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Any reflection on the care of the migrants and re-evangelization finds its true meaning
only within a sound theology of the Church. This is the reason we try to highlight the main-line
thinking of an ecclesiology of communion which is ancient as well as modern. Only an
ecclesiological strategy which is open to the past, present and future can determine the
highways of communion ecclesiology. The words of the famous theologian Yves Congar are
pertinent: “No one lives by scripture pure and simple. Each Church lives by scripture in and
through a certain tradition” 1 One faith is expressed in many traditions. So faith of the church is
to be explored in the faith traditions of the various individual Churches. Our attempt is to move
from a sociological, juridical, federative and unitary ecclesiology to an ecclesiology of

Christianity is actually a semitic religion that blossomed in an Aramaic speaking culture.

Among the oriental Churches those within the syriac tradition may be said to hold a pride of
place since they were representatives of and to some degree direct heirs to the semitic world.
Before using the Greek and Latin mantels Christianity wore the simple Aramaic-Syrian gown. In
an ecclesiology of communion we need a tri-angular approach, that means the church of Christ
is an organic communion of Syriac, Greeek and Latin Churches. Syriac Churches have shaped
their identity outside the Roman Empire. “In the formative period of Christianity no other group
of Churches can prove a more dynamic and creative record of service to Gospel and to human
culture”. 2 “ The centre of the Church is more accurately seen as located in Asia Minor rather
than …around the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern face of the Greek thought also pushes the
centre into Asia. East is illustrated by the spread of Christianity into India and the Far East, most
notably the expansion of the Syriac Church…” 3 We get the glimpses of this tradition in the Acts
of Judas Thomas, Teachings of Addai, Odes of Solomon, 4 and in the writings of Mar Aphrem,
Aphrahat, Jacob of Serug etc.

The New Testament speaks of a church as a building, a vine, a flock, a bride, a body,
always in relationship to Christ. Christ is the cornerstone of a single construction. He is the
stem of a single vine, the shepherd of a single flock, the husband of a single wife, the head of a
single body, which is organically one”. 5 There was a fellowship in the teaching of the Apostles
(didascalia), in the Eucharist (eucharistia), in the communion (koinonia), and the prayers
(eulogia). These ingredients are the foundations of the Christian family.

Yves Congar, Diversity and Communion (London: 1984), 134.
R. Murray, :The Characteristics of East Syriac Christianity”, in N.C. Garsoian et alii (eds), East of Byzantine: Syria
and Armenia in the Formative Period (Washington: 1982), 14..
N. Tanner, The Church in Council (New York: 2011), 53.
Joseph Kallarangatt, Reflections on Theology and Church (Kottayam:2001).
Yves Congar, Diversity and Communion, 11.

The Fathers never disconnected the ecclesia from the Christian life of a believer. There is
no ecclesiology in the modern sense of the word in the Fathers. But there is a profound ecclesial
vision in them. None of the Fathers spoke about the being of the Church. But all of them spoke
about the being of God.

During the middle ages great shift of emphasis occurred in the field of ecclesiology. “The
people of God are subjected to the body of Christ, the charism is made subordinate to the
institution, inner freedom to imposed authority, prophetism to juridicism, mysticism to
scholasticism, the laity to the clergy, the universal priesthood to the ministerial hierarchy, and
the college of the bishops to the primacy of the Pope”. 6 It is with the 19th century liturgical
renewal, initiated by J.A. Mohler, that people again became aware of what the Church really is.
The Church was again understood as a communion in the Spirit. It was actually here that we
see the starting of the slogan – ressourcement – going back to the sources of theology. Thus
there arose a Eucharistic ecclesiology also named as ecclesiology of communion. This
ecclesiology of communion became the core of Vatican II’s teachings on the Church the novel
and original element in what this council wanted to give us. While speaking about an
ecclesiology of communion Congar says that “the roots and source must be seen to be the
reality of the Church as people of God, body of Christ, and the living temple of the Spirit”. 7 The
eastern ecclesiology is sometimes bifurcated into Trinitarian ecclesiology (Zizioulas),
Pneumatological ecclesiology (Nikos Nissiotis), Christological ecclesiology (George Florovsky)
and Eucharistic ecclesiology of ( John Meyendorff, Paul Evdokimov, Afanassief, O Clement). All
of them base their stand on the ancient dictum of Ignatius of Antioch that the Eucharist makes
the Church. Henri de Lubac says: “What constitutes the Church is thus the coming together of
baptized people around the bishop who teaches the faith and celebrates the eucharist.8
“However this idea that the catholic Church is a communion of Churches, or a church of
Churches with vast differences has not gone deep into the hearts of most catholics”. 9

This renewed form of the theology of the Church has taken the shape of communion.
Communion is an integral, all embracing, and multivalent category in the documents of Vatican
II. Every unnatural adjective added to the Church is an impoverishing element in ecclesiology. The
natural adjectives are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The natural attributes define the Church
from inside; unnatural from outside. The natural attributes define the identity of the Church. All
other attributes add something to the Church from outside. All the external attributes will shut
the door of communion and ecumenism. Communion is like an internal epistemological category
in ecclesiology. It is an arch-model. We have polarized the field of ecclesiology and ecumenism
giving birth to uniatism, deviatism and exclusivism. As McDonnel remarks: “The Documents of
Vatican II made significant use of Koinonia, communion, as the way of speaking about
revelation, identifying the mystery of the Church, portraying the rootedness of the Church in the

V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, (London :1957), 156.
Congar, Diversity and Communion, 164.
Henri de Lubac, The Motherhood of the Church, (San Francisco: 1982) , 192.
Archbishop Joseph Powathil, The Ecclesial Milieu: Ecclesial Vision and Historical Interventions (Trivandrum:
2009), 309.

Trinitarian history, specifying the Eucharistic mode that structures the Church’s life determining
the ecclesiastical and juridical relationship within the ecclesial reality, describing the bond
between the pilgrim Church and the heavenly Church of saints and finally, envisaging the goal of
the ecumenical endeavour”. 10 In speaking about an ecclesiology of communion our aim is to
reach the one church of Christ or the undivided Church.

The Universal Church is a Communion of Churches

a) The Church means Churches

The universal Church is in and from the Churches. The Church finds its self expression in
and through the Churches. The universal Church of God is an organic communion of different
Churches. “By divine providence it has come about that various Churches established in diverse
places by the apostles and their successors have in the course of time coalesced into several
groups, organically united, which preserving the unity of faith and the unique divine constitution
of the universal Church, enjoy their own discipline, their own liturgical usage, and their own
theological and spiritual heritage” (LG 23). “The Church of Christ is really present in all
legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which in so far as they are united to their
pastors, are also quite appropriately called churches in the New Testament…” (LG 26).The
apostolic rootedness and the other various constitutive elements of an individual Church had
been pin-pointed here. Again the same document says: “In and from such individual Churches
there come into being the one and only Catholic Church” (LG 23). The council does not simply
say “the Church exists completely in every community celebrating the eucharist” but uses the
formulation ‘in all the legitimately organized local groups’. Christ is complete everywhere. But
He is also only one everywhere. And hence I can only have the one Lord in the unity that he is
himself, in the unity with the others who are also his body. And we continuously become his
body in the eucharist. Hence the unity among themselves of the communities that celebrate the
eucharist is not an external accessory for Eucharistic celebration but its inmost condition. It
conveys an ecclesiology for which being catholic is not some external matter of organization but
is grace springing from within. 11

