Mistaken Conversion to a Eastern Catholic Church

A validly baptised, non-Orthodox, non-Catholic that converts to the Catholic Church is ascribed to the Latin Church by operation of law (ipso iure). Members of the Eastern Code Comission wanted to add to the canon law to allow conversion to any Catholic Church sui iuris, but is was not approved. This means that such a person, as described above, must request transfer from the bishops or the Holy See, to be ascribed to an eastern Catholic church. I suspect some converts do not know that they are not ascribed to an eastern Catholic church, having been received into the Catholic Church at an eastern parish. It is significant for valid and licit reception of many Holy Mysteries, for themselves and their children.
CCEO Canon 35
Baptized non-Catholics coming into full communion with the Catholic Church should retain and practice their own rite everywhere in the world and should observe it as much as humanly possible. Thus, they are to be enrolled in the Church sui iuris of the same rite with due regard for the right of approaching the Apostolic See in special cases of persons, communities or regions.

Comparitive Sacramental Discipline in The CCEO And CIC (CLSA, 2003)

Inter-Ecclesial Relations Between Eastern and Latin Catholics (CLSA, 2009)

I’m a bit confused :confused: was this a split from another thread?

I would hope that when preparing for reception into the Catholic Church at an Eastern Rite parish, the parish would inform the convert of the necessary procedures.

It could also be that the formalities will be handled by the Bishops themselves. If one already has sought to be received as an Eastern Catholic, then the Bishops can already speak about it before hand and facilitate the process. Although this may be different from Bishop to Bishop.

And this is more proof of how the Latin imposed cceo denies eastern churches equal rights and privileges with the Latin church.


All the canon is saying is that all Christians from the Latin Tradition (which is what non-Orthodox Christians are) must be received into the Latin Catholic Church. On the other hand, all Orthodox Christians must be received into their respective non-Latin sui juris Catholic Churches. What is unfair about that?

It should also be noted that in the canonical provisions for switching Rites, it is much easier for a Latin to join a non-Latin sui juris Church, than for a non-Latin to join the Latin Church. A Latin joining an Eastern or Oriental Church only requires the candidate to obtain the approval of the non-Latin bishop (who is supposed to inform the Latin bishop). On the other hand, an Eastern or Oriental wishing to join the Latin Church must petition not only his own bishop, but also the Holy See.


The difference is that Orthodox Christians who join the Catholic Church are changing from one Church to another. Non-Orthodox Christians, aside from the Polish National Church and the Old Catholics, are going from church-less to a Church.They are barely in the periphery of the Latin tradition if at all (Though perhaps wider exception can be made for Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists since they at least maintain some form of Church). So why force them to go through unnecessary paperwork when they join the Church? As far as I can tell, the non-mainline protestants should be “fair game” (so to speak) as far as Evangelization and which Sui Iuris church they belong to.

I have a question about how this would relate to my situation.

I was baptized in a Lutheran church, then converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and was received by chrismation.

If I were to convert to Catholicism, would I be ascribed to an Eastern Catholic church? What is the meaning of being ascribed, and is this the same as being a member of a parish? Would my baptism as a Lutheran have any bearing on this?

I believe since you converted to Orthodoxy, should you decide to become Catholic in the future you would automatically be an Eastern Catholic. Since you are Antiochian Orthodox you would become a Melkite Greek Catholic since we are the corresponding Eastern Catholic Church to the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Still, you question is intriguing and I’m not certain of the answer. I’d suggest you speak to one of the members here who is knowledgable of Canon Law, or speak to an Eastern Catholic (hopefully Melkite in your case) priest or bishop.

There are also no Meklite parishes in my area, only a tiny Ruthenian mission and a Maronite cathedral, so if I were ascribed to the Melkite church, I wonder how that would affect my actual parish membership :confused:

What about people coming from non-denominational communities, such XYZ Community Church? I do not see how any of these people can be considered to be in the Latin tradition, especially if they do not follow a liturgical form of worship, or for that matter, even some kind of Lord’s Supper or communion service. I do not see anything in the canons of either the Latin or the Eastern churches which treats of them. Let’s add another spin: what if these communities are in the physical East (Greece, Middle East, etc.)?

