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Merv Reinert wrote:

Hi, guys—

  • Are the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, Catholics?
  • Are their sacraments valid?
  • If so, can I fulfill my Sunday Mass obligation at a Greek Orthodox Mass?


  { Are the Greek and Russian Orthodox, Catholics; and if so, can I fulfill my Sunday obligation there? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Merv,

The Greek and Russian Orthodox are not Catholic. Their sacraments are valid. They are schismatic, not heretical, (look up schism and heresy on New Advent), although there are a couple of doctrinal differences due, perhaps, to different understandings and, of course, due to doctrinal developments since the split.

You can fulfill your Sunday Mass obligation only if it is difficult or impossible to go to a Catholic Mass of any Rite (Latin, Byzantine, etc. — the eastern Rites have nearly the same liturgy as the Orthodox). To attend otherwise is to partake of the disunion of the schism, to witness its validity when it is not valid. The Mass creates and nourishes the communion of the faithful in "One Lord (shepherd), one faith, one baptism". (Ephesians 4:4-5)

So if you like their rite, find an Eastern Catholic or Uniate version of the same rite (Uniate refers to those who came back into union with Rome) or some other Catholic Rite that has some of the ritual characteristics. In a case where there is no Catholic community at all near you, you can attend.

Hope this helps.

Mary Ann Parks, MA Theology

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