The key expressions that helped for an ecclesiology of communion are Church as people
of God and sacrament. “The council very brilliantly made this connection clear when along with
the term people of God it brought into prominence another fundamental term for the Church:
the Church as sacrament. One only remains faithful to the council if one always takes and
reflects on these two core terms of its ecclesiology together-sacrament and people of God” 12.
Unity on the dogmas and faith is a real one. But there is a deeper foundation-the sacramental
nature of the Church. It is the common foundation of the ecclesiologies of the east and west.
There is this organic, sacramental and mystical unity of the body of Christ. I would see this
common foundation existing at the time of the Fathers, of the creation of liturgies, of

Mc Donnel, “Vatican 11…..”, 401
Ratzinger, Church Ecumenism…, 11.
Ratzinger, Church Ecumenism…, 19.

monasticism, and of the periods of the seven ecumenical councils. In this sense we can speak of
an undivided Church” 13

b) The Ecclesial Communion is a Unity in Diversity 14

The diversity of a Church is characterized by its apostolic origin, liturgy, theology,

spirituality and discipline. “Far from being an obstacle to Church’s unity, such diversity of
customs and observances, only adds to her comeliness and contributes greatly to carrying out
her mission” (UR 16). “The entire heritage of spirituality and liturgy, of discipline and theology
in their various traditions, belongs to the full catholic and apostolic character of the Church”
(UR 17). “The Churches of the East while keeping in mind the necessary unity of whole Church,
have the power to govern themselves according to their own disciplines” (UR 16). “This variety
of the local Churches…. is a particularly splendid evidence of the catholicity of the undivided
Church” (LG 26). “A rite is a liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture
and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is
manifested in each church sui iuris” (CCEO 28). A principle which we can deduce from this is
that ecclesial unity, diversity and catholicity advance together. To be authentically catholic
means to be different as the Father, Son and the Spirit are different in the unity of their
essence.15 . “Ever since the dynamism of Pentecost, the very fabric of numerous cultures has
become the fabric of as many groups of Churches. We can speak in this sense, in a broad way,
of the Syriac, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Armenian, Egyptian, Indian (Malabar) Church etc. They are
not copies of a uniform model which they have more or less adopted. Their originality is
something radical. Each one has blosommed, so to speak, on her own ground, giving herself a
liturgy, a hymnography, a theology, a legal system, in a profound symbiosis with the human
milieu she Christianized”. 16 “Unity without diversity makes the Church a dead body; pluralism
without unity makes it a body which is dismembered”. 17

c) All the Churches are Equal

“By stressing the equal dignity of the different catholic rites, the council condemns clearly
the theory of those, mostly in the 18th century taught that the Roman rite enjoyed some kind of
precedence over the others.” 18 “They are consequently of equal dignity so that none of them is
superior to the other by reason of rite” (OE 3). The equality of the Churches is expressed by a
venerable expression “sister Churches”. There is an admirable brotherhood between these
churches (OE 2). Here the council put forward an ecclesiological view of rites, not merely a
liturgical one. The council sought to link the notion of the rite with the reality of an individual
Church. It is an attempt to define the rite by the Church, and not the church by the rite. The

Congar, Diversity and Communion, 21.
For details, cf Y.Congar, Diversity and Communion, 1984.
J. Kallarangatt, The Holy Spirit, Bond of Communion of the Churches, (Rome 1989), 75
Henri de Lubac, The Motherhood of the Church, 216.
J. M. R. Tillard, Church of Churches: The Ecclesiology of Communion (Minnesota), 320.
Abbot, Documents of Vatican II, (London: 1966), note 7.

Eastern apostolic Churches are not substations or branch offices of the universal Church
considered as the Latin Church. All the apostolic Churches are equal. They are not parts of a
worldwide organization. They are really Churches of God. The local or regional Church is
wholly the Church but not the whole Church. It is never completely autonomous or a law unto
itself, without responsibility to any other Christian Churches throughout the world. It is a full
Church only in communion with the ecumenical Christian communion and with the centre of
that communion, the Church of Rome. 19 “Between the particular Church and the universality of
the Church, there is as it were a mutual interiority. At the heart of each particular church, all the
Church is thus present in principle. Each one is qualitatively the Church. Each one is a living cell
in which the whole vital mystery of the one Body of the Church is present. Each one is open to
all sides through the bonds of communion and preserves her existence as church only through
this openness.” 20 It is only in agreement or communion with others that a Church identifies
herself with the Church of God, for the unity is that of the Church, not of the Churches. The
people of God are a single people, not because they are composed of numerous particular
Churches, but because each particular community is for its part only a form in which this one
people of God occur. “The Council laid the theological foundations of the model of the Church
communio ecclesiarum. The particular Churches are not simply parts and even less
administrative districts of a confederation of Churches called the universal Church, but rather
the same supreme reality of the one Church of Christ, present and really actualized in a specific
place”. 21

(d) Equal right for evangelization

If one individual Church is denied of its fundamental right for evangelization and made a
servile feeder of another Church it goes against the teachings of Vatican II . How can it be called
a sign of openness, equality and catholicity where there is a claim for territorial monopoly at the
expense of the oriental Churches. This is a false notion of equality , universality and catholicity.
This is not generosity nor real catholicity, but a remote preparation for suicide. “Will a Church of
a particular rite which is conscious of its identity and mission in the catholic Church slavishly
make of itself the vocation market for all sorts of persons and religious institutes of another
rite”? 22 Every Church should grow as a living organism which never loses its identity. 23 The
growth of a Church depends on its missionary dynamism. If not there will develop a strange
ecclesiology. To deny the possibility of evangelization for an apostolic or sui iuris Church is
detrimental to the growth of the whole Church . “Missionary thrust is inherent in each Church
and it has to be faithful to its nature in bearing witness before others… Their presentation of
faith to others also cannot be in different ways. Each church has to rely on its own liturgy,
spirituality, and theology in presenting its faith to those outside the flock. It cannot be true

K. Oreste, “Pluralism in the One Church: Apostolic Churches of the East”, Concilium 3 (1013), 63
Henri de Lubac, The Motherhood of the Church, 202.
Anton, “Post Conciliar Ecclesiology…”, 426.
Placid Podipara, The Rise and Decline…47.
Xavier Koodapuzha, “The Indian Church of the Thomas Christians” CO Vol. I(1980), 53).

itself and do otherwise; life and preaching cannot be separated”. 24 The commandment of Jesus
for preaching is a direct one, not derivative. Every church or every Christian is designated and
commanded (Acts 13:47), to bring the message of salvation to all nations. It is a divine
imperative. No institution can restrict it. Jesus left two existentially vital commands: do this in
memory of me, go and preach the whole world. Both the Eucharistic celebration and
evangelization must be done in continuity with the apostolic tradition. Migration is the
greatest social movement of the modern times. Mega-cities have become magnets of migration.
If the spirit of the verse -preach the gospel to the whole world- which is echoed also in OE 2,
3, 4, 5, 9; UR 16, CD 23, 27, CCEO 28, 32, 38-41, 148.2, 150.2; Orientale Lumen 9, Erga
Migrantes Caritats Christi, 49, 50, 52-54 , Ad Gentes 38 etc. is respected anything which
retards the growth of a Church sui iuris must be removed. Migration is also a missionary
enterprise. “In the course of history of the Church emigrants elsewhere have been evangelizers.
A scattered people with adequate pastoral care has often managed to spread the Gospel into
other domains. Even persecutions have unexpected agents of evangelization”. 25

e) A theological Understanding of Tradition/traditions

In the east there is almost an equivalence between Church, tradition and liturgy.26.
Tradition is not merely the material transmission of what was given at the beginning to the
apostles, but the effective presence of the crucified Lord who accompanies and guides in the
Spirit the community he has gathered together. Tradition is the living river that links us to the
origins, the great river that leads to the gates of eternity. Tradition is criticism and creativity
and the handing down and preservation of identical realities. 27 Tradition is the heritage of the
Church. This is the living memory of the Risen. 28 Church has to be, ante et retro oculata,
looking both forward and backward at the same time. Future is anticipated, past is available in
anamnesis, present is a reality and background. Retro oculata is neither preoccupation with the
past nor an inability to move forward , but a matter of Christian identity, the continuity of the
Church with its roots or sources. The Church exists in a moment that has joined together past,
present and future. She re-lives her past, she lives in her present, she fore-lives her future. The
Church is the memory of the future. 29 Tradition is the revelation of God and the gift which he
has made of himself in Christ, his presence in the life of the Church by the Holy Spirit”. 30

