Converting from Orthodox Christian to Catholic

Hey everyone,

I have a friend who is currently a baptised Orthodox Christian but he is considering converting to the Catholic Church. He was never really brought up in his Orthodox faith and he has been attending Catholic services for quite some time now and is growing closer and closer to the Catholic faith. He is starting to consider converting to Catholicism and regardless of whether he does, both of us were wondering what the conversion process would be like. 

I’m currently in college and so both of us have asked the priest at our Newman Center if he had any idea of what the process is like, but he himself is not entirely sure of what that entails. Is it a long process/similiar to RCIA? Or is it less complicated since he is already baptised (and probably also confirmed) and can receive Holy Communion/Reconciliation in Catholic Churches?
I’ve tried researching it as well and I can’t seem to find much. Any ideas?

I live in Romania, East Europe, and I am a converted from the Orthodox Church, too. In my case, the decision was hard to take (because I was a stubborn young man). So, I discussed a lot with a catholic priest, having a long list of unclarities regarding the faith. But, once I made up my mind and I decided to convert, the process itself was quite simple: I was requested only to complete a written request, followed by my registraton in the Parish Registry.

SyroMalabarCath,

Prayers for your friend on his or her journey to the fullness of the Faith! I just want to make point out that Orthodox who convert to Catholicism have a special calling that both the Pope and Vatican Council have recognized - that is to join their corresponding Eastern Catholic Church and live out their faith and Tradition as a witness to other Orthodox and other Christians.

What a beautiful living example your friend will provide!

Christ is risen!

It’s a wonderful thing to have college students active in their faith! And that you are sharing your faith with each other! And that you are someplace that has a Newman Center is great. It’s not surprising that your priest there isn’t sure what to do. This is not unusual because the change from Orthodoxy to the Catholic Church doesn’t happen often enough for them typically to be familiar with it.

IF your friend ultimately does decide to ask to be received into the Catholic Church he would need to provide a copy of his baptismal record from his Orthodox Church to the parish where he wants to be received. (This is something every baptized person does who wants to become Catholic.) That Orthodox Church which he is leaving *would normally determine the Church sui iuris to which he would be enrolled at the time of his reception, even if his reception was physically taking place in a RC Church. * (If he was baptized in an Orthodox Church then he was chrismated at the same time so yes he’s been “confirmed”) You say he currently “can receive Holy Communion/Reconciliation in Catholic Churches” but that is a misunderstanding I think.

You might want to go over to the Byzantine Forum and post there. byzcath.org/forums/ There are college age Eastern Catholics on that site as well as Orthodox, ECC and Latin Rite Catholic folks of other ages.

I myself think it would be good if you both can connect with your eastern roots. It sounds like you yourself never formally requested change to the Latin Rite. The interest of the Catholic Church is especially for those from the Eastern Catholic Churches to retain their rite even when by necessity participating in a Latin Rite parish. And leaving an Orthodox Church to come into the Catholic Church is something some Catholics would jump for joy about but I would say please be very thoughtful in considering this.

Because in many places, including here in the US where you seem to live, there are many more Latin Rite Catholics than there are EC or Orthodox, the tendency is for people to slide into the Latin Rite Catholic Church. Vatican II made it very clear that this tendency toward “Latinization” is not desired. Have you read ORIENTALE LUMEN by John Paul II of blessed memory? Please do :slight_smile: vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_02051995_orientale-lumen_en.html

There is a new site Eastern Christian Media with some excellent material about the ECC, from the Byzantine perspective mainly: www.easternchristianmedia.com They continue to add to their site. I think Catherine Alexander’s interviews on Youtube with the monks from Holy Resurrection Monastery are excellent. youtube.com/user/YourWordFromTheWise Father Thomas Loya, pastor of a Byzantine Catholic Parish in IL has a weekly radio program Light of the East which is archived byzantinecatholic.com/feed.xml

You both come from very rich traditions. Even if he comes into the Catholic Church he has much to gain by knowing more about those roots and being involved in the Church sui iuris that corresponds to the Orthodox Church he would be leaving.

Again, it’s wonderful that you two are able to share your faith journey. May you continue to deepen in your love of the Church. This is Her most joyous season! Christ is risen indeed!

( I just listened again to “Who are Eastern Catholics?” PART 1 with Fr. Maximos of Holy Resurrection Monastery- less than 10 mins, so good! :slight_smile: ) youtube.com/user/YourWordFromTheWise

It’s too late for me to amend my previous post so here’s another to speak to your question about the time involved.

When a validly baptized person (baptized with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit) seeks to come into the Catholic Church the length of that time before their reception is individually determined with consideration as to what they come with in terms of understanding of Christianity and of the Catholic Church. One makes a profession of faith during the Mass when they are accepted into the Church. So they need to understand and be comfortable professing what that Church believes and indeed be living a Christian life, worshiping with a Catholic community.

