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  • A guy and a girl meet in school.

  • They start up a conversation and the girl asks the guy, what religion are you?'.

  • He replies, “Christian.”

  • She says, “Me too.”

  • That conversation has likely happened millions of times since there are about 2.6 billion

  • Christians on this planet.

  • On top of that, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity said in 2021 that around

  • the world there is something like 45,000 Christian denominations.

  • Throughout history, there have been splits, and more splits, with different churches believing

  • different things.

  • It would be an understatement to say it's complicated, so today we'll just concentrate

  • on one great big split and what happened after that.

  • But first back to the start, and we don't mean God getting busy building the universe

  • or Judas Iscariot giving his buddy away in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • What we mean is when the church really started to have some legs.

  • That's when the problems started.

  • After Jesus Christ died on the cross and was later resurrected, Christianity was rife throughout

  • the Roman Empire, although there was a fair bit of persecution going on.

  • Then in the year 313, Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal and in 380 it became

  • the state religion.

  • The Catholic Church says that it began with the teachings of Christ and all his disciples.

  • Those guys spread the word, and today people still spread the word.

  • There are people called bishops, and they are supposed to be like those old school disciples.

  • In part thanks to them, Christianity was soon everywhere.

  • As the centuries passed, more churches started popping up, although they didn't really

  • become pervasive until the 11th century.

  • That's when things got really heated.

  • All you need to know is that Christianity spread over vast areas of the world, but the

  • head guy, the Pope, was in Rome.

  • Even so, many Christians weren't even close to Rome.

  • They were spread over other parts of Europe, parts of Asia, parts of Africa, and the Middle

  • East.

  • Those people were part of Eastern Christianity, but this only really refers to geography,

  • not beliefs and customs.

  • Now you need to understand two words: Catholic and Orthodox.

  • Catholic actually comes from the worduniversal”, so what it really means is universal Christianity.

  • Orthodox relates to following the correct beliefs, so if you're orthodox you think

  • you're just doing things the right way according to tradition and law.

  • Of course, no religious person is going to say I'm following the wrong beliefs.

  • And no person is going to say my religion is not a universal truth, otherwise, it's

  • not really a religion.

  • In this sense, the semantic sense, all Christians are orthodox and Catholic, but that's not

  • the point of this show.

  • Now we come to the big split, aka, theEast-West Schism.”

  • This officially happened in 1054 and was the result of Eastern and Western Christianity

  • often not getting along politically, and having different opinions on how one should serve

  • Christ.

  • One historian, speaking in academic parlance, described the reason for the split like this.

  • Thedepths of intellectual alienation that had developed between the two sections of

  • Christendom.”

  • They had their differences and they broke up.

  • Nowadays the Eastern Orthodox Church is the second biggest church after the Roman Catholic

  • Church.

  • The pope is not their leader, instead, each different Orthodox church has a head bishop

  • who's elected by all the other bishops in that church, and he becomes the patriarch,

  • or what's called the Holy Synod.

  • There isn't just one, though, in all Orthodox Christianity.

  • For instance, you have the Russian Holy Synod, the Greek Holy Synod, the Romanian Holy Synod

  • and more.

  • This is different from the Pope, who sits on the metaphorical throne and answers to

  • no one.

  • You also have the Patriarch of Constantinople on Orthodox Christianity, who's kind of

  • the spiritual number one and thefirst among equals”, but he's not like the Pope

  • in that he doesn't hold sway over all the other patriarchs around the world.

  • He still holds a lot of respect, but then Russia has its own spiritual top man in the

  • Archbishop of Moscow.

  • In matters of doctrine, the Roman Pope is said to be infallible, meaning he doesn't

  • get anything wrong.

  • The Orthodox church disagrees, saying even its own leaders can make mistakes.

  • Those leaders, by the way, are usually ordained monks before they become a patriarch.

  • Orthodox Christians are usually ok with priests being celibate or not being celibate, while

  • Catholics don't allow priests to have intimate partners.

  • Celibacy is not a big deal for most Orthodox Churches.

  • The difference is not really a great issue.

