I was reading a Coptic forum talking about the differences between them and Catholicism. One post stood out which ill quote below. I just want to hear what tye differences are from catholic perspective and did we mistreat Coptic Christians in the past?
"I can understand your frustrations regarding the Catholic Church. What you have to understand is that as Coptic Christians we have also had to endure hardships at their hands. They treated us during the crusades as they treated your people, with utter contempt.
Also quite similarly to your situation, they have canonized the apparitions at Zeitoun as an official miracle and they also celebrate with us this great blessing that occurred.
However in light of the recent apologies of Pope John Paul and the efforts ecumenism efforts that have taken place, I would like to think that we can all put these sad matters behind us and start to witness orthodoxy to them so they might recognize their heterodox beliefs.
Anyway back to the original post.
There are a few differences between us and the Catholic Church, I’m going to list all the ones I can recall from my foggy and unreliable memory so this is list is by no means definitive.
During the time of one of the Popes (Leo I believe), they were faced with the issue of what happens to people if they don’t repent from sins during their lifetime?
From this an idea was created that we went to place which was neither heaven nor hell but a place where you would suffer until you were purified of sin.
Our concerns with this are that it puts a finite value on sin, in that a certain degree of suffering can forgive a sin. This is quite contrary to St. Athanasius teaching on sin/propitiation.
Also this implies if you follow it that the devil suffer and then be allowed into heaven after his time is up.
During the middle ages the church became quite corrupt and offered people the forgiveness of sins through payments towards the building of churches.
- Holiness credits?
I’m not exactly sure the name of this difference is correct and I believe it is in some way related to the indulgences but it is believed that some people like saints become so good in their life time that they have over attained their right to the forgivness of sins.
They are now free to distribute this as a gift to others…
- Salvation without Christ
The Catholic church now believes that you can be saved without Christ by a ‘secret’ participation of grace in the heart of an unbeliever. This is a modern teaching which has come as a result of the ecumenical movement.
- Quasi-Nestorian interpretations of the Tome of Leo
While our church does not formally accept or even like the way the tome of leo is worded, we have accepted that EO Churches have a orthodox understanding of the document. However many modern theologians in the Catholic Church tend to interpret it in a way that has a worrying Nestorian bias.
They also signed a Christological agreement with the Assyrian Church of the east which is the modern day equivalent of the Nestorian movement. This is in conflict with one they signed with us earlier agreeing to our Cyrillian theology.
- St. Paul’s Indulgence
This is rarely used but they believe through a misinterpretation of one of Paul’s discourses that it is okay for a Christian to marry a non-believer.
- The filoque
This is the most famous difference and caused the split between the Catholics and the EO. They altered the creed so that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son rather than just the Father. This is based on a misinterpretation of the Son’s ability to ‘send’ the Holy Spirit.
- Papal infallibility
The Catholics believe that when the Pope is sitting on the seat of St. Peter he is give the ability to never utter a wrong teaching.
- The supremacy of Rome
The Catholics believe that their Pope is the head of the Church on earth and has authority over all. This is a belief we can’t accept because Christ is the head of the Church.
Catholics seem to have disturbing ways of performing acts of penance. An example is Lourdes where people travel long distances on their knees, having them all cut and bruised by the time they arrive at the site.
Umm, I’m starting to run out of obvious differences…
There are other lesser things like their belief in the Co-demprix which isn’t an official belief but some Catholics want to elevate Mary to the status of being a co-redeemer.
There are also some not “fully” orthodox ideas which they have adopted from St. Augustine like his suggestion that the Holy Spirit was the love relationship between the Father and the Son and also his views on the Original Sin from the City of God.
It is at this point that I would like to put a disclaimer on all that I have written. If I am mistaken about anything please respond to let me know."