CELIBACY OF THE CLERGY
Some years ago, a traditional Latin Rite priest told me that faithful who belong to his Congregation think that married priests of the Byzantine Rite have no faith. For this reason – they say - the best solution for the Byzantine Rite laity would be to become Latin Rite Catholics when they convert to Catholicism.
Since I come across such statements from time to time, I decided to write a short article on celibacy of the clergy.
The Church teaches that married priests of Eastern rites who converted into Catholicism are accepted in the status of married priests. They are not required to leave their wives or be separated from them. Such priests are recognized as fully Catholic priests. In his bull "Etsi pastoralis" in 1742 for the Italo-Greeks, Pope Benedict XIV declared that they were to keep to their own rites, recognized the ordination of the married, and ordered that no precedence was to be based on rite. In 1775 the same Pope declared in the encyclical letter "Allatae sunt": "We desire most intensely that all people should be Catholics but not all Latins”.
The Church also teaches that it is forbidden to induce to change canonical status from Eastern to Western or vice-versa and that the faithful may, even for mere devotion's sake, receive Holy Communion according to any rite.
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE:
§ 1. Inter varies catholicos ritus ad ilium quis pertinet, cuius caeremoniis baptizatus fuit, nisi forte baptismus a ritus alieni ministro vel fraude collatus fuit, vel ob gravem necessitatem, cum sacerdos proprii ritus praesto esse non potuit, vel ex dispensatione apostolica, cum facultas data fuit ut quis certo quodam ritu baptizaretur, quin tamen eidem adscriptus maneret.
§ 2. Clerici nullo modo inducere praesumant sive latinos ad orientalem, sive orientales ad latinum ritum assumendum.
§ 3. Nemini licet sine venia Apostolicae Sedis ad alium ritum transire, aut, post legitimum transitum, ad pristinum reverti.
§ 4. Integrum est mulieri diversi ritus ad ritum viri, in matrimonio ineundo vel eo durante, transire; matrimonio autem soluto, resumendi proprii ritus libera est potestas, nisi iure particulari aliud cautum sit.
§ 5. Mos, quamvis diuturnus, sacrae Synaxis ritu alieno suscipiendae non secumfert ritus mutationem.
What this canon says concerning the different rites, of which mention was made in the first book (can. I), was determined in the Constitutions of Benedict XIV,45 Pius IX,46 and Leo XIII, especially in the latter's Apostolic Letter "De disciplina Orientalium conservanda et tuenda." 47 The solicitude of the Apostolic See for the reunion of the Oriental dissidents and, at the same time, for the preservation of their peculiar rites, has been amply illustrated by Benedict XIV in his "Allatae."
The reason why baptism is the characteristic mark of distinction between the different rites, must be sought in the ceremonies employed by the Orientals in conferring this sacrament,48 which is the gate to the Church. The Oriental formula, though deprecatory rather than indicative, is equivalent to the Latin: "Ego te baptizo." The attending ceremonies, however, especially the confirmation connected with baptism, differ greatly. Hence it is proper that the difference of ceremony in conferring the sacrament of initiation should mark the distinction between the rites at large.
If a Latin minister baptizes "by fraud," e. g., pretending to be an Oriental minister, the child nevertheless belongs to his father's rite, for the rite of the father determines that of the child. A case of necessity, when by reason of not having an Oriental minister a Latin priest should have to baptize the child of an Oriental, is mentioned by Benedict XIV.49 The last clause of paragraph 1 of our canon is an amplification of the case cited in Leo's "Orientalium," where mention50 is made of one converted to the unity of faith under the condition of embracing the Latin rite. Such a one is not bound to remain a Latin forever, but may return to his native (of course Catholic) Oriental rite.51
Paragraph 2 prohibits proselytizing, without, however, mentioning the penalty of suspension inflicted in "Orientalium" 52 and "Demandatam." Paragraph 3 is a modification of Leo's Constitution which permitted a return to the former rite if the Apostolic See had been asked - Apostolica Sede exorata.
