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Who are modern day Byzantine Catholics?

Byzantine Catholics are Catholics in full communion with Rome.  St. Mary Magdalene Church is part of the Eparchy (diocese) of Parma, itself part of the Archeparchy (archdiocese) of Pittsburgh.  The Archeparchy and its three eparchies, make up the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church sui iuris in the United States.


“Sui iuris” is a canon law term meaning “self-governing.”  (There are, in fact, 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches within the larger Catholic communion centered in Rome – 14 of them in the Byzantine tradition.  All are in full communion with the Holy Father, the Pope of Rome.)  


The other eparchies in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Church are in Passaic, New Jersey, and Phoenix, Arizona (formerly Van Nuys, California.)  While a bishop dedicated to shepherding Byzantine Catholics in the U.S. dates from 1924, the Metropolitan Eparchy of Pittsburgh was officially established in 1969. There is a long cultural and social history in Eastern Europe that precedes and underlies much of the traditions, practices, and liturgical music which came to the United States in the various waves of East European immigrants in the late 18 and early 19 centuries. 


The Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church in Pittsburgh is now a truly American church with many members who do not share the cultural heritage of Eastern Europe, but honor it as they join their own American experience to those of East European immigrant descent. Like the United States itself, our Byzantine Church is a blend of cultural heritage in the best “melting pot” tradition of the U.S. 


Our Church and people had been known by the term “Greek Catholic” until about 1956, when the more correct term “Byzantine” was reintroduced in the U.S.  The majority of immigrants from East Europe that clustered around the “Greek Catholic” community in the U.S. came from the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Since at least the time of the Empress Maria Theresa, “Greek Catholic” had been used to provide some demarcation in the minds of the Hapsburgs between their Catholic subjects worshipping in Latin and those worshipping in Church Slavonic.   (The other major group of Eastern Catholics in the U.S. are of Ukrainian heritage, but dioceses for Romanians, Melkites, and others exist as well.)

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