empire came to be known as archbishops and those in the major cities, such as Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, were known as patriarchs. The Roman patriarch assumed some preeminence both as successor to Peter, who died in Rome, and patriarch of the significant urban center in the West.

But while the bishop of Rome claimed a primacy of honor and privilege, the Eastern patriarchs, claimed a similiar prestige as well. The emperor resided in the East. The ecumenical councils were held there. Most Christians lived there, where Christianity had begun and had its longest history. However, the Western Church had an opportunity for growth and development that it would not miss.

Pope Gregory the Great, elected in 590, in a very real sense the founder of the modern papal structure, began the process of centralizing the entire Western Church, then loosely organized into a set of dioceses, upon Rome. He brought to the office a vision, discipline, missionary instinct, and sense of order and rule to the church. If the pope's power of jurisdiction and supremacy had been ill defined previously, it was Gregory who sharpened the definition. A high civil official before becoming a monk, he used his organizational ability to reorganize church finances, thus making it financially independent. He consolidated and expanded the Church's power. He exercised hegemony for the Church throughout the West and sent forth missionaries (usually monks) to claim lands for the faith. He took major steps to convert the Germanic tribes, end Arianism in Spain, and gain the loyalty of the Irish church. Gregory sent St. Augustine to England where he converted the king and established the see at Canterbury. The papacy emerged as the international center of the Western Church in power as well as prestige. The church that emerged under Gregory's successors looked to Rome, not to the Emperor in Constantinople nor his representative at Ravenna.

Two centuries after Gregory, the emperor Charlemagne (742-814) consolidated secular political rule in almost all of Europe and reestablished an empire to match the spiritual realm delineated by the Church. A bond was forged, and the marriage between the Western Church and the Western empire took place. The Eastern emperor became a mere figurehead to the West.

The dissipation of Charlemagne's empire into the hands of numerous local monarchs set the stage for Pope Gregory VII, elected in 1073, the founder of the papal monarchy. By Gregory's time, Western Christendom had grown "larger" than the territory of any empire. Gregory, monarch of his own country, but more importantly, the representative of a religion that transcended the boundaries of both his country and the empire as it then existed, began to assume more universal powers, full political and spiritual supremacy. He encouraged remote territories such as Spain, Denmark, and Hungary to accept the protection of the Holy See, implying that he, the pope, was the real universal center of things rather than any emperor. He insisted that the pope could be judged by none; that the pope alone could depose, move and/or restore bishops. He took authority to depose rulers or to absolve subjects from their allegiance to their rulers. Under Gregory and his successor, the Papacy exercised its greatest temporal authority in the West. The extensive corruption of that power, felt throughout the church at every level, created the need for reform and set the stage for Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the Protestant and Radical Reformers.

The Reformation can best be seen as the convergence of numerous factors upon Northern and Western Europe in the sixteenth century. The Church was beset with internal problems and was also filled with voices calling for its reform and a new emphasis upon spirituality in place of its preoccupation with political involvement. Several centuries of reform efforts had also coincided with the rise of strong national states which further stripped the Holy Roman Emperor of real power to hold structures together in the West. Once Luther's cause gained support, other independent reform efforts proceeded, ranging from those of Calvin in Switzerland and Henry VIII in England to the more radical Swiss Brethren (Mennonites) and Unitarians. Once the political power supporting the Roman Catholic Church was broken, the establishment of various independent and locally controlled churches became possible.

The Reformation divided the West among five Christian traditions (Roman, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Free Church) and fostered the further division of the non-Roman traditions into the many individual organizations with linguistic, political, nationalistic, and doctrinal divergences, leading, of course, to the numerous churches seen in this century (and described in various sections of the Encyclopedia). While Rome remained in control of the largest block of territory, it had to devise new ways of relating to religiously divided societies, especially in those countries which had both a Roman Catholic presence and a hostile Protestant ruler.

The Reformation also occurred at the same time as the discovery, exploration, and settlement of the Americas. Roman Catholicism settled in most of South and Central America and became the dominant religious force. In North America, with the early settlers, the Church found a much different situation, i.e., a predominantly Protestant society moving quickly toward a religious freedom and pluralism not hinted at since the days of the Roman Empire.

A note about religious orders: the forces of reform that disrupted the Church in the sixteenth century were not new to Western Christianity. Reform had been expressed and acted upon by numerous movements throughout its history. Some of these reformers became rival movements, largely remembered today as the great heretical movements (Gnosticism, Montanism, etc.). When the Church gained access to political power, it turned upon those movements and left a record of persecution that came back to haunt it in later centuries. However, with reformist, mystical, and enthusiastic movements not defined as heretical (but nevertheless potentially schismatic) the Church had a more creative solution in the formation of ordered religious communities. The schismatic tendencies of, for example, Protestantism and the Free Church families, constantly led to the formation of new sects. In Roman Catholicism, however (and to a lesser extent in Eastern Orthodoxy), these tendencies resulted in the various orders of monks, nuns, and lay brothers and sisters. Many such orders show all of the characteristics of sectarian bodies, including liturgical and theological peculiarities, distinctive dress, and special missional emphases. The only difference is that these groups remain in allegiance to the bishop of Rome. Many orders operate effectively outside of local diocesan control and report directly to the orders' officials, who in turn report directly to the Pope or curia. Of course, by accepting new religious movements as ordered communities, the Church is able both to nurture geniune religious enthusiasms and control their excesses.

