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Catholic Church in Holy Land plans switch to Orthodox calendar for Easter

April 04, 2012

The Catholic churches of the Holy Land plan to observe Easter according to the Orthodox calendar, the head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land has announced. The change could come as early as next year.

Father Pierbattista Pizzabella explained that the change was prompted by a desire to strengthen ecumenical ties between Catholics and Orthodox, and also by pastoral concern for the many families in the Holy Land that include both Catholic and Orthodox believers.

The Orthodox churches set their liturgical feasts according to the old Julian calendar. For some years the Orthodox observe Easter on the same day as Catholics; in other years the dates may differ by either one week (as it does this year) or 5 weeks. The change in the liturgical calendar for Catholic churches would not apply to the basilicas in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which draw thousands of Catholic pilgrims for Easter and Christmas every year. Those basilicas are governed by agreements that date back to the Ottoman empire, and include detailed accords on when feasts are to be celebrated.


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  • Posted by: - Apr. 26, 2012 4:08 PM ET USA

    C'mon garedawg, be fair and take an objective view of history. The author is correct in that the Julian calendar is both Orthodox and orthodox. The eastern Catholics that follow the "old" calendar are called "Greek" and "Byzantine" Catholics, who follow the same rites and liturgies as the eastern Orthodox. I think that this is a WONDERFUL development. The more Roman Catholics follow the Easter dates as agreed upon back at Nicea in 325 AD, the better! :)

  • Posted by: garedawg - Apr. 04, 2012 8:51 PM ET USA

    Actually, there is nothing specifically "Orthodox" about the Julian calendar. Many Eastern Catholic churches use the Julian calender, and many of the Orthodox churches use the Gregorian calendar in reckoning their immovable holy days, such as Christmas. The Roman rite churches that make that switch will still have their calendar, with days like Ash Wednesday and Corpus Christi that are unique to the Roman rite. They will just be lined up differently. Someone correct me if need be.