Is the Eastern Orthodox Church part of the Catholic Church?


Is the Eastern Orthodox Church part of the Catholic Church?

Full Question

In my reading, I saw mentions of Eastern-rite Catholics, and in other places, I saw Eastern Orthodox Churches. Are they not the same, and are they part of the Catholic Church?


Eastern-rite Catholics are part of the Catholic Church and are in full communion with the Pope. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church is not part of the Catholic Church. The two major Churches have been separated since 1054. The rift was both theological and political, and both parties made mistakes. 

The two parties share a long history and even today share a whole lot in common in faith. However, since the split from the legitimate authority of the Pope, they are no longer Catholics.

There are still ongoing talks to heal old wounds and restore full communion between the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church has a number of self-governing Churches in full communion with the Pope. One of those is the Roman Catholic Church or the Latin rite. You can read more about this here. It is a very interesting topic.

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  1. When denying the primacy of the rock upon which Christ built the Church, it’s ultimately making stuff up as you go along. It operates under the fundamental principle of Protestantism, and will end up with split upon split as they have…over 30K and counting. Every one of these conversations is about authority, not the details of the argument. The bible cannot interpret itself, thus schism, divorce, and split will be part of the nature of those who choose to be their own authority.

  2. Well, former christian nations who are now muslim nations where christians who did not confirm with the seat of christianity which is in rome. Look at them now, they are like protestant churches each being autonomous. Overrun by muslims.

    1. Where in scripture, the councils, the deposit of faith or the ancient fathers is it stated that Rome is the seat of Christianity?

  3. In all the talk back and forth about the Pope and his seat on Peter’s cathedra there are some things that don’t make sense to me. Peter is surely the Rock on which the Church was founded. Not too much of a problem with that…. Apparently the other Apostles didn’t have the authority of Peter. Hmmm. Too bad for them. Although I thought they had all been ordained by the same Spirit. The rosters of bishops that are in the fathers don’t have Peter as a bishop of Rome, he is an Apostle. To quibble, yes, an Apostle is an overseer but episcopally speaking he is not really a bishop as tradition would teach us. However, Paul was not a bishop, per se. He was an Apostle and established the episcopacy. In fact, I think it was Linus or Cletus or Clement that had that honor of being the first bishops of Rome. So what? How is it that even if Peter was the first bishop of Rome why do Catholics not call Clement Peter, or Linus Peter or Cletus or even the Gregory’s and Leo’s. Did the anointing leave the man and given to the chair? Certainly not. Or, of the position of bishop? Did Peter’s spirit leave from him and touch the next in line? No the anointing is the Lord’s and at that, that of the Spirit. Peter may have been the Rock but the “Pope” as bishop is not Peter, even if he has the same anointing. If the keys were given to Peter and then to all of the Apostles, prophets and evangelists then their contribution is through those men regardless of the generation they lived in. There was only one Peter. He is with Christ, interceding for us. The Chair of Peter, so-called, is the chair of the bishop, his see in Rome. Peter is not seated there anymore. Catholicism cannot have a living Peter, for that would diminish the authority of all of the other bishops and patriarchs. Unless that is what is desired, in which case the Pope is a quasi-Caesar who brings the whole Kingdom under his demesne. This is all a stretch to me. The oneness of the Church is not in its papocentricity, it is in the life and being of Christ.

    1. Dear Fr. John:
      There was no teaching in the early Church that St. Peter himself was the Rock on which the Church was founded. Both St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom – both considered Doctors within the Roman Church – taught in their writings that the Rock upon which the Lord promised to build His Church was St. Peter’s confession that He, Christ, was the Son of God, and not the person of St. Peter Himself. See, for example, St. Augustine’s commentary on the 1st Epistle of St. John:
      “‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ What means, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church?’ Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock,’ says He, ‘I will build my Church.'” (Homily X) [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/170210.htm]

  4. The answers here show how (with a few exceptions) the uncharitable side and ignorance of people in the pews. There have been great steps to Unity over the last century and a mere phrase hashed out 1000 years ago is now seen to be if, not nit picking, then at least unwise to divide The Church Universal over a problem that could have been sorted out amicably. That brothers gradually grow apart is no suprize, especially as so much has happened in that particular geographic divide . The places where the twin remnants of the Roman Empire meet are in the East ( we lost Asia minor to the muslims along while ago, probably as a result of inter Christian squabbles) and it is Russia, Greece and Rome who are now on the fault lines of The Church Catholic. We have a new world and a new opportunity to heal the breach and to bring to a new reality the unity that was once so powerful and is represented best by the statues around The Altar of The Chair in St Peter’s Rome… the Fathers of The Eastern Church and The Fathers of the Western Church, together around the Chair of Peter, united, different Holy and One.

