CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY – PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

Pope Francis tweeted today: The statute of Our Lady of Aparecida was found by poor workers. May Mary bless all of us, but especially those seeking employment.

There are so many fascinating institutes, academies and other institutions in Rome that to cover them, even summarily, would require full time dedication to just this area. The same could be said for any (or all) of the Vatican’s nine congregations, some going back almost 500 years while one, the Congregation for Oriental Churches, now celebrates its centenary.

For a small idea of the nature, scope, work and jurisdiction of this congregation – From the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/profilo/rc_con_corient_pro_20030320_profile.html

CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES MARKS CENTENARY

Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving this morning at St. Mary Major Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He also visited the pontifical institute as it is a very short distance from the basilica.

The Congregation for Oriental Churches is responsible for the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, such as the Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean traditions, to name but three. There are about 16 million faithful in these Churches – about 1.5 % of the Catholic Church.

In his homily, Francis encouraged all Christians of the Oriental Churches to continue with their courageous witness, despite the dramatic persecutions that they suffer. Recalling the establishment of the PIO, the acronym for the pontifical institute, by Benedict XV in 1917, during the First World War, Pope Francis said that today we are living though another “piecemeal” world war. When we see the persecution and worrying exodus of Christians, he said, just like the people of the Old Testament, we cry out “Why?”

He answered by saying, if we pray and trust in the Lord, we know that “’everyone who asks, receives; those who seek, find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened’.. The Spirit is God’s great gift to us, so let’s learn how to knock courageously on the door of God’s heart. May courageous prayer inspire and sustain your service to the Church so that it may bear fruit that does not wither and die.”

Wednesday, at the general audience, Pope Francis had special greetings for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the congregation and grand chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. The “Orientale” as it is known in Rome, became part of the “Gregorian Consortium” that includes the Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute, all under the direction and tutelage of the Jesuits.(source: Vatican Radio)

PONTIFICAL ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

(Vatican Radio) Church leaders from the different Eastern Catholic rites have been gathered in Rome this week to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Pope Francis visited the Institute on Thursday and issued a mesage praising its “high achievements” and reminding it to be always attentive to the “enormous challenges facing Christians in the East”.

In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV wstablished the Institute to be a bridge between East and West and to make the rich traditions of the Oriental Churches available to the entire Catholic world. A century on, the Institute maintains a world class reputation for its research, teaching and publishing on all issues of Eastern theology, liturgies, patristics, history, canon law, literature, spirituality, archeology, as well as questions of ecumenical and geopolitical importance.

Jesuit Father David Nazar is the current rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Born in Canada to a family of Ukrainian origin, he’s a former superior of the Society of Jesus in Ukraine and  former Provincial of the Jesuits in the English Canada Province.

He spoke to Vatican Radio, and explained that the ‘Orientale’ as it’s known, is a papal institute, entrusted to the Society of Jesus, to focus on matters concerning all of the Catholic and Orthodox Eastern Churches.

Since many of the Eastern Churches are smaller and lacking the resources of Christians in the West, he says, the popes were concerned to make sure that the wealth of research on liturgy, ancient traditions, and original manuscripts could be made available to Christians across the globe.

Fr Nazar says that over the past century, the Jesuits have worked hard to establish a world class library, which was funded for a number of years by friends of Pope Pius XI. It remains second to none in the world, he notes, in the study of the ancient traditions and languages of the Eastern world.

Much of this work has been significant for the West as well, he adds, such as the Second Vatican Council’s document on the importance of the Eastern Churches “which would have been unimaginable without the fifty years of research that had been done at the Orientale”.

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