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Hello!

I attend about half the time the local Byzantine parish. We're very proselytic, apparently, as we have many converts from Protestantism to Catholicism received in our parish.

I'm curious about canonical enrollment.

With my friends, it is basically this:

They were baptized in their Protestant denominations: Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Mennonite
They started coming to Mass at a Ruthenian parish
They were instructed by our Ruthenian priest and deacon
They were chrismated and communed by our Ruthenian priest

Now, my understanding is that Protestants are considered to be under the patrimony of the Latin Church, hence, since any convert received into the Church is automatically received into the corresponding sui iuris Church, all of my friends would be received as Latin Catholics, even if their chrismation took place in a Ruthenian parish.

Is this true?

Because none of them has formally had the Latin bishop of our area and our Ruthenian bishop agree in writing to the canonical transfer. My priest, who is a canon lawyer, said that it's not a problem (he said they only have to say they're Ruthenians), I am confused, and in my confusion, I have accidentally confused and caused turmoil in my friends who are Ruthenian converts unnecessarily.

Hence, I trust and admire my parish priest, but I've heard from many sources on the internet that Protestants are automatically received into the Latin Church. Thus, according to the canons, they must formally request the transfer before they are lawfully considered Ruthenians.

Any hearsay answers will only add to my confusion. If someone could confirm or rebut for me that Protestants are automatically received into the Latin Church regardless of what Church chrismates them, that would be wonderful.

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It's true, but nobody pays attention to it. So forget it even exists. By the way, try to call it "The Divine Liturgy", not Mass.

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Originally Posted by WetCatechumen
I am confused, and in my confusion, I have accidentally confused and caused turmoil in my friends who are Ruthenian converts unnecessarily.

WC,

Could you please clarify what you mean by "Ruthenian converts unnecessarily". It sounds as if they are unhappy to be Ruthenians and would prefer to be something else.

As regards your query, Stuart is correct. Canon 35 of the CCEO states

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CCEO Canon 35
Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite everywhere in the world and should observe it as much as humanly possible. Thus, they are to be enrolled in the Church sui iuris of the same rite with due regard for the right of approaching the Apostolic See in special cases of persons, communities or regions.

and has been interpreted by some to require that those baptized persons entering the Catholic Church from Western Churches (e.g., Protestant Churches) must be received as Latins, unless they seek permission to be received otherwise. Offhand, I can't remember if there is a corresponding Cann in the Latin Code.

However, in practical application, the Canon cited is rarely observed and most Eastern Catholic presbyters and bishops in the US (where the question probably arises more often than anywhere else) give little, if any, acknowledgement to it.

Could the disconnect between the Canon and the practicality of application be problematic for one so received? If they or a descendent was to seek entry to Holy Orders - yes. If they were to enter into Matrimony with a person of a different Church sui iuris - possibly (haven't had enough coffee yet to think that through).

Otherwise - no - and neither of those two other circumstances present insurmountable obstacles - merely the inconvenience of some petitioning and paperwork shuffling.

So, to answer your question, trust in Father Kurt's judgement and response.

Many years,

Neil

PS - Welcome to the Forum.

Last edited by Irish Melkite; 08/21/11 03:58 PM. Reason: add postscript

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Originally Posted by StuartK
It's true, but nobody pays attention to it. So forget it even exists. By the way, try to call it "The Divine Liturgy", not Mass.
Usually, I do, but also remember that "Mass" refers to the Holy Sacrifice in general, as well as specifically to the Roman Rite. The primary advantage of "Mass" over "Qorbono" or "Divine Liturgy" is the number of syllables. Typically, I hear Byzantine Catholics say "Liturgy" rather than adding the word divine, and I hear the word Mass thrown around quite often too.

I acknowledge that one is correct, but you're the first person to correct me on saying "Mass" instead of "Divine Liturgy", well, ever.

Originally Posted by Irish Melkite
Originally Posted by WetCatechumen
I am confused, and in my confusion, I have accidentally confused and caused turmoil in my friends who are Ruthenian converts unnecessarily.

WC,

Could you please clarify what you mean by "Ruthenian converts unnecessarily". It sounds as if they are unhappy to be Ruthenians and would prefer to be something else.

