VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While their numbers are small and their material resources are few, members of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States have much to offer the country in terms of their fidelity to Christ despite persecution and their deeply religious cultures, said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
Catholics "are a bridge" supporting Catholics in their homelands with
prayers, advocacy and financial support while at the same time enriching
the United States with their cultural and religious identity, Cardinal
Sandri told U.S. bishops from the Chaldean, Ruthenian, Maronite,
Ukrainian, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac and Romanian Catholic churches. The
cardinal met with the 14 bishops May 15 to discuss a wide variety of
common concerns at the beginning of the bishops' "ad limina" visits to
Earlier in the morning, the cardinal was the main celebrant
and homilist at a Mass with the bishops in St. Peter's Basilica. The
heads of every diocese or eparchy -- as the Eastern Catholic
jurisdictions are known -- send detailed reports on their dioceses to
the Vatican before the "ad limina" visits. Summarizing what was common
in the reports of the Eastern Catholic dioceses, Cardinal Sandri said,
"Your territories are enormous, and your communities often find
themselves far from each other. Some of the eparchies are young and
still in need of adequate structures."
Many of the dioceses -- some of
which cover the entire United States or even the United States and
Canada -- have few financial resources and the situation has been
"exacerbated by the economic crisis," the cardinal said.