A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Post-Easter Addendum

More posts will be coming along later, but first, an addendum to my Easter wishes post on Friday: under a recent agreement, Eastern Rite Catholic Churches will adopt the Julian, that is the "Orthodox", date for Easter within the next two years, once Vatican approval of the change is complete. The agreement will end the confusion caused by having Christian denominations in the Middle East celebrating on two different dates. While the agreement awaits Vatican approval the Catholic chu5rches of the Holy Land were given the option of initiating the practice this year, which the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has already opted to do. So Latin Catholics in Jerusalem did not celebrate Easter yesterday but will join their Orthodox and other Eastern co-religionists in doing so on May 5.

Further to clarify:
The diocese of the Latin Patriarchate which includes Jordan, Cyprus and a majority of Palestine has already implemented the experience of unifying the date of Easter according to the Julian calendar which has been largely successful.
What is new mainly has to do with the Patriarchate parishes who are in Israel.  For Easter 2013, majority of Catholic parishes will join this decision and celebrate Easter on May 5 with exceptions made in Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area because the Status Quo Agreement.
For Easter 2015 and the following years a decree formulated by the ACOHL will be submitted to the Holy See for approval. This decree should state that all the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land will permanently adopt the Julian calendar for the celebration of Easter “with the consequential adjustment of the liturgical calendar for the beginning of Lent and the feast of Pentecost. (…) Largely, this decision will be welcomed, respected and enacted by all of the Eastern Rite Catholics and Latin Catholics in the country as well as by foreigners residing in our diocese” says the directive.
In 2014, Easter will fall on the same day and shared ecumenically. Catholics and Orthodox will celebrate Easter on the same day on April 20 which is by virtue of both calendars being concurrent on the date. This means that the issue of a change which is by decree will not be adopted until the following year.
The date of Easter is a thorny question and every time I try to explain the differences (it's partly, but not exclusively, the Julian/Gregorian difference) I get something wrong. At least this will add some clarity in the Middle East, though not elsewhere.

And thankfully, this is not an April Fool's joke.The Latin Patriarchate link is from last October.

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