The Eastern Catholic Churches are 23 self-governing particular churches in full communion with the Pope. Together with the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church, they make up the Catholic Church. Liturgies of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches include the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Armenian, East Syrian, and West Syrian Rites, traditions that are shared with other Eastern Christian churches with which they were once associated, such as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. Although some theological issues divide them from other Eastern churches, they admit members of the latter churches to the Eucharist and the other sacraments, as governed by canon law. (canon 844 §3 )〕}}
As a result of migration, Eastern Catholic churches have spread from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and India to Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania where eparchies have been established alongside Latin Church dioceses.
The term ''Eastern Catholic Churches'' refers to 23 of the 24 autonomous particular churches in communion with the bishop of Rome. Every diocese is a particular Church, but not an autonomous one in the sense in which the word is applied to these 23 churches. They follow different Eastern Christian liturgical traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Byzantine, and East Syrian Rite.
Canonically, each Eastern Catholic Church is ''ラテン語:sui iuris'' or autonomous with respect to other Catholic churches, whether Eastern or Latin, though all accept the spiritual and juridical authority of the pope. Thus a Maronite Catholic is normally subject only to a Maronite bishop. However, if members of a particular Church are so few that no hierarchy of their own has been established, their spiritual care is entrusted to a bishop of another ritual Church, as Eritrea's Latin Rite Catholics are in the care of the Eastern Rite Eritrean Catholic Church.
Theologically, all the particular churches can be viewed as "sister Churches". According to the Second Vatican Council these Eastern churches, along with the larger Latin Church, share "equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite, and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. ) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff."〔
The Eastern Catholic churches are in full communion with the whole Catholic Church. While they accept the canonical authority of the See of Rome, they retain their distinctive liturgical rites, laws, customs and traditional devotions and have their own theological emphases. Terminology may vary: for instance, ''diocese'' and ''eparchy'', ''vicar general'' and ''protosyncellus'', ''confirmation'' and ''chrismation'' are respectively Western and Eastern terms for the same realities. The mysteries (sacraments) of baptism and chrismation are generally administered, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, one immediately after the other. Infants who are baptized and chrismated are also given the Eucharist.〔Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1233 )〕
The Eastern Catholic churches are represented in the Holy See and the Roman Curia through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which "is made up of a Cardinal Prefect (who directs and represents it with the help of a Secretary) and 27 cardinals, one archbishop and 4 bishops, designated by the pope ''ラテン語:ad quinquennium'' (for a five-year period). Members by right are the Patriarchs and the Major Archbishops of the Oriental Churches and the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity among Christians."
The greatest numbers of Eastern Catholics may be found in Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia), North Africa and the Middle East (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria) and India.
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