Thursday, July 28, 2011

Differences Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches?

Q - Can you point out the major differences between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches?

A – Thanks for your question!

Before we get to the differences, let us affirm what we have in common. While language is different, we both share valid Sacraments. We both hold the Saints and Mary in esteem. We both have authority that comes from the Apostles. We both recognize at least some of the Ecumenical Councils as authoritative. We both center our belief on the Eucharist. We both believe in basic creedal Christianity. Both are legitimate “churches”.

Now, some Orthodox do not like Catholics at all and others are much more open. But, the Catholic Church views the Orthodox as a “sister” Church and we should remember this. Pope John Paul II said that he looked forward to the day when the “Church can breathe with both lungs”, in referring to the Catholic and Orthodox uniting again.

The differences between Orthodox and Catholic start and end with authority. The Orthodox do not believe that the Pope has any special authority over the other Patriarchs and (leaders of the Orthodox churches) Bishops. He is merely another Bishop with the same authority as the rest.

Other issues include:
  • The Orthodox (for the most part) reject the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
  • There is a slight difference, although many believe it to be blown out of proportion (including me), about the spiration of the Holy Spirit. Was it from both Father and Son or the Father alone?
  • The liturgies (worship) are different in style and somewhat in emphasis.
  • Orthodox allow contraceptive use in marriage.
  • Orthodox allow divorce and remarriage.
For more on the divide, you can read this.

Pray for Christian Unity!

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