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Author Topic: Main Disagreements BTW Catholicism and Orthodoxy???  (Read 2525 times) Average Rating: 0
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Catholicious
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« on: April 07, 2003, 04:51:48 PM »

Hello fellow tradition Christians,

I am new to this site at the request of my friend Linus7.  What are the main issues that divide Catholics and Orthodox?  If I understand correctly,

Orthodox do not follow the Pope because of our understanding of his "primacy" as successor to St. Peter whereas you feel he is the first in honor among equals (the Eastern Patriarchs), thus the Great Schism of 1054.
I was taught you broke from us but I guess you were taught that we broke from you, is that accurate?

The Nicene Creed - is it this phrase that you disagree with [The Holy Spirit] "... who proceeds from the Father and the Son" - I guess the claim is that we added it.  When did this occur and why is this such a point of contention?

Do you believe in the concept of "purgatory"?  And if not, do you at least a cleansing or santification is needed before we can enter heaven [... nothing unclean shall enter heaven]?

If I understand correctly you guys do pray to saints including the Blessed Virgin Mary.  What other titles and roles do you reserve for her?

Do we share the EXACT same idea about the REAL PRESENCE of JESUS CHRIST in the Eucharist in that it truly is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior [we call this Transubstantiation]?

I have seen some Orthodox claim that the Catholic Church is in apostasy -- is that true???  Is this for all Catholics or just Roman Catholics?

Do your Eastern Patriarchs seek unity within the Universal Church [unity with Rome]?

What do you guys think of the current Pope, John Paul II?  Even though we are in schism from each other, do the Eastern Patriarchs still see him as the "big brother" or "first in honor"?

I think you also practice the seven sacraments like Catholics do, right?

What do you guys think of the Rosary -- will you or do you use it?

Okay well this is a lot of questions, hope this can serve as a point of unity for us and not the opposite.

Peace and God Bless!
Catholicious    Cheesy
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2003, 04:54:18 PM »

I go over some of the differences I've seen on this page. If I have any misconceptions, please share what they are. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2003, 05:45:51 PM »

Catholic and Orthodox Q&A
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Brendan03
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2003, 08:45:38 AM »

"Orthodox do not follow the Pope because of our understanding of his "primacy" as successor to St. Peter whereas you feel he is the first in honor among equals (the Eastern Patriarchs), thus the Great Schism of 1054.
I was taught you broke from us but I guess you were taught that we broke from you, is that accurate?"

We believe that the church is best expressed as a communion of local churches, each of which, in communion with the others, is the full expression of the church in one particular place, gathered around its bishop.  Above that level, structures are administratively convenient, and have developed along the synodal lines in most local churches.  We view the Pope as the senior most Bishop in Christendom, and as the first among equals in the event of an ecumenical council of all the Bishops of the Church, but we don't believe that this gives him either (1) universal jurisdiction over the remainder of the church outside the Latin Church or (2) personal infallibility in matters of faith or doctrine.

Some Orthodox would characterize the schism as the breakaway of Rome from the remainder of the Patriarchates.  Others would characterize it as a mutual falling away from each other.

" The Nicene Creed - is it this phrase that you disagree with [The Holy Spirit] "... who proceeds from the Father and the Son" - I guess the claim is that we added it.  When did this occur and why is this such a point of contention?"

It was added at the local council of Toledo in Spain to combat the arian heresy among Western barbarian converts to Christianity -- the idea being that to elevate the Son by making him also the source of the Spirit would be to denigrate the Arian position that the Son was less than God.  It wasn't added to the Creed recited at Rome until the 11th Century, right before the schism.

Orthodox object for a few reasons: (1) the creed is a universal matter that was formulated by two ecumenical councils and therefore one local church does not have the authority to change the formulation without the approbation of the entire fullness of the Church; (2) the Orthodox have tended to view the "and the Son" formulation as tending towards a view that the Spirit is somehow subordinate to the Father and Son.  In recent years, there has been a reformulation by the Vatican of what it understands the "and the Son" phrase to actually mean, and this has met with some warmth in some Orthodox circles.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe that Orthodoxy and Catholicism can be reunited without having a uniform wording of the Creed, at least in translated languages (ie, it may be permissible for the Latin to read slightly differently from the Greek original, but it's very unclear as to why there should be two English versions of the Creed, for example).

