(The following is a summary of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, of the Second Vatican Council. It retains the original preface and the chapter and numbering according to the actual ordered sections of the document.)

ON NOVEMBER 21, 1964


1. The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the Eastern Churches, for in them, is the Apostolic faith of our Fathers.

The Individual Churches or Rites

2. The Holy Catholic Church is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, who, held together by hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites.

3. These Churches are entrusted to the governing power of the Roman Pontiff. They possess equal dignity, rights and obligations under the Pontiff’s guidance.

4. Measures should be taken for the advancement of these Churches. Each Catholic who enters into full communion with the Church must retain his own rite wherever he is.

Preservation of the Spiritual Heritage of the Eastern Churches

5. This Sacred Council accords this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage the high regard which is due. For this reason, the Churches of the East and of the West have a right and duty to rule themselves.

6. Members of the Eastern Rite should know that they can and should always preserve their legitimate and liturgical rite and their way of life. Those in frequent contact with these Churches or their faithful should be instructed according as their office demands in the knowledge and veneration of their proper forms.

Eastern Rite Patriarchs

7. The patriarchate has existed since the earliest days of the Church and is recognized by the first ecumenical council. Where one is appointed, he remains attached to the hierarchy of the right, in accordance with canon law.

8. These patriarchates are equal in dignity.

9. They are to be accorded a special honor, their rights and privileges should be reestablished in accordance with ancient tradition of each of the Churches and the decrees of the ecumenical councils.

10. All of this is also valid in regard to bishops.

11. Where there is need, new patriarchates should be formed, by council or the Roman Pontiff

The Discipline of the Sacraments

12. This Council confirms and approves the ancient discipline of the sacraments existing in the Oriental Churches.

13. The established practice of Confirmation that has obtained since ancient times should be fully restored.

14. All Eastern Rite priests can confer this sacrament validly on the faithful of any rite including the Latin, within sight of canon law.

15. The faithful are bound to take part on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy or according to the regulations for customs of their own right in a celebration of the divine office.

16. The faculties for hearing confession duly and without restriction are given to increase than any right by their own hierarchies.

17. The office of the permanent deaconate should, where it has fallen into disuse, be restored.

18. The canonical “form” for the celebration of these marriages is of obligation only for liceity.

Divine Worship

19. And ecumenical council or the Apostolic See may determine, transfer or suppress the feast days common to all the Eastern Churches.

20. Until all Christians agree on a fixed day for Easter, in is left to the patriarchates for the supreme authorities to decide.

21. Individual faithful dwelling outside the area of their own right may follow the established customs of the place where they live, especially mixed families.

22. Eastern clerics in religious should celebrate the Divine Office.

23. It belongs to the patriarch with his synod, or to the supreme authority of the Church, to regulate the use of languages in the sacred liturgical functions and approving translations to vernacular.

Relations With the Brethren of the Separated Church

24. The eastern churches and communion with the apostolic see of Rome have a special duty of promoting the unity of all Christians in accordance with the principles of the Decree, Unitatis Redintegradio.

25. If any separated Eastern Christian should join himself to the unity of Catholics, no more should be required of him than the Catholic faith demands.

26. Common participation in worship, “communication in sacris”, is forbidden by divine law.

27. Eastern Christians who are infected separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, if they ask, maybe an admitted to the sacraments. They may also ask for the sacraments from non-Catholic ministers who possess valid sacraments.

28. Common participation by Catholics with their Eastern brethren in sacred functions, things and places is allowed for a just cause.

29. This policy with regard to participation in sacred things, is put into the care and control of the local hierarchs.


30. All these directives of law are laid down in view of the present situation, until we come to full communion with each other. Meanwhile, all Christians are earnestly asked to pray to God fervently, that we may be one.

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