Archbishop Joseph Powathil, The Ecclesial Milieu, 168.
Mar Joseph Powathil, “Some Pastoral Problems and Inter-Church Relationships in India” CO III (1982), 10).
Congar, Diversity and Communion, 72.
Congar, The Word and the Spirit, 55.
Pope John Pal II, Orientale Lumen, (Vatican City: 1995), no. 8.
J.D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion. Studies in the Personhood and the Church, (London: 1985), 180.
Congar, Diversity and Communion, 135.

f) Sister Churches

It is in having the specific apostolicity that the various Churches are sisters to each other,
not mother-daughter to each other. The substance of faith and the sacramental reality in all
these Churches are the same. They also articulate the sisterly character. The basic
presupposition of the theology of the sister Churches is that it is grounded on the reality of the
common quality as the children of the same Father. 31 A merely uniate mentality in the ecclesial
communion is unacceptable. “In the Roman communion, with its new worldwide dimension, the
old Eastern Churches distanced themselves and the schism became lastingly established. In the
communion with Rome there remained frequently nothing but the promises of the Eastern
dignitaries. While one part of the Church unites with Rome, the majority of the same Church
remains outside this communion with Rome. In this way the orthodox part proclaims itself as a
Church vis-a-vis the Roman communion, while the uniate part loses its ecclesial consciousness
and becomes a rite. The Eucharistic ecclesiology disappears and gives way to a mere
sociological and juridical ecclesiology”. 32

Communion Ecclesiology is Ecumenical Ecclesiology

Vatican II’s ecclesiology of communion is an ecumenically oriented theology. The decree

on ecumenism is an explicit sign of this. The ecclesiology and ecumenism of Vatican II is vested
on the expression ‘subsists in’ (“this Church constituted and organized in the world as a
society, subsists in the Catholic Church, LG8). To say that the Church of Christ subsists means
that it still exists with all those properties with which Christ endowed it. To say that it subsists
in the Catholic Church means that it is in the Catholic Church that it is to be – found existing
with all its required properties: its oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. This does
not mean, of course, that they are found there in their eschatological perfection. To say that
the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, then, means that it continues to exist
there with all those gifts which it can never lose. 33 Prof. Tillard comments as follows: “If she is
convinced with Lumen Gentium, that the Church of God subsists in herself with what is
objectively necessary to its fullness, she recognizes, also that the Church of God exists outside
herself though not with everything that is required for that fullness. To go further, she is aware
of the defective state in which certain fundamental ecclesial values are found in herself.
Convinced that she possesses what is required for ecclesial fullness, she does not pretend to
possess all of it as perfectly as she should. This awareness of deficiency is accepted today in
most catholic circles”. 34 Tillard goes to the extent of saying that it is precisely in Lumen
Gentium’s expression ‘subsists in’ that the broken state of the one Church of God and also the
communion ecclesiology are situated. The drama of the separation is situated within the one
Church of God (unica ecclesia Dei). We should not think of this drama as dismissal of some
groups from the unica ecclesia or as the fragmentation of the unica ecclesia into many

E.Lanne, “Eglise Soeurs”, Istina 20 (1975), 68.
Y.Congar, “Moving Towards a Pilgrim Church”, 137
F. Sullivan, “The Significance of Vatican II’s Decision to Say of the Church of Christ not that it is but that It
Subsists in the Roman Catholic Church”, CPU, no.29 (1986), 5.

J. Tillard, “An Ecclesiology of the Councils of the Churches”, MS 22(1983), 191.

Churches. There is only one unica ecclesia but it is no longer united within itself. It is unica
thanks to God’s loyalty. It is non unica because of human shortcoming. 35 Cardinal Willebrands
remarks that the phrase ‘subsists in’ connotes a double reality: primarily, the one and the
genuine Church of God is found in the Catholic Church; secondly, the one Church of God goes
beyond the Catholic Church. 36 A. Dulles has remarked that the Church of Christ is verified in
Roman Catholicism in its institutional fullness. Various ecclesial elements such as Scriptures,
prayers, sacraments, worship etc., are also found outside the Catholic boundaries. Therefore,
the Church of Christ is found in various degrees and modalities in the different Churches. 37

J. Tillard, “The Church of God is a Communion: the Ecclesiological Perspectives of Vatican II, OC (1981), 128-9.
Cardinal Willebrands, “Vatican II’s Ecclesiology of Communion” OC 23 (1987), 187.
A Dulles, “Catholic Ecclesiology since Vatican II”, Concilium (1986), 6.

Pastoral Care of Eastern Faithful Outside the Territory of Their Church sui iuris

Eminence, Excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

I deeply thank the Pontifico Istituto Orientale and the Mar Thoma Yogam for inviting
me to speak in this Seminar on “New Evangelization Within and Beyond: An Eastern
Catholic Perspective”. It is an honor and a challenge for me to speak to the Syro-
Malabar and Syro-Malankara bishops doing their ad limina visit. I wish I could say
something interesting for you and I pray that you have mercy on me and patience with
my poor English.


Recent History teaches that, when someone migrates towards a place alien to their
culture and rite of origin, there are three choices: a) to try to assimilate oneself
completely to the new culture and rite forgetting one's previous identity, something
that might seem "more useful" judging with narrow criteria; b) to shelter in a closed
group with a personal world replica of that of the place of origin, without considering
the host country as their own, nor endeavoring to build its common good; either c) to
strive to integrate oneself into the new country, while retaining the treasure of one’s
own traditions which will be used to also enrich the host country and to contribute to
the common good of all citizens. Closed groups are obviously something clearly
pernicious, which frequently leads to internecine warfare and "ethnic cleansing". Of
the other two options, during the last centuries, in the Catholic Church there have
been supporters of the full assimilation of the émigrés, but little by little awareness of
the absolute need of the latter option has been taking prevalence: the respectful
integration of different people's identity. In the Church this is especially important
when you have to respect not only cultural but also strictly ritual heritage, with all that
this term means.
That’s why, following the directives of OE n. 1, CCEO can. 39 1 reminds us that we must
preserve and foster the rites of the Eastern Churches. And this is not a matter of only
“preserving” them as in a tin can or in a freezer, but of promoting them: helping them
grow, get strengthened, flourish, blossom and bear fruit.

