Metropolitan Church History
Renewed Efforts to OrganizeThe Vatican’s 1890 decree requiring all Greek Catholic priests serving in the United States to be celibate deeply disturbed the Greek Catholic clergy. Since most of the Greek Catholic clergy were in fact married, they considered the decree to be an outrageous and unwarranted attack on their centuries-old tradition by both Rome and the unsympathetic American hierarchy. Meeting in Hazleton in late 1891, the clergy strongly protested the decree and petitioned the Holy See for the appointment of their Vicar General to administer the affairs of the Greek Catholic Church in the United States. When their protests and petitions fell on deaf ears, the clergy unilaterally acted in 1892 and selected from their own ranks a widowed priest, the Reverend Nicephor Chanat, to be Vicar General. Father Chanat’s role essentially was to act as an intermediary between the American Catholic bishops and the Greek Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, the bishops ignored his appointment and the Greek Catholic clergy refused to follow his leadership. Thus, in 1896, Father Chanat resigned his position.
A Greek Catholic Bishop Comes to AmericaTo restore ecclesiastical order and to stem the tide of defections to Orthodoxy, the Holy See finally relented and decided to appoint a Greek Catholic bishop for the Church in America. Thus, on March 4, 1907, the Holy See announced the appointment of the Reverend Soter Stephen Ortinsky, a Basilian monk from Galicia, as the Bishop of all Greek Catholics in the United States.
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