Sui iuris

Sui iuris, also spelled as sui juris (/ˈsuːaɪ ˈdʒʊərɪs/ or /ˈsuːi-/),[1] is a Latin phrase that literally means "of one's own right".[2] It is used in both civil law and canon law by the Catholic Church. The term church sui iuris is used in the Catholic Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches (CCEO) to denote the autonomous churches in Catholic communion:

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.

—Fr. Thomas Kuzhinapurath, Salvific Law, 1998[3][4][5][6]

Secular law

In civil law, the phrase sui juris indicates legal competence — the capacity to manage one's own affairs (Black's Law Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary) — as opposed to alieni juris, which means someone under the control of another (such as a child or mentally incapable person might be). It also indicates an entity capable of suing and/or being sued in a legal proceeding in their own name (in personam) without the need of an ad litem. (A court appointed representative, acting on behalf of a defendant, that is deemed to be incapable of representing themselves).

The Latin sui iuris (the individual words meaning 'self' and ('law) corresponds to the Greek 'αυτονόμος', from which the English word autonomy is derived.


The Congress of the United States is a good example of a sui juris–based institution.[7] The two chambers of the Congress assemble into session by their own right as defined in the US Constitution (Twentieth Amendment) on January 3 every year. The US President does not have to invite or call the Congress to assemble for regular sessions, but he has the option to call special sessions. Thus, in the United States, the legislature is independent of the executive, but there are some checks and balances. That is in contrast with many parliamentary democracies, like Canada and the United Kingdom, where there is no president, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. Likewise, in India, the federal Parliament can assemble if and only if the President of India summons it on the advice of the Prime Minister. That is because the Indian Constitution is largely based upon the conventions of the British monarchy in which, under a process called Royal Assent, it was technically a crime of treason for the English Parliament to assemble without the permission of the King of England.

Catholic ecclesiastical use

Church documents such as the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches apply the Latin term sui iuris to the particular Churches that together compose the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church and those in communion with it. By far the largest of the sui iuris churches is the Latin Church or the Latin Rite.[8] 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.[9] 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.

Examples of Catholic ecclesiastical use

  • "The Eastern Catholic Churches are not 'experimental' or 'provisional' communities; these are sui iuris Churches; One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, with the firm canonical base of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches promulgated by Pope John Paul II." [1]
  • "The hierarchy of the Byzantine Metropolitan Church Sui iuris of Pittsburgh, in tile United States of America, gathered in assembly as the Council of Hierarchy of said Church, in conformity with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, ..." [2]
  • "It would likewise be helpful to prepare a Empathetical Directory that would 'take into account the special character of the Eastern Churches, so that the biblical and liturgical emphasis as well as the traditions of each Church Sui Iuris in petrology, hagiography and even iconography are highlighted in conveying the catechesis' (CCEO, can. 621, §2)" John Paul II [3]
  • "On behalf of the Kyrgyzstan Catholics I would like to express our gratitude to the Holy Father (i.e., the Pope) for his prayers and for all that he has done for us: ... and for the creation of the new 'missioni sui iuris' in Central Asia, in a special way — for the trust placed on the 'Minima Societas Jesu', to which he entrusted the mission in Kyrgyzstan." [4]
  • "...[T]he rays originating in the one Lord, the sun of justice which illumines every man (cf. Jn 1:9), ... received by each individual Church sui iuris, has value and infinite dynamism and constitutes a part of the universal heritage of the Church." "Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches", issued January 6, 1996 by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches [5].

Categories of sui iuris churches

According to CCEO the Oriental Catholic churches sui iuris are of four categories:

(The term "sui iuris" is a self-evident Latinism, given it is a Latin term. The proper Greek terms would be "autocephalous" for the patriarchal and major archepiscopal churches and "autonomous" for the other churches.)