This duty is especially important in those territories where there is not a proper
Hierarchy for the Eastern faithful settled outside their original motherland, due to the
modern phenomenon of mass emigration. 2 You are well aware of the canonical
principle about the territorial limitation of Patriarchal and Synodal Jurisdiction (CCEO
cc. 78 § 2 and 150 § 2) 3, which was reaffirmed personally by John Paul II 4, and
repeated several times by Vatican authorities. 5 The thorny matter of the recurring

1 CCEO can. 39: «The rites of the Eastern Churches, as the patrimony of the entire Church of Christ, in
which there is clearly evident the tradition which has come from the Apostles through the Fathers
and which affirm the divine unity in diversity of the Catholic faith, are to be religiously preserved and
2 Cfr. Cl. PUJOL, “Conditio fidelis orientalis ritus extra suum territorium,” in Periodica 73 (1984), 489-
504; J. FARIS, “Pastoral Care of Migrants and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches”, in
Proceedings of the CLSA 2001, pp. 85-99; L. LORUSSO, Gli orientali cattolici e i pastori latini:
problematiche e norme canoniche, («Kanonika» 11), Roma 2003; A. VIANA, “Estructuras personales y
colegiales de gobierno. Con referencia especial al problema de la movilidad humana y de la diáspora
de los católicos orientales,” in Folia canonica 7 (2004), 7-48; L. OKULIK, “Aspetti giuridici della cura
pastorale dei fedeli di rito orientale nelle diocesi latine (Spunti a partire dall’esortazione ap. ‘Pastores
gregis’),” in A. CATTANEO (ed.), L’esercizio dell’autorità nella Chiesa. Riflessioni a partire
dall’esortazione apostolica «Pastores gregis»: Atti del Convegno di Studio svolto a Venezia, 12. V.
2004, Venezia 2005, pp. 149-159. Moreover, see the papers of the Congress «Cristiani orientali e
Pastori latini» Santa Croce Pontifical University, Rome 14-15 April 2010 (on press).
3 CCEO can. 78 § 2: «The power of the patriarch is exercised validly only inside the territorial
boundaries of the patriarchal Church unless the nature of the matter or the common or particular
law approved by the Roman Pontiff establishes otherwise.»
CCEO can. 150 § 2: « Laws enacted by the synod of bishops of the patriarchal Church and
promulgated by the patriarch, if they are liturgical, have the force of law everywhere in the world; if,
however, they are disciplinary laws or concern other decisions of the synod, they have the force of
law inside the territorial boundaries of the patriarchal Church.»
The sources of this discipline are: a) First Council of Constantinople, can. 2: «The bishops are not to
go beyond their dioceses [=regions] to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on
the churches.» b) Orientalium Ecclesiarum n. 9: «... The patriarchs with their synods are the highest
authority for all business of the patriarchate, including the right of establishing new eparchies and of
nominating bishops of their rite within the territorial bounds of the patriarchate, without prejudice
to the inalienable right of the Roman Pontiff to intervene in individual cases.»
4 JOHN PAUL II, “Decisione papale circa i poteri dei patriarchi fuori del territorio delle Chiese patriarcali”,
in Nuntia 29 (1989), 26. See also IDEM, “Address to the XXVIIIth Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for
the presentation of CCEO, 25 October 1990”, in Nuntia 31 (1990), 10-16 e 17-23, n. 12.
5 Cfr. A. SODANO, Discorso si Angelo Sodano ai partecipanti al Simposio, in CONGREGAZIONE PER LE
CHIESE ORIENTALI (ed.), Ius ecclesiarum vehiculum caritatis, Atti del simposio internazionale per il
decennale dell’entrata in vigore del CCEO, 19-23 novembre 2001, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del
claim for universal extension of the Jurisdiction of Patriarchs and Synods cannot be
resolved here and now. So, let us move on to study how the pastoral care of those
faithful is to be achieved through the ordinary means already provided for by the Law
in vigour.

The Patriarch keeps being “Pater et Caput” for every faithful of his Church, wherever
they may be, and he has the duty of watching over their spiritual good also when they
are not technically under his jurisdiction. That is why a Patriarch can: a) direct
instructions and encyclical letters to the Christian faithful of the entire Church over
which he presides (CCEO can. 82 § 1, nn. 2-3); b) keep relations everywhere with the
local hierarchy in regard to the faithful of his Church entrusted to the pastoral care of
those bishops (CCEO can. 193 §§ 1 & 3); c) receive a copy of the quinquennial report
from the bishops of his Church constituted outside its territory (CCEO can. 206 § 2);
and d) send Visitors outside the territory of the patriarchal Church to inform him about
the situation and needs of the faithful of his Church (CCEO can. 148).

In fact, the Eastern faithful outside the territory keep their membership in their Church
sui iuris even when they are entrusted to the pastoral care of a Latin Ordinary (cf.
CCEO can. 38), and they must know their own rite and observe it everywhere (cf. CCEO
can. 40 § 3).

For that reason, diocesan bishops have the serious obligation to provide for the
preservation of their subjects’ own rite even if they belong to another Church sui iuris,
and must favour the relations of those faithful with the superior authority of their own
Church (CCEO can. 193 § 1 – CIC can. 383 §§ 1-2). Is it true in practice?

1. The Patriarchal/Apostolic Visitor

CCEO can. 148 § 1 (cf. PB 59) establishes the Patriarch’s right and duty of getting
information about the conditions of the faithful who belong to the Church sui iuris
presided by him but residing in “Diaspora”. This right and duty can be achieved «even
through a visitor sent by himself with the consent of the Apostolic See». Through the

Vaticano 2004, p. 590. For an updated exposition on the developments on this matter, see: O.
CONDORELLI, “Giurisdizione universale delle Chiese sui iuris? Frammenti di una ricerca”, in Ius Ecclesiae
22 (2010), 343-366 [specially 357-360].
report of the visitor the Patriarch becomes aware of the needs of those faithful and so,
after discussing the matter in the Synod, he can propose opportune means to the
Apostolic See, which is the one who should take the juridical measures for providing
protection and increase of the spiritual good of those faithful in Diaspora 6.

When the Visitor is sent by the Patriarch (Patriarchal Visitor), the assent of the
Apostolic See is needed in order to certify the legitimacy of the Visitor, because he will
perform his visit in territories which are not under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch.
Anyway, more frequently it is the very Congregation for the Oriental Churches who
sends the Visitor (Apostolic Visitor), often at a Patriarch’s request.

When the Visitor is sent by the Patriarch he enjoys only an informative role, he has no
jurisdictional competences, because the Patriarch cannot give them to be used outside
the proper territory. Even if his faculties are given by the Apostolic See (Apostolic
Visitor) the Visitor usually is not a Hierarch strictly speaking, because he just verifies
the needs, encourages the faithful, meets local Bishops, reports and makes proposals
to the Congregation, but sometimes he could be given also true jurisdictional
competences and, so, he exercise acts of govern 7. Some years ago someone showed
me a decree of appointment in which an Apostolic Visitor was given (temporarily) the
competence to entrust the pastoral care of oriental faithful to priests with faculties
and duties of a parish priest, obtaining previously the assent of their proper Hierarch
and that of the Local Latin Bishop 8. I think this implied an overriding of the

