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Difference Between Byzantine and Roman Catholic

Phoenix_-_Saint_Stephen_Byzantine_Catholic_Cathedral_-_2Comparison 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.

Divine Liturgy
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.

Holy Communion
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.

Original Sin
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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  1. Where did you get this information? I am part of a byzantine catholic church and we do and say the same as roman catholic.

    Everything you said is wrong.

    • I agree with Mary and Don! Where you got the heresies! From when the Roman catholic Latin priests never changing anything, they fallow the Catholic roots and they are holy priests I know. The tridentine priests are very strict not like the Novus Ordo many priests.
      You writing:The Roman Catholic God is very different from the harsh and exacting God of the Old Testament.
      Question: from where you pulled that heresies? Very idiotic, delicate saying.

      • These were during the ancient Byzantine empire?? The religion probably developed over time due to the exposure of different cultures over time. I know for a fact this is right.

      • Novo Ordo is protestant. It was instituted at the Vatican by protestant freemasons in order to disassemble the Catholic Church. My name is Barry Saunders and my e mail in Canada is barrysaunders721@gmail.com

        • I do agree that the novus ordo words that were in the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament are not valid as were in the tridentine mass. The novus ordo really ripped out the idea of the sacrifice of Christ’s Passion and made it simply as a memorial last supper, but has radically changed the former mass. Sad for any discerning Catholic.balloon “masses”, clowns, happy talk and jokes, irreverence, ughh. Besides the novus ordo itself, no.

    • What can you tell me about the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church?

      This is an accurate answer to the original question:

      Full Question
      What can you tell me about the so-called Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church? Are they in union with the pope? I have my doubts after hearing that their infants receive a sacrament called “Chrismation.”


      The Byzantine rite is one of several Eastern rites recognized by and in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. Its origin can be traced to the ancient city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), renamed Constantinople when the emperor Constantine relocated his capital city there from Rome in A.D. 330.

      Although in full communion with the Church in the West, the Byzantine rite retains distinctive features. Byzantine churches are beautifully adorned with icons, and the sanctuary is separated from the congregation by an iconostasis, a screen covered with icons. Leavened bread is used for the consecration of the body of Christ in the liturgy (not called the “Mass” in Eastern rites), which is either the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or that of St. Basil the Great. Communion is received under both kinds and administered by the priest from a spoon.

      Byzantine Catholics operate under a different code of canon law. They also celebrate a somewhat different liturgical year with some unique feasts and saints. In addition to Lenten fasting prior to Easter, they also fast before Christmas, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Assumption.

      Chrismation is simply another term for the sacrament we know as Confirmation. Following ancient custom, it is administered in the East to infants at the time of their baptism, along with the Eucharist.

      Latin-rite Catholics are often surprised when attending a Byzantine liturgy (which you are free to do at any time and which does fulfill your obligation to attend Mass) to find more prayers for the pope than in the Latin liturgy.

    • Byzatine is not Catholic

      • The Byzantine rite is the eastern rite is certainly in full communion with the roman Catholic Church. You need to do more research my friend

        • Thank you for discussing these things. I am an unhappy Roman Catholic. I no longer believe in the i falibility of the Pope. I would like to know more about the Eastern Catholic Church; the Bysentine Catholic Church?

        • I am Roman Catholic and went to a Byzantine Catholic High School in the 60’s.
          I loved their Liturgy and how the mass was chanted!
          Communion was a cube of bread soaked in wine dropped into your mouth on small spoon!
          Both church’s are under the Pope, just like some Ukraine Catholic Churches. The Greeks are Orthodox and so are some Ukraine Churches.
          They have a Bishop in Middle East as their Pope!
          We all believe in one God and the BVM and the Saints!
          We just come from different cultures and practice our religion a little different!
          When we die their is only one Heaven for all human kind!
          Let us pray for Peace on Earth!❤️

      • The Byzantine rite is the eastern rite is certainly in full communion with the roman Catholic Church. You need to do more research my friend. I am referring to the EASTERN RITE, OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, ALSO KNOWN AS THE EASTERN RITE

      • You are extremely ignorant the Byzantine Catholic Church is directly under the Pope and believes everything the Roman Catholics believe

    • Why is this completely wrong information still here after at least six years? I guess the comments are not read. I would like to see factual information on the Byzantines and other Eastern Catholic rites.

