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The Eastern Catholic Church Explained: 7 Fascinating Facts All Roman Catholics Should Know

Everyone knows the Christian faith started in the East—specifically, in Jerusalem where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died, buried, and resurrected.

Although Rome in the West became the Church’s “headquarters,” (aka, the Vatican), the other Catholic Churches were founded by the Apostles in the East.

Eastern Catholic Churches are sui juris, meaning each one retains its own laws, hierarchy, and ecclesiastical disciplines. 

Here are seven fun facts about the unity in diversity found in the Catholic Church: 

1) There are 24 Catholic Churches—only one of them is Western– the Roman Catholic Church!

2) Eastern Catholic Churches “look and feel” like Orthodox Churches but are united under the Pope. So, you can go to Mass at an Eastern Church on Sundays and it “counts” for your Sunday obligation.

3) There are more people in the Roman Church than in all 23 other Churches combined.

Click here for chart.

4) There are six different rites among the 24 Churches. See the chart above!

5) Eastern Catholic priests can get married before ordination. Celibacy is mandatory for the priesthood only in the Roman Catholic Church with some exceptions.

6) The Second Vatican Council has a Decree on the Eastern Churches which became a precursor to the 1991 Eastern Code of Canon Law!

7) Eastern Catholics are baptized, confirmed, and receive Holy Communion as infants with some exceptions—but Baptism and Confirmation (“Chrismation”) are always received at the same time!

Eastern Catholics LOVE visitors from the Roman Catholic Churches. Consider going to the liturgy at one of the Eastern Churches next Sunday and say “hi” to your brothers and sisters in the East! And prepare to stay a little longer than an hour!

Have you ever attended an Eastern rite Catholic Mass?

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