  5. The orthodox church is not in schism. The orthodox church is the true church Jesus started and passed on to the apostles. The catholic church changed alot of its doctorine. That’s why they couldn’t come to agreement and broke off of the universal church. The orthodox has been practically unchanged since the time of christ. The orthodox church of tomorrow will be the same as it is a 1000 years ago

  6. Amen Rome only constituted One fifth of the church at the time of the schism the other Four fifths are still together which is the majority of the church.people need to do there research.there is so many problems in the Roman church I could be here all day

  7. The Catholic Church is 23 Churches: one Roman Catholic and 22 Eastern CATHOLIC Churches. For every Eastern Catholic Church there is an Orthodox counterpart, except for the Maronite Church. It is the only Church that did not split with Rome. It was cutoff from Rome for a while, but, it never split. (There are no Orthodox Maronites). If you say Maronite, you mean Catholic! The proof is that 350 Maronite monks were martyred at the hands of the Jacobites, expressly because the Maronite Church sided with the Chalcedon Council ruling on the nature of Jesus.
    The Melkite Church did split, but, the Melkite Orthodox masses dissolved into other Orthodox churches, and the Melkite Orthodox church was no more. So, nowadays, if you say Melkite, you mean Catholic.
    In Lebanon, I was Greek Orthodox. I did not like it being in the middle of a triangle, with Father Orthodox, mother Protestant, and wife Maronite Catholic. I looked for God’s ONE Church (Matthew 16:18 is in the singular), and I found it in the Catholic Church. I became a Maronite, not because my wife was Maronite, but, because I am of Lebanese origin and Lebanon meant a lot to the Maronite. Actually, they engineered the modern Lebanon. They even added territories full of Moslems, making Lebanon more than a country; it is a Mission, by the words of Pope St. John Paul II. God bless.

  8. When my son was registering at a Catholic high school I mentioned to Sister Theresa, the head of the religious department, that we were not Catholic. When she asked what our religion was, my son told her we were Greek Orthodox. She looked at my son and told him he should be very proud to be Orthodox because Orthodoxy was the beginning of Christianity. When she learned where we went to church (about 40 minutes away), she told us that she used to teach at a catholic lower grade school that was close to our church. Every year she would bring her class on a field trip to our church for a tour of the church because she wanted them to know that Orthodoxy was the beginning of Christianity.

  9. The Roman Catholic Church spit I March of 1054A.D. because they wanted the head of the church in Rome and Papal supremacy. which violates Church law. Only Christ is infallible. The Term Catholic comes from the Greek word universal. At the split the Catholic church took that as their name. The Orthodox Church has not changed anything since its beginning in the second century. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the head spokesman for the church but each Patriarch governs their own Church. If you remember Pope John Pauls funeral in Rome. It was the Ecumenical Patriarch, Patriarch Bartholomew I that did the ceremony first the cardinals of Rome. the whole Ecumenical conceal was present and sitting there. So what does that tell you.

    1. You didn’t watch the video, did you? If you did you would not make the false claim that it wasn’t until 1054 that Rome wanted papal authority and that the east did not recognize the pope as the leader of the Church. The east recognized the pope as the head of the Church with full authority from the begining right up until the east split from the Church as clearly demonstrated by this video.

    2. James, we the catholics we need head to our whole catholic church to unite us to be one. He is our shepherd our Pope because Jesus he is no longer with us in this earth he is with God father now, our Pope he is Like St. peter that Christ entrusted his church to St. Peter.

  10. If we are all praying for Christian unity, there is no point in arguing. As Christ prayed, Father, may they be one as You and I are one. If the church leaders are meeting and having ecumenical prayers together, why should the members be arguing? There is no merit in doing so. If there may have been differences, it was probably because there were 12 apostles and they all spread out to different places evangelizing people of various cultures and traditions, and each nation had their own way of expressing and practicing their faith. But they all believe in one God.

