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Are Some Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church


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As people-centered forms of government become more common, papal authority extends far less than it did in the previous millennium. Today, the Pope may still advise leaders of countries, but has no power to make them change. The governments of predominantly Catholic countries, are rarely influenced by the Pope alone. In fact, many predominantly Catholic countries are lead in a way antithetical to what the Catholic Church may desire.

Language of Church Services

Another difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches notable until the mid 20th century was that Roman Catholic services were conducted in Latin, rather than in native languages. The early Eastern Orthodox Church rejected the language of Rome and celebrated mass in native languages from its onset. Since Vatican II, the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, however, Roman Catholic services are often conducted in the native tongue. Members of Opus Dei, a section within the Roman Catholic Church, continue to consistently celebrate the Latin mass.

There are also many complex dogmatic distinctions that have arisen since the two churches separated. These are often difficult to understand, but include a few straightforward differences in belief. One is the concept of original sin which has its roots in Adam’s sins in the Garden of Eden. Both Churches believe in the concept of original sin but hold it to have different consequences on humanity. Still, both Churches hold baptism as the way to cleanse the soul of sin.

The Churches diverge in how original sin applies to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Catholics believe Mary was born without original sin, and thus was the appropriate vessel for the Son of God. The Eastern Orthodox Church believes this distinction matters little. Like all people, Mary was born and would die. She was chosen to be Jesus’ mother because of her virtuous life.

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