What do RC Catholics believe about the Orthodox Church?


A few relevant questions.

What do Roman Catholics believe about the RCC?

And what do RC’s believe about the EOC Eastern Orthodox Church?

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We believe it’s the Church instituted by Jesus Christ and founded on Peter and the Apostles.

Close to the Roman position are the Orthodox Churches. They are a schism from Rome, but Rome acknowledges their faith, theology and Church structures as valid


The Orthodox are schismatics. They are also at least material heretics, because their belief involves a rejection of Catholic doctrine (eg. dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility).

You’ll encounter many posters who say that it is not heresy to reject Papal Infallibility, and the Orthodox are just fine - that their faith is recognized as “valid” and they don’t have to accept what the Church defines. Ignore them.


The Orthodox ARE heretics, but they are also part of the True Church, in imperfect communion with the Holy Father and Rome.

His Holiness Benedict XVI has said that they are a true Church and their sacraments, etc are valid. They are essentailly Eastern Rite Catholics who are rebellious and slightly heretical. Their heresies pale in comparison to protestant ones, and liberal Catholic ones though.


We believe the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ–it always has been and it always will be. Despite the fact that Churches and communities separated from her have ecclesial elements, the Catholic Church always has all those elements Christ intended His Church to have.

We believe the Orthodox Churches are separated–generally their particular Churches can rightly be called Churches, however they are lacking an important element, communion withe Successor of St. Peter.


Exactly. Great post, thanks. :thumbsup:


Does anyone know what specific year the supreme pontiff began to implement and use the title successor of Peter?

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This is most certainly a Catholic answer.


Yes, it is.

I understand that you are exploring the Roman Catholic church, and that is fine. You could do much worse! Please continue in your investigations of that ancient and venerable western church.

But if you are interested in what Orthodox think of themselves and the Papacy I invite you to look elsewhere. These issues are not new, they are really ancient by our standards.

If you have not already done so, OrthodoxChristianity.net would be a good place to start, you may ask all the questions you like and read the older threads. Byzcath.org is another, run by an eastern Catholic, it makes an effort to be officially unbiased and has moderators from both the Orthodox and Catholic communities.

Finally, there is Monachos, for a more scholarly look at the east.



“What do RC Catholics believe about the Orthodox Church?”

Overly ritualistic; shamefully collaborative in the Former Soviet Union with the Communists in the oppression of the masses and attacks on the Catholic Church; theologically compromised via its position on the Trinity; detached from social activism on behalf of the downtrodden and suffering.:frowning:

I could never belong to the Orthodox Church.:frowning:


Heretics are not part of the Church. The Orthodox are not in the “imperfect comminion” with the Pope. They are out of communion with the Pope.

[quote=] His Holiness Benedict XVI has said that they are a true Church and their sacraments, etc are valid.

There is only one true Church and the Orthodox are not part of it. Their orders are valid, but that doesn’t matter. The Orders of the Arians and everyon other heresy in the early years were valid.

[quote=] They are essentailly Eastern Rite Catholics who are rebellious and slightly heretical.

They are not Catholic it all and are FULLY heretical. It only takes one herersy to make a person an heretic and to destroy all supernatural faith.

A good encyclical to read on this subject is Satis Cognitum by Pope Leo XIII which is available online.


Thats ridiculous.

Roman Catholicism, when done CORRECTLY, is every bit as devoted to its rituals as the Eastern Orthodox.

Furthermore, the Orthodox Church suffered greatly at the hands of the Soviet Union. Whether or not some clergy worked with the Soviet government is immaterial. Firstly, if they didnt make some effort to appease the Soviets, every single Christian could have ended up in a Gulag in Siberia. Secondly, one collaborator with Soviets does not make the entire Church a soviet collaborator any more that one pedophile priest makes the entire Catholic Church a pedophile church.

And this whole social activism… I think the Orthodox understand better than some dissident Catholics that the only true change in the world will come from personal piety, not from pseudo-marxist, utopian collective action-based liberation theology.


I would be careful with that. The Melkite Catholic bishops have clearly proclaimed that they believe exactly what the Orthodox believe but they are in communion with Rome. So if you say the Orthodox are heretics you are also calling the Melkites and many other eastern Catholics heretics.


Thats not true; the Melkites believe one this the Orthodox don’t: the importance of being in communion with the Bishop of Rome.


