Have lots of questions? You’ve come to the right place!
Question 1: What is a “Greek Catholic”?
A Greek Catholic is a Catholic Christian, who is a member of an Eastern Catholic Church in communion in Rome. There are more than twenty Eastern Catholic Churches in the world, and many of them from Greece to the far reaches of Siberian Russia follow the Byzantine Rite. Greek Catholics are members of such Churches and can be found in such countries as Romania, Ukraine, Syria, and Egypt.
Today, the members of the Greek Catholic Churches have taken their traditions to many places outside of their homelands, and you can experience their spiritual treasures in the United States, Latin America, Western Europe, Australia and now in many parts of Asia.
Question 2: Are you from Greece? Do you speak Greek?
No! Greek Catholics use a liturgy (Mass), say prayers, and follow traditions from our mother Church in Constantinople (formerly part of Greece & Byzantium). For this reason, we are called Greek Catholics. Yet, we come from many different countries and cultures.
Someone can come from Canada, Argentina, Thailand, or any other country but still believe and pray as a Greek Catholic. Also, you don’t have to speak the Greek language to pray or live as a Greek Catholic!
Question 3: Are you in communion with Rome & the Holy Father? Can a Roman Catholic attend your services?
Yes, all Greek Catholic Churches are in full communion with Rome and the Holy Father. Because we are in full communion, Roman Catholics can attend our liturgies while Greek Catholics are also free to attend Roman Catholic Masses.
Question 4: What is the difference between a rite and a Church?
A rite is a set of rituals and customs used by Christians to express their faith in Christ. In both Eastern and Western Christianity, there are numerous rites used for the faithful to learn their faith and to encounter God. In the West, the most well-known rite is the Latin Rite. In the East, the Byzantine Rite is common in Central & Eastern Europe along with parts of the Middle East.
A Church is a community of believers that shares a common liturgical and theological tradition and is often lead by a patriarch (or head bishop). In the West, the bishop of Rome, often called the pope or the Holy Father, is the most famous and well-known patriarch, and he heads the Roman Catholic Church. In other parts of the world, other patriarchs and bishops lead local Churches. For example, in the Middle East, Patriarch Gregory III Laham leads the Greek Catholic Christians in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and other neighbouring countries.
Question 5: What is the difference between a Greek Catholic community and a Roman Catholic one?
There are many differences between the Greek Catholics and the Roman Catholics, but here are a few, obvious differences:
1. Instead of the Roman Mass, Greek Catholics attend and celebrate the Divine Liturgy. This service is almost always chanted and does not make use of instrumentation.
2. In Roman parishes, one can commonly find statues of Christ, Mary, and many saints. In a Greek Catholic parish, it is normal to have icons (painted images of Christ and His saints) for the faithful to venerate and pray before.
3. Roman parishes often have open access to the altar area or a communion rail between the people and the altar. In Greek Catholic parishes, one will find a wall of icons separating the altar (representing Heaven) and the rest of the church (representing Earth). The icon wall is known as an iconostasis (Romanian: iconostas).
4. During private prayers and also at the Divine Liturgy, Greek Catholics often make the Sign of the Cross. The differences for Greek Catholics are that A) the Sign is made with the thumb, index, and middle fingers touching together & B) the Sign is made in a different direction. Greek Catholics will start the Sign at the forehead, go down to the lower chest or stomach, move on to the right shoulder, and then finish at the left shoulder. To see how your hand should look, please take a look here. To see how to make the Sign of the Cross, please see this graphic.
Question 6: I heard that Greek Catholic priests can marry. Is this true?
Not exactly! Priests cannot date and find wives, but a married, Greek Catholic man may apply to study for the priesthood. After completing his theological studies, a married man may be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood with the approval of his bishop.
Question 7: Do you have a church in Thailand? How can I attend services?
At the present time, the Greek Catholic Society of Thailand does not have its own church or priest. We are a group of laypeople, meeting in borrowed spaces (churches, chapels, etc.) around Bangkok. We pray some of the Greek Catholic services and study together. In the future, we hope to invite a Greek Catholic priest to visit our small community.
Question 8: How can I learn more?
Please visit us soon! We look forward to having you attend our prayer services and meeting with you to answer your questions. Remember that all are welcome!