  11. Ok. Let us see. Since you are bullying my beloved Catholic Church.
    Is Eastern Orthodox “One”? I beg to disagree. They are multiple Orthodox Churches and are not One.
    Is Eastern Orthodox “Holy”? Yes.
    Is Eastern Orthodox Apostolic? Yes but Bishop of Constantinople is not an original See. Not like Bishop of Rome see of Peter and Bishop of Alexandria see of Mark.
    Is Eastern Orthodox Catholic? No. It is not Catholic. If you think it is, you’re lying to yourself. It only comprise of the few parts of the east. So It is not Catholic. Maybe it’s Government authorized Church, but not Catholic.
    Did the Eastern Orthodox spread the gospel to all nations? No.
    Did the Eastern Orthodox maintained moral high ground? No. They allow divorce which Jesus clearly condemned.
    FYI the Church as one did change the Nicene Creed on the council of Constantinople. The addition of filoque was also considered on the Council of Florence which Orthodox Church also participated.
    Did gates prevail to the Church of Constantinople? Let’s see The city is now called Istanbul and is now a Muslim City. So I guess, literally hell did prevail on Church of Constantinople.

      1. How about the Catholic Church?
        Is Roman Catholic Church “One”? Yes it is. With One Head as the Pope.
        Is Roman Catholic Church “Holy”? Yes. It had produced good Christians for all its years.
        Is Roman Catholic Church “Apostolic”? Yes. Bishop of Rome holds the Chair of Peter.
        Is Roman Catholic Church “Catholic”? Yes. It is composed of West and Eastern rites.
        Did the Roman Catholic Church spread the gospel to all Nations? Yes. I think it does. But of course some countries are harsh to Christianity.
        Did the Roman Catholic Church maintained moral high ground? Yes. Even with pressures on the Church of West from Secularization. It did not change its view on morality.
        Did the Gates of hell prevail on the Roman Catholic Church? No. The Roman Catholic Church has maintained its Orthodoxy in its teaching. Unlike the eastern Orthodox which was once headed by An Arian heretic.
        Did Jesus say his Church will be founded on Peter? Yes
        Did Jesus say Peter you are First among equals? No
        Did Jesus gave the keys to heaven to Peter? Yes

  12. Sorry to say it’s the other way around….the Catholic church broke away from the Eastern Orthodox, in part by making changes to the Nicene Creed that were not sanctioned by the whole church. We alone have maintained unbroken the Apostolic faith.

  13. Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory said when asked about the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches reuniting…[in so many words]…all the Roman Catholic church has to do it “be what it was” in the 10th century and we will have unity.

  14. If Jesus gave Peter, the Rock, the authority to be the head if his Church, that’s the way it should always be!!!!! He did not leave two or three men in charge but, only one. To not obey Jesus command, in my personal opinion is sacrilegious! That’s what true Catholics believe and accept!!!

    1. Inez. When Jesus told Peter he was The Rock, there was no such thing as Christianity. The early followers of Jesus were Jews. There was no such thing as Catholicism or Orthodoxy. The Jews who accepted Jesus as the Son of God were called ” Followers of The Way.”

  15. No, the one true church is the Holy Orthodox church. Go back and read your history about the great schism as and the ecumenical council at nicia. The Catholic Church split off and went north to rome, we in the orthodox church have yes different ethnic background and bishops and patriarchs that may speak 1-2 languages; however no matter there ranking they are among equals. The Catholic Church recognized the Holy Orthodox church as 1st during the popes funeral mass; It’s on video!!! I am a member of the antiochian archdioceses in North America, under metropolitan Joseph, and his grace Bishop Antoun of the south east region, I’m not Arab I’m an American with a greek /Irish heritage, I speak English we do our services in English some orthodox church’s use their ethnic language in services in America, the majority of it being done so in English. Want to learn about the one true faith, the Holy Orthodox church go to http://www.antiochian.org and read or find ancient faith radio and listen

  16. By and large, Orthodox is the mother Church of Eastern-rite Catholics. Those bodies are. technically speaking, in schism from their rightful communions.
    The real schism in the Catholic Church (Orthodox and Roman) came about because Rome turned to the German Emperor and while turning its back on its Eastern brethren (and the true Roman Emperor).

  17. let’s see here… Cardinal Humbert marches into Agia Sophia with a bull of excommunication in his hand…an UNAUTHORIZED bull, I might add. Throws it on the altar during the Divine Liturgy ( a sacrilegious act), and when followed out by deacons who plead with him to take it back he refuses. So, this adds up to the Orthodox breaking with Rome eh? ‘Cutting themselves off from the legitimate authority of the Pope’ as you put it. The Orthodox didn’t commit the act of schism. The Latin did. Somebody here needs to take off his rose colored papal glasses and do an honest evaluation of the event. The only people who ever held to this ‘papal supremacy’ idea is the Roman church. None of the eastern churches ever believed in that. Wake up, Rome.

