Attending Orthodox Services


I agree that Catholics should obey legitimate ecclesiastical laws; however, by telling the person you were responding to that he was “obliged by the Holy See’s Directory”, there is the implication that he is violating ecclesiastical law by refusing to attend Orthodox services. Let me give the following example: if the Directory prohibited these actions, but I did them anyway, I would be disobedient. However, if the Directory allowed these actions, but I chose not to do them, I would not be disobedient, because I am not required to perform these actions.

As a side note, I’m not sure I understand how saying that the faithful “are called to pray for the unity of Christians, under the direction of their Bishops” necessarily amounts to a implication that this prayer necessarily takes place in a non-Catholic or “ecumenical” service.

I fairness, it seems as though @semper_catholicus was speaking generally, rather than specifically, in responding to the previous poster who appeared to accidentally conflate doctrine and discipline. However, I’m intrigued about your position that there was a “much needed” abrogation of the 1917 Code. Which specific points are you considering here?



No, we are “a thing”. :slight_smile:

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The matter is quite well set forth by the Saint of God, Pope John Paul II, in the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges

Pope Saint John Paul II pays tribute to his predecessor, also a Saint of God…Pope Saint John XXIII, who ushered in aggiornamento for the Church in all aspects of her life and her mission.

If we ask ourselves why John XXIII considered it necessary to reform the existing Code, the answer can perhaps be found in the Code itself which was promulgated in the year 1917. But there exists also another answer and that is the decisive one, namely, that the reform of the Code of Canon Law appeared to be definitely desired and requested by the same Council which devoted such great attention to the Church.

As is obvious, when the revision of the Code was first announced, the Council was an event of the future. Moreover, the acts of its magisterium and especially its doctrine on the Church would be decided in the years 1962-1965; however, it is clear to everyone that John XXIII’s intuition was very true, and with good reason it must be said that his decision was for the good of the Church in the long term.

Therefore, the new Code, which is promulgated today, necessarily required the previous work of the Council; and although it was announced together with the Ecumenical Council, nevertheless it follows it chronologically, because the work undertaken in its preparation, since it had to be based upon the Council, could not begin until after completion of the latter.

Turning our mind today to the beginning of this long journey, that is, to that January 25, 1959, and to John XXIII himself who initiated the revision of the Code, I must recognize that this Code derives from one and the same intention, which is that of the renewal of the Christian life. From such an intention, in fact, the entire work of the Council drew its norms and its direction.

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I am aware of the document…what I am asking is which specific points of the Council do you feel were most important, and how do you see them as subsequently incorporated into the Code? While we’re in a thread concerning participation in non-Catholic worship, perhaps I should mention that there was an interesting conversation on canon 844 on these forums the other day.

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Your request is the request for the equivalent of a thesis in a point by point examination of the Council’s expression in the new Code and the Code’s fulfillment of the thought of the Council Fathers.

With the nothing-of-substance that is a 3200 character limit post, I would simply say that among the Code’s greatest achievements is its distillation of the decisions of the Council as well as their implications into the individual canons that compose the Code. The Church’s canon law is an expression of the Council Fathers’ thought and will and the articulations of the Council. It is quite a beautiful synthesis, especially for those of us who have worked with it on a daily basis since its promulgation…and who also lived through the Council. It is far superior to what it replaced and I look forward to observing its 40th anniversary.



I do agree with this, and in fact, I am aware of at least one canonist who would be interested in pursuing research on this issue. I will have to disagree with your opinion that the 1983 Code is “far superior” to the 1917 Code, but that is another issue entirely.

To get back to the central topic of this thread, I wonder what accounts for the fact that current directives (dating back less than a century) regarding active participation at non-Catholic liturgies are the complete opposite of what the Church had always legislated prior to the change. How can this be reconciled?



There is no mystery. Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint Paul VI, and the College of Bishops gathered in Council with them, initiated a wholly different relationship with the Churches of the East not in communion with Rome and other Christians and with non-Christians. This is delineated in the documents of the Council and continues to unfold in our own day

The Lord Jesus, at the Last Supper, said that the Holy Spirit would lead them to the fullness of truth. The Holy Spirit intervened with the successors of the Apostles gathered in ecumenical council to realize the divine imperative that is the ecumenical movement and thus they wrote:

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council

Pope Saint John Paul II evoked this fundamental change when he begged the forgiveness of world’s non-Catholic Christians for past failures and improprieties of the Petrine Office in his visit to the World Council of Churches – and throughout his papacy, he carried forward the Council’s mandate on a new approach and new relationships

He evokes these fundamental changes throughout his encyclical, Ut Unum Sint…notably:

/…/ the very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion — linked to the baptismal character — which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians”, “others who have received Baptism”, and “Christians of other Communities”. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as “Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church”. This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ. I have personally been able many times to observe this during the ecumenical celebrations which are an important part of my Apostolic Visits to various parts of the world, and also in the meetings and ecumenical celebrations which have taken place in Rome. The “universal brotherhood” of Christians has become a firm ecumenical conviction. Consigning to oblivion the excommunications of the past, Communities which were once rivals are now in many cases helping one another /…/