  • A really big difference and the reason for centuries of disagreement is over these few

  • words: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,

  • the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

  • Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.”

  • That's talking about the Holy Trinity, which is the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son.

  • This disagreement over this has been called theThe Filioque fracaswith Filioque

  • relating to the Son.

  • It was actually one of the biggest reasons for the great breakup.

  • You see, those guys in the East said it was the Father and the Father alone that was behind

  • the Holy Spirit, and the Son wasn't so involved.

  • They even said if you think any different, you're a heretic.

  • Swords were drawn and they were never sheathed.

  • Still today the Son in the Orthodox Church won't play such a starring role in proceeding

  • the Holy Spirit.

  • They say the Western Church shoehorned the Son into things by itself and that just wasn't

  • right.

  • They preferred what they think is the original version of events told by the first theologians,

  • the Church Fathers.

  • Still, both churches agree that there is a Father up in heaven and a Son that came down

  • to Earth and also a Holy Spirit that is everywhere.

  • They just don't agree on the relationship they have.

  • Ok, but why do they disagree and why do people today still argue for their side?

  • Let's face it, it's human nature to join a club and support it, and where you are born

  • usually determines which club you'll be supporting.

  • Now you'll see how each club has different ways of doing things, not just thinking things.

  • You are likely wondering what this seemingly intractable rupture means today?

  • If you mention the Son proceeding the Holy Spirit in say, Russia or Bulgaria, are you

  • liable to find yourself in a punch up?

  • We doubt it, but both sides do argue over certain things.

  • For instance, you might have seen Catholics making the sign of the cross on themselves,

  • such as soccer players before they take a penalty kick or mobsters when they've just

  • narrowly escaped a whacking.

  • You'll notice that they make the beam of the cross from the left shoulder to the right

  • shoulder.

  • Orthodox Christians do it the other way around.

  • It might seem like a small deal, but it isn't for some who believe they do it the correct

  • way.

  • We visited an Eastern Orthodox website to find out why there is a difference.

  • This is what we read, “They [Catholics] must explain why they have changed an ancient

  • and apostolic tradition.

  • We cannot answer as to their motivations.”

  • Yet again, the Roman Catholic Church gets called out for doing things its own way and

  • not adhering to old-school thought and methods.

  • The Orthodox Church says it has preserved traditions etched in stone.

  • It pays more attention, or most people do, to rituals.

  • If you're going to try and preserve traditions, then you really have to be strict about your

  • rituals.

  • Religion is by its very nature conservative, but one of the bigger differences is the Orthodox

  • Church is usually more conservative than the Catholic Church.

  • To give you an example, we looked at Pew Research studies on Orthodox feelings about homosexuality

  • and same-sex marriage.

  • In the majority of countries that are home to mostly Orthodox Christians, the vast majority

  • of people were against both.

  • Greece was the only country where quite a largenot very largepercentage of

  • people said homosexuality should be accepted by society.

  • The Catholic Church also calls homosexuality a sin, but there are still progressive elements

  • within the church, more so than in the Orthodox Church.

  • Just to give you an idea of how a certain church might think, one person wrote to a

  • Greek Orthodox Church in the US.

  • The question was, “I am powerfully drawn to the Orthodox Church, but I'm gay.”

  • He asked if he could still join.

  • The answer was kind of yes, but with some caveats, such as this, “A repentant, struggling

  • homosexual who refrains from homosexual acts can be received into the church after the

  • usual course of instruction, but he or she would do best to keep this matter in the confessional,

  • just as is common with every other sin.”

  • Of course, all people are different.

  • We like this response we found on another website when someone asked which church was

  • more conservative: “Politically, Orthodox and Catholic Christians

  • are both all over the map.

  • You will find Orthodox Communists and Orthodox neo-fascists, but also Orthodox peaceniks

  • and the like.

  • Same goes for Catholics.”

  • Still, some things are just different and they always will be.

  • Take Easter for example, which for many people will be how this deceased American comedian

  • explained it: “Commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling our children

  • a giant bunny rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night.”