      1. Lol Patrick. “Those arguments were not raised until the 13th century…” The claims of universality did not exist in the first millennium. In fact, it was Pope St. Gregory I that argued against a universality for any Bishop, including Rome.

  18. The Patriarch of Constantinople is NOT “first among equals”. That is the title of the Bishop of Rome and he took it with him when he took his toys and went home. Yes, Rome left the Eastern Church with its tampering with the Creed, the grandiosity that built up around the office of the Bishop of Rome (The Papal Magisterium) and all the other stuff mentioned above. The first church to have the Greek word “Catholic” in its title was the original Christian Church, The Orthodox (right believing) Catholic (worldwide) Church of Christ, before the split between Orthodox East and Roman West.
    . WIth the Arabs and Turks slowly gobbling up the former Eastern Christian Empire, leaving the Orthodox to fend for themselves, fighting to stay alive, the Western Church had the freedom to go their own way, changing doctrine and the Creed, etc without any blowback or power to back it up from the Orthodox. Thus Rome fell into error.
    And whose culture and church experienced Renaissance, Reformation and the Age of Discovery? Whose culture and church were brought to the New World? Whose culture and church influenced what was to be the US? T’wasn’t the Orthodox Church for sure! And because of the Muslim Captivity, the Orthodox Church became very ethnically flavored because it was the only place the captive peoples could express their culture, faith and language. Unfortunately, that attitude got brought to the New World with the immigrants of the late 1800’s early 1900’s and the Orthodox have been in “ethnic ghettos” and not a full presence and witness to the West because of it. It’s slowly changing, but not fast enough to keep from losing our young people!
    The Eastern Rite Catholic churches, by the way, were at one time Orthodox. Their hierarchs were either forced into or accepted a false “unia” unity, with Rome. A very disgraceful history. They need to quit Rome and come back home!

  19. The proper response to that question would have been that both Catholic and Orthodox churches are sister churches. They are both part of the Catholic Church that is professed in the creed, even though full visible communion between these churches has yet to be achieved. For such questions like this I believe it’s best to turn to the papal endorsed Joint Theological Commission instead of some random Roman Catholic apologist.

  20. Gilad, you are VERY WRONG when you say, “There is no voice that represents the Orthodox view.” All Orthodox Christians are in communion with one another, and all of the Patriarchs are part of the Synod of Bishops that comprises the hierarchy of the Church. We do not have “one voice” because we do not believe that any one person is infallible, the way you believe about the Pope. The Ecumenical Councils are infallible, yes, but not one particular hierarch. The “first among equals” of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (now called Istanbul), who is equivalent to your Pope. The Western Church deviated from the original theology, dogmas and traditions of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Even by “re-defining” God!! (Roman Catholics proclaim in their version of the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father AND THE SON, which to the original Church, is heresy.) So, if you ask me, “Home” IS the Orthodox Church.
    We all pray for Christian unity, and pray for the day when both of our faiths come back into communion with one another.

    1. The Roman Catholic Church has “and the son” in the creed but does not consider it to be multi sourced (that would be redefining God). The Church believes and professes the same thing as the Orthodox Church, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Adding “and the Son” can be read as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, but ultimately it proceeds from the Father first. This is the stance of the Roman Catholic Church. It was written “and the Son” to emphasize the equality of the Son and the Father in counter to certain heresies that saw the Son as less than the Father. The Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have both stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds form the Father through the Son. The heresies are long gone and it is time to either drop “and the Son” or change it to “through the Son” in my opinion. Anyway adding the phrase “and the Son” did not redefine God because, read correctly, it does not change the meaning. It actually clarifies the meaning and definition of God. Of course “though the Son” would have been so much clearer. I think we are well on our way to communion and I would hope to see it in my lifetime, or at least significant progress toward it. By the way, the Orthodox Church does not regard filioque to be heretical. Some Patriarchs did at one time, but no longer.

      1. If the Catholic Church were so stuck on the Filioque that it was a matter of faith, then my Church – the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church – would be forced to say it, since we’re Catholics.
        But we don’t.

