Eastern Catholics, are we really Catholic?

This has been something that has been on my mind for a long time and has come to a head with my entrance into the Carmelites.

I post now because of this thread Eastern Church teaching.

In it Ungcsertez strongly implies that a Ruthenian Catholic Priest who holds to the same view that I do, that we are Catholics first and bound to all the Teachings of the Catholic Church, is not truly eastern.

I have run into this because of my vocational discernment. Because I have chosen to enter a Latin Religious Order rather than follow a vocation within the eastern Church.

Other eastern Catholics seem to think I am a “sell out” and ignore the facts of my vocation and my discernment that have called me to where I am. They even ignore the fact that all of this has been done in concert with my Spiritual Father.

I think this is a back lash for the latinizations and the superior attitude of some Latin Catholics but these eastern Catholics do not realize that this just fuels those.

I am sorry but I just had to get this off my mind.

Oh I am pretty sure he knows that his argument feeds fuel to the fire. He has done the same on other BBS’s.

The fact that such feelings run strong today might indicate that there is still considerable misunderstanding between the Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic viewpoints and our past history. Since most of the EC churches are magnitudes smaller than the RCC, the ECC’s to have been seen as ‘Catholic’ in the eys of a triumphalist Rome, responded by adopting Latin practices. Yet at the same time the EC’s knew in their hearts that they were still Eastern in praxis.

Fortunately we as a church (ALL Catholic churches) have recently been blessed with Popes who have a better undersatanding of the EC’s than in previous decades. Many of the problems to this day stem more from the episcopal level between the RC bishops and thier lack of chatechesis/understanding regarding the EC churches.

From the EC side of the situation, we must strive to move forward rather than clinging on to past wrongdoings by RC bishops who through petitioning the Pope caused much turmoil in the ECC’s the 18-1900’s. We now have a much stronger voice and position in relation to the much larger RCC. Rather than squander those gains of the past 100 years, let us continue forward.


I think this situation has existed since the time of the each Particular Church’s reunion with the Holy See. What are the guidelines exactly on what theology we share with Latin Catholics and what we differ in theological dogmas? Since the 1930’s, Eastern Catholics in America have had a second tier status, intentionally or unintentionally. We’ve had the “Baltimore Catechist” crammed down our throats as what we are to believe as Eastern Catholics. I believe there there are differences which never seem to be written down. I think these should have at least be listed in the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern and Oriental Particular Churches. Otherwise, we will continue to have another generation of Eastern Catholics holding conflicting views.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


Just a quick note. I am a brother, even in the Eastern Church were we address our monastics as father that is only done so following their time as a novice. A novice is addressed as brother or brother novice.

Granted our Theological approach is different but the conclusions are the same. Yes the Immaculate Conception dogma is not necessary because we do not hold to the Thomistic view of Original Sin but the Thomistic view is not dogmatic in the Church, it is an opinion. Even with that what the Immaculate Conception states, that Mary was sinless, is believed by us, just look at the Divine Liturgy and the prayers there.

But the Immaculate Conception is dogma. It was formally promulgated by a Pope speaking ex Cathedra. All Catholics are bound to this teachings. Let’s not treat Eastern Catholics like second class citizens. Rather hold them to the same standards as the rest of the Church. Its very patronizing to do otherwise.

That is my point exactly. We are Catholics, no less than any Latin Catholic.

AMEN!!! I like your approach.

What order did you join? Right now I am discerning a vocations to the Dominican order.

As a Latin Catholic I felt that I needed to respond to this. Yes, Yes, Yes, Eastern Catholics are just as Catholic as Latins. My brother and sisters of the Eastern Rites I feel blessed to be apart of the Church of Christ that encompasses all the the Traditions of all the that has come form all the Apostles to us. Christ Church is not Just the Latin or the Eastern way worship It is both. We must protect and preserve the richness of all that has come to us. If a person born into the Latin Rite feels drawn to one of the Eastern Rites we should pray with that person and support him/her. The same goes for one drawn the other way, for they are not leaving the Church they are merely changing their expression of the Faith.

The Unity of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church in all the Rites that it encompass is a blessing from God.

I am currently a novice in the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, also known as the Carmelites of Ancient Observance, or just Carmelites.

God willing, I will be making my simple vows on June 9th.

Yes Brother,

There are distictions concerning dogma in the Eastern and Oriental Particular Churches and they must be defended. There are differences that go beyond liturgical form and rubrics. They need to be taught and not simply be brushed aside as “schismatic” teachings.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


Please show us he documents from the Church that state that there are different dogmas for Eastern and Western Catholics.

I doubt that you can because the dogmas are the same for the whole Catholic Church. The only difference is the way that they are expressed.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

You seem to like to provide correction to people on these statements and responses so here is one for you.

“Christ is Risen!” is a statement and “Indeed He is Risen!” is the response. The correct usage for this is for you to say (or post) “Christ is Risen!” with the person replying to you saying (or posting) “Indeed He is Risen!”.

I have never heard (or seen) someone do both of them.

Immaculate Conception, Filoque, would be a start.


For myself, I follow the teachings passed down from the Gospels and the Fathers of the East, according to the traditions of the Eastern Byzantine Churches. The only difference between what I believe and what is believed in the Orthodox Church down the street, is that I am in Communion with the Bishop of Rome. As Eastern Catholics, we have our own theology, our own canons, our own spirituality, liturgy, Tradition and traditions. We are not Romans with a “funny” Mass. And if Rome ever tried to change that, I would be knocking on the door of the Orthodox Church down the street.

