Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

Response to Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches








Decree on Eastern Catholic [1] Churches






1. The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the institutions of the Eastern Churches, their liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions, and Christian way of life. For, distinguished as they are by their venerable antiquity, they are bright with that tradition 2 which was handed down from the apostles through the Fathers; 3 and which forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church.

This sacred and ecumenical Synod, therefore, in its concern for the Eastern Churches which bear living witness to this tradition, and in its desire that they may flourish and execute with new apostolic vigor the task entrusted to them, has determined to lay down a number of principles beyond those which relate to the universal Church. Other particulars are left to the care of the Eastern synods and of the Apostolic See. 4

The Individual Churches or Rites

2. That Church, Holy and Catholic, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit through the same faith, the same sacraments, and the same government and who, combining into various groups held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or rites. Between these, there flourishes such an admirable brotherhood that this variety within the Church in no way harms her unity, but rather manifests it. For it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or rite retain its traditions whole and entire, while adjusting its way of life to the various needs of time and place. 5

3. Such individual Churches, whether of the East or of the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in what are called rites (that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage) 6 are, nevertheless, equally entrusted to the pastoral guidance of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in supreme governance over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, 7 so that none of them is superior to the others by reason of rite. They enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, even with respect to preaching the gospel to the whole world (cf. Mk. 16:15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff.

4. Therefore, attention should everywhere be given to the preservation and growth of each individual Church. For this purpose, parishes and a special hierarchy should be established for each where the spiritual good of the faithful so demands. 8 The Ordinaries of the various individual Churches which have jurisdiction in the same territory should, by taking common counsel in regular meetings, strive to promote unity of action. Through common endeavor let them sustain common tasks, the better to further the good of religion and the more effectively to safeguard clerical discipline. 9

All clerics and those aspiring to sacred orders should be well instructed in various rites and especially in the principles which are involved in interritual questions. As part of their catechetical education, the laity, too, should be taught about these rites and their rules.

Finally, each and every Catholic, as also the baptized number of every non-Catholic Church or community who enters into the fullness of Catholic communion, should everywhere retain his proper rite, 10 cherish it, and observe it to the best of his ability. 11 This rule does not deny the right whereby persons, communities, or areas may in special cases have recourse to the Apostolic See, which, as the supreme judge of interchurch relations, will directly or through other authorities meet the needs of the occasion in an ecumenical spirit and issue opportune directives, decrees, or rescripts.

Preservation of the Spiritual Heritage of the Eastern Churches

5. History, tradition, and numerous ecclesiastical institutions manifest luminously how much the universal Church is indebted to the Eastern Churches. 12 This sacred Synod, therefore, not only honors this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage with merited esteem and rightful praise, but also unhesitatingly looks upon it as the heritage of Christ's universal Church. 13 For this reason, it solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, fully enjoy the right, and are in duty bound, to rule themselves. Each should do so according to its proper and individual procedures, inasmuch as practices sanctioned by a noble antiquity harmonize better with the customs of the faithful and are seen as more likely to foster the good of souls.

6. All Eastern rite members should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their lawful liturgical rites and their established way of life, and that these should not be altered except by way of an appropriate and organic development. Easterners themselves should honor all these things with the greatest fidelity. Besides, they should acquire an ever greater knowledge and a more exact use of them. If they have improperly fallen away from them because of circumstances of time or personage, let them take pains to return to their ancestral ways.

Those who, by reason of their office or an apostolic assignment, are in frequent communication with the Eastern Churches or their faithful should, in proportion to the gravity of their task, be carefully trained to know and respect the rites, discipline, doctrine, history, and characteristics of Easterners. 14 Religious societies and associations of the Latin rite working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful are earnestly counseled to multiply the success of their apostolic labors by founding houses or even provinces of Eastern rite, as far as this can be done. 15

Eastern Rite Patriarchs 16

7. The institution of the patriarchate has existed in the Church from the earliest times and was recognized by the first ecumenical Synods. 17

By the name Eastern Patriarch is meant the bishop who has jurisdiction over all bishops (including metropolitans), clergy, and people of his own territory or rite, in accordance with the norms of law and without prejudice to the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. 18

Wherever an Ordinary of any rite is appointed outside the territorial bounds of its patriarchate, he remains attached to the hierarchy of the patriarchate of that rite, in accordance with the norm of law. 19

8. Though some of the patriarchates of the Eastern Churches are of later origin than others, all are equal in patriarchal dignity. Still the honorary and lawfully established order of precedence among them is to be preserved. 20

9. In keeping with the most ancient tradition of the Church, the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches are to he accorded exceptional respect, since each presides over his patriarchate as father and head.

