The Importance of the Eucharistic Congress Held in Jerusalem in 1893 for the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic ChurchesAhmet Türkan
In the second half of the nineteenth century, different Christian denominations came together to discuss the problems in common between the churches. In this sense, the 8th International Eucharistic Congress convened in Jerusalem in 1893 is important in terms of determining the current situation of the Eastern and Western churches and discussing their problems. In this study, the efforts on the part of the Roman Catholic Church to reconcile with the Eastern Catholics, called Uniat, based in Jerusalem, are examined. The attitudes of Ottoman statesmen regarding whether or not the congress should be held in Jerusalem, which at the time was located in the Ottoman lands, and the perceptions of the Western public about the eucharistic congress are discussed in detail. How the Catholic sects of French origin and the Latin missions in Jerusalem viewed the traditions of the Eastern Christians are examined in depth in the context of Jerusalem. In the study, which was handled in light of documents from the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives and foreign newspapers of the period, the processes of the eucharistic congress and the risks and gains faced by the Roman Catholic Church after the meetings are discussed comparatively.
1893’te Kudüs’te Yapılan Evharistik Kongrenin Roma Katolik Kilisesi ile Doğu Katolik Kiliseleri Açısından ÖnemiAhmet Türkan
19. yüzyılın ikinci yarısından itibaren farklı Hıristiyan mezhepleri ortak zeminde kiliseler arasındaki sorunları görüşmek için bir araya gelmiştir. Bu anlamda 1893 yılında Kudüs’te toplanan evharistik kongre Doğu-Batı Kiliselerinin mevcut durumlarını görebilme ve yaşadıkları sorunları görüşebilmeleri açısından önemlidir. Bu çalışmada Roma Katolik Kilisesi’nin Uniat adı verilen Doğu Katolikleriyle Kudüs merkezli uzlaşı çabalarına yer verilmiştir. Dönem itibariyle Osmanlı topraklarında yer alan Kudüs’te kongrenin yapılıp yapılmaması ile ilgili Osmanlı devlet adamlarının tutumları ve Batı kamuoyunda evharistik kongreye dair algılar ayrıntılı olarak ele alınmıştır. Fransız menşeli Katolik tarikatları ile Kudüs’teki Latin misyonlarının Doğu Hıristiyanlarının geleneklerine bakışı Kudüs zemininde derinlemesine irdelenmiştir. Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi ile dönemin yabancı gazetelerinin verileri ışığında ele alınan çalışmada evharistik kongrenin süreçleri ve yapılan toplantılar sonrasında Roma Katolik Kilisesi’nin karşılaştığı riskler ve elde ettiği kazanımlar karşılaştırmalı olarak ele alınmıştır.
The eucharistic congress emerged in line with the understanding of church management of Pope Leo XIII, who followed a transparent policy in church administration and attached importance to unity among Christians. Pope Leo XIII, who improved his relations with the Ottoman Empire and restructured the Catholic missions in many parts of the world, had a separate policy regarding Eastern Christians, and in this sense, the eucharistic congress in Jerusalem is remarkable. The 8th International Eucharistic Congress held in Jerusalem in 1893 was significantly different from previous congresses in that it was the first to be held outside Europe and that it took place in the lands where Christianity was born.
As soon as the eucharistic congress in Jerusalem was announced, it created an important agenda in European public opinion. The Ottoman ambassadors abroad sent news about the congress to Istanbul regularly. The general concern of the Ottoman statesmen regarding the congress was how the Orthodox Church might react to such a congress and whether this could turn into a security problem. According to the opinion of some of the Ottoman ambassadors abroad, the efforts to organize the congress were more on the part of France than the Papacy, and this motivation stemmed from the ambitions of the French Government and priests of French origin about Jerusalem.
Although, at first, some Ottoman statesmen objected to the organization of the eucharistic congress in Jerusalem, the problems that might arise if such a meeting were later banned entirely by them were discussed. It would have been possible to spread Propaganda that the Ottoman Empire did not act tolerantly about freedom of religion and sects. The prevention of such a congress, which was said to have a purely spiritual side and to fulfill a religious duty, would have perhaps led to misperceptions. Therefore, permission to host the congress was considered appropriate for the benefit of the state, and local officials in Jerusalem were instructed to take the necessary measures.
From the newspaper columns in Europe at the time, it is evident that the congress aroused great excitement in the capitals of Catholic-dominated countries. Catholic sects of French origin and bishops of French origin in the Vatican were the ones who mobilized Catholic public opinion. However, the media’s direction of public opinion in Rome and Paris gave rise to a feeling as if a Crusade was taking place against the East, which increased Ottoman anxiety. This kind of concern occurred not only in the Ottoman Empire but also among the followers of the Eastern Church, whose trust in the Roman Church decreased after the Crusades. Aware of the situation, Papal officials stated that such false and exaggerated news would lead to canceling the congress in Jerusalem and provoke people living in the East.
