Eastern Catholic Churches

Many people are surprised to learn that there are twenty-two distinct Churches which form the Catholic Church: the Western or "Latin" Church, which nearly all Americans are familiar with, and the Eastern Churches, of which there are twenty-one.

While the Western Church makes up the vast majority of the Catholic Church, there are around 17 million Catholics who are members of an Eastern Church. Some of more well-known of the Eastern Churches include the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church, the Melkite Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Coptic Catholic Church. The Nativity parish is part of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

With the exception of the Maronite Church, the Eastern Catholic Churches were formed when Christians who had been members of Eastern churches which had cut ties with the Holy See, once again sought reunion with Rome.

The largest Eastern Christian Church which is not in union with the Bishop of Rome is commonly called the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since most Eastern Catholic Churches came out of Eastern Orthodox Churches, there are many direct counterparts between the two. For example, there is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church and a Ukrainian Catholic Church; the former is not in union with Rome while the latter is. Sharing the same heritage, one group is Orthodox, the other is Catholic. Understandably, this situation often causes great confusion, not only among non-Catholics, but Catholics as well.