During the last few months of my attendance at the Orthodox Church of America parish, many of the walls that were in existence between myself and Catholicism began to crumble. To understand the crumbling, I suppose it’s better to first understand the walls. When I began the definitive move toward Orthodoxy, I thought I owed it to the ministers and pastors with whom I had worked, as well as my parents, to give an explanation of why I was making my decision. I wrote a letter, and below is a portion I’d like to share.
Most would be familiar with Roman Catholicism and some would compare the Orthodox Church with them. There are many, many similarities, but the split between the two Churches was in 1054 AD. The Orthodox do not hold the doctrine of papal supremacy/infallibility. They do not consider Mary a co-redemptrix (not that all Catholics do). They do not teach the immaculate conception of Mary, etc. In short, the Orthodox Church is not Roman Catholic.
I wanted it to be clear that I was not becoming a Catholic – anything but that . . . . In the churches I attended growing up, a strong anti-Catholicism exists. It’s definitely a form of ignorance, because there simply aren’t that many around here. I remember one Catholic kid in my graduating class from High School. The Baptist kids picked on the Pentecostals, and we all picked on the Catholic :)
I said all of that to say – I took a lot of that anti-Catholicism with me into Orthodoxy. It was a natural fit. It was a common narrative, so I was able to follow along more easily. I do know that not all Orthodox Christians are anti-Catholic, but there is a tremendous amount of anti-Catholic literature and sentiment among what we’d call serious Orthodox. I once had an Old Calendarist monk tell me that incorruptiple relics of Catholic saints were probably the result of demonic powers. Anything but Catholic . . . .