“Those who have already been baptized in another church or ecclesial community should not be treated as catechumens or so designated. Their doctrinal and spiritual preparation for reception into full Catholic communion should be determined according to the individual case, that is, it should depend on the extent to which the baptized person has led a Christian life within a community of faith and been appropriately catechized to deepen his or her inner adherence to the Church” (NSC 30).

Reception is at any Mass. U.S. Conference of Bishops states, “It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christians with the candidates for baptism…” Many parishes ignore this and do reception almost only at the Easter Vigil. “[t]he reception of candidates into the communion of the Catholic Church should ordinarily take place at the Sunday Eucharist of the parish community, in such a way that it is understood that they are indeed Christian believers who have already shared in the sacramental life of the Church and are now welcomed into the Catholic Eucharistic community . . .” (NSC 32) (U.S. Conference of Bishops, National Statutes for the Catechumenate, Nov. 11, 1986).

One would hope that because of your friend’s Orthodox background, even if he “was never really brought up in his Orthodox faith”, consideration of this background and seeking the connection to an ECC would be included in the preparation process.

The CCEO is clear: he becomes an EC of the corresponding church to his orthodox affiliation upon making a profession of faith before the pastor and witnesses. That’s it. (Many Roman Catholics are unaware, even many Roman priests, that canon law is specific on that issue.) Accept the pope, the immaculate conception, papal infallibility in matters of doctrine, and that the Spirit originates in the father, and proceeds through the father and the son, plus the Nicene-Constantinoplean Creed.

If he/she wishes to change canonical enrollment to the Latin church, they must do so before the pastor and two witnesses, and notice must be sent to both relevant bishops.

You say he currently “can receive Holy Communion/Reconciliation in Catholic Churches” but that is a misunderstanding I think.

So long as he does so willingly, he’s permitted to receive these Sacraments in the Catholic Church. :slight_smile:

§3 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the eastern Churches not in full communion with the catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed. The same applies to members of other Churches which the Apostolic See judges to be in the same position as the aforesaid eastern Churches so far as the sacraments are concerned.

Peace and God bless!

Christ is risen!
There are two Churches to consider the Catholic and the Orthodox. Many Orthodox would be unhappy, to say the least, with that statement.

From the Catholic Canon CIC 844 §3 you refer to, and CCEO 671 §3 perspective yes, an Orthodox person can under certain circumstances receive Sacraments from a Catholic priest, yes. I don’t wish to get into any arguments about when this exception is meant to be taken, especially as concerns the friend mentioned here, for whom this is a pastoral issue for his spiritual father to consider with him, but only to say that speaking in general the relations between Catholics and Orthodox are very sensitive and this exception is not to be taken advantage of lightly and I think that §5 of CIC and §5 of CCEO speak to this.

(Roman) Catholic Canon CIC 844 §5: “In respect of the cases dealt with in §§2, 3 and 4, the diocesan Bishop or the Episcopal Conference is not to issue general norms except after consultation with the competent authority, at least at the local level, of the non-catholic Church or community concerned.”
(Eastern Catholic) CCEO 671 §5: “For the cases in 2, 3 and 4, norms of particular law are to be enacted only after consultation with at least the local competent authority of the non-Catholic Church or ecclesial community concerned.”

There is no “Orthodox Church” rather numerous Orthodox churches but by and large Orthodox churches do not consider it acceptable for their members to take Sacraments from a Catholic priest. And in places in the world where it is not impossible for Orthodox to get to their own church that exception is not advisable which is why §5 for both Roman Canon and Eastern Catholic Canons speak of “consultation with the competent authority” before providing any norms for the exception (which means the local Ordinary presumably would set norms to clarify when §3 is allowed). There is more than a simple reading of CIC 844 §3 alone provides.

It’s a very charged topic. I just want us to be aware that there is more than just the Catholic perspective. Please accept my comments in the spirit in which they are written. Respect from Rome for the position of many Orthodox Churches on this topic has been consistent.

How any individual priest and parishioner deals with this is between them and God.
Peace be with you also!
P.S. I just noticed there is a recent thread on this topic under Liturgy and Sacraments

My family came over from Antiochian Orthodoxy recently - as the Roman Church was much closer to us physically, and when investigating realized there were many legitimate western Saints since the great schism (1054). Our reasoning was one cannot be a Saint unless they have Christ, and if one receives Christ then one has the fullness of Truth - and certainly St. Bernadette is a Saint, St. Theresa of Calcutta, St. Germain Cousin, St. John of the Cross, etc…

As to our procedure, I went to the Roman Catholic Priest, confessed and took communion. Attended a couple of Catechism classes and have some old catechism material, but frankly the book “He and I” is probably the best resource on intimate prayer with the Savior for a layman. Praying the Rosary with the mysteries spelled out with each element is wonderful, and of course we can still pray the hours. So there is nothing lost and much gained from the experience.

Hmm. This is interesante. I have been discerning Catholicism for the last 6 months and feel that I am close to ditching the whole idea. Also, I am beginning to take a closer look at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. There are two points about Catholicism that I, simply, have been unable to wrap my brain around.

