In Catholic canon law, a particular church (Latin: ecclesia particularis) is an ecclesiastical community headed by a bishop or someone recognised as the equivalent of a bishop.
There are two kinds of particular churches:
- Local particular churches. A diocese or eparchy is the most familiar form of such local particular churches, but there are other forms, including that of a territorial abbacy, an apostolic vicariate and an apostolic prefecture.
- Autonomous particular churches, also known as particular churches sui iuris. In this context the descriptors autonomous (Greek: αὐτόνομος, autónomos) and sui iuris (Latin) are synonymous, each meaning "of its own law". These are aggregations of local diocesan churches that share a specific liturgical, theological and canonical tradition. They have also been called "particular Churches or rites". The largest such autonomous particular church is the Latin Church. The others are referred to collectively as the Eastern Catholic Churches. The larger Eastern Catholic churches are headed by a bishop who has the title and rank of patriarch or major archbishop.
- ^ Particular Churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists, are principally dioceses. Unless the contrary is clear, the following are equivalent to a diocese: a territorial prelature, a territorial abbacy, a vicariate apostolic, a prefecture apostolic and a permanently established apostolic administration. (Code of Canon Law, canon 368)
- ^ Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2