Can the Orhodox and Catholic Churches reunite?

Is it possible? What exactly are our doctrinal differences? How could this unification be brought about?

The Catholic and the Orthodox could but we will never reunite with those Orhodox! They’re just Orhful!

I couldn’t agree more! They’re just way too full of Orh.

Could they? Yes. Will they anytime within the next 100 years, based upon contemporary relationships and practices? No. Probably longer than that.

You ask a very complicated question, one which has been discussed quite a bit on this forum. Orthodox don’t believe in Papal Infallibility, Papal Supremacy, Papal Universal Jurisdiction, the Filioque, Mortal vs. Venial sin, Indulgences, using unleavened bread for Communion, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, The Immaculate Conception, and a host of other Roman Catholic distinctives. I’ve also yet to meet an Orthodox Christian who finds the Novus Ordo, as it is most commonly practiced, to be an acceptable Liturgy for the Orthodox Church.

Reunion would mandate a change in quite a bit.

Not in my lifetime.

The biggest hindrance are the people who claim there is nothing separating us. After that it is the position of the Pope. An issue which, if resolved, would probably take our relations to where Oriental-Eastern relations are now, but neither side looks prepared to budge.

Ok then if reunification is impossible what exactly are or differences? I don’t know them and frankly would like to learn.

To begin with, refusal to acknowledge the primacy of the Chair of Peter.

Also, I recall the difference in acknowledging that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son”, preferring instead the teaching that it proceeds “from the Father”, period.

There are probably more. I neither recall all the ones I learned, nor I think I knew but a fraction of all. The idea is that they are in schism, and thus not in full communion - though not as far away as those who are in heresy. Thus, as CCC 838 states, “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.”

I do find it strange that the instructions for recieving communion in the missalette say it is ok for orthodox to recieve communion but to respect the discipline of their church, which of course says no.

Now quite right. We would’ve been fine giving him primacy, aknowledging him as first among equals. We are not ok with Supremacy, Infallibility, and Universal Jurisdiction. There’s a difference.

Of course whether, in a reunion scenario, Rome would still maintain that primacy today is a matter for debate.

Also, I recall the difference in acknowledging that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son”, preferring instead the teaching that it proceeds “from the Father”, period.

It’s more than a preference. It’s doctrine - The Spirit proceeds from The Father alone.

We have a Western Orthodox here now? Exciting! Catholic Answers is getting diverse. ROCOR or Antiochian?

And I agree with your comment.

Patriarch Bartholomew I said that the preparations are almost done for a pan-Orthodox council that would deal with this issue among others.

Most relate to the Papacy. We acknowledge Rome as having been the Primatial See, and in union it would be again, but we don’t acknowledge Rome as having any special power over other bishops. Other issues, like the Filioque flow from that difference (did a Pope have the right to declare it?).

Another issue is overlapping Bishoprics, which is meaningful to us, but which Catholics don’t think anything of.

Doctrinal emphasis forms another barrier. We don’t necessarily disagree with Catholic teaching on some issues (say the Assumption of the Theotokos), but we object to the great importance that is placed on it.

Finally there are a host of very minor issues which, push comes to shove, probably aren’t going to stand in the way of unification, but very well could - stuff like self-mortification, remarriage and divorce, cremation, etc.

I’ll let Catholics and Orthodox discuss the possibilities, while I pray for the event. :signofcross:


The preparations for the next Great and Holy Council have been “almost done” for years, and the list of topics it’s supposed to include gets ever increasing depending upon who one is talking to. The Americans are told that it will deal with the non-canonical issue of having more than one bishop in a city as well as multiple jurisdictions in one country. The Orientals are told it will deal with issues concerning Chalcedon. The OCA is told it will deal with their Autonomy. The Old Calendarists are told it will deal with the issue of differing Calendars and, apparently, Roman Catholics are told it will deal with questions about our relationship with them as well.

The Great and Holy Council is rather like the family garage your Dad (and Uncles) keeps telling you he’s going to clean up, organize, and sort out. You know someday it will happen, but you’re not about to hold your breath over it. Meanwhile everyone in the family is just going to keep tossing miscellaneous bits and pieces of whatever in there.

I knew there is a reason pan-Lutheranism doesn’t attempt to have a council. :stuck_out_tongue:


The Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue: Where does it truly stand at present?

Because it would be pan-demonium? :smiley:

In fairness there have been some very real steps toward getting the council set up. But I agree, it has been billed as everything to everyone. I’d be willing to bet that many of the things supposedly on the agenda are just wishful thinking. Particularly when it comes to relationships with other Christian groups. Without representation from OO and RCs (and other than possible observers that isn’t going to happen) the most they can do is come to an agreed upon position, but even that is useless if somehow (perhaps inevitably) more issues come up in discussions between the groups.

