“Is there any way to preserve liturgical and cultural heritage of the three branches in the one patriarchate of Antioch?”
Bishop John’s Answer:
While you are correct to notice that there are several churches that claim Antioch as their See of origin, the various churches have separate and very rich histories. The obvious duplication is that of our Melkite See that is parallel with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. This duplication came as a natural result of the historical circumstances that surrounded the undivided See during the 18th century. Our Catholic bishops aligned themselves with the See of Rome in response to their thirst for direction and spiritual depth. The See of Antioch is described by historians of this period as “the sleeping giant of Antioch”.
You suggest, however, a unification of very disparate churches. The Major liturgical traditions converge in Antioch. The Byzantine-Constantinopolitan tradition is one of many ancient liturgical families that make up the rich patrimony of this area. Certainly, many liturgical traditions can co-exist in one See to portray the rich diversity of the Church. Each patriarch serves as the head and father of a specific liturgical family or church sui-iuris.
As Catholics, we find a unity in faith as we walk with the successor of Peter. Indeed, the Petrine Office is seen as a service to the unity of the Body of Christ. The unfortunate divisions within the same liturgical family will one-day yield, through prayer, to the unity that Christ promised. I urge you to join me in such prayers.