Difference in faith?

Okay so I know that awhile ago the Catholic church split into two pieces, Roman and Greek Orthodox. But that is about it, and I want to learn more about it. So I have multiple questions. Are they the same? Is Orthodox still Catholic? How are they different? Do Orthodox follow the pope? Any insight on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Orthodox Christians do not acknowledge the Bishop of Rome as their leader. They are not in full communion with us. They do have valid sacraments, however.

That said, there are some Churches in the East that are Catholic.

Here are some of the different rites in the Catholic Church from the Catechsim:

1203 The liturgical traditions or rites presently in use in the Church are the Latin (principally the Roman rite, but also the rites of certain local churches, such as the Ambrosian rite, or those of certain religious orders) and the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite and Chaldean rites. In “faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.”

My understanding is that Orthodox and Catholic are closely related, but not the same. Their practices are much more similar to each other than, say, Catholic and Baptist. However, the Orthodox don’t acknowledge the pope’s authority. Also, they celebrate Easter on a different date. However, I believe that Catholics are allowed to attend and participate in an Orthodox mass if there is no Catholic mass available.

Okay so say receiving Communion at an Orthodox church, is it okay?

I wouldn’t act on what I said; I’m not a Catholic and just relaying what I heard. My understanding is it is ok IF there is no Catholic mass you can attend, ie your in the middle of nowhere and the nearest Catholic parish is 12 hours away. I think it has to be something of “need”, not just convenience.

But, I’d listen to someone more versed in Catholic/Orthodox relations than me.

It is not an offense to Catholics, but it likely would be to Orthodox for you to do that. I think they do not allow it or want it, but it’s possible I’m wrong. From the Orthodox I’ve spoken to here, that is the impression I get. You could ask the pastor at the church before hand, but one should not do it without asking first.

We have some substantial ground to cover before Catholics and Orthodox are reunited, we are something like brothers who have not reconciled with each other.

Quick google search seems to agree with you, Jamal.

ChurchSuffering #1
I know that awhile ago the Catholic church split into two pieces, Roman and Greek Orthodox. But that is about it, and I want to learn more about it. So I have multiple questions. Are they the same? Is Orthodox still Catholic? How are they different? Do Orthodox follow the pope? Any insight on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

The Catholic Church has not “split”. No other church is “Catholic” – Catholic was first used by St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrneans, A.D. 107, “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” It is from the Greek katholike meaning “general” or “universal”. Within 90 years it meant also “orthodox” or faithful to the teachings of Christ. (The Catholic Catechism, Fr John A Hardon, S.J., Doubleday, 1975, p 217).

No other Church has been founded by the Christ, the Son of God, and no other sect or religion has all the marks of Christ’s Church – one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

786. How and why did such separation as exists between Eastern Orthodox Churches and Rome begin?
‘That is a long and complex story, almost impossible to condense into a brief reply. At first, of course, Christians in both East and West formed one Church. But the Easterns had languages and developed various customs and ways of thinking which differed from those of the Latin West. Growing misunderstandings resulted. Also, when the Emperor Constantine founded Constantinople and transferred the centre of political authority to that city, the Eastern Christians tended to think of it as “the new Rome,” and of themselves as subject even religiously to the Emperors. Gradually the spirit of separation came to an open break with the Pope by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, in 1054 A.D. Two reunion agreements between the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Churches were signed at the Council of Lyons in 1274 and at the Council of Florence in 1439, but both were short-lived in practice owing to the general disagreement of ordinary Orthodox people with concessions made by their top-level delegates. Renewed ecumenical efforts are being made in our own days to bring about unity once more on a more stable basis.’[My emphasis].

787. Apart from their rejection of Papal Infallibility, has purity of doctrine from the Catholic point of view been maintained by the Eastern Orthodox Churches?
‘Not entirely. **Besides denying Papal Infallibility they would, of course, deny Papal Supremacy. **They grant that the Pope has a primacy of honour, but not that he has supreme jurisdiction over the whole Church. **They deny, also, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as regards her exemption from original sin, although holding that she was ever personally sinless. In cases even of a valid marriage they permit divorce and remarriage. **Other differences could be regarded as belonging to the area of non-essentials. Meantime, what the Catholic Church does recognise in the Eastern Orthodox Churches is the validity of their priestly ordinations; the legitimacy of their Eastern liturgical rites which are much the same as those in Eastern Rite Catholic Churches; and their general affinity of outlook with the Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals. Needless to say, they are much nearer to the Catholic Church than any of the forms of Western Protestantism.’ [My emphasis].

Hopefully being once on the road to Catholicism, but now on my road to Orthodoxy (having studied both a bit), I can give some information.

