Russian Greek Catholic Church

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Russian Greek Catholic Church
Russian: Российская греко-католическая церковь
Moscow, Catholic Church in Presnya.jpg
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Classification Eastern Catholic
Polity Episcopal
Pope Francis
Primate

The Russian Greek Catholic Church (Russian : Российская греко-католическая церковь, Rossiyskaya greko-katolicheskaya tserkov), or Russian Catholic Church, is a sui iuris Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church. Historically, it represents the first reunion of members of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church. It is now in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope as defined by Eastern canon law.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Byzantine Rite liturgical rite of most Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches

The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or Constantinopolitan Rite, is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Greek/Byzantine Catholic churches, and in a modified form, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism. Its development began during the fourth century in Constantinople and it is now the second most-used ecclesiastical rite in Christendom after the Roman Rite.

Eastern Catholic Churches Autonomous, self-governing particular Churches in full communion with the Pope

The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, and in some historical cases Uniate Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian autonomous particular churches in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. They are united with one another and with the Latin or Roman Church. In particular, they recognize the central role of the Bishop of Rome within the College of Bishops and his infallibility when speaking ex cathedra. The majority of the Eastern Catholic Churches are groups from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the historic Church of the East that have returned to communion with the Bishop of Rome, either due to theological concerns or due to understanding the role of the Bishop of Rome as head of church. As such the five liturgical traditions of the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, including the Alexandrian Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite, and the West Syriac Rite, are shared with other Eastern Christian churches. Consequently, the Catholic Church consists of six liturgical rites; including the aforementioned five liturgical traditions of the Eastern Catholic Churches along with the Latin liturgical rites of the Latin Church.

Contents

Russian Catholics historically had their own episcopal hierarchy in the Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Russia and the Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Harbin, China. However, these offices are currently vacant. Their few parishes are served by priests ordained in other Eastern Catholic Churches, former Orthodox priests, and Roman Catholic priests with bi-ritual faculties.

The Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Russia is the sui iuris Eastern Catholic jurisdiction of the Catholic church for Russian language Byzantine Rite pastoral in Russia.

The Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Harbin is a dormant apostolic exarchate of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church based in the city of Harbin in China. The cathedra of the apostolic exarchate was in the Cathedral of St. Vladimir in Harbin, which is now in ruins. The apostolic exarchate also had churches in Shanghai and Beijing.

Precursors

In Russia, it is purported[ according to whom? ] that after the gradual development of the East-West Schism, a tiny group of Russian families maintained themselves as "Old Catholics" (Rus: старокатолики (starokatoliki)), a name which should not be confused with the Döllingerite Old Catholic church of Europe and the United States, which formally split with the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the reforms of the First Vatican Council. The status of this group of Russian "Old Catholics", families and groups of individuals to whom the union with Rome remains essential, and its relation to the current Russian Catholic Church, still remains unclear.

Ignaz von Döllinger German theologian

Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, also Doellinger in English, was a German theologian, Catholic priest and church historian who rejected the dogma of papal infallibility. His criticism of the papacy antagonized ultramontanes; but his reverence for tradition annoyed the liberals.

Old Catholic Church Churches that split from Roman Catholic Church due to rejection of papal infallibility

The term Old Catholic Church was used from the 1850s by groups which had separated from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, primarily concerned with papal authority; some of these groups, especially in the Netherlands, had already existed long before the term. These churches are not in full communion with the Holy See. Member churches of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches (UU) are in full communion with the Anglican Communion, and some are members of the World Council of Churches.

First Vatican Council synod

The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This, the twentieth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870. Unlike the five earlier general councils held in Rome, which met in the Lateran Basilica and are known as Lateran councils, it met in the Vatican Basilica, hence its name. Its best-known decision is its definition of papal infallibility.

