“Is there a distinction between Melkites and Other Eastern Catholics? Perhaps the question is best phrased: What makes our Melkite Church distinctive?”
Bishop John’s Answer:
As a Catholic Church, we belong to the One Body of Christ, or His Mystical Body which is the Church. Our Holy Father, as the vicar of Christ, is our head and our symbol of unity just as Peter was the head of the apostles.
Our Melkite Church is distinctive in several ways. We are a Church with a separate and distinct means of internal governance known as a Church sui iuris, or a Church with a law unto itself. Our Church is made up of a Patriarch and a Synod of Bishops who govern our church in administrative ways. The bishops with the Patriarch are responsible for safe-guarding our sacred traditions such as our Liturgy and liturgical practices. They decide certain issues of discipline for our Melkite people such as the rules of fasting and abstinence. Our Patriarch and bishops are in full communion with the See of Rome and with all other Catholic Churches such as the Maronite Church, the Armenian Catholic Church and twenty-two other Churches in full communion with Rome and one another.
Our Church finds its spiritual roots in the ancient city of Antioch mentioned in the Bible (Acts 11) where the faithful were first called Christians. Our traditions, many of which are shared with the Eastern Orthodox, are ancient indeed and give great emphasis to the teachings of the early Church Fathers, especially the Greek Fathers of the Church.
We take great pride in our distinctive traditions and know that our distinctiveness adds much to the fullness of the Catholic Church where there is unity of faith and diversity in worship. There are many sources that you can read and enjoy. I suggest that you check with your local pastor for a reading list that will give you much information.