Eastern Catholic churches came into existence when groups of Orthodox Christians sought reunion with the Church of Rome after the division between East and West in 1054. Eastern Catholics have the same religious practices as the Orthodox, and they share the same history as their counterparts in the Orthodox churches up to the point when they established their reunion with Rome. Eastern Catholics recognize the pope as the ultimate spiritual authority. Some Eastern Catholic churches do not have an Orthodox counterpart and have always maintained communion with Rome. Such is the case with the Maronite Catholic Church, which is the major Christian church of Lebanon.
At the Second Vatican Council, a general council of the Catholic Church held at Vatican City from 1962 to 1965, in the Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches and the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, the council reasserted the equality of Eastern Catholic churches with the Latin Rite. While stressing that an unmarried way of life was a necessary requirement for Latin Rite priests, it did not change the discipline that allowed married priests in the Eastern Rite Catholic churches.
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