From a reader…
I attend a NO parish and am considering moving to a Ukrainian Catholic Parish for a variety of reasons but mainly because I am attracted to the Divine Liturgy and the beautiful traditions they have held onto…not to mention that when you enter that Church, it’s definitely a sacred space where you leave the world and your heart lifts up to God. My question: Can I as a Roman Catholic register as a parishioner of a Ukrainian Catholic parish and remove myself as a parishioner of the NO parish? Am I obligated to financially support the NO parish? Am I under the authority of the Roman Catholic Diocese/Bishop, or the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop? Thank you for any guidance you can give Father, God Bless you :)
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
A couple interesting aspects here – Ritual Church ascription and parish registration.
One’s Ritual Church ascription is set at the time of baptism and, generally speaking, is set for life. There are some specific situations where one can change ascription through marriage (though I would recommend against someone marrying a random Chaldean hottie merely to change ritual Churches), and there are situations where, with special permissions from the necessary hierarchs, one can change Ritual Churches by decree.
For the vast majority of cases, this is not recommended or advised. Any Catholic is permitted to worship with other Catholics in any Ritual Church that is in communion with Rome – even on a stable basis, and even over the course of one’s lifetime. A Maronite may spend his life attending a Melchite parish every single Sunday with complete impunity. One must be attentive, however, and note that one is still bound by the laws of one’s Ritual Church. If the Maronite Patriarch makes the feast of St. Charbel Mahklouf a Holy Day of Obligation of all Maronites, then even one who regularly attends the Melchite Church must hear the Divine Liturgy on his feast day (which is the third Sunday in July according to the Maronite Calendar), though not necessarily in Maronite Church.
Registration in a parish… hmmm. This is a characteristically (but not exclusively) North American phenomenon. There is nothing in the Code of Canon Law about registering with a parish. It is not a canonical “thing” and provides no rights, instills no obligations, and has no canonical effects, despite the protestations of thousands of pastors, parish secretaries, religious education coordinators, school principals and the like. Pastors are not allowed to refuse sacraments to those who are not “registered” in the parish, nor should they refuse the non-registered the other spiritual benefits of the Church.
So, as a Latin Catholic, can one “register” in a Ukrainian parish? Absolutely – but know that it provides you with no canonical rights whatsoever.
Does that “remove” you as a parishioner of your Latin parish? Nope.
Are you obligated to financially support the Latin parish? Canon 222 of the Latin Code, to which you are still bound, requires that you assist the Church, insofar as you are able, to provide what is needed for divine worship and the decent support of the ministers. It does not specify how you are required to do so, or which specific parish or diocese you support. In plain justice, one should support the parish from which one receives spiritual assistance.
Under the authority of which bishop are you? Your proper bishop, which would be the bishop of the Latin Diocese in which you live.