Why Be Catholic Instead of Orthodox?

By pintswaquinas February 27, 2024

Times are tough in the Catholic Church. A large number of Catholics don’t fully practice their faith. Many priests spew heresy and celebrate irreverent liturgies. The pope makes statements that — rather than clarifying the faith — leave us more confused about what Catholicism actually teaches.

Many Catholics have had enough of Rome and have sought refuge in the Orthodox Churches. Orthodox Christians appear more firmly rooted in Tradition, while Catholics (especially Roman Catholics) have seemingly compromised too much with the modern world.

But is Orthodoxy really a valid option for Catholics? Here’s why the answer is a firm “no.”

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Orthodoxy is more ethnic than universal.
The different branches of Orthodoxy are defined by their ethnicity. Divisions include Russian, Greek, and Serbian, and each is self-governing. Our friend Dr. Scott Hahn has referred to this phenomenon as “denomi-nationalism” (as in denominations defined by nationalism) and noted it’s too similar to Protestant denominations.

God’s Old Covenant with the Jewish people was based on ethnicity. But under the New Covenant, Christ established a universal Church that would reach beyond the boundaries of ethnicity and nation. The pope would be the visible head of this worldwide body.

But one may argue, “Isn’t the pope the head of the Roman Catholic Church? How is that different from, say, the Russian Orthodox Church?”

The pope is based in Rome, but he doesn’t have to be Roman. Pope St. John Paul II was Polish. Pope Francis is from Argentina. Keep in mind the pope isn’t just the bishop of Rome; He’s the ruler of the worldwide Church.

It’s true that the Roman Rite was influenced by ancient Roman customs. But the pope is also head of different Eastern Churches that — unlike the Orthodox — have maintained communion with him. These Eastern Churches recognize there’s an ecclesial unity that’s greater than ethnic ties or country of origin.

We are naturally loyal to those most like us. Christ calls us to a higher level of connection in the Church, where people from every nation, ethnicity, and race come together to praise their Creator. As St. Paul eloquently put it in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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