Should Eastern churches in America be "American"?

In the jurisdiction of the parish I currently attend, there is much talk about establishing an “American” Church, a Church that is not Greek, Arabic, Russian, Ukrainian, etc. but “American.” I’ve never felt easy about this approach.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

America is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities. What does it mean to be American?

Yes, I agree that America is a melting pot of cultures. But there are some Eastern Christians who believe that the Eastern churches in this country need to be American. They seem to know what it is to be American, and see it in terms of not Greek, not Arabic, not Russian, not “ethnic”. .

So what would that look like? There is no “American” usage of the Byzantine rite.

One thing the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh (Ruthenians) is self-consciously trying to do is live the Byzantine spiritual tradition in an American context.

A priest I know once heard his foreign-born bishop saying, “We have to Americanize” and thought, “You greenhorn! You were born in another country and do not speak English as your primary language. Every Sunday you put on vestments of a dead empire–and then you tell ME who was born here and majored in American literature that I have to ‘Americanize’?”

However, there does seem to be an American Orthodox typicon developing. It’s mostly Great Russian, but with Greek trimmings.

I belong to an Americanized Russian Orthodox Church. I think it depends on the community.

You mean you use English in your liturgy?

I think that many of us would just like English in the liturgies, since there is always such emphasis in Eastern Christian explanations of tradition of using the vernacular. More often than not, it seems to be “using the vernacular/related religious language of the homeland”.

Also an American parish would not have Ukrainian or Greek dances, for example, which are a little unnerving to those of us not Ukrainian or Greek, or even European. :frowning:

Aaaack! I’m born and raised in the US, and I like my Eastern Catholic churches for their deep Catholic faith AND their Eastern sensibilities! There’s something refreshing about
having a little different way to look at theology
having a faith integrated into geography and history, by people who have lived in areas around the Holy Land and who have grown up with the culture (and the conflicts) of the area
having a rich, full culture to share with new visitors and invite them to share with you
having a different and very sound notion of what it means to be Christian community

I don’t care that my skin color is different from almost everybody else’s in the building, if they have made me feel welcome.
I am happy to listen to the readings in Arabic first and English second when a large immigrant community is present.
And I love to learn to make new foods and dance new dances, to introduce my children to new culture, and to come to know my fellow Catholics more deeply through the traditions of their homeland. Please don’t lose the Eastern in Eastern Catholic!:bigyikes:

I totally agree- why have different rites-why any rites at all if they are going to homogenize the the eastern Church.

To attack the issue by wondering

*]what is the basis or are the bases, for the names of the other Churches you’ve just mentioned
[/LIST]Would an American Church be American in order to be **Catholic **? What is the relation between the ethnic designation, and the **ecclesiology **? How are the two related in the other instances you mention ?

I’m not bothered by the languages of these liturgies not being English, but there is a problem that, depending on the parish, the bible readings and sermons and other variable readings are also not in English. So you do get “lost” that way. The Ukrainian Catholic churches in Toronto are a mixed bag - some more “English” than others (some of them with “latinizations” along with it).

So far as I can tell, only a few Orthodox parishes seem to cater to English in the GTA - a Carpatho-Ruthenian parish downtown (affiliated with Constantinople) and possibly the Antiochians in Richmond Hill. There’s a stereotype (which unfortunately is often true) that Orthodox cater to ethnic communities. North American Catholics used to have this stigma as well, with Polish or Italian parishes, but at least all of theirs were in one singular liturgical language (Latin). If you scan the GTA, you’ll find that the Divine Liturgy is offered in Greek, Ukrainian, English, Bulgarian, Rumanian, various flavours of Church Slavonic (Serbian/Russian) and what not, across at least four separate “jurisdictions”. It’s bewildering when you think about it, but impressive at the same time.

We still have those ethnic Roman Catholic parishes in the city I live in. Transfiguration is the Polish Church; St Peter’s is attended by Irish and German Catholics, St. John’s is the Italian Church; St. Mary’s (unfortunately closed as of this year) was mostly Polish also. My old priest is ethnically Irish, and when he first was first assigned to a parish in the city he was placed at St. John’s. The Bishop(auxilary), on visiting once after he had left St. John’s for St. Peter’s spoke to him and his first assignment as a priest came up. The Bishop remarked, "How on earth did you end up at St. John’s?!?! That’s the “Eye-talian” church! This was not all that long ago, and you still will not find non-Italians visiting St. John’s and visa versa. I can’t imagine that back when the liturgy was in Latin that it would be any less intimidating to walk into a Roman Catholic Church off the street as a non-Catholic than to walk into an Orthodox Church.


Based on my understanding, their is some difference to how liturgy and scripture is interpreted. For example, we do not cover our heads in the church. St. John’s, which is a Russian Orthodox Church here in dc, NOT Orthodox Church in America ( st. Nick’s) requires head covering.

I’ve been to St. Nick’s quite a few times. When I was in high school, I went to a summer program in DC, and went there a few times. I ended up back in DC for college, and went to St. Nick’s about 2-3 times. It’s part of my draw to Orthodoxy. I never got to go to St John the Baptist, but from the pictures, it looks very beautiful. And I love the articles on the website, especially the description of Vigil.

Its pretty much inevitable that americanization will take place to some degree.

In the Latin Rite, many- maybe the majority- of ethnic based parishes have been merged or closed over the past 30 or 40 years as people get further and further from the old country. Very few Polish, Italian or Slovak parishes have survived- the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are totally americanized and largely attend “regular” American Latin Rite parishes with folks of all ethnicities.

The Greek Catholics have a bit different template as they have their own bishops, archbishops and separate hierarchies. Makes it a bit more problematic to actually merge as the Latin rite parishes did.

Between “mixed” marriages between people of different rites, the breakup of insular ethnic enclaves, and some Latin rite folks choosing to worship at Greek churches- there is just bound to be change.

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