A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy, entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic and Independent Catholic churches and in the Assyrian Church of the East, bishops claim apostolic succession, a direct historical lineage dating back to the original Twelve Apostles. Within these churches, bishops are seen as those who possess the full priesthood and can ordain clergy – including another bishop; some Protestant churches including the Lutheran and Methodist churches have bishops serving similar functions as well, though not always understood to be within apostolic succession in the same way. One, ordained deacon and bishop is understood to hold the fullness of the priesthood, given responsibility by Christ to govern and sanctify the Body of Christ, members of the Faithful. Priests and lay ministers cooperate and assist their bishops in shepherding a flock.
The term epískopos, meaning "overseer" in Greek, the early language of the Christian Church, was not from the earliest times distinguished from the term presbýteros, but the term was clearly used in the sense of the order or office of bishop, distinct from that of presbyter in the writings attributed to Ignatius of Antioch.. The earliest organization of the Church in Jerusalem was, according to most scholars, similar to that of Jewish synagogues, but it had a council or college of ordained presbyters. In Acts 11:30 and Acts 15:22, we see a collegiate system of government in Jerusalem chaired by James the Just, according to tradition the first bishop of the city. In Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains presbyters in churches in Anatolia; the word presbyter was not yet distinguished from overseer, as in Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5–7 and 1 Peter 5:1. The earliest writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Didache and the First Epistle of Clement, for example, show the church used two terms for local church offices—presbyters and deacon.
In Timothy and Titus in the New Testament a more defined episcopate can be seen. We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Titus in Crete to oversee the local church. Paul commands Titus to exercise general oversight. Early sources are unclear but various groups of Christian communities may have had the bishop surrounded by a group or college functioning as leaders of the local churches; the head or "monarchic" bishop came to rule more and all local churches would follow the example of the other churches and structure themselves after the model of the others with the one bishop in clearer charge, though the role of the body of presbyters remained important. As Christendom grew, bishops no longer directly served individual congregations. Instead, the Metropolitan bishop appointed priests to minister each congregation, acting as the bishop's delegate. Around the end of the 1st century, the church's organization became clearer in historical documents. In the works of the Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius of Antioch in particular, the role of the episkopos, or bishop, became more important or, rather was important and being defined.
While Ignatius of Antioch offers the earliest clear description of monarchial bishops he is an advocate of monepiscopal structure rather than describing an accepted reality. To the bishops and house churches to which he writes, he offers strategies on how to pressure house churches who don't recognize the bishop into compliance. Other contemporary Christian writers do not describe monarchial bishops, either continuing to equate them with the presbyters or speaking of episkopoi in a city. "Blessed be God, who has granted unto you, who are yourselves so excellent, to obtain such an excellent bishop." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 1:1 "and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, ye may in all respects be sanctified." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 2:1 "For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as to the bishop as the strings are to the harp." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:1 "Do ye, beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop, the presbyters and the deacons."
— Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 5:1 "Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1. "your godly bishop" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 2:1. "the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1. "Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and the presbyters." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:1. "Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father, as the Apostles were to Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of spirit." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:2. "In like manner let all men respe
Convocation of Anglicans in North America
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America is a missionary body of the Church of Nigeria and a dual jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America. Founded in 2005, it is composed of churches that have disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. CANA was a missionary initiative of the Anglican Church of Nigeria for Nigerians living in the United States, it joined several other church bodies in the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009. In 2012, it launched his first offshoot diocese in the United States, the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity, a dual jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria and ACNA. In June 2006, Martyn Minns the rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, was elected by the Anglican Church of Nigeria as the missionary bishop for CANA. Minns was consecrated in Abuja, Nigeria, in August 2006 and installed as missionary bishop in May 2007, he retired in January 2014 and was succeeded as missionary bishop by Julian Dobbs, the diocesan bishop of the Missionary Diocese of CANA East.
