If you have ever asked yourself the question, “Can an orthodox go to the catholic church?”, you might be confused. First, you should know that the Orthodox church is based on the territorial principle. While Catholics have no territorial principle, the Orthodox are not. Therefore, it is perfectly fine for an orthodox to get married in the catholic church and receive sacraments from the Catholic clergy.
Table of Contents
Orthodox believe in the infallibility of the pope
Infallibility is a term that has been around for centuries, but the early church did not mention it at all. Catholicism maintains that the pope is infallible only in matters of faith and morals. The pope is the supreme teacher and therefore cannot err when teaching morals or faith. It is also unclear when the pope became infallible, but the term was rarely used before 1870.
In fallibility is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which protects the Church from errors. The pope administers a diocese, which originally referred to a governmental area in the Roman Empire, under the imperial vicar. Orthodox believe in the infallibility of the pope, but deny that a patriarch is infallible. Most Orthodox churches have both celibate monks and married priests.
Orthodox reject the infallibility of their patriarchs
The infallibility of a patriarch is a major point of disagreement between the Catholic Church and Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church insists that the pope is de jure the leader of the whole church, whereas the Orthodox reject this claim and adhere to the Petrine office of the Bishop of Rome. These views, which are contrary to Catholic belief, are often called “religious subjectivism” or spiritual illuminism.
In addition to the papal infallibility, Orthodox reject the infallibility of their own patriarchs when they go to the Catholic Church. In order for Catholic unity to be fully realized, Orthodox Christians must accept the Petrine Primacy of the Pope, the visible head of the Church. This is necessary because Christ is the true head of the Church; the visible Church Militant cannot be a spiritual affair.
Orthodox allow marriages between members of the catholic church and the orthodox church
The Orthodox and the Catholic churches both recognize valid clergy. But unlike the Roman Catholic church, the Orthodox do not allow marriages between non-Christians. When an Orthodox Christian marries a non-Christian, they are out of fellowship with the Church and unable to participate in the life of the Church. This policy reflects the Orthodox concern for its members’ spiritual health. In order to be married in the Orthodox Church, the non-Orthodox partner must be a Christian, baptized in the Holy Trinity.
If the non-Orthodox partner is a Christian, then it is legal for them to marry. However, the non-Orthodox partner must agree to have their children baptized and raised in the Orthodox faith. In addition, the non-Orthodox partner should be willing to convert to Christianity and get married in the Orthodox Church.
Orthodox churches may be fine with Catholics receiving sacraments from their clergy
If you’re a Catholic who wants to visit an Orthodox church and receive the sacraments from their clergy, there’s one big problem. The Orthodox Church doesn’t allow Catholics to receive the sacraments. This is because Catholics don’t have the right to demand spiritual assistance from the Orthodox clergy. It’s not right to force Catholics to join a church in order to receive the sacraments.
Catholic canon law allows for eucharistic sharing with Orthodox, but not full communion. This doctrinal accord is important to recognize, but it’s not the only factor. In some circumstances, the Catholic Church may be fine with Catholics receiving sacraments from Orthodox clergy. However, it’s best to consult canon 844.2 for specific situations.