However, before we get into that, we need to settle an incorrect assumption I believe from your initial post. It is not the Catholic Church vs. the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greek Orthodox Church is only one church in a communion of churches to form the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Basic history is that there used to be one church in the first thousand years. The church structure was that of a Pentarchy, of five great apostolic sees of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem (note that some sees only came later in the first millenia). Anyways, the primacy of the major episcopal sees rested upon Rome for several reasons. For one, Rome was the political center of the Roman empire, and it was only natural that it would gain the prominence it did. Also, Rome was where some of the largest number of people were martyred, and as such Rome had a special place in Christian society (the blood of the martyrs make the church today after all). Last of all, although some dispute this, was that the great Apostles Paul and Peter were martyred there. Finally, it is believed Apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome.

Regardless, Rome had a primacy that was throughout history contested by Constantinople, the New Rome (saying that the honors of New Rome are equal to that of Old Rome). If I am not mistaken, this is probably due to the increase in power of Constantinople and the decrease of Rome’s power. However, both Orthodox and Catholics agree today that Rome holds primacy.

Anyways, throughout Christian history, many heresies arose (Arianism, Nestorianism, Sabellianism, etc). Ecumenical Councils were called in the East to deal with these matters. There are the 7 great ecumenical councils (you can google them). During these times, Rome was the bedrock of orthodoxy (lower case “o,” adjective) as these heresies were from the East.

Now, Rome was representative of Western Christianity, while the other 4 patriarchal sees represented Eastern Christianity. Understand that although Western and Eastern Christianity seem very different, they were once the same faith, just expressed through different cultural and liturgical traditions. We were all once united in the same faith.

However, especially during the 8th century onwards, tensions between the East and West grew with the introduction of the filioque in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in the Western church. St. Photius the Great during the 9th century was very outspoken against the filioque, calling it a heresy (among other accusations towards the Western Church). Also, it was during this time that the development of Papal Supremacy started to come in, and the East were not particularly happy with the West claiming supremacy over the entire church.

As matters of Papal Supremacy and the filioque (among some other things) started to take form in the West, the East and West started to slowly drift apart i in the union of the same faith. By 1054, some problems occurred that resulted in the mutual excommunication of the Pope and Patriarch of Constantinople. Although, understand that excommunications between fighting bishops/patriarchs are not uncommon, so for the most of Christendom, most did not even know this occurred, and most likely still considered the East and West sister churches.

The churches slowly started drifting apart further with time, and it was then apparent after a few more centuries that they did not have the same union of faith they once had. The Council of Florence tried to fix this, but to no avail. What resulted was now two churches that split.

Understand that there is the Catholic Church made up of 23 sui iuris autonomous churches (the Latin Church, Alexandrian Church, Armenian Church, etc.). The same is with the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose communion consists of a number of churches of their own (15 autocephalous churches which includes the Greek Orthodox Church you mentioned, and 3 autonomous churches).
So the real question is the difference between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church.

cont. in next post…

… cont from last post

Now for your specific questions

  1. Are they the same?
    No they are not, as they are not in communion. The Catholic Church believe the Orthodox church to be in schism due to not being in communion with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). The Orthodox claim the Catholic Church is in schism from the Orthodox Church, believing the Western church has strayed from the true apostolic faith (so from an Orthodox point of view, the Catholic Church is in schism and heresy). The heretical accusations include the filioque, Papal Supremacy, Papal Infallibility, Immaculate Conception, and purgatory. There are other issues, but those are rather insignificant to the big issues I have just listed.

  2. Is Orthodox still Catholic?
    This depends on how you mean by “Catholic.” If you mean Catholic as in being in communion with the rest of the Catholic Church communion, then no (as they believe the other to be in schism).

If you mean Catholic as in “universal” then that depends on how you define that. If I am not mistaken, Orthodoxy exists in almost every country in the world, but number of parishes are especially low in Western countries as this is where Catholicism and Protestantism have a foothold in. Take that as you may.

If you mean “Catholic” in the original sense of the word by St. Ignatius (“Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church,” Chapter 8 of The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans), then it means as to the whole, not lacking anything (the full faith in a way). The Catholic Church does not believe the Orthodox have fallen into heresy, and do not hold any heterodox beliefs. So in this way, they are basically “Catholic” in belief. However, they are not in communion with Rome, and as such do not subscribe to the beliefs held by the Western Church (such as the Papal dogmas etc.). In this sense you could say the Orthodox are not “Catholic” as they do not have all the beliefs upheld by the Catholic church. However, understand that an Orthodox will say they have the full faith and that Rome has only added to the faith (heresy). But generally, Catholics will say that the Orthodox are only in schism and are virtually “Catholic.”
So take your pick.

