by ROWENA OREJANA
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Church that traces its roots back to the first Christian community.
Melkite Bishop Robert Rabbat explained that Melkite comes from the Aramaic word melek, which means king.
The name is traced to the time of the convening of the Council of Chalcedon by Emperor Marcian in AD451. The council issued the Chalcedonian Definition, which accepted Jesus Christ as man and God in one person.
“Those who rejected the resolution, and they are known as the Oriental Churches nowadays, stood up and said you are all Melkites,” Bishop Rabbat said.
He said the critics meant that those who accepted the definition did so because they wanted to please the emperor.
“The bishops who were there representing the different Churches said we do accept this title, not because we are followers of the emperor but because we are the followers of the true King Jesus Christ and it is him who is inspiring us to accept this resolution,” Bishop Rabbat related.
Bishop Rabbat said for this reason, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and those who believe in Jesus as God and man in one person can be considered Melkites.
“Most of the Churches have forgotten the title,” he said.
He also explained the Melkite Greek Catholic Church is not Greek in the sense that they come from Greece.
“Our tradition is Byzantine, which you could say is an Eastern tradition,” he said.
He said they are Catholics because they are in communion with the pope.
“When they asked our Patriarch, Gregory III, to define who we are as a Church, I think he put it in a very eloquent
definition. We are an apostolic Church. We are Arabs but not Muslims, we are Catholics but not Romans or Latin. We
are Easterners but not Orthodox,” said Bishop Rabbat.