"Do you believe in the concept of "purgatory"?  And if not, do you at least a cleansing or santification is needed before we can enter heaven [... nothing unclean shall enter heaven]?"

We do not conceive of "Purgatory" as a place, we do not have the concept of "Indulgences", and we do not conceive of the purification as a necessary act of the divine justice to exact justice/punishment for sins that have already been forgiven through sacramental confession.  Having said that, we do believe that our sins leave their mark on our persons, and we need to be pure to enter the divine presence -- therefore there is a final purification before entering the divine presence, before becoming completely "divinized" in Christ.  Some Orthodox writers have conceived of this as a "River of Fire".

"If I understand correctly you guys do pray to saints including the Blessed Virgin Mary.  What other titles and roles do you reserve for her?"

Yes, probably a lot more than many contemporary Roman Catholics do.  The most common title for Mary in our tradition is "Theotokos" (Greek:  God-bearer, often more loosely translated as "Mother of God").  Another common epithet is "Panagia" (Greek: All-Holy).  We also have a common prayer to the Theotokos that is very strikingly similar to the well-known "Hail Mary" of Roman Catholicism.  The Theotokos figures prominently in our prayer -- both personal and liturgical -- more so than what I experienced as a RC for most of my life.

"Do we share the EXACT same idea about the REAL PRESENCE of JESUS CHRIST in the Eucharist in that it truly is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior [we call this Transubstantiation]?"

Yes, but we don't get into the Thomistic metaphysical categories as to substance, and therefore don't use the term "transubstantiation".  We believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ in the Divine Liturgy, truly and really, not merely symbolically or representationally.  How that happens is not of interest to us, while the fact that it does happen is firmly believed by us.

"I have seen some Orthodox claim that the Catholic Church is in apostasy -- is that true???  Is this for all Catholics or just Roman Catholics?"

Orthodoxy teaches that it cannot make any conclusions about the ecclesiastical character of groups that exist outside the visible communion of the Orthodox Church.  Therefore, the Orthodox Church, as a whole, makes no statement about this one way or the other.  As a result, individual Orthodox clergy and laity have different views about the nature of Catholicism -- ranging from the apostasy view you note above to the "separated brothers" view.

"Do your Eastern Patriarchs seek unity within the Universal Church [unity with Rome]?"

The Orthodox Churches have been active participants in the international dialogue between Rome and Orthodoxy since the 1960s.  In the 1990s we began to see problems emerge due to the resurrection of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Eastern Europe, and the resulting tension with the Orthodox Church there about ownership of church properties that were wrongfully given to the Orthodox Church by the communists after WWII as a result of the fact that the Greek Catholics there largely supported the German/Austrian invaders in that campaign.  This has led, in particular, to a great deal of tension between the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Roman Church.  Right now, the dialogue seems to be at an impasse, but noone on the Orthodox side (or, I believe, on the Catholic side) is calling it off ... it is simply going more slowly than one might have thought it would.  The reemergence of Orthodoxy as a religious and cultural force in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union is having a definite impact on the dialogue, and it remains to be seen what the stamp of this development may ultimately be on the overall ecumenical picture between Orthodoxy and Rome.

"What do you guys think of the current Pope, John Paul II?  Even though we are in schism from each other, do the Eastern Patriarchs still see him as the "big brother" or "first in honor"?"

He's not the first in honor in the Orthodox Church right now, no, due to the separation.  He clearly is the most visible bishop in Christendom.  I think many Orthodox have a guarded admiration for him.  I myself think he is a holy man, but he can behave in a political manner as has become the custom of his office.  

"I think you also practice the seven sacraments like Catholics do, right?"

Yes, but we don't count them up like that.  In practice, we recognize the same seven that Roman Catholics do.

"What do you guys think of the Rosary -- will you or do you use it?"

Some Orthodox have been known to use it.  The style of prayer, however, iwhile perfectly legitimate to the Western Christian tradition, s not common in Orthodoxy, as it tends to lead one to focus on mental images of events in the life of Christ and the Theotokos -- whereas in Orthodoxy one is generally taught to try to avoid images when at prayer.  Orthodoxy has numerous prayers to the Theotokos which are more "in sync" with the Orthodox tradition, including the Akathistos Hymn, which is sung throughout Great Lent, and the Paraklesis Service of Supplication to the Theotokos, which is said in particular during the Theotokos Fast in August (the two weeks preceding the Feast of the Dormition/Assumption).  The typical daily prayer manuals also feature numerous prayers to the Theotokos during morning and evening prayer.

