|Peshitta (Syriac Bible)|
Last Thursday was an "historic day" for the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States. It marked the first time in almost 100 years that "a married priest" was ordained there.
NBC News reports that this ordination took place at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri. Wissam Akiki "was welcomed by hundreds of supporters" during the ceremony. Two of these supporters were his wife and daughter.
Another supporter of this ordination is Pope Francis, who gave permission for it to occur. NBC News explains that "over the years popes have made exceptions on a case-by-case basis for married men to become Eastern Catholic priests in America."
Wikipedia states that the Maronite Church (aka "The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch") is an "Eastern Catholic Church in full communion
with the Holy See of Rome." Today's Maronite populations are mainly in Lebanon (up to 22% of the population), Syria (approximately 51,000) and Cyprus (about 10,000).
The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch serves as the head of the Maronite church. Although Maronites "share the same doctrine as other Catholics," they have their own liturgy (in Syriac, a language that is also known as "Christian Aramaic").
Although Maronite priests outside of North America are not required to be celibate, within North America
they generally are (due to "a long-term understanding with their Latin counterparts"). Therefore, Wissam
Akiki's transition from married father to Maronite Father can be thought of as highly unusual.
Copyright March 2, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved