Eastern tradition of canon law links Catholic, Orthodox churches, Pope notes

I’m not sure if the Pope is speaking of the Byzantine Rite Catholics or the Orthodox Churches here, but the admission of a distinctive tradition is good.

Source: Catholic Culture

The Eastern Catholic churches should protect and maintain their own distinctive traditions, Pope Benedict XVI said on October 9 during an audience with participants in a conference on the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

“In maintaining Catholic communion the Eastern Catholic Churches had no intention of renouncing faithfulness to their own tradition,” the Pope remarked. He said that the canon laws of the Eastern churches should contribute to the effort of “preserving their legal heritage and nourishing their traditions, which are a treasure for the whole Church.”

Pope Benedict also observed that the canon law of the Eastern Catholic churches traces its origin back to the sacri canones of early Christianity. Because the Orthodox churches draw their own canon law from the same source, he said, the canonical traditions of the Eastern Catholic churches “can make a specific and important contribution to the progress of ecumenism.”


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Canons_of_the_Eastern_Churches — includes link to full English text, but no history.

    IMHO it reads like a Latin-Rite attempt at treatment of Eastern canon “law,” which may be only to be expected after generations of Unia. Benedict’s comments sound like the old ‘Unia as bridge to reunion’ argument that RC reps at Balamand rejected in the 1990s, presumably with his blessing then from the Doctrinal Office (CDF), though maybe not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balamand_declaration.

    Two random highlights:

    1) For ECCs that have Synods, these are technically no more than consultative, their Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, or other primates technically seemingly imagined as ‘little popes’ over their jurisdictions. Room seems left for theoretically continuing to function according to uncodified custom … or this may be lip-service — I don’t know how they actually function, although ECs on the WWW seem pretty devoted to their primates….

    2) There seem to be no territorial jurisdictions as such, in communion with Rome! Everybody is born into the “Particular Church” of their Catholic father, whether Latin or Ukrainian or Melkite or Syriac or Chaldean or whatever (with provisions made for other parental arrangements, such as if the mother, not the father, is Catholic, etc.). This applies even if where they live, their PC is not organizationally represented, and they’re canonically “under the care of” another PC (usually the local Latin ruling hierarch). Cf. Canon 29 and following ones, from here: http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG1199/_PT.HTM. (The Latin Code’s counterparts, Canons 111-112 [go to http://www.scribd.com/doc/236788/Code-of-Canon-Law-1983 and from there, find page 19], read similarly.)

    –Leo Peter

  2. The Canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church can be read over here:


    Leo Paul

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