Patriarchal churches

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 catholic oriental churches the following churches are of patriarchal status:

  1. Coptic Catholic Church (1741):Cairo, (163,849), Egypt
  2. Maronite Church[6] (union re-affirmed 1182): Bkerke, (3,105,278), Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico
  3. Syriac Catholic Church[7] (1781): Beirut,(131,692), Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United States and Canada, Venezuela
  4. Armenian Catholic Church[8] (1742): Beirut, (375,182), Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Ukraine, France, Greece, Latin America, Argentina, Romania, United States, Canada, Eastern Europe
  5. Chaldean Catholic Church[9] (1692): Baghdad, (418,194), Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, United States
  6. Melkite Greek Catholic Church[10] (definitively 1726): Damascus, (1,346,635), Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Jerusalem, Brazil, United States, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Egypt and Sudan, Kuwait, Australia, Venezuela, Argentina

Major archiepiscopal churches

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:

  1. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church[11] (1930): Trivandrum, (412,640), India, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
  2. Syro-Malabar Church[12] (1663): Ernakulam, (3,902,089), India, Middle East, Europe and America
  1. Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic[13] (1697): Blaj, (776,529), Romania, United States of America
  2. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church[14] (1595): Kiev, (4,223,425), Ukraine, Poland, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Scandinavia, France, Brazil, Argentina

Metropolitan churches

The 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:

  1. Ethiopian Catholic Church [15] (1846): Addis Ababa, (208,093), Ethiopia, Eritrea
  2. Ruthenian Catholic Church [16] (1646) - a sui juris metropolia [17], an eparchy [18], and an apostolic exarchate [19]: Uzhhorod, Pittsburgh, (594,465), United States, Ukraine, Czech Republic
  3. Slovak Greek Catholic Church (1646): Prešov, (243,335), Slovakia, Canada
  4. Eritrean Catholic Church (2015): Asmara, Eritrea[10]
  5. Hungarian Greek Catholic Church[20] (2015) - Hajdúdorog, (290,000), Hungary

Other sui iuris churches

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:

  1. Albanian Greek Catholic Church (1628) - apostolic administration: (3,510), Albania
  2. Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (1596) - no established hierarchy at present: (10,000), Belarus
  3. Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church[21] (1861) - apostolic exarchate: Sofia,(10,107), Bulgaria
  4. Byzantine Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia[22] (1611) - an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate: Eparchy of Križevci for Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Byzantine Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Serbia; (21,480) + (22,653)
  5. Greek Byzantine Catholic Church[23] (1829) - two apostolic exarchates: Athens, (2,325), Greece, Turkey
  6. Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (Never separated) - two eparchies and a territorial abbacy: (63,240), Italy
  7. Macedonian Greek Catholic Church (1918) - an apostolic exarchate: Skopje, (11,491), Republic of Macedonia
  8. Russian Greek Catholic Church[24] (1905) - two apostolic exarchates, at present with no published hierarchs: Russia, China; currently about 20 parishes and communities scattered around the world, including five in Russia itself, answering to bishops of other jurisdictions

See also


  1. ^ "sui juris". 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Collins English Dictionary". HarperCollins Publishers. 2003. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 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]
  3. ^ "Malankara Catholic Church sui iuris: Juridical Status and Power of Governance". Scribd.
  4. ^ Original italian: "Una Chiesa Orientale cattolica è una parte della Chiesa Universale che vive la fede in modo corrispondente ad una delle cinque grandi tradizioni orientali- Alessandrina, Antiochena, Costantinopolitina, Caldea, Armena- e che contiene o è almeno capace di contenere, come sue componenti minori, più comunità diocesane gerarchicamente riunite sotto la guida di un capo comune legittimamente eletto e in comunione con Roma, il quale con il proprio Sinodo costituisce la superiore istanza per tutti gli affari di carattere amministrativo, legislativo e giudiziario delle stesse Communità, nell'ambito del diritto comune a tutte le Chiese, determinato nei Canoni sanciti dai Concili Ecumenici o del Romano Pontefice, sempre preservando il diritto di quest'ultimo di intervenire nei singoli casi". pp. 103–104.
  5. ^ Österreichisches Archiv für Kirchenrecht, Volume 43, pg.156
  6. ^ For a better understanding of a church sui iuris see, Žužek, Understanding The Eastern Code, pp. 103–104.
  7. ^ Legal Dictionary|
  8. ^ Vere & Trueman, Surprised by Canon Law, Vol. 2, pg. 121.
  9. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Eastern Churches" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  10. ^ "Erezione della Chiesa Metropolitana sui iuris eritrea e nomina del primo Metropolita". Holy See Press Office. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2015.


External links

Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands

The Apostolic Prefecture of Falkland Islands (Latin: Apostolica Præfectura de Insulis Falkland) is a Roman Catholic apostolic prefecture (missionary circonscription) located in the Falkland Islands and covering the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, UK Southern Atlantic Ocean overseas possessions, off Argentina and Antarctica.

It is exempt, i.e. immediately subject to the Holy See, not part of an ecclesiastical province. Its only church on the actual Falklands is its episcopal see, St Mary's, in the Falklands capital Stanley. Christ Church Cathedral is not a Roman Catholic church but is the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world, consecrated in 1892.

