Difference Between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 08, 2023


Difference Between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics

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Greek Orthodox vs. Roman Catholics - Quick Difference

The main difference between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics is their understanding of the role or function of the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope. 

Roman Catholics believe that the Pope is the supreme authority in matters of faith and morals; on the other hand, the Greek Orthodox Church does not recognize the Pope's authority or power in this way and instead relies and depends on a council of bishops to govern or control the Church. 

In simple words, Roman Catholics believe that Pope is the most critical person in their Church, while the Greek Orthodox Church doesn't think so.

Moreover, there are differences in liturgical practices, theological focus, and religious icons.


With 2.3 billion adherents, Christianity is one of the most extensively practiced religions on the planet. Catholics, Protestants, and (Eastern) Orthodox are the three main branches. Protestantism originated in the 16th century, but Catholicism and Orthodoxy have existed for far longer.

Christianity was dominant in five locations in the fourth century: Constantinople (Turkey), Alexandria (Egypt), Jerusalem (Israel), Antioch (Greece), and Rome (Italy). Constantinople and Rome were the epicenters of Christianity as Islam flourished. With time, the abilities in these sites began to fade.

The divide between Eastern Orthodox and Catholic religions has endured since the 11th century due to language and cultural differences, as well as many religious disagreements and political wars that resulted in the Great Schism (Schism of 1054).

Greek Orthodox vs Roman Catholics

The fundamental distinction between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics is that the Pope is infallible and has entire control over the churches of Roman Catholics, however, the pope is not infallible in Greek Orthodox churches.

Difference Between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Greek Orthodox Roman Catholics
Other Name Eastern Orthodox/ Byzantine Orthodox Western Church
Seat of Power Constantinople Rome
Ultimate Authority Patriarch Pope
Members of the Clergy Priests who were allowed to marry Priests who practiced celibacy
Fasting Fast almost half the year Fast rigorously on Fridays
Worship Venerate icons. Venerate statues
Language of service Native language Latin
Involvement of children Fully included Baptized but not allowed to participate fully
Famous church St Andrew’s Cathedral St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican City

What is the Greek Orthodox Church?

It is one of Christianity's three primary jurisdictional groupings. Across 200 million people follow the Orthodox faith around the world. Its adherents are mostly found in the Balkans, the Middle East, and former Soviet states. The Greek words orthos ('right') and Doxa ('belief') are combined to form the term orthodox, which means "correct believing." It refers to groups or individuals who have kept the real religion alive.

The Greek Orthodox Church is made up of various self-governing Churches that are frequently referred to be "autocephalous" (meaning "headless") or "independent" (self-governing). They believe that via Jesus Christ, God revealed himself. They also believe in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Orthodox churches emphasize a way of life and a faith that is reflected most visibly in worship. Their method of worshiping God has been practiced from the beginning of Christianity. The Orthodox Bible is similar to that of other churches, with the exception that the Old Testament is based on the Septuagint, an early Jewish translation into Greek.

Fasting is a significant aspect of Orthodox Christian living. Orthodox Christians are required to fast 180–200 days each year, according to their holy writings. Fasting, they say, maybe the "basis of all good."

They follow four main fasting periods:

  1. The Great Fast, often known as Lent, is a season of fasting.
  2. From the 1st until the 14th of August, the Dormition Fast is observed.
  3. The Apostles' Fast begins eight days after Pentecost and ends on June 28th.
  4. The Christmas Fast lasts from November 15th until December 24th.

Following are a few Greek Orthodox practices that differ from evangelical Christianity:


Only baptized and devout Orthodox can partake of the components of Holy Communion, which they believe transform into Christ's genuine body and blood, a belief known as "transubstantiation," though some Orthodox theologians disagree with the name. There is no scriptural support for the belief that food and wine become Jesus' corporeal flesh and blood. Cannibalism, which is only mentioned in Scripture as a very wicked desperate crime (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53–57; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10), is implied by such a notion. The Greek Orthodox Church believes that receiving communion helps to ensure salvation.

