What is the difference between different Churches of the same Rite?

In general, what is the difference between different Churches of the same Rite?

As a specific example, what’s the difference between, say, the Melkite Catholic Church and the Ruthenian Catholic Church?

[quote=Timidity]In general, what is the difference between different Churches of the same Rite?

As a specific example, what’s the difference between, say, the Melkite Catholic Church and the Ruthenian Catholic Church?
[/quote]

The churches have different local customs.

As a Roman Catholic one could almost understand this if on a trip he(she) had a chance to visit a Polish Roman Catholic church and then a Mexican Roman Catholic church.

The cultures are just different enough to make one notice, and some people uncomfortable. It’s one reason that there have been so many older Catholic parishes close to one another in the big cities, people have felt more comfortable in a parish community like the one they came from.

This is an over-simplification, of course.

The Ruthenians were a Rus people (east Slavic) that lived in the Hungarian kingdom. Their ancestors were converted through the missions begun by Ss Cyril and Methodius into the Greek church of Constantinople beginning in the ninth century. Special adaptations in the liturgy were allowed to accomodate the culture of the Slavic people, such as the liturgical language called Old Slavonic. Today in the United States these parishes will normally use English in the liturgy, they may use Slavonic in Europe or one of the common languages like Slovak or Hungarian. Their hymns derive from the folk style of the Carpathian mountain region.

The Melkites derive from the original church in Antioch. Their ancestors were Syrians (or Arameans) and they originally used the early form of the liturgy of St James. They spoke Greek mostly in the urban centers and Aramaic mostly in the smaller towns and villages. The Byzantine empire tried to force the church of Antioch to change it’s usage to the liturgy used at the great church in Constantinople. These efforts were only partially successful and it contributed to a schism in the Antiochian church. The Syrian Byzantines are derived from those who adopted the new liturgy in obedience, they were known as the “king’s party” or Melkites. Their Orthodox counterparts are the Antiochian Orthodox (a result of a further crises when the Melkites established communion with Rome).

After the Muslim Arab conquest the Syrian people eventually largely abandoned the Greek and Aramaic languages for Arabic and I think that is the language normally used in Melkite liturgies these days. Their hymns would probably derive from Helenic melodies rendered in the local style of Syria and Lebanon (not quite so certain about all this).

I hope this helps.

Thanks for the response.

What about hierarchy? Do they share a hierarchy, or are the serparate? e.g., In areas where both Churches have a presence (such as the US), would a Melkite priest report directly to a Ruthenian Bishop, or do the Churches remain separate until a much higher level?

[quote=Timidity]Thanks for the response.

What about hierarchy? Do they share a hierarchy, or are the serparate? e.g., In areas where both Churches have a presence (such as the US), would a Melkite priest report directly to a Ruthenian Bishop, or do the Churches remain separate until a much higher level?
[/quote]

Speaking strictly of the USA situation many people are of the opinion that all of the Byzantine churches should be under one hierarchy, I share that sentiment.

However as it stands right now they have separate hierarchies, this is an accident of history.

Originally the Latin bishops were supposed to shepherd the eastern congregations in their own jurisdictions (one bishop-one city), but that proved to be a poor arrangement.

Rome had to step in and remove the Byzantine rite churches from the latin rite bishops. All of the Byzantine-Slavonic congregations were under one bishop appointed from Rome and there were two major cultural groups: the Carpatho-Rusyns and the Ukrainians (the Melkites were too few at this point). This really corresponded to people from the Hungarian kingdom and Poland respectively, and there were some misgivings between them.

To put it simply, a mixed congregation might have a Ukrainian priest and everything was done the Ukrainian way or a Ruthenian priest would do everything the Carpatho-Rusyn way.

It’s sort of like a mixed parish of Mexicans and Filipinos (or name any two or three other nationalities). Each group might like the financial support of the other groups but be uninterested it that other groups special needs or customs, so the kind of priest one gets can make a big difference in how happy and involved a parishioner might be.

There was a lot of splitting up as the congregations got bigger and it was possible to establish a parish of ones own ethnicity. Eventually Rome had to establish two exarchates: one for the Ukrainians (very numerous) and one for everyone else (Ruthenians are Rusyns, Slovaks, Hungarians and some Croatians, Czechs, Romanians, Poles and even more Ukrainians). By the time the Arabs started arriving in significant numbers the pattern was set and Rome erected a hierachy for the Melkites and of course the Romanians needed a bishop too plus Maronites from Lebanon and Syro-Malabars from India were arriving (these last two are not Byzantine). I think the Chaldeans may have a hierarchy in the USA too. Most other Sui Iuris churches will depend upon the local Ordinary for pastoral assistance because they are not very numerous, but the groups must convince him of the need and some bishops are reluctant to get involved although it is their responsibility by canon law.

One remarkable example of a Roman bishop getting involved is Archbishop Chaput, who erected a parish for Russian Catholics in Denver, their recension is slightly different from the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Slavic recensions. They use the liturgy typical in Russia after the Nikonian reform.

Hope that this all makes sense. I have just given you the streamlined version, believe it or not.

In dealing with questions of hierarchy one has to understand the different Church structures. The Melkite Church has a Patriarch (Patriarch Gregory III) as its head while the Ruthenian Church is a Metropolitan Church and the head of the Church is the Metropolitan bishop. This means that the Ruthenians are dependent upon Rome for the appointment of bishops (although the list from which a bishop is choosen is selected by the council of bishops of the Ruthenian Church). BTW, the term “Byzantine Church” in the United States generally refers to the Ruthenians. The Russian Church has no hierarchy. Thus, it falls under the local Latin bishop. In Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony asked Bishop JOHN (the now retired Eparch or Bishop of the Melkite Eparcy or Diocese) to oversee the Russian Church in El Segundo. Thus, the priest that serves there was trained and ordained by the Melkites. Their deacon is a Melkite deacon.