This sacred Synod, therefore, decrees that their rights and privileges should he re-established in accord with the ancient traditions of each Church and the decrees of the ecumenical Synods. 21

The rights and privileges in question are those which flourished when East and West were in union, though they should be somewhat adapted to modern conditions.

The Patriarchs with their synods constitute the superior authority for all affairs of the patriarchate, including the right to establish new eparchics 22 and to nominate bishops of their rite within the territorial hounds of the patriarchate, without prejudice to the inalienable right of the Roman Pontiff to intervene in individual cases. 23

10. What has been said of Patriarchs applies as well, under the norm of law, to major archbishops, who preside over the whole of some individual Church or rite. 24

11. Inasmuch as the patriarchal office is a traditional form of government in the Eastern Church, this Sacred and Ecumenical Council earnestly desires that where needed, new patriarchates should be erected. 25 The establishment of such is reserved to an ecumenical Synod or to the Roman Pontiff. 26

Rules Concerning the Sacraments

12. This sacred Ecumenical Synod endorses and lauds the ancient discipline of the sacraments existing in the Eastern Churches, as also the practices connected with their celebration and administration, and ardently wishes that they be restored where circumstances warrant.

13. With respect to the minister of holy chrism (confirmation), let that practice be fully restored which existed among Easterners in most ancient times. 27 Priests, therefore, can validly confer this sacrament, provided they use chrism blessed by a Patriarch or bishop. 28

14. In conjunction with baptism or otherwise, all Eastern Rite priests can confer this sacrament validly on all the faithful of any rite, including the Latin; licitly, however, only if the regulations of both common and particular law are observed. 29 Priests of the Latin rite, to the extent of the faculties they enjoy for administering this sacrament, can confer it also on the faithful of Eastern Churches, without prejudice to rite. They do so licitly if the regulations of both common and particular law are observed. 30

15. The faithful are bound on Sundays and feast days to attend the divine liturgy or, according to the regulations or custom of their own rite, the celebration of the Divine praises. 31 That the faithful may be able to satisfy their obligation more easily, it is decreed that this obligation can be fulfilled from the Vespers of the vigil to the end of the Sunday or the feast day. 32 The faithful are earnestly exhorted to receive holy Communion on these days, and indeed more frequently — even daily. 33

16. Because of the everyday intermingling of the communicants of diverse Eastern Churches in the same Eastern region or territory, the faculty for hearing confession, duly and unrestrictedly granted by his proper bishop to a priest of any rite, is applicable to the entire territory of the grantor, also to the places and the faithful belonging to any other rite in the same territory, 34 unless an Ordinary of the place explicitly decides otherwise with respect to the places pertaining to his rite. 35

17. In order that the ancient discipline of the sacrament of orders may flourish again n the Eastern Churches, this sacred Synod ardently desires that where it has fallen into disuse the office of the permanent diaconate 36 be restored. 37 The legislative authority of each individual church should decide about the subdiaconate and the minor orders, 38 including their rights and obligations. 39

18. By way of preventing invalid marriages between Eastern Catholics and baptized Eastern non-Catholics, and in the interests of the permanence and sanctity of marriage and of domestic harmony, this sacred Synod decrees that the canonical "form" for the celebration of such marriages obliges only for lawfulness. For their validity, the presence of a sacred minister suffices, 40 as long as the other requirements of law are honored. 41