Veneration of Saints

Kneeling before or kissing pictures of Mary and departed saints, according to the Greek Orthodox Church, is a manner of paying respect to their remembrance rather than worshiping them. "The Orthodox Church worships God alone," their website claims. She does, however, honor those who have served as vital human agents of God throughout the history of redemption. Mary, the Mother of God, the Theotokos, is among those who are so revered."


Faith in Christ, according to the Greek Orthodox Church, is the only way to salvation. "Orthodox Christians throughout their lives obtain salvation and regeneration via faith, works, and the sacraments of the Church," they say, differing from the evangelical view of faith. They preach that Christ's death and resurrection were for the aim of allowing us to become divine in the same way that He is divine.


The Greek Orthodox Church employs Scripture but also contains twelve apocryphal texts that are not inspired by God. "Holy Tradition," which comprises "the writings, teachings, and actions of the apostles, saints, martyrs, and fathers of the Church, as well as the judgments of the Ecumenical Councils," is on par with Scripture. "All of this accumulated learning and experience from the past is merged to generate this second great source of spiritual authority," their website says. While knowledge passed down through the years has significance, Bible-believing Christians believe that no other writings or revelations compare to the 66 books of the Bible. Consideration of human experience and man's "collective knowledge" as a "source of holy authority" is perilous.

Life after death

The doctrine of life after death in the Greek Orthodox Church is ambiguous. They claim not to believe in purgatory, but they do say that "a partial judgment is initiated immediately after our bodily death, which leaves us in an intermediate state of partial blessedness (for the righteous) or partial pain (for the sinful)." They think that "transformation is possible throughout this interim condition and stage," and hence incorporate prayers and almsgiving for the deceased. This goes against the biblical teaching that there is no possibility of change after death (see Hebrews 9:27). This also contradicts Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31), which describes what occurs shortly after death.

What is the Roman Catholic Church?

Another historic religious institution with nearly a billion adherents worldwide is the Roman Catholic Church. It is the world's largest Christian organization. In Greek, the term Catholic means "universal." Catholics believe that Jesus Christ came to earth to atone for humanity's sins by dying and rising from the dead. They also believe that God's inspired word is the Holy Bible.

The Bishop, usually known as the Pope, is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is referred to as apostolic succession, and his lineage can be traced back to Peter. The Pope is the Catholic Church's ultimate authority. He is infallible when it comes to matters of faith. The Catholic Church is made up of 24 separate churches, each with its own set of beliefs and practices. The largest of them all is the Roman church. Only celibate males are ordained to the priesthood. Fasting, according to Catholics, is meant to provide spiritual attention and self-discipline. During Lent, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as well as all Fridays during the year, they fast.

The Roman Catholic Church, according to Roman Catholicism, was founded by Christ when he appointed the Apostle Peter as the church's leader. This concept is founded on Matthew 16:18 when Jesus Christ spoke to Peter: The official founding of the Roman Catholic church happened in 590 CE, with Pope Gregory I, according to The Moody Handbook of Theology. The consolidation of regions held by the pope's authority, and hence the church's influence, into what would eventually be known as "the Papal States" occurred during this period.

Following Jesus Christ's ascension, the apostles continued to spread the message and create disciples, laying the foundation for the early Christian Church. Separating the early phases of the Roman Catholic Church from those of the early Christian church is difficult, if not impossible. One of Jesus' 12 followers, Simon Peter, rose to prominence in the Jewish Christian movement. Later, James, most likely Jesus' brother, assumed command. Even though these followers of Christ saw themselves as a reform movement within Judaism, they continued to observe many Jewish commandments.

On the journey to Damascus, Saul, one of the most zealous persecutors of the early Jewish Christians, had a vision of Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity. He became the greatest evangelist of the early Christian church after taking the name Paul. Paul's mission, known as Pauline Christianity, was primarily focused on Gentiles. The early church was already scheming in subtle ways.