From the fifth to the twelth centuries, there was practically only one religious order in the church: the Benedictines. Then, in the twelfth century, a variety of new types of religious communities appeared on the scene with many derivative branches. Not only was the Benedictine Order no longer held to be the only safe road to heaven but, by the twelfth century, a noticeable decline had set in. Some monasteries had become socially exclusive and had become fossilized into great symbols of stability from which no innovations could be expected. New orders were needed. First, there were the Augustinians (Luther's order), an informal group compared to the structured Benedictines, dedicated to practical service to others (in contrast to self perfection of the former monks) and to survival in a world of change. The Cistercians, on the other hand, wanted to flee change, flux, and the world and return to pristine Benedictine rigor and purity. They moved into the some of the uninhabited lands of Europe, first growing rapidly, then like the Benedictines before them, succumbing to success.

The new town culture of the late Middle Ages brought into existence the two most influential orders of the time, the Franciscans and Dominicans. Founded by middle class men (Francis of Assisi was the son of a merchant) as an order of brothers (fratello in Italian) or friars, they were not, as older orders, to withdraw from the world but to penetrate it. They gave to the age the common spectacle of the traveling friar and itinerant preacher.

Roman Catholicism in America. The Roman Catholic Church came to America with the early Spanish and French explorers. Priests accompanied Hernando de Soto and Francisco Coronado, and some, like Jacques Marquette and Junipero Serra, became explorers in their own right. The first missions were begun in Florida after the founding of St. Augustine in 1565. Spanish priests and (after 1573) Franciscans developed the missions. The settlement of large segments of America by European Catholic countries largely determined the earliest religious development of America. Florida, the Gulf Coast of present-day Alabama and Mississippi, California, and the Southwest were Spanish territory. The French settled Canada, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Valley. The early Catholic hegemony is reflected in the many towns named for the saints they revered.

Under the leadership of an English Catholic convert, George Calvert (who became the first Baron of Baltimore) a small band of British Catholics settled on the East Coast and, in 1634, founded the colony of Maryland. In stark contrast to their neighbors in Pennsylvania, many of whom had come to America fleeing Roman Catholic persecution, these Catholics had come fleeing Protestant attacks. In 1649 Calvert issued the famous Act of Toleration offering the "free exercise" of religion to residents. Unfortunately, Catholic control of the colony was soon lost, and in 1654 the Act was repealed and Catholicism prohibited. Four Catholics were executed and the Jesuits driven out. Not until 1781 were Catholics allowed to participate in public life.

Catholicism existed in America for over two centuries without a bishop. There had been no confirmations and all clergy were ordained abroad. Since 1757, the colonies had been nominally under the bishop in London, but after the American Revolution a resident bishop was needed. The person chosen for the task was John Carroll, a member of the most prominent Catholic family in the colonies and a cousin to Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. By the end of the century Carroll would have approximately 50,000 Catholics under his care.

During the nineteenth century, several factors shaped the life of the Church. First, the dominance of people of British and German ancestry, both with a strong anti-Catholic bias from the days of the Reformation, meant that Catholics would frequently have to exist in a hostile environnment. (This reached its height in the mid-nineteenth century during the so-called Know Nothing era.) Secondly, the Church grew massively as literally millions of immigrants from predominantly Roman Catholic countries poured into the United States. At the same time, the Church became divided internally into many ethnic groupings, as Catholics from different countries and speaking different languages settled into homogeneous communities. They tended to locate in pockets in the cities and recreated (as much as possible) life in the old country. To this day many of the nation's leading cities retain a large Catholic element and many neighborhoods retain remants of these immigrant communities. The many ethnic groups also contrasted strongly with the predominantly Irish clergy and hierarchy. Attempts to play down ethnicity and "Americanize" parishes (in part by assigning priests from outside the predominant ethnic group in a parish) caused considerable friction. It was also the cause of the only major schism from within the Church in the United States, the Polish National Catholic Church. The parochial school system, mandated in 1884, was originally established to assist Catholic immigrants as they adjusted to life in non-Catholic America.

Growth of the Church during the nineteenth century (which lasted until immigration from mostly Catholic countries was curtailed in 1921) was spectacular. By 1822 Baltimore had been designated an archepiscopal see and bishops resided in Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Norfolk, Virginia; New Orleans; and Bardstown, Kentucky. By 1900 there were over 12,000,000 Catholics in the United States (eclipsing by far the largest Protestant church), and by 1930 there were over 20,000,000. During the next half-century, Church membership would more than double in size.

Beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church bases its beliefs on the revelation of God as given through the Bible, and on tradition handed down from the Apostles through the Church. The essential beliefs have come to be summarized in several creedal statements, especially those developed by the early ecumenical councils: the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed. Until recently, new converts to the Church were asked to sign a "Profession of Faith," which included a rejection of a number of false doctrines, a promise of obedience to the Church, and a statement of belief. Though no longer required, the statement of belief, printed below, remains an authoritative guide to the Church's essential belief:

"One only God, in three divine Persons, distinct from and equal to each other, that is to say, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; the personal union of the two natures, the divine and the human; the divine maternity of the most holy Mary, together with her spotless virginity; the true real and substantial presence of the Body and Blood, together with the Soul in the Eucharist; the seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind, that is to say, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony; Purgatory, the Resurrection of the Dead, Everlasting Life; the primacy, not only of honor, but also of jurisdiction, of the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, Vicar of Jesus Christ, the veneration of the saints and their images; the authority of the Apostolic and Ecclesiastical traditions, and of the Holy Scriptures, which we must interpret and understand, only in the sense which our holy mother, the Catholic Church, has held, and does hold; and everything else that has been defined, and declared by the Sacred Canons, and by the General Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent and delivered, defined and declared by the General Council of the Vatican, especially concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching authority."

Defined by the first Vatican Council, the doctrine of papal infallibility remains the most controversial of Roman Catholic beliefs. It grows out of and is an expression of the Church's long held belief in its being kept from error by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Pope's words are considered infallible only when speaking ex cathedra, i.e., in his office as pastor and doctor of all Christians, and when defining doctrine on matters of faith or morals to be held by all Christians. More often than not, Papal statements do not fall into this category. However, Catholics are enjoined to give heed to Papal messages as part of their obedience to the Church's teaching authority.

Two relatively recent papal statements in which the Pope has been deemed to have spoken ex cathedra concerned what is possibly the second most controversial area of Roman Catholic doctrine (at least to most Protestant Christians), the understanding of the Virgin Mary. During the nineteenth century the veneration of the Virgin Mary took on a new importance within Roman Catholicism, and it found expression in numerous new pietistic forms and practices, many built around the several apparitions, such as those at Lourdes (France) and Fatima (Portugal). In the last century the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (the sinless birth of Mary) was declared. In 1950 her bodily assumption into heaven was defined.

Supplementing the beliefs of the Church are the moral precepts which are considered binding upon each Church member. They are required to do the following: 1. Participate in Mass on Sundays and specified holy days and to abstain from work and business concerns that impede worship; 2. Fast and abstain on appointed days (primarily during the Lenten season); 3. Confess their sins at least annually; 4. Receive the Eucharist during the Easter season (for American Catholics between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday); 5. Contribute to the support of the Church; and 6. Observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.

Worship in the Catholic Church is centered upon the liturgy, the major components being the following: the Eucharist (the Mass) and the other six sacraments; sacramentals (sacramental-like signs such as holy water, rosaries, holy medals, etc.); sacred art; sacred music; the prayer cycle of the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office); and the designation of the liturgical year and calendar.

Individuals are brought into the Church through baptism, through which original sin is washed away. The Mass, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper, is a real sacrifice of Christ using the elements of bread and wine. During the liturgy of the Mass, the Church teaches that the bread and wine change (the change is termed "transubstantiation") into the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the major sacramental expression encountered by Church members on a regular basis. Confirmation, usually given to youth or adult converts immediately after finishing a period of instruction in the faith, is generally conferred by the bishop, and it empowers individuals with the force of the Holy Spirit. Penance is the means by which the faithful confess and receive forgiveness for present sin. Holy Orders sets aside Catholic males (unmarried and celibate) for specified priestly functions. The annointing of the sick (unction) is performed when the individual is in danger of death, in hope of an improvement in the state of health, as well as for forgiveness of sins at the time of death. Finally, matrimony binds two people together in God's eyes.

Over the years, supplementing the sacramental life, the Church has broadly defined the life and structure of faith through the liturgical calendar. The calendar focuses attention on the essentials of the faith and commemorates the life of the Virgin Mary and the saints. The liturgical year begins with Advent and includes as its high points Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Worship is further enhanced by the promotion of a variety of devotional practices, inluding prayers said using the rosary, novenas, and meditation on the stations of the cross (picturing Christ's passion and death).

Organization. The Roman Catholic Church derives its authority as the Church founded by Christ through the Apostles. The signs of Christ's Church are its oneness in doctrine, worship, and practice; its holiness by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; its apostolic nature; and its catholicity or universal aspect. The Apostolic authority has been passed, generation by generation, through the bishops of the Church, especially the Pope, the successor to Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The Pope resides in Vatican City, a small sovereign state outside of Rome, Italy. The curia is located there, where the college of cardinals meets.