  • He was actually referring to Catholics or Protestants and not members of the Orthodox

  • Church.

  • They are deadly serious when it comes to the resurrection.

  • In both churches, Easter can fall on different days of the year, but the days will still

  • be different for both churches.

  • The reason is because of a man named Pope Gregory XIII.

  • In 1582, he made a change to the calendar and that's why when you look at your phone,

  • you're looking at the Gregorian calendar.

  • The Orthodox Church bases the days of Easter on the Julian calendar, which relates to Julius

  • Caesar.

  • Again, they are sticking with tradition since the Julian calendar preceded the Gregorian

  • calendar.

  • They are also a lot stricter about Easter.

  • They start fasting on Clean Monday and do it for 40 days until it ends on Lazarus Saturday

  • eight days before Easter.

  • This fasting period is called the Great Lent.

  • When that's over, they might chow down on roasted lamb, or traditional soups and cakes,

  • but not so much sickly Cadbury's Cream Eggs that were hidden in pairs of running shoes.

  • The fasting part for Orthodox Christians is a huge deal, since it relates to important

  • matters such as purification, enlightening yourself, and liberating yourself from sin.

  • In short, it shows a certain amount of dedication.

  • Catholics may fast too, but only on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and other Fridays during Lent.

  • The truth is, Catholics are more likely not to follow fasting rules than Orthodox folks.

  • As a matter of fact, members of the Orthodox Church are supposed to fast every Wednesday

  • and Friday throughout the year, and many will take this seriously.

  • Catholics should also fast every Friday, but many or most don't.

  • As for what fasting requires, well, that changes for different people.

  • Some people are stricter than others.

  • It often means one meal a day with no meat, plus you might lay off the dairy and booze,

  • among other things.

  • For some Catholics, it might mean staying off Facebook for the day.

  • The meaning of Easter for both churches is a bit different, too.

  • In both cases, Christ was crucified and then resurrected, but the Catholics put great emphasis

  • on JC suffering for our sins.

  • That's why he's usually depicted covered in blood.

  • There's no blood in Orthodox renditions.

  • For the Orthodox Church, the emphasis of the resurrection is more about Christ's victory,

  • his triumph over dark forces.

  • If Catholics see it as Jesus taking a hit for our sins, which is a bit depressing in

  • a way, the Orthodox folks see it as Jesus kicking some butt.

  • This might seem like a small difference, but it's not when it comes to celebrations.

  • For the Orthodox Church, Easter is like celebrating D-Day, but for the Catholics, it's more

  • like shamefully looking up and saying, thanks dude for having my back.

  • There are some other differences, big and small.

  • A small one might be that people of the Orthodox Church are more likely to stand up while praying.

  • It's not demanded by any means, but it happens more.

  • Again it's down to the interpretation of God's word and reverence to God.

  • That is not a big deal, but what is a serious matter is what happens after death.

  • In the Orthodox Church, there is no such thing as that halfway house called purgatory.

  • The Church also doesn't have indulgences, those things that Catholics could exploit

  • to pay their way out of going to hell.

  • Why?

  • Well, again, they say these things were made up and not part of the original scripts.

  • To them, the difference is important.

  • In 2007, the Serbian Orthodox Church talked about a few small reforms such as speaking

  • a traditionally silent prayer.

  • It sounds like nothing, but people went into the streets protesting.

  • One person held aloft a sign that read, “Do not turn us into Roman Catholics!”

  • You can equally imagine a more modern-thinking Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian meeting

  • in a bar and one of them saying, “Remind me again, why am I supposed to not like you?”

  • The other just shrugs and says, “Because your parents said so.”

  • No doubt we'll take a beating for our flagrant simplicity regarding this complex, and for

  • some people, very serious matter.

  • However generalizing we've been, we've at least clumsily tried to cover some bases.

  • Time to duck for cover.

  • Now you need to watch, “What Is Hell Really Like?”

  • Or, have a look at, “What Actually is God?”

A guy and a girl meet in school.

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Catholic vs Orthodox - What is the Difference Between Religions?

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/10
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