Eastern Orthodox vs. Roman Catholicism

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by neal4christ, Feb 16, 2003.

  1. neal4christ

    neal4christ
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    What is the difference between the two? I seem to gather that the Eastern Orthodox reject the pope, but they are considered Catholic. Is this so? How can they reject the pope if, as Catholics see it, the office was established by Christ? What tradition does the Eastern Orthodox follow? And what of the magisterium (sp?)? Do Roman Catholics consider the Eastern Orthodox part of the Catholic church or separated brethern?

    I am just a little confused on the issue. If they are both Catholic, why are there two separate entities? Wouldn't that be a sign of 'division' that all Protestants are accused of?

    I am not trying to start a fight, so please be kind in replies.

    Thanks,
    Neal
     
  2. GraceSaves

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    Heya,

    I've not got much time, so here is a quick question. "Orthodox" churches are those that are very simliar to the Catholic Church, but indeed reject the papacy. Therefore, they are not Catholic. Now, many of these have returned to full communion with the Catholic Church, and are generally called "Eastern Rite Catholics" or something simliar. These do not reject the papacy; they are merely not part of the Latin (Roman) rite of the Catholic Church.

    Hope that helps!

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  3. DanPC

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    Neal, Some of the confusion comes from Eastern Orthodox vs Eastern Catholics which as I understand it includes some that have returned to Catholicims from E Orthodoxy.
    I think one difference between EO and CC is that the EO only accepts the first 7 ecumenical councils. They consider the ecumenical councils as very important yet they haven't had one in over 1000 years. They do not accept the filoque nor the primacy of the pope. I believe they are considered schismatic--in separation from Rome since 1054.
    They are not Catholics because they reject the Pope. John Paul II has tried to reconcile the different churches in EO with the Catholic church.
    I may be wrong here but I think that EO churches are frequently associated with a particular country--Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc.
    They are a sign of division but aren't Catholics.
    Dan--not an expert at all but just thought I would try to address your question as no one else had yet.
     
  4. BobRyan

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    They are a classic example of Catholics "dividing" long before the Protesting Catholics of the 14th and 15th centuries.

    And this is why it is a fascinating study - because many Roman Catholic doctrines "evolved" after 1054. Those first 1000 years did see some errors come in like a flood - but new errors were added after 1054 so that is why I am interested in what the Eastern Orthodox took with them vs those doctrines that "never were" a part of that group.

    For example, I think the Amillenial heresies came to popularity in the Catholic church - very late in the game. What do the Orthodox say about them?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  5. DanPC

    DanPC
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    "They are a classic example of Catholics "dividing" long before the Protesting Catholics of the 14th and 15th centuries."
    There have been divisions since the earliest church. One difference between orthodox churches and Protestant is that the orthodox are usually national churches so there is a limit in their number. Protestant churches divide again and again and again....
    BTW, when someone divides from the Catholic Church they are no longer Catholic.
     
  6. Born Again Catholic

    Born Again Catholic
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    Neal

    Eastern Orthodox believe the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) has a primacy of honor but not a primacy of authority.

    Eastern Orthodox Christians still united with the Bishop of Rome are known as Eastern Rite Catholics. There are 22 rites in the Catholic Church most people in the west are familiar with the Latin-rite(what protestants call roman Catholic) the other 21 are eastern rites.

    I think the east might eventually get over the authority issue. You can make a strong argument they accepted it prior to the schism.

    The other big issues are the Filoque "the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son(eastern)" vs "the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son(Latin)" probably resolvable. As well a mistakes made on both sides during a long history.

    More minor differences from the latin rite include

    Eastern Rite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian priests are allowed to marry if they choose( only done on an exception basis in the Latin rite). Those choosing monastic life in the east are celibate.

    Young children are allowed communion in the east,

    Their liturgy is different but absolutely wonderful.

