Roman Catholics are only one part of the Church (for that matter, only one part of the Latin rite of the Church)- there are Maronite Catholics, Melkite Catholics, Syro-Malabar Catholics, Coptic Catholics, Ukrainian Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, and a whole host of others. It's time they stop being invisible in the Catholic world, if indeed the negative commentaries I have read are true.
Eastern Catholics, in my view, are often caught in between a rock and a hard place. I am only a humble layman and a nobody when it comes to these kinds of things, but I cannot understand for the life of me why there is any controversy whatsoever over the supposed issue of married priests, why such a thing as "Latinization" ever existed in the first place, or any of the other hardships these wonderful people have been put through in the past. Let's put this to rest as well. There is the support of Scripture and Tradition for both married and celibate clergy, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Latinization - the forcing of Eastern Catholics to adopt particularly Roman spiritual practices and the like - is ridiculous. The Catholic Church is indeed a "coat of many colours" - let us rejoice in the myriad of expressions of love for God.
There is, in my opinion, support found in Scripture and Tradition for both married and celibate clergy. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. This is not something to fight over. We are all Catholics, and this Catholic is overjoyed just getting to know the Eastern half of the Church. Why are others not equally excited? Why do some instead question them and interrogate them and treat them as second-rate Catholics? Perhaps because society in general thinks "Roman Catholic", "Protestant", and "Eastern Orthodox", and nothing more subtle or complex than these three giant headings. For the last time, Roman Catholics are only one part of the Catholic Church - admittedly, a large, visible, and well-known part. But we Roman Catholics are not the only Catholics. Frankly, I think the major problem is not necessarily one of latinization or any like thing, but of many simply not knowing about the Catholic East.
I have a tremendous respect for Eastern Catholics. They have endured much persecution, hardship, forced conformity, misunderstanding, and ostracization - and they have hung on. They are still here. They have offered Holy Church a whole crowd of new saints, a joyous multitude indeed. They have borne martyrs, theologians, and heroes. And in an age of New Age liturgical nightmares in the Latin West at the hands of dissident movements within the Church, the liturgies of the Eastern Catholic Churches offer welcome relief.
So I want to do something good for the Lord and His Church. I want to ask you, the reader, a favor - this weekend, find out whether or not there is an Eastern Catholic parish - Byzantine or otherwise - in your area, and make an effort to attend. Talk to the priest, absorb the holiness of the liturgy, study the saints of the East. If you cannot attend an Eastern Catholic parish in your area, maybe take a few moments to get to know a few of their major figures, both current and from ages past. Read about the heroic lives of the Ukrainian Catholic martyrs. Study the Servant of God, Andrey Sheptytsky, or look into the heroic life of St. Alphonsa of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, for example. Look, seek, find. If you have a question, I will try to answer whatever you ask as best I can, or find out the answer for you.
But any kind of non-recognition of Eastern Catholics in general must stop - Eastern Catholics are as Catholic as any hardcore Roman Catholic. They stand with us because they are us - they just express the same truths in a slightly different way. They entered into full communion with the Catholic Church (Maronites never left, incidentally!), braving all kinds of mudslinging, hatred, misunderstanding, latinization, marginalization, and abuse. It's time to give them the respect and attention that they deserve, and if any Roman Catholics treat them as second-tier Catholics, it's time for this kind of thing to cease.
If no one else feels the same, if I am alone in this, if not one other person agrees with me, fine. Here is one happily Roman Catholic who loves his Eastern Catholic brethren as much as his tiny heart can.
If you are interested, even slightly, in the world of the Catholic East, then this link is for you:
In Union With Rome: The one-stop shop for all things Eastern Catholic. Links galore, a wealth of information.
Also check out:
Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies
Holy Resurrection Monastery
Christ the Bridegroom
Eastern Catholic Spiritual Renewal
Prayer of St. Ephrem
Fear Not Little Flock
Ramblings of a Byzantine Catholic
The Master Beadsman