A question on Catholics view of Eastern Orthodoxy


I’ve been reading what the Catholic Church’s view is of the Eastern Orthodox, and from what I’ve read (correct me if I’m wrong) the Catholic Church admits that the Eastern Orthodox have valid sacraments(and not just 1 or 2 but all 7), valid apostolic succession, valid priests,valid Eucharist, valid everything.

So if the above is true, what is to keep one from leaving the Catholic Church & converting to the Eastern Orthodox Church, I mean the Catholic Church readily recognizes the validity of Eastern Orthodoxy, yet the Eastern Orthodox do not readily recognize the Catholic Church’s validity (Catholics are considered separated brothers at best, heretics at worst) and they say that salvation is attained through Holy Orthodoxy.

So it seems that the Catholic Church is saying that Eastern Orthodoxy is a valid church & the Eastern Orthodox are saying they are, in fact the true church that Christ founded, so it almost looks like the Catholic Church is pointing people to Eastern Orthodoxy (from this perspective)

Any thoughts?

I view them as just as much Catholic as I am, only not under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

I think the Churches’ position on them is a healthy one that will eventually lead to reunification. If the Orthodox want to use harsh language describing us then let them go right ahead. They only hurt themselves with that divisive talk.

The Catholic Church teaches that the various Orthodox Churches remain united to the Catholic Church, just imperfectly so. This mystical connection is profound enough that the grace of the sacraments continues to be present in their midst… yet they lack the unity of St. Peter which Our Lord gifted to His Church. From a Catholic point of view, the ideal is still to be in communion with the successor of St. Peter.

the Catholic Church readily recognizes the validity of Eastern Orthodoxy, yet the Eastern Orthodox do not readily recognize the Catholic Church’s validity

You are quite correct that there are widely varying opinions on the Catholic Church from the Orthodox Churches. Some do not even accept the validity of Catholic baptisms. Others, like the current Patriarch of Constantinople, are friendly to the Catholic Church, and endure some ridicule for that.

So it seems that the Catholic Church is saying that Eastern Orthodoxy is a valid church…

The Eastern Orthodox Churches are valid Churches in Apostolic Succession.

it almost looks like the Catholic Church is pointing people to Eastern Orthodoxy (from this perspective)

No, a Catholic Christian would never advise a Catholic to leave communion with the Universal Church.

Thanks for the opinions on this, I’m not looking to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, I was simply noting that while reading about the things we (Catholics) and our Orthodox brothers and sisters have in common, differences etc. the thought occurred to me that this (the op) perspective or line of thought could perhaps lead one whom is looking into Catholicism (or whom is Catholic) into looking into Eastern Orthodoxy, and how would someone go about convincing them to become (or stay) Catholic if the above argument is given?

(As a former nominal Eastern Orthodox),

I view the Eastern Orthodoxy as a schism. Yes, many Eastern Orthodox are not aware of the fact and are often not culpable for being, objectively, schismatics. Nevertheless, this is the traditional Catholic view on the Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole.

And, in my view, this schism is to blame for many erroneous paths the Eastern Orthodox practice has taken: irrational hatred for everything Western and Roman, caesaropapism, too tight association with and veneration of secular authorities, excessive emphasis (bordering on divinisation, at time) on culture and tradition.

Yes, the EO are viewed as schismatic, not heretical. And since they are separated in leadership and by geography from each other, there’s no official unified voice to speak for the EO, and so there are different opinions within that communion of churches regarding Roman Catholicism.


838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist."324


There are a number of longer documents that discuss the details.

It should also be noted that there are two completely distinct and separate communions that identify as “Orthodox”. In English we usually distinguish them as the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine Churches in communion with Constantinople) and Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian Churches such as the Copts and Syriacs). Both communions, from a Catholic perspective, have valid apostolic succession, sacraments…both are mystically united to the Catholic Church, even if imperfectly so, in a way that no Protestant body is.

Yes, it was the Pope Emeritus Benedict, I believe, who famously referred to the EO as the “other lung” of the Church, along with the RCC. That reveals a very high regard for the EO Church.

I’ve always thought that “the other lung” was referring to the Eastern Catholic Churches. Also, I thought it was Pope Saint John Paul II that said this.
I might be mistaken. My memory is not what it used to be.

Well, let’s not quibble over minor details :rolleyes:. Your right on both counts, of course, and have proven that your memory is at least better than mine.