The Pope, the Supreme Pastor of Christians, is elected by the College of Cardinals. The College, which evolved out of the synod of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, includes the principal advisors and assistants to the Pope, who help administer the affairs of the Church. It was officially constituted in 1150, and 29 years later the selection of its members was left to the reigning Pope. Members of the College are of three types: cardinal bishops, the bishops of dioceses geographically neighboring the diocese of Rome; cardinal priests, bishops of dioceses away from Rome who have been assigned to a church in Rome; and cardinal deacons, bishops assigned to administrative offices in the Roman curia. Generally, the archbishops of the most important sees in the United States are appointed cardinal priests.

The offices of the Roman Catholic Church that administer its affairs worldwide are called the curia. It includes the Secretariat of State, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, and numerous other departments, congregations, tribunals, and secretariats. Worldwide, the Church is divided into a number of dioceses. The largest and most important are designated archdioceses, with an archbishop who generally has some supervisory rights over the neighboring dioceses. Dioceses are grouped into provinces, provinces into regions, and regions into conferences. In 1966, bishops in the United States were formed into the National Catholic Conference in the United States. The Church as a whole is governed according to canon law, the rules of the Church. A revised edition of that law, written during the Second Vatican Council, was issued in 1981. The 1,752 canons cover all aspects of Church life, from the nature and structure of the Church to the rights and obligations of the faithful.

In the years after the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches in the eleventh century, communities that had a history as Eastern Orthodox were converted to Catholicism, and they came under the jurisdiction of the Pope. In many cases these churches were allowed to keep their Eastern liturgical life. There are six patriarchs who preside over nongeographical dioceses of all of the faithful of their respective rite, wherever in the world they might be found. These churches retain a married priesthood. Eastern rite Catholics began to emigrate to the United States in the late 1700s, and parishes were founded in the nineteenth century. The presence of Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox parishes so close together in the relatively free environment of the United States facilitated the movement of members (and sometimes even whole parishes) from one church to another.

Membership: In 1989 there were 57,019,948 members, 53,111 priests, and 23,500 parishes in the United States. In Canada there were 11,375,914 members, 11,302 priests, and 5,922 parishes. There are over 851 million Roman Catholics worldwide.

Educational Facilities: For a complete list of institutions of higher learning supported by the Roman Catholic Church see the latest edition of either The Official Roman Catholic Directory(New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons) or Catholic Almanac (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor). Each is regularly revised and updated.

Periodicals: There are over 500 church-related newspapers and 300 magazines published in the United States. For a complete list see the latest edition of either the Catholic Almanac or The Official Roman Catholic Directory.


Burggraff, Aloysius J. Handbook for New Catholics. Glen Rock, NJ: Paulist Press, 1960.

Burghardt, Walter J., and William F. Lynch. The Idea of Catholicism. New York: Meridian, 1960.

Daughters of St. Paul. Basic Catechism with Scripture Quotations. Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1984.

Dolan, Jay. The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press,1992.

Ellis, John Tracy. American Catholicism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965.

——, ed. Documents of American Catholic History. 2 vols. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1967.

Foy, Felician A. A Concise Guide to the Catholic Church. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1984.

Frederic, Sister M. Catherine. The Handbook of Catholic Practices. New York: Hawthorn Publishers, 1964.

Greeley, Andrew M. The Catholic Myth: The Behavior and Beliefs of the American Catholics. Old Tappan, NJ: Macmillian Publishing Co.,1991.

Hennesey, James. American Catholics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Kohmescher, Matthew F. Catholicism Today. New York: Paulist Press, 1980.

Maynard, Theodore. The Story of American Catholicism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960.

McKenzie, John L. The Roman Catholic Church. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.

Tillard, J. M. R. The Bishop of Rome. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1983.

Scharp, Heinrich. How the Catholic Church is Governed. New York: Paulist Press, 1960.


Romanian Greek Catholic Church

Eparchy of Canton, Chancery Office
1121 44th St. NE
Canton, OH 44714

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Str, P. P. Aron 2, RO-3 175, Blaj AB, Romania.

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern-Rite church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It appeared at the end of the seventeenth century following the retreat of the Turks from Transylvania in 1687. The new Hapsburg rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire encouraged the Orthodox majority in Transylvania to transfer their spiritual allegiance to Rome. A combination of pressures, including the denial of full civil rights to Orthodox believers, persuaded the head of the Orthodox church in Transylvania to agree to a union of his church with Rome in 1698, and agreement approved at a synod two years later.

In 1744 a devout Orthodox monk began a revival of Eastern Orthodoxy, and in 1759 a new Orthodox bishop was consecrated for Transylvania. When the dust settled, two communities of about equal strength emerged. Continued bitter feeling between the two groups was heightened at the end of World War I when Transylvania was taken from Catholic Hungary and annexed to Orthodox Romania. By the end of the 1930s, the Romania Catholic Church had five dioceses serving some 1.5 million believers.