As of March 2015, CANA has an additional six bishops serving in various sub-jurisdictions or other ministries: Roger Ames David Anderson David Bena. Amos Fagbimiye Derek Jones Felix Orji CANA was formed in reaction to the departure of the Episcopal Church USA from orthodox Christian faith and Anglican praxis by the Episcopal Church USA's non-conformity to the international Anglican Communion resolutions at the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Windsor Report, at Dar es Salaam — including the ordination of non-celibate homosexual clergy, which it opposes as deviant and sinful. CANA reports that it has grown since its founding in 2005, it reports 69 congregations, maintains a presence in 21 states and in the District of Columbia, has an ethnically diverse membership. In 2012, CANA launched the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity as a dual diocese of the ACNA and the Church of Nigeria. CANA originated three new dioceses: East and Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. In October 2009, CANA's leadership reacted to the Catholic Church's proposed creation of personal ordinariates for disaffected traditionalist Anglicans by saying that this provision would not have a great impact on the majority of its Low Church laity and clergy, who are satisfied with the Anglican realignment movement.
The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion. Founded in 1867 in London, the communion has 85 million members within the Church of England and other national and regional churches in full communion; the traditional origins of Anglican doctrines are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles. The Archbishop of Canterbury in England acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares, but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England; the Anglican Communion was founded at the Lambeth Conference in 1867 in London, under the leadership of Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury. The churches of the Anglican Communion consider themselves to be part of the one, holy and apostolic church, to be both catholic and reformed. Although aligned with the Church of England, the communion has a multitude of beliefs and practices, including evangelical and Anglo-Catholic; each retain their own legislative process and episcopal polity under the leadership of local primates.
For some adherents, Anglicanism represents a non-papal Catholicism, for others a form of Protestantism though without guiding figure such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli or Wesley, or for yet others a combination of the two. Most of its 85 million members live in the Anglosphere of former British territories. Full participation in the sacramental life of each church is available to all communicant members. Due to their historical link to England, some of the member churches are known as "Anglican", such as the Anglican Church of Canada. Others, for example the Church of Ireland, the Scottish and American Episcopal churches have official names which do not include "Anglican"; the Anglican Communion has no official legal existence nor any governing structure which might exercise authority over the member churches. There is an Anglican Communion Office in London, under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it only serves in a supporting and organisational role; the communion is held together by a shared history, expressed in its ecclesiology and ethos and by participation in international consultative bodies.
Three elements have been important in holding the communion together: first, the shared ecclesial structure of the component churches, manifested in an episcopal polity maintained through the apostolic succession of bishops and synodical government. The Church of England was self-contained and relied for its unity and identity on its own history, its traditional legal and episcopal structure and its status as an established church of the state; as such Anglicanism was, from the outset, a movement with an explicitly episcopal polity, a characteristic, vital in maintaining the unity of the communion by conveying the episcopate's role in manifesting visible catholicity and ecumenism. Early in its development, Anglicanism developed a vernacular prayer book, called the Book of Common Prayer. Unlike other traditions, Anglicanism has never been governed by a magisterium nor by appeal to one founding theologian, nor by an extra-credal summary of doctrine. Instead, Anglicans have appealed to the Book of Common Prayer and its offshoots as a guide to Anglican theology and practise.
