On the Occasion of the Eighty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the decree Cum data fuerit
Statement of the North American Orthodox/Catholic Theological Consultation On the Occasion of the Eighty-fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the decree Cum data fuerit
The year 2014 marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of the promulgation of the
decree Cum data fuerit. In 1929, the Sacred Congregation for the
Oriental [Eastern Catholic] Churches issued this document, which stated
that “priests of the Greek-Ruthenian Rite who wish to go to the United
States of North America [sic] and stay there must be celibates” (Article
12). This statement led to a general prohibition of the ordination of
married Eastern Catholics to the priesthood in North America. This
resulted in divisions in Eastern Catholic communities and even in
The Second Vatican Council spoke of the importance of
preserving the legitimate traditions of the Eastern Churches. In the
decree, Orientalium ecclesiarum, the Council emphasized the need to
preserve the “legitimate liturgical rite and … established way of life”
of Eastern Catholics. The Council continued, stating that Eastern
Catholics “should attain to an even greater knowledge and a more exact
use of [this rite and way of life] and if in their regard they have
fallen short owing to contingencies of times and persons, they should
take steps to return to their ancestral traditions” (par. 6).
Furthermore, the decree Presbyterorum ordinis states, “This holy synod,
while it commends ecclesiastical celibacy, in no way intends to alter
that different discipline which legitimately flourishes in the Eastern
Churches. It permanently exhorts all those who have received the
priesthood and marriage to persevere in their holy vocation” (sec. 16).
Nevertheless, until recently, very few married Eastern Catholic men have
been allowed to be ordained to the priesthood in North America.
these things in mind, the North American Orthodox/Catholic Theological
Consultation encourages the lifting of the restrictions regarding the
ordination of married men to the priesthood in the Eastern Catholic
Churches of North America. This action would affirm the ancient and
legitimate Eastern Christian tradition, and would assure the Orthodox
that, in the event of the restoration of full communion between the two
Churches, the traditions of the Orthodox Church would not be questioned.
We are convinced that this action would enhance the spiritual lives of
Eastern Catholics and would encourage the restoration of unity between
Catholic and Orthodox Christians.