In the 1940s, the new Marxist government forced the Greek Catholics to break their ties to Rome and in 1948, the church was officially dissolved. Its property was turned over to the officials of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Shortly thereafter, all of the Catholic bishops were arrested. Five died in jail and the sixth died in 1970 under house arrest.

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church was not able to revive until after the fall of the Ceausescu government. In 1990, the 1948 dissolution decree was rescinded. Suddenly, three bishops who had been operating underground appeared on the scene, and Pope John Paul II appointed bishops for all the remaining vacant dioceses. The reemergence of the church has ignited new conflict with the Orthodox Church. Greek Catholics have demanded the return of all the property seized in 1948. Despite Orthodox opposition, through the 1990s the church has recovered most of its former property, though some parish property remains in dispute. The church is led by Lucian Muresan, the Archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Julia and Metropolitan of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, United with Rome.

Romanian Catholics came to the United States along with other Romanian beginning late in the nineteenth century. Their first parishes were included in the Latin-Rite diocese, but in 1982 set apart in the Exarchate (proto-diocese) of Canton which five years later was elevated to become the Eparchy (diocese) of Canton.

Membership: According to the latest government statistics(1992), there are 223,327 adherents in Romania. The church itself reports, as of the end of 1998, 1,420,000 members in Romania. The only diocese/eparchy outside of Romania in the United States. It reports 15 parishes for 5,300 faithful as of 2000.


Branzea, Nicolae I., and Stefan Lonita. Religious Life in Romania. Bucharest: Editura Paideia, 1999.

Cuciuc, Constantin. Atlasul Religiilor si al Monumentelor Istorice Religi case din Romania. Bucharest: Editura Onosis, 1996.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.

Romanian Greek Catholic Church (unofficial). 25 January 2002.


Ruthenian Catholic Church

c/o Eparchy of Pittsburgh, Chancery Office
66 Riverview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15214-2253

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Ruthenian Catholic Church, Zakarpatska 18, 294017 Uzhorod, Ukraine.

The Ruthenian Catholic Church (also known as the Byzantine Catholic Church) is a Greek Catholic church that use a Greek liturgy derived from the one popularized in the several Greek Orthodox jurisdictions but modified to be in conformity with the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The Ruthenian Church is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See. The church originated in the Carpathian Mountains where southwestern Ukraine, Slovakia, and southeastern Poland converge. Ruthenians speak a Ukrainian dialect, but identify ethnically as Rusyns, not Ukrainians. Christianity entered the region in the ninth century under the preaching of Saints Cyril (d. 869) and Methodius (d. 885). Although Cyril and Methodius were Greek (from Thessalonika), and represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, they used the Slavonic language in worship. Following the break between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1054, the Rusyn church adhered to Eastern Orthodoxy.

About the same time that the Rusyn church opted for Eastern Orthodoxy, the land of the Ruthenian people was incorporated into Hungarian territory. Once Hungary, a Roman Catholic nation, established its control, Catholic priests entered the region and began to agitate for the Orthodox to come into communion with Rome. In 1646, 63 priests, mostly from Slovakia, transferred to the Catholic Church. The act of receiving them, the Union of Uzhorod, occurred at a town on the Ukrainian-Slovakian border. After two similar acts of returning that occurred in the Ukraine in 1664 and 1713, Eastern Orthodoxy largely disappeared from the region.

Through the eighteenth century, the issue in the region centered upon the fight a battle for control of the Ruthenians ensued between local bishops who followed the Latin Rite, and those priests who represented the Orthodox converts and continued to use the Slavonic Rite. Then in 1771, a Ruthenian bishop was elected and made the head of a Ruthenian eparchy (diocese). A Ruthenian seminary was established in 1778 at Uzhorod. Thus, the Ruthenian Catholic Church emerged as a distinctive ethnic church that continued a variety of Eastern Orthodox traditions (including a married priesthood) that strongly identified with the Rusyn people of Transcarpathia.

