Eastern and Traditional Catholic

I recently came back to being Catholic upon leaving a protestant church a several years back, Only I am a bit confused. What is orthodox catholic? is that the same as eastern catholic? and what’s the difference with that then traditional catholic. I am very confused. I watch EWTN on tv and have loved the channel but is that traditional or eastern ect.? I always saw myself as roman catholic because that’s what my nana said I was when she baptized me. Now I am confused on everything. This all came to mind after reading another post regarding EWTN.


EWTN is Roman Catholic. Traditional Catholic is just something folks say when they don’t like the Novus Ordo Mass (among other things – it’s a very complex term that often leads to arguments). Traditional Catholics are usually Roman Catholics; I haven’t heard Eastern Catholics call themselves Traditional Catholics.

Orthodox Catholic can be a confusing term too, though many Eastern Catholics (Catholics of the Eastern Rite in communion with Rome) use it to describe themselves.

EWTN does have a little bit of Eastern Catholic programming, but the overwhelming majority of it is geared toward Roman Catholicism.

Here’s a lengthy response that I put together about the Eastern Catholic Church a while back:

Most people are not aware that the “Catholic Church” is actually comprised of twenty-three self-governing Catholic Churches, all in union with the pope. The Western, or Latin Catholic Church, is so large, however, that many people, even Catholics, are completely unaware of the other twenty-two churches, which make up the Eastern Branch. (Some have from only a few thousand members to a few million.)

Originally, there was only one denomination… the Catholic Church (the word Catholic meaning “universal”). However, there were five cities that early on were singled out as being important centers of Christianity. They were Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and of course, Rome. Each developed its own unique traditions and liturgy, but ALL shared a common theology and were in communion with each other and the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. However, about 1000 years ago, due to a variety of unfortunate problems, the other four cities, allied with the Byzantine Empire, mutually broke off from Rome, forming the various Eastern Orthodox Churches. Although doctrinally, they are virtually identical to Catholics, they refuse to acknowledge that the pope is more than a “first among equals”. (A couple groups broke of much earlier in the 400s AD also, to form what are known as the Oriental Orthodox Churches).

What has happened is that over time, some portions of each of the various Orthodox groups have decided to reconcile with the Catholic Church and come back into communion with Rome. When they do, they are allowed to keep all of their traditions and much of their independence, although they acknowledge the authority of the Pope. They become truly Catholic, in that anyone from ANY branch of the Catholic Church can participate in the liturgy and ceremonies of any OTHER branch of the Catholic Church. The only two Eastern groups that never fell out of communion with the Catholic Church were the Maronite Catholic Church, and the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church. So… for every branch of the Orthodox Churches that are NOT in communion with Rome, there is a corresponding and virtually identical branch of the Eastern Catholic Church that IS in communion with Rome. Since their customs and liturgies date from before the Council of Trent, they are allowed to remain.

The following liturgies are used by the Eastern Catholic Churches:

  • The Liturgy of St. Basil
  • The Chaldean Mass
  • The Order of the Divine and Holy Liturgy of Our Father Among the Saints Gregory the Theologian (or Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts)
  • The Liturgy of St. James
  • The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
  • The Liturgy of St. Mark
  • The Holy Qorbono


Here is a listing that includes EACH of the twenty-three Catholic Churches in union with the Pope. Do not confuse “churches” with “rites”. A rite is a series of traditions, that includes different customs and liturgies. Several different churches may use the exact same rite. A Church has its own rules and separate line of authority to the Pope. It may also have a figure in charge, like a Metropolitan or a Patriarch (like an Archbishop), since these churches are generally very small and work very hard to preserve their unique traditions. The major rites are the Latin, Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Byzantine.

**The Western (Latin) Catholic Church

Latin liturgical tradition**

  1. Ordinary Form (This is the form of the Mass that you will find in virtually every Latin Catholic Church almost every day of the week. This Mass has existed since the mid-1960s, ever since reforms were made following the Second Vatican Council.)
  2. Extraordinary Form (This is the form of the Mass that was used in virtually every Latin Catholic Church from the Middle Ages until the mid-1960s. It may still be said in Catholic Churches should a priest choose to use it. Some of the differences from the Ordinary Form include the exclusive use of the Latin language (except for the homily), the receipt of Communion exclusively on the tongue and kneeling, the priest facing the same direction as the people (toward the altar and God) so he can lead the people in prayer, no lay participation on the altar, and usually, no responses by lay people.)
  3. Ambrosian Rite (Only permitted in the Archdiocese of Milan)
  4. Mozarabic Rite (Only permitted in the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain and a few surrounding churches of the diocese)
  5. Bragan Rite (Only permitted in the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal)
  6. Anglican-Use Mass (This form was once only permitted in the extremely rare circumstance in which an Anglican priest converted to Catholicism and brings his entire parish with him. In that event, a parish could continue to use the Anglican liturgy, with corrections to make it conform with Catholic teachings. It was originally meant as a transitional liturgy, and upon the death of the pastor, the church would revert to the Ordinary Form. With the recent provisions announced by the Vatican to allow Anglicans into the Catholic Church and keep their traditions, it seems that the Anglican-Use will now become both far more widespread AND permanent.)

