Ruthenian Catholic Church

Ruthenian Catholic Church

The Ruthenian Catholic Church is a sui iuris (i.e., self-governing) Catholic Church (see particular Church), which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Constantinopolitan Byzantine Eastern Rite. Its roots are among the Rusyns who lived in the region called Carpathian Ruthenia, in and around the Carpathian Mountains. This is the area where the borders of present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine meet.


Ruthenian Catholics are descended from those to whom Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity and the Byzantine Rite in their missionary outreach to the Slavic peoples in the ninth century. [ [ Dreamwater Free Web Space: ERROR 404 ] ]

The inhabitants of the region were forced to take refuge in the mountains by the invasion of the Magyars in the 10th century. With the 1646 A.D. Union of Uzhhorod, the Ruthenian Church reunited with the rest of the Catholic Church but was to retain its Byzantine rite and liturgical traditions, its bishops would be elected by a council composed of Basilian monks and eparchial clergy. [ [ John Paul II 18 April 1996 Apostolic Letter ] ]

The region became, in part, incorporated in Czechoslovakia after World War I. Annexation to the Soviet Union after World War II led to persecution of the Ruthenian Catholic Church. [ [ Ruthenian Church ] ] However, since the collapse of Communism the Ruthenian Catholic Church in Eastern Europe has seen a resurgence in numbers of faithful and priests. [ [ Encyclopedia of Ukraine] ]

Relations with Latin-Rite Catholics in the United States

In the 19th and 20th centuries, various Byzantine-Rite Catholics arrived in the United States of America, particularly in coal mining towns. [ [ Byzantines] ] The predominant Latin-Rite Catholic hierarchy did not always receive them well, being disturbed in particular at what they saw as the innovation, for the United States, of a married Catholic clergy. At their request, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith applied on 1 May 1897 to the United States ["Collectanea" No. 1966] rules already set out in a letter of 2 May 1890 to François-Marie-Benjamin Richard, the Archbishop of Paris. ["Acta Sanctae Sedis", vol. 1891/92, p.390] These rules stated that only celibates or widowed priests coming without their children should be permitted in the United States. This rule was restated with special reference to Catholics of the Ruthenian Church by the 1 March 1929 decree "Cum data fuerit", which was renewed for a further ten years in 1939. Dissatisfaction by many Ruthenian Catholics in the United States gave rise to the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. (See also Archbishop John Ireland).

Relations with Latin-Rite Catholics have improved, especially since the Second Vatican Council, at which the Ruthenian Church influenced decisions regarding language in the liturgy. [ [ Byzantine] ] (Unlike the former custom in the Latin Church, the Ruthenian Church always celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, an ancient Slavic language.) The Council also reiterated: "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." [ [ Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, 1] ]

The Ruthenian Catholic Church today

The Ruthenian Church now consists of the Metropolia of Pittsburgh — comprising the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh [ [ Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh] ] (originally established in 1924) with its three suffragan eparchies of Parma, [ [ Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma] ] (1969) Passaic, [ [ Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic] ] (1963) and Van Nuys (1981) — the Eparchy of Mukacheve in Ukraine (dating from 1771 and immediately subject to the Holy See), and the Apostolic Exarchate of the Czech Republic (founded in 1996).

One problem 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. [ [ Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo] ]

Ruthenian parishes stress acceptance of the Pope and of the Catholic Church and its teachings (with an Eastern expression). [] The Second Vatican Council directed this Church to remove much of the "Latinization" in an attempt to return to its Eastern Christian identity. This has been met with some success. 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 Council of Hierarchs promulgated revised versions of the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great.

Members of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church of the United States of America are not limited to immigrants from Eastern Europe or their descendants.

See also

*Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
*Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
*History of Christianity in Ukraine
*Union of Brest
*Union of Uzhhorod

Internal Links

* Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska - Foundress and Missionary

External links

* [ St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church Toledo]
* [ St. Melany Byzantine Catholic Church Tucson, AZ USA]
* [ Byzantine Catholic Church in America]
* [ Greek Catholics in America, Catholic Encyclopedia]
* [ Cathedral of St. Mary (Byzantine-Ruthenian Church)]
* [ History of the Ruthenian Catholics in the Carpathian Mountains]
* [ Penn State University Byzantine Catholic Campus Ministry]
* [ Orientales Omnes Ecclesias: Encyclical of Pope Pius XII]
* [ Orientalium Ecclesiarum: Second Vatican Council]
* [ Directory of Byzantine-Ruthenian Parishes]
* [ Our Identity]
* [ Ruthenian Church]
* [ Ruthenian Liturgical Resources]
* [ St. Elias Church]
* [ What Is the Byzantine-Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church?]
* [ Who are we?]
* [ Catholic Dioceses in the World - By Rite - Ruthenian Church]
*CathEncy|wstitle=Ruthenian Rite


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