“Now I know that you need more sleep, Fr, Jim! Doesn’t the Creed say: I believe in ONE, holy, catholic and apostolic church? Not twenty-four churches!”
And yet it is true. The Catholic Church is a family. We share common identity markers that make us clearly one, but also properly individual. While growing up my parents, my brother, sister, and myself shared a common last name, “Zettel”, a common house, a shared dining table, and the authority of my parents. At the same time, my brother enjoyed basketball, my sister was into dance, I liked acting, my Dad was the funny one and my Mom the prayerful one.
The Catholic Church is the same way. To be known as Catholic, a church body must share the same Faith, the same Sacraments, and the same Governance (Pope and Bishops). There are 24 churches that meet this criteria. At the same time, these churches have a distinct way of being Catholic. If you were at the priestly ordination at the parish this weekend you know how distinct the Syro-Malakara Church liturgy is.
The Latin or Roman Church, to which we belong, is by far the largest for various historical reasons. Not least of which is our sustained tradition of priestly celibacy, which has enabled the Gospel to be spread more rapidly over the globe. But this does not make us “more Catholic”. Each Church equally expresses Catholic Church in its own way. Was St. Peter in Rome more Catholic than St. Thomas in India? Was St. Maron in Lebanon more Catholic than Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the Czech Republic?
The Catholic Church is a family with a common Father, the Virgin Mary as Mother and Jesus as Saviour and 24 siblings.
Here they are:
Western tradition: 1. Roman Catholic Church Eastern tradition: 2. Coptic Catholic Church 3. Ethiopian Catholic Church 4. Eritrean Catholic Church 5. Maronite Catholic Church
6. Syriac Catholic Church 7. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
8. Armenian Catholic Church 9. Chaldean Catholic Church
10. Syro-Malabar Catholic Church 11. Albanian Catholic Church 12. Belarusian Greek Catholic Church 13. Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church 14. Byzantine Church in Italy (formerly Italo-Albanian Catholic Church) 15. Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia 16. Greek Byzantine Catholic Church 17. Hungarian Greek Catholic Church 18. Macedonian Catholic Church 19. Melkite Greek Catholic Church 20. Romanian Greek Catholic Church 21. Russian Greek Catholic Church 22. Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church 23. Slovak Greek Catholic Church 24. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Fr. Jim Zettel