Why not Orthodox Churches?

Why not the eastern Orthodox church? Any good reasons?

Because they are Catholic Churches which are not in communion with the rest of the Catholic Church.

Unless you’re ethnically Greek or Eastern European/Slavic/Russian, chances are you don’t even know what Eastern Orthodoxy is. The Eastern Orthodox Churches are the Greco-Slavic Catholic Churches which have been in a state of impartial Communion with the rest of the Church since the 13th century.


As I post in all threads like this, there are various reasons, but I think the most fundamental is that the Eastern Orthodox Churches lack two of the notes of the Church we profess in the Creed: they are not “one” nor are they “catholic.” These notes are interelated (you can’t really have one without the other).

The jurisdiction of the papacy is necessary for the Church to be one. The Eastern Orthodox Churches are a perfect example of why this is. They get into situations where EO Church A is in communion with B, B is in communion with C, but A and C are not in communion with each other (A=B=C≠A) (e.g. the Moscow Patriarchate breaking communion with Constantinople over who had jurisdiction over Estonia in 1996 while other Churches remained in communion with both; ROCOR’s situation until 2006; the Bulgarian schism of the 19th century when most patriarchates, but not Moscow, broke communion with the Bulgarian Church, etc., etc.). How can one Church simultaneously have some parts in communion with other parts, while other parts are separated from each other? This doesn’t even make any sense unless there is only a plurality of Churches, rather than just one.

Also, look at the recent pan-Orthodox Synod (or whatever it ultimately was classified as). It barely even got off the ground because Churches were threatening to boycott (and many did) because they were fighting with other Churches over who had jurisdiction over what. And for all the EO polemics about all bishops being equal, if you look at how that synod was explicitly organized and carried out, the bishops who participated in that synod did not do so as equal bishops of one Church, but as representatives of multiple national Churches and patriarchates. What was sought was not a consensus of the bishops of one Church (or even a consensus of particular Churches), but rather a consensus of national Churches/patriarchates (which didn’t happen anyway).

Because without the primacy they lack this oneness, they also have had to embrace a purely eucharistic ecclesiology, rejecting any universal ecclesiology. They now mostly only acknowledge the eucharistic or particular Church (a bishop, assisted by his priests and deacons, and the flock entrusted to him) as the only true manifestation of the Church of Christ. Catholics acknowledge both the reality of the particular Church and the universal Church, as the Fathers did. The Fathers used the term “catholic” to differentiate when they were talking about the whole Church throughout the world, rather than a particular Church (e.g. Church of Corinth, Church of Ephesus, Church of Rome, Church of Antioch, etc.). The EOs now reject an ecclesiology that acknowledges a catholic Church.

By rejecting the primacy, the EO Churches are not one Church and as a result, they must deny the ecclesiastical reality of the catholic Church. The Catholic Church is one and acknowledges the catholic Church and the particular/eucharistic Churches.


A great explanation. On a personal note, anytime I have ever tried to discuss or debate in EO circles, I have been met with a great deal of hostility and accused of heresy. They really don’t like to hear the right lung left lung metaphor. There are EO youtube videos comparing Catholic Masses and EO ones, and it goes on. The only civilized debate or discussion I have seen has been here. Having said all of that, I love several of their books on the desert fathers. They have a lot to offer, but I have a tough time getting past the hostility, which they themselves should consider as being grossly uncharitable. We do that here with our own when we ourselves step out of line.

Here in Atlanta there is a beautiful GO church that has a yearly festival and invites the public. They serve greek food let you visit the gift shop, they have music and so on. The first and only time I went to this festival I was passing the entrance to the knave and poked my head in to look at a beautiful icon on the ceiling.

When I say I poked “my head in” I stayed completely outside the doorway and leaned to look up, to see the icon, as I had no intention of going in. It was very hot outside, and I had a ball cap on. When I “leaned” that should have shown the lady manning the door that I was not going in, yet she stilled hissed at me: “Take your hat off, show some respect.” We left, and I never went back.

There are more experiences, but I wont get into it. Safe to say that I find GO to be very “clannish” as well.

1 Like

Great post @Genesis315.

Like I said - the Eastern Orthodox are legitimate particular Churches with valid clergy and sacraments, they certainly are Holy and Apostolic, but they are not in communion with the Universal Catholic Church, so they lack in Oneness and Catholicity as a result.

It’s not that they are a rival Church - even if some of them erroneously believe that they are the only true Church - it’s that they are Churches which were once part of the Catholic Communion, which are no longer in full Communion with the Universal Church, and so they now exist as a collective of various national Churches composed mainly of ethnic Greeks and Slavs.

The replies so far have expressed how Eastern Orthodox Churches are not in full communion with the Catholic Church and are lacking oneness and catholicity.

But I’d argue they are also not fully apostolic, as the Creed also says. As of others have said, Orthodox churches are rooted in the one Church of the apostolic era and have a valid succession of bishops. But they are missing the office of Peter, who led the first apostolic college when Jesus appointed him as “rock,” chief steward, and shepherd of the church (serving, of course, under Christ, who is the true Head of the Body of Christ).

From the biblical data, we see that it was Peter who grouped the other Apostles into one body, as he served as spokesman and was assured by Christ to “strengthen his brethren” as well as “feed” and “tend” His sheep, the rest of Christ’s followers.