First, I will note that you have failed to provide any proof of your statement, which I know you can not do but I will respond regardless.

The Filoque is not a dogma and is not required to be recited in the creed in the Eastern Churches.

We, as Catholics, are bound to believe in the Immaculate Conception. Eastern Catholics have always believed that Mary was born sinless and stayed such, just look at the prayers of the Divine Liturgy. This is just one of those dogmas that is expressed in a manner that is different.

And the fact that you are in communion with the Pope is further evidence that you are following the teachings passed down form the Gospels and the Fathers of the East.

As Eastern Catholics, we have our own theology, our own canons, our own spirituality, liturgy, Tradition and traditions. We are not Romans with a “funny” Mass. And if Rome ever tried to change that, I would be knocking on the door of the Orthodox Church down the street.

Yes, but dogma is dogma and we are all, as Catholics, bound to it. We may express it differently but we hold to it all the same.

To leave the Church over personal opinion and interpretation would be a loss.

Being Catholic does not mean being Roman, it means just what it says, being a part of the Catholic Church as a whole.

How would our prayers in our Divine Liturgy be any different from those of a Orthodox Divine Liturgy?

I’ve been told by many Roman Catholics that Eastern Catholics must believe in the Filoque clause or we are “schismatics”.


Funny, over and over the Vatican and the Popes have told us to be fully Eastern. Aren’t we supposed to follow our understanding of these doctrines? Since when are we obliged to Latin theology? We are called to be Orthodox in Union with Rome. Not Romans in Eastern vestments. We have our own theology and understanding of dogma. That is our right.

We, as Catholics, are bound to believe in the Immaculate Conception. Eastern Catholics have always believed that Mary was born sinless and stayed such, just look at the prayers of the Divine Liturgy. This is just one of those dogmas that is expressed in a manner that is different.

This raises a point that has always perplexed me, quite frankly. The Immaculate Conception, if taken in the sense of Mary being uniquely holy from her very origin in preparation for her role as Theotokos, seems to be almost a given based on Byzantine tradition. Not only the Liturgical and extra-Liturgical prayers, but also the writings of theologians points to this fact. It’s also a historical fact that the emphasis on the Immaculate Conception of Mary came from the East to the West, not visa versa.

I can understand disagreeing with the theological formula with which the teaching was expressed (“preserved from all stain of sin”), especially since that formula is foreign to the East, but I don’t understand objecting to it on any fundamental level. Mary was specially Graced from Conception, and did not sin in her life; that much has firm grounds in Eastern tradition, and is the teaching of the Immaculate Conception.

I’ve been told by many Roman Catholics that Eastern Catholics must believe in the Filoque clause or we are “schismatics”.

And did these Roman Catholics speak with any kind of authority? Did they cite documents from Councils, or Popes, or even their own Bishops? If not then so what if they say such things?

As for the underlying teaching of the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding Personally from the Father and Son, I find it’s a stickier problem than the Immaculate Conception, but it’s certainly not unresolvable. I don’t see how, on a theological level, this procession of the Holy Spirit through the Son, from the Source who is the Father, can really be denied by any Apostolic Christian. The Cappadocian Fathers, as well as many others East and West, attest to this reality.

Disagreement with its inclusion in the Creed is another issue altogether, and one that even the Latin Church has been revisiting lately. It may well end up being removed from the Latin Creed (it’s worth pointing out that it’s not part of the universal Catholic Creed, after all), but the underlying theology shouldn’t be wiped away, certainly not in the face of the Fathers, in which even St. Maximos the Confessor agreed with the Latin understanding of the filioque (as opposed to its misrepresentations over the years).

That being said, the theology of the filioque really isn’t a major issue, IMO, and doesn’t need to be taught extensively. It’s already implicit, and doesn’t affect our practice of the Faith; it’s true, but it’s a truth that doesn’t require a constant beating of a drum, any more than the truth that gravity pulls us to the ground. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

This is absolutely true, but I would also caution against viewing everything and anything said by Eastern Orthodox polemicists as being “authentically Eastern”. I’m not assuming that you’re doing this, but I bring it up because it’s an easy mistake for anyone to make.

If an Eastern Orthodox theologian says “there is no compatibility between the filioque and our belief in the Trinity”, that doesn’t make it the final word on the authentic Eastern tradition. Likewise, if a Latin says “say things like we do, or you’re not Catholic” it doesn’t mean they are stating the Latin, let alone Catholic, party-line.

The call is to be Eastern AND Catholic, and that means being true to our heritage while also recognizing the Catholicity of all the various Apostolic theological traditions, and maintaining Communion and mutual exchange of Faith. The moment we view one Apostolic tradition as “outside Catholicity”, we have put our own Orthodoxy and Catholicity on the line.

Catholic, in this sense, can’t be used as a weapon by Latins to beat down non-Latins, demanding full adoption of Latin traditions and theological language. It should be used as a gentle reminder for ALL that we need to look and see what is Catholic in the Apostolic traditions, and find how our different traditions relate and compliment eachother, as organs of one united Body of Christ.

I have used this approach on Latins who demand a Latin-only perspective, and I’ve cited Church-wide documents in support of the Catholicity of Eastern traditions and approaches. The expression “Orthodox in Communion with Rome” only goes so far in defending non-Latin traditions, and it’s most effective as a kind of self-reminder for Eastern Catholics, IMO; sometimes “Eastern Catholic” really is most effective, because it forces those who would demand Latinization to make an adjustment to their own identity. After all, if Catholic includes Eastern, then their arguments for Latinization fall totally flat. :wink:

Peace and God bless!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.