Differences Between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches
During the fourth century, Christianity revolved around five main centers: Constantinople (today’s Turkey), Alexandria (Egypt), Jerusalem (Israel), Antioch (Greece), and Rome (Italy). But when Islam started to flourish, the primary centers were focused on Constantinople and Rome. With this, later on, the powers in these centers started to diminish ‘“ leading to the East-West Schism or the Great Schism in 1054 AD. And so came the birth of the Greek Orthodox (Eastern Orthodox), similar to Roman Catholicism in ways largely related to the teachings of the Apostles and Jesus Christ.
As these two religions were nourished, however, there sprang differences which up until now are carried on to their believers’ faiths. First among these differences is regarding the Pope. For the Roman Catholics, the Pope is infallible. He can contradict lower ranking church leaders. On the other hand, for Greek Orthodox believers, they consider a ‘highest bishop’ also known as the ‘first among equals’. This bishop, in this light, for the Greek Orthodox, is not infallible and he does not have supreme authority on the churches.
Another difference between these two is related to language used during church services. In Roman Catholic, services are held using Latin. Meanwhile, in the Greek Orthodox, they use native languages.
Then, on another note, these religions also have contrasts with regards the concept of original sin. Even though they both believe in the belief that there is what we call as ‘original sin’ and that it can be purified through baptism, they have varying ideas regarding its effects to humanity. On the contrary, they differ now when it comes to how it can be applied to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. For Catholics, Mary was born with no original sin. As for the Greek Orthodox, Mary, just like other persons, was born and will then die. She was selected to be Christ’s mother due to her righteous life.
Aside from these, there are minor differences noted between these two beliefs. One of these is related to icons/statues. Churches of the Eastern Orthodox pay homage to icons while Roman Catholic ones have statues.
In the Roman Catholic church, also, the doctrines, as they are changed through time by popes, bishops and other known instruments of the Holy Spirit, are considered to be more intellectual ‘“ bearing the enlightenment provided by the Spirit itself. This in line with what they call as ‘Doctrinal Development’. Meanwhile, for the other religion, the New Testament must not be changed. For the Eastern Orthodox believers, the early church and the Bible must not be altered in any way. For them, this is a way to avoid heresies and false doctrines. This is also to abide by Jesus’s warning that tells them to be cautious of human traditions connected to Christ’s doctrines.
Likewise, when it comes to the priests, in the Eastern Orthodox, they are allowed to marry before they are ordinated while in Roman Catholic, priests cannot marry.
Also, Eastern Orthodox believers do not accept the concept of purgatory as well as the Stations of the Cross, opposed to the Roman Catholics who do so.
In relation to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, if Roman Catholics make use of an unleavened wafer, the Greek Orthodox uses unleavened bread. They also have differences in the calculations of the days pertaining to Easter and Christmas. When it comes to the perceptions of one another on the forms of beliefs, the Greek Orthodox is considered to be very mystical and depends on spiritual practices. Meanwhile, in the Roman Catholic, beliefs may tend to be too legalistic and depends upon intellectual speculation.
1. Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox believers both believe in the same God.
2. Roman Catholics deem the Pope as infallible while Greek Orthodox believers don’t.
3. Roman Catholics believe that Mary is free from original sin, while Greek Orthodox believers don’t.
4. Roman Catholic priests cannot marry, while priests in the Greek Orthodox can marry before they are ordinated.
5. Latin is the main language used during Roman Catholic services, while native languages are for the Greek Orthodox.
6. Roman Catholics venerate statues as much as Greek Orthodox believers venerate icons.
7. Doctrines can be changed in Roman Catholicism, as opposed to Greek Orthodox.
8. Greek Orthodox believers do not accept the concepts of purgatory and Stations of the Cross, opposite to Roman Catholics.
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