Do the Orthodox consider Catholic Sacraments Valid?

I was just on another forum on CAF and a poster stated that the Orthodox do not accept Catholic orders nor their sacraments as valid.

Is this correct. I believe that they do accept our sacraments and orders, but do not have inter communion with us unless there is an emergency and a Catholic goes to the priest and explains the problem and then if the priest so desires will offer them Communion.

Please explain the Orthodox position on this.

Thank you.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


Thats right, the general statement is that the Orthodox do not consider Catholic sacraments as valid. In fact they do not even know if our baptism is valid, however there are some situations that a convert to Orthodoxy is not re-baptised as the situation depends on the decision of the Bishop and the priest administering the sacrament.

If case of death, the orthodox priest will still need to decide if he will administer communion to a dying person, but this not an automatic yes

“Validity” of the Sacraments is not really an Orthodox concept to start with. It’s like a freshman biology student asking his professor, “Is this a correct mouse?”

By and large, Orthodox do not pass judgement on spiritual acts of any kind done outside of her canonical limits. It’s just not an issue.

It becomes an issue ONLY if a non-Orthodox Christian wished to be received into the Orthodox Church.

Such an issue is resolved is considered a PASTORAL, not a dogmatic, matter. It is resolved by decision of the Bishop, and the main criteria are what is best for the individual’s spiritual good, and what is good for the Church as a whole, and nothing creates a precedent.

Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt by birth and Grand Duchess of Russia by marriage, known to us now as St. Elizabeth the New-Martyred Abbess, was received into Orthodoxy from Lutheranism by Chrismation–and without even going to Confession first.

Others have been received into Orthodoxy by baptism and confession of the Orthodox Faith.

Clergy–both Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Non-Chalcedonian–have been received in varous ways: by baptism, or by Chrismation (which is seen as a Sacrament of Reconciliation as well), by vesting, or by confession of Orthodox faith and concelebration.

A particular jurisdiction which had been considered “non-canonical” and “invalid” (in the Western sense) was fully reconciled with Orthodoxy by a stroke of the Patriarch’s pen and concelebration. The key issue here is that they had always maintained the Orthodox faith, despite their cloudy external status.

If this seems puzzling and inconsistent, well it’s just the way it is. Some matters among the Orthodox don’t lend themselves to simple dichotomies and neat pigeonholing into clearly distinct categories.

I suppose you might have to explain what you mean by “valid”. I don’t think that there is an exact correlation of that term in Orthodoxy.

When Roman Catholics refer to other church’s sacraments as “invalid” or “not valid” what does that mean? Does it mean that you know it’s a fake…unreal?

Let us say, for instance, communion in a Methodist church. Or perhaps Anglican orders of the priesthood. When your church states that these are not valid, are you stating that without qualification that they are fake, or…imitation sacraments?

Because that is not the position of Holy Orthodoxy.

If we are not in communion, it is because your church and mine do not teach the same things and you and I do not believe the same things.

Therefore, from my perspective as Orthodox you are not in Holy Orthodoxy. You are not in the church which for all practical purposes I am concerned with. I cannot know anything about the orders and sacraments of a church (whether Methodist, or Anglican or Roman Catholic) outside of the Communion.

We cannot know, and it is not a concern for us on a formal level.

Obviously, some individuals will proffer a personal opinion. I still cross myself when I pass a Roman Catholic parish church and some Anglican parishes, and I happen to personally believe that there is something worthwhile about the sacraments and liturgies there. I believe in the Real Presence and, for what it’s worth I believe that it is there. This is something I do not do when passing most Protestant churches.

Other Orthodox may not share my opinion and rather think it is all nothing. But the church does not formally take either position.

When a potential convert approaches for acceptance into the Orthodox church that person will be required to refute any errors taught by the former church. Then the bishop must decide through what means the new Christian will be received. This usually will require economy on his part. Much like sacraments given in the Roman Catholic church “conditionally”, the method chosen by the bishop is expected to make up for any unknown possible deficiencies.

When I became Orthodox I was received with Protestants and a fallen-away Roman Catholic who never had Confirmation. We were all received by the same method, Chrismation (which is Confirmation). That does not mean the church viewed all of our religious backgrounds the same way, the church doesn’t know, the Chrismation is like spiritual medicine.

If my bishop had asked that I submit to baptism I would have readily done so, because he was my Orthodox bishop and I wanted to be Orthodox.

BTW, in Orthodoxy Chrismation is a repeatable sacrament. In other words accepting Chrismation is not in itself a de facto judgment on any previous Chrismations one has had. I have noticed that seems to be a part of the Tradition that Byzantine Catholics have lost to Latinization.