I agree with other posters that if anything, this rule should only apply to Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans and other “traditional” Protestant denominations that have maintained at least some semlance of Western liturgy/praxis. The hundreds of millions of evangelical, pentecostal, and non-denominational Christians around the world (an ever growing segment of Christianity, particularly in the Third World) knows nothing of traditional liturgy, let alone theology…and I really don’t see why they would, at this point, be any more “Latin” than they are “Eastern”. As a former Evangelical, I really don’t think the theological and liturgical “learning curve” would have been any bigger had I entered the Catholic Church via the East rather than the West. Culturally speaking it would have been easier for me to join a typical North American Latin parish, as a North American Protestant, than it would have been to join a predominantly “ethnic” Eastern parish, but I think the same would have been true of “ethnic” Latin parishes. Some of the devotions of the Filipino Latins, for example, probably would have seemed more alien to me than even Eastern Christian practices back in my evangelical days!

EDIT: That being said, I am currently working in the Dominican Republic, and have noticed that, as is sadly true throughout contemporary Latin America, a significant segment of the “Catholic” population has left the Church for various evangelical and pentecostal denonominations. The millions of Latinos in this position, when returning to the Church, even if second or third generation Protestants (that is, their parents or grandparents left the Catholic Church and passed on their adopted faith), certainly should, in my opinion, be “Latin” by default as the history and culture of Latin America is so deeply steeped in Latin Catholicism.

Regarding ascription: a person is a member of the Catholic Church only by being ascribed to one of the 23 Churches sui iuris. The canons to be used for rights and obligations are based upon the Church sui iuris one belongs to, not the parish they are in.

The ascribed Church is determined by what Church the Catholic parents (or guardians they raised one in the faith) belong to, for infant baptism. For non-baptised adults (or invalidly baptised) becoming Catholic it it determined by their choice. For validly baptised adults it is by the rule given in the first post. There are some other ways, like requesting a transfer from the Holy See or from the bishops, and also when one is married, etc.

If the person is validly baptised in a Christian church of any denomination, other than the Orthodox (Eastern, Oriental, or Assyrian) then they go to the Latin Church.

I can agree with that.:slight_smile:

There are so many of these “free churches” floating around in Traditionally Latin lands (i.e., Mexico and South America). If a “free church” Christian happens to come to Catholicism by the efforts of an Eastern or Oriental Catholic mission, I don’t understand why that person gets to feed the coffers of the LATIN Catholic Church.


So then do you believe in the validity of their baptism through which they become incorporated into the church of Christ according to the Latin practice which does not require immediate Chrismation and Holy Euchrist as do the Orthodox?

The why is: that one cannot induce a baptised person to change to a Church of a different rite (tradition) of which there are six: Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean, Constantinopolitan, and Latin. But, they may petition for a change after reception in any Church sui iuris, yet there is no guarantee that is will be granted.

Dear brother Vico,

I’m not sure what your point is. Even if these free Church Christians come into the Latin Church, they would be chrismated, like they would in the Eastern or Oriental Catholic Churches.

Besides, “free church” Christians are a diverse group, and their baptism should not automatically be accpeted, but be considered conditional, since many of them do not baptize properly.


…and some don’t baptize at all, I’m willing to guess.

Parish membership: whichever you attend, tho’ I suspect that the Ruthenian pastor would be your proper bishop’s pick.

Your proper bishop, if you’re in the US, remains the appropriate Melkite bishop. Anything needing a bishop’s approval goes through him.

Your canonical enrollment as a melkite only puts you outside the eparchies of the Maronite church when you go to some of the territories, and perhaps the state of Hawaii.

If you were in Alaska, by agreement with the local Archdiocese, All EC’s are canonically under the care of the Ruthenian Parish. But it’s an exception to norms.

Your canonical pastor is the nearest melkite pastor unless your eparch says otherwise, and in places outside his jurisdiction, normally, the local territorial roman pastor.

If the baptism is not valid, then they are free to choose any church sui iuris, per the canon law.

The eastern practice it to nourish the faithful with the Holy Eucharist from childhood (also with the Holy Spirit of chrismation). This is not the western tradition which emphasizes understanding first, and contemplation (such in Eucharist Adoration) so waits till a later age to complete Christian initiation. The reformation and independent chuches are of the western derivation and follow that tradition.

Ok, I think we can come to some agreement here. So in your view, the following would be “free game”:

  • “free Church” Christians, Pentecostals, and Unitarians without valid baptism
  • Mormons
  • non-Christians
  • Jehovah’s witnesses

My fellow Orientals and Easterns, it looks like we have a GREAT field for missionary work! Let’s get at it!!!

Note: I personally agree with the previous posters (particularly brothers Tyler and Formosus) that ALL non-apostolic Christians are “free game,” with or without valid baptism


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.