Apostolic Prefecture of the Marshall Islands

The Roman Catholic Apostolic Prefecture of the Marshall Islands (Latin: Praefectura Apostolica Insularum Marshallensium) is a Latin rite apostolic prefecture (pre-diocesan missionary ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, below apostolic vicariate, lacking the rank of diocese and the right to a titular bishop), in the South Sea Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The apostolic prefecture is (atypically) a suffragan in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Province of Agaña (on Guam, US), yet still depends (like an exempt mission) on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Although the see of the prefecture, the Cathedral of the Assumption, in Majuro, on Majuro Atoll, is not in the United States, the prelature includes Wake Island, which is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States.

Apostolic Vicariate of San Andrés y Providencia

The Vicariate Apostolic of San Andrés y Providencia (Latin: Apostolicus Vicariatus Sancti Andreae et Providentiae) in the Catholic Church is located in the town of San Andrés, San Andrés y Providencia in Colombia.

Catholic Church in Afghanistan

The Catholic Church in Afghanistan is part of the worldwide Catholic Church. There are very few Catholics in this overwhelmingly Muslim country—just over 200 attend Mass in its only chapel—and freedom of religion has been difficult to obtain in recent times, especially under the former Taliban regime.

Earlier Christians in Afghanistan were members of the historical Church of the East or the Armenian Oriental Orthodox Church, and there had been no sustained Catholic presence in Afghanistan until the 20th Century. From starting in 1921, the Italian embassy in Kabul was allowed to build the first and only legal Catholic chapel to serve foreigners working in the capital, but not open to local nationals. On 16 May 2002, Pope John Paul II established a mission sui iuris for Afghanistan with Fr. Giuseppe Moretti as its first superior, presently Fr. Giovanni M. Scalese (both Italian Barnabites). In 2004, the Missionaries of Charity arrived in Kabul to carry out humanitarian work.

Catholic Church in Nepal

The Catholic Church in Nepal is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. As of 2011 there are over 10,000 Catholics in Nepal, organized into one Catholic jurisdiction known as an apostolic vicariate.Catholicism was first propagated in Nepal during the 18th century, though from 1810 to 1950 no missionaries were allowed in Nepal. Since 1951, missionaries have again been allowed to enter the country, though proselytism has remained illegal, and conversion to Christianity remained illegal until 1990. In 1983 a mission sui iuris covering Nepal was created, and in 1996 it was raised to an Apostolic Prefecture. The 1990 Nepali constitution did not guarantee religious freedom for Christians, but as of May 2006 Nepal has been declared a secular state. The interim constitution, finalized in 2007, guarantees some religious freedom but prohibits people from trying to convert others. On February 10, 2007, Benedict XVI elevated the prefecture of Nepal to the rank of a vicariate and appointed Anthony Francis Sharma as the first vicar and first Nepalese bishop of the Catholic Church.

Catholic Church in Saint Helena

The Catholic Church in Saint Helena is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.

Together with the islands of Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, it forms a mission sui iuris. There is a Catholic church on St Helena, the Sacred Heart in Jamestown. There is a Catholic church on Tristan da Cunha, St Joseph's Catholic Church.

Catholic mission sui iuris of the Cayman Islands

The Roman Catholic Mission sui iuris of the Cayman Islands (Latin: Missio sui iuris Insularum Caimanensium) is a mission sui iuris of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in the Caribbean.

The mission comprises the entirety of the British dependency of the Cayman Islands and consists of five parishes, including Saint Ignatius in George Town, Christ The Redeemer Church in West Bay and Stella Maris Church on Cayman Brac.The independent mission is exceptionally not exempt (directly dependent on the Holy See) but a suffragan in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kingston in Jamaica, and a member of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, while held in personal union with the Metropolitan see of Detroit (Michigan, USA).

Catholic particular churches and liturgical rites

A particular church (Latin: ecclesia particularis) is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop (or equivalent), as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the bishop (i.e., the particular church).

Thus, though closely related, in this context "church" refers to the institution, and "rite" to its practices. There are two kinds of particular churches:

An autonomous particular church sui iuris: an aggregation of particular churches with shared, distinctive liturgical, spiritual, theological, and canonical emphases and traditions. The largest such autonomous particular church is the Latin Church, while the other 23 are referred to collectively as the Eastern Catholic Churches, some of which are headed by bishops who have the title and rank of Patriarch or Major Archbishop. In this context the descriptors autonomous (Greek: αὐτόνομος, romanized: autónomos) and sui iuris (Latin) are synonymous, each meaning "of its own law".

