What is the Orthodox Church?

The early Church consisted of the Eastern and Western Churches which were roughly tied to the Eastern and Western portions of the Roman Empire.

In 1054 AD, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope (also known as the Patriarch of Rome) mutually excommunicated each other and their churches over a number of issues, but most importantly over a misunderstanding over the phrase used in the Nicene Creed in the West which says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (in the East they say that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father).

While separated from the Latin Church, the Orthodox Church is recognized as having valid sacraments and hierarchy.

In 1966, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I lifted the excommunications of the 11th Century, and dialogue between the Churches continues.

It should be noted that there are Eastern Rite Churches that are part of the Roman Catholic Church such as the Armenian Rite, Byzantine Rite, Melkite Rite (to name a few).

While their liturgies and some practices are similar to the Orthodox Church, they should not be confused with the Orthodox church which is still separate from the Roman Catholic Church.

- Deacon George Kozak (6/01)

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