Paragraph 4 is taken almost verbally from Leo's Constitution, with the exception of the clause, "unless otherwise provided by particular law." Under this clause a provincial council might issue regulations contrary to this canon.
As to the last paragraph, the respective passage in "Orientalium" is somewhat wider: "The faithful are at liberty to communicate in either rite, not only in places where there are no churches or priests of their own rite, but also where their places of worship are too distant to be conveniently frequented. But they must not on that account be supposed to have changed their rite, but remain in all other offices subject to their own pastor."53
Since this canon offers us an opportunity which, as far as we are aware, does not recur in the whole Code, it may not be amiss to complete the subject from the Constitution of Leo XIII. Religious who conduct schools frequented by members of the Oriental rite, should employ a priest of that rite for the respective functions. Every Oriental who lives outside the territory of his Patriarch is under the care of the Latin priest, but remains subject to his own rite, so that nothing is changed in his relation to the Oriental rite. Matrimonial and other ecclesiastical causes appealed to the Apostolic Delegate must be submitted to the S. C. pro Ecclesia Orientali. These general rules also hold good for the Orientals in this country.
45 "Etsi pastoralis," May 26, 1742; "Demandatam," Dec. 24, 1743; "Allatae," Feb. 20, 1755 (Bull. Bened., ed. Prat., 1845, I, 197 ff; 328 ff; 249 ff.)
46 "In suprema," Jan. 6, 1848; "Romani Pontifices," Jan. 6, 1862; "Amantissimus," Apr. 8, 1862 (Coll. Lac., II, 484 ff.).
47 "Orientalium," Nov. 30, 1894 (Leonis XIII Allocutiones, Epistolae, Constitutiones; ed. Desclee, 1898, v, 303 ff.).
48 Cf. Benedict XIV, "Etsi pastoralis," par. II (l. c., p. 199).
49 "Demandatam" 18 (l. c., p. 322).
50 No. XI (l. c., p. 308).
51 Ib., n. I (p. 306 ff.). Neither could we discover this penalty in the penal code.
52 L. c., n. II (p. 307).
53 Ib., n. III, IV, IX, XII, (l. c., p. 307 ff.).
(A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law, VOLUME II, B. HERDER BOOK CO. , 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo., AND 68, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, W. C. , 1918, CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM, NIHIL OBSTAT Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 7, 1918 F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum., IMPRIMATUR Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 8, 1918 +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus, Sti. Ludovici, pp. 20-23)
§ 1. Sacerdos sacram communionem distribuat azymo pane vel fermentato, secundum proprium ritum.
§ 2. Ubi vero necessitas urgeat nee sacerdos diversi ritus adsit, licet sacerdoti orientali qui fermentato utitur, ministrare Eucharistiam in azymo, vicissim latino aut orientali qui utitur azymo, ministrare in fermentato; at suum quisque ritum ministrandi servare debet.
The priest shall distribute Holy Communion according to his rite, either in unleavened or in leavened bread. But in case of necessity, if no priest of the respective rite is present, a priest of the Oriental rite, who would otherwise use leavened bread, may administer the Holy Eucharist in unleavened bread, and, conversely, a priest of the Latin or Oriental rite, who would ordinarily use unleavened bread, may give Holy Communion in leavened bread; but each must observe the rubrics of his own rite.
Orientals generally use leavened bread for the Holy Eucharist, only the Armenians and Maronites are accustomed, ever since the fourth century, to consecrate and distribute unleavened bread.28 The faithful, though they may gather in a church which serves both rites, must receive Holy Communion at the hands of the priest of their own rite, consequently in unleavened bread, if their rite so prescribes, or in leavened bread, if their rite prescribes that kind.29 Pius X, who so ardently advocated frequent Communion, ruled in one of his Constitutions that, although unwarranted promiscuity of rite should be avoided, the faithful may, even for mere devotion's sake, receive Holy Communion according to any rite,30 and consequently under the species of either leavened or un leavened bread. But the administering priest must say the prayers and observe the ceremonies according to his own language and rubrics.
