Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy
Originally, Christianity had one church. Because of political conflicts and differences in belief, the western and eastern parts of the Christian Church split apart in 1054. The western church became the Roman Catholic Church, and the eastern church became the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Both churches believe in the gospel of Jesus and in the Bible as interpreted by their church. They also believe that God uses sacraments to convey his love to humans. Sacraments are visible signs of something sacred; for instance, the water used in baptism is a sign of God’s power to cleanse people of sin. The Venn diagram below shows other similarities and differences.
ROMAN CATHOLIC AND EASTERN ORTHODOX DATA
• U.S. state with highest percentage of Roman Catholics: Rhode Island, 51 percent. 2001 American Religious Identification Survey by Graduate Center of City University of New York
• U.S. states with highest percentage of Eastern Orthodox: New Hampshire and New Jersey, 0.90 percent each. 1990 National Survey of Religious Identification
• Vatican City is an independent state located in Rome, Italy. The Roman Catholic Church claims more than a billion members worldwide. Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, third edition; www.adherents.com
• The largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches is the Russian Orthodox Church. It claims 90 million members worldwide. www.adherents.com
• In 2003, the world region with the largest population of Roman Catholics: Latin America, 473,000,000
• In 2003, the world region with the largest population of Eastern Orthodox members: Europe, 158,450,000 –
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year 2004
The 11th Century: Comparing Two Churches
Roman Catholic Both Eastern Orthodox
Services are conducted in Latin.
The pope has authority over all other bishops.
The pope claims authority over all kings and emperors.
Priests may not marry.
Divorce is not permitted. They base their faith on the gospel of Jesus and the Bible.
They use sacraments such as baptism.
Their religious leaders are priests and bishops.
They seek to convert people. Services are conducted in Greek or local languages.
The patriarch and other bishops head the Church as a group.
The emperor claims authority over the patriarch and other bishops of the empire.