Sui iuris ( // or // ) also spelled sui juris, is a Latin phrase that literally means "of one's own right". It is used in both secular law and the Catholic Church's canon law. The term church sui iuris is used in the Catholic Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) to denote the autonomous churches in Catholic communion. The Catholic Church consists of 24 churches, including the Latin Church and 23 Eastern Catholic churches.
The Latin sui iuris (the individual words meaning 'self' and 'law') corresponds to the Greek 'αὐτόνομος', from which the English word autonomy is derived.
The spelling in Classical Latin is sui iuris and in Medieval Latin sui juris. English Law gets the term from Medieval Latin, and so spells it sui juris. English-speaking lawyers pronounce the phrase as if it were English: the "i" of "sui" rhymes with the English word "eye", and the first syllable of "juris" is pronounced like the English word "Jew": // . Catholic Canon Law prefers the classical spelling sui iuris; it is pronounced as in Italian: // .
In civil law, the phrase sui juris indicates legal competence, and refers to an adult who has the capacity to manage his or her own affairs. It is opposed to alieni juris, meaning one such as a minor or mentally disabled person who is legally incompetent and under the control of another. It also indicates a person capable of suing and/or being sued in a legal proceeding in his own name ( in personam ) without the need of an ad litem , that is, a court appointed representative, acting on behalf of a defendant, who is deemed to be incapable of representing himself.
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Church documents such as the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches apply the Latin term sui iuris to the particular Churches that are together the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church and those in communion with it.
A church sui iuris is "a community of the Christian faithful, which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as sui iuris by the supreme authority of the Church" (CCEO.27). The term sui iuris is an innovation of the CCEO, and it denotes the relative autonomy of the oriental Catholic Churches. This canonical term, pregnant with many juridical nuances, indicates the God-given mission of the Oriental Catholic Churches to keep up their patrimonial autonomous nature. And the autonomy of these churches is relative in the sense that it is under the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff.
By far the largest of the sui iuris churches is the Latin Church.Over that particular church, the Pope exercises his papal authority, and the authority that in other particular churches belongs to a Patriarch. He has, therefore, been referred to also as Patriarch of the West. The other particular Churches are called Eastern Catholic Churches, each of which, if large enough, has its own patriarch or other chief hierarch, with authority over all the bishops of that particular Church or rite.
The same term is applied also to missions that lack enough clergy to be set up as apostolic prefectures but are for various reasons given autonomy and so are not part of any diocese, apostolic vicariate or apostolic prefecture. In 2004, there were eleven such missions: three in the Atlantic, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; two in the Pacific, Funafuti (Tuvalu), and Tokelau; and six in central Asia, Afghanistan, Baku (Azerbaijan), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
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According to CCEO, the Oriental Catholic churches sui iuris are of four categories.
A patriarchal church is a full-grown form of an Eastern Catholic church. It is 'a community of the Christian faithful joined together by' a Patriarchal hierarchy. The Patriarch together with the synod of bishops has the legislative, judicial and administrative powers within jurisdictional territory of the patriarchal church, without prejudice to those powers reserved, in the common law, to the Roman pontiff (CCEO 55-150). Among the Eastern Catholic Churches the following churches are of patriarchal status:
Major archiepiscopal churches are the oriental churches, governed by the major archbishops being assisted by the respective synod of bishops. These churches also have almost the same rights and obligations of Patriarchal Churches. A major archbishop is the metropolitan of a see determined or recognized by the Supreme authority of the Church, who presides over an entire Eastern Church sui iuris that is not distinguished with the patriarchal title. What is stated in common law concerning patriarchal Churches or patriarchs is understood to be applicable to major archiepiscopal churches or major archbishops, unless the common law expressly provides otherwise or it is evident from the nature of the matter" (CCEO.151, 152). Following are the Major Archiepiscopal Churches:
A sui iuris church which is governed by a metropolitan is called a metropolitan church sui iuris. "A Metropolitan Church sui iuris is presided over by the Metropolitan of a determined see who has been appointed by the Roman Pontiff and is assisted by a council of hierarchs according to the norm of law" (CCEO. 155§1). The Catholic metropolitan churches are the following:
Other than the above-mentioned three forms of sui iuris churches there are some other sui iuris ecclesiastical communities. It is "a Church sui iuris which is neither patriarchal nor major archiepiscopal nor Metropolitan, and is entrusted to a hierarch who presides over it in accordance with the norm of common law and the particular law established by the Roman Pontiff" (CCEO. 174). The following churches are of this juridical status:
The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-Rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are 23 Eastern Christian autonomous particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope in Rome. Although they are distinct theologically, liturgically, and historically from the Latin Church, they are all in full communion with it and with each other. Eastern Catholics are a distinct minority within the Catholic Church; of the 1.3 billion Catholics in communion with the Pope, approximately 18 million are members of the eastern churches.