**Rites of Religious Orders **

  1. Dominican Rite
  2. Carthusian Rite
  3. Carmelite Rite
  4. Cisternian Rite

Note: Technically, the forms of the Latin liturgy listed above are NOT different rites, but variations of the SAME rite, although people do tend to commonly use the term somewhat erroneously in this context. The differences between the Latin “rites” are FAR less than those between the Latin liturgy and any of the Eastern Rites.)

**The Eastern Catholic Churches

  1. Alexandrian liturgical tradition**
  2. Coptic Catholic Church (patriarchate): Egypt (1741)
  3. Ethiopian Catholic Church (metropolia): Ethiopia, Eritrea (1846)
    2. Antiochian (Antiochene or West-Syrian) liturgical tradition
  4. Maronite Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico (union re-affirmed 1182)
  5. Syriac Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United States and Canada, Venezuela (1781)
  6. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate): India, United States (1930)
    3. Armenian liturgical tradition:
  7. Armenian Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Ukraine, France, Greece, Latin America, Argentina, Romania, United States, Canada, Eastern Europe (1742)
    4. Chaldean or East Syrian liturgical tradition:
  8. Chaldean Catholic Church (patriarchate): Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, United States (1692)
  9. Syro-Malabar Church (major archiepiscopate): India, Middle East, Europe and America.
    5. Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) liturgical tradition:
  10. Albanian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic administration): Albania (1628)
  11. Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (no established hierarchy at present): Belarus (1596)
  12. Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic exarchate): Bulgaria (1861)
  13. Byzantine Church of the Eparchy of Križevci (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (1611)
  14. Greek Byzantine Catholic Church (two apostolic exarchates): Greece, Turkey (1829)
  15. Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Hungary (1646)
  16. Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (two eparchies and a territorial abbacy): Italy (Never separated)
  17. Macedonian Greek Catholic Church (an apostolic exarchate): Republic of Macedonia (1918)
  18. Melkite Greek Catholic Church (patriarchate): Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Jerusalem, Brazil, United States, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Egypt and Sudan, Kuwait, Australia, Venezuela, Argentina (1726)
  19. Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (major archiepiscopate): Romania, United States (1697)
  20. Russian Catholic Church: (two apostolic exarchates, at present with no published hierarchs): Russia, China (1905); currently about 20 parishes and communities scattered around the world, including five in Russia itself, answering to bishops of other jurisdictions
  21. Ruthenian Catholic Church (a sui juris metropolia, an eparchy, and an apostolic exarchate): United States, Ukraine, Czech Republic (1646)
  22. Slovak Greek Catholic Church (metropolia): Slovak Republic, Canada (1646)
  23. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate): Ukraine, Poland, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Scandinavia, France, Brazil, Argentina (1595)

nickiwool: I wish you faith and blessings on your journey of faith!

As for the terms you have encountered, I would agree that “Traditional Catholic” is one used by Roman Catholics, self-ascribed conservative Catholics who typically exhibit preferences for well established norms and practices within the Latin Rite.

As an Eastern Catholic, I would say that we tend to be “traditional”, as our pratices and traditions are rather “orthodox” in form, concept and practice, and shared with like traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Personally, I do not think it appropriate for Eastern Catholics to describe themselves as “Orthodox Catholics” (as some traditional Roman Catholics also do, as well, for other reasons) or “Orthodox in Communion with Rome”, although you will find a number of regular contributors here who do so and agruably with some merit. I say that not to disparage my brothers and sisters who use these terms, but simply to clarify knowing that these terms can be confusing. Simply put (hopefully), Eastern Catholics share many traditions and core beliefs with their Orthodox counterparts, but are indeed in communion with Rome and thus fully Catholic.

It is certainly a norm that Eastern Catholics (by any title or description) and Orthodox Christians in general tend to be “traditional” in their views on religion and faith, because it s is inherent to their core beliefs. Traditions, beliefs and customs are carried from the early Church and preserved through modern and continued adherence and usage. Therefore, you rarely find an Eastern Catholic or Orthodox Christian describe themselves as 'traditional", because it is an inherent state of being.

As for EWTN, there is some limited Eastern Catholic programming from time to time. When they air such, the programs tend to be very informative and enlightening. There are often posts here in the CAF Eastern Catholic sub-forum, so I would recommend keeping an eye out for such as they will help you identify these programs in advance. BTW - they are often aired at odd hours, so hopefully you have a DVR at your disposal.

Wow! Thank you all so very much for all your information and time :slight_smile: I read what each of you had written and appreciate all the information. I’ll be printing all this out to be able to read it over a few times to understand even more. I can’t wait to continue researching. I will keep an eye out on EWTN as well as continue reading on the forums here. God bless each one of you and again thank you very much :slight_smile:


Hi Nicki. My understanding of your question may differ a bit from others. The word “orthodox”, when not capitalized, mean “right believing”. So “orthodox Catholic” is in fact similar to “traditional Catholic” and “conservative Catholic”.

