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Latin Patriarchate will celebrate Easter 2013 according to the Julian Calendar

Within two years, all Eastern rite Catholics and the Latin diocese in the Holy Land will adopt the Julian Calendar (used by the Orthodox) for the date of Easter.  This will take place after completion of the decree and approval from the Holy See. Meanwhile, the Bishops of the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land have the option of starting the implementation in 2013. This is the case with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Following a directive from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL), this decision marks a step forward towards ecumenism. This directive comes in response to pressure on the part of the faithful. In fact, many Christian families in the Holy Land are from and in mixed marriages between Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.  In the past, many family members could not celebrate Easter on the same day since Catholics follow the Gregorian calendar while the Orthodox follow the Julian calendar.  The Council of Nicaea established that Easter should fall on the Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. The Gregorian calendar was designed to correct a miscalculation in the rotation of the earth which was discovered in the 15th century; the Julian calendar was in use before the new calendar was implemented. The majority of the Orthodox churches did not adopt the new (Gregorian) calendar reform initiated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 due to the schism.  Until this day, the Julian calendar is still in use; hence the discrepancy in the calculation of the Easter date.

Who says these adjustments will bring about unification?

The diocese of the Latin Patriarchate which includes Jordan, Cyprus and a majority of Palestine has already implemented the experience of unifying the date of Easter according to the Julian calendar which has been largely successful.

What is new mainly has to do with the Patriarchate parishes who are in Israel.  For Easter 2013, majority of Catholic parishes will join this decision and celebrate Easter on May 5 with exceptions made in Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area because the Status Quo Agreement.

For Easter 2015 and the following years a decree formulated by the ACOHL will be submitted to the Holy See for approval. This decree should state that all the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land will permanently adopt the Julian calendar for the celebration of Easter “with the consequential adjustment of the liturgical calendar for the beginning of Lent and the feast of Pentecost. (…) Largely, this decision will be welcomed, respected and enacted by all of the Eastern Rite Catholics and Latin Catholics in the country as well as by foreigners residing in our diocese” says the directive.

In 2014, Easter will fall on the same day and shared ecumenically. Catholics and Orthodox will celebrate Easter on the same day on April 20 which is by virtue of both calendars being concurrent on the date. This means that the issue of a change which is by decree will not be adopted until the following year.

Christophe Lafontaine