In 2015, about one million refugees arrived in Germany including 200,000 Christians from the Middle East. To an increasing extent, these are members of Eastern Catholic churches. This poses a new challenge to the pastoral structures which are shaped by the Western Latin church. From a Canon Law perspective, two issues are of particular importance: administration of the sacraments beyond the borders of the Ecclesiae sui iuris and creation of organisational structures. The various solutions provided by Canon Law lie in a field of tension between integration and identity. On one hand, Eastern Catholic churches are in full communion with the Latin church and are therefore completely integrated in this respect. True equality exists between all the faithful (c. 11 CCEO) and they can receive sacraments in the Latin church. On the other hand, Canon Law protects their identity which is based on historically important traditions (e.g. right and obligation to observe the own rite, cc. 17 and 40 § 3 CCEO).


Keywords: Oriental Catholics; Canon Law; rites; diaspora; sacraments; pastoral structures.