Does the Pope have supreme universal jurisdiction over the Eastern Churches?


Statement in CCC isnt wrong- mathematically speaking atleast.

“Where there is virtue, however, there are also harmony and unity” means if virtue is there, there are also harmony and unity. It doesnt say anything about harmony and unity existing without virtue. While it does say that if there is no harmony and unity, there is no virtue- but if there is harmony amongst them there can be virtue. They dont have unity but harmony also qualifies. It doesnt also state “unity with Church” or “harmony with Church”, it merely states harmon and unity.
Also, Catholics did not excommunicate Cerularius for omitting Filioque- Cardinal Humbert was sent to Constantinople because Patriarch Cerularius stepped on Latin Eucharist. Also decree by which Cerularius was excommunicated was not valid hence Catholic Church never excommunicated him- also Cerularius excommunicated himself by stepping on Body of Our Lord with his feet and implying it was never valid Eucharist.


Orthodox are certainly not condemned to Hell by being Orthodox- Steve however quoted some quotes we ought to respect and look into instead of dismissing them. Paul says schism is a sin- which it is, but not every eastern orthodox is guilty of schism- some were just born to being in schism or are in schism by no fault of their own. Steve’s quotes imply that those guilty of schism are in-fact condemned, not those who participate in it by no fault of their own. I am not sure if he himself understands this or not however, instead of hating him and dimissing him, it would be better of us Catholics to actually explain and address the Holy Words from Bible that he provided.


to your points,

The Catholic Church views this, as

Re: Canon Law, Scripture, the CCC, etc I’m just giving information properly referenced. What anybody does with it is up to them

According to Canon 751 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law and paragraph 2089 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one true religion and Catholicism is the ordinary means of salvation (John 14:6; The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism , Chapter 1, part 23; CCC 846). However, it acknowledges that there can be elements of truth in other religions, such elements are true insofar as they are in line with Catholic teaching. “All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to ‘Catholic unity,’” the Catechism explains (CCC 819).

“Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning,” the Catechism continues. “This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time … the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her … The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 820).

“Concern for achieving unity ‘involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike,’” the Catechism instructs (CCC 822).

To answer that, can we reverse that example. What happens if I as a Catholic receive the Eucharist at an Orthodox liturgy on Sunday. Have I met my Sunday obligation for Mass, according to the Catholic Church? … No

  1. “Under current law, Eastern non-Catholic liturgies do not fulfill the Sunday obligation.”


Thanks for your thoughts and support.

Re: the point through “no fault of their own”, I’ve always taken that point to be the reason behind the need for education and formation, not to be silent or ignore the issue so one isn’t in, or left in the dark. IOW we are all ignorant of way more than we will ever know on this side of eternity. But as for knowing what we are to know, how does that happen?

Re: ignorance being innocent or culpable, I’ve always included somewhere in the conversation, the following from the CCC

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

In extension, that is why I bring up the points I do.


I would be MOST surprised if an Orthodox Priest, who did not know you ,would give you the Eucharist without actually questioning you when you approached the Chalice . Even in Eastern Catholic Churches I have seen visitors/strangers gently questioned when they come forward for Communion.


Thanks for your response

It actually makes my point and gives the why behind it. All the ecumenical speak aside, there is no communion when there is no unity of community.


It also depends on where you are. I know that in Eastern Europe and the Middle East there is intercommunion going on all the time. Within the family they may be Romanian Greek Catholic and Romanian Orthodox, or you may be Antiochian Orthodox and the only Church close to you is a Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

I know someone who is Melkite and when they are away for the summer months at their summer home they attend an OCA parish because there is no Byzantine Catholic Church in town. They know he is Byzantine Catholic, he makes no bones about it, and he is allowed to receive the chalice since he has made himself part of the community when he is there. Another person I know spent time in Romania and an Orthodox monestary. She never approached the chalice. When ask why not, she told them that she was Byzantine Catholic and they replied, “we’re the same Church,” and allowed her to receive the chalice. Another friend of mine, while an undergrad, there were no Byzantine Catholic Churches so he went to the local OCA and would often make Prosforo. They all new he was Catholic.

