|Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church|
|Primate||Metropolitan William C. Skurla|
|Associations||Congregation for the Oriental Churches|
|Region||United States, Czech Republic and Ukraine|
|Headquarters||Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Pittsburgh, PA, United States|
|Merger of||Union of Uzhhorod|
|Other name(s)||Byzantine Catholic Church (US only)|
|Part of a series on|
| Particular churches sui iuris |
of the Catholic Church
|Particular churches are grouped by rite.|
|East Syriac Rite|
|West Syriac Rite|
The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, also known in the United States as the Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church that uses the Byzantine Rite for its liturgies, laws, and cultural identity. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches that are in full communion with the Holy See. There are two main communities within the church: American and European. In the United States, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is self-governing ( sui iuris ). In Europe, Ruthenian Catholics are immediately subject to the Holy See. The European branch has an eparchy in Ukraine (the Eparchy of Mukacheve) and another in the Czech Republic (the Ruthenian Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic).
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 particular churches sui iuris in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Headed by patriarchs, metropolitans, and major archbishops, the Eastern Catholic Churches are governed in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, although each church also has its own canons and laws on top of this, and the preservation of their own traditions is explicitly encouraged. The total membership of the various churches accounts for about 18 million, according to the Annuario Pontificio, thus making up about 1.5 percent of the Catholic Church, with the rest of its more than 1.3 billion members belonging to the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church.
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.
The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, as well as a sovereign entity of international law.
The Ruthenian Catholic Church is rooted among the Rusyn people who lived in Carpathian Ruthenia. This part of the Carpathian Mountains straddles the borders of the present-day states of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Today, the church is multi-ethnic. Members of the metropolitan province of Pittsburgh are predominantly English-speaking. Most are descendants of Rusyns – including sub-groups like the Boikos, Hutsuls and Lemkos – but the descendants of other nationalities are also present such as Slovaks, Hungarians and Croats as well as those of non-Slavic and non-Eastern European ancestry. The modern Eparchy of Mukacheve in Ukraine is mostly Ukrainian speaking and remains officially part of the greater Ruthenian Church.
Rusyns, sometimes referred to as Rusnaks, also known as Carpatho-Ruthenians or Carpatho-Russians, are an East Slavic people who speak the Rusyn language. They descend from an East Slavic population that inhabited the Northern regions of the Eastern Carpathians since the Early Middle Ages. Together with other East Slavs from neighboring regions, they were often labeled by the common exonym Ruthenians, or by the regionally more specific designation Carpathian Ruthenians, and sub-group designations Dolinyans, Boykos, Hutsuls and Lemkos. Unlike their Eastern neighbors, who adopted the use of the ethnonym Ukrainians in the early 20th century, Rusyns kept and preserved their original name. As residents of Northeastern regions of the Carpathian Mountains, Rusyns are closely connected to, and also sometimes associated with, other Slavic communities in the region, like the Slovaks highlander community of Gorals.
Carpathian Ruthenia, Carpatho-Ukraine or Zakarpattia is a historic region in the border between Central and Eastern Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast, with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia and Poland's Łemkowszczyzna. Before World War I most of this region was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the interwar period, it was part of the First and Second Czechoslovak Republic. During World War II, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary once again. After the war, it was occupied by the USSR and became part of Soviet Ukraine.
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Roughly 1,500 km (932 mi) long, it is the third-longest European mountain range after the Urals with 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and the Scandinavian Mountains with 1,700 km (1,056 mi). The range stretches from the far eastern Czech Republic (3%) in the northwest through Slovakia (17%), Poland (10%), Hungary (4%) and Ukraine (10%) Serbia (5%) and Romania (50%) in the southeast. The highest range within the Carpathians is known as the Tatra mountains in Slovakia, where the highest peaks exceed 2,600 m (8,530 ft). The second-highest range is the Southern Carpathians in Romania, where the highest peaks range between 2,500 m (8,202 ft) and 2,550 m (8,366 ft).
The Ruthenian Church originally developed among the Rusyn people of Carpathian Ruthenia as a result of the missionary outreach of Saints Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity and the Byzantine Rite to the Slavic peoples in the 9th century. After the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in 1054, the Ruthenian Church retained its Orthodox ties.
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two brothers who were Byzantine Christian theologians and Christian missionaries. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title "Apostles to the Slavs". They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic. After their deaths, their pupils continued their missionary work among other Slavs. Both brothers are venerated in the Orthodox Church as saints with the title of "equal-to-apostles". In 1880, Pope Leo XIII introduced their feast into the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1980, Pope John Paul II declared them co-patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia.
