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Christianity / Orientations / Roman Catholic / Eastern Rite /
Melkite Greek Catholic Church



Melkite Greek Catholic church in Damascus, Syria.
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Melkite Greek Catholic church in Damascus, Syria. Photo: Jan Smith.

Melkites by country
Last column: % Melkite Greek Catholic of the population
Egypt 7,000 <0.1%
Iraq 600 <0.1%
Israel 70,000 1.2%
Jordan 130,000 1.9%
Kuwait 5,000 0.2%
Lebanon 400,000 13.0%
Syria 210,000 1.2%
TOTAL *)
820,000 0.2%
Other countries 800,000

*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

Archibishop Joseph-Jules Zerey Patriarchate of Greek Melkite Catholic.
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Archibishop Joseph-Jules Zerey Patriarchate of Greek Melkite Catholic. Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

Melkite Greek Catholic school of Mar Elias
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Melkite Greek Catholic school of Mar Elias, Ibillin, Israel. Photo: James Emery.

Church of the Sermon on the Mount.
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Church of the Sermon on the Mount. Ibillin, Israel. Photo: James Emery.

Christian community with its religious centre in Syria, with about 1,5 million adherents around the world and 700,000 in the Middle East.
The Melkite Church is affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church, through the regime of Eastern Rite Churches, allowing it a great deal of autonomy and the right to preserve its original character.
The Patriarch of the church is in Damascus, and there is only one above him in the hierarchy: the Pope in Rome. Below are 7 archdioceses: Syria: Aleppo, Homs and Latakia; Lebanon: Beirut and Tyre; Iraq: Basra; and Jordan: Amman; and 6 dioceses: Israel: Akko; Lebanon: Baalbek, Banyias, Sayda, Tripoli and Zahle.
In the name "melkite", quite a bit of the church's history is found. The word comes from the Semitic word for king, pointing at that the Melkites took the position of the emperor (which is a powerful king) of Byzantine in the 5th century on the greatest division issue in early Christianity: the nature of Jesus. The term "melkite" was at first used by the non-Melkites, but was soon adapted, as it was and is a fairly positive term.
The Melkite of the Middle East grew from Greek immigrants. They brought with them the Byzantine rite. The liturgy of the church is performed in vernacular Arabic. The priests of the Melkite Church are allowed to marry.

History
451: The Council of Chalcedon declares that Jesus has 2 natures, one divine and one human, which coexisted. The communities in the Middle East that support this stance become the beginning of the Melkite Church.
1054: With the schism between Constantinople and Rome, the Melkites follow the patriarch of Constantinople.
1724: The Melkite moves its allegiance to the pope in Rome.




By Tore Kjeilen