Unity between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches?

A ‘Roman’ Catholic reaching out to my Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters.

I am called by Christ to be a uniter of His flocks. In order to accomplish this, I must know and understand those who follow Him better…no walls can be torn down if we do not see where the walls are, from both sides. Can you and will you help me to better understand your faith? Where do YOU see us as united? What do you see that divides us? I am not a priest, or even a deacon, but ‘just’ a member and follower of Christ.

As I currently understand, (and I freely admit to having very little understanding) the Eastern Orthodox Church is united with the ‘Roman’ Catholic Church in a great many things that relate to salvation. Baptism, the Eucharist, Confession. I see very few divisions on these matters. Am I correct in operating under this assumption? I see a wonderful opportunity for unity around these and other things!

Again, from my limited understanding, the major stumbling blocks are the pope and individual infallibility, and therefore the hierarchy of the Church. I am aware of some slight differences in our approaches to Mary, but to my knowledge, it comes down to how those nuances are expressed in language more than practice.

Are there other stumbling blocks for uniting our faiths? What would it take for an Eastern Orthodox to want unity? Does Rome need to do or say something that would drive you to desire unity with us? (That is to say, if the Church of Roman Catholicism made a move towards our Eastern Orthodox Churches, what would you desire to be done or said). How can ‘we’ as lay members, promote unity together?

I thank you in advance for your advice. I have no Eastern Orthodox Church within 2 hours of my home, so it isn’t practical that I simply go and approach someone there…

I pray that we may each humble ourselves before Him, that we may act as One Flock under One Shepherd.

Peace in Christ

This is an Eastern Catholic forum - you’re already in communion with us. Eastern Orthodox threads would fall under the “Non-Catholic Religion” heading.

I am also trying to piece the puzzle of how can our two great Churches will be able to find those pieces that will enable them to find their unity. I find questions regarding Papal Infalibity, the Filoque and other doctrinal differences to be left alone for the top brass to discuss. The other issues which needs the Laity and the youth to get involved in is simply to come to know the saints of each Church and the writings of these saints. It will also be to the advantage to learn about the Church Fathers and Church Mothers of each Church. It will also be great to know of some of the Desert Fathers. Then it will be the advantage of both of us to connect to the present Orthodox and Catholics who write about the Faith. With these advantages there is also the devotional practices, the many Liturgical services and the many kinds of Sacramentals which each Church is brought up by to be discovered as well. For instance it will be to the advantage of any Catholic to come to know of the Iconography and the use of Icons that is used in the Eastern Churches. The Orthodox in return will find the use of Catholic devotions to be easier to use because the Catholic devotions were made specifically for home use while Eastern devotions tend to be made for the Monasteries.

It is to my observations while living in both worlds that the Catholic Church is more geared toward discipline while the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Churches are more geared towards nurturing/mentoring. These differences were given to us because the strength of one Church would be able to help what is lacking in the other Church. For instance the discipline of the Catholic Church will be able to help the Orthodox and Eastern Churches. The nurturing/mentoring trait of the Orthodox and Eastern Churches will help the Catholic Church. It seems to me what we are lacking in either Church can be found in the other Church. The reason why children and youth are leaving both Churches is simply this lack of having this balance of discipline and nurturing/mentoring to the development of their spiritual maturity. For instance the Catholic May leave because there is too much discipline and not enough nurturing/mentoring while the Orthodox leaves because there is this absent of not enough discipline. It seems to me the gifts of disciplining and nurturing/mentoring are really gifts of what is necessary for two parents in the rearing and development of their children. Therefore our two Churches are in fact the same as two parents but with one parent (Catholic) having this excellent gift in discipline while the other parent (Orthodox and Eastern) excels in nurturing/mentoring.

The question raised in the OP relates to Eastern Catholicism, since in the case of a reunion, EO would want Eastern Catholics to return to the EO Church. So it brings up the question as to how Eastern Catholics would feel if they were required to become part of the EO Church.
The question as to what would be required for reunion between EO and RC is going to depend to some extent on who you talk to. However, the major issue is the papacy and how RC see the pope. EO do not accep the infallibility and the universal jurisdiction of the Roman Pope. In a united Church they see him as first among equals, but not as the infallible head of the Church. There are other issues which concern EO and which some see as a barrier to reunion, while others may not:
Immaculate Conception
Triple immersion required for Baptism
Mary should always be portrayed with the Christ child.
Icons and not statues
Marraige annulments instead of Church approved divorce
Married clergy
Use of instrumental and profane music at Mass
The date of Easter
The distinction between mortal and venial sin
The correct way to make the sign of the cross
Should bishops wear beards

I would love to read a short summary of the differences among the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Anyone know of one? :confused:

How do you even arrive at that idea? A good number of the Eastern Catholic Churches aren’t even from the Eastern Orthodox Communion to begin with. It’s unclear as to what would occur with Eastern Catholic Churches, or at least those with Orthodox equivalents, because it has already been explicitly stated that the means of union would not be the current system with the ECCs.

Sorry to say, I cannot point you to one that I live. Generally they either just focus on the Latin Church compared to the Byzantine Churches and ignore the Oriental Churches or are from Melkite sources which extremely oversimplify things (like by stating that the Byzantine ECCs are Orthodox Churches in communion with Rome). For comparing specifically the Roman Church and the Byzantine Churches, this chart is somewhat helpful: stmarysbc.com/faith.html.

