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List of Catholic rites and churches

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Title: List of Catholic rites and churches  
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List of Catholic rites and churches

"Church" and "rite" are understood in different ways and different lists of the particular churches and rites within the Catholic Church must be presented in accordance with the different understandings of these two words.


In Catholic teachings a church is an assembly of the faithful, hierarchically ordered, both in the entire world – the Catholic Church, or in a certain territory – a particular Church. To be a sacrament (a sign) of the Mystical Body of Christ in the world, a Church must have both a head and members (Col. 1:18).[1] The sacramental sign of Christ the Head is the sacred hierarchy – the bishops, priests and deacons.[2][3] More specifically, it is the local bishop, with his priests and deacons gathered around and assisting him in his office of teaching, sanctifying and governing (Mt. 28:19–20; Titus 1:4–9). The sacramental sign of the Mystical Body is the Christian faithful. Thus the Church of Christ is fully present sacramentally (by way of a sign) wherever there is a sign of Christ the Head, a bishop and those who assist him, and a sign of Christ's Body, Christian faithful.[4] Each diocese is therefore a particular Church.[5] On the worldwide level the sign of Christ the Head is the Pope and, to be Catholic, particular churches, whether local churches or autonomous ritual churches must be in communion with this sign of Christ the Head,[6] Through this communion with Peter and his successors the Church becomes a universal sacrament of salvation in all times and places, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).[5]

The word "church" is applied to the Catholic Church as a whole, which is seen as a single church: the multiplicity of peoples and cultures within the Church and the great diversity of gifts, offices, conditions and ways of life of its members are not opposed to the Church's unity.[7] In this sense of "church", the list of churches in the Roman Catholic Church has only one member, the Catholic Church itself.

Within the Catholic Church there are local particular churches, of which dioceses are the most familiar form. Other forms include territorial abbacies, apostolic vicariates and apostolic prefectures. The Code of Canon Law states: "Particular Churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists, are principally dioceses. Unless the contrary is clear, the following are equivalent to a diocese: a territorial prelature, a territorial abbacy, a vicariate apostolic, a prefecture apostolic and a permanently established apostolic administration."[8] A list of Catholic dioceses, of which on 31 December 2011 there were 2,834,[9] is given at List of Roman Catholic dioceses (alphabetical).

Within the Catholic Church there are also aggregations of local particular churches that share a specific liturgical, theological, spiritual, and canonical heritage, distinguished from other heritages on the basis of culture and historical circumstances. These are known as autonomous ("sui iuris") churches. The 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches defines such a church as follows: "A group of Christ's faithful hierarchically linked in accordance with law and given express or tacit recognition by the supreme authority of the Church is in this Code called an autonomous Church."[10] There are 23 such autonomous Catholic churches, one "Western" and 22 "Eastern", a distinction by now more historical than geographical. Although each of them has its own specific heritage, they are all in communion with the Pope in Rome. See the article on the Eastern Catholic Churches for a list of the 22 such churches. The total number of 23 is obtained by adding to these the Latin Church.


The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches defines "rite" as follows: "Rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage, distinguished according to peoples' culture and historical circumstances, that finds expression in each autonomous church's way of living the faith."[11]

As thus defined, "rite" concerns not only a people's liturgy (manner of worship), but also its theology (understanding of doctrine), spirituality (prayer and devotion), discipline (canon law).

In this sense of the word "rite", the list of rites within the Catholic Church is identical with that of the autonomous churches, each of which has its own heritage, which distinguishes that church from others, and membership of a church involves participation in its liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage. However, "church" refers to the people, and "rite" to their heritage.[12]

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states that the rites with which it is concerned (but which it does not list) spring from the following five traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Constantinopolitan.[13] Since it covers only Eastern Catholic churches and rites, it does not mention those of Western (Latin) tradition.

The word "rite" is sometimes used with reference only to liturgy, ignoring the theological, spiritual and disciplinary elements in the heritage of the churches. In this sense, "rite" has been defined as "the whole complex of the (liturgical) services of any Church or group of Churches".[14]

Between "rites" in this exclusively liturgical sense and the autonomous churches there is no strict correspondence, such as there is when "rite" is understood as in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The 14 autonomous churches of Byzantine tradition have a single liturgical rite, while on the contrary the single Latin Church has several distinct liturgical rites.

List of Catholic liturgical rites

Alexandrian liturgical tradition; 2 liturgical rites
Antiochian (Antiochene or West-Syrian) liturgical tradition; 3 liturgical rites
Armenian Rite; 1 liturgical rite
Chaldean or East Syrian liturgical tradition; 2 liturgical rites
Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) liturgical tradition; 1 liturgical rite
Latin (Western) liturgical rites

Actively celebrated:

Defunct or rarely celebrated:

List of Catholic autonomous particular Churches

See also


  1. ^ "Catholic Culture Church Definition". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  2. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hierarchy". Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  3. ^ "The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  4. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Mystical Body of the Church". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  5. ^ a b "CATHOLIC RITES AND CHURCHES". EWTN. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  6. ^ "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of the Church understood as communion". Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 814
  8. ^ , canon 638Code of Canon Law
  9. ^ Vatican, Annuario Pontificio 2012, p. 1142.
  10. ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 27
  11. ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28 §1
  12. ^ 1999, p. 52A Handbook on Catholic Eastern ChurchesLonappan Arangassery,
  13. ^ Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28 §2
  14. ^ Griffin, Patrick (1912). "Rites". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
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