I think at the local level, for the most part, we Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox see each other as the same and the only issue is a problem with “upper management” so to speak. Now I can only speak from my experience.



Orbis: I agree with everything you’ve stated here, with perhaps a few clarifications.

I obviously agree with St. Paul that schism is a sin. In my case, I converted to Orthodoxy from Lutheranism. My wife is Catholic. I have no room to claim ignorance in this.

What has irked me (and no doubt others) is that Steve’s approach is so black and white. As much as both the Orthodox and Catholics have every right to believe the “other” is guilty of schism, that does nothing to help us actually achieve restored communion between our Churches through the dialogue that has and continues to take place. If we’re not willing to look at the separation of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches with more nuance than to speak only terms of schism and guilt, we have little hope.


Steve: you’re side-stepping the point. I’m not talking about whether attendance at each other’s church fulfills one’s Sunday obligation. I’m stating that according the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in line with the Code of Canon Law (844 section 3), the Catholic Church does not object to the reception of communion in a Catholic Church by Orthodox Christians. This makes no sense if schism has condemned us.


Here’s a great read:

We Are All Schismatics by Archbishop Zoghby



I agree, as a whole, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches are not to refer to each other as “sister Churches” however, it is appropriate for particular Churches, whether Catholic or Orthodox, to refer to each other as “sister Churches.”



(all emphasis mine)

Actually in context this is not just walking off the street and going up to communion.

see conditions in section §2., and (licitly and what it says) in sections §1, §3, and ( consultation in what it says) in section §5.

Can. 844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone, without prejudice to the prescripts of §§2, 3, and 4 of this canon, and can. 861, §2.

§2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.

§4. If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

§5. For the cases mentioned in §§2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.


Thank you. I had already read all of canon 844. I obviously agree this does not allow a free for all. While allowed, I obey my own bishop and receive the Eucharist in only the Orthodox Church.

To repeat myself: the point I am making and that you have avoided addressing, is that if Orthodox are guilty of schism, then even this limited permission would not be granted, much the same as a Catholic with unconfessed mortal sin may not receive the Eucharist.


I know at the local Melkite Greek Catholic mission, Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christians routinely commune…at least they did about a decade ago when I had the pleasure of attending a liturgy there. Is it right for them to do so? I won’t be the judge… but in this case, the Antiochian Othodox Christians felt they had more in common with their Melkite Catholic brethren (language, culture, and perhaps even spirituality) than they did with the various (mostly Eastern European) Orthodox communities in town…


To judge if someone is in schism out of missinformation or deceit of others, or out of his own ignorance or his own sins is not easy task to do. It is same concept as with Catholic Church never saying someone specific is in Hell- we simply dont know as only God knows full conscience with intentions, all circumstances and everything about the person and He judges.

Also, as far as I know I don’t think Catholics are allowed to simply go to communion in Orthodox Churches unless in state of necessity- as Eucharist is visible sign of unity and normally, we are not perfectly united. With recent understandings of “communion so profound” thing it might also be that unity is not so disturbed that Catholic couldnt receive- but I simply wouldn’t out of respect for Orthodox tradition (as they hold us as schismatics/heretics who are not allowed to receive Eucharist) as for our own sign of unity that Eucharist is. I am actually curious what is stance of Catholic Church on this (again, in cases other than necessity). If we are not to receive Eucharist in Patriotic Churches (China for example) why would Orthodoxy be different, I have no clue. While some Orthodox priests do let Catholics commune, it is not practice nor canonically allowed. What ZP talks about however, is very encouraging and heart-warming as Orthodox and Catholics do understand that Christ is the Eucharist- and we are devoted to Him, so we both commune. I guess both ways can go if with proper intent or justification, but I am curious about what is official stance.
Isaac, I believe that Orthodox and Catholic Churches need to unite in truth- not in compromise, not in what’s just common, we need to unite in everything. Not just to unite for sake of unity, but unite for sake of God and His Faith, His truth. I dont like when someone erases schism in place of false unity or sweet words. I dont mean to say we should be hostile- far from that, but we should acknowledge we dont have perfect unity yet strive for it. I don’t however mean to say that Orthodoxy is bad and Catholicism is good, obviously I have respect for Orthodox Church and I believe we need to discuss all issues and reach consensus, to find out what God wants from us. So that one day, our Churches are really One- not two churches in union, not sister churches, one Church that is Holy, Apostlic and Catholic- one that keeps fullness of Christ and God. May we pray for unity how God wants it, not like men do.