As regards your query, Stuart is correct. Canon 35 of the CCEO states

Quote
CCEO Canon 35
Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite everywhere in the world and should observe it as much as humanly possible. Thus, they are to be enrolled in the Church sui iuris of the same rite with due regard for the right of approaching the Apostolic See in special cases of persons, communities or regions.

and has been interpreted by some to require that those baptized persons entering the Catholic Church from Western Churches (e.g., Protestant Churches) must be received as Latins, unless they seek permission to be received otherwise. Offhand, I can't remember if there is a corresponding Cann in the Latin Code.

However, in practical application, the Canon cited is rarely observed and most Eastern Catholic presbyters and bishops in the US (where the question probably arises more often than anywhere else) give little, if any, acknowledgement to it.

Could the disconnect between the Canon and the practicality of application be problematic for one so received? If they or a descendent was to seek entry to Holy Orders - yes. If they were to enter into Matrimony with a person of a different Church sui iuris - possibly (haven't had enough coffee yet to think that through).

Otherwise - no - and neither of those two other circumstances present insurmountable obstacles - merely the inconvenience of some petitioning and paperwork shuffling.

So, to answer your question, trust in Father Kurt's judgement and response.

Many years,

Neil

PS - Welcome to the Forum.
The turmoil is what was unnecessarily caused due to my questioning. They are all very happy to be Ruthenians. The reason it has caused them turmoil is because they question their canonical status.

And yes, Fr. Kurt is a very holy and wonderful priest and a canon lawyer to boot, so I trust him.

Thank you for answering my questions, although you haven't given any clear indication if Rome has ruled that Protestants, upon reception into the Church, are automatically Latin Catholics.

And, you see, one of them is discerning Holy Orders and that is what got me thinking about it. Also whether or not they're obligated to go to Mass on Latin days of obligation.

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People are members of the church they join. There is no "canon law" stating this beyond what has been provided because, I think, it is hopefully self-evident.

My own advice, for what it is worth, is that you let these people resolve questions of "obligation" or any other question with their spiritual father, at the risk of causing further misinformation or turmoil.

The Ruthenian church has a troubled history of Latinizations imposed on it from the Roman church as well as from within itself, so questions like yours have an added sensitivity to them.

This is also why it is considered insensitive to refer to the Divine Liturgy with Roman terminology.

That isnt your intention either, of course. But it is good to come and ask these things before further confusing new converts who seem to want to be embracing the Christian East. This is a very knowledgable forum, you are certainly in the right place. Welcome.

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Originally Posted by jjp
People are members of the church they join. There is no "canon law" stating this beyond what has been provided because, I think, it is hopefully self-evident.

They're members of the parish, yes. And spiritually, they are Ruthenians through and through. Canonical enrollment is another matter, and the whole issue (as you can see from other's replies) is complicated.

Quote
My own advice, for what it is worth, is that you let these people resolve questions of "obligation" or any other question with their spiritual father, at the risk of causing further misinformation or turmoil.

Of course. Thank you for your advice. It is wise and agreeable and I hope to avoid all turmoil in the future.

Quote
The Ruthenian church has a troubled history of Latinizations imposed on it from the Roman church as well as from within itself, so questions like yours have an added sensitivity to them.

This is also why it is considered insensitive to refer to the Divine Liturgy with Roman terminology.

That isn't your intention either, of course. But it is good to come and ask these things before further confusing new converts who seem to want to be embracing the Christian East. This is a very knowledgable forum, you are certainly in the right place. Welcome.

Thank you.

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Originally Posted by WetCatechumen
Originally Posted by StuartK
By the way, try to call it "The Divine Liturgy", not Mass.
Usually, I do, but also remember that "Mass" refers to the Holy Sacrifice in general, as well as specifically to the Roman Rite.

WC,

No, "Divine Liturgy" or, even "Liturgy", refers to the Holy Sacrifice, generally (generically may be the better choice of terms) - including in the Latin Rite and Church. "Mass" refers, specifically, to the the liturgical celebration as served in the Latin Rite and Church, although it has come into more general use (inappropriately) in some of the Oriental Churches, as a result of latinizations.

