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Melkite Catholic prelates reach agreement, end ‘open rebellion’

February 27, 2017

At a meeting in Lebanon last week, the Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church reached an accord ending a heated dispute that had led Patriarch Gregory III Laham to say that some bishops were in “open rebellion.”

Last June, a meeting of the Melkite Synod was postponed after a group of bishops boycotted the meeting, causing the absence of a quorum. The dissident prelates—led by Archbishop Cyrille Bustos of Beirut—had called for the resignation or removal of the Patriarch, saying that he had weakened the Church through mismanagement. Patriarch Gregory responded by saying that the boycott was “an act of open ecclesiastical rebellion against patriachal authority.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for Eastern Churches intervened to mediate the dispute, and the apostolic nuncios in Syria and Lebanon both attended last week’s Synod meeting to encourage open dialogue. In a closing statement the Synod thanked the Holy See for its involvement.

The Synod issued a candid acknowledgement of the dispute, indicating that both sides had been at fault:

During the meeting, the bishops found regrettable and disturbing the insurmountable difficulties that have lately appeared. Nevertheless, dialogue between the participants has resulted in positive results. Some of the bishops who did not participate in previous synods or spread misleading statements in the media admitted that they behaved in an improper manner. They recognised they did wrong. The bishops noted some mismanagement, probably involuntary, in the administration of the Greek Catholic Church.

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