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Gregory III to "rebel" Melkite bishops: I will not resign under illegal and deceptive pressures

by Fady Noun


The Greek-Catholic synod due to have taken place two days ago lacked a quorum, with the absence of 10 bishops. They accuse the Patriarch of having bankrupted the Church patrimony. The faithful are scandalized. The Congregation for Eastern Churches pushes for dialogue.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham announced last night that he will not resign from his patriarchal seat on the back of pressure from some rebel bishops who boycotted the synod which was to have opened two days ago on 20 June in Aïn Trez (Mount Lebanon), the summer seat of the patriarchate. He also confirmed that the annual Church synod will be held around October.

Out of 22 bishops in office, only 10 attended the meeting which requires the participation of at least 12 for validity. The absent bishops who have joined forces against the patriarch and boycotted the synod, are considered "in open rebellion."

Of the prelates boycotting the synod, the best known is the Archbishop of Beirut, Msgr. Cyrille Bustros (77 years). He and others call for the resignation of Patriarch Gregory III (83 years),claiming he has squandered the wealth of the Greek-catholic Church. The patriarch defended himself defining the allegations as "misleading".

Months ago, the coalition of bishops sent a letter to the Congregation of Eastern Churches laying the same claims, but the Congregation, led by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri gave no credence to their complaint, responding it could not act as a referee in this dispute, demanding the bishops participate in the Synod and recalling that no one can force a patriarch to resign. Gregory III, for his part, urged the bishops who are hostile to him to voice their criticism “transparently and with charity during the synod”. Unfortunately, their absence at the opening of the meeting shows their preference for a showdown.

"Open rebellion"

Last night, returning to the events of the last two days, and concerned about the feelings of his community shocked by the allegations, the patriarch issued a second statement in which he states that he will not resign under pressure. Harshly condemning the dissenting bishops, Gregory III emphasizes that their absence from the synod is a "case of open rebellion" that contradicts the provisions of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches (104).

The Patriarch also states that the Congregation of Eastern Churches has been clear on the issue of his function, noting that "the patriarchal seat is considered vacant only if the patriarch's death or renunciation of his office" (n. 126) and in no another case.

In the statement, Gregory III says: "I consider the boycott of the work of the synod on the part of some bishops as an act of open ecclesiastical rebellion against patriarchal authority and that of the Congregation of the Eastern Churches (Rome), as well as against a clear provision of canon law ... Demanding the unconditional resignation of the patriarch is irresponsible conduct, not ecclesial and illegal, and has caused a wave of anger, protests, doubts and perplexity among the faithful. This very serious situation has prompted us to publish this explanatory statement, out of the concern for protecting the conscience and feelings of our children, clergy and laity, as well as the dignity of our Church, at all levels ... I shall not resign, and not I give in to illegal and deceptive pressures. I will remain at the service of my Church. "

The patriarch has also stated that the suspended synod could be held in October and encouraged some mediation to make the meeting possible.



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This just proves that the Catholics need the strong leadership of a Byzantine emperor to maintain unity, order, and discipline in the church.

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I guess the old term 'Orthodox in union with Rome' includes behaving like us as well... wink


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Very surprising news. I was not aware of this until now.

Besides Archbishop Bustros, do we know which bishops did not attend the planned synod? Was Bishop Nicholas Samra among them?

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Sad news. I am trying to get more info from Melkite friends in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, a friend from Australia sent me this, which he got from a local Melkit aquaintance...

"The patriarchate has little money left because it has given it away to relieve the refugees, having had all its infrastructure and assets ruined in the war - beyond the control of the patriarch. Indeed he has been the one to raise money abroad to keep things afloat and to give more aid to the people. contacts here tell me that the ten who have stayed away and now turned on their Father have done little to help or raise money, and blame him for not putting the interests of the church first. The implication of corruption is disgusting. Even worse is a catholic news agency peddling one side's spite. Satan must be exultant. I do not approve of censorship and believe in free speech. But there must be press standards to adhere to if a media outlet is going to call itself Catholic. Gregorios has enemies in Rome for not playing a suitably subordinate role. for the sake of their survival and true to the doctrine of communion. It's a matter of life and death whether the Eastern Churches are supported, respected and materially aided"

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It is far more than sad news; it is absolutely scandalous, and so at a time when the Christians and churches of the Near East suffer persecution, the ravages of relentless war and consequent flight from this perilous plague. That this clash of hierarchs should unfold in their midst is beyond the pale. I pray deeply that this wound in the Body of Christ be healed very quickly for it cries to heaven.

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I do not understand the report. Were there ten absent bishops and twelve present, or ten present and twelve absent? The first and third paragraphs seem to contradict each other.