I agree with your statement. It is definitely not a matter of the smallish things people sometimes cite as differences. You were very mannerly and thoughtful in the way you presented an extremely difficult subject.

Not meaning to cause offense either, I feel compelled to risk it in order to say the following so Catholics do not get the wrong impression of the difficulty reunion presents.

Orthodoxy accepts the concept that there ought to be a Patriarch of Rome. But that’s about as far as it goes. Territoriality is central to Orthodoxy, and the Orthodox do not accept the right of Catholicism to be worldwide. Various Orthodox Patriarchs claim jurisdiction in all of Asia, the Americas and Europe outside the City of Rome and its immediately surrounding area.

This means Catholics in the Americas, for example, could not have Catholic priests or bishops. In short, to be considered members of the Church founded by Christ, they would have to become Orthodox.

Orthodoxy does not accept the validity of Catholic sacraments, though some accept Catholic baptism. Therefore, the Pope could not be the Patriarch of Rome unless he was ordained in the Orthodox Church then elected the Patriarch of Rome by Orthodox bishops. To Orthodoxy, our priests are not priests and we who consider ourselves married, really aren’t.

To Orthodoxy, Catholicism is as heretical as the Assemblies of God, and just as illigitimate. In fact, to Orthodoxy, the very term “Catholic” is not legitimately applied to Catholics because, to Orthodoxy, the only “Catholic” (universal) Church is Orthodoxy.

Yes, there are the Eastern Catholic Churches that have Byzantine traditions. But to Orthodoxy, they are at least as offensive as Roman Catholicism is, perhaps more so.

Catholics, I think, ought to think well of, even reverence, Orthodoxy because Catholicism does, indeed, recognize the legitimacy of Orthodox sacraments, and their priests and bishops as having Apostolic Succession. But we should not imagine that Orthodoxy thinks any better of Catholicism than Catholicism thinks of, say, Methodism. Perhaps less so.

I would add a cautionary note to this. Even discussing the causes of the schism and its persistence invites a firestorm that can readily cause ill will between Catholics and Orthodox in here or in any site in which both may be discussed. I have seen it happen before.

Best to leave it in God’s hands and in the hands of those churchmen of good will in both who communicate these matters among themselves. Men alone have failed to resolve it these thousand years past.

The only way at least the Churches under the Jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople would unite with Rome would be through the aegis of an Ecumenical Council and only after a renunciation of Catholic doctrines and dogmas which impede union–which have been discussed earlier in this post. The other autocephalous Orthodox Churches, specifically that of the Moscow Patriarchate, would be very difficult if not impossible to convince to enter ecclesial communion with the Catholic Communion of Churches united to the Pope since the MP is very anti-unia of any kind.

The issue of the convocation of the Holy and Great Council by the Ecumenical Patriarch is going to not be without great trouble. The MP and the EP have been at odds with each other over the power grab which is the Orthodox Church–since the MP sees itself as the New Rome and the Church of pre-eminence and the one with the majority of members–which is why the MP granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America without the consent of the heads of the Orthodox autocephalous Church specifically the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For the EP to attempt to convoke an Ecumenical Council without the MP actually spearheading it is also an issue of which patriarchate is pre-eminent. The MP is growing in power and influence while the EP is a persecuted minority in Turkey–one can immediately see why the two patriarchates are at odds with each other on many counts.

The other problem with achieving Church unity through an Orthodox Ecumenical Council is which autocephalous Churches would even accept the decisions of the Council. Another issue is the Old Calendarists and Traditionalists in New Calendar Orthodox Churches–who definitively would never accept ecumenist and modernist decisions of such a Council. Most likely convoking an Orthodox Ecumenical Council would breed more schisms, especially among conservative and traditional Orthodox in those jurisdictions.

That is why achieving Church unity through doctrinal and dogmatic compromise is impossible and only a submission to the other side is the only practical and authentic way of union. What this means is either the Orthodox concede to Catholic teaching on the office of the Pope and Catholic dogmatics or the Pope concedes and renounces in the name of the Church the Papal model of Church government, all of the Pope’s titles and powers, except the one they will grant which would be primes inter pars or first amoung equal among Orthodox patriarchates and teachings from the scholastic age of theology such as transubstantiation, filioque, etc along with the reforms of Vatican II in liturgy.

Do I see either side doing the above action…no. The future bishops, cardinals, and Pontiffs will be more traditional in their vision of the Church as evidenced by the new vocations who are more conservative and traditional in their vision of the Church–so what I see is not a concession but rather a re-affirmation of the teaching of Trent and Vatican I with the model of interpretation to see Vatican II in light of those two previous Councils. The Orthodox and Catholic Communions are light years from ecclesial communion.

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