    Here is a paste decribing the differences even more.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Eastern_Orthodoxy.asp

    The Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches faith are extremely close from a protestant prospective, also of interest is that both faiths are also extremely close to the Oriental Orthodox Churches which broke away in 453 AD.

    To answer your other question, Catholic means universal, there can be only one universal Church, just as there can be only one mystical body of Christ, in that sense the Eastern and Oriental orthodox Churches are catholic. Also all three Churches recognize the validity of the apostolic succesion of the other, principly from the Apostles Peter(Latin-rite), Andrew(Eastern) and Mark(Oriental).

    I can understnad your confusion as all the Church's beliefs are so close, and I am hopeful that these Churches will be reunited within my lifetime as the differences are mostly minor. I think Protestantism has change so much and continues to change so quickly compared to these older Churches that any reconciliation would not be possible until the Second Coming.

    This post was from memory so I apologize if I have misconstrued anything, I believe there is atleast one eastern rite Catholic on this board he could probably help out more.


    God Bless

    Dennis

    [ February 17, 2003, 02:56 AM: Message edited by: Born Again Catholic ]
     
  7. CatholicConvert

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    Hello Neal --

    How's school going? I imagine you are quite busy for now. I'm sitting here watching the state be buried under two feet of snow. Our township hasn't even plowed yet, so I am pretty well snowbound for now. (Like I really care...gives me a great excuse to goof off for the day!!)

    Anyhow....

    In the beginning, there was one Church. It started in Jerusalem with the apostles and the teachings which they had recieved from Jesus our Lord. As the persecution got hot and heavy, the disapora of the Christians began, and as they fled, the Gospel went with them to the East and to the West. New eklessia were formed and the bishops traveled to oversee them. The apostles themselves went in different directions. We know from the writings of the Early Fathers that St. Paul and St. Peter wound up in Rome. St. Thomas wound up in India and founded a thriving eklessia there. Today, the Church in India is referred to as the Mar Thoma Church after St. Thomas.

    As the Church went out, it encountered two very distinct and separate cultures - the Western and Latin speaking culture, whose center politically was Rome, and the Eastern and Greek speaking culture - which centered around the sleepy little town of Byzantium. Each culture had not only its distinct languages, but also a very distinct worldview and philosophic viewpoint. Over a period of centuries, Byziantium (renamed Constantinople after Constantine transferred the headship of the Church there from Rome) became the major patriarchate of the East and Rome the major patriarchate of the West. Eventually, these two capitals would come into conflict with each other over the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.

    As the Church grew, these philosophies became more sharply focused. The Western Christian philosophers such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc., focused more on the juridical aspects of God's dealings with mankind. Salvational economy became a matter of the Roman courtroom and payment of a fine between the transgressor and the offended God. In the East, however, the emphasis was much more deeply into the mystical union of God and man. Soteriology in the East was and continues to be involved with what the Fall did to the image of God in man, how that affected our relationship and union with God, and how salvation through Christ works this out to re unite us with God. It is less judicial and more mystical. This emphasis is very clearly seen in the difference between the Liturgies of the East and the West. This drive to understand the mystical aspect of our union with Christ was that which began the monastic movement in the fourth century.

    As the Church continued to grow, the doctrines and teachings of Christianity were worked out and adopted by the whole Church through the councils which were held to determine the answers to the great question which came up. Most of them involved the person of Christ and His natures. And while these things were being worked out, and while there were differences in the approach to understanding God, the central tenants of the Faith remained "universal", i.e., the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, the honor paid to the Blessed Mother, prayers to and veneration of the saints, the form of the Liturgy, etc. One thing that the Orthodox do not like to acknowledge is the role of the papacy in overseeing the whole Church, both East and West. Church history has a number of incidents in which the pope at a certain time deposed heretical bishops and made binding judgments upon parishes in the East who were experiencing conflict.

