Missionary Policies and Diplomatic Interest of the Melkites in Jordan during the Interwar Period
In the Emirate of Transjordan, the interwar period was marked by the emergence of the Melkite Church. Following the Eastern rite and represented by Arab priests, this church appeared to be an asset from a missionary perspective as Arab nationalism was spreading in the Middle East. New parishes and schools were opened. A new Melkite archeparchy was created in the Emirate in 1932. The archbishop, Paul Salman, strengthened the foundation of the church and became a key partner of the government. This article tackles the relationship between Arabisation, nationalisation and territorialisation. It aims to highlight the way the Melkite Church embodied the adaptation strategy of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Transjordan. The clergy of this national church was established by mobilising regional and international networks. By considering these clerics as go-between experts, this article aims to decrypt a complex process of territorialisation and transnationalisation of the Melkite Church.
The Case of the Salesian Society (1904–1920)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, some Palestinian and Lebanese Salesians, influenced by the Arab Renaissance movement, began to claim the right to oppose the ‘directorships’ of the institutes of the Don Bosco Society in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. They also began to request better recognition of their native language, in schools and within the religious community. They clashed with their superiors who, in the meantime, had signed an agreement with the Salesian government in Rome, committing them to developing the Italian language in their teaching institutes. The struggle became particularly fierce after the Holy See rebuked the Palestinian religious congregations for teaching the catechism and explaining the Sunday Gospel to people in a foreign language and urged them to do so in Arabic. The clash caused a serious disturbance within the Salesian community. Finally, after the First World War, the most turbulent Arab religious were removed from the Society of Don Bosco. All converged in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where they continued forcefully (but in vain) to put forward their national demands. This article is based on several unpublished sources.
Reconsidering the relationship between the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Melkite Catholic Church, the paper aims to analyze the changes and developments of the Catholic Church’s presence in post-World War I Palestine and Transjordan. It specifically examines how the dialectic and debate on the issue of Arabization and Latin-Melkite competition during the Mandate period went beyond the traditional inter-Church rivalry, epitomizing the progression of a complex process of reconfiguring the Catholic ecclesiastical and missionary presence in the Holy Land in efforts to amalgamate and harmonize its “national-local” and “transnational” scopes and characters. The paper will specifically look at the local Catholic dimension and its religious hierarchies to understand the logic behind their positioning in regard to such issues. This perspective makes it possible to reveal how local religious Catholic leaderships (of both the Latin Patriarchate and Melkite Catholic Church) sought to interpret and promote the reconfiguration of their respective Church and religious community organizations and structures in these two lands during the Mandate. The intra-Catholic perspective will help us understand how intra-denominational as well as inter-denominational competition acted as tools for missionary, ecclesiastical and community development as well as a catalyst of change, anticipating most of the issues that still characterize the complex position and condition of the Church in this territory.