Divine Worship

19. Henceforth, it will be the exclusive right of an ecumenical Synod or the Apostolic See to establish, transfer, or suppress feast days common to all the Eastern Churches. To establish, transfer, or suppress feast days for any of the individual Churches is within the competence not only of the Apostolic See but also of a patriarchal or archiepiscopal synod, provided due consideration is given to the entire region and to other individual Churches. 42

20. Until such time as all Christians desirably concur on a fixed day for the celebration of Easter, 43 and with a view meantime to promoting unity among the Christians of a given area or nation, it is left to the Patriarchs or supreme authorities of a place to reach a unanimous agreement, after ascertaining the views of all concerned, on a single Sunday for the observance of Easter. 44

21. With respect to rules concerning sacred seasons, individual faithful dwelling outside the area or territory of their own rite may conform completely to the established custom of the place where they live. When members of a family belong to different rites, they are all permitted to observe sacred seasons according to the rules of any one of these rites. 45

22. From ancient times the Divine Praises have been held in high esteem among all Eastern Churches. Eastern clerics and religious should celebrate these Praises as the laws and customs of their own traditions require. 46 To the extent they can, the faithful too should follow the example of their forbears by assisting devoutly at the Divine Praises.

23. It is the right of a Patriarch with his synod, or of the supreme authority of each Church with its council of Ordinaries, to regulate the use of languages in sacred liturgical functions and, after making a report to the Apostolic See, to approve translations of texts into the vernacular. 47

Relations with the Brethren of Separated Churches

24. The Eastern Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome have a special role to play in promoting the unity of all Christians, particularly Easterners, according to the principles of this sacred Synod's Decree on Ecumenism: first of all by prayer, then by the example of their lives, by religious fidelity to ancient Eastern traditions, 48 by greater mutual knowledge, by collaboration, and by a brotherly regard for objects 49 and attitudes. 50

25. If any separated Eastern Christian should, under the guidance of grace of the Holy Spirit, join himself to Catholic unity, no more should be required of him than what a simple profession of the Catholic faith demands. A valid priesthood is preserved among Eastern clerics. Hence, upon joining themselves to the unity of the Catholic Church, Eastern clerics are permitted to exercise the orders they possess, 51 in accordance with the regulations established by the competent authority. 52

26. Divine Law forbids any common worship (communicatio in sacris) which would damage the unity of the Church, or involve formal acceptance of falsehood or the danger of deviation in the faith, of scandal, or of indifferentism. 53 At the same time, pastoral experience clearly shows that with respect to our Eastern brethren there should and can be taken into consideration various circumstances affecting individuals, wherein the unity of the Church is not jeopardized nor are intolerable risks involved, but in which salvation itself and the spiritual profit of souls are urgently at issue. 54

Hence, in view of special circumstances of time, place, and personage, the Catholic Church has often adopted and now adopts a milder policy, offering to all the means of salvation and an example of charity among Christians through participation in the sacraments and in other sacred functions and objects. With these considerations in mind, and "lest because of the harshness of our judgment we prove an obstacle to those seeking salvation," and in order to promote closer union with the Eastern Churches separated from us, this sacred Synod lays down the following policy:

27. In view of the principles recalled above, Eastern Christians who are separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, if they ask of their own accord and have the right dispositions, may be granted the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist, and the anointing of the sick. Furthermore, Catholics may ask for these same sacraments from those non-Catholic ministers whose Churches possess valid sacraments, as often as necessity or a genuine spiritual benefit recommends such a course of action, and when access to a Catholic priest is physically or morally impossible. 56

28. Again, in view of these very same principles, Catholics may for a just cause join with their separated Eastern brethren in sacred functions, things, and places. 57

29. This more lenient policy with regard to common worship involving Catholics and their brethren of the separated Eastern Churches is entrusted to the care and execution of the local Ordinaries so that, by taking counsel among themselves and, if circumstances warrant, after consultation also with the Ordinaries of the separated Churches, they may govern relations between Christians by timely and effective rules and regulations. 58


30. This Sacred Council feels great joy in the fruitful and zealous collaboration between the Eastern and the Western Catholic Churches, and at the same time declares that all these directives of law are laid down in view of the present situation, until such time as the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Churches come together into complete unity.

