What is a Byzantine Catholic?
A Byzantine Catholic is a person who is a member of the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church. It is one of several “Eastern” Catholic churches that are self-governing and have autonomy from the Roman Catholic Church. It still operates in communion with the Bishop of Rome which happens to be the Pope. In general, Eastern churches like the Byzantine Catholic Church are considered part of the worldwide Catholic Church which is also composed of other groups like the Latin Church, the Alexandrian, Armenian, and Antiochian Eastern Churches.
Eastern Churches, like the Byzantine Catholic Church, differs from that of the Roman Catholic Church in terms of the emphasis put on other aspects of theology. The liturgical worship rites are also different including the canonical discipline and language used. The Byzantine way of worship is mostly practiced in Greece and nearby Turkey. This is why many people also refer to the followers of the Byzantine Church as the Greek Byzantine Catholics.
The Byzantine Catholic Church was established in Greece back in the 1880s. Back then this church was created as self-governing but still in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Liturgical rites for this church were also called the “Rite of Constantinople”, which is considered the most widely used form of rite after the Roman version. Over the years, more Byzantine Catholic churches were established in Greece and eventually spreading to some areas in Turkey.
Religious service under the Byzantine rites involves Divine liturgies, exorcisms, Canonical hours, blessings, and some form of sacrament administration. Scriptures are also read all throughout the entire service. Another distinction of the Byzantine Catholic rite is in terms of fasting which is much more strictly implemented when compared with the western churches. Fasting under the Byzantine Church is mostly done during important events like the Great Lent and around Christmas. Other fasting seasons include the Dominion Fast and Apostle’s fast. It is also common for Byzantine Catholics do some form of fasting on Wednesdays and/or Fridays for the entire year.