Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Catholic Converts & Church Delineated

Eric Sammons explains the complexity of the Catholic Church:
The average Catholic – as well as the average non-Catholic – believes that the Catholic Church is one monolithic church, with one way of celebrating Mass and a single hierarchy which rules that church. However, the truth is much more complex, so much so that I’m reminded of the saying, “I don’t believe in organized religion, I’m Catholic.”

In reality the Catholic Church is made up of over 20 sui juris churches. What does sui juris mean? That each of these churches is under its “own laws”. In other words, each church can have its own canon law, its own liturgy, and its own governing hierarchy. Some of these churches are headed by a Patriarch, some by a major archbishop, some by a Metropolitan, and some simply by a bishop. Each of these churches, however, it in communion with the bishop of Rome, and, according to Vatican I, he has universal jurisdiction over all the churches.

There are currently 23 sui juris churches that make up the Catholic Church. They include:

1. Latin Catholic church
2. Coptic Catholic church
3. Ethiopian Catholic church
4. Maronite church
5. Syriac (Syrian) Catholic church
6. Syro-Malankara Catholic church
7. Armenian Catholic church
8. Chaldean Catholic church
9. Syro-Malabar church
10. Albanian Greek Catholic church
11. Belarusian Greek Catholic church
12. Bulgarian Greek Catholic church
13. Byzantine church of the Eparchy of Krizevci
14. Greek Byzantine Catholic church
15. Hungarian Greek Catholic church
16. Italo-Albanian Catholic church
17. Macedonian Greek Catholic church
18. Melkite Greek Catholic church
19. Romanian church United with Rome
20. Russian Catholic church
21. Ruthenian Catholic church
22. Slovak Greek Catholic Church
23. Ukrainian Greek Catholic church

As you can see, 22 of these 23 churches are Eastern churches; only the Latin church is Western. But the primary reason most people don’t know about all these Eastern churches is that the Latin Catholic church makes up 98% of all Catholics worldwide. So, if you meet a Catholic on the street, there is a very good chance that he is of the Latin church.

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