Eastern Catholic Churches

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The Eastern Catholic Churches Churches are churches that follow the ancient liturgical traditions of the East, while being in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and placing themselves under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

Some of these churches, like the Orthodox Church, follow the Byzantine tradition, while others follow other liturgical traditions. The history of each Eastern Rite Catholic church is unique, some having sided with Rome at the time of the Great Schism and some being joined to Rome after that time.

They are sometimes referred to as Uniates, a term which many Eastern Catholics reject as derogatory, although it was historically used by both Eastern Catholics and the Latin hierarchy, as well.

Many of these churches have a direct non-Catholic (usually Orthodox or Oriental) counterpart. Others exist only within the Catholic Communion as they were either entirely received into communion with the Roman See or never left that communion.

List of Eastern Catholic Churches

Byzantine Rite (also Greek Catholic) Churches

  • Albanian Catholic Church (Latin rite hierarchy)
  • Greek Catholic Church
  • Belarusan Catholic Church (Latin rite hierarchy)
  • Bulgarian Catholic Church
  • Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church
  • Byzantine Catholics of Former Yugoslavia
  • Georgian Catholic Church (Latin rite hierarchy)
  • Hungarian Catholic Church
  • Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
  • Melkite Greek Catholic Church
  • Romanian Catholic Church
  • Russian Catholic Church (Latin rite hierarchy)
  • Slovak Catholic Church
  • Ukrainian (Greek) Catholic Church official website (English, Ukrainian, Russian)

Non-Byzantine Eastern Rite Catholic Churches

  • Armenian Catholic Church
  • Chaldean Catholic Church
  • Coptic Catholic Church (official Web site)
  • Ethiopian Catholic Church
  • Maronite Catholic Church
  • Syrian Catholic Church
  • Syro-Malabar Church
  • Syro-Malankara Catholic Church


Second Council of Lyons (1274)

See Councils of Lyons

Council of Ferrara-Florence (1439)

Main article: Council of Florence

Union of Brest (1596)

See Union of Brest

Other Unions

Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Vatican II) and the Post-Council Period

Orientalium Ecclesiarium, the Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches, was promulgated at the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964. This decree instructs Eastern Catholics to "preserve their legitimate liturgical rite" and was in many ways a move away from previous episodes of open Latinizations. The Eastern liturgical traditions, at this time often heavily Latinized, was affirmed by the Council. In situations where the Eastern Tradition was lost, it was to be reclaimed. An example of this is the practice of infant Chrismation and communion and the singing of the Divine Office (i.e. Vespers and Matins) which, largely lost in many Eastern Catholic Churches, was slowly reclaimed after the council.

The rights and privileges of Eastern Catholic patriarchs were also emphasized in this document. The Synod as a form of government is given specific autonomous powers to, depending on the Church and territory in question, establish eparchies (dioceses) and exarchates, nominate and transfer bishops, and to legislate other items such as the date for Easter, appropriate liturgical texts, and the formation of clerics.

The document also discusses issues pertaining to the Orthodox Church. Eastern Christians are exhorted to recognize their role in ecumenism and to remain faithful to their liturgical traditions as an example. Eastern Orthodox clerics that enter into communion with the Roman See have recognized orders and are to be incorporated into their corresponding Eastern Catholic Church. (i.e. a Ukrainian Orthodox clergyman in Canada would be received into the Ukrainian Catholic Church and not into the Latin Church or another Eastern Catholic church) The document also controversially gives permission for Orthodox Christians to receive the sacraments in Catholic churches (Eastern or Western) without impediment.

It has been received in different degrees depending on the Church in question. Generally, however, Eastern Catholic Churches have slowly begun to reduce Latinizations and practice their Eastern Tradition. This is especially true among younger clergy who have not attended Roman seminaries and are educated in their Tradition. These rights were formally legislated in the 1990 Eastern Code of Canon Law and the 1996 Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

The text of the document is available at: The Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite

Eastern Catholic Theology

Relationships with the Orthodox Churches

Eastern Catholic Churches with Counterparts in Non-Catholic Churches

The following Eastern Rite Catholic Churches have "counterparts" in the Orthodox Communion. The counterpart is listed in parenthesis.

The following Eastern Rite Catholic Churches have "counterparts" in the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The counterpart is listed in parenthesis.

The following Eastern Catholic Churches have no counterpart either among the Chalcedonian Orthodox or the Oriental Orthodox.

  • Maronite Catholic Church
  • Syro Malabar Church
  • Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
  • Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

For More Information

  • American Eastern Catholics by Fred J. Saato (ISBN 0-8091-4378-X)
  • The Byzantine Rite: A Short History by Robert Taft SJ (ISBN 0814621635)
  • Eastern Catholics in the United States of America by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (ISBN 1574552872)
  • The Eastern Catholic Churches: An Introduction to Their Worship and Spirituality by Joan L. Roccasalvo (ISBN 0814620477)
  • The Eastern Catholic Churches - A Brief Survey by Ronald Roberson CSP. Reproduced online with permission at the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (ISBN 978-88-7210-359-2)
  • The Other Catholics: Obedient and Faithful by Joseph Bonchonsky (ASIN B0006OZUJQ)

External links

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