Responding to these claims from an Eastern Orthodox?

Hi all,
As I’ve mentioned earlier. I am considering becoming Catholic. I recently informed an Eastern Orthodox friend of mine about this and he attempted to dissuade me from doing so and said that I should consider becoming Eastern Orthodox instead and attend an Eastern Orthodox Liturgy. Aside from the standard Eastern Orthodox objections regarding filioque and papal infallibility, he made some accusations against the Catholic Church that I found somewhat odd. I thought it would be a good idea to ask informed Catholics about them. I would very much appreciate your responses.

  1. When he mentioned his objections to papal infallibility, I tried to explain that the Catholic view is that Jesus declared Peter the rock and gave him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and that the Popes have apostolic succession from Peter. He responded by saying that they do not have apostolic succession as the apostolic succession was broken when Rome had two female Popes, and that one of them even had a baby? I asked for more details and proof but he just insisted that this is historically true and history proves this. How would you respond?
  • Did this happen?
  • Supposing that it did happen, would this mean that the current Pope does not have apostolic succession of the the apostolic succession of Rome has been broken?
  1. On a similar note (and please excuse me here as the question may seem offensive, but I would like to word it as best as I can to how he worded it), he also insisted that even today, when a Pope is elected, he sits on a chair that looks like a toilet seat and has his genitals examined by others (can’t remember by who but I think he said by bishops?) to prove that he is a man so as to prevent another female Pope?
  • Does this happen today?
  • Did this ever happen?
  1. Finally, when I mentioned that the Catholic Church has been able to have Ecumenical Councils even after splitting with the Eastern Orthodox, while the Eastern Orthodox have not, he responded by saying an Ecumenical Council with who? He said the Bishop of Rome (or See of Rome?) is not in Communion with any of the other 4 Sees (Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople). That the Pope is only in Communion with himself. He said how are these council Ecumenical? Who goes to these councils? Roman and German bishops? (He said these questions/statements to try to indicate that these Councils are not Ecumenical and I suppose to indicate that Rome has separated herself from the other Sees and cannot really be the One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church.

Sorry for the lengthy questions, but these accusations troubled me to some extent and I would appreciate your response to them.

p.s. I should probably note again, in case you have not seen me mention in my previous posts, that I am considering being Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic or Evangelical but am having trouble deciding between them or how to know which one is the most true.

Hope you can help.
God bless
Please pray for me

Your friend needs to cite his sources. These are all lies.

Read the Didache (you can find it online). Its a good resource for how the early Christians worshipped, etc.

Evangelical is a younger church…and no EUCHARIST.

I have never heard of the Church having two female popes. I think that us either made up or a huge historical mistake. Regardless I am in the same boat as you but I would advise you to stay away from evangelical church because most if not all don’t have valid sacraments

First off the Eastern Orthodox Church absolutely acknowledges the Apostolic Succession of the Catholic Church.

For the issue of a female pope, take a look Wikipedia, has a list of all the Popes, and when they reigned, take a look. You will not find a single female pope in the list.

My response would be “Well, then, it shouldn’t be hard for you to provide me with some reputable historical sources. Please let me know when you have that ready for me.”

Even otherwise reputable historians who hate the Catholic Church don’t make these claims.

Questions 1 and 2 come from anti-Catholics who claim that a woman pretending to be a man was ordained a priest, became a bishop and then elected Pope without anyone knowing she was a woman. It’s a lie. I suggest reading the book Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid.

Regarding #3, this is not correct either. While most of the Eastern Church did split from Rome (for mostly political and cultural differences), however the Maronite Catholics did not and over time more have returned. The Catholics who are not from the Latin Church have their own canon, different rites and select their own Bishops and Patriarchs (or Major Archbishops). While, the Pope does have a veto, it would most likely not used unless that bishop was a heretic.

For example, here in Philadelphia, there are two Archbishops. One for the Latin/Roman Archdiocese of Philadelphia who reports directly to the Pope (due his former title of Patriarch of the West). The other is for the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia, who reports directly to the Ukrainian Catholic Major Archbishop. The Major Archbishop must actively submit or declare communion with Rome every year or so. A Latin Diocese does not need to do this because their Patriarch was the Bishop of Rome. But the other 20+ Catholic Churches are in communion with Rome and their Patriarchs, Major Archbishops, or Primates do declare communion with the Pope every year or so. Failure to do so would mean that they would no longer be in communion.

I hope this helps.

God Bless

The issue of “Pope Joan,” the funny throne and the testicles is an anti-Catholic screed from the 1700s and is not subscribed to by Orthodoxy.

I had not heard about a baby, that seems to be a modern embellishment.

The problem is, there are public and historical records of who was pope when. And there is no place for her to fit into the record.


Number one and number two are complete fictions with no bearing in reality.

As for Number Three, The Council of Constantinople is recognized by everyone as ecumenical, but only consisted of some bishops from the east. That doesn’t mean it isn’t ecumenical. The Pope isn’t only in communion with himself, he is in communion with thousands of bishops all over the world, in a communion that is much bigger than either Orthodox Church. Vatican II, for instance, was attended by Bishops from practically every nation in the world(With Plenty of Orthodox Bishops observing!).

It is fiction. I think your friend has been influenced by anti-C stories. It is pope fiction.

Here are some links to help you:

I just read that the 2nd Ecumenical Council was not ecumenical at first, it consisted of only bishops from the East. So the question then is…when did it become ecumenical and why did it become ecumenical?