This had the effect of inculcating the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi as the foundation of Anglican identity and confession. Protracted conflict through the 17th century with radical Protestants on the one hand and Catholics who recognised the primacy of the Pope on the other, resulted in an association of churches that were both deliberately vague about doctrinal principles, yet bold in developing parameters of acceptable deviation; these parameters were most articulated in the various rubrics of the successive prayer books, as well as the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. These articles have shaped and continue to direct the ethos of the communion, an ethos reinforced by their interpretation and expansion by such influential early theologians such as Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes and John Cosin. With the expansion of the British Empire, hence the growth of Anglicanism outside Great Britain and Ireland, the communion sought to establish new vehicles of unity; the first major expression of this were the Lambeth Conferences of the communion's bishops, first convened in 1867 by Charles Longley, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
From the beginning, these were not intended to displace the autonomy of the emerging provinces of the communion, but to "discuss matters of practical interest, pronounce what we deem expedient in resolutions which may serve as safe guides to future action." One of the enduringly influential early resolutions of the conference was the so-called Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888. Its intent was to provide the basis for discussions of reunion with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, but it had the ancillary effect of establishing parameters of Anglican identity, it establishes four principles with these words: That, in the opinion of this Conference, the following Articles supply a basis on which approach may be by God's blessing made towards Home Reunion: The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as "containing all things necessary to salvation," and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith. The Apostles'
Church of Nigeria
The Church of Nigeria is the Anglican church in Nigeria. It is the second-largest province in the Anglican Communion, as measured by baptized membership, after the Church of England, it gives its current membership as "over 18 million", out of a total Nigerian population of 190 million. Other statistics reveal. Since 2002 the Church of Nigeria has been organised into 14 ecclesiastical provinces, it has increased the number of its dioceses and bishops from 91 in 2002 to 161 as at January 2013. The administrative headquarters are located in Abuja, its primate is Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal; the first mission of the Church of England was, only established in 1842 in Badagry by Henry Townsend. In 1864 Samuel Ajayi Crowther, an ethnic Yoruba and former slave, was elected Bishop of the Niger and the first black Bishop of the Anglican Communion. Lagos became a diocese of its own in 1919. Leslie Gordon Vining became Bishop of Lagos in 1940 and in 1951 the first archbishop of the newly inaugurated Province of West Africa.
Vining was the last Bishop of Lagos of European descent. On 24 February 1979, the sixteen dioceses of Nigeria were joined in the Church of Nigeria, a newly founded province of the Anglican Communion, with Timothy O. Olufosoye Bishop of Ibadan, becoming its first archbishop and metropolitan. Between 1980 and 1988, eight additional dioceses were created. In 1986, he was succeeded by J. Abiodun Adetiloye who became the second primate and metropolitan of Nigeria, a position he would hold until 1999. In 1989 the Diocese of Abuja was created on the area of the new capital of Nigeria with Peter Akinola as first bishop; the 1990s was the decade of evangelization for the Church of Nigeria, starting with the consecration of mission bishops for the mission dioceses of Minna, Katsina, Makurdi, Maiduguri, Bauchi and Ife. Between 1993 and 1996 the primate founded nine dioceses. In December 1996 five more mission dioceses in the north. In 1997 and 1998 four more dioceses were established. In 1999 the Church of Nigeria added 13 new dioceses.
So within 10 years there were 15 mission dioceses created. The Archbishop of Canterbury declared the Church of Nigeria to be the fastest growing church in the Anglican Communion. In 1997 the Church of Nigeria was split into three ecclesiastical provinces. In 2000, Archbishop Peter Akinola succeeded Archbishop Adetiloye as primate of the Church of Nigeria. One of his first actions as primate was to get together 400 bishops, lay members and members of the Mothers' Union to elaborate a vision for the Church of Nigeria under the chairmanship of Ernest Shonekan, a former President of Nigeria; the vision elaborated was: The Church of Nigeria shall be. The program of action included among others additional translations of the liturgy, establishing a lay fundraising team, establishing a legal support to ensure freedom of religion and worship, establishing theological colleges and universities, internet access for all dioceses, training evangelists and their wives, social welfare programs, secondary schools, literacy courses and setting up cottage industries.
In 2005, as one of the goals of the Vision of the Church of Nigeria, the church-owned Ajayi Crowther University in Oyo was granted license to operate as a private university in Nigeria on 7 January 2005. In 1997, as a result of rapid expansion, the Church of Nigeria was split into three internal ecclesiastical provinces: Province 1, consisting of the dioceses in the West, headed by Archbishop Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye, who remained Primate of All Nigeria, metropolitan archbishop. Province 2, consisting of the Eastern dioceses, headed by Benjamin Nwankiti, Bishop of Owerri as metropolitan archbishop. Province 3, consisting of the Northern dioceses, headed by Peter Akinola, Bishop of Abuja, as metropolitan archbishop. In 2002 the Church of Nigeria was again reorganised, this time into 10 ecclesiastical provinces; the rapid expansion has continued, as of 2012 there are 14 archbishops, heading 14 ecclesiastical provinces, with a total of 161 dioceses. The fourteen ecclesiastical provinces are: Abuja - (Archbishop: Nicholas Okoh Aba - Bendel - Enugu - Ibadan - Jos - Kaduna - Kwara - Lagos - Lokoja - Niger - Niger Delta - Ondo - Owerri - The fourteen archbishops each hold metropolitical authority within their respective provinces.
