Married priests on agenda for new Eastern Rite bishops association

World Youth Day and the role of married priests will figure prominently on the agenda of a newly formed association of Catholic Bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia and New Zealand.

The new association, which was formed following the meeting of Oceania bishops in Fiji early this month, will meet annually to discuss various issues which affect their churches in the region, according to an Australian Catholics Bishops Conference media release.

Maronite Bishop Ad Abikaram, Melkite Bishop Issam Darwish and Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Peter Stasiuk (pictured) formed the association following discussions during the Federation of Oceania Bishops Conferences assembly, which met from 7-11 August.

According to the media release, the three bishops discussed a range of topics and decided that it is important to meet at least once a year to study various issues which affect the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia and New Zealand.

A meeting, which would include two or three clergy from each Eastern Catholic Church in the region, would be called in Sydney for the end of February 2007. Eastern Churches which do not have bishops in Australia or New Zealand will also be invited to attend.

Among key topics to be examined by the new association are World Youth Day 2008 and the launch of an Eastern Catholic radio station.

Since Eastern rite priests (but not bishops) may be married, the issue of married clergy - their ordination and ministry and the diaconate will also be prominent on the agenda.

Eastern Churches are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, but have distinct liturgies, according to their tradition, as well as some different emphases in theology and canon law.

These churches have been present in Australia for almost a century. Immigration has increased their numbers and has also recently introduced new Eastern Catholic Churches to the region.

The Bishops said the new association would benefit the entire Catholic Church in Australia and that Eastern Catholic Churches would be better able to share their riches with all the faithful.

Photo source: Catholic Weekly

Eastern Catholic Church Association Formed (ACBC, Media Release, 29/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand
Diocese of St Maroun, Sydney
Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand

Oceania bishops voice concern on climate change, AIDS (CathNews 15/8/06)
Oceania bishops commemorate discovery of "Great Southern Land" (CathNews 9/8/06)
Pope invites Eastern Catholics to reach out to Orthodox (CathNews 13/1/05)
Ukrainian archbishop still seeks patriarchate (CathNews 4/3/04)

30 Aug 2006