6 CCEO can. 148 § 3. The unfitting English translation of the word «provideatur» existing in the text of
the canon could lead someone to think that the Patriarch is competent to make juridical decisions in
Diaspora («in order that everywhere in the world he might provide...»). But this is wrong, because it
would contradict the territorial limit of his jurisdiction.
7 As happens for the Apostolic Visitors of Belarus and Kazakhstan: cf. D. SALACHAS & K. NITKIEWICZ, Inter-
Ecclesial Relations between Eastern and Latin Catholics – A Canonical-Pastoral Handbook, English
Edition by G.D. Gallaro, CLSA, Washington DC 2009, p. 136.
8 «In attesa della nomina, da parte delle Conferenze Episcopali interessate, di un Coordinatore
nazionale responsabile della cura spirituale ai fedeli XXX di rito HHH, per poter promuovere e
coordinare efficacemente in questo momento l’azione pastorale, il Dicastero autorizza il Visitatore
Apostolico ad affidare ai sacerdoti di rito HHH o a quelli di rito latino, muniti della facoltà di
biritualismo, previo assenso dei propri Ordinari e dei Vescovi latini del luogo, la cura spirituale delle
singole Comunità locali con obblighi e facoltà di parroci.» CONGREGATIO PRO ECCLESIIS ORIENTALIBUS,
Decretum, 4 marzo 2004, Prot. N. 22/2004, Annexed Instructions, n. 3. [I report the text here after
obtaining verbal authorization from the former Secretary of the Congregation for the oriental
competence of the local Latin Bishops: because it was not them to appoint the priests,
and because the Apostolic Visitor seemed to act as a Hierarch 9 (in spite of not existing
formal erection of any Oriental circumscription). This can easily damage the already
frail relationship between Latin and Oriental hierarchies, and – I think – must be

CCEO can. 148 says nothing about the eventuality of the Patriarch himself doing the
“visit” to the faithful in Diaspora. In this case, is the assent of the Apostolic See
needed? Some authors say that the Patriarch always needs the assent of the Apostolic
See 10, others say that he does not 11. We must distinguish between a “pastoral” visit
(CCEO can. 83 § 1) and a “canonical” visit (CCEO can. 83 § 2). It is clear that to do the
canonical visit the Patriarch needs jurisdiction, which he does not enjoy outside the
territory of the Patriarchal Church. But it seems that in a pastoral visit no jurisdiction is
exercised, and, so, when the Patriarch goes abroad just to get information about the
situation of his faithful he doesn’t use any jurisdiction, and so – I think – no permission
from the Apostolic See is needed to make that kind of visit. Once done, the Patriarch,
after discussing the matters with the Synod, can ask the Apostolic See to take the
suitable measures. I am aware that the PCCICOR did not want to accept a proposal
similar to this, but in reality the rejected proposal was dealing with a visit both pastoral
and disciplinary in character 12, and so the denial was reasonable. Nevertheless, if it
were a simple pastoral visit, I think the Patriarch could do it freely.

9 «Il Visitatore Apostolico dovrà agire sempre in piena intesa con questo Dicastero e con la Conferenza
Episcopale YYY o AAA, riferendo periodicamente sullo svolgimento della missione e mantenendosi in
consultazione con gli Ordinari del luogo» Ibidem, n. 4.
10 Cf. D. SALACHAS, “Sub can. 148”, in P. VITO (ed.), Commento al Codice dei Canoni delle Chiese Orientali,
(Studium Romanae Rotae, Corpus Iuris Canonici 2), Città del Vaticano 2001, p. 142, and IDEM, sub
can. 83, in Ibidem, p. 94; O. CONDORELLI, “Giurisdizione universale delle Chiese sui iuris? Frammenti di
una ricerca”, in Ius Ecclesiae 22 (2010), 354-355.
11 Cf. J. FARIS, “The Patriarchal Churches (cc. 55-150)”, in G. NEDUNGATT (ed.), A Guide to the Eastern
Code. A Commentary on the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, (Kanonika 11), P.I.O., Rome
2002, pp. 155-199 [ivi, p. 194].
12 Cf. Nuntia 28 (1989), 42.
2. The role of the Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches

I will not enter into the details of the role of the Congregation for the Oriental
Churches for the faithful in Diaspora. I have already written on this topic 13. If,
hypothetically, the power of Patriarchs and Synods were extended all over the world,
the Oriental Congregation would indeed be lightened of many incumbencies 14, but it
would not lose its role of being a junction-centre for the relations of the Roman Pontiff
with the Churches sui iuris. And it seems to me reasonable that the central authority of
the Catholic Church maintains the high coordination of the affairs of the diverse
Churches sui iuris in territories where many of them live together, in order to
harmonize the pastoral activity of the involved hierarchs and to resolve eventual
conflicts (even if at a regional level there are assemblies for this purpose already
foreseen in CCEO can. 322).

3. Appointment of a priest, parish priest, and Episcopal Vicar

For the care of the faithful of other rite residing in the diocese/eparchy, both codes
foresee the Bishop to appoint priests or parish priests of the same rite or even an
Episcopal Vicar (CIC can. 383 § 2 = CCEO can. 193 § 2). The CCEO can. 193 adds a § 3,
nonexistent in CIC can. 383, demanding that for such appointments the bishop should
obtain the consent of the Patriarch of those faithful: but as this is not mentioned in the
Latin canon and, on the other hand, the Eastern canon does not bound the Latin
Church expressly, some consider that they are not obliged to obtain the consent of the
Patriarch. Nevertheless, the instruction Erga migrantes 15, n. 55 requests that in these
cases the norm of the CCEO can. 193 § 3 should be applied by analogy to the Latin

13 Cf. P. GEFAELL, “Impegno della Congregazione per le Chiese orientali a favore delle comunità orientali
in diaspora”, in L. OKULIK (ed.), Nuove terre e nuove Chiese – Le comunità di fedeli orientali in
diaspora, Marcianum Press, Venezia 2008, pp. 125-146 [also in Folia Canonica 9 (2006), 117-137].
14 For a detailed study on the competence of the Oriental Churches and other Dicasteries cf. M.
VATTAPPALAM, The Congregation for the Eastern Churches. Origin and Competence, Città del Vaticano
Caritas Christi, 3 March 2004, in AAS 97, 2 (2004), 762-822.
This priest, appointed by the local Bishop, will be the titular of a Personal Parish (CIC
can. 518, CCEO can. 280 § 1) or a “Mission with care of souls” (Erga migrantes n. 24)
that could be structured as a “quasi-parish” (CIC can. 516) or as a chaplaincy for
migrants (CIC cc. 566, 568, EMJPR 16 art. 4), all of them erected by the local Latin
diocesan Bishop, and fully dependent from him. The coordination of the coming of
oriental priests from the nation of origin to the country of migration is to be performed
by the Episcopal Conference of destination (EMJPR art. 5 § 2) 17.

As far as I know, only one Episcopal Conference has established specific norms for
coordinating the oriental chaplaincies in the country. 18 Other Episcopal Conferences
deal with them through the National Commission for Migration or through the Bishop
Promoter of migrants (EMJPR art. 19): but in some western countries oriental
communities are settled since generations ago, and they should not be treated as
migrants 19. Nevertheless in many cases Eparchies, Exarchies or Ordinariates for
Orientals usually have been already erected for them, but not always.