  1. How are they different?
    They are especially different in the liturgical expression in their worship. The Catholic Church has Mass while the Orthodox have Divine Liturgy. Although they have similar structural elements (such as epiklesis, etc.) they are VERY different as a whole. The music, use of icons, and liturgy as a whole is very different. However, this was how it was in the early church as well, so this would just be the different expression of liturgical worship. Theologically, they are different as well. For example, the East uses essence and energies to describe God, along with negative statements. The West has defined mortal vs. venial sin, while the Orthodox Church has no such distinction and says that all sin is to “miss the mark” so to speak. At least with the theological perspectives, an analogy would be two diggers digging from different sides of the canyon, but digging towards the same location of buried treasure. The theological expression and terms are different to describe the same reality.
    The West uses scholasticism, the East does not. The West stresses the Passion of Christ, while the East stresses the Risen Christ. The different devotionals (Sacred Heart of Jesus, Rosary, and Chaplets in the West and Prayer Ropes in the East). They also have different disciplines regarding clergy etc. (celibacy, leavened vs unleavened bread, annulments vs. divorce, economia in the East, method of baptism, and different canon law for the respective churches).

As to faith differences, this is where the divisive issues actually arise.
Papal supremacy is one, where the Pope has universal jurisdiction of the Christian Church. The Eastern churches contest this. Both churches agree that Rome has a primacy, but the West believes this to be supremacy and infallibility while the East believes it to be one of honor only.
Catholics believe in the Infallibility of the Pope, the East do not (they believe only the church as a whole is infallible).
The nature of purgatory. The Immaculate Conception (East believes she still shared in our ancestral/original sin). Those are the main points of contention.

cont to next post…

… cont. from last post

  1. Do Orthodox follow the pope?
    No they do not. The Catholics believe in the development of doctrine regarding the Papacy, that although it was not apparent at first, it would develop into what it truly is. They believe the Pope has universal jurisdiction and the charism of infallibility. This is also based on the Catholic interpretation of certain scripture points such as Matthew 16:18 and some church writings in the first millenia.

The Orthodox refute this, saying that primacy lies with Rome, but that primacy is NOT the same as supremacy/infallibility. This mainly arises from the fact that while Rome has a rather sharp definition of papal succession (Rome having succession from Peter uniquely), the Orthodox rather have a more holistic view of succession, that all the bishops today share in Peter’s succession (after all, the first bishop of Antioch was Peter as well). They do believe Rome has a unique place in the Pentarchy, that there is a primacy unique to Rome due to its early church ties and the martydom of Saints Peter and Paul. HOWEVER they say this primacy is expressed in “inter primus pares” that the Bishop of Rome has a primacy of honor, not of juridical authority.
Because Rome is not in communion with the Orthodox communion, this primacy has then been given to the Patriarch of Constantinople (known as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I). This makes sense considering Constantinople is second in honor after Rome in the Pentarchy.
So no, the Eastern Orthodox do not follow the Pope.

Hope this helps!

Well we Orthodox would still call ourselves Catholic mind you.

Kmon23 #9
St. Photius the Great during the 9th century was very outspoken against the filioque, calling it a heresy (among other accusations towards the Western Church). Also, it was during this time that the development of Papal Supremacy started to come in, and the East were not particularly happy with the West claiming supremacy over the entire church.

From the very first, the Pope was always recognised as supreme as Christ had mandated, giving him the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s interesting that Sir Arnold Lunn in Now I See, Sheed & Ward, 1955) could quote from the Anglican Vicar of Oddington, Rev S Herbert Scott, that St Peter and his successors were recognised as the supreme judges in matters of faith by a long succession of great Eastern saints, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Denys, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and others.

Note that the early Church always accepted the Bishop of Rome as head of the Church. In about 80 A.D., the Church at Corinth deposed its lawful leaders. The fourth bishop of Rome, Pope Clement I, was called to settle the matter even though St. John the Apostle was still alive and much closer to Corinth than was Rome. Tradition shows Pope St Clement exercising his primacy in about 96, on a matter of schism in the Church of Corinth. Of the same generation as Saints Peter and Paul and when St John the Apostle was probably still living in Ephesus, Pope Clement wrote as one commanding to the Church of Corinth in Greece: “If any disobey what He (Christ) says through us, let them know that they will be involved in no small offence and danger, but we shall be innocent of this sin.” (I Clem. ad Cor. 59,1) This Is The Faith, Canon Francis J Ripley, Fowler Wright Books, 1971, p 151; 139-141].