The modern Russian Catholic Church owes much to the inspiration of poet and philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (1853–1900), who urged, following Dante, that, just as the world needed the Tsar as a universal monarch, the Church needed the Pope of Rome as a universal ecclesiastical hierarch. Following Solovyov's teachings a Russian Orthodox priest, Nicholas Tolstoy, entered into full communion with the See of Rome under the Melkite Greek-Catholic, Byzantine Rite Patriarchate of Antioch. Solovyov received sacramental Extreme Unction from Father Tolstoy believing that in doing so he remained also a faithful member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Orthodox authorities[ who? ] refer to Tolstoy as an apostate[ citation needed ] and "ex-priest", but tend to imply that Solovyov still died an Orthodox Christian. Nevertheless, Solovyov never retracted his sentiments in favor of union with the Catholic Church and the See of Rome, and to this day, many[ who? ] Russian Catholics refer to themselves as members of the 'Russian Orthodox Church in communion with Rome'.

Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher) Russian philosopher

Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov was a Russian philosopher, theologian, poet, pamphleteer, and literary critic. He played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century and in the spiritual renaissance of the early 20th century.

Tsar title given to a male monarch in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia

Tsar, also spelled csar, or tzar or czar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

Christian Church Term used to refer to the whole group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

The Christian Church, also called the holy catholic church, is a Christian ecclesiological concept of a church invisible comprising all Christians. In this understanding, "Christian Church" or "catholic church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions believe that these terms apply only to a specific concrete Christian institution, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East; or to a group of institutions, as in the branch theory taught by some Anglicans.

History

Byzantine-rite Catholicism was illegal in the Tsarist Russian empire through the 1800s and until 1905, when Tsar Nicholas II granted religious tolerance. Thereafter, communities of Greek Catholics emerged and became organized. [1] Old Believers were prominent in the early years of the movement. In 1917, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky appointed the first Apostolic Exarchate for Russian Catholics with Most Reverend Leonid Feodorov, formerly a Russian Orthodox seminarian, as Exarch. However, the October Revolution soon followed, dispersing Russian-Rite Catholics into the Siberian prison camps and the centers of the Russian diaspora throughout the world. In the spring of 1923, Exarch Leonid Feodorov was prosecuted for counterrevolution by Nikolai Krylenko and sentenced to ten years in the Soviet concentration camp at Solovki. Released in 1932, he died three years later. He was beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

Nicholas II of Russia Emperor of All the Russias, Grand Duke of Finland and King of Poland By the Grace of God

Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov, known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer, was the last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire from one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. He gave limited support to the economic and political reforms promoted by top aides Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin, but they faced too much aristocratic opposition to be fully effective. He supported modernization based on foreign loans and close ties with France. He resisted giving the new parliament major roles. He insisted he ruled by God's grace and was loath to negotiate or compromise. He was ridiculed as Nicholas the Bloody by his enemies due to the Khodynka Tragedy, anti-Semitic pogroms, Bloody Sunday, the violent suppression of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the repression of political opponents, and his perceived responsibility for defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). His memory was reviled by Soviet historians as a weak and incompetent leader whose decisions led to military defeats and the deaths of millions of his subjects. By contrast Anglo-Russian historian Nikolai Tolstoy, leader of the International Monarchist League, says, "There were many bad things about the tsar's regime, but he inherited an autocracy and his acts are now being seen in perspective and in comparison to the terrible crimes committed by the Soviets."

Old Believers

In Eastern Orthodox church history, especially within the Russian Orthodox Church, the Old Believers or Old Ritualists are Eastern Orthodox Christians who maintain the liturgical and ritual practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church as they were before the reforms of Patriarch Nikon of Moscow between 1652 and 1666. Resisting the accommodation of Russian piety to the contemporary forms of Greek Orthodox worship, these Christians were anathematized, together with their ritual, in a Synod of 1666–67, producing a division in Eastern Europe between the Old Believers and those who followed the state church in its condemnation of the Old Rite.

Blessed Leonid Ivanovich Feodorov was Exarch of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, in addition to being a survivor of the Gulag. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 27 June 2001.