28 Benedict XIV, "Allatae sunt," July 26, 1755, § 23.
29 Ibid., "Etsi Pastoralis," May 26, 1742, § VI, n. XI.
30 "Tradita ab antiquis," Sept. 14, 1912 (A. Ap. S., IV, 615 f.), II, III.
(A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law, Book III, VOLUME IV, B. HERDER BOOK CO. , 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo., AND 68, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, W. C. , 1920, CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM, NIHIL OBSTAT Sti. Ludovici, die 11, Martii, 1920, F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum., IMPRIMATUR Sti. Ludovici, die 12, Martii, 1920 +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus, Sti. Ludovici, pp. 222-223)
As you can see there is not even one word in the Canon Law that married priests of the Byzantine Rite have no faith.
Now some quotes about the story of the celibacy of the clergy in the Western and the Eastern rites.
The Catechism Explained by Rev. Francis Spirago:
"The secular clergy are pledged to obey their bishop and lead a life of celibacy.
...The celibacy of the clergy was first made obligatory at the Synod of Elvira, in 306. During the three first centuries there was no need of this law, because priests voluntarily abjured marriage, out of respect for the sacredness of their office. Only at times when the lack of priests was most keenly felt, were married men admitted to the priesthood; but after ordination no one was permitted to marry. Only in isolated and very rare instances, for weighty reasons, has the Pope been known to dispense priests from their vow; and then they had to give up their benefices, and were debarred from all exercise of their sacerdotal functions. Yet they were required to recite the Breviary until death. In the Middle Ages Pope Gregory VII made a determined stand against the marriage of priests, prohibiting those who had wives from performing any ministerial work. The Council of Trent (24, 9), declared the marriage of priests to be invalid." pp. 520-521.
(The Catechism Explained, From the original of Rev. Francis Spirago, Professor of Theology, Edited by Rev. Richard F. Clarke, S.J. New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: BENZIGER BROTHERS, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1899. Nihil Obstat: Thos. L. Kinkead, Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: + MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, August 8, 1899, pp. 520-521)
THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, VOLUME III:
"Celibacy of the Clergy is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades. The character of this renunciation, as we shall see, is differently understood in the Eastern and in the Western Church. Speaking, for the moment, only of Western Christendom, the candidates for orders, when they are presented for the grade of subdeacon, are solemnly warned by the bishop at the beginning of the ceremony regarding the gravity of the obligation which they are incurring." pp. 481
"The Apostolic Constitutions (c. 400), which formed the principal factor of the church law of the East, are not particularly rigid on the point of celibacy, but whether through imperial influence or not the Council of Trullo, in 692, finally adopted a somewhat stricter view. Celibacy in a bishop became a matter of precept. If he were previously married, he had at once to separate from his wife upon his consecration. On the other hand, this council, while forbidding priests, deacons, and subdeacons to take a wife after ordination, asserts in emphatic terms their right and duty to continue in conjugal relations with the wife to whom they had been wedded previously. This canon (xiii of Trullo) still makes the law for the great majority of the Churches of the East, though some of the Uniat communions have adopted the Western discipline. In Latin Christendom, however, everything was ripe for a stricter law." p. 484
"Turning now to the Oriental Churches in communion with the Holy See, we may note that as a general principle married clerics are not ineligible for the subdiaconate, diaconate, and priesthood. As in the Russian Church they must either be married in accordance with the canons (i. e. not to a widow, etc.), or else as a preliminary to ordination they are asked whether they will promise to observe chastity. The full recognition of the right of the Oriental clergy to retain their wives will be found in the Constitution of Benedict XIV, "Etsi pastoralis", 26 May, 1742. There has, however, been a strong movement of recent years among the Oriental Uniat Churches favouring conformity with Western Christendom in this matter of celibacy. For example, the Armenian Church dependent upon the Patriarch of Cilicia, even as far back as July, 1869, passed a resolution that celibacy should be required of all the higher orders of the clergy. Again the Synod of Scharfa in Syria, in 1888, decreed that "the celibate life which is already observed by the great majority of the priests of our Church should henceforth be common to all", although the deacons and priests who were already married were allowed to continue as before, and though a certain power of dispensation in cases of necessity was left with the patriarch. Similarly in 1898 a synod of the Uniat Copts at Alexandria decreed that henceforth all candidates for any of the higher orders must be celibate "according to the ancient discipline of the Church of Alexandria and the other Churches of God"." p. 488
(THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, AN INTERNATIONAL WORK OF REFERENCE, ON THE CONSTITUTION, DOCTRINE, DISCIPLINE AND HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, EDITED BY CHARLES G. HERBERMANN, Ph.D., LL.D., EDWARD A. PACE, Ph.D., D.D., CONDE B. PALLEN, Ph.D., LL.D., THOMAS J. SHAHAN, D.D., JOHN J. WYNNE, S.J., ASSISTED BY NUMEROUS COLLABORATORS, IN FIFTEEN VOLUMES, VOLUME III, New York ROBERT APPLETON COMPANY, Nihil Obstat: REMY LAFORT, CENSOR, Imprimatur: +JOHN M. FARLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK. 1908, pp. 481, 484, 488 )
St. Thomas Aquinas explains in detail the various situations that may happen to a Latin rite priest who was married before ordination.