The personal parish for oriental migrants cannot be considered as tending to be

assimilated in the local Latin parish 20 as instead it is rightly established for other groups
of (Latin) migrants (EMJPR art. 6). In fact, as Cyril Vasil’ says: «for a Latin Bishop – to
whom the oriental catholic migrants are entrusted – the final goal of his pastoral care

16 Erga Migrantes’ Juridical Pastoral Regulations, in Ibidem.

17 «Presbyters, who have obtained due permission as explained in the preceding paragraph, should
make themselves available to the Episcopal Conference ad quam, furnished with the relevant
document granted to them by their own diocesan or eparchial bishop and their own Episcopal
Conference, or by the competent hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The
Episcopal Conference ad quam will then ensure that these presbyters are entrusted to the diocesan
or eparchial bishop or to the bishops of the dioceses or eparchies concerned, who will appoint them
chaplains/missionaries to the migrants» (EMJPR art. 5).
18 Cf. Statutes of the “Departamento para la atención pastoral de los católicos orientales” in SPANISH
EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, “Orientaciones para la atención pastoral de los católicos orientales en España”,
issued by the LXXXI Plenary Assembly of the of 17-21 November 2003, in Boletín Oficial de la
Conferencia Episcopal Española, Year XVII, nº 71 (31 December 2003), 56-63.
MOBILIDADE HUMANA, Normas para a coordenação nacional das capelanias de rito bizantino,
Moscavide 2009.
19 Cf. P. GEFAELL, “L’attenzione agli orientali cattolici nei documenti delle Conferenze episcopali”, in Ius
Ecclesiae 22 (2010), 367-382 [ivi, 370].
20 Cfr. J. CARNERERO PEÑALVER, “La atención pastoral de los fieles de otras Iglesias «sui iuris» en territorio
latino”, in Estudios Ecclesiásticos 307, 78 (2003), 715-742 (ivi, 729).
should be – paradoxically but at the same time logically – that of helping them to “get
away from his pastoral care”, giving them every possible help to, firstly, organize
themselves in their own parishes and, finally, to constitute a group of those parishes
into an exarchy or into an eparchy of the respective oriental Church sui iuris, with a
proper Hierarchy.» 21

When in a Latin diocese the oriental community is large, the local Latin Bishop can
appoint an Episcopal Vicar for the oriental faithful to coordinate the pastoral work of
the oriental parishes. If the majority of that oriental faithful belong to only one Church
sui iuris the constitution of an Episcopal Vicar should be just a step in the way to the
constitution of an Exarchy of Eparchy of that Church in the territory. But when many
small groups of faithful belonging to different Churches are residing in the place, the
stable existence in a diocese of the Episcopal Vicar for oriental faithful (multi-ritual) is
more reasonable.

At the national level, the multi-ritual Ordinariate for oriental faithful without proper
Hierarchy 22 is an exceptional institution, not existing in the Codes, and – in my opinion
– it should steadily leave place to the ordinary means foreseen in the Codes. One can
see the desire to elude from that kind of solution when the Spanish Episcopal
Conference established in its organization chart a Department for the Pastoral Care of
Oriental faithful, as we have already said.

4. Assemblies of Hierarchs of diverse Churches sui iuris

It seems strange that nowhere in the “Diaspora” there still have not been Assemblies
of Hierarchs of diverse Churches sui iuris erected (CCEO can. 322). 23 This kind of
Assemblies are established in those territories where «it seems opportune in the

21 C. VASIL’, “Alcune considerazioni sull’Istruzione EMCC dal punto di vista del diritto delle Chiese
Orientali Cattoliche”, in People on the Move, 37/98 (2005), 109-125 [ivi, 113]. English translation is
22 Cf. A. ASTRID, “Gli ordinariati per i fedeli cattolici orientali privi di gerarchia propria”, in P. GEFAELL
(ed.), Cristiani orientali e Pastori Latini, Acts of the Congress 14-15 April 2010 (on press).
23 P. SZABÓ, “Convento dei Gerarchi ‘plurium Ecclesiarum sui iuris’ (CCEO can. 322). Figura canonica
dello ius commune e la sua adattabilità alla situazione dell'Europa Centro-orientale”, in H. ZAPP – A.
WEISS – ST. KORTA (eds.), Ius canonicum in Oriente et Occidente: Festschrift für Carl Gerold Fürst zum
70. Geburtstag, Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2003, 587-612 [ivi, 587-612].
judgment of the Apostolic See» (CCEO can. 322 § 1) and, so, the decision is up to the
Congregation for the Oriental Churches, that must act consulting the other Dicasteries
involved (cf. PB art. 58 § 2). Moreover, by what can be deducted from Nuntia, it seems
that this kind of assemblies are foreseen only for regions with oriental majority. 24 But
in CCEO can. 322 this limitation does not appear at all. In the 1997 meeting at
Nyíregyháza,25 the Hierarchs of the catholic oriental Churches in Europe had resolved
to make such an Assembly, but nothing have been done till now. I do not know if it
were advisable to propose the creation in other regions (U.S.A., South America, etc.).

5. Proper Hierarch/Ordinary and proper Parish Priest:

It is well known to you that §§ 4 and 5 of the CCEO can. 916, which do not exist in the
CIC, establish the criteria to designate the proper parish priest and the Hierarch
(Ordinary) for the Eastern faithful in those places where they do not have a Hierarch
nor a parish priest of their own rite.

a) If that place is within the territory of an eparchy or exarchy of their own Church sui
iuris, then, the faithful will be subjects of that Hierarch and not of the Latin Ordinary of
that territory (CCEO can. 916 § 1). In this case, if they do not have their own parish
priest, the Eastern bishop will have to appoint a parish priest of another Church sui
iuris, with the consent of the bishop of that parish priest (CCEO can. 916 § 4). But, what
would happen if the Eastern and the Latin bishops do not reach an agreement? In my
opinion the direct person in charge of those faithful will be the Eastern bishop himself.
From 1982, in the U.S.A. there was a special law enjoining that in those places without
their own Eastern parish priest, the Latin parish priest was automatically in charge of
those faithful. From my point of view, that norm would have to be considered
abrogated by the CIC and the CCEO, because they rearrange the matter ex integro (CIC

24 Nuntia 28 (1989), 57-58. Cf. P. SZABÓ, “Stato attuale e prospettive della convivenza delle Chiese
cattoliche sui iuris” in P. ERDÖ & P. SZABÓ (eds.), Territorialità e personalità nel Diritto Canonico ed
Ecclesiastico – Il Diritto Canonico di fronte al terzo millennio, Atti dell’XI Congresso internazionale di
Diritto Canonico e del XV Congresso Internazionale della Società per il Diritto delle Chiese Orientali,
Budapest 2002, 235-236, footnote 26.
25 Cfr. CONGREGAZIONE PER LE CHIESE ORIENTALI, L'identità delle chiese orientali cattoliche: atti dell'incontro
di studio dei vescovi e dei superiori maggiori delle chiese orientali cattoliche d'Europa, Nyíregyháza
(Ungheria) 30 giugno - 6 luglio 1997, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1999.
can. 6 § 1, 4º – CCEO can. 6, 1º), but there are some authors who affirm that this law is
still in force. 26 In my opinion, if in force, the special 1982 law in the U.S.A would signify
a limit to the jurisdiction of the oriental bishops in the U.S.A. in order to appoint the
parish priest of their preference (because the local Latin parish would be automatically
entrusted with oriental faithful, even against the will of the oriental bishop). When the
CCEO can. 916 § 4 is to be followed, the oriental bishop must make agreements with
every diocesan/eparchial bishop of the other Church present in each place of the
territory of the oriental bishop, to indicate which local parish priests are going to take
care of his (oriental) faithful. I suppose that this would signify a lot of work to do, and it
will take time. Who will take care of them in the meanwhile? Maybe this oriental
bishop could make a general norm leaving the appointment of the parish priest to the
prudent decision of the Ordinaries/Hierarchs of the places where there are no proper
oriental parish priest. But then we will find an analogous situation as in § 5. So, let us
give a look at it.

b) Everyone knows that, if a territory does not belong to any circumscription of the
Church sui iuris of the interested oriental faithful, the Hierarch of those faithful will be
the one of another Church sui iuris present in the place, also the Latin Church (CCEO
can. 916 § 5). In this paragraph the Hierarch is mentioned, but not the parish priest,
thus the Latin parish priest is not the parish priest of the Eastern faithful residing in his
parish, unless he receives a delegation or specific mandate from his Ordinary. The fact
is that – as far as I know – Latin Ordinaries are not at all aware of the necessity to make
a special appointment in order for someone to be responsible for the care of the
oriental faithful residing in the diocese. So, Latin parish priests use to think that they
are competent in regard to any oriental faithful having domicile in their Latin parish,
and this is not so. That is why I suggest to promote among every Latin bishop the
awareness of the need of his solicitude to make some specific provisions for the care
of the oriental faithful residing in his diocese.