The Armenian Catholic Patriarch Azarian was also an active person in the eucharistic congress. Patriarch Azarian, who went to Rome in February 1893 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Leo’s bishopric and to present the sultan’s gift to the pope, also met with the Ottoman ambassador. On the congress issue, the Ottoman ambassador conveyed the Ottomans’ concerns to him. However, Azarian’s version of events was different. Although he said that the eucharistic congress was canceled by the Papacy at the beginning of 1893, he later gave up on this discourse. Patriarch Azarian stated that after meeting with the pope in the Vatican, Cardinal Langénieux was to pay a visit to Jerusalem, but bishops from different countries would also go to Jerusalem. Azarian’s statement that bishops from different countries would go to Jerusalem was aimed at alleviating public concern. Because the origin of the clergy who took the lead in the congress was generally French, the concern that France’s interests were protected existed both in the Ottoman Empire and in different European countries.
Although Azarian took an active role in the process of the congress, he was not allowed to attend the congress in Jerusalem. The words he uttered in Rome disturbed the Ottomans. One of the reasons for the problem was that Azarian informed the pope that the Armenians were persecuted in the Ottoman Empire and asked for his help. Another was Azarian’s request for permission from the pope to attend the spiritual congress in Jerusalem without the knowledge of the Ottoman Government. For reasons such as this, he was not allowed to go to Jerusalem and was, instead, instructed to return to Istanbul.
While the congress was handled by the Ottoman bureaucrats in Europe with a focus on profit and loss and security, the European public was depicted in value-laden terms where the sacred was embraced in their lives with enthusiasm. According to the newspapers close to the Papacy, at the congress in Jerusalem, besides the glorification of Jesus Christ, the muchdesired church unity would be achieved. Thus, the Eastern Churches, which were disconnected from each other, would be able to come together again illuminated by the light of the Roman Catholic Church. Under the leadership of Langénieux, representatives of all languages and peoples would come together. Catholic East and West would embrace and glorify Jesus Christ as members of a family with the same feelings, despite their differences in traditions, rites, and languages. The eucharistic congress would not only be content with reviving religious belief but would also increase the functionality of the eucharistic practices.
When Cardinal Langénieux’s departure to Jerusalem was deemed appropriate, a matter of protocol arose. Since no clergy at the Cardinal level had visited Jerusalem for centuries, it was not known at first what kind of protocol should be put in place. State ceremonies were held for patriarchs in the Ottoman Empire; however, since the place of the Cardinal in the protocol could not be predicted exactly, negotiations were held by the relevant official units about how to organize a welcoming ceremony. The French ambassador was also informed about the issue and his advice was taken. As a result, since the cardinals were in a higher position than the patriarchs and were considered to be “church princes,” it was deemed appropriate to make an arrangement accordingly. Consequently, the required official ceremony was held for the Cardinal.
The congress, which took place in 8 sessions between May 13 and 21, 1893 under the supervision of Cardinal Langénieux, was held in the Convent of the Saint Savior of the Franciscans. The participation of a total of thirty bishops, including Eastern Catholic (Uniat) and Latin bishops, as well as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Luigi Piavi, was an important achievement for the Roman Catholic Church. However, the differences of opinion among the Latino groups in Jerusalem became even more concrete in this congress. While the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Franciscans were distant from religious patronage of France, the White Fathers and the Assumptionists had a more positive view.
Another issue of separation that emerged at the congress was the approach of different Latin Catholic groups to Eastern Catholics. While some of them perceived Catholicization as Latinization and advocated full devotion to the Roman Church in the liturgy, others thought that Eastern Christians could preserve their church traditions even if they were Catholics. The White Fathers and the Assumptionists were Catholic sects that were conscious of the fine line between Latinization and Catholicization. In this context, while France gave more support to the White Fathers and Assumptionists, it made great efforts to remove the Propaganda Fide Administration in Jerusalem.
Inspired by the eucharistic congress in Jerusalem, it is an important development that the Eastern and Western churches came together again in Rome a year later to discuss common problems. Pope Leo XIII published the Praeclara Gratulationis document as a result of the eucharistic congress in Jerusalem and summoned the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs to Rome. As a result, a meeting was held in Rome in November of the following year and important decisions were taken with the papal document titled Orientalium Dignitas.
At the end of the congress, which lasted more than a week, it was apparent that the Ottoman Empire did not have any of the security problems that it had been worried about. In addition to the state’s taking the necessary precautions, the suggestions of the Papacy to avoid behaviors that would provoke other Christian sects were also effective in this. After leaving Jerusalem, Cardinal Langénieux conveyed his thanks to the Ottoman Empire through the French embassy for the interest shown to him. Since the congress was held without any problems and the necessary measures that were taken in this direction would also please Pope Leo XIII, after the congress, he sent a third class medal to the Governor of Jerusalem, İbrahim Hakkı Pasha.
In this study, Jerusalem-based reconciliation efforts of the Roman Catholic Church with the Eastern Catholics called Uniat are included. The attitudes of Ottoman statesmen regarding whether or not the congress should be held in Jerusalem, which was located in the Ottoman lands in that period, and the perceptions of the Western public about the eucharistic congress are discussed in detail. The views of the Catholic sects of French origin and the Latin missions in Jerusalem on the traditions of the Eastern Christians were examined in depth in the context of Jerusalem. In the study, which was handled in light of documents from the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive and foreign newspapers of the period, the processes of the eucharistic congress and the risks faced by the Roman Catholic Church after the meetings and the gains it achieved were discussed comparatively.