THE “SUMMA THEOLOGICA” OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Q. 53, ART. 4:
"Reply Obj. 1. The bond of orders dissolves the bond of marriage as regards the payment of the debt, in respect of which it is incompatible with marriage, on the part of the person ordained, since he cannot demand the debt, nor is the wife bound to pay it. But it does not dissolve the bond in respect of the other party, since the husband is bound to pay the debt to the wife if he cannot persuade her to observe continence.
Reply Obj. 2. If the husband receive sacred orders with the knowledge and consent of his wife, she is bound to vow perpetual continence, but she is not bound to enter religion, if she has no fear of her chastity being endangered through her husband having taken a solemn vow: it would have been different, however, if he had taken a simple vow. On the other hand, if he be ordained without her consent, she is not bound in this way, because the result is not prejudicial to her in any way.
Reply Obj. 3. It would seem more probable, although some say the contrary, that even a Greek ought not to receive sacred orders without his wife's consent, since at least at the time of his ministry she would be deprived of the payment of the debt, of which she cannot be deprived according to law if the husband should have been ordained without her consent or knowledge.
Reply Obj. 4. As stated, among the Greeks, the wife by the very fact of consenting to her husband's receiving a sacred order, binds herself never to marry another man, because the signification of marriage would not be safeguarded, and this is especially required in the marriage of a priest. If, however, he be ordained without her consent, seemingly she would not be under that obligation.
Reply Obj. 5. Marriage has for its cause our consent: not so Order, which has a sacramental cause appointed by God. Hence matrimony may be impeded by a previous order, so as not to be true marriage: whereas order cannot be impeded by marriage, so as not to be true order, because the power of the sacraments is unchangeable, whereas human acts can be impeded."
(THE "SUMMA THEOLOGICA" OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, THIRD PART (SUPPLEMENT) QQ. XXXIV. - LXVIII., LITERALLY TRANSLATED BY FATHERS OF THE ENGLISH DOMINICAN PROVINCE, LONDON, BURNS OATES & WASHBOURNE LTD., 28 ORCHARD STREET, W. 1 8-10 PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C. 4, BENZIGER BROTHERS: NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, 1922, Nihil Obstat. FR. INNOCENTIUS APAP, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Theol., Imprimatur. EDUS. CANONICUS SURMONT, VICARIUS GENERALIS., WESTMONASTERII., APPROBATIO ORDINIS. Nihil Obstat. FR. VINCENTIUS McNABB, O.P.. S.T.M., FR. FABIANUS DIX, O.P., B.A., Imprimatur. FR. BEDA JARRETT, O.P.. S.T.L., M.A., Prior Provincialis Angliae, LONDINI, 4 Maii, 1922, pp. 191-193)
The discipline of the Latin Rite today is stricter than the old law. The married state is an impediment to Holy Orders, dispensation from which is reserved to the Holy See. However the Sacrament of Marriage does not invalidate the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE (Can. 132-134):
"(3) A married man, in order to receive higher orders licitly, now needs an Apostolic dispensation. If no dispensation was obtained, such a one, if ordained, is ipso iure debarred from the exercise of the order received. Here the Code is somewhat stricter than the old law, which permitted a married man to receive higher orders if his wife consented and the bishop sanctioned the vow of chastity to be pronounced by the wife. Although the married state is not, properly speaking, an irregularity, it is an impediment to holy orders, dispensation from which is reserved to the Apostolic See, and therefore the married and ordained man remains suspended until the Holy See has provided; otherwise he would become irregular ex capite delicti. pp. 80,81
(A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law VOLUME II, Clergy and Hierarchy, (Can. 132-134), B. HERDER BOOK CO. 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. AND 68, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, W. C., 1918, CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM, NIHIL OBSTAT Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 7, 1918 F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 8, 1918 +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus, Sti. Ludovici.)
