Arbitrarily choosing between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic

Anyone here do this? Say you were convinced of the Real Presence and apostolic succession. When it got down to these two choices did you choose arbitrarily? Did you pick RC because it was more convenient? Or pick EO for a similar reason? And after choosing it decided to make the extras “fit” your worldview? Like with RC - accepting papal infallibility? Or was that just so convincing in and of itself?

I think I arbitrarily chose between the two when I first converted and now it’s become a problem for me.

I knew people who chose for a reason, not arbitrarily.

If one really ends up between these two churches, one of the things one must inevitably believe is that there is only one true church. If one is serious about his/her faith, then one would not choose one of these churches arbitrarily.


I can definitely relate to your struggle. I’ve struggled with this for years (and still am) and it has been frustrating for me. I know that I am not one of those people you are specifically asking, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been told by Catholics and Orthodox, for what it’s worth: Do not choose arbitrarily, or just what’s easier for you. Study the history of the Church, and weigh the arguments from both sides. Participate in the liturgies of both Communions. Talk to the Priests of each Church, and ask them for guidance. Also, ask Mary and the Saints to pray for you (being glorified in heaven, they know what the Church is.) And in the end, trust in God’s timing. He will lead you to where He wants you to be, when the time is right.

At times, you will feel that it is taking too long, or that it may be too hard to figure out which Church is the truth. But patience is an important virtue to learn, not only in this area, but also in the entire Christian lifestyle.

I don;t think that the choice is arbitrary, but a person may weigh the pros and cons without coming to the conclusion that one church is true and the other is false.


Thanks, this is good advice.

Not arbitrarily but a person would usually choose a church that he is most familiar with, which bring us to a question, one needs to know what a particular church believes, its history and how it came to being. Just my personal opinion though as I did not have the dilemma of having to choose a church, having born into one and believe in it. Choosing then did not arise.

I don’t know that is correct to call either of them false. Protestantism is false. But the Orthodox, while in schism, are what Saint John Paul ll called the other lung of the Body of Christ. And being that they have the Real Presence and Apostolic Succession, I really don’t think that it is appropriate to refer to them as “false”. Also, if they were “false” I don’t think that under certain circumstances it would be ok to receive Communion there (I know that is another discussion, however, it is NEVER appropriate to receive communion in a Protestant church, ie a “false” communion).

Is arbitrarily choosing the truth really a good course of action?

As much as the Catholic world likes to downplay differences between Eastern and Western theologies, they exist. I’d strongly suggest that you read up and reach out to both communities. Choose carefully.

One big difference that I see between E. Orthodox and Roman Catholic is how they approach and treat the Sacrament of Matrimony. When a couple marries in the Eastern Orthodox Church, they are crowned by the priest and the priest recites the necessary prayers and performs the necessary rituals to effect the Sacrament of marriage. In the Roman Catholic ceremony, there is no crowning and there is always the possiblity that five, ten or even twenty years down the line, a Catholic Church tribunal will officially declare that there really was never any sacramental marriage. This alone is disturbing, but what is even more disturbing is the number of people in the US alone who are told by the Catholic Church that they were never married sacramentally, even though the priest was there in the Church saying the prayers at the time of the wedding ceremony. In some years, the number of marriage annulments in the US has been running as high as 50,000 per one year! Which means that in a given year there may be 100,000 people in the US who were told by the Catholic Church that they were not married sacramentally. That is a whole lot of invalid marriages for one country in a one year period.

Tombstone, depends upon which side you want to look at it from, benefits for those who end up seperated if they can remarry, now without doubt some of the time the processes can be shonky by one or both of the parties involved but thems the breaks. Really you have to look at it in historical perspective.

Did the very early church (up to the fist 200-300 years) allow ‘divorce’ so to speak. If from your studies they did then generally speaking the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church can both reasonably be accepted which ever way you view it.

If no ‘divorce’ was allowed then the Orthodox are wrong and only the Catholic Church can be right because the Catholic process says there was no marriage to begin with, its the only way to resolve the ‘no divorce’ issue if you believe the early church did not allow ‘divorce’ resulting in extra marriages etc.

Also remember this, billions of people have died without being members of the Catholic or Orthodox Church and we can be sure that not all of them are in hell, and many of those since passed were committed to religous principles of whatever faith they followed, so long as you make reasonable endeavours to determine the more likely correct faith then if you choose Catholic or Orthodox then you are unlikely to be too far wrong.:slight_smile:

By the way don’t listen to posters who say there are big differences in faith/theology between Orthodox and Catholic, there are nuances and thats all, people love to make mole hills into mountains so they can continually justify stuff. :slight_smile:

Personally I think there are a many nuances, but I also think the are at least a few mountains. :slight_smile:

I would say there are big differences as is seen in the approach to the Sacrament of Marriage. In the Orthodox Church, the couple is crowned at the time of the marriage and the priest declares them married. In the Catholic Church, you are never sure if you are married or not, since ten or 15 years down the line the Catholic Church can declare that your marriage was invalid. This is a serious problem, as it occurs as many as 50,000 times per year in the Catholic Church in the USA alone. The Catholic priest does not crown the couple at the time of the marriage ceremony.

Well I didn’t choose as of now. As I’m still agnostic but I’m leaning far more towards catholicism. As I want to be with the Rock.

On some things I feel much closer to Orthodoxy, but I really couldn’t join Orthodoxy. That’s why I really like Eastern Rite Catholicism.

But there probably isn’t any Eastern Rite anywhere near me and I would pick Latin Rite just as fine.

Let’s pray that Christ heals the division :signofcross:

Hi, Tom - it’s not the crowning in & of itself that changes the meaning of marriage. In Orthodoxy, the priest is the minister of the sacrament (all sacraments), he joins the couple in matrimony. In RC (though I’m not certain if the ECs have adopted the Latin rules here, or if they are still bound to be married by a priest, rather than “in the presence of” a priest), the man/woman are the ministers…somehow. That’s the loophole that allows for annulment findings. Because the couple are their own ministers, there’s room for there to be some (unknown at the time) flaw that prevents the sacrament. (It would be MUCH harder to have the priests do the marrying, and then say all those priests were deficient somehow.) :shrug:

Whichever you choose, you cannot be too wrong in either church. Christianity is a religion of apostolic witnesses and it is just natural to look for the church that has uninterrupted line of
apostolic succession.

My prayer is with you that you may find Christ in the choice of church you made.

May God bless you in your search.


Why only Catholic and Eastern Orthodox? Why not include Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches in the mix?

How is this different from the heresy of Donatism

It is only the Orthodox Church that has the crowning ceremony. The Catholic Church does not have it. As Fr. Anthony Yazge said in his article posted on the Antiochian Orthodox web site (, “We witness the groom and bride being crowned (visibly proclaimed) as the king and queen, respectively, of a new family, entrusted by God with the authority to rule their family in faith and love and harmony with Christ. They both share in this responsibility and privilege as a newly married couple. This is not simply being declared by the priest or even the Church, but by God Himself, as the following hymn is chanted three times: “O Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor.”"

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