Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sui Juris Churches XXII: The Byzantine Church of Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro

(on sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Byzantine

Primary Liturgical Language: Croatian, although there are others

Juridical Status: Eparchial

Approximate Population: About 60,000

Brief History: The Byzantine Church of Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, also known as the Croatian Greek Catholic Church and (occasionally) as the Križevci Catholic Church arose in the shadowlands between Christian East and Christian West in the wars between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire; as the latter managed to gain victories over the former, certain areas that had long been Eastern Orthodox came into the jurisdiction of the Catholic Habsburgs. In 1611 the Byzantine Rite was officially recognized in the area, with its primary headquarters at the monastery of Marča, as part of the Latin Catholic diocese of Zagreb. This was an unstable arrangement, as were similar arrangements that grew up all along the Habsburg borders. In the wake of the Ruthenian Unions, Empress Maria Theresa advocated that the Croatian Byzantine Catholics be given an independence along the Ruthenian model. This was granted by Pius VI in 1771 and the Eparchy of Križevci was born.

The eparchy from the beginning suffered complications and problems arising from Yugoslavian politics, ranging from the rises of the Ustaše, with which many Catholics were complicit, and the invasion of the Nazi Germany, to the formation of a Communist dictatorship under Josep Tito. The end of World War I saw the development of Yugoslavia, and in light of practical administrative concerns, the Eparchy of Križevci was expanded to include all Byzantine Catholics in Yugoslavia, making it an extremely ethnically diverse Church. Yugolavia became Communist in 1946, and the Catholic Church, both the populous Latin Rite and the smaller Byzantine Rite, underwent a persecution lasting for decades, although the persecution lessened considerably beginning in 1963. In the 1990s Yugoslavia began to break apart in a series of bloody wars; Croatia and Slovenia, both highly Catholic regions, broke away in 1991. To deal with the complications, things were reorganized. The Eparchy of Križevci continued to cover Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovinia. A new Apostolic Exarchate was created in 2003 for Serbia and Montenegro and another for Macedonia. The Macedonian exarchate was separated on its own, but the other exarchate remains linked to Križevci.

Notable Monuments: The Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Križevci

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: The Eparchy of Križevci and the Apostolic Exarchate of Serbia. (Sphere of influence always extends beyond the official jurisdiction due to members of the church living outside of any official jurisdiction of the church. In 2013, the Byzantine Catholics of Montenegro were, due to further political complications, put under the jurisdiction of a Latin bishop; thus they fall outside the official jurisdiction of the church.)

Online Sources and Resources: Relatively little can be found about this particular church online.

http://www.cnewa.org/

http://krizevci.hbk.hr/

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