THE MELKITE CHURCH
The Melkite Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite, in full communion with the Holy See in Rome, as a part of the global Catholic Church.
We are perhaps the oldest continuous Christian Community in the world, tracing our lineage back to the Christians of the ancient Syrian cities of Antioch and Damascus.
Scripture records that there was a Christian community of Jewish origin in Damascus before Saint Paul’s conversion in 38 AD. The beginnings of the church in Antioch are documented in the New Testament also, where we see the Gospel brought to Antioch by Christians who fled Jerusalem when St. Stephen was martyred (c. 48 AD). It was at Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26) and it was in this same Church that the term “Catholic” was introduced by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 108 AD).
Melkites serve as a witness to the Roman Catholic Church
We have, for centuries, maintained such practices as a married clergy, the election of bishops by the Church as a whole, collegial government and so forth. Many of these features are unknown to Roman Catholics and many Catholics feel that our practices may be more suited to today’s world than their Roman counterpoint. Our presence is a witness to the universality of the Catholic Church.
Melkites serve as a witness to the Eastern Orthodox Churches
To the extent that we are true to ourselves, we exist as a living example that one can be true to a different heritage and yet be truly Catholic, i.e. in communion with Rome. Thus we exist as an example of what other Churches can expect if and when they too achieve a union with the Church of Rome.
Melkites provide a different option for people searching for Christ
Any church exists to bring its people to Christ. There are many for whom the ‘style of Christian living’ practiced in our Church is more compatible than contemporary Western forms. For these, the Melkite Church can serve a very important function; it can be their way to God.