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           May 23, 2013



Pioneering Renewal

Authenticity, Unity, & Renewal in the Catholic Doctrine

As Faithfully Applied in Saint Peter Diocese, USA

I. Authenticity

What are the authentic features of the Chaldean Catholic Church, as formally recognized by the most authoritative reference of the Catholic Church, The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches? Are the Chaldeans recognized as a distinct people, with specific culture and history, with liturgical, theological, spiritual, and disciplinary patrimony? What does the Catholic Church teach us about the importance of cultural and national identity?

There may be, indeed, confusion among our Chaldean people regarding the relevance of nationality and culture. Is it, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, a divisive and harmful thing to understand and appreciate our own nationality and culture? Or, on the contrary, does the Church ask us to be proud of who we are and preserve our heritage, rather than dilute ourselves and our patrimony in other cultures or practices? Here are some helpful canonical guidelines and leads:

Eastern Code of Canon Law, 1990:

Canon 28 - 2. The rites treated in this code, unless otherwise stated, are those which arise from the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean and Constantinopolitan traditions.

1. A rite is the 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.

Canon 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 fostered.

What does the Church teach us about keeping our own particular Eastern traditions?
Does the Church want us to take on the practices of the Latin Church, or does she encourage us to resist Latinization and keep our own particular traditions?Does she have no preference whether Chaldeans go to Latin or other Churches, or does she prefer Chaldeans to attend and participate in their own Chaldean Church?

Eastern Code of Canon Law, 1990:

Canon 40 - 1. Hierarchs who preside over Churches sui iuris and all other hierarchs are to see most carefully to the faithful protection and accurate observance of their own rite, and not admit changes in it except by reason of its organic progress, keeping in mind, however, mutual goodwill and the unity of Christians.

2. Other clerics and members of institutes of consecrated life are bound to observe their own rite faithfully and daily to acquire a greater understanding and a more perfect practice of it.

3. Other Christian faithful are also to foster an understanding and appreciation of their own rite, and are held to observe it everywhere unless something is excused by the law.

The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, 1964:

4. Finally, each and every Catholic, as also the baptized members of any non-Catholic church or community who come to the fullness of Catholic communion, must retain each his own rite wherever he is, and follow it to the best of his ability, without prejudice to the right of appealing to the Apostolic See in special cases affecting persons, communities or districts.

What does the Church teach us about imitating the practices of other particular churches?
Are we directed, as Chaldean Catholics, to maintain our originality vis-a-vis other Eastern Rites, such as the Maronite or Syriac, or to borrow from them as though it is better to be similar? Or, on the contrary, does the Church want us to retain and guard our own distinct traditions, as a treasure to be kept for the whole Catholic Church?

The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, 1964:

5. All members of the Eastern Churches should be firmly convinced that they can and ought always to preserve their own legitimate liturgical rites and ways of life, and that changes are to be introduced only to forward their own organic development. They themselves are to carry out all these prescriptions with the greatest fidelity. They are to aim always at a more perfect knowledge and practice of their rites, and if they have fallen away due to circumstances of times or persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions. (See details in the Holy See’s document Instruction for the Application of the Liturgical Prescriptions in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 1996:

10. Desiring that these treasures flourish and contribute ever more efficiently to the evangelization of the world, Orientalium Ecclesiarum affirms, as do successive documents, that the members of Eastern Churches have the right and the duty to preserve them, to know them, and to live them. Such affirmation contains a clear condemnation of any attempt to distance the Eastern faithful from their Churches, whether in an explicit and irreversible manner, with its juridical consequences, inducing them to pass from one Church sui iuris to another, or whether in a less explicit manner, favoring the acquisition of forms of thought, spirituality, and devotions that are not coherent with their own ecclesial heritage, and thus contrary to the indications so often emphasized by Roman Pontiffs and expressed, with particular force, already in the Apostolic Letter Orientalium Dignitas of Leo XIII.