The Coptic Catholic Church, Armenian Catholic Church, Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and Greek Byzantine Catholic Church are other examples of Eastern Catholic Churches.
“The beauty of the Eastern rites is far from being an oasis of escape or conservation,” Pope Francis said.
“The liturgical assembly … listens to the voice of Another … and for this very reason feels the urgency of going out to its brothers and sisters, bringing the proclamation of Christ.”
“Even those traditions that preserve the use of the iconostasis, with the royal door, or the veil that hides the sanctuary at certain moments of the rite, teach us that such architectural or ritual elements do not convey the idea of God’s distance, but on the contrary exalt the mystery of condescension — of synkatabasis — in which the Word came and is coming into the world,” the pope added.
The Eastern Churches’ plenary assembly marks the 25th anniversary of the Vatican’s publication of the “Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.”
Pope Francis said that he saw the gathering as an opportunity for the Eastern Churches to get to know each other and to “walk together” on the path indicated by the Second Vatican Council.
“On that path, it is most helpful that each part of the one and ‘symphonic’ Catholic Church always listen attentively to the other traditions, their itineraries of research and of reform, while preserving its own uniqueness,” he said.
“Fidelity to uniqueness is what creates the ‘symphonic’ richness of the Eastern Churches. One can discuss, for example, the possibility of introducing editions of the liturgy in the languages of the countries where their faithful are found, but where the form of the celebration is concerned, it is necessary that unity be experienced in accordance with what has been laid down by the Synods and approved by the Apostolic See, avoiding liturgical particularisms that in reality manifest divisions of another kind within the respective Churches.”
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, offered Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica before the assembly’s audience with Pope Francis.
“This morning you prayed before the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, renewing together his profession of faith: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’” Pope Francis said.
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“We did the same thing before the Mass for the inauguration of the pontificate, in order to manifest, as Pope Benedict XV declared, that ‘in the Church of Jesus Christ, which is neither Latin, nor Greek, nor Slav, but Catholic, no discrimination exists between her children; all, Latins, Greeks, Slavs and other nationalities have the same importance,’” he said, quoting the 1917 encyclical Dei Providentis.