I must be a bit thick. I have thought of the "Roman Catholic church" as a single, monolithic church (though understanding but not clear about how the 'eastern' and 'western' parts of the church relate together). But apparently it is not so, as Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne writes:
"These autonomous [Eastern rite] Churches are in communion with Rome, but their members are not “Roman Catholics”, that is, not Catholics of the Roman Rite. I now need to open up something essential that many Anglicans do not understand – that the Catholic Church is not a monolithic structure. She is a communion of Churches, led by bishops who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome and with one another, members of one apostolic college. This unity through a communion of particular or local Churches is set out in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. Lumen Gentium, 23.
"Every diocese is a “particular Church”, governed by a successor of the apostles. This is why we talk of the Church of Rome, the Church of Melbourne, the Church of Washington etc. Through a complex history beginning in apostolic times, most of these particular Churches today are grouped together within the Roman Rite. Not only are they in communion with the Church of Rome, the See of Peter, but they also use the liturgy of Rome. The members of these particular Churches may be known as Roman Catholics, or Catholics of the Roman Rite, or Latin Catholics."
I think to be fair to myself, when living in a country such as NZ and reading Catholic news articles which talk about the Pope appointing X as the next bishop of Diocese Y, I might be forgiven for my monolithic view of 'the Roman Catholic church'. Nevertheless I had mistakenly thought that 'the diocesan bishop' was in charge of his diocesan territory. But reading further in Bishop Peter Elliott's paper I find:
"Looking more closely into these Eastern Catholic Churches, we first find typical territorial dioceses in the home country: Ukraine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, India, Iraq etc. But then we find a second kind of diocese for those members of these Churches who have emigrated and are now scattered across a country such as Canada or Australia. This kind of diocese is usually, not always, called an eparchy.
"In an eparchy an Eastern Rite bishop has jurisdiction over all the clergy and lay faithful of his Rite, within a country or within a region in a big country such as Canada. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic bishop with a fine cathedral in North Melbourne is the bishop of the Eparchy of St Peter and Paul, Australia. He has ordinary jurisdiction over all Ukrainian Catholics in Australia. His people are also known as “Greek Catholics” because they celebrate the liturgy of Constantinople, the Byzantine Rite.
"The same kind of structure also applies to the Maronite diocese of St Maroun, the Chaldean Diocese of St Thomas and the Eparchy of St Michael the Archangel for Melchite Greek Catholics, all based in Sydney. The territory of these bishops coexists with the dioceses of the Roman Rite in Australia and the bishops are members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference."
This paper is reproduced on Damian Thompson's blog.
Now the ultimate sign of my general lack of intelligence on these matters is that I am now wondering why we Anglicans cannot be that smart - ACNA as an eparchy in North America? Why not! And if TEC want to form an eparchy in the UK? Why not!
We could all be in communion with Canterbury, and our bishops could meet together in conference.
OK. I know. Some of those bishops just will not make the necessary compromises.