Brendan









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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2003, 12:18:43 PM »

Wow Brendan,

Thanks for the wonderful answers, it really does give me a good idea of what unites and divides us.  Obviously
we have a great deal that unites us and that is great news indeed.  I hope that one day we will be able to reunite
as one, unified Church again - that would be a powerful statement indeed.

I appreciate that there is a respect for the Pope.  I often frequent the "mere Christian" sites and they have zero
respect for him or his office and pain him out to be an evil man, the anti-Christ!  That indeed is one downfall of
his visibility and an advantage of the Orthodox Patriarchs' lesser visibility in that you do not have to deal with
this sensationalistic hatred.  They are blind to the need of the them for guidance, they can only equate them to
standing against God.  It is a shame.

So since the two Churches are not united, what Patriarch is viewed as "first in honor" now?  How many Patriarchs
are there total?  If you include the West you have Rome and I know you have Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch,
Alexandria (not sure about this one Huh), anymore?  Thanks.

Peace and God Bless!
Catholicious
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2003, 12:42:33 PM »

Catholicious,

The Patriarch of Constantinople is referred to as the Ecumenical Patriarch and is held as the first amongst equals of Orthodox bishops.  This title goes back to before the Great Schism when Constantine moved the captial of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople.  In fact, the Pope of Rome at the time(I forget which one) the title Ecumenical Patriarch was used became upset; he thought that one bishop was trying to usurp the authority held by all bishops, and wrote an epistle to the Patriarch of Constantinople detailing this.  

As you may or not be aware, the titles Pope and Patriarch are pretty much the same word.  In fact the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church is Pope Shenouda II.  Also, in Orthodoxy Patriarchates are reserved for ancient and/or major centers of Orthodoxy, and Metropolitian is the title of the bishop of a large city, but neither are of a higher "rank" than standard bishops and archbishops.  They hold higher places of honor certainly, but they have the same power.

The ancient Patriarchates are Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Rome.  While all except Rome remain today, most of these have lost their former power from Muslim conquest over the years.  Other Patriarchates are Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, and probably others I am forgetting.  

There is much talk these days about perhaps moving the Ecumenical Patriarch from Constantinople(where through Muslim rule there are a scant 3-5,000 Orthodox remaining) to Greece, where the head of the National Church is not a Patriarch but an Archbishop.
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2003, 12:56:39 PM »

There is much talk these days about perhaps moving the Ecumenical Patriarch from Constantinople(where through Muslim rule there are a scant 3-5,000 Orthodox remaining) to Greece, where the head of the National Church is not a Patriarch but an Archbishop.  

I've heard this before, and this is an interesting concept.  Has anyone developed it further?  If the EP moved to Greece, would he and his successors replace the current head of the Orthodox Church in Greece as heads of that Church?  Would the Patriarchate, although relocated, remain the Patriarchate and distinct from the National Church?  

(BTW, the current head of the Coptic Orthodox Church is Pope Shenouda III, not II.)
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2003, 01:14:42 PM »

Thanks again for the complete answers!  One more thing comes to mind, how do Armenian Christians fit into
the Catholic and Orthodox Churches?  Are they Eastern Catholic or Orthodox or something else?  I know they claim
to be the oldest Christian state ~ 1700 years old, evangelized by the apostles Philip and Bartholomew, is that
right?

I have a friend who is Armenian and a pretty ardent church goer and into Bible study, since he is here in the U.S.
he goes to a local Roman Catholic Church.  He has always said Armenians are basically Catholics who do not
submit to the Bishop of Rome.

Even though we have our differences it is refreshing to see that I am not being attacked by wolves
[Acts 20:29-30] as is always the case on that fundamentalism BBS.  There exists no charity there.  Sad  I believe
that differences must be discussed in charity in order to give glory to God.