One of them is additionally the Primate and bears the title "Primate of All Nigeria". The primates of the Church of Nigeria have been: The Church of Nigeria has continuously opposed the liberal inclinations of the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada, which led to the accept
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion based in the United States with dioceses elsewhere. It is a mainline Christian denomination divided into nine provinces; the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American bishop to serve in that position. In 2017, the Episcopal Church had 1,871,581 baptized members, of whom 1,712,563 were in the United States. In 2011, it was the nation's 14th largest denomination. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, or 3 million people, self-identify as mainline Episcopalians. The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England; the Episcopal Church describes itself as "Protestant, yet Catholic". The Episcopal Church claims apostolic succession, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders.
The Book of Common Prayer, a collection of traditional rites, blessings and prayers used throughout the Anglican Communion, is central to Episcopal worship. The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a decidedly more liberal course, it has supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests are known for marching with influential civil rights demonstrators such as Martin Luther King Jr; the church calls for the full legal equality of LGBT people. In 2015, the church's 78th triennial General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions; the Episcopal Church ordains women and LGBT people to the priesthood, the diaconate, the episcopate, despite opposition from a number of other member churches of the Anglican Communion. In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first gay person ordained as a bishop.'The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and "The Episcopal Church" are both official names specified in the church's constitution.
The latter is much more used. In other languages, an equivalent is used. For example, in Spanish, the church is called La Iglesia Episcopal Protestante de los Estados Unidos de América or La Iglesia Episcopal. and in French L'Église protestante épiscopale dans les États Unis d'Amérique or L'Église épiscopale. Until 1964, "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" was the only official name in use. In the 19th century, High Church members advocated changing the name, which they felt did not acknowledge the church's Catholic heritage, they were opposed by the church's evangelical wing, which felt that the "Protestant Episcopal" label reflected the Reformed character of Anglicanism. After 1877, alternative names were proposed and rejected by the General Convention. One proposed alternative was "the American Catholic Church". By the 1960s, opposition to dropping the word "Protestant" had subsided. In a 1964 General Convention compromise and lay delegates suggested adding a preamble to the church's constitution, recognizing "The Episcopal Church" as a lawful alternate designation while still retaining the earlier name.
The 66th General Convention voted in 1979 to use the name "The Episcopal Church" in the Oath of Conformity of the Declaration for Ordination. The evolution of the name can be seen in the church's Book of Common Prayer. In the 1928 BCP, the title page read, "According to the use of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America", whereas on the title page of the 1979 BCP it states, "'According to the use of The Episcopal Church"; the Episcopal Church in the United States of America has never been an official name of the church but is an alternative seen in English. Since several other churches in the Anglican Communion use the name "Episcopal", including Scotland and the Philippines, for example Anglicans Online, add the phrase "in the United States of America"; the full legal name of the national church corporate body is the "Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America", incorporated by the legislature of New York and established in 1821.
The membership of the corporation "shall be considered as comprehending all persons who are members of the Church". This should not be confused with the name of the church itself, as it is a distinct body relating to church governance; the Episcopal Church has its origins in the Church of England in the American colonies, it stresses continuity with the early universal Western Church and claims to maintain apostolic succession. The first parish was founded in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, under the charter of the Virginia Company of London; the tower of Jamestown Church is one of the oldest surviving Anglican church structures in the United States. The Jamestown church building itself is a modern reconstruction. Although no American Anglican bishops existed in the colonial era, the Church of England had an official status in several colonies, which meant that local governments paid tax money to local parishes, the parishes handled some civic functions; the Church of England was designated the established church in Virginia in 1609, in New York in 1693, in Maryland in 1702, in South Carolina in 1706, in North Carolina in 1730, in Georgia in 1758.
