Virginia Tech victim service photo

Maybe on the page with the AOL piece about Limbo linked below you saw this picture with a caption touting AOL News’ “photos of the week,” and thought, Gee, he looks like an Orthodox monk.

The correct spelling of his name is The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Joseph Francavilla (not Francanilla), pastor of Holy Transfiguration Melkite Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, childhood parish of Va. Tech student-victim Reema Samaha (Washington Post link will eventually break). Fr. Ted Pulcini, Antiochian Orthodox author of Orthodoxy and Catholicism, What are the Differences?, says of Eastern Catholic jurisdictions in the United States, the Melkites generally have the least Latin influence. (IIRC, he himself, born Latin, passed through Fr. Joseph’s DC-area parish before converting to Orthodoxy… and Fr. Joseph himself is a cradle-Latin: not many Arabs named Francavilla!) This parish and several others in the Melkite jurisdiction in the U.S. have numerous ex-Latins as parishioners. This is also where well-known conservative columnist and activist Paul Weyrich serves as deacon.

FYI, Latins are allowed to partake of mysteries (“sacraments”) at Eastern Catholic (aka “Uniate” or “Uniat”) parishes, although I think the ECs like them to observe Eastern practices of preparation, eg, before receiving Communion, which are not Latin practices – a certain prayer practice, possibly Confession, more fasting than Latins are used to, etc. I believe switching between one Catholic Church in communion with Rome (commonly but mistakenly called “Rite”) and another – outside a case of marriage between “Rites” which is handled differently (but is not automatic) – involves a claim that one believes their spiritual benefit requires the change, and the endorsement of one’s current and proposed ruling hierarchs, as well as permission from the Vatican through that country’s Apostolic Delegate or Pronuncio (ie, Vatican bishop-diplomat); but I may not be up-to-date on this. And children of a mixed-“Rite” marriage are supposed to belong to that of the father. In the last couple generations official Vatican policy has been to discourage (though not prevent) Easterners from ‘going Latin,’ to help those Churches – the largest, the Ukrainians, has fewer than 5 million faithful worldwide (PDF) – to remain alive… just like they’ve been encouraging them to recover their Orthodox customs and practices vs. historic Latin infiltrations… and more recently encouraging Latins to become more familiar with their Eastern fellow-Catholics… all with varying degrees of success thus far. If the WWW is any indication, among ECs there is a spectrum of approach to the Faith, from very Latin to quasi-Orthodox, and sometimes conflict between the two.

And sometimes, like Fr. Ted and our friend Karen, Latins experience Eastern Catholicism before “Doxing,” as she says ‘going Orthodox’ is called among the ECs! And sometimes the opposite also happens; Orthodox who convert to Catholicism are supposed to belong to the corresponding EC jurisdiction if applicable – and I believe they’ve got us all covered and then some (for better or for worse)! I considered Eastern Catholicism – plenty of Ukrainian churches in my region – especially in deference to my Irish, Latin family, concerned for my salvation in separation from the pope of Rome, as I was with the Protestants more or less from 1991-98. But my reason for converting at all had to do with the presence of the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of the Trinity, in the Body of Christ, the Orthodox Church, from whom Eastern Catholics of Byzantine practice are separated. So in the end I never even visited them, but went straight to Orthodoxy.

But God be good to Reema Samaha and all the dead from Va. Tech!


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