Check out this article:

**Fiction 4

In the middle ages, there was a “Pope Joan,” a woman who hid her gender and rose through the ranks of the Church, became a cardinal and was elected pope. No one knew she was a woman until, during a papal procession through the streets of Rome, she went into labor and gave birth to a child. She and the baby were killed on the spot by the mob, enraged at her imposture.**

A lot of things are said about the alleged “Pope Joan.” Depending on who is telling the story, she was a courageous feminist, a clever opportunist, a brilliant scholar who couldn’t make it as a woman in a man’s world. She is said to have been a wise ruler and an astute theologian, though, oddly, no decree or theological teaching purporting to have come from her has made its way down to our day.

In any case, the fact is, there was no Pope Joan. She exists only as pure legend, but one that makes for a sexy story. . . .

It’s important to remember that even if there had been a female impostor pope, this would just mean that an invalid election had taken place, nothing more. Other invalidly elected claimants to the papal office have come and gone over the centuries, and the fact that a woman made that list would simply mean that a woman made that list, She would not have been pope - no one invalidly elected would be. And nothing in the Church’s teachings about the papacy would be injured or disproved.

But in reality, the Pope Joan story is all sizzle and no steak. . . .

Read more Here.

The first two claims are absolutely absurd. I could tell you that the third pope, was in fact, a Martian. How would you respond? Would you try to find a historian to refute it or would you ask me to back up my claim? The burden of proof is on the person making outlandish claims. These particular lies originate from anti-Catholic Protestant propaganda - Reformation era if I’m not mistaken. You could easily refute these claims using strictly secular historical works, not relying on Catholic apologetics.

In regards to Rome separating itself from the four other ancient sees…this is an argument the Eastern Orthodox often make, but it is misleading. In the ancient Church there were three primal sees - this is implied at the Council of Nicaea (first Ecumenical Council - AD 325) and is well testified by various sources. These sees were Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch (with Rome holding primacy among them). Later, Jersualem was elevated to the status of “Patriarchate” out of respect for its legacy as the holy city where Our Lord died and rose and the Church had its start. Much later, in the fifth century, Constantinople was raised to the patriarchal dignity for political reasons as it had become the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. After the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), however, the majority of the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch went into schism from the rest of the Church over issues of Christology. These are todays Oriental Orthodox Churches (Copts, Syriacs, etc). The Church replaced those sees with new patriarchs who accepted the Council of Chalcedon, but the non-Chalcedonian lines also continued. From an Oriental Orthodox perspective, Alexandria and Antioch left the Church at this point, yet neither the Latins nor the Byzantines (today’s Eastern Orthodox) dispute the validity of the ecumenical councils held after Chalcedon and the loss of the arguably “original” sees of Alexandria and Antioch.

By the time of the Great Schism between the Latins and the Byzantines in the 11th century, the churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem had long since fallen under the sway of Constantinople as capital of the Eastern Empire and centre of Easter Christianity. They were hardly the great autonomous Churches of the pre-Chalcedonian era with their own distinct patrimonies. The schism essentially came down to two factions - the Latin West and the Byzantine East.

Christ promised that the gates of Hades will never prevail against the Church. The Church of Christ cannot be destroyed by heresy nor schism. Schism cannot render the Church unable to perform such necessary functions as convening ecumenical councils.The pentarchy, the five patriarchates recognized prior to the Great Schism, was a model eventually recognized by the Church, including Rome, but it was originally promulgated by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was hardly of divine or apostolic origin. It was not and is not essential to the divine constitution of the Church. The Church can and did function without it. Ontologically, as far as divine / apostolic institution are concerned, all bishops are equal and receive the fulness of the Christian high priesthood; only the primacy of Rome is of divine origin.

The Pope remains in communion with his brother bishops throughout the world, which today includes several Eastern patriarchs. The Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch, for example, is the successor of the canonically elected Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch who sought full communion with Rome in the 18th century. Constantinople then stepped in and appointed a new “Orthodox Patriarch”, but from a Catholic perspective, the Melkite Patriarch is a true patriarch of the East in full communion with Rome. He participated, together with his synod, at the Second Vatican Council and played a vital role.

TWO female popes. It keeps getting better. I have heard the story of Pope Joan who lived in the 9th century. She is supposed to have pretended to me a man and became a priest, bishop and finally a pope for two years. When riding on horseback she gave birth to a baby.

This story was made up in the 13th century by an anti pope group. There is no evidence that such a pope existed. There is clear succession of popes in the 9th century and evidence of documents and coins showing the dates of the popes that reigned. There is no two year gap when this Pope Joan could have ruled.

In addition to #1 and #2 being totally false, it is also important to note that your Orthodox friend has a very poor understanding of apostolic succession, something they should be familiar with since it also applies to the Orthodox bishops.

They miss the point of what apostolic succession is, it is the making of new bishops by the laying on of hands of validly ordained bishops who go back in succession to the Apostles.

It is not possible to ordain a woman, so let’s just imagine for a moment a woman had erroneously been elected Pope or Bishop of some diocese. Would that break succession? No. It would merely mean that at that time there was no bishop (or Pope), meaning a vacant see. When a validly ordained man took that see, it would once again be filled.

Vacant sees are no stranger to history, sometimes various sees would be vacant for years due to persecution, hindered travel, etc. This is a historical fact. The See of Peter has been vacant at various periods of time when the election of a new Pope took some years to accomplish.

So, it is not the story of the fake Pope Joan that is at issue, but rather your friend’s very poor understanding of their own religion as well as the Catholic.

Because Orthodox sees have been vacant too, or held by rivals/anti-popes (small p, talking about anti-bishops) all in the ancient past. Let’s not forget the emperor removing St. Athanasius (well, actually 6 different exiles) and sending him to exile and installing another bishop in his place-- which of course is nonsense. St. Athanasius was the true bishop, and the other may have been a validly consecrated bishops but had no valid claim to that See.

Apostolic succession lies in the laying on of hands. And that is unbroken down to today for both Catholic and Orthodox.

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