Are Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox the same?


I think this is a pretty simple question and just need the clarification.


No. Eastern Catholics follow the liturgical practices of the Orthodox, along with their Theology and their spirituality.
The hope is that they will be the same churches someday, all under the Pope of Rome.
But, once again, the are not Eastern Orthodox.
Many think them (Eastern Catholics) to be Orthodox in Communion with Rome, and I for one like this mentality, as long as Catholic teaching is completely followed.

See, this is the problem right here. We are not supposed to be “UNDER” the Pope of Rome, we are supposed to be in communion with him. If the hope is someday that all will be under the Pope of Rome, then that day will never come.

Most people are not aware that the “Catholic Church” is actually comprised of twenty-three self-governing Catholic Churches, all in union with the pope. The Western, or Latin Catholic Church, is so large, however, that many people, even Catholics, are completely unaware of the other twenty-two churches, which make up the Eastern Branch. (Some have from only a few thousand members to a few million.)

Originally, there was only one denomination… the Catholic Church (the word Catholic meaning “universal”). However, there were five cities that early on were singled out as being important centers of Christianity. They were Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and of course, Rome. Each developed its own unique traditions and liturgy, but ALL shared a common theology and were in communion with each other and the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. However, about 1000 years ago, due to a variety of unfortunate problems, the other four cities, allied with the Byzantine Empire, mutually broke off from Rome, forming the various Eastern Orthodox Churches. Although doctrinally, they are virtually identical to Catholics, they refuse to acknowledge that the pope is more than a “first among equals”. (A couple groups broke of much earlier in the 400s AD also, to form what are known as the Oriental Orthodox Churches).

What has happened is that over time, some portions of each of the various Orthodox groups have decided to reconcile with the Catholic Church and come back into communion with Rome. When they do, they are allowed to keep all of their traditions and much of their independence, although they acknowledge the authority of the Pope. They become truly Catholic, in that anyone from ANY branch of the Catholic Church can participate in the liturgy and ceremonies of any OTHER branch of the Catholic Church. The only two Eastern groups that never fell out of communion with the Catholic Church were the Maronite Catholic Church, and the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church. So… for every branch of the Orthodox Churches that are NOT in communion with Rome, there is a corresponding and virtually identical branch of the Eastern Catholic Church that IS in communion with Rome. Since their customs and liturgies date from before the Council of Trent, they are allowed to remain.

The following liturgies are used by the Eastern Catholic Churches:

  • The Liturgy of St. Basil
  • The Chaldean Mass
  • The Order of the Divine and Holy Liturgy of Our Father Among the Saints Gregory the Theologian (or Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts)
  • The Liturgy of St. James
  • The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
  • The Liturgy of St. Mark
  • The Holy Qorbono


Here is a listing that includes EACH of the twenty-three Catholic Churches in union with the Pope. Do not confuse “churches” with “rites”. A rite is a series of traditions, that includes different customs and liturgies. Several different churches may use the exact same rite. A Church has its own rules and separate line of authority to the Pope. It may also have a figure in charge, like a Metropolitan or a Patriarch (like an Archbishop), since these churches are generally very small and work very hard to preserve their unique traditions. The major rites are the Latin, Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Byzantine.

**The Western (Latin) Catholic Church

Latin liturgical tradition**

  1. Ordinary Form (This is the form of the Mass that you will find in virtually every Latin Catholic Church almost every day of the week. This Mass has existed since the mid-1960s, ever since reforms were made following the Second Vatican Council.)
  2. Extraordinary Form (This is the form of the Mass that was used in virtually every Latin Catholic Church from the Middle Ages until the mid-1960s. It may still be said in Catholic Churches should a priest choose to use it. Some of the differences from the Ordinary Form include the exclusive use of the Latin language (except for the homily), the receipt of Communion exclusively on the tongue and kneeling, the priest facing the same direction as the people (toward the altar and God) so he can lead the people in prayer, no lay participation on the altar, and usually, no responses by lay people.)
  3. Ambrosian Rite (Only permitted in the Archdiocese of Milan)
  4. Mozarabic Rite (Only permitted in the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain and a few surrounding churches of the diocese)
  5. Bragan Rite (Only permitted in the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal)
  6. Anglican-Use Mass (This form was once only permitted in the extremely rare circumstance in which an Anglican priest converted to Catholicism and brings his entire parish with him. In that event, a parish could continue to use the Anglican liturgy, with corrections to make it conform with Catholic teachings. It was originally meant as a transitional liturgy, and upon the death of the pastor, the church would revert to the Ordinary Form. With the recent provisions announced by the Vatican to allow Anglicans into the Catholic Church and keep their traditions, it seems that the Anglican-Use will now become both far more widespread AND permanent.)

Rites of Religious Orders

  1. Dominican Rite
  2. Carthusian Rite
  3. Carmelite Rite
  4. Cisternian Rite

Note: Technically, the forms of the Latin liturgy listed above are NOT different rites, but variations of the SAME rite, although people do tend to commonly use the term somewhat erroneously in this context. The differences between the Latin “rites” are FAR less than those between the Latin liturgy and any of the Eastern Rites.)

