Is this a Catholic church?
This parish belongs to the Byzantine Catholic Church.
Along with the more common Roman Catholic Church, the Byzantine Catholic Church is in full communion with Rome and is under the spiritual leadership of the Pope of Rome.
Canonically speaking, the Byzantine Catholic Church is a Church in its own right (sui juris) like the Roman Catholic Church and the other Eastern Churches.
So how is the Byzantine Church different from the Roman Church?
The Byzantine Church is theologically aligned with the Roman Church and both are under the authority of the Catholic Church.
However, the Byzantine Catholic Church has its own rite, that is, distinctive spirituality, liturgies, services, hymns, and prayers. There are also differences in traditions such vestments, church architecture, and Holy Days of Obligation.
See Byzantine Catholic Rite – History .
What diocese are you in?
This parish is in the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia .
Administratively, the Byzantine Catholic Church has dioceses (called “eparchies”) that overlap with the Roman Catholic Church dioceses.
What is the spiritual hierarchy for your parish?
Our spiritual hierarchy is:
- Pope Benedict XVI – the Bishop of Rome
- Cardinal Lubomyr Husar – the Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych
- His Excellency Stephen Soroka – the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Philadelphia Archeparchy
Aren’t you called Greek Catholic sometimes?
Yes, we are. The term Greek Catholic is particularly used in Europe for our Church.
And where does the word Byzantine come from?
The history of the nomenclature Greek Catholic and Byzantine is interesting.
In the 300’s AD, the Roman Empire split into the Western and Eastern Empires. The eastern Roman Empire made its capitol in the city of Byzantium, which the Emperor Constantine renamed Constantinople (presently, Istanbul, Turkey).
The language of learned people, including clergy, in the Eastern Roman Empire was Greek, not Latin as in the Western Roman Empire with its capitol, Rome.
In the 900’s AD Greek-culture missionaries set forth from what came to be called the Byzantine Empire to convert Eastern Europe. Thus, the churches that they founded can be referred to as “Byzantine” or “Greek” Catholic.
Rather than using the word Mass, the Byzantine Church uses the term Divine Liturgy for the Eucharistic service. Why is this?
Arguably, Divine Liturgy is a more descriptive term for a Catholic Eucharistic Service. We believe that the Eucharistic service is a Liturgy (worship service) that is truly Divine (from God). Roman rite churches are increasingly using the term liturgy.
Interestingly, the Roman Catholic term for the Eucharistic Service, Mass, developed incidentally. Mass is derived from the Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding part of the Latin Eucharistic Service: “Ite, missa est,” usually translated as “Go; it is the dismissal” or “Go, the dismissal is made.”
Your church architecture, liturgy, and customs look much like those in Orthodox Churches. How are you different?
A main difference is that Orthodox Churches are self-governing. They respect the Pope as the Bishop of Rome and the leader of Western Christianity but do not recognize the administrative authority of the Pope. Differences in traditions and theological points also exist.
During the Divine Liturgy we pray for unity, “For peace throughout the world, for the well-being of God’s holy churches and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.”