The Difference Between Catholic and Coptic Christians
by Taylor Marshall, PhD of the New Saint Thomas Institute
The word “Coptic” comes from the Greek word for Egyptian: Aigyptios.
Aigyptios > Gyptios > Coptios > Coptic
Here are the similarities between Catholic and Coptic Christians:
• Both have valid 7 sacraments
• Both have valid Apostolic Succession and valid Holy Orders
• Both revere and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos
• Both pray to the saints
• Both pray for the faithful departed
• Both believe in the Real Presence of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist
• Both call their lead Patriarch by the title of “Pope,” which comes from Greek pappas meaning “daddy” or “papa.”
Differences Between Coptic Christians:
*]First Bishop: Saint Peter
*]Historically based in Rome
*]Current Leader: Pope Francis
*]Christology: Catholics are duophysite (“two nature”) following the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. Catholics hold that Christ’s two (“duo”) natures (human nature and divine nature) are united in His one Person without confusion, alteration, or commingling.
*]First Bishop: Saint Mark the author of the Second Gospel
*]Historically based in Alexandria, Egypt
*]Current Leader: Pope Theodoros II
*]Christology: Coptics are miaphysite (“one nature”) and hold that Christ’s divinity and humanity are united in one (“mia”) nature, the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration.
It is this last point on Christology that has historically separated the Catholic Church and the Coptic Church.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II was able to reconcile this point with the Copts:
“We believe that our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Incarnate-Logos is perfect in His Divinity and perfect in His Humanity. He made His Humanity One with His Divinity without Mixture, nor Mingling, nor Confusion. His Divinity was not separated from His humanity even for a moment or twinkling of an eye. At the same time, we anathematize the Doctrines of both Nestorius and Eutyches.”