What Are the Differences Between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Would you please list the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (Greek or Russian, etc.)?

Most Roman Catholics know nothing about these differences.

Thank you,

Joe DeMarco

Dear Mr. DeMarco,

Peace in Christ!

Between the Catholic Church and the various Eastern Orthodox Churches, the differences are geographical, sociological, and political as well as ecclesial and theological. The differences are numerous and far too complex to simply list.

The formal schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches occurred in 1054. Historians and theologians point to the claim of supremacy and universal jurisdiction by the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope) and the addition of the filioque (that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father “and the Son”) to the Creed, among others, as issues surrounding the schism. You may want to do some reading on the background of this schism in order to get a sense for the social, political and religious climate under which this schism occurred. The following resources may be helpful:

Catholic Encyclopedia article on Orthodox Church

Catholic Encyclopedia article on [Patriarch of Constantinople] Michael Cærularius

A Catechism of Church History: 2000 Years of Faith and Tradition by Fr. Robert Fox

Church History: A Complete History of the Catholic Church to the Present Day for High School, College and Adult Reading by John Joseph Laux

Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism by James Likoudis

United in the Faith,

Peter Balbirnie

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