The “two lungs” thing was definitely St. John Paul II. I believe he simply referred to the “Eastern Church” in a general sense…as in the Church Universal is not truly complete unless it “breathes” with both a Western and Eastern tradition. Ideally this would be realized by the Orthodox Churches, but the “Eastern lung” is obviously also found among the Eastern Catholic Churches.

As I skimmed over the responses, I noticed that many touched on the topic of unity and validity. I think we could summarize the problem in this way: We are called to love God and our neighbor as our self. That is to say, we are called to have a vertical unity (which most here are identifying with “validity of the sacraments”) and a horizontal unity (which most here are identifying with a “communion with the pope”). I am a Melkite Catholic priest. As such I am an “Eastern Orthodox” priest.

Once while sitting at a cafe in Jerusalem a Roman Catholic priest asked me, “Are you Orthodox?” I said, “Yes!” Then I asked, “Aren’t you?” He responded, “No!” I then asked, “Are you Heterodox?” He said again, “No!” I said, “Hmm, well, there are only two options that I know of. If you are not Orthodox and not Heterodox, then what are you?” He responded, “I’m Catholic!” I said, “Well, then you’re Orthodox!” I think you can see where I am going with this. By the way, please don’t anyone respond with a silly issue over capitalization. There is none in conversation and the whole idea is a modern concept anyway.

We need to stop the name calling, the categorizing, and all the rest of the nonsense and do simply this, Love God and our neighbor as our self. Jesus prayed that we would be one (John 17). So that’s it. There really isn’t any other option.

How do we get there? Well, it is the Great Fast! We are to increase our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We need to direct our gaze toward Jesus. Someone once said that God is like the hub of a wheel and human beings are the spokes. The closer we draw toward God the closer we draw toward each other. The farther we move from each other the farther we move from God.

We have increased our liturgical services during Lent at our parish, as I hope is the case with any of yours. If you live in the San Jose area, and don’t have a place to come pray vespers, go to confession, participate in a bible study, and have a meal, our door is open (steliasmelkite.org). May God bless you this Lent! May God bless the Catholic Church!

Agreed that we need to love our separated brethren.

At the same time, many sitting duck Catholics are lured into other faiths when approached. While the reasons are many, one common theme seems to be poor understanding of the faith compared to others. On the other hand, converts to Catholicism often did the research and found the truth.

On EO, while we share many things in common, the schism is largely based in historical events. In addition, there are some differences in liturgy, on primacy of Peter, and a slight difference in the nicene creed.

That said, there does seem to be a rather deep hatred of Latin rite Catholicism and the pope which is based on the historical events that lead to the initial schism. Of course, this can’t be applied to all people, but usually the keen awareness is there.

This is dishohest and misleading as you are not a part of the Eastern Orthodox communion. You cannot serve in an Eastern Orthodox Church so you are not an Eastern Orthodox priest. I as a member of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate could just as easily claim to be Roman Catholic, since my patriarchate belonged to the last continuation of the Roman empire, and I am catholic according to the original Greek understanding of the word, “according to the whole”

I’m pretty sure that’s why Father used the " ". That, coupled with the fact that he identified as Melkite, made it pretty clear to any reader than he is not claiming to be a member of the Eastern Orthodox communion of Churches. You as an Eastern Orthodox Christian may not like it, but the Melkites self-identify as Orthodox. That is part of their identity. They don’t consider it dishonest. They consider themselves to be “Orthodox in communion with Rome”. I’ve been to Melkite liturgies…and worshipping with me were many Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christians who chose the Melkite parish over numerous canonical Orthodox parishes in the region for cultural and linguistic reasons.
The Melkite Church broke communion with Constantinople and reconciled with Rome, but they did not relinquish their claim to be Orthodox even if others may disagree with that claim. I don’t think its much different than say the Oriental Orthodox who still claim the title Orthodox with a capital O despite breaking communion with Rome and Constantinople 1500 years ago.

Inter-communion also goes on… a lot of it. Not just in the Middle East. I know an OCA parish in North America that will commune Melkites.

Since they cannot serve with the clergy in an Orthodox liturgy, they cannot claim to be Orthodox. It is dishonest regardless of how they consider it.

It is not dissimilar to Churchill’s observation that England and the United States are two peoples divided by a common language . . .

Most of the “disputes” between RC and EO can fairly be described as “violent agreement.”

For the most part (perhaps entirely), neither teaches what the other says it does that necessitates division . . .



By that logic, shouldn’t you be equally offended by Oriental priests claiming the title “Orthodox”?

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