Difference Between Byzantine and Roman Catholic
Comparison between Byzantine & Roman Catholic
For more than one thousand years after the death of Jesus Christ, Christianity as a religion remained united without any internal controversy and resultant branching. A historical event, famously known as East-West Schism or Great schism in 800 AD split the medieval Christianity into two branches namely Byzantine or Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic after 200 hundred years.
In 800 AD, Pope Leo III declared Charlemagne from Western Rome as the Emperor of Rome. This infuriated Byzantine Empire of Eastern Rome. Relation between East and West was never much cordial due to cultural differences. Eastern part was more civilized in comparison to the Western part. This fractured relationship further deteriorated, triggered by the crowning incident and ultimately during 1054 AD the two split and so did the Christianity. The Eastern Church came to be known as Byzantine or Greek Orthodox Church and the Western Church became Roman Catholic Church. In spite of many similarities between the two sects like, both possess seven holy sacraments, both believe in real presence of Christ during holy communion and both link their faith to the contemporaries of Christ, there exist some differences between the two. Those are briefly discussed below.
Geographical Areas of Influence
Byzantine or Eastern Church spread in Northern Africa, Asia Minor (the area between Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea), and Middle East (Western Asia and Egypt). Roman Catholic, on the other hand greatly influenced people of Western Europe, and Northern and Western part of the Mediterranean region.
The Byzantine Church does not use Latin and do not follow Latin traditions. Patriarchs of Byzantine Church do not read Latin. On the other hand Greek language is not used by Catholic Church.
Byzantines use leavened bread during the Divine Liturgy (Common action) to symbolize the risen Christ. Roman Catholics, on the other hand use unleavened bread as used by Jesus in the Last Supper, during Divine Liturgy.
Byzantines held more theoretical view about Jesus. Though Byzantines believe in humanity of Christ, but his divinity is more emphasized in Greek Orthodoxy or Eastern Church. Roman Catholics believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ but emphasizes on his humanity.
There is no practice of inter-communion between the two sects. Byzantines are not allowed to receive Holy Communion in Roman Catholic Churches, and in the same way, Roman Catholics are forbidden to receive Holy Communion in Orthodox Churches.
Believers in Greek Orthodox consider the ‘Highest Bishop’ as the highest authority of the sect. The highest Bishop is also known as the ‘first among the equals’. Though the Highest Bishop is considered the highest authority by the Byzantines, he is not considered infallible and also he has no supreme authority over the Churches. On the other hand Roman Catholics consider Pope as infallible, the supreme authority of the sect and has supreme power over the Roman Catholic Churches.
Both the sects believe in ‘original sin’ and that it can be purified through baptism. But they differ on the reference of original sin to Mary. Byzantines believe that Mary, like any other person was born, had original sin, and would die. She was selected to become mother of Jesus for her righteous life. Roman Catholics, on the other hand believe that Mary did not commit the ‘original sin’.
Believers of Eastern Church pay homage to icons, where as Roman Catholics pay homage to statues.
Marriage of Priests
Eastern Orthodox Church allows priests to marry before they are ordained. In Roman Catholics the priests are not allowed to marry.
Concept of Purgatory
Believers of Eastern Orthodoxy do not accept the concept or purgatory i. e. punishment for the dead souls before they are consigned to heaven. They also do not believe in Stations of Cross. Roman Catholics believe in both the concepts.
Unity of Churches
By unity of churches, believers in Eastern Orthodoxy mean membership in one of the orthodox churches which are in full communion with one another. For Roman Catholics, unity of churches means participation in the organization headed by the Pope.
1. Believers of Greek Orthodoxy are mainly found in Northern Africa, Asia Minor, and Middle East; Roman Catholics are mainly seen in Western Europe, Northern and Western part of the Mediterranean region.
2. Greek language is used in church functions of Greek Orthodox; Latin is the official language of Roman Catholic churches.
3. During Divine Liturgy, Byzantines use leavened bread; Roman Catholics use unleavened bread.
4. Byzantines emphasize on divinity of Christ; Roman Catholics emphasize on humanity of Christ.
5. Byzantines consider highest Bishop as the supreme authority of the sect, but do not consider him as infallible. They do not accept papacy; Roman Catholics accept Pope as the supreme authority of the sect, and consider him as infallible.
6. Byzantines believe that Mary committed the original sin; Roman Catholics believe Mary did not commit the original sin.
7. Byzantines pay homage to icons; Roman Catholics pay homage to statues.
8. Eastern Orthodoxy allows marriage of clergies; Roman Catholics do not allow marriage of clergies.
9. Byzantines do not believe in the concept of purgatory and stations of cross; Roman Catholics believe in both.
10. By unity of churches Byzantine understand membership in one of the churches; whereas Roman Catholics understand by it – participation in the organization headed by Pope.
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