Since as I’ve mentioned on several other posts I’m married to a member of the Orthodox Church I’ve learnt quite a bit about it. My father is more devout than I am and so really for him he talked about it more with my wife and was quite happy to go with her to the nearby Orthodox church although he did point out politely to the Priest he was Catholic and would he be offended if he sat through the mass. Since everyone was happy to let him do so he he has quite happily done so out of curiosity several times and my wife has quite happily attended Catholic mass with me - since there are a number of mixed marriages in the area between Orthodox and Catholic couples this is not so unusual and the priests are more used to it than we supposed when we asked them in both churches.

My opinion is it is a valid a church as the Catholic one and that I would like at some point to see us manage to find some way to be in communion but with the Orthodox Church remaining as much autonomy as is possible. Mind you I think that’s many years of and there’s a lot of bad feeling and ill will on both sides of the fence

I don’t think as has been implied in the past (and on some occassions outright stated by a few people) that members of it are automatically damned and such accusations make me roll around the floor with laughter to be honest.


Read about the Zoghby initiative which was approved by 26 of 28 Melkite bishops including the patriarch. It made two points, 1. they believe everything the Orthodox believe and 2. they are in communion with Rome.

Yes, they believe that communion with Rome is important but their approach to how Rome should act is very much like that of the Orthodox. If they didn’t find it important they would be in communion with Constantinople and Moscow and the other EO Churches rather than with Rome. The Orthodox are willing to accord to Rome a primacy but since they consider some of the doctrines of the west to be heretical they are not in communion with Rome. Unlike the Orthodox the Melkites are in communion with Rome because they don’t view Rome as heretical unlike the Orthodox. But the Melkites still view themselves as pretty much autonomous and self governing. They do not view themselves as subordinate to Rome. Here is what Patriarch Gregorios has to say:

GRÉGOIRE III: Really I always say: I am cum Petro but not sub Petro. If I were sub Petro, I would be in submission, and I couldn’t have a true frank, sincere, strong and free communion with the Pope. When you embrace a friend, you are not “below”. You embrace him from the same height, if not it wouldn’t be a true embrace. Unita manent, united things last. They do not simply profess the faith which Rome professes. They profess the faith which has been handed on to them from their fathers as it was handed on. They profess communion with Rome because they see the faith which Rome professes to be the same as the faith they profess. What they believe and what Rome believes is not contradictory. If they simply professed the faith which Rome professed there would be no point of diversity in theology or in praxis. They would simply profess it in the same way Rome professes it. What they would say is they profess the faith which was handed on to them as Rome professes the faith which was handed on to them. The Spirit has guided all local Churches in the preservation of the faith. Since what Rome and and the Melkites professions are not contradictory they are in communion.


That is my view of the Orthodox Church basically. They are a valid Church and I pray for communion. They are not heretics.


If they believe that contraception and divorce are prohibited, that the Pope can speak infallibly, that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, all of which are necessary to be Catholic, then their beliefs are not completely identical with the Eastern Orthodox.


What about dogmas? Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and sanctity of life issues? If they are as valid a Church as the Roman Catholic Church (which is by no means the official teaching), then what good does it do us to believe in the Church’s teachings on those issues?


The Orthodox believe in the sanctity of life. They stand right beside Catholics on all life issues.

With the IC, it depends what you mean by it. The Orthodox believe that Mary did not commit any sin during her life. What they object to is the fact that the west tries to force them to affirm a western concept of Grace and Original Sin and more generally the western concept of salvation. The east does not speak of Mary being concieved any different than anyone else. They say that Mary was born subject to the fall as anyone else but what they do affirm is that Mary remained pure throughout her life(with the help of God obviously).

All Catholics must realize that there are different traditions within Christianity which are legitimate. In different cultures and areas people interpreted the faith in different ways. None of these are false but you can’t necessarily synthesize them. The Latin Catholics have interpreted the faith within a certain context. Maronites and Syriac Catholics have interpreted it in another context. The Byzantines(which includes the Orthodox) have interpreted it in a different context. They are all legitimate but they can’t necessarily be synthesized into one statement without destroying one of them. Rome accepts that there are different traditions and they affirm that the east should uphold their own traditions.

I will not speak of infallibility. That must be discussed among the bishops. John Paul himself spoke of the fact that there may be a way to work with it to find new way of approaching it.

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