From 1635 the vestries and the clergy came loosely under the diocesan authority of the Bishop of London. After 1702, the Society for the Propagation of the Gos
Methodist Episcopal Church
The Methodist Episcopal Church was the oldest and largest Methodist denomination in the United States from its founding in 1784 until 1939. It was the first religious denomination in the US to organize itself on a national basis. In 1939, the MEC reunited with two breakaway Methodist denominations to form the Methodist Church. In 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form the United Methodist Church; the MEC's origins lie in the First Great Awakening when Methodism emerged as an evangelical revival movement within the Church of England that stressed the necessity of being born again and the possibility of attaining Christian perfection. By the 1760s, Methodism had spread to the Thirteen Colonies, Methodist societies were formed under the oversight of John Wesley; as in England, American Methodists remained affiliated with the Church of England, but this state of affairs became untenable after the American Revolution. In response, Wesley ordained the first Methodist elders for America in 1784.
Under the leadership of its first bishops, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, the Methodist Episcopal Church adopted episcopal polity and an itinerant model of ministry that saw circuit riders provide for the religious needs of a widespread and mobile population. Early Methodism was countercultural in that it was anti-elitist and anti-slavery, appealing to African Americans and women. While critics derided Methodists as fanatics, the Methodist Episcopal Church continued to grow during the Second Great Awakening in which Methodist revivalism and camp meetings left its imprint on American culture. In the early 19th century, the MEC became the largest and most influential religious denomination in the United States. With growth came greater institutionalization and respectability, this led some within the church to complain that Methodism was losing its vitality and commitment to Wesleyan teachings, such as the belief in Christian perfection and opposition to slavery; as Methodism took hold in the Southern United States, church leaders became less willing to condemn the practice of slavery or to grant African American preachers and congregations the same privileges as their white counterparts.
A number of black churches were formed as African Americans withdrew from the MEC, including the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. By the 1830s, however, a renewed abolitionist movement within the MEC made keeping a neutral position on slavery impossible; the church divided along regional lines in 1844 when pro-slavery Methodists in the South formed their own Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Around the same time, the holiness movement took shape as a renewal movement within the MEC focused on the experience of Christian perfection, but it led a number of splinter groups to break away from the church. Due to large-scale immigration of Catholics, the Catholic Church displaced the MEC as the largest US denomination by the end of the 19th century; the Methodist Episcopal Church originated from the spread of Methodism outside of England to the Thirteen Colonies in the 1760s. Earlier, Methodism had grown out of the ministry of John Wesley, a priest in the Church of England who preached an evangelical message centered on justification by faith, the possibility of having assurance of salvation, the doctrine of Christian perfection.
Wesley was loyal to the Anglican Church, he organized his followers into parachurch societies and classes with the goal of promoting spiritual revival within the Church of England. Members of Methodist societies were expected to attend and receive Holy Communion in their local parish church, but Wesley recruited and supervised lay preachers for itinerant or traveling ministry. Around fifteen or twenty societies formed a circuit. Anywhere from two to four itinerant preachers would be assigned to a circuit on a yearly basis to preach and supervise the societies within their circuit. One itinerant preacher in each circuit would be made the "assistant", he would direct the activities of the other itinerant preachers in the circuit, who were called "helpers". Wesley gave out preaching assignments at an annual conference. In 1769, Wesley sent itinerants Robert Williams, Richard Boardman, Joseph Pilmore to oversee Methodists in America after learning that societies had been organized there as early as 1766 by Philip Embury, Robert Strawbridge, Thomas Webb.
