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Maximus IV:
At Vatican II we cleared the road for the merging of
Catholics and Schismatics

The Greek-Melchite Catholic Rite is directed by a Patriarch assisted by a Synod composed of Bishops. At Vatican Council II, its head was Patriarch Maximus IV, who played a bold progressivist role. Taking advantage of being from an Eastern Catholic rite with a much looser form of government, he proposed democratic innovations for the whole Catholic Church, which, different from the Eastern rites, has a marked monarchical form of government.

Also, since the Melchites are from an Eastern culture, Maximus IV claimed many privileges for his rite in order to facilitate the unification of Catholics and Schismatics.

We present below some excerpts from the two last pages of a Preface by Maximus IV to the book The Greek-Melchite Church at the Council, a chronicle of his interventions and those of several other Melchite Bishops at Vatican II.

At right is the cover of the book A Igreja Greco-Melquita no Concilio . At right below, photocopies of the Portuguese text. Below, we present our translation of the lines highlighted in yellow.

We insisted that a reform of the Roman Curia be made in the sense of a decentralization and an internationalization. This reform was decreed and will be realized little by little. The powers of the Bishops are no longer considered as concessions from Rome, renewable "faculties" that can be extended or diminished arbitrarily [by the Roman Curia]. On the contrary, interventions from Rome should be made with exceptional reservation and rarely, acceptable [only] when motivated by the general good of the Church.

The collegiality that characterizes the system of government of the Eastern Churches inspired and supported the institution of the Bishops Conferences. At the Council, we were the first to present the idea of a "Permanent Synod of Bishops" around the Pope ....

We asked for and attained that the door no longer be closed to a more open notion of Morals regarding problems of conception and the innocent spouse ....

By what we said at the Council and by what we have already won for the Eastern Church, there is no doubt that we cleared the road for the merging of Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Dialogue was abbreviated.

(Maximus IV, Preface to A Igreja Greco-Melquita no Concilio, São Paulo: Edições Loyola, 1992, pp. XXVI-XXVII).
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Posted on May 27, 2006

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