From oppression to paternalism and renewal
The period under study is full of antinomies for the 'Uniate' communities. Annihilated in Russia, they flourished in Austria-Hungary, and under the Ottomans won civil autonomy from the Orthodox millets and made great gains in civil rights, demographic growth, and social, educational and cultural progress. With the help of Latin missionaries they developed their own schools and other cultural and charitable institutions. At the same time, the western education received in the Latin schools, the encroachments of Rome on their autonomy and the Latinisation of their traditions led to an erosion of their identity and independence.
In 1837, Propaganda Fide made the Catholic patriarchs seek papal confirmation of their election and receive Vatican confirmation of synodal acts before promulgating them. The erection in 1847 of the Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem furthered the encroachments of Latinisation - its Arab faithful were almost all former Eastern Christians - and was considered an intolerable affront. The Gregorian Calendar, already in use by the heavily Latinised Maronites, was imposed on the Syrian Catholics in 1836, and on the Chaldeans the following year. Its adoption by the Melkites in 1858 provoked a schism. Things began to improve in 1862, when Pius IX created a Special Commission in Propaganda for Eastern Rite affairs.
Shortly thereafter, Vatican I (1869-70) provoked the initial stirrings of Eastern Catholic renewal.36 Appalled at the Ultamontane council's lack of understanding of, or respect for the distinctiveness of the Catholic East, its age-old traditions and the peculiar dignity of its supreme hierarchs, Eastern Catholic bishops at Vatican I rose up in protest. On 25 January 1870, Chaldean patriarch Joseph VI Audo, who was to play a significant role among the anti-infallibilists, took the floor in an historic speech insisting that the particular discipline of the Christian East be respected. 'His long patriarchate was a constant struggle against the desire for hegemony of the authoritarian and rigid Pope Pius IX.'37 Two days later Joseph Papp-Szilagyi, the Romanian Catholic bishop of Nagyvarad (Grosswardein), expressed his support for Audo's views. Anyone familiar with the highly charged atmosphere ofVatican I and the authoritarian papalism of Pius IX (1846-78) could guess that the reaction would not be long
36 Patelos, Vatican I; Hajjar, 'L'épiscopat catholique'; Hajjar, Les chrétiens uniates, pp. 301-8.
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