What is the difference between Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy?


I’m sure this has been asked before but my question is, have the Eastern Catholic Churches always remained loyal to Rome or have they since the east west schism of 1054 come back to being Catholic? Does the churches adhere to the Catholic teachings about Purgatory, Filioque, Unleavened or leavened bread used, and in Papal authority? Which I believe are the four main disagreements between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
I know Eastern Catholic Churches aren’t considered the Latin Rite, but how much freedom are they allowed? For instance in my town there’s a Ukrainian Catholic Church and also a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. What would be the difference in the two if I walked in? I’m assuming the Orthodox Church views the Patriarch of Constantinople the first among equals whereas Eastern Catholic Church would acknowledge the Pope? Though I have read the Russian Orthodox Church claims Moscow is the new Constantinople, which confuses me even more. I just wanted some view of how Eastern Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches are different and did the Catholic Churches always remain loyal to the Papal authority or have they since come back to Catholicism after being Orthodox for a time following the schism of 1054 when Rome and Constantinople( thus also Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem), excommunicated each other. Very interested in this.


The Eastern Catholic Churches are 23 sui juris Churches who are in full communion with Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, on the other hand, are not and find their unity at Constantinople.

There is really only one disagreement at the doctrinal level between Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and that is over the nature of the papal supremacy. The other “disagreements” aren’t really disagreements but mostly different traditions of the western and eastern churches.

Both Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Eastern Catholics hold to the Byzantine view of purgatory which is a completely acceptable theological point of view within the Church. They see purgatory as a state of final theosis where one completes their journey with God and achieves unity with him, hereby entering into a heavenly state before the universal resurrection of the dead.

The Latin conception of purgatory sees it as a state where a soul who has died in a state of grace but still need purification and undergoes a suffering to achieve this. After purification, one may experience the beatific vision in heaven awaiting the universal resurrection of the dead.

As for unleavened and leaved bread, Eastern Orthodox and many Eastern Catholic Churches use leavened bread as this symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. This is the tradition of the eastern Churches and is fully valid. Christ is as present in the eastern Eucharist as he is in the western Eucharist.

The Latin Church primarily uses unleavened bread as Jesus originally used and as the early Church did, but as said, leavened bread is perfectly valid. This is the tradition of the west.

Lastly, in regards to the filioque, this also is not a theological difference. Some Eastern Orthodox try to make it that way, but it’s really an issue of semantics rather than actual doctrine. Both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church believe in the same thing in regards to the procession of the Holy Spirit as defined in the 17th Ecumenical Council of Florence and Basel (1431-1449). Many Eastern Catholic Churches continue to follow their traditions and may not include the filioque in their version of the Nicene creed.

“The Greeks asserted that when they claim that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, they do not intend to exclude the Son; but because it seemed to them that the Latins assert that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and two spirations, they refrained from saying that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto. Since, then, one and the same meaning resulted from all this, they unanimously agreed and consented to the following holy and God-pleasing union, in the same sense and with one mind.”


Now, the majority of the Eastern Catholic Churches were out of communion with Rome at one time, and this includes the major Churches like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which was first united to Rome at the Union of Brest (1595-1596) after breaking from the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Every Eastern Catholic Church has a long and complex and ancient history and you can read about each online.

The only Church that never broke from Rome is the Maronite Church, which was never technically out of communion with, although they were very isolated for a number of years and may have held to Monothelitism at one point. They were rediscovered during the crusades and submitted willingly to Rome leaving behind any heresy they might have once held onto.

The Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Church, a Byzantine Catholic Church, also is technically an exception to this because they never split from Rome. The Byzantine church in southern Italy and Sicily was made up of primarily Greek Christians who inhabited the area after originating during the time when the Byzantine empire controlled that area. They had a influx of Albanians during the 15th century, hence the “Italo-Albanian” part. They weren’t always sui juris though, and were under the control of Latin bishops at one time, while still retaining their Byzantine traditions and liturgy, the same found in other Byzantine Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.


It may be partly a merely semantical difference, but it is definitively also theological. Rome believes that the Spirit proceeds eternally from both the Father and the Son “equally” (the word used by Lateran IV), and the Orthodox Church does not. Also the Council of Florence is not considered by Orthodoxy to be an ecumenical council and therefore not authoritative.


thephilosopher6 provided a very good answer.

I would however add that there are doctrinal differences between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox regarding the nature of the indissolubility of marriage.


Equally, but in which the Son does so because He receives everything from the Father. The Father remains the first principle.

And it’s my understanding that the Orthodox Churches are not exactly uniform on the procession of the Holy Spirit.