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Bear in mind, this is probably not only a translation, but a translation of a translation.
Bankruptcy in the interest of charity is laudable.

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Originally Posted by Mark R

Bankruptcy in the interest of charity is laudable.


That was my reaction.

If he's being criticized for spending the worldly wealth feeding the hungry and homeless, let's find bishops just like him . . .

A couple of years ago, a client accused me of "keeping money in his trust account". . . uhh, yes, guilty as charged!

Sure, we use gold (plated) vessels and such for services, offering our best for Him--but if the choices is between having a gold chalice and investments on the one hand, and clay vessels and doing what He Told us to do . . . .

hawk

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Originally Posted by Filipe YTOL
Sad news. I am trying to get more info from Melkite friends in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, a friend from Australia sent me this, which he got from a local Melkit aquaintance...

"The patriarchate has little money left because it has given it away to relieve the refugees, having had all its infrastructure and assets ruined in the war - beyond the control of the patriarch. Indeed he has been the one to raise money abroad to keep things afloat and to give more aid to the people. contacts here tell me that the ten who have stayed away and now turned on their Father have done little to help or raise money, and blame him for not putting the interests of the church first. The implication of corruption is disgusting. Even worse is a catholic news agency peddling one side's spite. Satan must be exultant. I do not approve of censorship and believe in free speech. But there must be press standards to adhere to if a media outlet is going to call itself Catholic. Gregorios has enemies in Rome for not playing a suitably subordinate role. for the sake of their survival and true to the doctrine of communion. It's a matter of life and death whether the Eastern Churches are supported, respected and materially aided"

Yikes!

The ten bishops may well be in the wrong, of course, but I think the more immediate question is shouldn't we extend respectful charity toward them? The condemnations against them that you quoted seem to me premature (at best).

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Peter, naturally I agree. Just passing on information...

Meanwhile today I spoke personally to a very well informed person from the Middle East. I am afraid I cannot share his name as we spoke strictly off the record.

He told me that this has little to do with finances, and much more to do with communication problems. The Patriarch is a very intelligent and energetic man, but lacks notions of synodality which are expected by his bishops.

So it basically seems like many of them are just fed up with his style and with not being consulted about decisions and so on.

Sad and scandalous all the same. Again, just passing on what I have been told.

All the best!
Filipe

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According to this report in the Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar today, Patriarch Gregory III will resign in June 2017. The synod will meet, with the participation of all bishops, this coming October.

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As a Melkite priest, let me say that our Church is synodal in government and the patriarch, any patriarch, is not a kind of "mini pope." Contrary to the opinions posted previously, Patriarch Gregory III has been acting erratically and it is some of the more thoughtful of our bishops that have been quietly pushing him to resign for both his good as well as for the good of our Church. His leadership skills are nil - unless you call screaming at fellow bishops as leadership. Unlike the U.S. where churches are supported by offerings, in the Middle East our churches are supported by their land holdings. Selling Church land without the consent of the synod is contrary to our canons and the patriarch is not above Church law. In addition, selling Church owned land in the Holy Land has serious repercussions. The patriarch has created the situation himself by his actions and his disdainful treatment of his fellow bishops. The patriarch is "primus inter pares" among his fellow bishops, not "primus super allies." It is of note that the bishops supporting the patriarch are almost all (if not all) Basilian Salvatorians, the same community to which the patriarch himself belongs - no great surprise there! Lastly, it is not at all true "that the ten who have stayed away and now turned on their Father have done little to help or raise money." This is patently untrue as my own diocese's financial statements show.

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Thank you, father, for your insights.
Do you confirm that His Beatitude has agreed to step down in June 2017?
Filipe

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I have heard nothing of a June 2017 resignation (nor would I!)

However, turning to a Roman Catholic cardinal (Sandri) for intervention (as has been done by both sides in the dispute) is demeaning at best. The "Sacred" congregation for the Oriental Churches ( i.e. the Colonial Office) does not have our best interests at heart - despite all the rhetoric. I remind you that it is this same congregation that: has played "ostpolitic" with Moscow and prevented the recognition of the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as patriarch,has until recently prevented married priests in North America, has highhandedly appointed Eastern Catholic bishops contrary to Councils and canons, has attempted to restrict synodal authority in our Churches, and has repeatedly upheld and preferred Latin bishops at every turn. Need I point out, as well, that its a very strange thing that an underling curial bishop of another patriarchal Church (i.e. the Roman) is given authority over Churches which are supposedly equal! If we are Churches that are equal, isn't it time we start acting the part? Remember, without us the Roman Church is not Catholic (i.e. universal) but merely an Italian Church with a lot of branch offices.

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