  21. Any good Roman Catholic theologian knows full well that the Orthodox Church is, in fact, the continuation of the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and therefore, the true Mother Church. It is the Bishop of Rome, and consequently the Roman Catholic Church, that is in schism with the Original Church. Once that Great Schism of 1054 happened, the western Church started changing the theology, dogmas and traditions of the original OHC&A Church. Ever since 1964 when the mutual excommunication were lifted and dialogue began by Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul, we have all been praying for Christian unity.

      1. The Ecumenical Patriarch does indeed speak for every Orthodox Church because he is the First among equals, until such a time as when Rome and the Eastern Church are once again in Eucharistic communion, then Rome will once again be the First Church among Equals. No matter what we still are and have always been and will continue to be Catholic.

        1. The Ecumenical Patriarch does not speak for every Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church comprises four of the five ancient Church Sees – Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria – and the autocephalous Churches that have grown from them. Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Council (325 AD) and Canons 2 and 3 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council (381 AD) forbid any hierarch from exercising authority outside his jurisdiction.

      2. There is no single man that is supreme and speaks for God, that’s a Roman heresy. The tradition of the apostles was that no single one spoke for God. From the Council of Jerusalem recorded in the book of Acts, all apostles were equal. James stood to declare what all of them had agreed to, not to force his will on them. The Patriarchs of the various jurisdictions, Antioch, Constantinople, Alexadria, Jerusalem and Rome were equals. Rome was given the important seat in Council because Rome as a city had been the seat of government ONLY.
        That said, as more jurisdictions were created, the patriarch of each administers ONLY his own. The Eccumenical Patriarch does NOT speak for God, he administers the Greek Orthodox Church and acts as an administrative leader in the case of a full council.
        The Pope of Rome divided from the Church in the schism of 1054, corrupted dogma in heresy, corrupted the Creed in heresy, and the reason was more selfish political gain. It is up to the Roman Pope to repent, for the RCC to repent as a group, correct their heresy THEN they can be reunited by Chrismation to the One Holy, catholic and apostolic Church.. Since that will likely never happen, only God can decide who gets saved.

      1. I only listened less than 3 minutes into it. Fr. Ray immediately makes two unsound arguments.
        First, he claims that papal authority must exist by necessity because without it Divine Revelation cannot be discerned as such. He seems to presume that Divine Revelation continued following Christ’s Ascension, but this was not the accepted teaching of the early Church. The belief that there is ongoing Divine Revelation which can only be understood by a select group of individuals amounts to gnosticism. Further, even if he is speaking of discerning the truth in Divine Revelation that has already been received and not receiving new truths, he errs in refusing to consider that a synod of bishops – such as those convened during the 1st millennium – is capable of this task, and presuming that a single individual must ultimately be responsible for all discernment.
        Second, he errs in claiming that Christ made St. Peter the foundation of the Church. It seems that very few Roman Catholics are aware that this claim is refuted in the writings of St. Augustine and other Church Fathers. See, for example, Homily X of St. Augustine’s Homilies on the First Epistle to John (which can be found on newadvent.com – a Roman Catholic website):
        And Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’ [Matthew 16:13-18].’ And this he heard from the Lord: ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.’ See what praises follow this faith. ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ What means, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church?’ Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ Upon this rock, says He, ‘I will build my Church.’
        You can find a similar exegesis in St. John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (also available on newadvent.com). Both St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom are considered Doctors in the Roman Church.