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The primary advantage of "Mass" over "Qorbono" or "Divine Liturgy" is the number of syllables.

It's the first time that I've ever heard that line of reasoning and it doesn't really fly. You'll see DL used occasionally - frankly, I'm not enamored of it but, if you want to reduce syllabification, it would probably be better accepted.

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Typically, I hear Byzantine Catholics say "Liturgy" rather than adding the word divine, and I hear the word Mass thrown around quite often too.

Liturgy is acceptable. That you hear Mass used by them doesn't make it appropriate.

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I acknowledge that one is correct, but you're the first person to correct me on saying "Mass" instead of "Divine Liturgy", well, ever.

In this forum, he'd not likely be the last. It's the difference between posting at a forum populated chiefly by Latins with little real knowledge, if any, of the East and at one the members of which are primarily Eastern Christians, Catholic and Orthodox. As well, the Latins and other non-Eastern Christians who regularly post here are notable for their interest in, profound love for, and knowledge of the East.

Quote
Thank you for answering my questions, although you haven't given any clear indication if Rome has ruled that Protestants, upon reception into the Church, are automatically Latin Catholics.

Rome's interpretation of the cited Canon is that baptized Protestants (those baptized according to a Trinitarian formula) are to be received as Latin Catholics. Non-baptized persons (including Protestants who require at least conditional baptism because there is doubt that they were baptized using the Trinitarian formula) may be received into such Church sui iuris as they choose.

Quote
Canon 30 CCEO

Canon 30

Anyone to be baptized who has completed the fourteenth year of age can freely select any Church sui iuris in which he or she then is enrolled by virtue of baptism received in that same Church, with due regard for particular law established by the Apostolic See.


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And, you see, one of them is discerning Holy Orders and that is what got me thinking about it.

I have no doubt that Father Kurt and Vladyka Gerald can deal with the matter if and when it arises.

Quote
Also whether or not they're obligated to go to Mass on Latin days of obligation.

The question should be taken up with one's confessor, spiritual father, or the priest into whose pastoral care one has placed oneself. According to the Canons, one is so obliged, but the obligation may be satisfied by participation on the day at issue in the liturgical celebrations (not necessarily the Divine Liturgy) of a Church of any Rite, regardless of the fact that the feast observed on that day may not be the same feast served in the Latin Church. It should also be noted that, with the seeming Latin tendency to move the observance of most of its holydays of obligation to Sunday, the question becomes somewhat moot in the case of those who typically attend Divine Liturgy on Sundays.

Many years,

Neil


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Neil,

Thank you so much for your posts. Do you think that you could provide me with a reference for Rome's ruling that Protestants automatically belong in the Latin Church?

Frankly, this concerns me. Pentecostalism, for example, from which I converted, is so far removed from the Catholic Faith that it seems unfair to place it truly under the patrimony of the Western Church. My friends who have converted have nothing of the Latin Church in them, so why are they automatically included? I understand, Protestantism does descend from the Western Church, but still. Many forms of Protestantism hardly resemble the Catholic faith. Furthermore, the Latin Church is not in the same danger concerning Latinizations and extinction that the Eastern Churches are.

I would like to see Rome's ruling.

Of course, as you have pointed out, the issues are easily dealt with and the whole thing is moot. But, I am interested in it as a legal matter.

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WC,

You won't find a specific line in the Canons - Eastern or Western - that states it. (To be honest, I don't believe that the term "Protestant" even appears in the Latin Code.) It is inferred from the text I quoted and the commentaries to the Code by the Canon Law Society of America are explicit in interpreting it in that way. Are those commentaries binding? Questionable but, since they generally reflect the majority opinion of the canon law community (which is largely Latin), they will be the interpretation put to the matter by most Latin jurisdictions. (This falls in line, somewhat, with the historical stance taken by Rome that all mission lands belong to the West and it was not the place of the Eastern Churches to prosletyze, other than among our own peoples.)

It's principally an issue only in North America and, perhaps, Australia. Obviously, converts from Protestantism would be a rare phenomenon in most countries where Eastern Christianity is historically prevalent.

