2012-09-14 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Tracey Mcclure interviews John Paul Kimes, a Maronite priest who's currently working as an official at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Father Kines is an expert in canon law and the Eastern rites and liturgical traditions in the Catholic Church.
And as Pope Benedict XVI signs the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente' in Lebanon's capital Beirut on the afternoon of Friday 14th of September in the Greek Melkite Basilica of Saint Paul of Harissa, Tracey Mcclure asks Father Paul Kimes to better explain the issue of patriarchal jurisdiction given the massive exodus of Christians from their traditional territories in the Middle East :
"..the issue of patriarchal jurisdiction has been an ongoing debate particularly in canon law circles but the real distinction is that in the Catholic tradition to date the only Bishop who enjoys universal jurisidiction is the Pope. The Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches collectively have seen their numbers in their traditional territories dwindle for reasons of persecution. Whether that be economic, physical or religious persecution all of the Christians in the Middle East now, every day face the debate of whether they can stay in their homes and continue to worship their God or whether they will be forced to leave to find a different llife somewhere else. And this is a tragic reality that the Churches in the Middle East are collectively trying to address.
The jurisdictional issue was addressed particularly in 1990 with the promulgation of a Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Catholic Churches which states clearly that the Patriarchs have a form of universal jurisidiction in that it is the Patriarchs and the Synod of Bishops of Eastern Churches that promulgate liturgical texts. The Patriarch has the ability to celebrate the sacraments in his Church all around the world. But his legal jurisdiction in a universal sense extends only to the traditonal territory of the Patriarchate and this is the recognition of a historical reality that a Patriarch never enjoyed universal jurisdiction, only the Bishop of Rome.
So the desire of the Patriarchs now is to find a balance where they can continue to offer spiritual and sacramental aid and support to their faithful who are no longer in their traditional territories and maintain some form of jurisdiction around them. Now the way the Church promotes this is through the creation of Eparchies or dioceses for Eastern Catholic Churches and the Patriarch and the Synod can establish new eparchies throughout the world and appoint Bishops who would then have local jursidiction over the parishes that are established in that area and the faithful who are not close to a parish as well..."