Melkite Greek Catholic Church

'Melkite', occasionally rendered 'Melchite', derives from the Syriac and Arabic for 'king': this Church accepted the Council of Chalcedon (451), promoted by the Byzan tine emperor (king). It is the Catholic counterpart of the (Eastern) Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. In the USA, 'Greek' sometimes is omitted from the name. In the Middle East, in popular parlance, Melkites are sometimes referred to simply as 'Catholics'. (Roman Catholics are 'Latins'.) Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians and a very small number of Egyptians form the ethnic base, while in the West an increasing number of non-Middle-Easterners - in some parishes more than a third - make up the membership. Owing to emigration, there are now approximately as many Melkites in the West as in the home territories. Nonetheless, it is the largest Catholic community in Syria and Palestine, and the second largest in Lebanon.

History Individual hierarchs of the Antiochene Patriarchate re-established communion with Rome in the late sixteenth century, but from 1724 an uninterrupted line of patriarchs has been Catholic. In 1838, once Greek Catholics had begun to migrate from Syria and Lebanon to Palestine and Egypt (owing to toleration there), 'Alexandria and Jerusalem' were added to the patriarch's title. In 1848, the Ottomans ceased their persecution of Melkite Catholics, and the patriarch returned to Damascus from exile at Holy Saviour Monastery in Lebanon. For later history, see the sections below on theology, and missions.

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