Rev. P. Chas Augustine wrote about a practice of the Oriental Church as follows:
"The Oriental Church was neither uniform nor consistent in the application of celibacy. Whilst its ancient custom tallied with that of the Western Church, the enactments of the Trullan Synod (692) admitted a laxer practice, which finally prevailed. Even to-day the subdeacons of the Oriental rites are allowed to marry before they receive that order and to cohabit with their wives. However, if we may believe a modern exponent of the Oriental law, a marriage contracted by a cleric after receiving subdeaconship would be invalid, though as far as we are aware, the Catholic Church has never pronounced a sentence on these marriages. However, priests of the Oriental rites who wish to be employed as such in the U. S. must conform to the Latin custom." p. 79
(A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, VOLUME II, Clergy and Hierarchy, p. 79)
There are also examples from the past showing that there were married priests of the Latin Rite, though their cases were exceptions from the common disciplinary practice. For example, according to the Confession of Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, he was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest.
ST. PATRICK BY VERY REV. DEAN KINANE:
"In his Confession St. Patrick tells us the names of his father and grandfather. "I, Patrick, a sinner, the most unlearned, and the least of all the faithful, and held in contempt by very many, had Calpurnius, a deacon for my father, the son of Potitus, a priest." His mother's name was Conches, or Conchessa, and she was, according to many writers, a sister or near relative of St. Martin of Tours.
The Tripartite Life, by St. Evin, says: "Calpurun was his father's name. He was a noble priest. Potia was his grandfather's name, whose title was a deacon. Conceis was his mother's name. She was of the Franks and a sister to Martin." In his Epistle to Caroticus, the Saint writes: "According to the flesh I am of noble birth, my father being a decurio. I have bartered my nobility for the good of others, and for this I have neither shame or regret. I have become a slave in Christ to a foreign nation, for the ineffable glory of tliat eternal life which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord."
In the first place, we see that his father and his grandfather were in Holy Orders. In all ages the Church has allowed married men, being separated from their wives by death or mutual consent, to become priests and bishops. In the early ages we find the two great Saints, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzen, as well as St. Hilary and St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, were married. So it was with the father and grandfather of our Apostle."
(ST. PATRICK, HIS LIFE, HIS HEROIC VIRTUES, HIS LABOURS, AND THE FRUITS OF HIS LABOURS, BY VERY REV. DEAN KINANE, P.P., V.G., TWELFTH EDITION, BURNS & OATES WASHBOURNE LTD., LONDON, 28, ORCHARD STREET, W. 1, 8-10, PATERNOSTER ROW E.C. 4, AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAH, AND GLASGOW, 1920, Nihil Obstat: GULIELMUS DELANY, S.J., CENSOR THEOLOG. DEPUT., Imprimatur: +GULIELMUS J. WALSH, ARCHIEPISCOPUS DUBLINENSIS, HIBERNIAE PRIMAS, Imprimatur: +THOMAS W. CROKE, ARCHIEPISCOPUS CASSLIENSIS, pp. 31-32)
It is known to us from the Gospel of St. John that Jesus Christ chose Simon Peter, a married man, as His Vicar and Visible Head of the Church; not John, who was a celibate.
On the other hand it is also known to us from the Gospel that all married Apostles left their wives and families in order to travel freely and to have more time for Apostolic work.
However, we should know that obligatory priestly celibacy in the Latin rite - as well as the celibacy of bishops in all Eastern rites - is based on Ecclesiastical law and not on Divine law.
It also should be noted that ordination of married men in Eastern rites and allowing them to live with their wives after ordination is based on Ecclesiastical law, not on Divine law.
Jesus Christ teaches us that the state of celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven is a special vocation, but not everyone is called to it: "For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother‘s womb: and there are eunuchs who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it." (St. Matthew 19:12)
However, Our Lord neither imposes a penalty on “non-eunuchs” nor does He say that they have no faith. Jesus Christ, the High Priest, treats all His priests equally; priests living in celibacy and married priests form the same Institution, Christ’s Priesthood.
Very interesting information about the traditional customs of Eastern Catholics was provided by Donald Attwater in one of his books written before Vatican II. In order to save the reader’s time, I have tried to provide just a few extracts from this book.
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OF THE EAST
By DONALD ATTWATER:
(Present State - 1939 A. D.)
"Since then the Holy See has made it perfectly clear time and again that the Church is Catholic and not specifically Latin or European. In his bull "Etsi pastoralis" in 1742 for the Italo-Greeks, Pope Benedict XIV declared that they were to keep to their own rites, recognized the ordination of the married, and ordered that no precedence was to be based on rite; certain provisions that implied privileges for the Western rite were abrogated subsequently. In the following year he addressed a decree, "Demandatam caelitus", to the Melkites, in which he forbade them to alter their liturgy or to become Latins without Rome's express permission. In 1755 the same pope issued an encyclical letter, "Allatae sunt", to the missionaries in the Near East. Herein he traced the consistent attitude of the Holy See in this matter from the eleventh century onwards, and set out legislation based on the text "We desire most intensely that all people should be Catholics but not all Latins”, reminding those whom he addressed that their function was to support and help the local indigenous Catholic clergy and not to boss them. Pope Pius IX emphasized the same things in his appeal to the separated Orientals, the encyclical "In suprerma" of 1848.
In 1893 the international euchanstic congress was held in Jerusalem and at it the Eastern element predominated. It marks a new era in the history of the Catholic East, of which the first important fruit was Pope Leo XIII’s constitution "Orientalium dignitas" in 1894. Among other things, this emphasized that all rites are on exactly the same footing religiously and canonically; moreover, it decreed that any Western priest who should persuade an Eastern Christian to adopt the Latin rite should by that very fact incur suspension from his sacerdotal functions. Any Eastern non-Cathohc who becomes a Catholic is strongly encouraged to adhere to the rite which he has hitherto followed, though it seems he is not bound to;4 without a rescript from the Holy See, no Catholic can change his canonical status from Eastern to Western, or vice-versa (Canon 98, § 3).
That is the law, but it is well known that it is not everywhere administered in its full rigour,5 and that is one of the reasons why non-Catholic Easterners insist that "Rome wants to turn them all into Latins."
