Editorial Foreword

Appreciation of the Eastern traditions within the Catholic Church has fundamentally changed over the past centuries. Since the time of Pope Leo XIII, “varietas disciplinarum” has slowly become more and more widely recognized. The Vatican Council II also clearly indicated that plurality in theology is also acceptable to a certain degree, and, what is more, this latter “varietas” –like liturgical and disciplinary ones– is an essential means of a deeper understanding and explanation of revelation itself. Fundamentally, this belief is behind the council documents which suggest that Catholicity itself –or at least a deeper understanding of the sources of revelation– is possible only by taking the Eastern Traditions into consideration, including the data and perspective of Eastern theologies (cf. UR 15e, 17b, OE 1). If it is true that the “sacred sciences” can only really thrive in the living Church itself, then it is clear how important the role and responsibility of the Eastern Catholic Church is (or at least could be) in preserving and better effectuating the above referred more complete perspective of the Catholic theology.

Preserving the ecclesiastical heritage –and, if necessary, the rediscovery and the restoration of their essence– is the vocation of all Eastern Catholic Churches (OE 5). Rising to this challenge is essential for a number of reasons: to ensure the above-mentioned holistic theological perspective, a multidimensional perception, and understanding of the sources of the revelation, for the benefit of the entire Church. At the same time, this is also important for the role and appreciation of the Eastern Churches within the Una sancta. If a community generates only questions: ritual, disciplinary and public law problems, while failing to become a real carrier of values for the whole, the very reason for its distinct ecclesiastical reality may seem doubtful. On the other hand, a community enriched by its authentic way of living the apostolic tradition could become an equal partner of the large local Church despite the reduced number of its faithful. Accordingly, preserving (and rediscovering) one’s own theological tradition is essential for fulfilling the emancipation of Eastern communities within the Catholic Church. Last but not least, this commitment to live authentically proper heritage and identity is also indispensable to promote ecumenical relationships. The Eastern traditions are conspicuously rooted in the apostolic tradition through the Fathers’ theology (cf. OE 1). Thus, contemporary church life, stemming from the same ancient tradition, could be the true source of the common denominators of the future.

The St Athanasius Greek Catholic Theological Institute, established in 1950, is a regional center of Eastern theological studies. Along with its research programs, the Institute focuses on the deliberate and systematic development of the aspect of its publications. At present, of over half a dozen regular publications, the most important ones are the Byzantine theological journal “Athanasiana” in Hungarian (1995-), the “Collectanea Athanasiana” (2008-) and the “Eastern Canon Law” (2012-).

For half a century, the official documents of the Apostolic See have repeatedly encouraged Eastern Catholic Churches to rediscover, study and return to their own praiseworthy traditions. This on-going expectation is due to the conviction that the traditions in question are treasures, enriching the whole Catholic Church and integral parts of the Church’s Catholicity and Apostolicity.

In these Churches, theological institutions of higher education, and consequently their academic publications, are playing an especially important role in the study of their proper ritual heritage. In the St Athanasius Theological Institute, the “Collectanea Athanasiana” has taken on the publication of material presented at regular regional symposiums on the history of the Greek Catholic Churches as well as unedited documents come from the same communities. In order to meet contemporary expectations, it seems timely to start a new journal specializing in Byzantine theology (and in “Eastern sacred sciences” in general) to be issued along with the already existing journal of Eastern Canon Law (ECL), as its “twin review”. The intention of the editors of the present “Eastern Theological Journal” is to publish this new instrument twice a year. In this initiative, beyond the assistance of the professors of the St Athanasius Institute we hopefully can count on the constantly expanding international relationships developed by the Institute over two decades.

We can only hope that this initiative will meet with a favorable reception and support from academic circles, as we believe that the study of Eastern theology is not only the vocation of the great theological faculties of international reputation but that smaller academic centers of Eastern Catholic Churches could also play a more significant role in this task as well. In fact, if Eastern theology is considered as a “living tradition” it is clear that in its academic reflection also the local Church experience should play an important role.

In the name of the editors I would like to thank all who participated in the realization of the present initiative and still more those who will contribute its development in the future.
— Editors —