Following World War I, with the breakup of the Hungarian Empire, the region was incorporated into the new nation of Czechoslovakia, and in the 1920s one group left the church and returned to Orthodoxy. Then following World War II, the area east of Uzhorod became part of the Soviet Union. Pressure was made in the Ukraine to force the church back into Orthodoxy and its parishes were placed under the Russian Orthodox Church and its patriarch in Moscow. In like measure, an effort was made to destroy the church in Poland and Czechoslovakia. However, a revival of the Ruthenian Church began with the fall of the Soviet Union. In January 1991, the Vatican reestablished the Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine) and appointed a new bishop. An estimated 500,000 Rusyn Catholics could still be found. A seminary was opened in Uzhorod in 1992. The status of the church in what is now the Ukraine remains open. Both the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been reestablished in the independent nation.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, more than half a million Rusyns had migrated to the United States. However, they found that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America was unsympathetic to the continuance of the Ruthenian Church, and the majority reverted to Orthodoxy. In 1905, Father Andrew Hodobay was sent to America as an Apostolic Visitor (appointed by the Vatican) to care for Ruthenians, but, being a Hungarian, he proved unsuitable. Rome then sent Fr. Gabriel Martyak. He founded parishes primarily in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and various states in Northeast. In 1924 Rome authorized the creation of an American Exarchate (proto-diocese) with Bishop Basil Takach as its first exarch (bishop). There are now four American eparchies (dioceses) with national leadership provided by the metropolitan (archbishop) who resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additional eparchies are at Passaic (New Jersey), Parma (Ohio), and Van Nuys (California). Ruthenian Catholics also reside in Australia and Western Europe, but are largely integrated into the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Membership: Some 200,000 Ruthenian Catholics reside in the United States.

Educational Facilities: Saints Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Periodicals: Byzantine Catholic World, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


"Byzantine Catholic Church in America." 25 January 2002.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th Ed., 1995.

Roccasalvo, John. The Eastern Catholic Churches: An Introduction to Their Worship and Spirituality. American Essays in Liturgy Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992.


Syrian Catholic Church

502 Palisade Ave.
Union City, NJ 07087-5213

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Rue de Danms, BP 116-5087, Beirut, Lebanon.

The Syrian Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite Catholic church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It is a product of missionaries operating in the vicinity of Aleppo, in northwest Syria in the seventeenth century. The majority of Syrian Christians were traditionally members of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the so-called "Jacobite" church, which had not affirmed the teachings of the Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus (431 C.E.) concerning the nature of Christ as both human and divine. The Syrians generally held the Monophysite position that Christ had only a divine nature.

The Catholic mission experienced some success in the 1650s, but then in 1662, Andrew Akhidjan, a priest with Catholic leanings, was elected as the new patriarch of the Syrian Church. All was well during his reign following his death; the two factions emerged (one pro-Rome and one independent of Rome), each of whom elected a patriarch. The authorities of the Ottoman Empire (into which Syria had been incorporated) supported the Orthodox faction. The Catholic bishop died out.

Those Syrian priests and congregations that continued to use the Syrian-Antiochene liturgy but were inclined to accept the authority of the bishop of Rome found themselves increasingly harassed and through much of the eighteenth century had to operate underground. Then in 1782 the new Syrian patriarch declared his allegiance to Rome, fled to Lebanon, and established a new monastic community, Our Lady of Sharfeh Monastery. He also initiated a new line of Syrian Catholic patriarchs. A generation later, in 1828, the Ottoman government dropped its opposition to the Catholic community and granted recognition to the Syrian Catholic Church. In 1850, the headquarters of the church was moved to Mardin, in southwestern Turkey.

The church prospered through the rest of the century, but met disaster during World War I when thousands of Syrians were massacred. As a result of those massacres, many Syrian Catholics fled to Lebanon, and in the 1920s the Patriarchate moved its headquarters to Beirut. The current patriarch, Ignatius Musa I Daud, like each patriarch during the last two hundred years, added "Ignatius" to his patriarchal name.

The events of World War I also began the migration of Syrian Catholics to the United States and Canada. Through most of the twentieth century, they were included within the Latin-Rite dioceses, though increasingly Syrian parishes were established. In 1995, Pope John Paul II authorized the creation of Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese (Eparchy) for Syriac Catholics in the United States and Canada. Mar Ephrem Joseph F. Younan became the small diocese's first bishop.

Membership: There are some 100,000 Syrian Catholics, most residing in Lebanon, Syria Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq. Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese in the United States and Canada is comprised of nine parishes–seven in the United States and two in Canada.


Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies: A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese in the United States and Canada. 25 January 2002.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.


Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

c/o St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago
717 Eastland Ave.
Elmhurst, IL 60126

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Major Arch-bishop's House, PB No. 2580, Kochi, Kerala, India 682 031.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite Catholic church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See. It grew out of the initial contact of the Portuguese with India. Roman Catholic priests among the Portuguese explorers discovered the Syrian Orthodox Church of Malabar (which now exists in two branches, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar). The Malabar church claimed a lineage from the reported visits of the Apostle Thomas in the years immediately after the resurrection of Jesus and the creation of the Christian church. As the Portuguese attempted to established authority in India, the Catholic missionaries moved to impose Roman Catholicism upon the Malabar church. A number of changes in beliefs and practices were formally adopted at a synod in 1599 held at Diamper, India. Portuguese were appointed as bishops, clerics were henceforth required to live a celibate life, and the Inquisition was established to deal with heretics (the Malabar church having orders from the Nestorian Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch).

Not all were happy with the changes and opposition grew. In 1653, a second synod at Daimper broke with Rome and returned to pre-Catholic practices. Pope Alexander VII appointed Carmelite missionaries to deal with the situation. They wooed many back to Roman authority. Over the next decade many of those who had broken with Rome returned.