**The Eastern Catholic Churches

  1. Alexandrian liturgical tradition**
  2. Coptic Catholic Church (patriarchate): Egypt (1741)
  3. Ethiopian Catholic Church (metropolia): Ethiopia, Eritrea (1846)
    2. Antiochian (Antiochene or West-Syrian) liturgical tradition
  4. Maronite Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico (union re-affirmed 1182)
  5. Syriac Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United States and Canada, Venezuela (1781)
  6. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate): India, United States (1930)
    3. Armenian liturgical tradition:
  7. Armenian Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Ukraine, France, Greece, Latin America, Argentina, Romania, United States, Canada, Eastern Europe (1742)
    4. Chaldean or East Syrian liturgical tradition:
  8. Chaldean Catholic Church (patriarchate): Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, United States (1692)
  9. Syro-Malabar Church (major archiepiscopate): India, Middle East, Europe and America.
    5. Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) liturgical tradition:
  10. Albanian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic administration): Albania (1628)
  11. Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (no established hierarchy at present): Belarus (1596)
  12. Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic exarchate): Bulgaria (1861)
  13. Byzantine Church of the Eparchy of Križevci (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (1611)
  14. Greek Byzantine Catholic Church (two apostolic exarchates): Greece, Turkey (1829)
  15. Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Hungary (1646)
  16. Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (two eparchies and a territorial abbacy): Italy (Never separated)
  17. Macedonian Greek Catholic Church (an apostolic exarchate): Republic of Macedonia (1918)
  18. Melkite Greek Catholic Church (patriarchate): Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Jerusalem, Brazil, United States, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Egypt and Sudan, Kuwait, Australia, Venezuela, Argentina (1726)
  19. Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (major archiepiscopate): Romania, United States (1697)
  20. Russian Catholic Church: (two apostolic exarchates, at present with no published hierarchs): Russia, China (1905); currently about 20 parishes and communities scattered around the world, including five in Russia itself, answering to bishops of other jurisdictions
  21. Ruthenian Catholic Church (a sui juris metropolia, an eparchy, and an apostolic exarchate): United States, Ukraine, Czech Republic (1646)
  22. Slovak Greek Catholic Church (metropolia): Slovak Republic, Canada (1646)
  23. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate): Ukraine, Poland, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Scandinavia, France, Brazil, Argentina (1595)

True but, as we all know, the reality is very much otherwise. This is one of those cases where what should be in theory is not – by a longshot – at all the same as what is in practice. (In fact, it’s hardly even similar but I digress.) And therein, I think, lies the problem.

No, it certainly never will.

A small few Eastern Catholics insist they are the same thing, but thankfully they are a small minority.

Well, we try to be :wink:

The question is actually not so simple.
There are ways in which we are the same, and there are ways in which we are different. Since sentence also applies to the particular churches of the catholic church, or to the various jurisdictions within Orthodoxy, your question would be more readily answered if you gave criteria and norms for being the same of for being different. Fortunately many of the responses made an effort to fill in the pieces helpfully.

Many of the responses made an effort to fill in the pieces helpfully; but not all.

Apologies for assuming it’d be a simple question and for not being clear enough. I guess, all I’m trying to figure out at this point is whether they are both a part of the Orthodox church, or are the Eastern Catholics in communion with Rome?

Well that is a very direct question, with a clear answer. Eastern Catholics are just that - Catholics in Communion with Rome, who follow there own traditions.

Rolltide’s posts give specifics.

It is uncertain why you might have thought otherwise, although I suspect the claim of “Orthodox in Communion with Rome” might be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the Eastern Catholic Churches (just a hunch …).

Eastern Catholics are in communion with Rome and part of the Church that is headed by Pope Benedict XVI. Eastern Orthodox are not; they are under their own bishops, in no sense under the Roman Pope or other bishops of the Roman Catholic communion.

Eastern Catholics are not in communion with either the Eastern Orthodox or the Oriental Orthodox.

As others have said, Eastern Catholics are Catholics, in full communion with the bishop of Rome and not with the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, or Assyrian Church of the East.

In their beliefs they are Catholic just like the rest of us, including acceptance of universal Magisterial teaching. However, they generally employ different theological language and emphasis: usually the same basic sort of language and empasis as the non-Catholic Eastern Christians to whom they are most closely historically related. Some Magisterial teachings, though not rejected, are interpreted by some as not applying to Eastern Catholics.

In their practices there is great variety between Eastern Catholic Churches, but many are very similar to the Orthodox or Oriential Orthodox.

Sweet. So when people refer to “the Eastern Church”, they are generally referring to the Eastern Catholics?

That would depend on the specific context, I think.

A note on being “under” the Pope. There are different ways of viewing the issue. From a Western way of viewing the subject, at least, the Pope’s universal jurisdiction means that all Catholics, Western and Eastern, are immediately subject to the Pope and therefore very much “under” his authority.

On the other hand, the Pope is not directly a part of the internal hierarchy of the Eastern Catholic Churches (well, most of them anyway. A few of the smaller ones have unusual connections to Latin bishops that I don’t fully understand). Viewed from an Eastern perspective which thinks of the Church more in the context of the Eucharistic alter, with the Eucharist’s essential connection priest and the bishop he serves under, it can apparently look to them more like they are in communion with but not “under” the Pope.

No there is many differences, we accept almost all Latin dogmas, we have the Catholic interpretation on original sin and the immaculate conception, we don’t have a crazy toll house theory and we believe in the purgatory. We have mortal and venial sins(unlike the Orthodox).

Eastern Catholics like the Orthodox don’t have Eucharist Adoration, we deny the Filoque. we Have the exact same liturgies as the Orthodox, Are communion is not just the body but the blood and body(you have no choice to just receive the body) and it is leavened(like orthodox, basically means there is yeast and it rises) we also cross our selfs the eastern way(Forhead, abs, right shoulder, Left shoulder) and cross our selfs more often(Every time you here the words “Father son and holy spirit” and in general we are Less “protestantinzed” a word I just made, generally we feel very traditional in our liturgy unlike some mordernized protestant feeling latin rite liturgies.

I know some Eastern Catholics who believe in the “crazy toll house theory” and many Orthodox who do not. It is definitely not dogmatic within Orthodoxy.

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