An Eastern Rite bishop has urged that there be only one governing bishop for each diocese in the Middle East.
Maronite Rite Bishop Michael Doumith of Sarba, Lebanon, called for abolition of the present system whereby a single diocese can have several residential bishops, each with complete authority over Catholics of his rite.
The Lebanese prelate proposed that each diocese be governed by a single bishop, and that Catholics of every rite in each diocese be fully subject to his authority as bishop.
Under his plan Catholics of the various rites would retain their own rituals and clergy. They would be subject to a hierarchy of their own rite through personal rather than territorial jurisdiction.
“If this proposal is passed by the council, the council will perform a great service to the Church in the East,” Bishop Doumith told reporters at a press conference.
“If we return home in the same chaos in which we came, what sort of updating would the council have achieved?
“How would there be a return to the authenticity and unity of the early Church?” he asked.
Bishop Doumith, a member of the council Commission on Faith and Morals, asserted that Catholics of the various Eastern Rites are not really interested in the perpetuation of multiple jurisdictions. “Clerics are the ones who want it,” he said. “They want to live in the glory of the past.”
Bishop Doumith reached back to the early centuries of Eastern Christianity to refer to St. John Chrysostom. He said the saint “would not hear of several bishops ruling in the same city.”