The Melkites, or Byzantine rite Catholics of Middle Eastern origin, are the descendants of the early Christians of Antioch (Syria). Christianity was established in this area of the Middle East by St. Peter before he traveled on to the imperial city of Rome. In the 5th century, there arose some teachers who said that Christ was not truly God and truly man as well. They would not accept the teaching of the Catholic Church as defined by the Council of Chalcedon (451A.D.). Those in the Middle East who did accept the decision of Chalcedon followed the lead of the Byzantine emperor and were dubbed Melkites or King's Men from the Aramaic word "melek" meaning King.
The Byzantine-Rite (or Greek Catholic) Church has its roots to the origin of the Catholic Church. The first World Empire was in Greece. The Roman Empire came into power Years after the Fall of the Greeks. The Roman Catholic Church formed then as the shift of power moved from Greece to Rome. The area was where the Church was born is in Constantinoble (The East).
Rome (The West), is where Constantine moved the Empire to. Some actually say, The Greek Catholic church is the original and first Catholic Church. The Word "Byzantine" Comes from the former Roman capital of Byzantium. The Greek Catholic Church sort of divided according to geography. In the first half of the twentieth century, Greek Catholic Churches became either of Byzantine-Russian Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Romanian Catholic, Coptic (Egyptian) Catholic, or Syrian Catholic. The Greek Catholic Church should not be confused with Greek Orthodox or the Russian Orthodox Church as we are Catholic.
Among the various branches of the Byzantine rite, the Ukrainians are the most numerous (about 5.5 million in 1939), followed by the Romanians (1.7 million), Hungarians (250,000), and others. The Hungarian and Slovak Byzantine-rite Catholics are mostly assimilated Ukrainians from Transcarpathia. Today, although it is anachronistic to ignore the national dimension of these churches by simply referring to them as Greek Catholic, this name is still given to Ukrainian Catholics living in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and former Yugoslavia where, for political reasons, the appellation ‘Ukrainian’ is avoided.
Similarly, the term ‘Greek Catholic church’ is employed for Eastern-rite Catholics in Hungary. In the 1960s, the name Ukrainian Catholic church was adopted to designate Ukrainian Catholics in the diaspora as well as the underground Ukrainian Catholic communities in the USSR.
Byzantine Rite Catholic churches identified with ROMANIANS, Croatians, and Hungarians also exist in Greater Cleveland. Two of the city's churches under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Byzantine Catholic Exarchate of Canton, OH, are ST. HELENA ROMANIAN BYZANTINE CATHOLIC CHURCH (founded in 1905) and Most Holy Trinity Romanian Catholic Church (dedicated in 1916 at 2650 E. 93rd St., and relocated to 8549 Mayfield Rd. in Chesterland). The Croatian Byzantine Catholic parish of St. Nicholas, organized in 1901, was the first Croatian Catholic Church of Byzantine Rite in America.