        1. Thank you for your insight on this. This is something I was not aware of. I did a little digging and found the other side of the argument. I will of course follow through with more reading and investigation in this subject with an open mind. But I did want to throw out there that there is, as always, another perspective. It seems that while these two held these views at some point and at other times changed their mind, they were in the minority among the early Church fathers and held a Petrine view of authority.
          I will now shamelessly cut and paste someone else’s work. For the following, credit is given to Joe Heschmeyer.
          St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine on Matthew 16:18 and the Papacy
          by Joe Heschmeyer
          In yesterday’s post, I stated my intention to set the issue of whether or not Peter was the “Rock” in Matthew 16:18 aside to have a more fruitful discussion on Christ’s promises in that passage. It didn’t quite work out that way in the comments, which have almost all been about … whether or not Peter was the “Rock.” Nevertheless, there was at least one good question asked. Namely, what to make of St. John Chrysostom’s exegesis of the passage:
          “Having said to Peter, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonas, and of having promised to lay the foundation of the Church upon his confession; not long after He says, Get thee behind me, Satan. And elsewhere he said, Upon this rock. He did not say upon Peter for it is not upon the man, but upon his own faith that the church is built. And what is this faith? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
          St. Augustine agrees: in his earlier writings, he argued that the rock was Peter, but later, changed his mind. These men, while a minority view among Church Fathers, are some of the most brilliant minds Catholicism has ever produced, and some of the holiest Saints. So what to make of this?
          I. Understanding What This Is (and Isn’t) About
          First, I think that we need to put things into perspective. As I’ve mentioned recently, the same St. John Chrysostom, while Bishop of Antioch, also wrote this:
          It is a prerogative of the dignity of our city [that is, Antioch] that, from the beginning, it received as master the prince of the apostles. In fact, it was a just thing that this city – which was glorified by the name of “Christians” before the rest of the earth – should receive as shepherd the prince of the apostles. When we received him as master, however, we did not keep him forever but rather yielded him to the royal city of Rome. Therefore, we do not hold the body of Peter, but we hold the faith of Peter as we would Peter himself. As a matter of fact, as long as we hold the faith of Peter, we have Peter himself.
          So Chrysostom is quite clear that the authentic faith is Petrine, and by extension, Roman. No denier of the papacy was he, readily acknowledging that Peter was “the prince of the Apostles,” and that he went from being the master and shepherd of Antioch to the “royal city of Rome.”
          In other words, St. John Chrysostom isn’t denying Peter’s earthly headship: he doesn’t say that since we can all hold the faith of Peter, we’re all equal with the Apostles; or that because the Apostles (besides Judas) all held the faith of Peter, they were all his equals. No, St. John Chrysostom simultaneously affirms that we can all affirm the faith of Peter, and yet there are some (shepherds and Apostles) who are placed over us as “masters,” and within the ranks of even the Apostles, one man stood as “prince of the Apostles.”
          With St. Augustine, you’ll find the same belief. One need only read the canons of the Council of Carthage from 417 A.D., in which Augustine and the other North African Fathers met, to see their respect for, and submission to, “the Apostolic See” (Rome) and the “holy and most blessed pope.” Or read Augustine’s own writings, in which he speaks of the same. Rome stands in a place of authority, capable of settling disputes authoritatively.
          It’s important that we’re clear what the Fathers were claiming, and what they weren’t. Protestants use these passages to say things that the Fathers they’re quoting would have been shocked and appalled by, and which run against the teachings of these very same Fathers. That’s a shallow and ineffective way of approaching the Fathers.
          II. Is Matthew 16:18 About Peter or Everyone?
          With that in mind, the issue at hand is much, much narrower. No question about Peter’s primacy, only about whether Jesus means to refer to Peter (as a man) or Peter’s faith as the Rock. The best answer to this is that it’s both. Peter is chosen as a man because of his faith.
          We see both of these characteristics in the passage. Simon declares who Jesus is (Christ: that is, the Anointed One) in Mt. 16:16. Jesus responds by blessing him for this declaration of faith in Mt. 16:17, and proceeds to tell Simon who he is (Peter: that is, the Rock). Both titles, Christ and Peter, become so tied to the individual that they’re treated as proper names.
          In that light, it’s quite sensible to say that the Church is built upon Peter and Peter’s faith. Most of the Church Fathers seem to agree on this point, as well: the two I cited above are something of outliers, in thinking it has to be one or the other.
          Other parts of Scripture make it clear that Simon is selected as a man, that the title of Rock doesn’t just go to any Christian who accurately declares faith in Christ. From John 1:40-49,
          Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
          The next day he decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
          Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
          So Andrew is the first Disciple to call Jesus the Messiah (that is, the Christ). And Nathanael is the one who first calls Jesus “the Son of God.” Both men’s proclamations of faith are almost indistinguishable from the one Simon would later make in Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Simon, for his part, doesn’t seem to have said anything noteworthy yet. Yet it’s Simon who Jesus says He’ll be renaming Peter, not Nathanael or Andrew (John 1:42).
          If the meaning of the name Peter is simply “small rock,” and it’s a title properly given to any Christian, it’s odd that Jesus would rename only one Disciple this. But if it’s tied to simply recognizing Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, two other Disciples had already done that (to say nothing of John the Baptist, who seems to grasp more than any of the Disciples — see John 1:29-34).
          All the evidence suggests that Jesus hand-picked Simon personally to become Peter. What it was in Peter that lead Him to this choice may be beyond our grasp, but that it was the decision of God Himself seems transparent from the passage.
          III. Conclusion
          When Christ says that He’ll build His Church upon the Rock in Matthew 16:18, what does He mean? The strongest answer from Scripture is Peter (because of his faith), and this has plenty of Patristic Support. That said, some Fathers claimed it was Peter’s faith or Jesus Himself.
          But bear in mind always that these Fathers didn’t reject the papacy. On the contrary, you’ll hear these very same men proclaim Peter as the Prince of the Apostles and Shepherd of Rome, and the Apostolic See as head of the earthly Church. This wasn’t a battle between Catholic and Protestant Church Fathers. This is a dispute over between Catholic Church Fathers over how to understand a single word in Matthew 16:18.
          I raise this for a simple reason. If we’re looking to St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine because we’re genuinely seeking to understand how the Christian Church looked, and what these great Saints thought about the form of the Church, these things matter. Both men clearly taught and believed in a Church that was distinctively Petrine and Roman in its Catholicism. If we’re not interested in that, in having the same Faith as Chrysostom and Augustine, who cares what they said? We’re simply proof-texting Fathers we don’t believe in. So by all means, the argument raised by Chrysostom and Augustine is an important one. Is the Rock upon which Christ built His Church Peter or Peter’s faith,or Jesus, or something else? But in asking and answering that question, we should be thinking with the Church and with the Fathers, not proof-texting them for shallow polemical purposes.