Meanwhile, however, all Christians, Eastern as well as Western, are earnestly asked to pray to God fervently and insistently, indeed daily, that with the aid of the most holy Mother of God, all may become one. Let them pray also that the strength and the consolation of the Holy Spirit may descend copiously upon all those many Christians of whatsoever Church who endure suffering and deprivations for their unwavering loyalty to the name of Christ.

"Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor" (Rom. 12:10). 59

Each and every one of the things set forth in this Decree has won the consent of the Fathers. We too, by the Apostolic authority conferred on Us by Christ, join with the Venerable Fathers in approving, decreeing, and establishing these things in the Holy Spirit, and we direct that what has thus been enacted in synod be published to God's glory.

Rome, at St. Peter's, November 21, 1964

I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church.

There follow the signatures of the Fathers.

Notice: The Supreme Pontiff has ordered that the legal force of the Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches be deferred for a period of two months. However, he authorizes the Patriarchs to reduce or prolong the time for a just reason.


Titular Archbishop of Samosata

Secretary General of the Second Vatican Council


It is not easy for an Orthodox to express his views on this particular Decree for the simple yet important reason that the very existence of the "Uniate" Eastern Catholic Churches has always been considered by the Orthodox as one of the major obstacles to any sincere theological confrontation with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox appreciate, to be sure, the efforts made in these last years by some spiritual leaders of these communities to represent and voice within the Roman Catholic Church the Eastern tradition as a whole, efforts which were especially obvious at the Council itself and which no doubt greatly contributed to the basic orientation of the present Decree. But for the sake of true ecumenical understanding, it must be stressed that for the Orthodox there remains in this whole question of uniatism a deep ambiguity, to which all Orthodox are extremely sensitive and which must have a high priority on the ecumenical agenda of the future.

There can be no doubt as to the positive, irenic, and constructive intentions of the Decree as a whole. It is one more step, and a decisive one, toward the recognition of the Eastern tradition as "equal in dignity" to that of the West. Of utmost importance is its emphasis on the temporary character of its provisions — "until such time as the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Churches come together into complete unity." This seems to indicate a rather significant shift in the very understanding of the function of the Eastern Catholic communities called now to serve as bridges to, rather than substitutes for, the Orthodox East.

Certain important reservations must, however, be made. First of all, the Decree seems to "take for granted" and to perpetuate the reduction of the differences between the East and the West to the sole area of rites, discipline, and "way of life." But it is precisely this reduction which forms the basis of "uniatism" that the Orthodox reject, for they affirm that the liturgical and canonical tradition of the East cannot be isolated from doctrinal principles which it implies and which constitute the real issue between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

The decree solemnly proclaims the equality of the Eastern tradition yet, at the same time, formulates and regulates it in terms of a Western and even juridical ecclesiology hardly adequate to its spirit and orientations. To a great degree it remains thus a Latin text about the Eastern tradition. The institution of Patriarchates, for example, is not only given an importance it does not have, in fact, in the Eastern Church, but is also defined as a personal jurisdiction of the Patriarch over other bishops, which is alien to the Eastern canonical tradition, where the Patriarch or any other Primate is always a primus inter pares .

Finally, one word about the communicalio in sacris . In regard to this painful and complex problem, the Decree shows great tact and caution. An Orthodox commentator must stress, however, that even a partial solution of this problem must be a bilateral action and that, given its crucial importance, it must express, on the Orthodox side, the consensus of all Orthodox Churches.


1. The word "Catholic" has been unduly omitted in many translations. The word is essential because the Decree is not directly intended for the Eastern Churches that are not united with Rome.

2. Leo XIII, apostolic letter "Orientalium dignitas," Nov. 30, 1894: Leonis XIII Acta, XIV, 201-202.

3. I.e., the ancient Fathers of the Church.—Ed.

4. The Council itself admits that its work is unfinished; this Decree needs to be completed and adapted by the Holy See and by local particular synods.