By the l680s a Syro-Malabar Catholic Church had emerged and the Carmelites continued to hold most of the leading positions in the church through the nineteenth century. During this time, the Syro-Malabar congregations remained a part of the diocese of the Latin-Rite Catholic churches and Syro-Malabar congregations used a heavily Latinized liturgy. Not until 1887 were the two groups separated. Finally, in 1896, the Vatican erected three vicariates apostolic for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and placed indigenous bishops in charge. A fourth diocese was created in 1911. Through the twentieth century, these four dioceses have grown into four provinces, each headed by an archbishop and each including additional dioceses. As of 2001, there were 24 dioceses in India, twelve of which were in Kerala. In 1923, the vicariate apostolic of Ernakulam was elevated as an archdiocese and in 1992 named the major archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamly. The archbishop is the head of the Syro-Malabar Church.

In 1934, a study of the Syro-Malabar liturgy with the aim of possible restoration of its pre-Latinized format was initiated. A generation later, in 1957, a revised liturgy was published, but has yet to be widely utilized, the Latinized liturgy having been established for several centuries.

Through the twentieth century, and especially after 1965, members of the Syro-Malabar churches migrated to the United States and Canada. As their numbers grew, congregations of expatriates emerged. Most recently, the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago has been established and Mar Jacob Angadiath selected as its first bishop. This diocese is considered to be outside the proper territory of the syro-Malabar Catholic Church and exists directly under Papal authority. The major archbishop in India has only very limited authority. The bishop in Chicago is, however, a member of the Syro-Malabar Bishops' Synod. The diocese is considered a suffragan of the archdiocese of Chicago (Latin-Rite)s.

Membership: The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has an estimated 4,300,000 members.


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St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. 25 January 2002.

Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. 25 January 2002.


Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

c/o Mt. Rev. Isaac Mar Cleemis, Apostolic Visitor for Europe
670 Hulses Corner Rd.
Howell, NJ 07731

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Archbishop's House, Trivandrum 695 004, Kerala, India.

The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is an Eastern-Rite Catholic church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See. In 1926, a disagreement occurred within the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Malankara Church traces its beginning to the ministry of the Apostle Thomas who it believes came to Kerala soon after the resurrection of Christ. With the arrival of the Portuguese in India in the fifteenth century, Roman Catholic missionaries initiated efforts to integrate the Indian Christians into the Roman Catholic Church. While initially agreeing to such an arrangement, in 1653 the majority of the Indian faithful rejected Roman authority and returned to the Syriac liturgy that they had previously used.

In the nineteenth century, the Church of England, which came to India with British rule, exerted its influence on the Indian church. The attempt to deal with the suggestions for reform led to its splitting into two branches: the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Mar Thoma Church accepted the reforms suggested by the Anglicans and established formal communion with the Church of England, while the Malankara Church continued with its traditional practice and its communion with the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.

In the 1880s, a dispute emerged between the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Malankara Church. That dispute continued into the middle of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, five Malankara bishops opened negotiations with Rome. They asked that in return for their transferring their allegiance that their liturgy be retained and that they remain as bishop of their diocese. The first two made their profession of faith on September 30, 1930. The next day, two additional bishops also joined in the act. The four and their diocese constituted the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. In 1932 Bishop Ivanios visited Rome where he was named archbishop of Trivandrum and the Archeparchy of Tiruvalla was established. By 1960 the new church claimed more than 68,000 members.

Members of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church have joined the migration of Indian to North America in the years since 1965 and congregations have been formed that remain connected to the Latin-Rite diocese in which they are located. There are also Malankara priests who are working in the United States to serve Indian Catholics in areas where no parish currently exists. Some attachment to the church in India is provided by an apostolic visitor from the church in India.

Membership: The Syro-Malankara Church has more than 500,000 members worldwide, the majority in India. In 2001, there were 10 Malankara congregations in the United States and one in Canada (Toronto).


Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. 25 January 2002.


Ukrainian Catholic Church

c/o Ukrainian Archepachary of Winnipeg
233 Scotia St.
Winnipeg, MB, Canada R2V 1V7

Alternate Address: International headquarters: Ploscha Sviatoho Jura 5, 290000 Lviv, Ukraine; Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Chancery Office, 827 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia, PA 19123.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is an Eastern-Rite Catholic church that is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and under the authority of the Papal See. It traces its history to the advent of Christianity in what is now Ukraine at the end of the first millennium C.E. Following the division between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1054, the Ukrainians adhered to Eastern Orthodoxy. The church was under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate residing in Constantinople. In the fourteenth century, Lithuania, a Roman Catholic nation, invaded the region. Ukrainians developed a much stronger sense of their own national and ethnic identity in opposition to the Lithuanian authority.