26 Cfr. F. MARINI, “Determination of Pastors for Eastern Catholics in the United States”, in CLSA Advisory
opinions 1994-2000, Washington D.C. 2002, pp. 549-551.
5. Marriage:

Up to here we have looked into some few points about the ecclesiastical organization
for the pastoral care of oriental faithful in Diaspora. But, as you can image, that
organizational means have direct consequences also in the specific pastoral answers to
baptism, marriage, orders, etc. Let us see just an example.

If a Latin local Ordinary or parish priest – not specifically entrusted with the care of
oriental faithful by force of CCEO can. 916 §§ 4 & 5 – dares to assist the wedding of
two oriental faithful, the matrimony would be null and void due to lack of a competent
minister, because none of the parties belong to the Church sui iuris of the celebrant
(CIC can. 1109 – CCEO can. 829). This is clear (or it should be).

Nevertheless, if the Latin local Ordinary or parish priest has been legitimately
entrusted (by law or by special appointment) with the care of those oriental faithful
who want to get married, he can validly bless their marriage (even if – of course – it
would be advisable that the matrimony be blessed by a priest of their own rite). I say
this because the Spanish Episcopal Conference has given a directive which shows the
difficulty of interpretation of CIC can. 1109. Indeed, the document “Directives for the
pastoral attention of the Eastern Catholics,” of 21st November 2003, in its n. 29, affirms
that “in order to attend and to bless the canonical marriage of two Eastern Catholics,
the Ordinary of the place and the Latin parish priest are, in themselves, incompetent,
even when the contracting parties are subjects to them,” 27 but the Latin text of the
CCEO can. 829 makes crystal clear that the Ordinary and the parish priest are
incompetent only for those who are not their subjects.28


27 «Para asistir y bendecir el matrimonio canónico de dos católicos orientales, el Ordinario del lugar y el
párroco latinos son, de suyo, incompetentes, aunque los contrayentes sean súbditos» SPANISH
EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, Orientaciones para la atención pastoral de los católicos orientales, pp. 56-63.
28 Cfr. P. GEFAELL, “Nota ai documenti della Conferenza Episcopale Spagnola «Orientaciones para la
atención pastoral de los católicos orientales en España (17-21 de noviembre de 2003)» e «Servicios
pastorales a orientales no católicos. Orientaciones (27-31 de marzo de 2006)»”, in Ius Ecclesiae 18
(2006), 861-876 [ivi, 868-870].
Now I cannot dwell more on the erection of eparchies and exarchies in Diaspora (CCEO
can. 177 § 2 and 311 § 2), nor the appointment of bishops in Diaspora (CCEO can. 149;
181 § 2; 314), nor many other specific inter-ecclesial issues that could be very
interesting. Let us not just desire, but also act in order that the oriental faithful residing
outside the original territory of their Church sui iuris can protect their own ritual
patrimony, blossom and bear fruit in their Christian life in those countries where they
are already citizens with full rights, engaged as every other compatriot in building up
their common home.

If “the Church by her nature is missionary” (AG 2), herald and witness of the Revelation of God,
gathering her dispersed people; so "evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of
the Church" (EN 14). In this way, evangelization is the grace and vocation proper to the whole
Church, her deepest identity, and so the Church exists to evangelize (EN 14).

This evangelization begins with the Church herself (EN 15) and then expands into the whole
world. To evangelize is to transmit the faith, to bring "through Christ to the Father in the Spirit”
(Eph. 2:18), like the experience of the whole Church, to rediscover the proper identity of the
people gathered by the call of the Spirit, which unites us to live the presence of Christ and
discover the true face of God, who is our Father.

The Transmission of Christian Faith in the evangelization requires a missionary fervor, new
energy, methods and expressions towards those who have distanced from the Church in the
countries of ancient Christianity. This is the commitment of the new evangelization that wants to
give “a new response to the needs of humanity and people today in a manner adapted to the signs
of the times and to the new situations in cultures, which are the basis of our personal identity and
the places where we seek the meaning of our existence”. (THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, The
"lineamenta" of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly, “The New Evangelization for the
Transmission of the Christian Faith”, n. 23). New evangelization thus means promoting a
culture deeply rooted in the Gospel, means to discover the new man in us through the Spirit
given to us by Jesus Christ and the Father.

Evaluation of the word ‘missionary’: the terminology of missions, the mission, the missio ad
Gentes, evangelization, the plantatio Ecclesiae or implantatio Ecclesiae, the new evangelization
(the re-evangelization) and to the prospects for a new evangelization of the Syro – Malabar
Church. It is the discernment and identification of the ecclesial reality, to draw up a plan of
mission, both for the evangelization and for the new evangelization, with the certainty that such
plan is to be made known to the Holy See through the Apostolic Nuncio or the concerned
Nuncios; in this case, the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the
Congregation of Propaganda Fide, along with the Episcopal Conferences concerned.

The possible issues concerning the evangelization ad extra with the plantatio Ecclesia of the
Eastern Churches are to be addressed by clarifying the relationships and inter-ecclesial
competence in India, with an agreement with the Latin Church (the bishops' conferences) on the
process of evangelization and new evangelization according to Eastern tradition and identity.

Within each individual Church sui iuris, a Patriarchal or Archbishop's Permanent Office for the
missions would be required to coordinate the missionary organization, mainly in contact with the
Congregation for Oriental Churches and with the Congregation for the 'Evangelization of
Peoples, but also with the Apostolic Nuncio, the Secretary of State, the Episcopal conferences,
working in communion, harmony and clarity in accordance with the respective competence.

Prospects of the regulation and the organization of Fidei donum priests of Church sui
iuris who render their services in Latin Dioceses.

Prof. Natale Loda

New Evangelisation Within and Beyond: An Eastern Catholic Perspective
31 March 2011 at Pontifical Orienal Institute
By PIO & Marthom Yogam


Your Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law, Mar Bosco Puthur, Fr. James McCann,
Rector, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, Msgr. Natale Loda, Prof. Pablo Gebaell,
Dear Archbishops, bishops, priests, religious and ladies and Gentlemen,


1. As we are coming to the concluding session of this epoch making seminar both in
the history of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and of the members of the Eastern
Catholic Churches in India who are in Rome, I have no other words except to say a
big ‘thank you and congratulations’ to the organisers and participants. This seminar is
the fruit of the personal initiative of Fr. Rector Fr. James McCann SJ who responded
positively to the wish of the President Fr. Jairaj and Secretary Fr. Demin and other
organisers of Marthoma Yogam who wanted to make an effective contribution on the
occasion of the ad limina visit of the Oriental bishops of India, namely of the Syro
Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches. Dear Fathers we thank you most sincerely for
taking this initiative for honouring us, especially the bishops.

