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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Response to Answer about transfers to Eastern Catholic Churches

by Catherine Frakas 04 Jul 2001

Response to Answer about transfers to Eastern Catholic Churches QUESTION from Cantor Joe Thur on October 5, 2002 You wrote back in Sept 2001 the following response about the Eastern Catholic Church:
You may visit an Eastern Rite Catholic Church. Perhaps doing that will rejuvenate you a little. But you cannot officially transfer to the Eastern Rite Catholic Church without permission from the Vatican.
This is not so. The decision is between the bishops of both churches, the Latin bishop and the Eastern Catholic one. The Vatican does not get involved with transfers.
Although technically you could be a permanent visitor (perpetual attendance) to an Eastern Rite Catholic Parish, the spirit of the Canon Law on this is clear that the intent of the law is that we are to be loyal to the Rite to which we were baptized and confirmed.
Canon law is canon law; the spirit can be interpreted anyway you wish. Canonical transfers are permitted for lay people, even priests. The Spirit goes where it wishes.
But if you were to become a permanent visitor to an Eastern Rite Catholic parish, that will not make you a member of that Eastern Catholic Rite.
The proper term is Eastern Catholic Church and not Eastern Catholic Rite. Eastern Catholic Churches are not merely different rites of the Roman Catholic Church. The rite is a liturgical, canonical, and theological patrimony used by a particular church community. The Byzantine Rite is used by over a dozen separate Catholic Churches. Canon law even recognizes that these particular communities are churches. Catholics of any rite can communicate (receive communion and participate in worship) in any other rite.
And for such things as marriages, funerals, baptisms, etc. you will have to do in the Roman Rite parish to which you belong even if you are perpetually attending a Eastern Rite Church.
This is correct, but we must also be aware of another problem. There are many cradle Greek-Catholics who attend Latin parishes who never got canonical transfers. Yet, how many are getting married, having their children baptized there and getting burried without their pastors contacting their canonical church?
Cantor Joe Thur
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on October 9, 2002 Dear Mr. Thur:
Your information does not match canon law. Canon law REQUIRES permission from the Holy See:
Canon Law 112: º1. After the reception of baptism, the following are enrolled in another Ritual Church sui iuris:
(1) one who has obtained permission from the Apostolic See;
(2) a spouse who declares at the time of marriage or during marriage that he or she is transferring to the Ritual Church sui iuris of the other spouse; but when the marriage has ended, that person can freely return to the Latin Church;
(3) children of those in nn. 1 and 2 under fourteen complete years of age; and similarly children of a Catholic party in a mixed marriage who legitimately transferred to another Ritual Church. But, when such persons reach fourteen complete years of age, they may return to the Latin Church.
º2. The custom, however prolonged, of receiving the sacraments according to the rite of another Ritual Church sui iuris, does not carry with it enrollment in that Church.
As clearly stated, unless par 1.2 or 1.3 apply, one MUST have permission from the Holy See (par 1.1)
If the Holy See has promulgated a blanklet permission to the bishops to act without notifying the Holy See, please produce that document and I will publish it.
I do not know where you are getting your information but the Spirit does not tell ANYONE to violate Canon Law. The Church has been given the Keys and what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven. The Church has the authority from God himself to make laws. The Spirit WILL NEVER direct a person to violate Church Law. Any spirit that encourages the violation of Canon Law is the spirit of the devil.
As to the proper term of rite or churches, I am completely aware of the nuances of these terms, but it does puzzle me that you use churches and rites interchangeably in your question.
I imagine most people are confused with this distinction.
Nevertheless, while it is true that the term CHURCHES is used in Canon Law, to be MORE precise, since you are interested in preciseness, the actually technical term, I believe, is the one actually used in the Canon: Ritual Church sui iuris.
In any event, the term Rite is also used as evidenced by the Catechism:
1203. The liturgical traditions or rites presently in use in the Church are the Latin (principally the Roman rite, but also the rites of certain local churches, such as the Ambrosian rite, or those of certain religious orders) and the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite and Chaldean rites. In 'faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.' But, I understand and am aware of the distinction you are concerned with. So let me rephrase using the precise language of Canon Law:
With only two special exceptions noted in para 212.1.2 and 212.1.3, those wishing to transfer to another Ritual Church sui iuris must obtain permission from the Apostolic See.
Until I see a document where the Holy See has granted a blanklet delegation of this power of permission, I think I am safe on the firm ground of canon law as stated.
P.S. Oh, by the way, your description of how transfers take place is inaccurate not only in terms of the need for permission of the Holy See, but also in your description of the role of the bishops.
The transfer of Latin Catholics to another Ritual Church is granted by the Holy See. There is no mention of a role of the bishops.
However the transfer of an Eastern Catholic to the Latin rite also requires consent of both the Eastern and the Latin bishops (Source: Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Church; reference in the commentary of Canon 112 authored by the Canon Law Society of America)
Thanks for your question.
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