5. Leo IX, "In terra pox" (1053): "Ut enim"; Innocent III, IV Lateran Synod (1215), chap. IV: "licet Graecos"; letter "Inter quatuor," Aug. 2, 1206: "Postulasti postmodum"; Innocent IX , letter "Cum de cetero," Aug. 27, 1247; letter "Sub catholicae," Mar. 6, 1254, intro.; Nicholas III, letter "Istud est memoriale," Oct. 9, 1278; Leo X, apostolic letter "Accepimus nuper," May 18, 1521; Paul III, apostolic letter § 5; Clement VIII, constitution "Magnus Dominus," Dec. 23. 1595, § 10; Paul V, constitution "Solet circumspecta," Dec. 10, 1615, § 3; Benedict XIV, encyclical letter "Allatae sunt," June 26, 1755, §§ 3, 6-19, 32; Pius VI, encyclical letter "Catholicae communionis," May 24, 1787; Pius IX, letter "In suprema," Jan. 6, 1848, § 3; apostolic letter "Ecclesiam Christi," Nov. 26, 1853; constitution "Romani Pontificis," Jan. 6, 1862; Leo XIII, apostolic letter "Praeclara," June 20, 1894, no. 7; apostolic letter "Orientalium dignitas," Nov. 30, 1894, intro; etc.

6. The word "rite" means more than liturgical customs. It could be called the style of Christian life of a community which, according to the Decree on Ecumenism (Art. 15, 16, 17) is to be found in the particularities of worship, of canon law, of asceticism and monasticism and also in the peculiar theological system. The consideration of the Church for the Eastern rites is emphasized in the Decree on Ecumenism, Art. 14.

7. By stressing the equal dignity of the different Catholic rites, the Council condemns clearly the theory of those who, mostly in the 18th century, taught that the Roman rite enjoyed some kind of precedence over the others. In the past, the apostolate in the missions has been conducted exclusively in the Latin rite. This practice has been resented by some Easterners, mostly in India where the priests of the ancient Malabar rite were always obliged to adopt the Roman rite to undertake missionary apostolate.

8. In the United States and Canada proper eparchies (Eastern term for dioceses) have been established for Eastern Catholics: seven for the Ukrainians (four in Canada and three in the United States) and two for the Ruthenians. Besides, 110 parishes have been organized for less numerous Eastern groups; they are committed to the local Latin rite bishops.

9. Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 4.

10. The Council wishes unequivocally that every Eastern Christian who is received into the Catholic Church retain his original rite. Does it make invalid his reception into the Latin rite — without dispensation of the Holy See? The canonists do not agree in their answer. That point will have to be clarified. It may be of major importance in some marriage cases. Let us suppose, for instance, that a young Greek who was baptized in the Orthodox Church becomes formally the member of a Latin rite Catholic parish without any dispensation. Later, he meets a Greek Orthodox girl and marries her in an Orthodox Church. If he has remained of the Byzantine rite, his marriage is valid; if he has effectively gone over to the Latin rite, his marriage is invalid. See Art. 18.

It may be appropriate here to remember that the regulations established earlier for North America remain in force, particularly in cases of marriages between Catholics of different rites; the marriage must be celebrated in the rite of the bridegroom, and the children belong to the rite of their father.

11. Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri Sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 8: "without the permission of the Holy See," following the practice of preceding centuries. In the same manner, concerning baptized non-Catholics we read in can. 11 that "they may adopt the rite which they prefer." In the text offered here the observance of the rite is regulated in a positive way for all and everywhere in the world.

12. Cf. Leo XIII, apostolic letter "Orientalium dignitas," Nov. 30. 1894; "Praeclara gratulationis," June 20, 1894, and the documents listed in note 5.

13. In many instances, the traditions of the Western and the Eastern Churches are complementary.

14. Cf. Benedict XV, motu proprio "Orientis catholici," Oct. 15, 1917; Pius XI, encyclical letter "Rerum orientalium," Sept. 8, 1929; etc.

15. The practice of the Catholic Church in the time of Plus XI, Plus XII, and John XXIII abundantly demonstrates this movement.

16. The following declarations of the Decree about the Patriarchs have not answered the expectations of many Eastern Fathers. They decided nevertheless to vote for the Decree because they considered that it was preferable to have the present Decree promulgated, even if not perfect, than to have no decree at all.