Do heretics have valid sacraments? Nope. They are graceless. Moreover, their blessings are to be considered foolishness if you want to get into the nitty-gritty:

The Synod of Laodicea Given Ecumenical Sanction by Chalcedon:


IT is unlawful to receive the blessings of heretics, for they are rather follies, than blessings.


No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics.


No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who go after them, be anathema.

Orthodox Brethren, this includes people like Isaac Jogues, Etc… Roman Catholic Saints are not to be Venerated.

May God lead those in error to the truth, may they abandon their nest of innovations in which they languish and return to the purity of the Orthodox faith…It is only a matter of time.

Hmmmm, not sure I see where it says Catholic (whom I assume in your zeal, is who you are referring to) sacraments are "graceless"
By what authority do you make such a claim, and monopoly of God’s grace?
Perhaps you should rethink your position.

Blessings aren’t sacraments, follies doesn’t mean graceless, the Council wasn’t aimed at Catholics, but instead Catholic and pre-schism, and Catholics aren’t heretics. :smiley:

Gregory I (being Orthodox himself, it seems) tried to present the claim that Catholic sacraments are graceless by quoting that Council. Glad to see you aren’t buying it either. :smiley:

The “heretics” referred to by these councils are Christological heretics.

Classical confessional Protestants and Roman Catholics are not Christological heretics, regardless of what differences they may have with Orthodox teaching.

Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, and Seventh Day Adventists (among others) ARE Christological heretics, and hence are always received into Orthodoxy by canonical baptism.

sounds like you have a lot of underdeveloped doctrine here…maybe an ecumenical council will help develop this more fully :thumbsup:

and you gotta wonder if the mentality of “it is not a concern for us” would affect how the relatinship is with your bretheren, in specific, the Holy Catholic Church, Pillar and Defender of Truth?

The Synod of Laodicea had, in it’s time, concern over some serious deviations in Christian theology.

Marcion: two Gods, one evil and one good (the God of the Torah being evil! )

Arius: Jesus was not divine

Valentinus: Although he does seem to have been an early proponent of the concept of the Holy Trinity as something like three hypostasis, he also postulated 30 lessor Gods, called Aeons, with a gnostic understanding of salvation.

With heresies like these running through the community, it is not a surprise that the church would call their blessings folly and rein in the laity.

We don’t need you to develop doctrine for us. We have the Received Faith, from Christ through the Apostles, and it has been the means of salvation for many over the centuries.

Who says haven’t a need to develop doctrine? Anyone of your bishops? Councils? Where are you pulling this stuff from?

We do not need, nor do we seek your church’s approval of our orders and our sacraments.

It is a constant wonder why you should care what we think about yours. You’re just not going to get the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval from Holy Orthodoxy.


Fix your theology, then all kind of possibilities will open up.

This discussion was not even about that…but whatever my friend. Please, our theology is not broken.

And noboby can give a “seal” of approve in Holy Orthodoxy because it doesn’t exist.

Fr John Matusiak of the Orthodox Church In America answers this question on the OCA’s Questions and Answers section

The best part about this is you cannot even answer “Yes” or “No” that we have valid sacaments.

We cannot know, and it is not a concern for us on a formal level.

Do you think that if your leaders all agreed we are sharing in the same sacraments that it would speed up the process of bringing the Apostolic churches back together?

Thank you all for your replies. I have noticed in the past hostility towards the Catholic Church by some Orthodox. ButI have also seen Orthodox Bishops in Catholic Churches during special Masses, usually when the Pope presides.

When the Orthodox and Catholic Churches split they had the same apostolic line and that has not changed, as in the Anglican orders. So to me each Church so has sacraments which are true.

Many of the Orthodox on forums are converts from the protestant churches and I feel they my be overly zealous against Catholics. I would think that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches would want to see a united Church. I don’t feel either of us have to prove one is better in the sense that ones sacraments are not giving the same graces to the communicate of these sacraments.

If you were an Orthodox and dying and there was no priest to give you last rites would you deny asking a Catholic priest to do it. Also the same goes for a Catholic.

It is sad that the two Churches are divided by what seems to me small differences and some that seem political, not spiritual. But I am not that familiar with all the theology behind our different beliefs. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and should show love towards one another.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary


The “best” part?

It is a fact, why do you care?

The question is irrelevant so long as we are not in agreement over theology. Orthodox do not share in this fascination over Mysteries in other churches.

Because its pitiful, can’t answer a simple but extremely important question.

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