62 Jurist 280 (2002)
The Latin Church Sui Iuris

handle is hein.journals/juristcu62 and id is 286 raw text is: THE JURIST 62 (2002) 280-293

THE LATIN CHURCH SUI IURIS
JOHN D. FARIS*
In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive
order, the Emancipation Proclamation, that on 1 January 1863 freed all
slaves held in states or districts at that time in rebellion against the United
States. In an analogous manner, Vatican Council II issued its own decla-
ration of ecclesial emancipation:'
... this Council solemnly declares that the churches of the East
and of the West have the right and duty to govern themselves ac-
cording to their own special disciplines. For these are guaranteed
by ancient tradition, and seem to be better suited to the customs
of their faithful and to the good of their souls.2
This ecclesial emancipation is articulated in terms of the churches'
right and duty to govern themselves. Such an affirmation is premised
on the fact that these churches were actually under the control of another
authority or that their self-governing authority was impeded or in some
way threatened. It is therefore appropriate to ask, what power controlled
or challenged the self-governing authority of these churches? From the
context of the statement, it does not appear that the council is speaking of
the rights of the churches in the face of secular authority: Therefore, the
control or threat must be coming from within the Church itself. In the
case of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the threat of incrimination was
coming from the papacy and the Latin Church.
With regard to the Eastern Catholic Churches,3 the declaration is gen-
erally understood to mean that these churches have a certain degree of in-
* Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
Emancipation is defined as The act by which one who was unfree or under the
power and control of another, is rendered free, or set at liberty and made his own master.
See Black's Law Dictionary 6th edition (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1990), s.v.
Emancipation.
2 OE 5. Translation adapted from Austin Flannery (ed.), Vatican Council IH (North-
port, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1992).
3 A similar statement was made by Vatican II with reference to the Orthodox and Ori-
ental Orthodox churches in UR 16:
To remove all shadow of doubt, then, this holy Synod solemnly declares that the
Churches of the East, while keeping in mind the necessary unity of the whole

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