17. Cf. I Nicene Synod, can. 6; I Constantinople, can. 2 and 3; Chalcedon, can. 28; can. 9; IV Constantinople, can. 17; can. 21; IV Lateran, can. 5; can. 30; Florence, decree pro Graecis; etc .

18. Cf. I Nicene Synod, can. 6; I Constantinople, can. 3; IV Constantinople, can. 17: Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," can. 216, § 2, 1°.

19. It follows that the Patriarchs are not entitled to nominate bishops for the faithful of their rite established in America or Australia without the approval of the Holy See.

20. In ecumenical councils: I Nicea, can. 6; I Constantinople, can. 3; IV Constantinople, can. 21; IV Lateran, can. 5; Florence, decree pro Graecis, July 6, 1439, § 9 Cf. Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 219, etc.

21. Cf. supra, note 17.

22. "Eparchies": cf. note 8. —Ed.

23. The motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati" of Pius XII (1957), can. 395, stipulated that the patriarchal synods had first to submit the names of the candidates to the Holy See for approval. The Council has restored the Patriarchs' greater independence.

24. Cf. Synod of Ephesus, can. 8; Clement VIII, "Romanum Pontificem," Feb. 28, 1596; Pius VII, apostolic letter "In universalis Ecclesiae," Feb. 22, 1807; Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 324-327; Synod of Carthage (419). can. 17.

25. There are presently in the Catholic Church six Eastern Patriarchs: the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria; the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, who has also the title of Alexandria and Jerusalem; the Syrian and the Maronite Patriarchs, who have the title of Antioch; the Armenian and the Chaldean Patriarchs.

26. Synod of Carthage (419), can. 17 and 57; Chalcedon (451), can. 12; St. Innocent I, letter "Et onus et honor," (ca. 415): "Nam quid sciscitaris'': St. Nicholas I, letter "Ad consulta vestra," Not. 13, 866: "A quo autem"; Innocent III, letter "Rex regum," Feb. 25, 1204; Leo XII, apostolic constitution "Petrus Apostolorum Princeps," Aug. 15, 1824; Leo XIII, apostolic letter "Christi Domini" (1895); Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 1959.

27. By going back to the primitive tradition, the Council very fortunately settles once and for all a question which has raised many conflicts in the past. In the apostolic letter "Ea Semper" of 1907, the Holy See had deprived the Byzantine rite priests in the United States of their right to administer the sacrament of confirmation, but the opposition was so great that it had to be tacitly restored seven years later. Before the Second Vatican Council, the Maronite, Italo-Greek, and Malabar priests had lost that right.

28. Cf. Innocent III, letter "Ad episcopum Primatem Bulgarorum," Feb. 27, 1203; Innocent IV, letter "Sub catholicae," Mar. 6, 1254, § 3, no. 4; II Lyons (1274), profession of faith of Michael Palaeologus given to Gregory X; Eugene IV, in the Synod of Florence, constitution "Exsultate Deo," Nov. 22, 1439, § 11; Clement VIII, instruction "Sanctissimus," Aug. 31, 1595; Benedict XIV, constitution "Etsi pastoralis," May 26, 1742, § II, no. 1, § III, no. 1, etc.; Synod of Laodicea (347/381), can. 48; Syn. Sisen. Armenorum (1342); Syn. Libanen. Maronitarum (1736), P. II, chap. III, no. 2; and other particular synods.

29. Cf. Sacred Cong. of the Holy Office, instruction ad Ep. Scepusien. (1783); Sacred Cong. for the Propagation of the Faith (pro Coptis), Mar. 15, 1790, no. XIII; decree of Oct. 6, 1863, C, a; Sacred Cong. for the Oriental Churches, May 1, 1948; Sacred Cong. of the Holy Office, reply of Apr. 22, 1896, and letter of May 19, 1896.

30. Code of Canon Law, can. 782, § 4; Sacred Cong. for the Oriental Churches, decree "de Sacramento Confirmationis administrando etiam fidelibus orientalium a presbyteris latini ritus, qui hoc indulto gaudeant pro fidelibus sui ritus," May 1, 1948.

