Date: 10/16/02 06:26:04 PM

Name: John


Subject: Re: Re: Melkite-Greek Catholics, Part 2

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You're welcome. I think it is now clear that the Melkite Church considers contraception an issue of personal conscience, despite the fact that Bishop Elya has attempted to promote Humanae Vitae. His views (on this matter and others) are out-of-step with the Melkite patriarchal synod, which simply does not accept papal teachings on marital sexuality.

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John, thanks for these references.

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Hello once again,

I found this excerpt from the book "Crowning: The Christian Marriage", written by Melkite Archbishop Joseph Raya. I found it on a forum for discussion of Eastern Rite Catholic issues. According to the Melkite Catholic who posted this excerpt, Archbishop Raya's book is used in some Melkite marriage preparation programs. Here are the Archbishop's words:

"In a world where eroticism dominates the hearts and minds of men and women, it is almost impossible to honor the Christian vision of a sexuality more precious than pleasure and more honorable than social necessity. In our days, the problems of birth control are heart rending.

In his praiseworthy attempt to counteract a sexual morality falsified by a secularized society and atheistic propaganda, Pope Paul VI, who at the time of the Second Vatican Council had reserved to himself the final decision on birth control, called upon a papal commission to advise him before publishing the official Church doctrine.

Over three quarters of the members, chosen by the Pope for their wisdom and reliability, offered the majority opinion endorsing a carefully qualified use of birth control, and proposed a revision of the current unqualified condemnation.

Pope Paul VI, however, disregarded their advice and published the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, maintaining the negative position. There is a present a painful tension between the supporters of rigidity in this matter, and those who believe it is unjustified.

The Byzantine ceremony of Crowning glorifies Christian chastity. Chastity means integrity of the human relation, integration of the forces of life into the personalistic aspects of nuptial love, which leads the couple into the Kingdom, into the peace and harmony of life. Both fertile and childless couples go beyond the mere functional: the combine the instinctive and passionate movements of their love, integrating them into a single act of ascent of pure goodness. It is not in spite of marriage, but in its fulfillment in peace, harmony and supreme joy that couples live the supernatural and holy reality of their union, chastity.

In the embrace of love, Christian couples are chaste. They are perfectly and entirely for each other. "I am my Belovedís and my Beloved is mine" (Canticle of Canticles). In genuine faith, they assume their human and spiritual responsibilities, and choose the best ways, pleasing to God, to achieve what they have set out to do. Birth control is in some way their responsibility. Vatican Council II has clearly established that conscience is the most sacred core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.

The theologian Paul Evdokimos, in his study on the "Sacrament of Love", summarizes the attitude of Eastern theology on birth control: The Church "addresses herself to evangelical metanoia, and hopes to change man and woman into a new creation, to render them charismatic; She exorcises demonic powers and protects the Gate of Life; She discerns among the spirits, and shows the pathways to ultimate liberation; She does not define the rules of social life, and does not prescribe panacaeas. . . " (p.175). The Church should never refuse to advise when advice is sought, but should not try to manipulate the intimacy of husband and wife. Patriarch Maximos IV of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem proclaimed at the Council of Vatican II, "The Church does not penetrate into the nuptial chamber. She stands at the door."

The Byzantine Church does indeed believe that the Sacrament of Crowning establishes the man and woman as prophets, king and queen of supernatural worth, and robes them with the Royal Priesthood of Christ. Their dignity is real. Consequently, their vocation will be to form personal decisions, and to judge situations, in order to find solutions to the individual circumstances of their lives."

Here's a link to the page. You will need to scroll down to find the message in which this excerpt originally appeared:;f=2;t=001383


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