          1. Dear Bob,
            I assume that the text you are reproducing here is from Fr. Joe’s article at shamelesspopery.com (http://shamelesspopery.com/st-john-chrysostom-and-st-augustine-on-matthew-1618-and-the-papacy/).
            Fr. Joe is arguing that although the passages I quoted from the two Roman Catholic Church Doctors, St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, do, in fact, refute the claim that the Lord designated the confession of St. Peter and not his person as the “Rock” upon which the Church was to be built, other writings by these same two Saints that contradict what they had written should serve as more authoritative.
            That certainly is a valid position to try to argue. In the eyes of the Orthodox Church, no Saint is infallible and St. Augustine in particular is acknowledged to have expressed certain heretical theological opinions at various times.
            First, Fr. Joe reproduces a quote from an earlier article, which quotes, in turn, from Volume II of the series, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, by Father Simeon Leiva-Merikakis, now a Trappist monk. Fr. Simeon indicated in his citation that the passage he quotes is from one of St. John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles. I have searched through all of St. John’s writings that are included in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series (which includes all of his Homilies) and can find nothing that resembles what is quoted. Fr. Simeon cites the passage as belonging to “Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 2, 6”. It is unclear if he means Homily 2, paragraph 6; or Acts 2:6, or Homilies 2 and 6; or Acts chapters 2 and 6, but in any case neither do any of these sources contain the text Fr. Simeon quotes. Since the veracity of the text upon which Fr. Joe bases his argument is in doubt, there is not much point in considering his interpretation of it, but I would be happy to consider his arguments in more detail if someone could identify the precise writing wherein St. John wrote what Fr. Simeon claims him to have written.
            Secondly, Fr. Joe cites the canons of the “Council of Carthage in 417 AD”. Since no Council of Carthage was held in 417, Fr. Joe probably means the Council of 418, which integrated the various canons from previous Carthaginian Councils, Conferences, and Synods into a single “African Code”. There is no dispute that, as the Canons read, that the Pope of Rome is, in fact, “holy and most blessed”, nor that Rome is an “Apostolic See.” The Pope of Rome, however, was not considered the only hierarch who was “holy” or “blessed” and Rome was not the only “Apostolic See”. It is entirely proper nonetheless, that the Council of Carthage would defer to the authority of the Pope of Rome, as Carthage fell within the jurisdiction of the Roman See at that time. Furthermore, it is clear from the Canons that the “North African Fathers” recognized the authority of the Pope of Rome, but also held respect for the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. This is shown in the Ancient Introduction to the Canons, which also brings to light an early controversy over the authority of the bishop of Rome over other bishops:
            “’If bishops shall have deposed a bishop, and if he appeal to the Roman bishop, he should be benignantly heard, the Roman bishop writing or ordering.’
            And when this had been read, Alypius, bishop of the Tagastine Church, and legate of the province of Numidia, said: On this matter there has been some legislation in former sessions of our council, and we profess that we shall ever observe what was decreed by the Nicene Council; yet I remember that when we examined the Greek copies of this Nicene Synod, we did not find these the words quoted—Why this was the case, I am sure I do not know. For this reason we beg your reverence, holy Pope Aurelius, that, as the authentic record of the decrees of the Council of Nice are said to be preserved in the city of Constantinople, you would deign to send messengers with letters from your Holiness, and not only to our most holy brother the bishop of Constantinople, but also to the venerable bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, who shall send to us the decrees of that council with the authentification of their signatures, so that hereafter all ambiguity should be taken away, for we failed to find the words cited by our brother Faustinus.”
            This passage seems to clearly indicate that the Council would not recognize the canon related to Roman episcopal authority without proof that such a canon was, in fact, approved previously by the other three ancient Sees. In fact, no such canon exists.
            In the remainder of the essay, Fr. Joe attempts to defend his positions through exegesis of various Scriptural proof-texts, none of which seem to support his argument logically. In his conclusion he claims that the Church Fathers “proclaim Peter as the Prince of Apostles and Shepherd of Rome, and the Apostolic See as head of the earthly Church.” As discussed above, this claim has very weak support. Fr. Joe, for example, seems to equate the “Apostolic See” to the See of Rome, meaning that only Rome could be considered an Apostolic See. This is clearly not the case, as the sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople are also referred to as “Apostolic” in subsequent Councils. Although Fr. Joe scolds those who would “proof-text” the Fathers “for shallow polemical purposes”, this seems to me to be exactly what Fr. Joe is doing. His essay consists of a series of arguments to the effect: (a) This is what X says; (b) This is what I think X means; (c) therefore, X means what I think. He seems to categorize the purposes of “proof-texting” as being “shallow” and “polemical” only when they seek to interpret the writings of the Church father to mean something other than what he claims them to mean.