31. Cf. Synod of Laodicea (347/381), can. 29; St. Nicephorus CP., chap. 14; Syn. Duinen. Armenorum (719), can. 31; St. Theodorus Studita, sermo 21; St. Nicholas I, "Ad consulta vestra," Nov. 13, 886: "In quorum Apoctolorum"; "Nos cupitis"; "Quod interrogatis"; "Praeterea consulitis"; "Si die Dominico"; and particular synods.

32. Something new, at least where there is an obligation of hearing the divine liturgy; for the rest, it is consistent with the liturgical day among the Eastern Christians.

33. Cf. Canones Apostolorum. 8 and 9; Synod of Antioch (341), can. 2; Timothy of Alexandria, interrogat. 3; Innocent III, constitution "Quia divinae," Jan. 4, 1215; and many particular synods of the Oriental Churches in more recent times.

34. The former legislation led sometimes to unbelievable situations. A priest of the Archdiocese of New York, for example, could not hear confessions inside the Ukrainian church of the city; he had to walk outside the church with the penitent to absolve him. The new legislation puts the Eastern priests of America in a privileged position: any priest who has faculties to hear confessions in the Ruthenian eparchies of Pittsburgh and Passaic will "ipso facto" have faculties for all the churches of the United States.

35. While preserving the territoriality of jurisdiction, the norm intends, for the good of souls, to provide for a plurality of jurisdiction in the same territory.

36. The permanent diaconate has fallen into disuse in all the Eastern Catholic communities, partly because, under Western influence, priests have been allowed to officiate as deacons in liturgical services. In the West, permanent deacons are wanted mostly for pastoral activity; in the East, for liturgical celebrations.

37. Cf. I Nicene Synod, can. 18; Synod of Neocaesarea (314/325), can. 12; Synod of Sardica (343), can. 8; St. Leo I, letter "Omnium quidem," Jan. 13, [. . .].

38. In several Oriental Churches, the subdiaconate is considered a minor order, but the obligations of major orders are prescribed for it by the motu proprio of Pius XII, "Cleri sanctitati." The norm returns to the ancient discipline of the individual Churches with regard to obligations of subdeacons, derogating from the common law of "Cleri sanctitati."

39. The motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati" had enforced celibacy for the Eastern subdeacons. The Decree here restores the discipline which had prevailed in the East for many centuries.

40. "Cleri sanctitati" had extended to Eastern Catholics the obligation to contract their marriage in the presence of their pastor or his delegate. This requirement entailed invalidity of many marriages, because in the Near East local customs often make it nearly impossible for Catholic girls to have their marriages celebrated in another church than the church of their fiancé. This is why many Easterners asked the Second Vatican Council to restore the ancient discipline.

41. Cf. Pius XII, motu proprio "Crebrae allatae," Feb. 22, 1949, can. 32, § 2, 5° (the faculty of Patriarchs to dispense from the form); Pius XII, motu proprio "Cleri sanctitati," June 2, 1957, can. 267 (the faculty of Patriarchs to grant a "sanatio in radice,"); the Sacred Cong. of the Holy Office and the Sacred Cong. for the Oriental Churches in 1957 granted the faculty of dispensing from the form and sanating "ob defectum formae" ("ad quinquennium"): "extra patriarchatus, Metropolitis ceterisque Ordinariis locorum . . . qui nullum habent Superiorem infra Sanctam Sedem."

42. Cf. St. Leo I, letter "Quod saepissime," Apr. 15, 454: "Petitionem autem"; St. Nicephorus, CP., chap. 13; Synod of the Patriarch Sergius, Sept. 18, 1596, [. . .]

43. Due to the different rules for computing Easter, the feast is celebrated in some years on the same Sunday in both the East and the West; in some years it is one week later in the East; and in some other years it may be as many as five weeks later. It may not be easy to come to the desired general agreement, because there is no central authority among the Eastern Christians not united with Rome to make a decision for all.