    • Hi I can’t find a comment bar . So just want to jump on with you all . I can’t believe this was published with so much misinformation about the Church. Especially since, though distinct emphases, the Roman and Byzantine are One!

  2. I agree with Mary. This article gives entirely wrong information.

    It has Hellenistic traditions and incorporations, unlike the Roman Catholic Church which is strictly Christian—THIS IS NONSENSE! BYZANTINE CATHOLICS ARE STRICTLY CHRISTIAN ALSO.

    Roman Catholic teachings propound that Christ gave Himself up on the Cross to redeem the first betrayal of Adam; Byzantine belief has it that Christ did it for ransoming the Devil —RIDICULOUS COMMENT!

    Byzantine religion is more liberal than Roman Catholicism

    Byzantine ecclesiastical thought considers all clergymen as equals, which is not the case in Roman Catholicism which vests the bishopric responsibilities of the Catholic Church on the Pope —BALDERDASH! BYZANTINE CATHOLICS HOLD THE ROMAN PONTIFF AS AS THE SUPREME AUTHORITY AND HEAD OF THE CHURCH.


    Papal and Episcopal Documents (SEARCH THEM FOR YOURSELF)

    Orientale Lumen The Light of the East- John Paul II

    Church Venerates Fathers of East and West – John Paul II

    Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite – Orientalium Ecclesiarum Promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964

    Eastern theology has enriched the whole Church -Pope John Paul II

    Joint Patriarchal Statement – Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church

    Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II on the 350th Anniversary of the Union of Uzhorod

    Unity in Diversity Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick – From The Catholic Advocate, 17 August 1988

  3. With all due respect, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Would recommend that you follow up with Don’s reading list for starters.

  4. From Wikipedia.org

    Eastern Catholic Churches
    The Eastern Catholic Churches are 23 self-governing particular churches in full communion with the Pope. Together with the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church, they make up the Catholic Church. Liturgies of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches include the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Armenian, East Syrian, and West Syrian Rites, traditions that are shared with other Eastern Christian churches with which they were once associated, such as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. Although some theological issues divide them from other Eastern churches, they admit members of the latter churches to the Eucharist and the other sacraments, as governed by canon law.
    en.wikipedia.org · Text under CC-BY-SA license

  5. This is article is completely wrong! Please stop spreading lies about both sides of our Catholism! Having grown up Byzantize Catolic, Married a Roman Catholic. Raised my kids both Roman Catholic and now Byzantine Catholic. I can say from almost half a century of experience that this article represents both sides of Catholism very poorly. It does not do them justice, there are so many things wrong I don’t even know where to begin to correct it. All I can say is for those who are interested in both of these sides of Catholism, go visit a Mass in the Roman Catholic Church and then go visit a Liturgy in a Byzantine Catholic Church and talk to a priest or a deacon when you visit each for questions you might have and then you will start to get the answers you need. Just a side note though, the Byzantine Catholic side has 23 rites so when you go to a Byzantine church ask them which rite they are. Each rite comes from a different culture or country of origin. So each Byzantine Liturgy might be slightly different because of the rite of the church as well, just to give you a tip. By the way, I will pray for the author of this article that they will research and find the right info on this topic and correct the wrong information in this article.
    Good Luck to all of you! And God Bless you all!! 🙂

  6. This article has confused Byzantine with Orthodox. Byzantine Catholics (and other Eastern Catholics) are free to worship with Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc.) do not welcome Catholics, in spite of their official name Orthodox Catholic.

    • I believe we can only get to the Father through a relationship with Jesus who died to save us. Why argue Byzantine, Orthodox or Catholic and Latin? Seems a waste of time, of which we have very little left before Jesus returns for us. He is interested in souls, not language or sect name.

  7. Wrong information included. Byzantine Catholics can receive communion in Roman Catholic Churches and vice-versa. I wish the information in the aRTICLE COULD BE CORRECTED

  8. I have been researching my father according to what documents I have, was born 22nd May 1925 in Czepiele p Brody Ukraine Greek Catholic.
    My mother wasa Polish Roman Catholic and I was raised the same in Australia.
    Trying to understand the difference and now somewhat more confused.
    How does the word ‘Greek’ come into Catholic please?