Then in 1439, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev, Isidore, attended the Council of Florence, a gathering of the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and agreed to the union of the Ukrainian Church with Catholicism. While many accepted the union, many rejected it and continued in their Orthodox faith. Then in 1569, following the union of Lithuania and Poland, Poland took control of the region, and Polish Catholic leaders pursued a united Catholic/Orthodox structure in order to block further growth of Protestantism.

In this context, Orthodox leaders saw a union with Rome as a means of preserving their Eastern church from full absorption into the Latin-Rite church that was expanding. Thus in 1596, at a gathering of Orthodox bishops, a new union of Ukrainian Orthodoxy with Rome was proclaimed. Over the next century the majority of Ukrainians accepted it. It survived until the nineteenth century when Russia expanded its control in the region. Russian authorities suppressed the Roman Catholic Church and incorporated both the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church survived in Galicia, western Ukraine, which had by this time come under Austrian control.

During the years after World War II when the Soviet Union annexed Galicia, Poland deported most Ukrainians in Poland to the Soviet Union, and the Soviet government suppressed the Ukrainian Catholic Church. All of the bishops were arrested and all but one died in prison. Believers were forced to choose between the Russian Orthodox Church or the Latin-Rite Roman Catholic Church, though in fact the Ukrainian Catholic Church survived as an underground church. As the Soviet Union began its demise in the late 1980s, a distinctive Ukrainian Catholic Church was reestablished in 1989 when a new bishop of Przemysl was named. In 1991 Myroslav Cardinal Lubachivsky was able to move into his residence in Lviv. By the end of the year seminaries were established at Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk and religious orders were revived.

Beginning in the late-nineteenth century, Ukrainians had begun to migrate worldwide and Catholic parishes began to emerge in the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, and Western Europe. These parishes served an important part of keeping Ukrainian identity alive. In the United States, the first parish (St. Michael the Archangel) was established in 1884 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. It and other early parishes were under the authority of the Latin-Rite bishops until 1907, when a Ukrainian Catholic exarchate (diocese) was established in Philadelphia. By 1916, there were 152 parishes, but it was not until 1956 that a second diocese of Stamford (Connecticut) was created. In 1961, the diocese of Chicago was established, followed in 1983 by the diocese of St. Josaphat (in Parma, Ohio). The original exarchate evolved into the archeparchary (metropolitan see) in Philadelphia.

Winnipeg became the leading site for Ukrainian settlement and the center of church in development in Manitoba and then in Canada. Parishes also emerged in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1902, Rev. W. Zholdak was appointed the Apostolic Administrator for the Ukrainian Catholics in Manitoba and all of northwestern Canada. In 1910 Metropolitan Sheptytsky visited Canada and met with both Roman Catholic and government officials to discuss the Ukrainian people having their own church leadership and jurisdiction. In 1912, Nykyta Budka, the first bishop of the Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, arrived to take up his official duties. By that time there were some 150,000 Ukrainians and approximately 80 churches and chapels.

In 1948, the single exarchate (proto-diocese) of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Canada was divided into three exarchates: the eastern exarchate in Toronto, the western exarchate in Edmonton, and the central exarchate in Winnipeg, which continued under the directorship of then Bishop Basil Ladyka. In 1951, Bishop Ladyka was raised to the status Archbishop. Five years later, Pope Pius XXII set up the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitinate (archdiocese) in Canada and named Bishop Maxim Hermaniuk, formerly the auxiliary bishop for Archbishop Ladyka, as the Metropolitan of Canada. The existing exarchates were raised to eparchies (dioceses). In 1974, the western eparchy was divided and a new eparchy established headquartered in New Westminster, British Colombia.

There are five epachies in Canada and four in the United States. There are also eparchies in Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. Apostolic exarchates have been appointed for France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Ukrainian Catholic seminaries are located in Washington, DC (USA), Ottawa, Canada; and Curitaba, Brazil.

Educational Facilities: Holy Spirit Seminary, Ottawa, Ontario.

St. Basil College Seminary, Stamford, CT.

Periodicals: Ukrainian Catholic News Progress, 233 Scotia St., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R2V 1V7.


Dyrud, Keith P. The Quest for the Rusyn Soul: The Politics of Religion and Culture in Eastern Europe and in America, 1890-World War I. Philadelphia: Balch Institute Press, 1992.

Eparchy of Stamford. 25 January 2002.

Himka, John-Paul. The Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian Society in Austrian Galicia. Cambridge, MA: Ukrainian Studies Fund, Harvard University, 1986.

Kowcz-Baran, Anna Maria. Ukrainian Catholic Churches of Winnipeg Archeparchy, History of Ukrainian Catholic Churches in Canada. Saskatoon, 1991.

Liesel, N. The Eastern Catholic Liturgies. A Study in Words and Pictures. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960.

Roberson, Ronald G. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. Rome: Edizioni Orientalia Christiana, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 5th ed., 1995.

Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg. 25 January 2002.

Ukrainian Catholic Church. 25 January 2002.