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After 20 years as the first Palestinian Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, a native of Nazareth, steps down tomorrow when he reaches the age of 75.

He will be succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Fouad Twal, 67, who was born in Madaba, Jordan, and appointed in September 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Story by the Catholic World News:

http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=57313

Amado

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As pointed out repeatedly (Patriarch Maximos IV attempted to raise this matter on the floor of Vatican II) the very existence of a "Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem" is highly questionable. What is it going to require to resolve the situation?

Fr. Serge

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As a Latin Catholic, I wonder the same thing as Fr. Serge. What is the (current) reason for a Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem? I understand that there might be Latin Catholics there who need a shepherd, but why not just make it a simple bishopic, instead of calling it a Patriarch? The term is almost entirely symbolic from a Western perspective, anyway.


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Good points all!

My personal understanding of the matter:

(1) The Latin Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem, in its present form, was established in 1099 with the Crusaders. According to the Crusaders' thesis, there was no residing Patriarch by the time of their entrance to Jerusalem; therefore, they installed a Latin Patriarch to govern the Church. When Saladine took over Jerusalem in 1187, the Latin Patriarch had to reside temporarily in Acco until 1291. (Excerpt from the LPJ website.)

(2) Presently, there are 6 particular Catholic Churches in the Holy Land: Latins (~75,000), Melkites (~114,000), Maronites (~1,700), Chaldeans (~7,000), Syrians (~1,500), and Armenians (~400). The Melkites are the most numerous but their Patriarchate has no "legal standing" in the area, as explained below.

(3) The Holy See, i.e., as it represents the Catholic Church as a communion of 23 Churches, is the only juridical entity recognized under international law and, therefore, by Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate the terms and conditions under which the particular Catholic Churches can continue to exist and operate in these territories (the so-called "Holy Land"). The Latin Archdiocese of Jerusalem (in the form of a Patriarchate) is the de facto et de jure "extension" of the Holy See in the Holy Land. As such, the LPJ "leads" or "heads" all the Catholic Churches in situ. Thus, the Latin Rite Patriarch is the de oficio President of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. (He is, naturally, also the President of the Conference of the Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions.)

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As pointed out repeatedly (Patriarch Maximos IV attempted to raise this matter on the floor of Vatican II) the very existence of a "Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem" is highly questionable. What is it going to require to resolve the situation?

I don't understand why this is even an issue for anyone. In the Western Church we have Patriarchs of Venice, Lisbon, and the East Indies. They are simply titles of honor for historically important archbishops.

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I don't understand why this is even an issue for anyone. In the Western Church we have Patriarchs of Venice, Lisbon, and the East Indies. They are simply titles of honor for historically important archbishops.

However, since the same term "Patriarch" is NOT simply a "title of honor" in the East, I don't understand why the Western Church cannot simply use a different title for those positions.

Also, I think the situation is a bit different in Jerusalam. As part of the Pentarchy, saying a bishop is the "Patriarch of Jerusalem" has deep, and important, implications that are not applicable in Venice, Lisbon, etc.



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However, since the same term "Patriarch" is NOT simply a "title of honor" in the East, I don't understand why the Western Church cannot simply use a different title for those positions.

Precisely. That is the Eastern understanding, not the Western. Tolerance is a two way street.

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Also, I think the situation is a bit different in Jerusalam. As part of the Pentarchy, saying a bishop is the "Patriarch of Jerusalem" has deep, and important, implications that are not applicable in Venice, Lisbon, etc.

This is why he is styled the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. It makes things rather clear.

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Precisely. That is the Eastern understanding, not the Western. Tolerance is a two way street.

Tolerance may be a two-way street, but Christian charity is not. Christian charity gives way with no thought of return. The West should realize that the Eastern Church used the term "Patriarch" to mean something specific for over 1,000 years before the Western Church used it in a different meaning. This is not a case of both sides using a term concurrently for centuries with different meanings.

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The West should realize that the Eastern Church used the term "Patriarch" to mean something specific for over 1,000 years before the Western Church used it in a different meaning. This is not a case of both sides using a term concurrently for centuries with different meanings.

I think most educated Roman Catholics do realize this. But why should it be changed? Words and terminology undergo changes all the time. Language is not static. Pronunciation, meaning, etc. change constantly e.g. the word scenario.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913:
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Patriarch (Gr. patriarches; Latin patriarcha) means the father or chief of a race (patria, a clan or family). The word occurs in the Septuagint for the chiefs of the tribes (e.g. 1 Chronicles 24:31; 27:22, patriarchai ton phylon; cf. 2 Chronicles 23:20 etc.); in the New Testament (Hebrews 7:4) it is applied to Abraham as a version of his title "father of many nations" (Genesis 17:4), to David (Acts 2:29), and to the twelve sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8-9). This last became the special meaning of the word when used of Scriptural characters. The heads of the tribes were the "Twelve Patriarchs", though the word is used also in a more general sense for the fathers of the Old Law in general, e.g. the invocation in the litany, "All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets".

