The Universe, (London), Friday, October 7, 1977
WAS the «walk-out», indecorous to many, really necessary? An anguished dispute with Eastern Rite prelates marred the opening of the Synod of Bishops last Friday.
Protesting against seating arrangements in Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, two patriarchs and cardinal representing Eastern Churches left a Mass con-celebrated by the Pope and Synod Bishops.
They claimed they were seated in the last row of the chapel while according to tradition t-hey outrank cardinals and therefore should have been in the first row.
The protestors included the Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos Hakim, the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, Ignace Antoine Hayek, and Cardinal Slipyj.
Vatican officials explained they had been placed in their row because the form of their liturgy precluded their taking part in the concelebration, and promised at all future Synod meetings this month they would be seated in front of the cardinals.
«It was a simple act of negligence,» said Patriarch Maximos.