    All of this shows that the Church was truly "katholicos", the Greek word for "universal", for in Her, from East to West, were shared the same doctrines and teachings. Catholic does not mean "Roman". It means "universal" and it could be said of the Church that until 1054, She was indeed universal. This universality is best expressed in the words of St. Vincent of Lerins who said:

    "That which is Catholic is that which has been believed AT ALL TIMES, IN ALL PLACES, AND BY ALL PEOPLE."

    So again, while there were differences in administration, due in large part to culturalisms and ethnic preferences, there was a body of doctrine and teaching which simply had to be adhered to in order to be part of the universal Church.

    The philosophical differences between East and West seem to contradict each other, and they can be made into theological weapons of war by those who wish to keep the schism going, but in reality, they compliment each other if used properly.

    For instance, the Eastern view of the Redemption has to do more with rescuing all mankind from death, the separation of God, while the Western view has more to do with the idea of "payment for sin". But if you put both in the covenantal paradigm, they both fit and compliment each other [I defer to explain...it would need about 10 pages!!].

    Remember when you read the Early Fathers that you are reading men who write in a time when the Church was ONE -- East and West -- and could be because there was unity in doctrinal and moral teaching.

    Unfortunately, two things created an atmosphere in which the schism of 1054 was just the unfortunate apex of years of misunderstandings. The first was the political differences faced by East and West. The Church in Rome had to deal with the collapse of the Roman empire, while the East was constantly under seige by the Mohammeden invaders. Each one developed its own way of dealing with these problems, but these methods aggravated the cultural differences between the two.

    And then there was the "filioque" (and the Son) issue, which was the breaking point. Originally created in the West in order to further combat the Arian heresy, which had never thoroughly died out, it was added to the Nicene Creed without going through the channel of having an eccumenical council to validate it. This was an egregious offense to the Eastern patriarchs.

    In 1054, the papal legate to Constantinope entered the beautiful church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and in the middle of the Liturgy (talk about Roman insensibilities!!) placed an edict of excommunication on the altar and walked out. The patriarch of Constantinople MICHAEL CAERULARIUS in turn excommunicated the pope and the schism was on in full force.

    Unfortunately, the minor differences in theological understanding, which could have been easily mended, we overshadowed by years of Roman heavy handedness in administring the church in the East. Hotter heads and tempers prevailed, unfortunately, over Christ's admonition that we forgive those who have sinned against us. To this day, Orthodox will recite with an almost seeming glee the "evils" of the papacy in the sacking of Constantinople. They do not wish to forget, even though our noble John Paul II has openly acknowledged this sin against the East and asked forgiveness for it.

    Although I can only guess at the thinking behind it, I would say that the Catholic Church considers the Orthodox to be part of the Catholic Church precisely because we are so united in our teachings and doctrines. Of the great corpus of theological teachings, the differences we have are so minor as to hardly be worth notice, except by those who wish to make the schism continue.

    For instance, while the Roman rite celebrates the ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, we celebrate the DORMITION (falling asleep) OF THE THEOTOKOS. Different wording, but the important thing is this: THE RESULT IS THE SAME in that the Blessed Virgin was assumed into Heaven and reigns Queen with Her divine and all holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The filioque issue can be resolved, and even some Orthodox theologians such as Bishop Kalistos Ware have admitted to this. It is more of a semantical problem than a theological problem.

    Hope that helps a bit. I know there is a lot to study regarding this.

    Brother Ed

    PS -- Sorry, didn't answer all your questions.

    I seem to gather that the Eastern Orthodox reject the pope, but they are considered Catholic. Is this so? How can they reject the pope if, as Catholics see it, the office was established by Christ?

    The issue of the papacy also comes down to how the Orthodox claim the Church is to be run. They believe in an episcopate in which each patriarch is equal to the others and has jurisdiction over his own partriarcate only. Unfortunately, as time progressed over the East, this rulership was given to the emperors of the East, and despite their claims, the patriarchs were not totally free to rule their people without considerable meddlesomeness and sometimes open defiance from the emperors. The Western Church refers to this as "caesaropapism" I believe, the idea that the "caesar" of a nation is allowed rule in the Church, which is, of course, anethema to Catholics.