In 1928, a second Apostolic Exarchate was set up, for the Russian Catholics in China, based in Harbin, the Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Harbin.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Harbin Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, and largest city in the northeastern region of the People's Republic of China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, Harbin has direct jurisdiction over nine metropolitan districts, two county-level cities and seven counties. Harbin is the eighth most populous Chinese city according to the 2010 census, the built-up area had 5,282,093 inhabitants, while the total population of the sub-provincial city was up to 10,635,971. Harbin serves as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural, and communications hub in Northeast China, as well as an important industrial base of the nation.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, some Russian Catholics began to appear in the open. In a 2005 article, Russian Catholic priest Sergei Golovanov stated that three Russian Catholic priests served on Russian soil celebrating the Russian Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Two of them used the recension of the Russian Liturgy as reformed by Patriarch Nikon of Moscow in 1666. The other priest used the medieval rite of the Old Believers, that is to say, as the Russian liturgical recension existed before Patriarch Nikon's reforms of the Russian Liturgy. All Eastern Catholics in the Russian Federation strictly maintain the use of Church Slavonic, although vernacular Liturgies are more common in the Russian diaspora.

Uniate Church in the Russian Empire

In 1807 the Russian Empire continued to appoint its own primates for the Ruthenian Uniate Church without confirming them with the Pope.
Metropolitans of Kiev:

Following the Synod of Polatsk (1838), the Ruthenian Uniate Church was forcibly abolished on the territory of the Russian Empire, and its property and clergy transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Apostolic Exarchate of Russia

It is vacant since 1951, having had only two incumbents, both belonging to the Ukrainian Studite Monks (M.S.U., a Byzantine Rite Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church monastic order):

Apostolic Exarchate of Harbin

NameTermOrderNotesRefs
Fabijan Abrantovich 20 May 1928–1939Marian FathersArrived in Harbin in September 1928. Recalled to Rome in 1933. Died 1946. [2]
Vendelín Javorka  [ cs ]1933–1936Jesuit Apostolic administrator sede plena [2]
Andrzej Cikoto  [ be ]20 October 1939 – 13 February 1952Marian Fathers1933–1939 superior general of the Marian Fathers in Rome. Later made archimandrite. Died in office in prison

Structure

With the religious freedom experienced after the fall of Communism, there were calls from the small number of Russian Catholics to appoint an Exarch to the long existing vacancy. Such a move would have been strongly objected to by the Russian Orthodox Church, causing the Holy See to not act out of ecumenical concerns. In 2004, however, the Vatican's hand was forced when a convocation of Russian Catholic priests in the territory of the vacant exarchate used their rights under canon law to elect a temporary administrator. The Vatican then moved quickly to replace the temporary administrator with Bishop Joseph Werth, the Latin Church Apostolic Administrator of Siberia, based in Novosibirsk. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Ordinary for all Eastern Catholics in the Russian Federation. As of 2010, five parishes have been registered with civil authorities in Siberia, while in Moscow two parishes and a pastoral center operate without official registration. There are also communities in Saint Petersburg and Obninsk. [1] By 2018, there have been reports of 13 parishes and five pastoral points in Siberia with seven parishes and three pastoral points in European Russia. Some parishes serve the Ukrainian community. The Ordinariate has minimal structure. A Byzantine priest serves as Secretary to the Ordinary. There is a priest coordinator for the parishes in Siberia and a liturgical commission and a catechetical commission. [3]

Outside Russia, there are Russian Catholic parishes and faith communities in San Francisco, New York City, El Segundo, Denver, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Meudon, Paris, Chevetogne, Lyon, Munich, Rome, Milan, and Singapore. They are all under the jurisdiction of the respective local Latin Church bishops. The communities in Denver, Dublin and Singapore do not have a Russian national character – but exist for local Catholics who wish to worship in the Russo-Byzantine style.

As of 2014, the two Exarchates of Russia and Harbin are still listed in the Annuario Pontificio as extant, but they have not yet been reconstituted, nor have new Russian-Rite bishops been appointed to head them.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Ronald Roberson. "Other Eastern Catholic Communities: Russians". Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
  2. 1 2 Zugger 2001 p.462
  3. http://www.rkcvo.ru/

Sources