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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Maximos IV Sayegh at the council

Still reading What Happened at Vatican II by John O'Malley SJ. One of the nice things about the book is a section in the back that has short bios of "Council Participants Frequently Mentioned" ...... I saw there a number of guys I recognized .... Karl Rahner, Hans K√ľng, Marcel Lefebvre, Henri de Lubac, John Courtney Murray, Edward Schillebeeckx, etc. .... but there was one person who O'Malley mentions quite a bit that I'd never heard of - Maximos IV Sayegh, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Here's some of what is said of him in What Happened at Vatican II .....


His Beatitude Maximos IV Saigh led the small, tight-knit group of sixteen bishops and four superiors of religious orders from the Melkite church in the Middle East that, like the Belgians, had an impact on the council well beyond their numbers. In their interventions they forced the council again and again to realize that Catholicism was bigger and more diversified than the bishops of the West seemed to realize. They jolted those bishops out of some assumptions about what the Catholic tradition was. These Melkite bishops, though deeply rooted in their own tradition, also had excellent, Western-style educations and were perfectly fluent in French. They knew the traditions of the Western church, therefore, but they regarded them with a detached and sometimes critical eye .....

Among these bishops ... none could compare with Maximos -- "Patriarch of Antioch and of all the Orient, of Alexandria and Jerusalem," to give him his official title. Eighty-four years old when the council opened, he emerged as one of the most important prelates at it .... He gained attention, but he also won respect and admiration for the substance of his speeches and their straightforward style, which made them among the very few at the council that the bishops anticipated with pleasure and, sometimes suspense. As early as May 23, 1959, he urged John XXIII to found a new office in the Curia that anticipated what the Secretariat for Christian Unity would become .... (pp. 124-125)


Maximos held stances that I mostly agree with - he didn't like indulgences, thought birth control was ok, wanted a ban on nuclear weapons, didn't want enforced celibacy, etc. - but there was one area in which I found his viewpoint to be disturbing .... Judaism. You can read all the documents of The Melkite Greek Church at the council, with an intro by Robert F. Taft SJ, at this page - Discourses and Memoranda of Patriarch Maximos IV and of the Hierarchs of His Church at the Second Vatican Council - it's pretty interesting.


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