    The explanation I see most given by the Orthodox to explain away the force of Matthew 16: 18 is exactly the same as the Protestant objection, i.e., that it is not PETER himself who is the rock, nor his office, but his faith. Interesting how common hatred of the papacy makes for strange bedfellows sometimes. :D

    What tradition does the Eastern Orthodox follow?

    I'm not sure what you mean by "tradition" here. Could you rephrase this question in a bit more detail?

    I am just a little confused on the issue. If they are both Catholic, why are there two separate entities? Wouldn't that be a sign of 'division' that all Protestants are accused of?

    Not at all. See the quote above from St. Vincent Lerins. We are so close in our theology that you can barely put a hair between us. Most of the fight between the Orthodox and Catholics is not over doctrine now, but over two things....words and their meanings, and the maladministration of Rome over the Church. For a number of years, the Roman rite has been considerably insensitive to the needs and rights of those who do not follow the Latin rite. We Byzantine Catholics have suffered a lot from this, most notably in their refusal to allow us to follow our tradition of the married priesthood here in the states. It is really none of their business, since whether to marry or not to marry as a priest is not an issue of infallible doctrine, but one of how the Church is administered. Perhaps if we get a few more popes like John Paul this will cease to be problematic.


    The division between Protestants, on the other hand, is considerably deeper and concerns all of theology, Christology, soteriology, and eclessiology. For instance, you can find several opinions on baptism on this board, several opinions on the Trinity and the Diety of Christ, several ideas on what it takes to be saved and recieve eternal life, etc. See? There is simply no difference between Orthodox and Catholic in these areas. The differences are cultural and not theological.

    [ February 17, 2003, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: CatholicConvert ]
     
  8. CatholicConvert

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    Bob --

    You do not understand the Eastern Orthodox, therefore, you do not understand why they are different than the Roman Church.

    The emphasis in the East has never been in developing a theological construct. The Eastern Church has been primarily involved with mysticism and developing union with Christ. The Western Church is that part of the Church which has been engaged in the actual construction of theology.

    This is why there were really no great Eastern writers of theology after the schism, and the majority of Eastern writings from the Early Fathers have to do not with exegeting Scritpure, but with teaching others how to experience union with Christ. This is why the monastic movement began in the East. It was the logical outflow of the Eastern desire to "experience" Christ.

    The so called "new heresies" of the West are not new teachings at all. For instance, when the Catholic Church defined "transubstantiation" at Vatican I, they merely gave further and clearer definition to that which the East has always believed, i.e., that Jesus is truly and of substance present in Holy Mysteries of the Eucharist. The lack of similar language does not indicate difference of belief and understanding. Any Orthodox theologian worth his salt will tell you point blank that the Holy Mysteries are truly the Flesh and Blood of the Lord. They just do not see the need to use Western definitions. And they never had to, because the heresies of the Reformation never originated nor came to the East. When the Calvinists came to Constantinople and tried to spread their perfidious doctrines, they were basically laughed out of the city!!

    Good riddance.

    So stop trying to make out a difference where there is none. The reunion of East and West is a lot closer than most people think, and it is only that close because we are extremely close in doctrine and teaching, and once some language is cleared up in an eccumenical council, we will again be one Church, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

    Brother Ed
     
  9. Ps104_33

    Ps104_33
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    I dont know if this would be a help or not, but here is a historical time line that seems pretty interesting. Maybe Ed can let us know if this web site is biased or has an axe to grind.


    Church History timeline click here
     
  10. CatholicConvert

    CatholicConvert
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    Seems like a fairly unbaised site to me as regards the timeline.

    Brother Ed

    You git shoveled out yet? Our township still hasn't sent the plows around yet. :D
     

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