      1. We are already unified. I know you’ve been taught the Orthodox are in schism your whole life, but it is Rome that split from the True Church. The authority of which you speak, Ines is self-appointed and not from God. Individual popes are fallible, even speaking ex-Cathedra. The Church is and should be conciliar. There are even historical Roman fathers who agree with this. The “rock” upon which Christ builds His church is the faith which Peter and the other Apostles show, not Peter himself. You need to read the quote in context and also know and understand the Koine Greek without the Roman filters you’ve been taught your whole life. Blessings to you. Please stop insisting that we are in error.

  22. The One True Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church is not is schism with Rome, rather it is Rome through the heresies of Papacy, purgatory, indulgences, filioqui, forced elevate clergy,deification of the Holy Mother of God and the actions of One Cardinal Umberto who created this east-west split. Rome is business, with a CEO banks,Diplomatic corp. Orthodox has none of this nor our our Patriarchs the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church. They have the Grace of the Episcopacy and titles of honour. The head of the Orthodox Church is Christ our Saviour, The Holy Spirit God, and God the Father.

    1. the Orthodox chuch are ethnic and each Patriarch only represents that of there own ethnicity! A russian does not speak for all Orthodox or a bulgarian, or greek, or armenian, or serbian! There is no Mouth for the Orthodox church!

      1. get off your high horse gilad, i belong to the antiochian orthodox church, which is an arab orthodox church but i am not arab, i am of English, Irish Scott French and German heritage, yet outside of the middle east it is no more an exclusive ethnic arab church than the roman catholic church. the orthodox church in the united states consists of many nationally diverse jurisdictions, but there are no more ethnic churches. My Bishop is from Lebanon, but he represents every single member in the antiochian orthodox church in his diocese whether they are english, russian from the middle east, or japan. we all belong to the same exact orthodox church.

    2. All those teachings were handed down to us and existed before the split, the difference is n Catholic and orthodox was on Christ’s divinity which they could agree on and lead to split. Look up history and writings of saints you will find all our teachings from early church and in writings of saints,divinely inspired and given and proven by miracles from god and most of all the bible too, there’s a lot of things people got backwards about the Catholic church because they don’t know what they are talking about, and the church didn’t stop after Jesus left he still sends holy people to show his truth in bad times and they come just like the apostles did through miracles and gods word. There’s alot we don’t know and not everything is written in bible and it says so too.

    3. I was born Roman Catholic and of course I don’t reject this grace of God. Charity is essential for me and respect of other thinking. Why are you so aggressive and irrespective to my church? It is not Christian to talk like you do.

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