The Phjenix Gazette Sat., Oct. 1.
VATICAN CITY (UPI) — Eastern Catholic leaders have walked out of a Mass being celebrated by Pope Paul VI to protest their seating arrangements, disrupting the fifth World Synod of Bishops.
Two patriarchs and a cardinal representing the Eastern Catholic churches walked out of the Mass the Pope was concelebrating with synod bishops in the Sistine Chapel yesterday.
— The Eastern Catholics said they had been seated in the last row of the chapel while, according to the traditions of their church, they outranked cardinals and therefore should have been in the first row.
THE PROTESTORS included Meklite patriarch of Antioch Maximos Hakim, Syrian patriarch of Antioch Ignace Antoine II Hayer, and the fiery 85-year-old cardinal Josyf Slipyj, major archbishop of the Ukraine.
Eastern Catholic patriarchs have often protested that the Vatican does not accord them the rank of their ancient churches.
Cardinal SІіpуj, of Lwow, has had several bitter exchanges with the Vatican recently because he feels the church is ignoring the interests of Ukrainian Catholics for the sake of good relations with Moskow.
Vatican protocol officials defended the seating arrangements and said the patriarchs had been placed in the last row because their defferent liturgy prevented them from joining in the Mass.
PATRIARCH Maximos VI said he would return to the synod because he considered the original seating plan «a simple act of negligence.»
Cardinal Slipyj once said Ukrainian Catholics had sacrificed «mountains of bodies and rivers of blood» for the Holy See, only to find the Vatican abandoning them for the sake of a diplomatic agreement with Moscow.
The 80-year-old Pope Paul did not refer to the protest when he officially opened the synod with a promise that he would serve as pontiff until the day of his death.
«For all the time that God may wish to allow us, we have the firm resolution to dedicate all our strength for the good of the church,» he said.
The synod, a consultative body set up by Pope Paul in 1967, will discuss all aspects of the religious and moral education of children — from television and horror movies to the effects of broken families.