Balt
Since Jul 31, 2005

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I am a Catholic priest and pastor of two parishes in the Eparchy of [I won't tell you], a diocese of the Ruthenian Catholic Metropolitan Church sui uris of Pittsburg, a self-governing Church following the Constantinopolitan Rite, in union with Rome for the last 350 years.

While the Ruthenian Catholic Church started in the Carpathian Mountains, it has since moved entirely (more or less) to the United States, and is confined within its borders. While there remain two eparchies in Europe and one very small one in Canada, these have not been joined to the Ruthenian Metropolia, and remain under the direct authority of the Holy See. That makes our Church an "American Catholic Church" in the true sense, in that it exists only in the United States.

Unlike other Eastern Catholic Churches, the Ruthenian Catholic Church, from its beginnings, never revolved around a particular nationality nor was ever identified with any particular ethnic culture; thus, it has long since ceased to be what is commonly referred to as an "immigrant Church." Ruthenian Catholics belong to all ethnic backgrounds, and our official liturgical language is English (though our traditional language is Old Church Slavonic, in much the same way that Latin remains the traditional Language of the Roman Church).

A Metropolitan Church sui uris is defined in the Code of Canon Law as a self-governing Church under the authority of a Council of Hierarchs, which is presided over by the Metropolitan. An Eastern Catholic Church is designated a Metropolitan Church sui uris rather than a Patriarchal or Major Archespiscopal Church unsually because of its small size or because it is confined to only one country. Our Church consists of four eparcies: Pittsburg (PA), Passaic (NJ), Parma (OH) and Van Nhys (CA), together covering the entire teritory of the United States, including Alaska (sorry, we don't have a parish in Hawaii; though I'm willing to try and start one).

An example of a Patriarchal Church would be the Coptic Catholic Church, presided over by the Partriarch of Alexandria. An example of a Major Archespiscopal Church (same as a Partriarchal Church but without the same kind of antiquity) would be the Ukrainian Catholic Church, presided over by the Major Archbishop of L'vov. Both kinds of Churches can be (and usually are) divided into metropolitan provinces in the same way that the Latin Church is.

A Metropolitan Church sui uris, however, is not a province of a larger Church, hence the term sui uris; and the Metropolitan of such a Church is truely the head of his Church, subject only to the Council of Hierarchs and, ultimately, to the Pope. For this reason, the Metropolitan sui uris wears the same insignia -- and is accorded the same place of honor -- as a Patriarch or Major Archbishop. In governance, however, many of the powers Canon Law grants to Patriarchs and Major Archbishops can only be exercised by the Metropolitan sui uris and his Council after review of the Holy See; e.g., the creation or supression of an eparchy (diocese) or the dismissal of a priest from the clerlical state.