44. Cf. II Vatican Synod; Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4. 1963.

45. Cf. Clement VIII, instruction "Sanctissimus," Aug. 31. 1595, § 6: "Slipsi graecis"; Sacred Cong. of the Holy Office, June 7, 1673, ad 1, 3; Mar. 13, 1727, ad 1; Sacred Cong. for the Propagation of the Faith, decree of Aug. 18, 1913, art. 33; decree of Aug. 14, 1914, art. 27 ; decree of Mar. 27, 1916, art. 14; Sacred Cong. for the Oriental Churches, decree of Mar. 1, 1929, art. 36; decree of May 4, 1930, art. 41.

46. Cf. Synod of Laodicea (347/381), can. 18; Syn. Mar Isaaci Chaldaeorum (410), can. 15; St. Nerses Glaien. Armenorum (1166); Innocent IV, letter "Sub catholicae," Mar. 6, 1254, § 8; Benedict XIV, constitution "Etsi pastoralis," May 26, 1742, § 7, no. 5; instruction "Eo quamvis tempore," May 4, 1745, §§ 42 ss.: and more recent particular synods of the Armenians (1911), Copts (1898), Maronites (1736), Rumanians (1872), Ruthenians (1891), Syrians (1888).

48. A specific task of the Catholic Eastern Churches is to manifest to the separated brethren that Church unity can be effected without the particular Churches losing their individual characteristics.

49. Literally "things" ("rerum"), which might include sacred objects (e.g., ikons). The word for "attitudes" ("animorum") includes feelings, etc.—Ed.

50. According to the text of the papal bull of reunion given to the different Eastern Catholic Churches.

51. What is said here of the priesthood should apply also of course to baptism and confirmation. An Eastern Christian who is received into the Catholic Church should not be baptized or confirmed unless the former administration of those sacraments in an Orthodox Church cannot be established.

52. Synodal obligation for the separated Eastern Brethren and for the orders of every degree of divine and ecclesiastical law.

54. At the present time, the great majority of Eastern Christians find themselves living under atheistic regimes or in countries where Christians (Orthodox and Catholics together) constitute less than one tenth of the predominantly Moslem population. In Siberia, for example, there are thousands of Catholics, but there is not a single priest authorized by the Soviet authorities to hear confessions or to say Mass. In these regions cooperation between all Christians is often an imperative for survival. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council wanted to relax rules of human institution that prevented collaboration. Of course, in North America, where Orthodox and Catholic priests can be found in most cities, the situation is different. (Cf. note 58.)

55. St. Basil the Great, "Epistula canonica ad Amphilochium," PG 32, 669 B.

56. The basis for mitigation is considered to be: (1) validity of the sacraments; (2) good faith and disposition; (3) necessity of eternal salvation; (4) absence of one's own priest; (5) exclusion of the dangers to be avoided and of formal adhesion to error.

57. This article is about the so-called "extra-sacramental worship in common" ("communicatio in sacris extrasacramentalis"). The Council here concedes a [. . .] (i.e., with the required prudence.)

58. The Council wishes that the bishops of the separated Churches be consulted. In fact, the Standing Conference of the American Orthodox Bishops in its meeting of Jan. 22. 1965, took a courteous negative attitude toward the decision of the Council. "Eucharistic mystery," declared the Orthodox bishops, "is the end of unity, not a means to that end." They seem to have misinterpreted the intention of the Council, which did not want to use intercommunion as a means toward visible unity. The Catholic Church, acting in the spirit of the tradition rather than according to the letter, simply believes that in the situation of emergency which obtains in some regions (cf. note 54) baptized Christians who remain in good faith outside her visible unity should not be treated with the same severity as those who left her with malice.

In a matter of this kind, Catholics should follow strictly the rules established in each region by the bishop lest they antagonize their Orthodox brethren. Still, in hospitals, prisons, on the battlefield, and in remote regions, situations may become rather similar to that which obtains in Siberia or in the Near East. In those cases, Catholic chaplains or missionaries should know that the Church wishes them to assist their isolated Eastern brethren in the best way possible.

59. The translation is from the Revised Standard Version, clearer here than older translations (e.g., Confraternity, 1941: "Love one another with fraternal charity, anticipating one another with honor").—Ed.