A local particular church: a diocese (or eparchy) headed by a bishop (or equivalent), typically collected in a national polity under an episcopal conference. However, there are also other forms, including territorial abbacies, apostolic vicariates, apostolic prefectures, military ordinariates, personal ordinariates, and personal prelatures.

Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches

The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (Latin: Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, abbreviated CCEO) 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 guided by its own particular Canons.

The 23 sui iuris Churches which collectively make up the Eastern Catholic Churches have been invited by the Catholic Church to codify their own particular laws and submit them to the pope so that there may be a full, complete Code of all religious law within Catholicism. Pope John Paul II promulgated Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches on October 18, 1990, by the document Sacri Canones. The Code came into force of law on October 1, 1991.In 1998, Pope John Paul II issued the motu proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem, which amended two canons (750 and 1371) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and two canons (598 and 1436) of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, so as to add "new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions."

Holland (Batavia) Mission

The Holland Mission or Dutch Mission (Dutch: Hollandse Zending or Hollandse Missie) (1592 – 1853) was the common name of a Catholic Church missionary district in the Low Countries during and after the Protestant Reformation.

Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (Hungarian: Magyar görögkatolikus egyház) 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 rite is the Byzantine Rite in Hungarian.

List of Catholic dioceses in Hungary

The Roman Catholic Church in Hungary is composed of:

A Latin hierarchy, comprising

four ecclesiastical provinces, comprising their Metropolitan archdioceses and in total nine suffragan dioceses

the exempt Military Ordinariate

the exempt Territorial Archabbey of Pannonhalma.

The overlapping proper province of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic sui iuris, Byzantine Rite in Hungarian)There is also an Apostolic nunciature, the papal diplomatic representation in Hungary.

Mission sui iuris

A mission sui iuris, or in Latin missio sui iuris (plural missions sui iuris); also spelled mission(s) sui juris), also known as an independent mission, is a rare type of Roman Catholic missionary pseudo-diocesan jurisdiction, ranking below an apostolic prefecture and an apostolic vicariate, in an area with very few Catholics, often desolate or remote.

The clerical head is styled Ecclesiastical Superior; he can be a regular cleric, titular or diocesan bishop, archbishop or even a cardinal, but if of episcopal rank often resides elsewhere (notably, in another diocese or the Vatican) in chief of his primary office there.

It can either be exempt (i.e. directly subject to the Holy See, like Apostolic prefectures and Apostolic Vicariates), or suffragan of a Metropolitan Archbishop, hence part of his ecclesiastical province.

Mission sui iuris of Funafuti

The Mission Sui Iuris of Funafuti (Latin: Missio Sui Iuris Funafutinum) is a Catholic Latin mission sui juris (pre-diocesan missionary jurisdiction) in Tuvalu, Polynesia.

It depends on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, yet it is exceptionally not exempt, but instead is a suffragan of a Metropolitan archdiocese. Since 21 March 2003, that metropolitan see has been the Archdiocese of Suva; until that date, it had been a different see, i.e., the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia.

Its only place of worship is Teone Church in Vaiaku, on Fongafale island in Tuvalu.

The current Superior is Reynaldo B. Getalado, M. S. P., appointed in 2014.

Mission sui iuris of Tokelau

The Roman Catholic Mission Sui Iuris of Tokelau (Latin: Missio Sui Iuris Tokelaunum) in Tokelau is a suffragan mission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia. The Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia and Tokelau was split in 1992 into the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia and the Mission Sui Iuris of Tokelau. The current Ecclesiastical Superior is Rev. Oliver P. Aro, MSP, appointed 6 May 2011.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kananga

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kananga (Latin: Kanangan(us)) is the Metropolitan See for the Ecclesiastical province of Kananga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore Latin: Pondicherien(sis) et Cuddaloren(sis) is an archdiocese located in the cities of Pondicherry and Cuddalore in India.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Caroline Islands

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Caroline Islands (Latin: Dioecesis Carolinensium) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in the Federated States of Micronesia and in the Republic of Palau. It is a suffragan diocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Agaña. The Diocese of Caroline Islands is led by a bishop who pastors the mother church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo (Latin: Osloënsis) is an exempt diocese located in the city of Oslo in Norway.

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