This letter appeared on another thread, and I thought it merited having its own thread. I find Fr. Tom’s courage in this situation to be quite refreshing, and very reminiscent of such luminaries as Archbishop Joseph Tawil and Archbishop Joseph Raya.
**Christ is Ascended!
I take this opportunity of your still being in Italy, and therefore, in or near Rome, to make a formal request to you. My request is actually meant for all of the Eastern Catholic Bishops from North America, but most particularly to you as the ranking prelate of my own Church, the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh.
The remarks by Cardinal Sandri in his homily to the Eastern Catholic bishops of America have filtered back and are reverberating through the clergy and laity of our Churches in America, as well as the Orthodox Churches. In a similar way that the Health and Human Services controversey in America finds the issue of contraception itself being expressive of a deeper and fundamental issue of religious liberty, so too the remarks by Cardinal Sandri for the Eastern Catholic Churches to “embrace celibacy in respect to ecclesial context” are reflective of a deeper and more fundamental attitude from Rome and the Latin Rite that simply can no longer go unanswered by the Eastern Catholic Churches.
In addition to being chillingly reminiscent of the demeaning attitude of the Latin Rite bishops toward the Eastern Catholic Churches during the beginning of the last century in America, the Cardinal’s remarks about celibacy seem to confirm what so many Eastern Catholics in America have suspected for too long: Rome and the Latin Rite see the Eastern Catholic Churches in America as essentially inconsequential, perhaps even in the way of ecumenism between Rome and the Orthodox Churches.
Essentially the Cardinal’s remarks send the message that the Latin Rite Church is the ‘real’ Church, superior to the Eastern Catholic Churches and therefore the Eastern Catholic Churches could be ordered to compromise themselves in deference to the Latin Rite Church, the ‘real’ Church. To us in America the Cardinal’s remarks reflected a paternalistic attitude toward the Eastern Catholic Churches in America. Rome seems to see our Churches in America as simply a diaspora having little value other than ethnic customs and the degree to which we can support our Churches in their homelands.
Archbishop William, my request to you, as the ranking prelate of my Church and especially, if it is still possible while you are in Italy at this time, to meet again with Cardinal Sandri, on behalf of your Church back in America, regarding his remarks and the reaction to his remarks reverberating through the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches in America at this time. Our Ruthenian Church in particular needs to establish a better and more consistent dialogue with Rome so as to present a more accurate picture of the real gift and evangelical power of the Eastern Catholic Churches in America. The Eastern Catholic Churches, and in particular the Ruthenian Church, are actually in a position to indeed supply what is lacking in the whole Church in America and to confront secular society with type of vocabulary and spirituality that we alone can bring to the war on secularism and moral relativism. It seems that Rome understands none of this about us.
For the good of the whole Church and for the good of souls, it is time for our Ruthenian Church in particular stop acting like co-dependent children of Rome. It does not really serve Rome, the whole Church or the people of God for the Ruthenian Church (or any Eastern Catholic Church) to assume a position of weakness and inferiority helplessly waiting for what to many of us is essentially a ‘phantom’ indivdivual or department in Rome, with so little understanding of our Churches, to singularly decide the fate of our Churches in America. Surely we should have more pride in our Church than this and more regard for the memory of our members who, during Communist oppression, shed their blood out of loyalty to the Pope of Rome.
Thank you for consideration of my request,
–Fr. Thomas J. Loya, STB.,MA.**