the maronite church
who we are
Maronites (Arabic: ٲلمو١ر نۃ , transliteration: AlMawarinah), are members of one of the Eastern Catholic Churches, with a heritage reaching back to Maroun in the early 5th century. The first Maronite patriarch, John Maroun, was appointed in the late 7th century. Today, Maronites are one of the principal religious groups in Lebanon.
Like other Lebanese people, Maronites are overall very genetically similar to other Levantine populations, such as Syrians and Jordanians, with minor foreign genetic influence, though many claim Phoenician ancestry. Before the Muslim conquest, Maronites spoke a dialect of Aramaic, but have been an Arabic-speaking community since at least the 9th century. Syriac Aramaic however, still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church.
The head of the Maronite Church is the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, who is elected by the bishops of the Maronite church and now resides in Bkirki, north of Beirut. The current Patriarch since 1986 is His Beatitude Mar Nasrallah Cardinal Boutros Sfeir. When a new patriarch is elected and enthroned, he requests ecclesiastic communion from the Pope, thus maintaining their communion with the Catholic Church. Many Patriarchs are also accorded the status of cardinals, in the rank of cardinal-patriarch. They share with other Catholics the same doctrine, but Maronites retain their own liturgy and hierarchy. Strictly speaking, the Maronite church belongs to the Antiochene Tradition and is a West Syro-Antiochene Rite. Syriac is the liturgical language instead of Latin which is a tradition of the Roman Rite.
Celibacy is not required for deacons and priests with parishes, but monks must remain celibate, as well as bishops who are normally selected from the monasteries. The clergy in America, with exception to the deacons, must remain celibate. The bishops who serve as eparchs and archeparchs of the eparchies and archeparchies (the equivalent of diocese and archdiocese in the Roman Catholic Church) are answerable to the patriarch.
The exact worldwide Maronite population is not known, although it is at least 15 million according to CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association). It is estimated that 800,000 to 900,000 remain in Lebanon where they constitute up to 25% of the population. According to a Lebanese agreement celebrated among the various religious leaders, the president must be a Maronite. Syrian Maronites total 40,000 and they follow the archdioceses of Aleppo and Damascus and the Diocese of Latakia. There is also a Maronite community in Cyprus which speaks Cypriot Maronite Arabic.
In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ottoman persecution led
many Maronites to emigrate to Latin America, as well as North America, Europe
and Australia, where they founded Maronite parishes.