Names of Christian dignitaries were in early days taken sometimes from civil life (episkopos, diakonos), sometimes borrowed from the Jews (presbyteros). The name patriarch is one of the latter class. Bishops of special dignity were called patriarchs just as deacons were called levites, because their place corresponded by analogy to those in the Old Law. All such titles became technical terms, official titles, only gradually. At first they were used loosely as names of honour without any strict connotation; but in all such cases the reality existed before any special name was used. There were ecclesiastical dignitaries with all the rights and prerogatives of patriarchs in the first three centuries; but the official title does not occur till later. As a Christian title of honour the word patriarch appears first as applied to Pope Leo I in a letter of Theodosius II (408-50; Mansi, VI, 68). The bishops of the Byzantine jurisdiction apply it to their chief, Acacius (471-89; Evagrius, "H.E.", III, 9). But it was still merely an honourable epithet that might be given to any venerable bishop. St. Gregory of Nazianzus says: "the elder bishops, or more rightly, the patriarchs" (Orat., xlii, 23). Socrates says that the Fathers of Constantinople I (381) "set up patriarchs", meaning apparently metropolitans of provinces (H. E., V, viii). As late as the fifth and sixth centuries Celidonius of Besan�on and Nicetius of Lyons are still called patriarchs (Acta SS., Feb., III, 742; Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Francorum", V, xx).

Gradually then -- certainly from the eighth and ninth centuries -- the word becomes an official title, used henceforth only as connoting a definite rank in the hierarchy, that of the chief bishops who ruled over metropolitans as metropolitans over their suffragan bishops, being themselves subject only to the first patriarch at Rome. During these earlier centuries the name appears generally in conjunction with "archbishop", "archbishop and patriarch", as in the Code of Justinian (Gelzer, "Der Streit �ber den Titel des �kumen. Patriarchen" in "Jahrbuch f�r protest. Theol.", 1887). The dispute about the title �cumenical Patriarch in the sixth century (see JOHN THE FASTER) shows that even then the name was receiving a technical sense. Later medieval and modern developments, schisms, and the creation of titular and so-called "minor" patriarchates have produced the result that a great number of persons now claim the title; but in all cases it connotes the idea of a special rank -- the highest, except among Catholics who admit the still higher papacy.

Thus, I do not understand why it is a problem to people who are educated on such matters.

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Today there are (at least) four bishops with the title of Patriarch of Jerusalem:

- the Melkite Patriarch of Jerusalem (that is always united with the title of Patriarch of Antioch)
- the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
- the Greek Byzantine Patriarch of Jerusalem
- the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Charity is probably stop fighting about who is the True Patriarch.

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Judging by the postings, what it will take to resolve the situation is an acceptance that it is improper to give an "honorific title" to people in the Roman tradition when that same title is used only as a genuine rank in the Christian East.

The "Latin Patriarch" of Jerusalem is normally to be found in what is, unquestionably, the canonical territory of the Christian East; since his actual task is to care for the Latin clergy, monastics, paramonastics, and faithful in the Holy Land, his proper title might well be simply Vicar Apostolic.

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Actual I think the necessity of a Latin Patriarch of Jeruslaem has to do with the status quo of the Churches of the Resurrection and the Nativity.


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Judging by the postings, what it will take to resolve the situation is an acceptance that it is improper to give an "honorific title" to people in the Roman tradition when that same title is used only as a genuine rank in the Christian East.


Everyone keeps saying that it is improper, but what no one seems to be saying is why. Should people who hold a degree from a university be offended when their university gives out honorary degrees?

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Actual I think the necessity of a Latin Patriarch of Jeruslaem has to do with the Status Quo of the Churches of the Resurrection and the Nativity.

I think this is most certainly the reason in this case as a change in name might cause some legal difficulties. As it is, the Israeli government looks not only at its own law, but also British Mandate and Ottoman law when it comes to property rights. Usuaully, they use whichever favor themselves as can be seen with some high profile court cases regarding Palestinian land.

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Should people who hold a degree from a university be offended when their university gives out honorary degrees?

Happens that I hold a perfectly good MA in Sacred Theology (in my case, liturgiology) from the University of Saint Michael's College, University of Toronto. It represents four years of work and a thesis.

It also happens that Oxford gives everybody who has received a BA from Oxford and manages to keep out of jail for the next year or so the degree of "MA Oxon", which represents nothing whatever.

Does this annoy me?

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Everyone keeps saying that it is improper, but what no one seems to be saying is why. Should people who hold a degree from a university be offended when their university gives out honorary degrees?

I have said why: because the term "Patriarch" has a long and deep meaning in Eastern ecclesiology, and the Western Church, in Christian charity, should realize that, and give up a title that is simply honorific in our ecclesiology. Anything that causes discord that is non-essential should be considered for change.

Think of a marriage. If my wife has an opinion and I have an opposite one, but she thinks it very important and I think it not very important, then I surely should accede to her desires in this case. Heck, even if I thought it important, but realized it was not essential, I still should accede to her desires in marital love.

The schism will never be healed as long as we insist on holding onto non-essentials. We should not look for the "other side" to do so, we should simply do so on our own, in Christian charity and imitation of Christ who "emptied himself" for our (undeserving) sake.


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