What is a Byzantine Catholic?
Good Question! In fact, this is a question that Pope John Paul It said the whole Catholic Church ought to be asking at this time in history. In the Pope's
Letter, "Orientale Lumen" (Light of the East,") he instructs Catholics to learn that there is more than one expression of the Catholic Faith.
In fact, there are about 21 different expressions of the Catholic Faith. Most of these expressions are referred to as the Eastern Rites, or more accurately
'particular' Eastern Catholic Churches. The Byzantine Catholic Church is just one of these Eastern Catholic Churches.
The Eastern Catholic Churches came about as the Catholic Faith spread to the various cultures of the world. Those cultures in the Middle East, the Far East
and Eastern and Central Europe developed their own particular eastern style of worship and spirituality.
During the 4th century A.D., the city of Byzantium was renamed "Constantinople' by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantinople is known today as
the city of Istanbul in the nation of Turkey. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and declared Christianity to be the legal state religion
Christianity in this region began to develop its own particular style and spirit. Beginning in the 9th century AD, Byzantine missionaries brought their
particular style of spirituality and worship to the Slavic lands of central arid Eastern Europe.
In 1054 A.D. a great schism occurred between Constantinople and the Pope of Rome. This schism was the culmination of a regrettable process of mutual estrangement
that had been gradually unfolding between the eastern and western Christian Churches. From the time of the Schism on the Christians in the east would refer
to themselves as the "Orthodox Churches." Each Orthodox Church would have its own Patriarch. The Christians in the west would refer to themselves
as the "Roman Catholic" or "Latin Rite" Church with the Pope of Rome as their visible head.
Beginning with the 15th century A. D. certain parts of the Orthodox Churches chose to separate from theIr Patriarch and reunite with the Pope of Rome therefore
becoming the "Eastern Catholics" Churches. "Byzantine Catholics" are those Christians who followed the Byzantine style of spirituality
and worship as practiced in certain parts of the Middle East and Central Europe but who are now in full Communion the Pope of Rome.
Although being in full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Catholic Churches nonetheless still share the identical spiritual and liturgical
heritage as their Orthodox sister churches. Like their Orthodox sister churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches have their own canonized forms of iconography,
church architecture, prayer, liturgical worship and chant and celebrate the seven Holy Mysteries (Sacraments.) They also have their own bishops, Patriarchs,
eparchies (diocese) and Canon Law.