In Christ,
Catholiciou
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2003, 01:24:01 PM »

Okay here is a couple more:  I know there is over 1 billion Catholics in the world, how many Orthodox
are there worldwide?  If I understand correctly, the Roman Catholic Church allows Orthodox to receive the
Eucharist because of our mutual understanding but receiving communion implies a union that currently is not
there although we do share most of everything, but in contrast the Orthodox do not allow Catholics to receive
the Eucharist, except for more extreme circumstances where the Bishop is contacted first.  Am I correct on there
questions?  Thanks guys.

In Christ,
Catholiciou
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2003, 01:53:39 PM »

"One more thing comes to mind, how do Armenian Christians fit into
the Catholic and Orthodox Churches?"

They are neither one nor the other.  Following the council of Chalcedon in 451 a separation came into being being between the Greek and non-Greek Christians of the East over the definition adopted by the Council relating to the nature of Christ.  The Council adopted the formulation of one person in two natures (ie a full and complete human nature and a full and complete divine nature), whereas the non-Greeks felt that this formulation came too close to dividing Christ into two people, and so they stuck with the earlier definition developed in the Church of Alexandria that held that Christ has one divine/human nature.  While there have been numerous polemics over the centuries, dialogues between the Orthodox Churches and the non-Chalcedonian Churches (ie, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church) have determined that while there remains a disagreement about the optimal formulation, nevertheless there is no difference in faith between these churches on this point.

"I know there is over 1 billion Catholics in the world, how many Orthodox
are there worldwide?"

If we're using that criteria (I think the 1 billion refers to baptized rather than practicing), we're probably looking at 300m-500m worldwide Orthodox (we don't keep records as well as the Latin Church does!).

"If I understand correctly, the Roman Catholic Church allows Orthodox to receive the
Eucharist because of our mutual understanding but receiving communion implies a union that currently is not
there although we do share most of everything"

The Latin Church considers that the differences between Rome and Orthodoxy are not at the level such that individual Orthodox should be impeded from receiving communion in the Catholic Church.  At the same time, the Latin Church here in the USA specifically directs Orthodox who may be present at a Catholic Mass to respect the discipline of their own churches in this respect (and that discipline requires us to refrain from partaking in communion in a non-Orthodox church).

"contrast the Orthodox do not allow Catholics to receive
the Eucharist, except for more extreme circumstances where the Bishop is contacted first"

Generally non-Orthodox cannot receive sacrments in an Orthodox Church.  Exceptions are made to virtually every "rule" in Orthodoxy, however, and historically exceptions have been made to this one as well.

Brendan
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2003, 02:07:12 PM »

Cathlicious,

As you learn more about Orthodoxy you will be introduced to a concept we have known as ekonomia.   This concept basically states that bishops may make an exception to Orthodox standards out of charity and love for the person in question.  Some applications of this have been:

Absolving the sins of a non-Orthodox on their deathbed and distributing to them the Holy Gifts.  

Allowing a group that becomes Orthodox to hold on to some of their non-Orthodox customs for a period of time (when some former EOC came into Orthodoxy in the 80s they used pianos to accompany the choir and a few protestant hymns until they were better cathechized).

Not requiring a full lenten fast for the infirm.  

While each of these decisions are made for the salvation of the person in question, they do not "invalidate the standard" as Orthodoxy has never ascribed to a lowest common denominator outlook on what is required of us.  

I hope this helps.  Keep the questions coming! Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2003, 02:12:38 PM »

Brendan03<<Generally non-Orthodox cannot receive sacrments in an Orthodox Church.  Exceptions are made to virtually every "rule" in Orthodoxy, however, and historically exceptions have been made to this one as well.>>

True, Brendan, but such exceptions have been exceedingly rare and generally have only come into play when the non-Orthodox Christian had no means to access the sacraments in his/her own communion for an extended period of time.  But there have even been exceptions "not broadcast abroad" to this rare exception, I've been told, between Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Catholic familial groups in the Middle East.

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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2003, 02:40:03 PM »

"But there have even been exceptions "not broadcast abroad" to this rare exception, I've been told, between Antiochian Orthodox and Melkite Catholic familial groups in the Middle East."

Yes.  There have also been a small number of quite quiet exceptions made here in the USA from time to time - so quiet, in fact, that unless one knows the specific persons involved, one would never know it happened (most cases I have come across personally have been with cradle-born Eastern Catholics or split-family situations).

Brendan
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