  9. Did the split between eastern and western churches lead to Constantinople full to the Ottoman Empire? Is that why we have Istanbul today.

    • No. The fall of the Roman Empire is complicated. I recommend Fall of Civilizations podcasts for a detailed 2 part history lesson.

  10. Poorly written and organized (or copied and pasted) and full of errors about the history and nature of Eastern and Western Catholic churches (although there are some accuracies in comparisons). First, the writer gets confused between Eastern Orthodoxy and Byzantine Catholicism. Byzantine Catholics and Roman Catholics are in full communion and may receive the Eucharist in either church (even the Orthodox are welcome to communicate in the Catholic church although the Orthodox have stricter rules forbidding this). Second, the article does not clearly distinguish between unchangeable Sacred Tradition and modifiable church customs and language. The differences between East and West (Catholics and even the Orthodox in most matters) falls under the latter kind of tradition. For example, even when an Orthodox sates that they do not accept the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception or Purgatory, this has more to do with semantics and emphasis rather than substantial disagreement. Third, there are a variety of non-Catholic autonomous and autocephalous Eastern communions, not just the Byzantine: the Eastern Orthodox (primarily Byzantine origin), the Oriental Orthodox (primarily Antiochene, Armenian, and Alexandrian traditions), and the Assyrian Church of the East (similar to the Chaldeans). These non-Catholic sister churches have valid apostolic succession and sacraments and each has an equivalent hierarchy in full communion with Rome. Some Catholics, such as the Maronites, do not have an Orthodox counterpart because they never split from the West. Eastern Catholics are autonomous (self governing in terms of practical and spiritual matters) but not autocephalous (they look to Rome for final dogmatic approval although the local Patriarchs enjoy a high degree of privileged authority). Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches exist because they were planted by the apostles who carried the Gospel via oral and liturgical Tradition throughout the world even before half the apostles wrote new scriptures. One imperfect analogy, since the church is more than simply a federation, is to see the different families of Catholic Churches as different states within one union of government. Californians, New Yorkers, and Tennesseans might have very different cultures but all are American. Byzantines, Maronites, Melkites, Coptics, etc. are all Catholic if in union with the Holy See.

  11. Well Jesus will have a problem when He returns. Trying to choose who is right. I believe that Christians should celebrate that we all believe in Jesus Christ as lord and thank Him that we can celebrate Him in different places because of our not so important differences. Jesus dealt with simple illiterate people and didn’t expect to squabble over trivia.

  12. Absolutely correct. I am now going to go to the eastern rite Byzantine rite, which is in full communion with the roman Catholic Church. Both can go to eachothers liturgy. I have been roman Catholic all my life and am now going to the ea

  13. My mother joined a Byzantine Catholic church, and I am a Roman Catholic. Despite minor theological differences, we attended each other’s churches and enjoyed discussing how they differed.

  14. This information is incorrect. I believe you are mixing the Byzantine church with the Orthodox Church. The Byzantine Church is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
    Please update your information.

  15. As others have said, this information is incorrect. It’s hard enough to get Roman Catholics to believe we are also Catholics WITHOUT this page perpetuating false information. Roman Catholics and Byzantine Catholics are encouraged to get to know each other and yes, may receive communion at each others’ churches with no complications.

  16. The peace be with you all, clarification my only concern is, the number 10 on unity of the church’s , it should be headed by Jesus Christ , we as Catholic know that Jesus Crist our lord is the founder(head) of Roman Catholic church we participate in Catholic church because of Jesus Christ our savior with the help of pope at Catholic priest

  17. I think there is a difference between comparing Roman Catholic religion and Orthodox Greek or Byzantine Christianity of today and a historical comparison. You all have to remember that you live in the 21st century and what exists today and what was 1500 years ago are vastly different. These religions have never existed apart from the politics of men, despite the many reductionist attempts to cast a hunky dory light on their differences by the comment section in an attempt to present a united front as Christians.

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