A Question I Was Asked:

Is the Eastern Orthodox Church Catholic? Do They Follow the Pope?

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Patriarch Kirill (or, Cyril) of Moscow and all Russia

Leaders of Eastern and Russian Orthodox Christianity do not claim grandiose titles for themselves or for their office (unlike the papacy).

Is the Eastern Orthodox Church Catholic? Do they follow the Pope?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Eastern Orthodoxy, including Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox are indeed considered 'Catholic,' but they do not follow the pope, they have their own leaders.

The Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of well over 250–300 million Orthodox Christians, however the Ecumenical Patriarch is not considered to be the 'head' of the Eastern Orthodox Church. His official rank is 'primus inter pares' (translating to something like, 'first among equals'). The leader of the Russian Orthodox is Patriarch Kirill (or, Cyril) of Moscow. Compared to the Roman papal system, these leaders take a back seat generally and do not interfere with worship or doctrine. Their office is nothing like that of pope, they are more concerned with administration and organisation. They do not make any grandiose claims for themselves, or for their office (which is very pleasing to note).

Another point about these forms of Catholicism is that worship is normally only in the language of Greek or Russian (I believe there are just a few exceptions to this, but not many. If I should turn up at a Greek Orthodox congregation in London (probably the closest to me), I have little doubt that everything would be conducted in the Greek language. Indeed such groups have little or no international outreach with the Gospel. In great contrast to this, western English-speaking Protestantism (USA, Canada, Britain, but also including Australasia), have always had big international outreaches but perhaps it is easier for us since we are mostly all English-speaking. So Greek or Russian Orthodox churches are far more national and inward-looking.

The form of worship in Orthodox churches is somewhat similar to Roman Catholicism with much emphasis on ritual, use of images (often very eye-catching and elaborate) and repeated prayers and so on. They are also very, very formal - a million miles from 'happy-clappy' charismatics!

The Russian Orthodox Church must be praised for keeping Christianity going during the years of Communism when they suffered much persecution. When Russia opened to Christianity again many were surpised to find Christianity still thriving.

Robin A. Brace. October 11th, 2019.