Your comments as to the distinctions between the liturgically High Churches among the Protestants - which could certainly be argued to retain a derivative tie to the Latin Church - and the Low and, even more so, the essentially aliturgical denominations, is valid and has been raised in discussions prior to this. However, the extent to which such argumentation has been had in Rome is unknown.

The CCEO is essentially a product of the Oriental Congregation, a dicastry of the Latin Church, albeit lately it has more representation from the Eastern and Oriental Churches.

While there are myriad issues within the CCEO that need attention, do I suspect that even our own Church hierarchs (in the Old Country, at least) see this one as pressing? I doubt that it is on their radar - because, as I said above, it's principally an issue in the diaspora. I strongly suspect that even they are not fully cognizant/appreciative of some of the very different problems that face our parishes versus those in the historical territories. Maybe their inability to do so is the best argument for an American Patriarchate, as some have suggested we should have.

Many years,

Neil


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As Neil pointed out in the beginning, it seems that this is much more a theoretical problem than a practical one. The canon says what it says, I suppose, but I admit I'm left wondering why Protestants are any more "Latin" than they are "Byzantine," just because they're Protestants. Or, at least, if they are, not so much that it should effect what sui iuris Church they can transfer into (IMHO).

Yes, of course in strains of Protestantism, you have a Latin theological and spiritual (and sometimes liturgical) approach to the Christian life - but frankly, in my mind, being Protestant is so different a thing that I think converts should come into the Church with a fresh sui iuris slate. Let them be what they want to be, we're just happy to have them!

As another practical matter, fair is fair, and I think the parish that converts them should get to be the one to "claim" them! wink

Alexis

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I agree. Insisting that Protestants "retain and practice their own rite" suggests that Protestants have "their own rite" awaiting them in the Catholic Church when they enter. This is untrue. Eastern Christians have "their own rites" available to them, but not Protestants, excepting Anglicans most recently. Likewise, to begin speculating "which rite is their own by historical considerations" is a bit much.

The simple fact is, no legislation has addressed the Protestant situation carefully or directly. The canon restates centuries-old legislation that had Orthodox converts in mind. (Protestant exposure and attraction to Eastern Catholicism in a pluralistic state with multiple Catholic churches sui juris was not a significant reality until the past century or so.) It is still very pertinent to the Orthodox situation, and executed faithfully in Eastern Catholic churches. But as regards Protestants, no Eastern Catholic church seeks permission to receive a Protestant convert, and Rome has never intervened and insisted they do.

So no worries. If Rome ever decides to clarify this point, we might be having a different conversation. But as for now, the Church already has a manner of dealing with Protestant converts. Your priest, and the people he chrismated, are Byzantine.

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The canon merely assumes that all Protestants are simply lapsed Roman Catholics. That's rather naive, and says something about the minds of the people who drafted the Code.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
The canon merely assumes that all Protestants are simply lapsed Roman Catholics. That's rather naive, and says something about the minds of the people who drafted the Code.
See, that's what I've been told by people but no one has ever shown me anything written that says that Rome views it that way.

It's absurd to me that my friends, some of whom don't even know what's going on in a Latin Rite liturgy, would be considered canonically Roman because of the interpretation of that canon.

Akira, one exception might be with the Anglicans, simply because it's a different animal than the variety of non-sacramental Christians in the United States.

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See, that's what I've been told by people but no one has ever shown me anything written that says that Rome views it that way.

You won't find it. Rome doesn't work that way.


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It's absurd to me that my friends, some of whom don't even know what's going on in a Latin Rite liturgy, would be considered canonically Roman because of the interpretation of that canon.

It makes no sense to us either, which is why the canon is ignored.

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In 1965, The Catholic Church promulgated a document entitled: "DECLARATION ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - DIGNITATIS HUMANAE"
I believe that this is a most important read and may have a bearing on our present dialogue.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_...decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

"2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."

Though our topic of "canonical enrollent of Protestants" is not addressed in this document, in my opinion, insisting that Protestants who desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church MUST belong to the Roman Rite would be violating the very heart and principles of DIGNITATIS HUMANAE.


Ray
www.theologyincolor.com [theologyincolor.com]




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