These are just some of the questions addressed in a new publication about the Eastern Catholic Churches in Australia.
A simple 15-page booklet has been produced to assist priests and deacons of the Latin Catholic Church in their parish pastoral ministry.
As a result of religious persecution, war and political unrest, there has been an unprecedented emigration of Eastern Catholics from their countries of origin.
This has created a situation globally where Eastern Churches have become a minority group struggling to maintain their faith and traditions.
The twenty-three Eastern Catholic autonomous Churches are bound by The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
The document was prepared by Bishop Robert McGuckin, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Canon Law and Professor Ian Waters, Senior Lecturer in Moral Theology and Canon Law at the Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne.
Beginning with some historical background about the term Eastern Churches and the notion and nature of a Church and a Rite, the booklet uses simple language to describe the similarities and differences between the Eastern and Latin rites.
‘Eastern Churches refers to the Churches that developed in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, and those outside the Empire dependent on them.’
‘Some (but not all) non-Catholic Eastern Churches are called Orthodox Churches.’
‘The Eastern or Oriental Churches are not a strict unity, but a number of individual Churches.’
The publication includes a section on the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in Australia; for those who have an eparchy established, for those who have no eparchy but there is a priest present from an Eastern Church and for those who don’t have a bishop or priest present from their Eastern Church.
Guidance about ‘sacramental interecclesial legislation’ is also provided along with the instruction that no distinction is to be made between Latin Catholic children and Eastern Catholic children when considering entry into Latin Catholic Parish Schools.
The booklet can be download from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website.