An exarch was the holder of any of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.
The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, also known in the United States simply as the Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church that uses the Byzantine Rite for its liturgies, laws, and cultural identity. It is one of the 23 sui juris Eastern Catholic churches that are in full communion with the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church. There are significant, culturally distinct communities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In the United States, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is self-governing. In Europe, Ruthenian jurisdictions are exempt, i.e. dependent directly on the Holy See. The European branch has an eparchy in Ukraine and another in the Czech Republic.
In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod. For instance, the Holy Synod is a ruling body of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church, or Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Its chief pastor is Patriarch Youssef Absi, headquartered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition, Damascus, Syria. The Melkites, who are Byzantine Rite Catholics, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, formerly part of Syria and now in Turkey, of the 1st century AD, where Christianity was introduced by Saint Peter.
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops, priests, and deacons. In the ecclesiological sense of the term, "hierarchy" strictly means the "holy ordering" of the Church, the Body of Christ, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity.
In the Eastern Catholic Churches, major archbishop is a title for the chief hierarch of an autonomous particular Church that has not been "endowed with the patriarchal title". Major archbishops generally have the same rights, privileges, and jurisdiction as Eastern Catholic patriarchs, except where expressly provided otherwise, and rank immediately after them in precedence of honor.
The Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria is the Patriarchal and only Metropolitan see of the head of the Eastern sui iuris Coptic Catholic Church, a particular Church in the Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See, which follows the Alexandrian Rite in its own Coptic language. He is thus the superior of all Coptic dioceses, mostly in and around Egypt, the word Copt(ic) being a corruption of the Greek word for Egypt(ian).
The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the title of the 1990 codification of the common portions of the canon law for the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is divided into 30 titles and has a total of 1546 canons. The western Latin Church is governed by its own particular code of canons, the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church or Hungarian Byzantine Catholic Church is a metropolitan sui iuris ("autonomous") Eastern Catholic particular church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is headquartered in Debrecen. Its liturgical usage is that of the Byzantine Rite in the Hungarian language.
The Ethiopian Catholic Archeparchy of Addis Abeba, officially the Metropolitan sui iuris Archeparchy of Addis Abeba is the metropolitan see of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, a sui iuris metropolitan Eastern Catholic Church.
The Hungarian (Greek) Catholic Archeparchy of Hajdúdorog is a Metropolitan archeparchy of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church.
Major archiepiscopal churches are Eastern Catholic Churches governed by major archbishops, assisted by their respective synods of bishops. These Catholic churches also have almost the same rights and obligations as patriarchal churches. A major archbishop is the metropolitan of a see determined or recognized by the Holy See, who presides over an entire sui iuris Eastern Church, but who is not distinguished with the patriarchal title. What is said in canon law of patriarchal churches and patriarchs is understood to be applicable also to major archiepiscopal churches and major archbishops, unless canon law expressly provides otherwise or it is evident from the nature of the matter.
The Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Lutsk is an Archiepiscopal Exarchate in Ukraine of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite, a collection liturgies descending from shared historic or regional context, depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its ritual practices.
The Eritrean Catholic Archeparchy of Asmara, officially the Archeparchy of Asmara, more informally Asmara of the Eritreans, is the metropolitan see of the Metropolitan Eritrean Catholic Church, a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church whose territory corresponds to that of the State of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It depends on the Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
The Eastern Catholic canon law is the law of the 23 Catholic sui juris (autonomous) particular churches of the Eastern Catholic tradition. Eastern Catholic canon law includes both the common tradition among all Eastern Catholic Churches, now chiefly contained in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as the particular law proper to each individual sui juris particular Eastern Catholic Church. Oriental canon law is distinguished from Latin canon law, which developed along a separate line in the remnants of the Western Roman Empire, and is now chiefly codified in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
sui juris [ˈsuːaɪ ˈdʒʊərɪs] adj (Law) (usually postpositive) Law of full age and not under disability; legally competent to manage one's own affairs; independent [from Latin, literally: of one's own right]