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Churches Sui Juris

"Church sui juris" is a legal term to denote a group of the faithful united by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as autonomous by the supreme authority of the Church, and it can roughly be translated as "autonomous Church". In the past, the Churches sui juris used to be called "rites"- the Latin rite, the Ukrainian rite, the Syro-Malabar rite, etc. This use of the term is still found in various canons of the Latin code of 1983, which also uses the term "ritual Church sui juris".

Vatican II used the term "Church sui juris" to denote a distinct Church with its own ecclesial heritage and self-government, including the Latin. With the promulgation of the Eastern code in 1990, the use of "rite" in this sense is obsolete. Now one must distinguish between a "rite" and a "Church sui juris". A rite is a whole tradition of a group of Christian people, including its liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony and culture by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested; a Church sui juris is a juridically distinct community of the faithful within a rite, and which has its own hierarchy. There are six rites in the Church, and they are the Roman, the Alexandrian, the Antiochene, the Armenian, the Chaldean and the Byzantine (Constantinopolitan). There are 22 Churches sui juris in the Eastern Catholic fold. The Byzantine tradition has 14 Churches sui juris, the Alexandrian has 2, the Antiochene has 3, and the Chaldean has 2, but the Armenian has only one. The Mozarabic and Gallican Churches came in the Latin tradition, but were absorbed into the Latin Church.

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