‘1256. Did the Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church at any stage after the death of Christ recognize the Pope as supreme and infallible head of the Church?
We cannot speak of the “Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church” prior to the Greek Schism commenced by Photius in 867 A.D. Until then there were simply Patriarchs of Constantinople, presiding there and subject to the Pope.

‘Dr. Orchard, when a Congregationalist, wrote, “An examination of the circumstances of the Great Schism shows that the Eastern Church did then repudiate a supremacy which it had previously been in the habit of conceding to the Roman Patriarchate.”

‘The First Council of Constantinople in 381, which only Eastern Bishops attended, demanded that the Bishop of Constantinople should rank next after the Bishop of Rome, and before the Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch. The Council of Chalcedon in 451, attended by the Eastern Bishops, ended its discussion with the unanimous cry, “Peter has spoken by Leo,” when the Pope’s decision was given.

‘A century and a half later Pope Gregory I could still write, “Who doubts that the Church of Constantinople is subject to the Apostolic See?” No one then doubted it; and no one disputed it until Photius came along in 867 to plunge the East into schism. The Patriarch of Constantinople, and all the Eastern Bishops signed the formula of Hormisdas, who was Pope from 514 to 523. That formula contained these words, “We follow the Apostolic See in everything and teach all its laws. I hope to be in that one Communion taught by the Apostolic See in which is the whole, real, and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.” Dean Milman writes, “Before the end of the third century the lineal descent of Rome’s Bishops from St. Peter was unhesitatingly claimed and obsequiously admitted by the Christian world.” ’

Just saying, hopefully my post wasn’t received as a means for me to proselytize anyone into the Orthodox faith or anything. I intended it to be a fully third-party point of view showing just a basic overview from both sides. I have a high regard for the papacy (from my leaving of Protestantism :)) and still do, especially in this anti-religious world. So I don’t intend to debate with anyone in this thread for either Catholicism or Orthodox.

However I would somewhat disagree with the statement that the Pope was always mandated as supreme, or at least it was not evident in the early church. Our Orthodox brethren would just say this is the example of Rome’s primacy. Nevertheless the Papal supremacy/infallibility is still a development (as told by my Catholicism professor, a Jesuit, and many other Catholics). Also, the Orthodox would say that all of the apostles had the keys to the kingdom of heaven, as witnessed by some early church writers.

Also, I think the statement “Peter has spoken by Leo” is somewhat misleading to support the papacy, as I’m sure historically this was not said because the Pope was recognized as infallible the way the modern papacy is viewed, but because of (forgot the explanation, but Klaus Schatz explains why in his book). There are many great arguments for the papacy (which I would use to show primacy of Rome against protestants :p), but at least this specific quote should not be used as one.

Besides my initial posts, and any corrections should I make a blatant mistake (my Christian brethren, hopefully you correct me), I intend to remain here as a passive observer. Thanks for the reply though :thumbsup:

Wow… thanks that helps a lot.

Kmon23 #14
I would somewhat disagree with the statement that the Pope was always mandated as supreme, or at least it was not evident in the early church.

It was very evident from the beginning as already quoted from the first letter of Pope St Clement, and recognized by great Eastern saints, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Denys, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and others.

About Pope Victor I’s declaration by edict, about the year 200, that any local Church that failed to conform with Rome was excluded from the union with the one Church by heresy, none other than the radical protestant Adolph von Harnack admitted that Victor I was “recognised, in his capacity of bishop of Rome, as the special guardian of the ‘common unity’… " (See And On This Rock, p 118, 1987, Trinity Communications, Fr Stanley L Jaki).

Harnack asked: “How would Victor have ventured on such an edict – though indeed he had not the power of enforcing it in every case – unless the special prerogative of Rome to determine the conditions of the ‘common unity’ in the vital questions of faith had been an acknowledged and well-established fact?”


The apostles were a collegial community, under Peter. “By the end of the apostolic age, the bishops of the Catholic Church began meeting together on a regional basis, and with the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in 325, this co-operative activity reached worldwide proportions.” (Fr John A Hardon, S.J., *The Catholic Catechism, *Doubleday, 1975, p 320-321). The teaching of Ecumenical Councils has to be approved by Christ’s Supreme Vicar, and then encompasses collegial infallibility.

Also, the Orthodox would say that all of the apostles had the keys to the kingdom of heaven,

ONLY St Peter was specifically given that charge along with the other commands, by Christ Himself. Only a false supposition could feel otherwise, as it is written in the Sacred Scriptures defined by Christ’s Catholic Church.

All four promises to St Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve].

**Sole authority to St Peter: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).
Jesus warned dissenters: “if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17).

St. Paul says also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ!

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