  1. the birth control issue - The catholic party line is that there can be no action taken by the parties that eliminate the ability to procreate; as regards intercourse. Catholicism teaches that the withdrawal method of birth control is essencially the same as abortion. They are both mortal sins, if done intentionally. I do see how birth control, after conception, can be grave matter. However, the withdrawal method and abortion differ in this key point, conception. I see the orthodox view as much more rationally and logically consistent with the purpose of marriage. God gave the gift of intercourse to a marriage man and a woman to enhance their relationship and procreate, but it does not hold that every act should include both. If this were the case, NFP would be prohibited too; as it is a positive act of the will to abstain or not.

  2. the divorce/remarriage issue - I was previously married and the Catholic Church would require me to apply for a grant of nullity. In order to submit this request, I have to be prepared for either a grant of nullity or not. There is a chance that they could find my marriage to my ex-wife as still canonically binding. I have been happily married for 13 years since my divorce and the last thing I need is a Church wrecking my family. My wife and I will NOT live a “brother and sister”, because that will just open us up to temptation. The Greek Orthodox church takes us much more pragmatic line on this issue.

By the way, I hear the liturgy is more beautiful in the Orthodox Church anyway. :wink:

It’s a very charged topic. I just want us to be aware that there is more than just the Catholic perspective. Please accept my comments in the spirit in which they are written. Respect from Rome for the position of many Orthodox Churches on this topic has been consistent.

I understand your concern, but the fact remains that from the Catholic perspective, and that’s the issue at hand, this friend can receive Communion at a Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not turn away Orthodox who come to receive just because their own Bishops may not approve, and the Canons do not allow for such an action anyway.

If an Orthodox Christian approaches a Catholic priest for Communion, of their own free will and properly disposed, then they will receive Communion. It’s not our place to police the Orthodox, nor is it our place to deny them the Sacraments they are entitled to as members of the Body of Christ. I realize that some Orthodox may disapprove, but these are the facts.

After all, how many Eastern Orthodox would turn away a Catholic who wanted to become Eastern Orthodox on the grounds of “mutual respect” for Churches? When that starts happening, we can start talking about turning away Orthodox who simply want Communion.

Peace and God bless!

My family came over from Antiochian Orthodoxy recently - as the Roman Church was much closer to us physically, and when investigating realized there were many legitimate western Saints since the great schism (1054).

Do you realize, Andy, that you and your family are technically supposed to be Melkite?

First of all, the Catholic Church teaches that NFP should only be used for grave reasons. It is not supposed to be a method of contraception. So despite the misunderstanding of people have of NFP, there is absolutely no inconsistency in the Church’s teaching on that matter.

Secondly, what do you suppose God made the male seed for? Think about that and pray about it, brother, and perhaps you will begin to see the holy purpose in the Church’s teaching of why withdrawal/ABC is against God’s order.

Thirdly, it is true that not every act need include birth. But isn’t that why God gave the female body periods of infertility? Why not work with God’s natural law instead of making up our own (remember, NFP is not to be used primarily as a method of contraception)?

[quote=]2) the divorce/remarriage issue - I was previously married and the Catholic Church would require me to apply for a grant of nullity. In order to submit this request, I have to be prepared for either a grant of nullity or not. There is a chance that they could find my marriage to my ex-wife as still canonically binding. I have been happily married for 13 years since my divorce and the last thing I need is a Church wrecking my family. My wife and I will NOT live a “brother and sister”, because that will just open us up to temptation. The Greek Orthodox church takes us much more pragmatic line on this issue.
[/quote]

“Pragmatic” does not equate to “holy,” does it? I think it is strange that you won’t at least go through the process just out of fear and mere possibilities…There is a poster here who went through a 2-year annulment process (perhaps more, perhaps less) in order to come into the Church. As stated, the Truth is not for our convenience. Pray on that.

[quote=]By the way, I hear the liturgy is more beautiful in the Orthodox Church anyway. :wink:
[/quote]

When I visited the Philippines, I exprerienced just as much beauty when I attended a Mass at a poor, country village in a small, unadorned, wall-less church. DL and a respectful Mass are both equally beautiful, as far as the soul is concerned.

Blessings on your Faith journey, and wherever you end up, I pray you will work for the unity that is the prayer of our Lord.

Blessings,
Marduk

P.S. I noticed something interesing. Your post stating your intention not to become Catholic is your 666th post. How wierd and ironic is THAT?:eek:

:banghead:

:slight_smile:

Hi - we were in the Anglican Church before, became Orthodox for about 10-11 years and then found the Roman Church nearest us in obedience to Church teaching.

According to the Canons you are technically ascribed to the Melkite church, regardless of which ritual church you worship in.

That means that you should follow the Melkite calendar…technically. :shrug:

Only in regards to which feasts are holy days of obligation and fasts, and which fasting rules to follow.

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