Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians are not the same. They have different views on several issues, including their understanding of salvation, women’s ordination, and the symbolism of the cross. However, their beliefs are not mutually exclusive.
Symbolism of the sign of the cross
The sign of the cross has different meanings for Catholics and Orthodox Christians. These symbols are used in various acts of the Mass, but also in everyday life. They represent the intersection of heavenly and earthly. When we symbolically inscribe the cross on our body, we are claiming that we have faith in the Trinity. We use the names of the Trinity when making the sign.
When making the sign, we make it from right to left. This means that we pass from death to life. Symbolically, the right side of the body symbolizes all that is good. On the other hand, the left side represents all that is evil.
The three-finger sign of the cross originated in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It became a common practice in the Western Church as well. During the Middle Ages, Catholics also made the sign of the cross with five fingers. However, some Protestants opposed making the sign.
Those who adhere to the Catholic faith make the “sign of the cross” when entering a church or when approaching the altar for a blessing. Some laity also make the sign in imitation of the priest before the Gospel reading.
While Catholics make the sign of the cross in holy water, Orthodox Christians make the same sign with their hands. In this way, they remember that they were baptized in water.
Views of salvation
Catholics and Orthodox Christians have different views of salvation. The Catholics believe that salvation is a gift from God while the Orthodox think that salvation is a process. There are differences, though, in the degree of reverence given to the Church’s teachings on the matter.
Catholics believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, meaning that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Protestants, on the other hand, believe in the doctrine of justification, which means that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross makes all of us righteous.
The Orthodox view of salvation is a bit more ambiguous. Some Orthodox Christians are hesitant to make too many claims. They may simply maintain that all that is required is faith. But others, such as the Patriarch of Alexandria, are more explicit. A few of the more prominent differences include the extent of piety and the role of Mary in the Orthodox view.
The Roman Catholic view of salvation is less formal than the Orthodox. It is not based on a triumvirate of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead, the Church uses a number of other symbols of Christian faith to teach the faithful the right way to pray and worship.
The Catholic Church also believes in seven sacraments. These are the prayers, sacrifices, and communions celebrated at the Church’s liturgical services. One sacrament is the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. This sacrament was developed in the 12th century as a way to explain the remaining debt from sins prior to the Second Coming.
Views on women’s ordination
Orthodox and Catholic Christians share different views on women’s ordination. It is a debate that has raged for decades. Many different arguments have been made to support both sides of the issue. However, a comprehensive study is necessary to understand the controversy in depth.
The ecumenical movement has influenced the debate. For instance, Greek theologian Konstantinos N. Yokarinis wrote The Gender or Genderlessness of the Incarnate Christ, arguing that Christ’s person is the essence of his divinity.
The Vatican also weighed in. A papally-mandated declaration was promulgated through the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This document points out the differences between sexes and points out how the differences go beyond biology.
Some clergy argue that women should be treated as deaconesses and not ordained. Others contend that Biblical law mandates that only men hold a priest’s position.
Historically, the Church has argued that women’s ordination should not be permitted because they are inferior to men. There are a number of historical events and apostolic teachings that are used to make this argument. Nevertheless, individual theologians may disagree with these arguments.
On the other hand, the Orthodox Church has discussed the ordination of women deacons for many years. At the Rhodes Conference in 1988, the Ecumenical Patriarchate made the decision that ordination of women would be a violation of the apostolic faith.