Slavs are Indo-European peoples who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia (Siberia), and Central Asia, as well as historically in Western Europe and Western Asia. From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit the majority of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America, particularly in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
With the 1646 Union of Uzhhorod, 63 Ruthenian clergy were received into the Catholic Church, and in 1664 a union reached at Mukachevo brought additional communities into the Catholic communion.The resulting dioceses retained their Byzantine patrimony and liturgical traditions, and their bishops were elected by a council composed of Basilian monks and eparchial clergy.
The Union of Uzhhorod, also referred to as Union of Ungvár, was the 1646 decision of 63 Ruthenian Orthodox priests from the south slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, then within the Kingdom of Hungary, to join the Catholic Church on terms similar to the Union of Brest from 1596 in the lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The modern result of this union is the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.
The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.
Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.
After almost a thousand years of Hungarian rule the region became, in part, incorporated in Czechoslovakia after World War I. Annexation to the Soviet Union after the war led to persecution of the Ruthenian Catholic Church.However, since the collapse of Communism the Ruthenian Catholic Church in Eastern Europe has seen a resurgence in numbers of faithful and priests.
Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia, was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, various Byzantine-Rite Catholics from Austria-Hungary arrived in the United States, particularly in coal mining towns. [ citation needed ]Members of the predominant Latin Church Catholic hierarchy were sometimes disturbed by what they saw as the innovation, for the United States, of a married Catholic clergy. At their persistent request, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith applied, on 1 May 1897, to the United States rules already set out in a letter of 2 May 1890 to François-Marie-Benjamin Richard, the Archbishop of Paris. These rules stated that only celibates and widowed priests coming without their children should be permitted in the United States. The dissatisfaction of many Ruthenian Catholics had already given rise to some groups placing themselves under the jurisdiction of what is today the Orthodox Church in America (at that time a mission of the Russian Orthodox Church). The leader of this movement was the widowed Ruthenian Catholic priest Alexis Toth, whose mistreatment by Archbishop John Ireland of Saint Paul, Minnesota, led to Toth's transfer to Eastern Orthodoxy. He brought with him many Ruthenian Catholics, around 20,000 by the time of his death with many who followed afterward, and was canonized a saint by the Orthodox Church in America in 1996.
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed when the Austrian Empire adopted a new constitution; as a result Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) were placed on equal footing. It dissolved into several new states at the end of the First World War.
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed if dead plant matter decays into peat and over millions of years the heat and pressure of deep burial converts the peat into coal. Vast deposits of coal originates in former wetlands—called coal forests—that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permian times.
The Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 such churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity through its direct leadership under the Holy See, founded by Peter and Paul, according to Catholic tradition.
The situation with Alexis Toth and the Latin Catholic bishops highlighted the need for American Eastern Catholics to have their own bishop. Pope Pius X appointed the Ukrainian bishop Soter Ortynsky in 1907 as bishop for all Slavic Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine rite in America. For this period the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics were united to the Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the same eparchy. Ethnic tensions flared due to cultural differences (mostly of a political nature) between Ukrainians who came from Austrian-ruled Galicia and the Rusyns and other Byzantine Catholics who came from the Kingdom of Hungary. This caused Rome to split the groups after Ortynsky's death by creating a new separate eparchy especially for Byzantine Catholics coming from Hungary - mostly Rusyns but also ethnic Hungarians, Slovaks, and Croats. The Rusyn priest Basil Takach was appointed and ordained in Rome on his way to America as the new eparchy's bishop. Bishop Takach is considered the first bishop of Ruthenian Catholics in America, and his appointment as the official founding of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh.
Clerical celibacy of American Eastern Catholics was restated with special reference to the Byzantine/Ruthenian Church by the 1 March 1929 decree Cum data fuerit, which was renewed for a further 10 years in 1939. Due to this and other similar factors, 37 Ruthenian parishes transferred themselves into the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch in 1938, creating the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.
Relations with the Latin Church Catholic hierarchy have improved, especially since the Second Vatican Council, at which the Ruthenian Church influenced decisions regarding using the vernacular (i.e. the language of the people) in the liturgy.In its decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Second Vatican Council declared:
"The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and the established standards of the Christian life of the Eastern Churches, for in them, distinguished as they are for their venerable antiquity, there remains conspicuous the tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church."
The Second Vatican Council urged the Eastern Rite Churches to eliminate liturgical Latinization and to strengthen their Eastern Christian identity. In June 1999 the Council of Hierarchs of the Byzantine Metropolitan Church Sui Iuris of Pittsburgh U.S.A. promulgated the norms of particular law to govern itself. In January 2007, the Revised Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Revised Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great were promulgated. In December 2013, the Pope approved the request of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches that appropriate Eastern Church authorities be granted the faculty to allow pastoral service of Eastern married clergy also outside the traditional Eastern territory.