All Eastern Churches other than the Russians have one or more local bishops.

Deacon Ed

Melkites and Ruthenians use the Byzantine Rite.

The Melkite church is a sui juris church in communion with Rome.

The Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church is a sui juris church in communion with Rome with it’s hq in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Melkites use Syrian traditions, whereas the Ruthenians use a more trans-carpathian-Ukrainian tradition.
Traditionally the Ruthenians used Church Slavonic in the Liturgy.
The Melkites traditionally use Arabic.
So you can think of it as this.
The Byzantine Rite is one ot the various types of “masses” celebrated in Catholic Churches in communion with Rome.
The churches that use the Byzantine Rites are called sui juris churches.
And these are Catholic churches, just as Catholic as the Roman Catholic Church.
You can recieve communion,etc… at them.

Like Deacon Ed said, a Melkite Deacon can serve Divine Liturgy at say a Ukrainian Catholic (Byzantine) Church (probably with authorization of the bishop).

Also, like Deacon Ed said, except the Russian Catholics, the various Catholic Churches have their own hierarchy and DO NOT answer to your local Roman Catholic bishop, he isn’t their boss.

For example;
the Ukrainian Catholic Church
the main man in charge: Benedict
the head of the Ukrainain Catholic Church…Cardinal Lubomyr Husar
and then bishops below him in each eparchy (diocese).

[quote=mgy100]The Melkites use Syrian traditions, whereas the Ruthenians use a more trans-carpathian-Ukrainian tradition.
Traditionally the Ruthenians used Church Slavonic in the Liturgy.
The Melkites traditionally use Arabic.
[/quote]

Small correction – the Melkites were, originally, Syrian but they are now Byzantine. Our liturgies are a mix of Arabic, English and Greek (at least here in the United States).

Deacon Ed

Thank you Deacon Ed,

Thank you all for your informative responses.

The Ukrainians and the Ruthenians are very similar. I live in the Ukrainian Eparchy of Stamford CT. and the Ruthenian Eparchy of Passaic NJ. My own bishop is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark N J.
The Ruthenians are going hrough a controversy over whether they should maintaiin their Ruthenian characteristics or become an American Byzantine church.
The Ukrainians are in the midst of a Transference of their Primatal See from Liviv to Kiev .
The Melkites are always up to something. They are about the most rambunctious of the Eastern Churches.
A recent attempt by missguided Vatican beurocrats to suppress the miniscule Russian Rite church inside Russia has failed.Though the story is not clear who put a stop to it. It can be assumed that objections from other Eastern Catholic hierarchs and the Primate of the Latin Rite in Russia .Had somethng to do with saving the Russian parishes.

[quote=JOHNYJ]The Ukrainians and the Ruthenians are very similar.
[/quote]

Be careful, thems are fightin’ words.

[quote=ByzCath]Be careful, thems are fightin’ words.
[/quote]

Thats too Funny!! LOL
however, I have a question, And I think you would be the one to ask, ByzCath

Here it is: I understand that there were in recent years some “latinizations” that had been introduced into the Eastern Catholic Churches. but now there is a move to restore the eastern liturgy, in all its glory minus these “latinizations”. Is this true? and if so what were the elements not proper to the particular rites. and are they in fact being removed?

did the reform of the latin rite liturgy, have any effect on the eastern rites? I have read (somewhere) that this was so. But there was a recent trend to recover the ancient eastern liturgys
I would really like to know. As I much admire the very ancient eastern catholics. After all what most Northern europeans, tend to conveniently forget is that Christianity is an Eastern religion!
I would appreciate any info
God bless

[quote=QUICUMQUE VULT]Thats too Funny!! LOL
however, I have a question, And I think you would be the one to ask, ByzCath

Here it is: I understand that there were in recent years some “latinizations” that had been introduced into the Eastern Catholic Churches. but now there is a move to restore the eastern liturgy, in all its glory minus these “latinizations”. Is this true? and if so what were the elements not proper to the particular rites. and are they in fact being removed?

[/quote]

The latinizations were introduced starting back in the 1930’s or so.

Some of them are;
a celibate secular priesthood
abandoning of the minor orders, specifically sub-deacon (and deacon in some of our Churches)
introduction of kneelers
removal of Iconostasis as well as replacing other Icons with Statues
replacing Orthos before the Divine Liturgy with the Rosary
replacing Satruday Great Vespers with Divine Liturgy
replacing Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesdays of Great Lent with either the Divine Liturgy or a Vesperal Divine Liturgy
replacing Presanctified Liturgy on Fridays with Stations of the Cross
replacing the title Archpriest with Monsignor
the introduction of confessionals
the addition of the filioque to the creed
the breaking up of the Mysteries of Initiation (this is the one that we have fixed fully)

That is just a few. We are working to restore these, some parishes are father along than others. How’s that?

did the reform of the latin rite liturgy, have any effect on the eastern rites? I have read (somewhere) that this was so. But there was a recent trend to recover the ancient eastern liturgys

Not that I am aware of.

I would really like to know. As I much admire the very ancient eastern catholics. After all what most Northern europeans, tend to conveniently forget is that Christianity is an Eastern religion!
I would appreciate any info
God bless

Hope that helps out a bit.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.