Gnostic Christianity, which held that Jesus was a spirit being sent by God to give wisdom to humanity so that they may escape the sufferings of life on earth, was another religious system at the time. Many different types of Christianity, in addition to Gnostic, Jewish, and Pauline Christianity, were beginning to be taught. The Jewish Christian movement was dispersed after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The prominent Christian organizations were Pauline and Gnostic Christianity.

In 313 AD, the Roman Empire declared Pauline Christianity to be a genuine religion. Later that century, in 380 AD, Roman Catholicism became the Roman Empire's official religion. For the next 1000 years, Catholics were the only ones who were considered Christians.

Between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths, a definitive rupture occurred in 1054 AD. This split still exists today. The Protestant Reformation, which took place in the 16th century, was the next significant schism. Those who stayed committed to Roman Catholicism thought that core doctrinal control by church officials was required to prevent confusion, disagreement, and corruption of the church's teachings.

The Roman Catholic Church facts provide readers with information on the world's largest Christian church. In 2016, the world's adherents of this religion numbered over 1.3 billion people. It is simply referred to as the Catholic Church. Do you realize that the Roman Catholic Church had a significant impact on the foundations of Western civilization? It should come as no surprise that we can divorce religion from history. As Bishop of Rome, the Pope performs his duties. He was the Roman Catholic Church's leader. The Holy See, which houses the church's administrative administration, is based in Vatican City. Are you aware that Vatican City is located within the Italian city of Rome? The Vatican, on the other hand, is not a part of Italy. If you're interested in learning more about the Roman Catholic Church, read the following article:

Nicene Creed

Do you know what the Nicene Creed is? It served as the foundation for Catholic theology. The Catholic Church believes that the Apostolic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The Pope assumes the position of Saint Peter's successor. Bishops, on the other hand, are the successors of Christ's apostles.

The Teaching

The Roman Catholic Church strives to keep Christian teaching and religion as unique as possible for its adherents. The sacred heritage will be passed down from one generation to the next.

The Sacrament

There are seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. The Eucharist is the most significant. It will be commemorated at the mass. The sacrificial bread and wine are used to symbolize Christ's flesh and blood.

The Role of the Virgin Mary

Do you know what Mary's function is in the Roman Catholic Church? She is renowned as the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven.

The Social Teaching

The Roman Catholic Church pays attention to the Roman Catholic Church as well. The followers are urged to volunteer to serve the impoverished and sick. They also work to improve people's health and education. As a result, it has the distinction of being the largest non-government supplier in both disciplines.

Main Differences Between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Points

  • The Pope is considered infallible by Roman Catholics, but not by Greek Orthodox Christians.
  • Priests in the Roman Catholic Church are celibate, although Greek Orthodox Christians can marry before being ordained.
  • While Catholic children are baptized, Orthodox Christian newborns are completely engaged in the church, but they cannot fully participate until later.
  • Statues are used by Roman Catholics to symbolize saints, but the Orthodox Church has an iconographic heritage.
  • In prayer, Roman Catholics traditionally kneel, but Orthodox believers normally stand.
  • Purgatory and the system of indulgences are believed by Roman Catholics, but not by Orthodox.
  • Unleavened wafers are used by Roman Catholics, but unleavened bread is used by Greek Orthodox Christians.
  • In Roman Catholic churches, services are held in Latin, but in Greek Orthodox churches, services are held in native languages.
  • The Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, which implies that Christian feasts are observed on different dates than Catholics.
  • Catholics follow the Gregorian calendar.


The two churches drifted apart after the Great Schism, and minor distinctions emerged. Both Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Christians, notwithstanding their differing ideologies. The Catholic Churches have undergone significant changes and continue to do so, whilst the Orthodox Churches have not. Despite several attempts to bring the two jurisdictional groupings together, there always appears to be a divide between them.



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"Difference Between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 20 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-greek-orthodox-and-roman-catholics-563>.

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