If it’s “equally, but…” then it is hard to give a coherent meaning to “equally” in this context.

Also, I would be very interested to hear specifics about this lack of uniformity you refer to. To my knowledge, no Orthodox theologian or council that is considered authoritative has agreed with the Latin position that the Spirit proceeds eternally equally from the Father and the Son.


I’ve seen Orthodox theologians deny procession from the Son entirely, and seen others write that the Catholic position is a non-issue.

I did have more typed up in response to your post, but I’ll leave you with the last word on the other part, not wishing to go too far from the TC’s question on the differences between EC and EO.


Nonsense. Our unity is in our faith and in the eucharist. Patriarch Bartholemew is not the equivalent of your Pope. I haven’t bothered to read the rest of your post because you have already proven your worth in the first paragraph.


There are only three theologians in the Orthodox Church, St John the Theologian, St Gregory (Nazianzus) the Theologian an St Symeon the New Theologian. To which of these are you referring?


He provided a lot of misinformation. How can you describe that as “good”, let alone “very good”?


In theory the eastern catholic churches are supposed to be Orthodox in Communion with Rome …the reality of it is that this theory varies from Church to Church and parish to parish. There are some eastern catholics who consider themselves Orthodox but who just happen to pray for the Pope of Rome and don’t see it as a big deal…there are others who are basically Latin catholic wih a different liturgy. Some eastern catholics don’t belive in the Latin doctrines of purgatory and papal supremacy etc (much to the annoyance of alot of Latin catholics!). And some eastern catholics are more Latin in their thinking, spirituality and practices than alot of actual Latin catholics ( much to the annoyance of the more Orthodox leaning eastern catholics).

In my experience, being eastern catholic is like sitting on a fence with one leg dangling in the Latin west and one in the Orthodox east…you want to get down but are unsure of where to go…and it’s also really uncomfortable to sit on a fence! I think alot of eastern catholic churches today are surviving only bcuase of cradle eastern catholics and disgruntled Latin catholics. I certainly wouldn’t call them thriving… I know this is just my opinion but I hope it helps explain a little :slight_smile:


Canon Law Eastern Catholics

c. 597 CCEO: The Roman Pontiff, in virtue of his office (munus), possesses infallible teaching authority if, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful who is to confirm his fellow believers in the faith, he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.”

c. 599: :A religious obsequium of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching of faith and morals which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim with a definitive act.; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching.”

c. 43:
“The bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office (munus) given in a special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore in virtue of his office (munus) he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.”


That’s quite a pessimistic opinion


I realize that but unfortunately it’s all too common among “converts” to Eastern Catholicism. I’ve read numerous posts and blogs over the years describing similar feelings to how I feel and I also know a few people IRL who feel the same way. A lot have gone completely Orthodox and a few have gone back to the Latin Church. I know a few very content Eastern Catholics as well. So my experience certainly isn’t universal but it is common nonetheless.



Even in eastern use the word goes beyond the saints given it as an appellation, and even if my use of the word was using the more general definition in regards to Orthodoxy, I hardly think you truly missed my meaning.


Just as Catholics are asked

why are you Catholic?

maybe it needs to be asked of Eastern Catholics

why are you Eastern Catholic***?

If one can’t answer the question, substantively, then that tells me education is sorely lacking and in extension sorely needed


Huh? Why are “Catholics” and “Eastern Catholics” separated here – if “Catholics” are asked, then logically “Catholics” includes “Eastern Catholics”.

Part of the reason why Eastern Catholics are pretty annoyed with Latins is questioning/commentary like this.


I agree, but

Did I make the separation in identification? No

For example

Why is there an Eastern Catholic Canon Law and a Western Canon Law?
Why not Catholic Canon law period? Who insisted on an Eastern Catholic Canon?

I answered a specific point staying within the language of the poster. . #16


The poster wrote “Latin” and “Eastern” not “Catholic” and ‘Eastern Catholic’, as does the Code of Canons and every other legitimate document.


The poster made a distinction

"converts" to Eastern Catholicism. I’ve read numerous posts and blogs over the years describing similar feelings to how I feel and I also know a few people IRL who feel the same way. A lot have gone completely Orthodox and ***a few have gone back to the Latin Church.***"

Re: canon law

CCEO ( Code of canons of Oriental Churchs ) intratext.com/X/ENG1199.HTM

So one knows (by the title) it’s a Catholic Church canon spoken of

Read canons 43, 49, 597, 599 for example

I don’t make these distinctions.

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