In 1773, Wesley appointed Thomas Rankin general assistant, placing him in charge of all the Methodist preachers and societies in America. On July 4, 1773, Rankin presided over the first annual conference on American soil at Philadelphia. At that time there were 1,160 Methodists in America led by ten lay preachers. Itinerant Methodist preachers would become known as circuit riders. Methodist societies in America operated within the Church of England. There were several Anglican priests who supported the work of the Methodists, attending Methodist meetings and administering the sacraments to Methodists; these included Charles Pettigrew of North Carolina, Samuel Magaw of Dover and Philadelphia, Uzel Ogden of New Jersey. Anglican clergyman Devereux Jarratt was a active supporter, founding Methodist societies in Virginia and North Carolina; the American Revolution left America's Anglican Church in disarray. Due to the scarcity of Anglican ministers, Methodists in the United States were unable to receive the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion.
On September 1, 1784, Wesley responded to this situation by ordaining two Methodists a
Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion; the way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was a rule adopted by a church council. Greek kanon / Ancient Greek: κανών, Arabic Qaanoon / قانون, Hebrew kaneh / קנה, "straight"; the Apostolic Canons or Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles is a collection of ancient ecclesiastical decrees concerning the government and discipline of the Early Christian Church, incorporated with the Apostolic Constitutions which are part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. In the Fourth century the First Council of Nicaea calls canons the disciplinary measures of the Church: the term canon, κανὠν, means in Greek, a rule.
There is a early distinction between the rules enacted by the Church and the legislative measures taken by the State called leges, Latin for laws. In the Catholic Church, canon law is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the Church's hierarchical authorities to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. However, despite the power of the church and its insistence on creating a specific format for the way its members would live their lives, it was not followed. Powerful and wealthy individuals simply did not abide by the rules and were allowed to approach family life and marriage how they saw fit. A prime instance of this was shown through annulments granted by the church; the church disregarded and disallowed divorce. However, powerful men could annul their marriages; this was noteworthy due to the fact that an annulment was distorting to marriage law and contradicting to the disallowance of divorce.
An annulment would not only cease a marriage but rather end the marriage and rule that the marriage was never valid, nor did it formally exist. Another potent example of Canon Law not being enforced is in regards to polygyny. Men having multiple wives was outright banned by the Catholic church. However, as seen in the example of wealthy and powerful individuals it was allowed. Men who were powerful enough were allowed to have multiple wives, concubines and could have sex prior to marriage. Despite the aforementioned blatant nonobservance to Canon Law, the codes set in place did shape and provide a code that the majority of the members of the catholic church directly abode and lived their lives according to. In the Latin Church, positive ecclesiastical laws, based directly or indirectly upon immutable divine law or natural law, derive formal authority in the case of universal laws from the supreme legislator, who possesses the totality of legislative and judicial power in his person, while particular laws derive formal authority from a legislator inferior to the supreme legislator.
The actual subject material of the canons is not just doctrinal or moral in nature, but all-encompassing of the human condition. The Catholic Church includes the main five rites of churches which are in full union with the Holy See and the Latin Church: Alexandrian Rite Churches which include the Coptic Catholic Church and Ethiopian Catholic Church. West Syriac Rite which includes the Maronite Church, Syriac Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. Armenian Rite Church which includes the Armenian Catholic Church. Byzantine Rite Churches which include the Albanian Greek Catholic Church, Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, Bulgarian Church, Byzantine Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia, Greek Church, Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, Italo-Albanian Church, Macedonian Greek Catholic Church, Melkite Church, Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic, Russian Church, Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, Slovak Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian Catholic Church. East Syriac Rite Churches which includes the Chaldean Syro-Malabar Church.
All of these church groups are in full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and are subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The Catholic Church has what is claimed to be the oldest continuously functioning internal legal system in Western Europe, much than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. What began with rules adopted by the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem in the first century has developed into a complex legal system encapsulating not just norms of the New Testament, but some elements of the Hebrew, Visigothic and Celtic legal traditions; the history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus novissimum and the Code of Canon Law. In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus novum; the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which had developed some different disciplines and practices, underwent its own process of codification, resulting in the Code of Canons of the Eastern C