How does Eastern Orthodoxy differ


A couple of other additions that come to mind would be:
-the Orthodox only accept the 1st 7 Ecumenical Councils ending with the Council of Nicea in 787.
-Catholicism sees a greater degree of latitude of the development of Doctrine over time, where the Orthodox are much more hesitant to accept change in Doctrine


This is a hard question to answer, as Eastern Catholicism (especially those of the Byzantine rite), are much closer in terms of spirituality to EOC than they are to the Latin west. So long as that spirituality doesn’t contradict Catholic dogma, I am fine with that. The truth is though, that, even though the EO churches have much in common with one another, there is quite a bit of variation. Some of them are minor (like one’s preference on how to do the sign of the cross, although there was a schism in Russia over that), others, are quite major. (Like, where the Ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople ranks). The beliefs on the Eucharist and the Sacraments (Holy mysteries) are largely the same, although, the Orthodox would not usually say that infants have original sin (but they will admit that baptising children is fine and that it does forgive personal sin). I mean, there’s more to it. I had a professor that is an EOC priest, so, I am basing this off of what he said.


The difference between Catholic and Orthodox is a tricky question. As Byzantine Catholics we are called to return to our ecclesiastical heritage. Bishop Nicholas of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church here in the U.S. has said, “we have everything in common with the Orthodox except for full communion and have nothing in common with the Latins except for full communion.”

Although the largest sui juris is the Latin Church, Catholicism is not synonymous for Roman. From ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM:

“The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and the established standards of the Christian life of the Eastern Churches, for in them, distinguished as they are for their venerable antiquity, there remains conspicuous the tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers (1) and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church.”

(1) Leo XIII, Litt. Ap. Orientalium dignitas, 30 nov. 1894, in Leonis XIII Acta, vol. XIV, pp. 201-202.



The Orthodox, of course, would not say “1st 7”, but rather “All 7” . . .


Correct me if I’m wrong hawk, but since Pope Saint Paul VI hasn’t the Church refered to Councils since the 7th as local western/Roman synods? I could be wrong :joy:



No that’s as myth. Many in the east mistake his use of “general councils of the west” to mean they were local not realizing that in the west it’s actually more usual to refer to ecumenical councils as general councils… general as in “applying to all”.


To add into your great response, most councils were “local” before they were regarded Ecumenical. Local council used to mean Bishops (or clergy for that matter) from certain area attended in it and/or that council’s resolutions were binding atleast locally. Thus council can be local (as it is attended by bishops of certain area, as in middle ages and also it is ATLEAST locally binding while being also universally binding) and Ecumenical (infallible, universally binding).


Could councils after the Nicea II be considered ecumenical if Eastern churches were not adequately represented? Whole patriarchates were missing.



I don’t think so, but it would probably be a good idea :slight_smile:

And I’m fairly certain that the byzantine emperor didn’t call any second millennium councils, so . . .



Absolutely yes for the same reason the first 7 are truly ecumenical. The church deems them so. Churches in schism have no seat at an ecumenical council.

Could the first seven be classed as ecumenical because the west were barely represented at any of them and Rome didn’t even have legates at the 2nd and 5th council? Also huge Eastern sees (The real ones not the Byzantine puppet replacements) of Alexandria and Antioch as well as the Assyrian church of the east were not present at most of the first 7.

  • Nicaea I - maybe the only real ecumenical one but still the pope wasn’t there nor were the Assyrians. The Assyrians only accepted the council later.
  • Constantinople I - was purely a Byzantine affair with absolutely zero western bishops. Not even papal legates were there. It was actually just a local council.
  • Ephesus I - barely any western bishops and the Assyrians rejected it.
  • Chalcedon had very little western representation and the Assyrians did not attend and the Alexandirans, Antiochans and other OO rejected it.
  • Constantinople II - Practically no western representation, Pope did not attend nor did the Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrians.
  • Constantinople III - Pope didn’t attend, close to zero western representation, OO and Assyrians didn’t attend.
  • Nicaea II - Practically no westerners barring papal legates, Pope didn’t attend, OO and Assyrians didn’t attend.

As you can see, the ecumenical councils were (for all intents and purposes) Byzantine affairs. None of them, absolutely none of them met the representation criteria you demand. Not even Nicaea I.

This logic simply doesn’t work because if we use such that logic then no Council was ecumenical as there is not a single council in church history with all patriarchs attending and decent representation for east and west. Ecumenicity has never been based on attendance. Some local councils have had better attendance and representation than the first 7 ecumenical councils. It’s been based on the church calling a universal or general council to be binding on all regardless of attendance and having such council being ratified by the Roman see as binding on all.


I’ll be honest, I am not that familiar with any of the councils after Nicea II (except for some of Trent, VI and VII). What are binding to us eastern Catholics from some of these other councils? I’m seriously asking your opinion.




Well, in short, the dogmatic decrees of those Councils as truth is universal. Disciplinary matters really only relate to the Latins. So:

  • Constantinople: IV was purely disciplinary so nothing there really except a restatement of the decision of Nicaea II concerning iconoclasm and the legitimate use of icons and imagery.

  • Lateran I: Rejection of ceasaropapism (where Kings control and appoint popes and bishops) and the condemnation of simony

  • Lateran II: Nothing for the east mostly besides condemnations of the teachings of the Petrobrusians and the Henricians, the followers of Peter of Bruys ( and and Henry of Lausanne (

  • Lateran III: Condemnations of Weldensianism, Catharism and Usury

  • Lateran IV: Transubstantiation, Papal Primacy, Communion and confession at least once a year for all Christians

  • Lyon I: mainly disciplinary and nothing of note doctrinally for Latins or Eastern Catholics

  • Lyons II (Reunion Council): You should know about this. Generally Papal Primacy, Filioque

  • Viene: Nothing really except condemnation of the Beguine movement and it’s theology.

  • Council of Constance: Solving the great western schism. Condemnation of John Wycleff and Jan Hus and their theology.

  • Council of Florence (Reunion Council): Papal Primacy, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, Filioque, Purgatory and legitimate use of unleavened bread and condemnation of Conciliarism.

  • Lateran V: Affirmation of the Immortality of the soul. Everything else irrelevant.

  • Council of Trent: Condemnation of Protestantism, Affirmation of indulgences, sacraments and purgatory
    Bible canon (minimum of what is in scripture)

  • Vatican I: Papal Universal Jurisdiction and Infalibility,

  • Vatican II: Disciplinary in nature however a few things apply. Dogmatic nature of scripture (Dei Vebum), Dogmatic constitution of the church and the decree relating to eastern Catholics.


One difference is the doctrine of the Filioque, concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit.


Except that once you understand the theology, and the difference between the latin and greek words ssd, there’s no difference . . .



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