What is the difference between being a Roman Catholic and a Greek Catholic

I have been wondering much about this, in my town, where I live I attend a Roman Catholic church, but I have seen a church in the town, and above the church’s roof is a huge Icon of Jesus, so I asked
“Is this an Orthodox church?”
“No… this is a Greek Catholic church!”
What’s the difference? Why do they have Icons like Orthodox? Is there a theological difference?
If anyone answers thank you and God Bless You.

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Greek Catholic means one of the fourteen sui iuris eastern Catholic churches in the Constantinopolitan (Byzantine) tradition. Eastern canon law (CCEO) states:

Canon 27 - A group of Christian faithful united by a hierarchy according to the norm of law which the supreme authority of the Church expressly or tacitly recognizes as sui iuris is called in this Code a Church sui iuris.

Canon 28 - §1. A rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui iuris.
§2. The rites treated in this code, unless otherwise stated, are those which arise from the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean and Constantinopolitan traditions.


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Hi Job121, welcome to the forums.

The short answer is that in the Eastern Church, some groups decided to join with the Catholic Church and become Eastern Catholic Churches. These are the sui iuris churches Vico mentioned. So for example, a Greek Catholic Church would be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, although the Greek Catholic Church would use an Eastern liturgy (not quite the same as the Mass), would have icons, would have different fasting practices, etc.

These sui iuris churches are in communion with Rome, and a Roman Catholic is allowed to go to their liturgy, fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation by going to their liturgy without other conditions, and receive Holy Communion at their liturgy.

On the other hand, Eastern Orthodox churches are not part of the Catholic Church. They have chosen to be separate. They have liturgy that looks similar to Eastern Catholic churches, but Catholics usually can’t fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation by going to an Orthodox church (the exception is when you’re in some part of the world where there is no Catholic Church available, only Orthodox). Also, the Orthodox usually do not permit non-Orthodox (including Catholics) to receive Communion at their liturgies.


Gyros vs. Lasagna. Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Holubki & pyrohy, not gyros.
That is why “Greek”, while widely used in Austria-Hungary, has been being phased out in America.


This is kind of long, but very informative

Short story: we aren’t Greek, we’re Slavic.


Greek Catholics and Orthodox share the same rite. A rite is more than a liturgical patrimony. Liturgy must reflects the fullness of a Tradition.

This is a good starting point:



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Oh, no! I live in Slovakia and it’s called Gréckokatolícka cirkev, Greek Catholic church.

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OK I give up? What is the difference?

And welcome to CAF Job121 014_shrug


Some Greek Catholics are not Slavic. Romanians and Italo-Albanians, for example. And Greeks, of course. And Melkites.

Greek Catholics are any Catholics that use the Rite of Constantinople, also known as the Greek Rite or Byzantine Rite.


You are of course correct. My response was a tad bit self centered! :slightly_smiling_face:


The only material difference is in the name.

I wouldn’t say that. The most obvious, the Divine Liturgy is not the Mass. Speaking of worship, the Byzantine and Roman rite have a completely different lectionary. The Byzantine rite liturgical year begins September 1 while the Roman rite the liturgical year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. Byzantines use leavened bread while the Latin Church used unleavened bread. The list could go on and on.

Theologically, both Byzantine and Roman rites have a different expression of the faith. A rite is more than a liturgical patrimony. Liturgy must reflect the fullness of a Tradition, and the Byzantine rite has a different Tradition than the Roman rite.



It’s probably easier to think in terms of “Western (Latin) Church” and “Eastern Catholic Church(es).”

Eastern Catholicism is, in most cases, the Catholic equivalent of their Eastern Orthodox counterparts.

Western Catholics have the Mass, Eastern Catholics have the Divine Liturgy. They are very different and express different truths of Catholicism.

You are welcome to attend Divine Liturgy at any Eastern Catholic Church, and to receive holy communion there as well.

Icons are prevalent and used extensively in Eastern worship. As is incense, and chanting and singing. Music is vocal, instruments are not used.

When you go, sit by someone who can help you with a book to follow along. Some Eastern Churches use a mixture of languages, others use primarily (or exclusively) English.

Watch and smell and sing and drink in all the beauty of the Temple during your visit. This is a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy!

Most parishes have fellowship following Divine Liturgy, where you can meet people and have some refreshments. Be sure to introduce yourself to the priest and deacon (if they have one), who are anxious to meet you and welcome you.

Fr. Deacon Christopher


It might be easier, but it is not correct and could lead to to a significant misunderstanding. The OP ask about Greek Catholics. As you know, other easterners include Chaldeans, Maronites Syro-Malabar, Coptic, Etc. These are not Greek Catholics.

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Both are awesome in my book :crazy_face::yum:

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I don’t think @Job121 is asking about the difference between all the sui uris Churches.

I think he is after more general information, which is best learned by attending Divine Liturgy there.

Fr. Deacon Christopher


Some great information you all have shared here on this thread. I’m bookmarking it all so I can read later!

God Bless

At a Greek Catholic Church, yes. You talk of sui uris churches and I speak of rites. If he looks for Eastern Catholic and comes upon a Chaldean Catholic Church or a Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, he will not find an answer to his question.

Granted, if he attends Divine Liturgy of the church that he saw, that would work. But there is a whole world of Eastern Catholicism beyond that parish and beyond the Byzantine Rite.

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Of course there is. But if there’s a church nearby, that’s what I am going to urge him to visit. He said the person said it was a Greek Catholic Church. (In America that is most likely Ukrainian or Ruthenian)

I took that opportunity to evangelize; and encourage him to visit the Temple.

I am a deacon of 15 years, and am bi-ritual - I always err on the side of evangelization, as is my ministry and job as a cleric.

Fr. Deacon Christopher

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