The Latin Rite Strikes Back
Shortly after the article was published in Horizons, and as news began to spread around the country, the Latin bishops in the United States urged the Vatican to suppress the new canons, and that is exactly what they did. The laws, as they were written, were suppressed, and the following year the Vatican allowed the issuance of a new canon. This canon would allow the ordination of married men, but only with a special dispensation from the Pope. The new canon read, “Concerning the admission of married men to the order of the presbyterate, the special norms issued by the Apostolic See are to be observed, unless dispensations are granted by the same See in individual cases.”(Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium 1990). This was a major blow to the Byzantine Church.
The Latin Church would continue to argue against the idea of married clergy in the United States, insisting that the laws governing married clergy are only applicable in the country of origin for that particular Eastern Church, and not to areas where the eastern church has immigrated to. This idea came from the then Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who argued:
The paragraph of the canon law governing the issue is valid only in traditionally Eastern-rite countries, but not in the countries where Eastern-rite Catholics have immigrated. If true, the directive would mean married Eastern-rite Catholic priests would be able to continue their pastoral work in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia, but not in Poland.
This was a result of married priests from the Ukraine, who became citizens of Poland due to the borders of the two countries being redrawn, and this was used as an argument to continue to suppress the traditions of the Byzantine Church in the United States. All was not lost, however, and though it would be about fifteen years, the final break finally came in 2014.
On June 14, 2014, the decree Acta Apostolicae Sedis was issued and signed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. Finally, the restoration of the Byzantine Church’s tradition of married clergy was restored, permitting bishops “outside of the traditional Eastern territories” to ordain married men “according to the traditions of their respective Churches.”
According to Acta Apostolicae Sedis., Eastern bishops all over the world may once again “ordain the Eastern-married candidates who come from their jurisdiction.” It adds that they have the “obligation to inform beforehand” the local Latin-rite bishop in writing “in order to have his opinion regarding any useful information.” Despite it being a huge win for Byzantine Catholics around the world to have the restoration of married clergy, the path leading up to that point in 2014, caused much pain, distrust, anger and unfortunately, schism. Finding a way forward from the schism in 1929, and restoration of trust between the two lungs of the church, is something that has taken almost ninety years, and though the tradition has only just been restored, Catholics from both rites must, and should, fight for the preservation of the beautiful traditions of the East.