What is Oriental Orthodox?

I’m just now learning that there is a such thing as the Oriental Orthodox, which I hear is not the same thing as Eastern Orthodox. Would anyone here be able to educate me a little bit about the Oriental Orthodox or point me to sites that could teach me?

The Oriental Orthodox are these and there are others that are not in communion:

  • Armenian Apostolic Church
    ** Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
    ** Holy See of Cilicia
    ** Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
    ** Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
  • Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
    ** French Coptic Orthodox Church
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
  • Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
  • Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
  • Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
    ** Jacobite Syrian Church

There are Oriental Catholic Churches (numbers from 2008):

East Syrian

Syro-Malabar 3,947,396
Chaldean 452,488

West Syrian

Maronite 3,090,509
Syro-Malankara 415,513
Syrian 161,780


Armenian 539,806


Ethiopian/Eritrean 208,093 (independent since 2015)
Coptic 163,849


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Thank you!

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I believe there is a commission for dialogue/rapprochement between Catholic and Oriental Orthodox but I do not know the details.

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Considering the fact that “oriental” means “eastern”, this is sort of confusing

I agree!! I thought Oriental Orthodoxy was just another “branch” of Eastern Orthodoxy (I don’t mean to imply denominations like Protestantism has).

During the recurring battles in the Church over words, and coming from those with different liturgical languages but typically all writing in greek, the universal language of the church, there was a (yet another) dispute over the dual nature of Christ.

This was to have been resolved at the Council of Chalcedon, but was done before the more eastern (geographically) folks arrived :headsmack: (and, yes, this would happen again with lutherans at trent . . .). So one “side” who was there first wrote the decrees in their terms, and the other side refused to accept the council.

A millenium and a half later :bangs head on wall:, the RCC and the OO had a series of dialogs, which ended up with a statement that can be largely boiled down to “Uhm, err, well you see, we’ve really been saying the exact same thing, but using different word, and have been in schism all this time for no good reason!” :headbang; :headbang: :headbang:

At the moment, RCC and OO are closer to communion than RCC and EO. I believe there are more agreements by RCC with OO than EO on providing for one another’s faithful . . .


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Yeah I think this is true also. I have observed, however, that the EO willing commune OO but deny the RC. At our local OCA church, there are several Ethiopian Orthodox families who attend. We witnessed a baptism one time. And at the local Antiochian church, there is a OO family who attends…I know b/c they do the sign of the cross the “Latin” way :wink:

For a greater context and brief overview of the main Eastern traditions, see:

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