In a word, Christians have been converted to a fraternal charity which embraces all Christ’s disciples

Fortunately, it is more than just the excommunications of the past that have been consigned to oblivion. It is also attitudes and mindsets of a bygone and dead era. Past models of potential reunification have been also consigned to oblivion. It is not that non-Catholics must be converted…we must all be converted, as the Popes have articulated



This is the principle you’re looking for, from Vatican II’s decree on the oriental churches (this principle is repeated in the decree on ecumenism):

  1. Common participation in worship which harms the unity of the Church or involves formal acceptance of error or the danger of aberration in the faith, of scandal and indifferentism, is forbidden by divine law.

However, where these things are not present, there’s no problem (there’s nothing per se wrong with praying orthodox prayers together, in the same room, with baptized non-Catholics).

Certainly, the Church in the past took a more cautious approach to this issue than is taken today, giving a blanket prohibition (with exceptions granted on a case by case basis). For better or worse, a broader permission is now simply granted, but always contingent on the divine law enunciated above.

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The exact words “fullness of truth” appear?



Jn 16:13 “he [the Holy Spirit] will lead you into all truth.”

So in other words, he will guide his disciples into the fullness - all - truth.

You can argue semantics if you want, but the meaning is clear.



That you for providing me with the context. While I wasn’t going to “argue semantics”, the words “fullness of truth” used in a different context can be confusing. I suppose you know what I’m talking about, so I won’t elaborate further unless it’s necessary.



It goes without saying that the exact phrase “fullness of truth” does not appear since the sacred author was not writing in English.

That is how I have chosen to render in English the actual phrase: “ἐν πάσῃ ἀληθείᾳ” which is what the writer of the fourth gospel wrote.



Quite so…

There are various ways to render the word into English.

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Speaking of taking different approaches toward bringing non-Catholic sects into communion with the Church is not the same, it would seem, as saying that the popes could simply initiate a fundamentally different relationship between the Catholic Church and those groups. For example, the Orthodox are still in an objective state of schism, and this has not changed following the Council, though the subjective culpability of each Orthodox individual is for God Himself to judge. And we must not be blind to reality, such as the fact that some people have taken this “new approach” idea completely off the rails, into full-blown religious indifferentism. It seems as though that allowing Catholics to participate in non-Catholic services can only reinforce this problematic mentality.



The Latin Mass Magazine put out an article on this whole issue some time ago. I brings up all the relevant points to this discussion.

Also relevant to this discussion is Pope Pius XI encyclical on fostering to Christian unity.



Allow me to rephrase that, “distinct branch of the Catholic Church”.



I and my family have personally attended Serbian Orthodox services such as vespers, I believe a lenten prayer service, and we have seen the myrrh streaming icon of the Holy Theotokos of Hawaii from the Russian Orthodox Church.

I haven’t ever attended a Divine Liturgy there because I wouldn’t be able to receive communion and would have to double back out and go to Mass. :man_shrugging:t4:

I personally would not go to a Protestant service and trust me I’ve been invited many times then I refuse to go.

I don’t even do anything really that much with my in-laws Church any longer other than their fireworks show or their trunk or treat.

Personally I like the Orthodox it’s a shame we can’t share communion and go to one another’s church for Sunday obligation.



May I ask why?

And was this on average from various Protestant Churches or more so a specific one you were invited to?



Usually something along the lines of having a very good conversation with someone and making a good impression on them and then they invite me to their church.

This is part of why I avoid Protestants because I’m never going to go to their church.

It’s pointless I will sit there cringing for an hour and have to go back out to go Mass.

People are then offended that I am going to Mass but it’s not worth trying to explain it to them.

There church doesn’t count there’s no priesthood, no sacraments, and no eucharist.

I avoid the issue all together.

I have been invited to a couple non denominational evangelical churches.

My in-laws are Nazarene and my wife converted last year as a none practicing Protestant to a Ukrainian Catholic.

I and my children are Latin rite but we attend a Ukrainian Catholic Mission.

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I hear you and have seen similar explinations on here before.

It makes me remember when my wife’s sister and husband visited. They didn’t have a car and various other logistical issues gave two possibilities. (We do not have many Catholic Churches around here. ) either we go to our Church (the question if they will join didn’t arise as I never asked it) or we take them to the Catholic Church (also not as many Mass times as I see around the world). Without any conversation we took them and also attended the Mass. The sister and husband was very greatful and even “surprised” we attended. Why they were surprised I have no idea. I mean we drove 40 min to get here, what would I do otherwise, it is still Christian and one can ALWAYS learn something. Even though I missed my Sunday service.

Just a flashback that came up in my mind.


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