Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Request for transfer between Churches denied, 2002, Private.


A man who is a baptized member of the Armenian Apostolic Church requested admission to the Latin Catholic Church rather than the Armenian Catholic Church, upon his profession of the Catholic faith. Canon 35, in the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, states that those who transfer from an Eastern Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church should keep their own rite. The man petitioned the Congregation for Oriental Churches asking that he be allowed to transfer to the Latin Catholic Church because he had been attending the local Latin Church for many years. The Congregation denied his request stating that the Armenian Church is identical to a nation. Such a transfer is seen as "rejection of nationality. " What follows is the decree of the Congregation in Italian with an unofficial English translation.




LA CONGREGAZIONE PER LE CHIESE ORIENTALI

ROME

La Congregazione per le Chiese Orientali comprende bene le ragioni addotte dall'Oratore: la lungafrequentazione della Chiesa latina lo ha evidentimenteportato ad adeguarsi alia liturgia e alia disciplina di quella Chiesa.

Il Codice del Canoni delle Chiese Orientali prevede tuttavia, al can. 35, che i fedeli che passano da una Chiesa Orientate Ortodossa alia Chiesa cattolica conservino il proprio rito. Le ragioni si comprendonofacilmente:

a) dal momento che la Chiesa Orientate Cattolica è quella parte di Chiesa Orientate che ha ristabilito la piena comunione con la Sede di Roma, il fedele orientate che entra nella Chiesa cattolica trova già in essa il contesto ideate che lopone nella massima continuita possibile con la sua storia cristiana;

b) t'appartenenza ecclesiale non coincide con la coscienza che ne ha l'nteressato, ma con ilfatto che egli ha ricevuto i Sacramenti della fede in una determinata Chiesa, anche se psicologicamente, e anche concretamente, ha frequentato una Chiesa diversa; si tratta de far apprezzare I'appartenenza ecclesiale, piuttoso che modificarla, per adattarla a quella psicologica: ed è questo il dovere, nel caso, del sacerdote latino che segue I 'Oratore;

c) nel caso della Chiesa armena esiste anche un problema culturale e nazionale: trattandois di una Chiesa che si identifica con una nazione, il passaggio ad altra Chiesa viene visto come un rifiuto dell'appartenenza alia nazione: ciò non va dunque incorraggiato, anche per chiare ragioni ecumeniche.

Ciò non significa che I 'Oratore non possa continuare afrequentare la Chiesa latina, anche se sarebbe auspicabile che eglifosse introdotto a conoscere e far propria la tradizione della Chiesa cui appartiene.

Ovviamente, il fatto che egli sia accolto nella Chiesa armena cattolica non diminuisce affatto la sua cattolicita, dal momento che tutte le Chiese che constituiscono la Chiesa cattolicà godono di pari dignità e di pari diritti.




UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION

The Congregation for Oriental Churches understands well the reasons adduced by the Petitioner: his long attendance at the Latin Church had evidently led him to adapt himself to the liturgy and teaching of the Church.

However, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches provides, in canon 35, that the faithful who transfer from an Eastern Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church should keep their own rite. The reasons are easily understandable:

a) from the moment when the Oriental Catholic Church became that part of the Eastern Church which re-established full communion with the See of Rome, the Eastern faithful who joins the Catholic Church finds in it already the ideal context which places him in the greatest possible continuity with his Christian tradition;

b) church membership does not derive from the interested party's awareness of it, but from the fact that he received the sacraments of the faith in a specific Church, even though psychologically, and even actually, he went to a different Church; it is a matter of having someone value his real membership in a Church, rather than modifying his membership to adapt it to his psychological membership; and in this case this is the obligation of the Latin Priest who is accompanying the Petitioner;

c) in the case of the Armenian Church the problem is both cultural and national: it has to do with a Church which is identical to a nation, such that transferring to another Church is seen as rejection of nationality; this is not to be encouraged, for rather obvious ecumenical reasons.

This does not mean that the Petitioner cannot continue to attend the Latin Church, though it is to be hoped that he would be encouraged to know and to make his own the Tradition of the Church to which he belongs.

Obviously, the fact that he is welcomed into the Armenian Catholic Church does not at all lessen his Catholicity, since all the churches which constitute the Catholic Church enjoy the same dignity and the same rights.




Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Request for transfer between Churches denied, 2002, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2002, 47-49.