4 In 1933 a Japanese convert was received into the Church in Poland as a Byzantine.
5 Even still one meets and hears of cases of most improper pressure being applied to induce Orientals to "turn Latin". The Russian exarch Leonid Feodorov (see p 125) had to report to Rome that the Latin Catholics of Petersburg acted on their allegation that the papal directions contained in "Orientalium dignitas" were intended only for the churches of the Levant. The present writer has been assured by a very high ecclesiastic in the Levant that "Orientalium dignitas" applies only to Europe. And to my certain knowledge his clergy were so instructed in the local seminary. pp. 18-19
"The Italo-Albanian priests retain their right to marriage before ordination and a few are married." p. 62
"The Galician Ruthenians... State in 1939...Parochial clergy. The great seminary of Lvov was founded in 1783 and has had a very fruitful career; it entered on a new phase which seemed of much promise and importance in 1931, when it was erected into an academy of theology in fulfillment of the university aspirations that it has always had. In 1939 there were in the seminary about 220 theological students and 120 juniors. The other two eparchies also have seminaries, both established at the end of the eighteenth century. The Ruthenian College at Rome was erected by Pope Leo XIII in 1897, the Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria providing a generous subsidy. It was first confided to the direction of the Ruthenian Basilian monks in 1904. It houses about 50 students. Others went to Innsbruck University and to the Augustineum at Vienna. Of the 2150 secular priests in 1939, 77 per cent were married, but the celibate ideal was beginning slowly to gain ground; this has an important economic aspect, for while, as has been said, a married clergy has in the past been a source of strength to Ukrainian religion and culture, nevertheless the burden of a family is often very grievous to pastors in the poor rural parishes that predominate. Of the 1267 parishes of Lvov, 482 did not have a resident pastor in 1932." p. 78-79
"The question of a celibate secular clergy has for long been one of the chief dfficulties. The bishops of the United States found the presence of married priests embarrassing, and the apostolic letter "Ea semper" of 1907 decreed that only celibate Ruthenian priests should be admitted or ordained in North America, This, and other innovations in their customs, was strongly resented, the Orthodox made the most of them, and 10,000 Ruthenians joined the dissidents. Eventually the Holy See did not enforce the prohibition of married priests in the United States (though no married men may be ordained there) and otherwise modified “Ea semper" but further legislation by the decree “Cum data" in 1929 again caused trouble." p. 82
"THE PODCARPATHIAN RUTHENIANS or RUSINS...Parochial clergy. These are trained in the college of their rite at Uzhorod (Ungvar) or in Latin seminaries. They are mostly married, and a French observer who knows them well characterizes them as “well-instructed, affable, of a real Christian spirit... worthy of all respect, of simple habits free from pretensions and 'bossiness' but the priesthood tends as it were to pass from father to son and to form a sacerdotal caste." p. 90
"THE CATHOLIC YUGOSLAVS...Parochial clergy are formed in the seminary of Zagreb (founded 1685), which is directed by Basilian monks. The parishes are arranged in archpresbyterates or deaneries. Most of the clergy are married." p. 96
"THE CATHOLIC RUMANIANS...Parochial clergy. These number over 1500, of whom 90 per cent are married." p. 101
"THE CATHOLIC MELKITES...All the St. Anne's priests have voluntarily accepted celibacy, but there is also a number of married priests among the Melkite clergy, who are hard-working and highly respected men." p. 109
"THE CATHOLIC GREEKS...In 1829 lie sultan Mohammed II emancipated his non-Latin Catholic subjects from the civil authority of the dissident patriarchs, and a body of Greek Catholics of the Byzantine rite came into existence...Parochial clergy. These are fifteen in number, all voluntarily celibate, with one permanent deacon." pp. 116, 117
"THE CATHOLIC BULGARS...Parochial clergy. These number 41, about half of whom are married." p. 122
"THE CATHOLIC RUSSIANS...Married men are, of course, entitled to be ordained deacon and priest, but voluntary celibacy is encouraged." p. 129
(THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OF THE EAST, VOLUME I: CHURCHES IN COMMUNION WITH ROME, By DONALD ATTWATER, THE BRUCE PUBLISHING COMPANY, MILWAUKEE, Nihil obstat: John A Schulien, STD, Censor librorum, Imprimatur: +Moyses E. Kiley, Archiepiscopus Milwaukensis, Die 18 Septembris, 1946, Second Printing – 1948, pp. 62, 78-79, 82, 90, 96, 101, 109, 116, 117, 122, 129)
In his book, the author also mentioned many other events and facts based on which a reader can form a correct opinion about Eastern Catholics.
Concluding my short essay, I would like to refer to the "motto" of Donald Attwater‘s book:
"The Church of Jesus Christ is neither Latin nor Greek nor Slav but Catholic, accordingly she makes no difference between her children, and Greeks, Latins, Slavs, and members of all other nations are equal in the eyes of the Apostolic See. - Pope Benedict XV"
Certainly this sentence of the Pope is a logical development of the teaching of St. Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ and the Apostle of the Gentiles:
"For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew, nor Greek: there is neither bond, nor free: there is neither male, nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." (TO THE GALATIANS 3:26-28)