Membership of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church is not limited to those who trace their heritage to Eastern Europe.
The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church has four eparchies in the United States and one eparchy plus an Apostolic Exarchate in Europe. As of 2016, its membership was estimated at some 419,500 faithful, with seven bishops, 664 parishes, 557 priests, 76 deacons, and 192 men and women religious
Metropolia of Pittsburgh (one archeparchy, three suffragan eparchies, approximately 22,500 faithful)
Immediately subject to the Holy See : (approximately 397,500 faithful)
One issue preventing organization of the Ruthenian Catholic Church under a single synod is the desire of some of the priests and faithful of the Eparchy of Mukacheve that it should be part of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The term exarch comes from the Ancient Greek ἔξαρχος, exarchos, and designates holders of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See. It is the second-largest particular church in the Catholic Church. It is part of the Major Archiepiscopal Churches of the Catholic Church that are not distinguished with a patriarchal title.
The Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh is part of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.
Monsignor Basil Shereghy was a leading Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church priest and professor, as well as a cultural activist for Rusyns in the United States.
The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church or Hungarian Byzantine Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris ("autonomous") Eastern Catholic particular Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is headquartered in Debrecen. Its liturgical rite is the Byzantine Rite in Hungarian.
The Slovak Greek Catholic Church, or Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church, is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church in full union with the Catholic Church. Its liturgical rite is the Byzantine Rite. L'Osservatore Romano of January 31, 2008 reported that, in Slovakia alone, it had some 350,000 faithful, 374 priests and 254 parishes. In addition, the 2012 Annuario Pontificio gave its Canadian Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto as having 2,000 faithful, 4 priests and 5 parishes. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is in full communion with the Holy See.
Theodore George Romzha was bishop of the Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Mukacheve from 1944 to 1947. Assassinated by NKVD, he was beatified as a martyr by Pope John Paul II on 27 June 2001.
Basil Takach was the first bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the American branch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.
Nicholas Thomas Elko was the third bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the American branch of the Ruthenian Catholic Church. At the age of 46 he became the first American-born Bishop of the Greek Catholic Church. He later served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Stephen John Kocisko was the first Metropolitan Archbishop of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the American branch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church
The Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh is the Catholic archeparchy (archdiocese) governing all of the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Church in the western portion of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and in the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Its chancery office and the residence of the Archbishop are located at 66 Riverview Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is distinguished from the Latin Church Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic is the Catholic eparchy (diocese) governing Byzantine Ruthenian (Rusyn) Catholics in the eastern United States. Its headquarters are at 445 Lackawanna Avenue, Woodland Park, New Jersey. On October 29, 2013, Pope Francis appointed Father Kurt Burnette, until then the Rector of Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as Eparch (Bishop)-elect of the Eparchy, succeeding William Skurla, who had become the leader of the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, the U.S. headquarters of this particular Eastern-rite Catholic church. Bishop-elect Burnette, 57, is a native of Falkenham, England, grew up in Texas, and was originally a priest of the Phoenix Eparchy.
The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Ruski Krstur is an eparchy (diocese) of the Catholic Church for Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Rite in Serbia. It was founded in 2003 as the "Apostolic Exarchate of Serbia and Montenegro" and reduced to the territory of Serbia in 2013. In 2018, it was elevated to an eparchy. Since 2003, it is headed by bishop Đura Džudžar.
The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Križevci is an eparchy (diocese) of the Catholic Church for Eastern Catholics of Byzantine Rite in part of the former Yugoslavia, with its seat in Križevci, Croatia. It is part of the Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia, an Eastern Catholic Church sui iuris of the Byzantine Rite which is in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. The Eparchy is currently vacant since the retirement of Bishop Nikola Kekić in March 2019, and is administered by Fr. Milan Stipić.
Petro Parfenii was an Orthodox Bishop and a Basilian monk who united the Ruthenian Church with Rome.
The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo is an eparchy (diocese) associated with the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church under an unidentified status and territory located in the west of Ukraine, roughly equivalent with Zakarpatska Oblast. The eparchy was created by the Pope Clement XIV in 1771.
The Eparchy of Mukachevo and Prešov was an Eastern Orthodox diocese (eparchy) of the Serbian Orthodox Church, that existed from 1931 to 1945. It had jurisdiction over regions of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rusynia, at that time parts of former Czechoslovakia. Its seat was in Mukachevo.