The Word ‘Uniate’


I edit crossword puzzles. Within the last two years, someone complained that I had permitted the answer word UNIAT (or UNIATE) in a puzzle. The complaint said that the term is now considered to have a negative, even derogatory, connotation.

Since receiving that letter I have refused to allow the term in a puzzle; it now occurs to me to ask: Did that letter express an “official” viewpoint?


The term commonly refers to those Orthodox Christians who left Orthodoxy and acknowledged the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome while retaining the rites and practices observed by Orthodoxy. There have been several movements of this type throughout Church history.

The term “uniate” is seen as negative by such individuals, who are more commonly referred to as Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, Greek Catholics, Eastern Rite Catholics, Melkite Catholics, or any number of other titles.