2. In St. Luke 12:56 Jesus wants us to understand and act reading the signs of the
times. Reading the signs of the times of the 21st Century Pope John Paul II has called
for ‘New Evangelisation’ in the background of the new trends of secularisation of
Christianity. In the message of Leanardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation
for the Oriental Churches, which was read by Bishop Bosco Puthur we heard about
the relevance of the subject in the particular background of the Syro Malabar and
Malankara Churches. The vision he gave is mainly based on the themes presented in
the lineamenta of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome in the year 2012.

3. His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law has proved himself to be an efficient and
effective moderator whose extraordinary leadership has been instrumental for the
success of this seminar. We understand that he is well versed in the subject and we
really appreciate his understanding of our Church including our problems, especially
that of the migrant community. As he himself has mentioned, he is a member of both
the Congregation for Propaganda Fide and the Congregation for the Oriental
Churches. You Eminence, you can do a lot for the growth of our Church. Sincere
thanks for your love and concern towards our Church.

Relevance of the Subject

4. Pope Benedict XVI while creating a new Pontifical Council for New
Evangelisation on 28th June 2010 in order to ward off secularization in nations where
the Gospel roots are put down centuries ago said, "Man of the third millennium also
desires an authentic and full life, he has need of truth, of profound liberty, of
gratuitous love. .. Also in the deserts of the secularized world, man's soul thirsts for
God, for the living God." By citing his predecessor Pope John Paul II, the present
Pontiff observed : "There are regions in the world that still wait for a first
evangelization; others that received it but need more profound work; others still in
which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving place to a true Christian
tradition, but where in the last centuries -- with complex dynamics -- the process of
secularization has produced a grave crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and of
belonging to the Church”. In the background of this statement I would like to make
my concluding remarks on the three papers presented and the interventions made by
the participants. On the subject of evangelisation, the Pope spoke of three aspects: (1)
Missio ad gentes: The duty for evangelising those who have not yet received Christ;
(2) Missio ad intra, especially for maintaining the faith of the people before the
challenges of the present day world; and (3) re-evangelising the secularised Christians
or in the words of the Pope ‘those who have put down roots a long time ago, giving
place to a true Christian tradition’. The focus of today’s seminar has been on the
second part of what the Pontiff said.

5. The speakers of the day have given clear guidelines on how to proceed in the field
of new evangelisation reading the signs of the time. Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, one
of the great theologians of the Syro Malabar Church spoke beautifully and
convincingly about the ‘Ecclesiology of Communion from Eastern and Ecumenical
Perspectives’ and reiterated that evangelisation has to be based on the ecclesiology of
the communion of Churches highlighted by II Vatican Council and the posterior
apostolic documents. ‘The faith of the church is to be explored in the faith traditions of the
various individual Churches’. In the ecclesiology of communion we need a tri-angular
approach, namely that of the organic communion of the Syriac, Greek and Latin Churches’
safeguarding the natural adjectives of the Catholic Church which are one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic. The Catholic Church which is a communion of different sui iuris Churches have
the great traditions of different liturgies, theologies, spiritualities and disciplines. This unity
in diversity, having equal rights for each sui iuris Church is the basis for the Catholicity for
the Church of Christ which subsists in the Catholic Church.

6. Msgr. Natale Loda, a great Professor of the Lateran University, has wonderfully spoken
about the ‘Prospects of the New Evangelisation of Syro Malabar Major Archiepiscopal
Church’. In fact, he has given the theological basis for the right of every sui iuris Church for
Missio ad gentes. We the members of the Syro Malabar Church and the Syro Malankara
Church are thankful to Prof. Loda for his understanding about our vibrant Churches which
are capable of undertaking Missio ad gentes even in the 21st Century. We are proud to report
that in the 20th Century about 70% of the missionary personnel for the whole of India was
from the Syro Malabar Church; these missionary enterprises were mainly in the Latin Church

and for the Latin Church. We are glad to note that most of these new Churches can today
stand and work by themselves with their own personnel; At the same time, it is regrettable to
note that the fundamental ecclesial right for evangelisation is still restricted or curtailed even
today to the Syro Malabar and Malankara Churches to a great extent. After your presentation
of the Paper, Cardinal Law asked you to take the content of your paper regarding the rights of
the Oriental Churches for evangelisation and pastoral care to the concerned forums for
appropriate action. We hope that you will do that. Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, in his response
to a question from one of the participants spoke of the vision St Peter had in order to take a
decision moved by the Holy Spirit regarding the membership of gentiles. I hope that this
seminar gives a vision so that the rights of the Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches
are safeguarded.

7. Prof. Pablo Gafaell, a great Professor of Canon Law of the University of Sancta
Croce, teacher of many of our students, has given canonical vision of the aspect of
new or re-evangelisation in the present scenario of the Church, namely “Pastoral Care
of Eastern Faithful outside the territory of their Churches sui iuris”. In fact, his paper
has paved the way for the discussions on the question of ‘pastoral care of migrants of
the Syro Malabar and Malankara Churches’. The law of the Church is very clear. The
II Vatican Council, the two Codes of Canon Law, the documents of the Apostolic See,
especially, the document Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi of the Pontifical Council for
Migrants are very descriptive of the rights and duties of sui iuris Churches regarding
evangelisation and pastoral care of migrants. It is regrettable, that even after 46 years
of II Vatican Council, its norms are not yet made applicable in the case of the Eastern
Churches in India and Gulf Countries.

8. The interventions on the part of the participants have been helpful to understand
the great need of urgent action in matters of evangelisation and pastoral care. Here I
would like to make some clarifications regarding some questions posed by the
participants and the answers given. What the Syro Malabar Church is requesting for
regarding jurisdiction and territoriality is not something of a new permission. The
Syro Malabar Church or the Church of the Thomas Christians had full jurisdiction
over the whole of India (India and its confines) until the 17th Century and it was
curtailed to some extend with the Padroado and Propaganda jurisdictions. But, in fact,
at least theoretically, the territorial jurisdiction continued until 1896 when the proper
territory of the Syro Malabar Church was limited to a small portion in Kerala.
Therefore, what we are asking for is not to give us new territorial jurisdiction, but to
restore our All-India jurisdiction. We request for the rights for pastoral care of our
brotheren who have migrated to different parts of the globe, especially to Gulf
Countries in big numbers.

To clarify this, I would like to give a short statistical data of the Syro Malabar Church.
The Syro Malabar Church has at present 29 eparchies (11 outside proper territory)
having 2759 parishes with a membership of 3,840,046 faithful. There are ca.335,700
Syro Malabar faithful outside these dioceses in India. Outside India, mainly in Gulf
countries, there are about 666,000 Syro Malabar faithful. Practically very little is done
for the pastoral care of these faithful outside Syro Malabar jurisdiction. In the Syro
Malabar eparchies, 4221 eparchial priests, 4922 religious priests and brothers and
38,536 religious sisters are working. More than this number of priests and sisters are
working in Latin dioceses and Congregations. It is high time to evaluate and re-plan
how these human resources are utilised for the good of the Catholic Church in general
and the Syro Malabar Church in particular.

10. Cardinal Ratzinger, while addressing the Catechists in the Jubilee year – on 12
December 2000 – told that ‘to evangelise means to show this path – to teach the art of
living : the path is what shown by Jesus, who himself is the path. Cardinal Ratzinger
spoke about the nature, method, content (conversion, Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ
and Eternal life) of evangelisation. He warned that there is the challenge of de-
Christianisation and loss of Christian values. This is the challenge we are facing. Let
us go out of this seminar with a promise that, imbibing the spirit of the teachings of
the Church, we will ever be agents of evangelisation, our life being the message.

Thank you.