Thank you so much Peter! I am doing as much reading as possible on the subject to better understand so thank you :slight_smile:


P.S. A dictionary definition of orthodox is “Conforming to the established, accepted or traditional doctrines of a given ideology, faith or religion.” (Again, this is for orthodox, not the proper noun Orthodox.)


“Orthodox” today usually refers to the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox tradition. So in that sense it is a term for a spiritual culture as well as a faith/church. Historically, “Orthodox” was used to denote two things at once - right faith AND worship since the latter indicated the former. It was first formally used at the first Ecumenical Council in 325 AD when the Fathers affirmed the “Orthodox Faith” against Arius. It has been used to denote “true faith” ever since.

To be an Orthodox Christian meant that one believed in the true Apostolic faith as reflected in his or her worship. Both East and West used and continue to use that term.

“Orthodox” today refers to the Eastern Churches. But does “Orthodox Catholic” bring confusion? Following my old pastor, I would say not.

But doesn’t this term indicate either: a) a union between East and West that doesn’t yet exist? and/or b) an obfuscation of the relation of those Eastern Catholics who use that term with Rome, in other words, whether they are truly in union with Rome and not saying they are Orthodox Christians?

One may debate this, but the fact remains that in the EC liturgy, the term “Orthodox” is used all the time. It refers not only to our Eastern theological approach and faith, but also to the entire Eastern liturgical/faith culture in which our faith is imbedded.

The term “Eastern Catholic” is a rather weak term to underscore any of this. And especially since, in the West, the term “Catholic” is synonymous with “Roman Catholic” and the Latin ecclesial/liturgical culture.

When I try to explain my identity to many Roman Catholics and others, they often have no idea what I’m talking about. But when I say I’m “Orthodox Catholic” - then all the cobwebs seem to disappear. They are often not aware that there are Orthodox who became Catholics in union with Rome while keeping their rites and so on. So I will, as I’m often forced by the circumstances, to refer to myself as “Orthodox Catholic” to AVOID confusion.

Evhen Ivankiw of Sts Volodymyr and Olha parish in Chicago once recommended the UGCC adopt the term “Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic” and outlined his reasons. I agreed with him then and I still do.

As for issues that may arise from the use of such terminology, well, we will just have to educate RC’s and others about them.

Also, “Traditional Catholic” refers to the liturgical/spiritual culture of the Tridentine Catholic heritage although it can also refer to Catholics who are devoted to the Rosary and traditional devotions and who actually put into practice in their daily lives what the Church teaches . . .


Really? A term that is used by two different sects isn’t confusing?

And here I thought it was the Orthodox (the Orthodox Orthodox, if you will) who were most comfortable with logical paradox! :smiley:

Some Orthodox opinions can be found on the thread Is the Orthodox church considered ‘Catholic’?. For example

[quote=FatherHLL]Right, the Orthodox Church in simplest form is called “the Church of God” or “the Church of Christ.” It is called the Orthodox Church. It is called the Orthodox Catholic Church (as in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy).

(I often disagree with FatherHLL, such as in this case, but I like his manner of posting.)

Good point. Are you conceding that you guys shouldn’t call yourselves “the Catholic Church”?


Thank all of you who are continuing on giving great info :slight_smile: I am a bit confused :blush: by it all but of coarse there’s a lot for me to learn and i’m grateful for all of you. I will understand soon enough :slight_smile:


Nope. :wink:

Let me just emphasize that the vast majority of the time when someone calls him or herself an “orthodox Catholic” they don’t mean to imply any connection with the Eastern Christians but rather mean that they are a Catholic who believes the whole of the Catholic Faith.

A near-synonym would be “faithful Catholic.” “Traditional Catholic” usually implies a preference for older Latin liturgical forms and perhaps older forms of Western theological language and spiritual practices, in addition to a (real or false) faithfulness to Catholic doctrine.

First of all, the term “sect” applies does not apply to either the Catholic or Orthodox Churches - that is really confusing.

Secondly, the Orthodox Church herself uses the term “Catholic” in her longer title - so I don’t know where the confusion is there unless you are suggesting that confusion is part of Orthodox Church praxis . . . :wink:

And as I said, North Americans generally don’t know what an “Eastern Catholic” is and when we use the term “Orthodox” to describe our identity and theological/liturgical praxis - everyone seems to know where we are coming from.

In addition, we, as Orthodox Churches that came under Rome at various times, never gave up the use of the term “Orthodox” and the best example of this is the Russian Catholics which formally call their Church: “Rossiyskaya Pravoslavno-Kafolicheskaya Tserkva.”

The term “Orthodox-Catholic” is one that no one has a monopoly on. And I suppose confusion will remain supreme among many about more than one thing involving the Eastern Churches.


Yes. Not to mention that they claim to be “the Catholic Church”. (Well, okay, I did mention that.) :wink:

That’s nothing.

Sometimes they even state that they believe in "…One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church… ".


“…mom, he’s looking at me…”

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