Between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches not in full communion with it, there is still a very close communion in matters of faith. Moreover, “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature” and “although separated from us, these Churches still possess true sacraments, above all—by apostolic succession—the priesthood and the Eucharist…”. This offers ecclesiological and sacramental grounds, according to the understanding of the Catholic Church, for allowing and even encouraging some sharing in liturgical worship, even of the Eucharist, with these Churches, “given suitable circumstances and the approval of church authorities”. It is recognized, however, that Eastern Churches, on the basis of their own ecclesiological understanding, may have more restrictive disciplines in this matter, which others should respect. Pastors should carefully instruct the faithful so that they will be clearly aware of the proper reasons for this kind of sharing in liturgical worship and of the variety of discipline which may exist in this connection.

Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage suggests, and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is lawful for any Catholic for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick from a minister of an Eastern Church.
Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism 123


The principles which should direct this spiritual sharing are the following:

a ) In spite of the serious difficulties which prevent full ecclesial communion, it is clear that all those who by baptism are incorporated into Christ share many elements of the Christian life. There thus exists a real, even if imperfect, communion among Christians which can be expressed in many ways, including sharing in prayer and liturgical worship, as will be indicated in the paragraph which follows.

b ) According to Catholic faith, the Catholic Church has been endowed with the whole of revealed truth and all the means of salvation as a gift which cannot be lost.Nevertheless, among the elements and gifts which belong to the Catholic Church (e.g.; the written Word of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and charity etc.) many can exist outside its visible limits. The Churches and ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church have by no means been deprived of significance and value in the mystery of salvation, for the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation. In ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or ecclesial Community, their celebrations are able to nourish the life of grace in their members who participate in them and provide access to the communion of salvation.

c ) The sharing of spiritual activities and resources, therefore, must reflect this double fact:

  1. the real communion in the life of the Spirit which already exists among Christians and is expressed in their prayer and liturgical worship;

  2. the incomplete character of this communion because of differences of faith and understanding which are incompatible with an unrestricted mutual sharing of spiritual endowments.

Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism 104


Forgive the length of these passages, I just wanted to make clear what informs the thinking of the practices being described by people here. The standard is “genuine spiritual advantage” for communion with Eastern Churches, not necessity. And of course, a “real communion in the life of the Spirit which already exists.”

These should help explain that Catholics do not see the relationship between Catholic and Orthodox churches as that of mother and child, but as sister churches, daughters of the one Catholic Church.



That said, it doesn’t negate instruction, properly referenced, to change the direction of someone who is in a sin that we see is grave / mortal. Who am I to Judge what is mortal in another … one might ask? John obviously had no issue determining that in someone else so he teaches we are to do the same.

ERGO, as already posted, "According to Canon 751 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law and paragraph 2089 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Thereby showing when it presents itself, who is in schism from who… agreed?

good question.

My first thought is, the “Patriotic Churches” in China, might be suspect as to valid ordinations thus valid sacraments



It’s why I quote copiously. Without definitions, we just have ongoing circular opinions … would you agree?

Therefore, I’ve used in my posts

"According to Canon 751 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law and paragraph 2089 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Thereby showing when it (schism) presents itself, definition of schism, shows who is in schism from who.

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