Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East


Patriarch of Antioch Tapped for Vatican Post

Syrian is New Prefect of Congregation for the Oriental Churches

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2000 ( John Paul II on Saturday officially appointed Patriarch Ignace Moussa I Daoud of Antioch of the Syrians, as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

The new Vatican prefect, who will quite likely be created a cardinal at the next consistory, is replacing Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, 77, who resigned for reasons of age.

The Italian cardinal had been the right-hand man of the late Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. Together, they fostered a policy of dialogue between the Vatican and Communist regimes that gravitated around Moscow until the end of the 1980s. Cardinal Silvestrini had been prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches since 1991.

Patriarch Ignace Moussa I Daoud, 70, born in Syria, finished his canon law studies in Rome at the Pontifical Lateran University. He was named bishop of the See of Cairo of the Syrians in 1977. In 1994 he was promoted to the Archeparchy of Homs-Hama of the Syrians. Four years later, in 1998, the Catholic-Syrian Sacred Synod of Antioch elected him patriarch.

With the appointment of His Beatitude Ignace Moussa I Daoud, a primary exponent of the ancient and glorious Oriental Churches once again occupies the office of prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. In the past, this post was held by the Armenian patriarch of Catholic rite, Gregoire-Pierre XV Agagianian (1895-1971), and Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy, former archbishop of Bangalore, India.

This Vatican congregation has the task of being a unifying link with the Eastern Catholic Churches to foster their growth, safeguard their rights, and maintain the Eastern Christian tradition alive and whole in the Catholic Church, along with the liturgical and spiritual patrimony of the Latin Church.

Some of these Churches have other rites (sometimes the same as the Orthodox Church), and another discipline (some, for example, accept the ordination of married priests). All, however, all acknowledge the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, sign of communion for the universal Church.

In addition, the congregation has exclusive authority in the following regions: Egypt and the Sinai peninsula, Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia, Southern Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Afghanistan.