Matt asked:

Why does the Church have so many different rites like the Eastern, the Western and two dozen more rites?

Tim Staples replied:

"...I know what you're getting at. In fact the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1203 mentions nine different rites. There's roughly about 22 different churches in the Catholic church and it depends upon how you count the rites because even within the Latin rite you have the Dominican rite, the Ambrosian rite that are technically in the Latin rite, but they are rites as well. So there's at least nine, ten rites within the Catholic church, and roughly 22 churches...

The Church has grown organically over the centuries and we even see in scripture for example we have different churches. You have the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, right? The churches in the early church, but all of those churches were unified through their union with Peter and the apostles. Well as the church grew, and by the way we see this in seed form right in the book of Acts, you had a kind of two rites within the Church in the first century. You had the Gentile rite if you will and the Jewish rite. And they even had different requirements when it came to what they were required to practice. They had the same essential faith but you see that dealt with in the book of Acts chapter 15, the first 28 verses where the apostles had to wrestle with Gentiles that were coming from a very different perspective than the Jews. And what ended up happening are different particular ways in which each were bound to practice the faith.

Now over the centuries that would continue, and as the faith grew in different areas, different countries you find different languages, different cultures, and what the Church does is not impose a culture, at least in an absolute sense, upon a particular culture ... we take the best from all cultures. Now obviously when you go into Africa and you've got polygamy or even cannibalism going on guess what? Those things have to go. There are certain aspects of culture that are objectively immoral, that are evil, that are contrary to the dignity of the human person... the Church does not excise everything, but we keep that which is good and true and beautiful... and out of that comes different ways of worship.

And so in Africa for example you can go there and see liturgical dance that would not be permitted here in the west because there's a completely different culture over there... These are kind of the principles out of which different rites would evolve...

The key is to remember all of these rites believe essentially the same thing. There is no difference essentially between the faith in the Maronite Church, the Chaldean or the Latin..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: November 11, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Tim Staples

Question appeared in show: 47:00

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