Thank you!

For a brief discussion on the differences between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, by an Orthodox priest (convert from Catholicism) see this: amazon.com/Orthodoxy-Catholicism-What-are-Differences/dp/1888212233/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407530755&sr=1-1&keywords=ted+pulcini

For something much longer and much more in depth, from another Orthodox priest, you might want to look at this: amazon.com/His-Broken-Body-Understanding-Perspective/dp/1481905880/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407531013&sr=1-1&keywords=his+broken+body

Correct. I was thinking about the Eastern Catholic Churches which came into communion with the Roman Catholic Church under the Union of Brest in 1595 and under the Union of Uzhhorod in 1646. However, as you have pointed out, there are other Eastern Catholic Churches which are not from the EO Communion. For example, the Maronite Church.


My mistake! I noticed where I put this thread after I put it up. Thanks for catching it!

Peace in Christ

Perhaps he doesn’t think of them that way .:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Hi Hawkiz. I was just looking at your profile, “Religion: Catholic - working to bring others to the Truth!” I wonder if you would say more about that, and how that relates to people’s decision to come into communion with Rome or not.

The biggest thing we as laity can do is to recognize the historical wounds that arrogance on the part of catholics has inflicted upon unity with our eastern brothers. All too often, our confidence in the reliability of catholic doctrine sounds to them like condescension. At times, it probably even was.

To a certain extent, that legacy has built up an aura of mistrust and resentment that we as catholics can best work to overcome through humility and patience, not apologetics. If Catholicism is right where there are real differences, then it’s hardly to our credit, is it? Receiving a gift you could never achieve on your own isn’t anything to be smug about or you’ve rather totally missed the point of the gift.

The EO were brutalized by jihadi Islam for centuries in which we in the west enjoyed independence and prosperity. It’s to their extreme credit that they’ve endured and kept the faith in spite of it all.


My calling has led me to many conversations with quite a few Protestant ministers and lay people throughout the region where I live. This ministry has me uncovering some of these same types of questions ('What would it take for you to consider Catholicism? Etc.) with Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans and other non-denominational Christians. My 'working to bring others to the Truth often ends up in apologetics, teaching what the Church actually teaches and not someone’s misconception of what She teaches, and seeking out areas where we are already unified. I tend to end up debunking Calvinism quite a bit.

But recently, I encountered a group of Eastern Orthodox Catholics. This was and is very new to me. I haven’t learned much about EO since Christian History class in a Catholic high school…which was a long time ago! :). Which led me to reach out (albeit in the wrong forum apparently) and ask the same questions. As a lay person in America, with limited knowledge, it seems that the faiths and practices are SO closely linked, that we should really be working hard to join together again fully. I see unity among Christians as crucial to Christ’s message…one flock, one Shepherd.

My professional background is analytical/business development and sales…so I have constantly been challenged to find workable solutions when people don’t initially mix. I approach unity in much the same manner: what are our differences? What are our similarities? How can we work together? What is stopping us from being unified? How can we all change without giving up our principles?

This may come out wrong in text only format, but I actually don’t try to convert anyone…I let the Holy Spirit do that part, and am quite comfortable not having that role. (I have sponsored converts, but take no credit for any conversion).

Along those lines, I would stop short of saying that my objective is to ‘bring people to Rome’ so to speak. My mission has become closer to ‘bring people to see the Truth of the Catholic Church about Baptism and the Eucharist’…and if they can believe those two things, well, then it’s up to the Holy Spirit to turn their hearts where He desires. But that probably has grown out of how my calling has grown and changed. To be fair, when I first felt and answered the call to evangelize Protestants, I was a very blunt instrument! And Rome was the only answer. And in some sense, that remains, but it has taken a back seat to the messages about salvation, and I have not wavered from those. I have learned to be more compassionate and loving as a missionary.

Probably more than any of you wanted to know about me! Does this answer your questions? Happy to continue the conversation.

Peace in Christ

Spot on! I had to learn the hard way that apologetics has it’s place…and ALWAYS must be done with charity and love. I probably did more damage to my calling in the first six months that I started speaking about Catholicism than I will ever know. I look back with shame and regret that I wasn’t able to teach with love, understanding and compassion. I would get so angry when speaking apologetics when people challenged me…I was a very thick club beating people over the head! I can see that Jesus was forming me to improve how I communicated His message (and HE hit ME with a thick piece of the Cross to remind me that it is HIS message, not mine!).

May we all be humble.

Peace in Christ

Thank you. To be very clear: I do not consider Eastern Orthodox to be ‘non-catholic’ brethren. There are some differences to be sure, but to label EO as ‘non-catholic’ just doesn’t seem right to me, which is probably why I originally posted in the Eastern Catholic section…but that apparently wasn’t correct either. My sincere apologies for starting my post with such confusion.

Peace in Christ

Me too. I take comfort in the fact that St. Paul appears to have had the same problem initially after his conversion. It seems he eventually managed to be useful to the Holy Spirit anyways! :wink:

Well, you’re right (according to me :cool:). I and many/most Catholics here follow the convention (as per the general capitalize-proper-names rule) that “Catholic” means members of the Roman Communion exclusively, whereas “catholic” encompasses Catholic, Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans.

Note, however that the name of this forum says “non-Catholic”. :slight_smile:

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