From the early historical data, we see that developed notions of schism and visible church unity always emphasized the role of the Roman church as chief preserver of this unity. Irenaeus in the 2nd century says ALL other churches, all Christians, must agree and look to the Roman church because of its preeminent succession of bishops rooted in Peter (and Paul). Cyprian a few decades later in his Unity of the Catholic Church emphasized the unifying role of the “Chair of Peter,” or the Roman church and its bishop. For him, communion with Rome meant communion with the Catholic Church.

And we go even earlier: In the first century, the Roman church sent a letter to the Corinthians, implying that Rome understood itself as the caretaker of other churches abroad. This letter (traditionally attributed to Clement, who was bishop of Rome) was celebrated and seemed to have fixed the problems in Corinth, and it was even regarded as Scripture in some churches.

All in all, the role of Peter continued in his successor at Rome is critical to the apostolic nature of the church.

Also, a note on being “Catholic”: Catholic doesn’t necessarily mean the true church will be found everywhere, in a universal geographical sense. It’s a natural implication of the visible nature of the church, but mere numbers don’t prove anything. I think it’s more effective to show how the Catholic Church (united to Rome) is more “catholic” than the Eastern Orthodox Church, by illustrating how the Catholic Church is more inclusive or complete. For example, the CC happily embraces both Western and Eastern liturgy, spirituality, and even theology. The EOCs seem to be more exclusive and tend to shun Western tendencies.

I also recommend

If you want to have innovated theology and think all the world’s religions are part of The Church.

If you ask the Pope, the man we are missing and the reason for why these Catholics are insulting the Orthodox Church, he would tell you that you should be Orthodox if you want to and that no Roman Catholic should try to convert you because you are fully part of the Church. The Pope himself does not mind you being Orthodox, yet these self professed popes will tell you that we are not One, Catholic, or Apostolic, interesting.

I think the other replies so far have explained why such a pope (assuming you mean Francis) would praise someone for being Orthodox: Because in the Catholic perspective, they are members of particular Catholic churches that just happen to lack full communion with Rome, and, therefore, lack full visible unity with the One Catholic Church.

But generally and objectively, one should be Catholic and not Orthodox, because being Catholic means being in full union with the Church and, therefore, having access to all gifts that Christ wanted to give the church.

Hence, Orthodoxy is not fully One, or Catholic, or Apostolic. This is not about being insulting. It’s about looking to the biblical and ancient data.

From the Byzantine theologian of the 7th century, Maximus the Confessor: (see above link)

The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)

1 Like

If you are claiming that the Orthodox Churches really do meet the criteria of Catholic Churches, then you cannot say that we cannot say the creed truthfully because we really are not Catholic, Apostolic, or One. You can’t have it both ways. I think you know that you have crossed the line by claiming that we do not meet this crucial part of what it means to believe, the Holy Creed.

1 Like

Again, Orthodoxy is not fully these things.

In the same way, you wouldn’t say the (Roman) Catholic Church fully meets the criteria, from your own perspective.


And we should just trust your authority on this? Your Pope and whole Church disagree with you. You might try joining a Protestant church since you seem to keep wanting to believe in direct contradiction with the RCC.

He’s not the one who believes in contrast to the Church.

That’s you @pacloc.

You’re the only one displaying contempt for the CC by continuously and contemptuously referring to “your Church” and your Pope."

How does my church disagree on this?

“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

I don’t understand how it is that you got that from the conversation. It is his Pope and his Church, not mine. How is this a problem? My point is that the RCC, which catholic1seeks is a part of, teaches the opposite of what he is claiming about the Orthodox Church.

It’s rude to speak of “your Pope” or “your Church” in English in the way you’re doing it.

The polite way would be to say “the Pope of Rome” or “the Catholic Church.”

1 Like

This says nothing of your claim that we do not meet the criteria of the Holy Creed, namely being One, Catholic, or Apostolic.

Look at the Catechism quote above. From this it is clear that the Orthodox are not fully equivalent to Catholic unity, but nevertheless only lack full communion.

I, and my church, do not say Catholic and Orthodox are the SAME thing, but neither do I or the Catholic Church say they do not share any commonality whatsoever.

So which is it am I wrong on?

1 Like

Not really, this could be misunderstood to think that the Pope of Rome is a Pope to the Orthodox as well. And I do want Catholic1seeks to know that this is “his” Pope that does not teach this.

If there is only one church — a church that is visible, as both Catholics and Orthodox believe — then it wouldn’t even make sense for persons on either side to say BOTH Catholic and Orthodox churches are the “One” Church.

That’s just from a logical reading. But furthermore, any Catholic document on the Church will express that communion with Peter is necessary for full communion with the Church. This is even implicit when one reads about other topics in the Catechism, like about the apostolic college or Holy Orders. It speaks of the bishops “in union with the Roman Pontiff.”

So I am still unclear when you are pitting me against the teaching of my own church. Could you explain a little more?


It was internet Orthodox such as yourself who consistently showed such contempt for the Catholic Church that drove me out of the Russian Orthodox Church and back into the Roman Catholic Church (amongst other things).

If you want to drive people away from Eastern Orthodoxy, keep on arguing against your Patriarchs wishes and denigrating the Catholic Church (which he considers a sister Church in contrast to the internet Orthodox).

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.