Faith/Spirituality Forum: Orthodox-Catholic

Orthodox-Catholic QUESTION from Raphael Smith OFM Cap on November 20, 2002 dear sir
I have some questions concerning validity of priesthood. In the Orthodox Church, when a Roman Catholic priest becomes an orthodox priest, he will not be Re-Ordained. This is because of the Orthodox Church viewed the priesthood of the Roman Catholic as valid (from a valid Apostolic Succession). The Orthodox bishop will only vest him with an Orthodox vestment, I saw this with 5 Roman Catholic priests my friends who became a Greek Orthodox priests. This is also the same norm for the sacrament of Baptism where a Roman Catholic person will never be re-baptized in the Orthodox Church, only chrismated. In some non canonical orthodox church (an Orthodox version of SSPX, hahaha) they required to public statement concerning the Orthodox faith which is they do not believe in filioque etc, but this not happened in the canonical jurisdiction. I from what I know the Orthodox Church viewed the Eucharist, Priesthood, and other sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church as Valid.
Now my questions :
1) If an Orthodox clergy become an Roman Catholic (clergy) Can he remain as a priest? Or he has to go trough seminary process again?
2) Will he be re-ordained? Canonically speaking, how is the reception ceremony?
3) What is the norm for priesthood is he becoming Eastern Catholic priest or Western Latin priest? in the case of western priest can he enters a religious order or congregation? Or must he become a diocesan priest? in our Church there is no orders like in the RC.
4) In the document Vatican Council II: Orientalium Ecclesiarum (25), it stated that Eastern clerics, seeing that a valid priesthood is preserved among them, are permitted to exercise the Orders they possess on joining the unity of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the regulations established by the competent authority. What are the regulations? And who is the authority? How is the norm here? What are the steps of process in changing, of an Orthodox priest who want to become a Roman Catholic priest (also regarding canonically process)? Is it the same in every diocese?
6) How about Orthodox married clergy? will he be accepted as a Roman Catholic priest? Do the eastern Catholic have married clergy. It just remind me about the mass exodus of Eastern Catholics in America to the Orthodox Church (now OCA)a century a go, because of this issue, the everlasting batle between Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul MI and St. Alexis Toth.
Quite frankly I am pleased with the recent effort concerning dialogue Catholic and Orthodox, it is my prayer that one day the two sisters will be united with one shepherd, Lord Jesus Christ. As St. Peter for the Catholic and St. Andrew for the Orthodox, both of them are blood brothers, holy siblings, let us pray for the unity of the churches.
If I may suggest to you to stop refering to the Orthodox Church as Schismatic, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras lifted the bull of Excomuniation for both Churches. From what I know, our Church with the Document Dominus Iesus, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stated that they are particular TRUE church NOT SCHISMATIC, and regarded as EQUAL CHURCH, Sister Church, this term only apply to the Orthodox and not to the Protestant, I think as a good Catholic we should follow the Holy Father example calling them Sister Church instead of Schismatic. With this The Orthodox Church also stopped calling us as Heretic, but Sister Church, you can visit the official website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for this.
Again thank you for taking your time to answer my questioned, may God bless you and keep you.
In Jesus and Mary
Br. Raphael Smith OFM Cap
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 19, 2002 Dear Brother:
These questions are highly technical and should be answered by a canon lawyer, but I will try.

1) If an Orthodox clergy become an Roman Catholic (clergy) Can he remain as a priest? Or he has to go trough seminary process again?
Orthodox Holy Orders are considered valid by the Catholic Church thus the man remains a priest of course.
As to whether he will be given faculties (be considered clergy and thereby licitly practice the priestly office) I presume that will be decided by the Holy See as to whether faculties can be bestowed, under what conditions, or after any education or formation.
As far as I know a converting Orthodox priest is generally given faculties, though there may be some restrictions if the priest is married to avoid scandal among the Latin Rite that is not use to having married priests.

2) Will he be re-ordained? Canonically speaking, how is the reception ceremony?
Valid Holy Orders can only be conferred once (as is also the case with valid baptism. I do not know what the ceremony might be to grant faculties to a man already a priest if there is any at all. It may be merely be decree from the Holy See.

3) What is the norm for priesthood is he becoming Eastern Catholic priest or Western Latin priest? in the case of western priest can he enters a religious order or congregation? Or must he become a diocesan priest? in our Church there is no orders like in the RC.
That depends on the intentions of the converting Orthodox priest. He may wish to join a religious order. If he does he must be single and meet whatever criteria the Order has for their membership. Otherwise, the converting Orthodox priest will be incardinated into a particular diocese.
The Latin Rite does not allow a free-lance priest. All priest must be incardinated somewhere -- either a diocese or a religious order of some kind.

4) In the document Vatican Council II: Orientalium Ecclesiarum (25), it stated that Eastern clerics, seeing that a valid priesthood is preserved among them, are permitted to exercise the Orders they possess on joining the unity of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the regulations established by the competent authority. What are the regulations? And who is the authority? How is the norm here? What are the steps of process in changing, of an Orthodox priest who want to become a Roman Catholic priest (also regarding canonically process)? Is it the same in every diocese?
This I really cannot answer. The primary competent authority I believe is the Holy See. As to what these regulations might be I have no idea.
I would suggest writing the Holy See at:
Congregation for the Clergy Pizza Pio XII 3 00193 Rome, ITALY

6) How about Orthodox married clergy? will he be accepted as a Roman Catholic priest? Do the eastern Catholic have married clergy. It just remind me about the mass exodus of Eastern Catholics in America to the Orthodox Church (now OCA)a century a go, because of this issue, the everlasting batle between Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul MI and St. Alexis Toth.
As mentioned earily there may be some restrictions placed upon a married priest to avoid scandal. The Pope has allowed some married Anglican Priests to be ordained when they converted.
The Eastern Catholic Rites are about the same as the Orthodox. They do have married priests but bishops must be perpetually celibate.
As to the issue of the Orthodox being schismatic, this is a statement of historical fact. The Eastern patriarchs went into schism. Being a TRUE Church does not speak to that Church's status as schismatic or not. The Orthodox are a TRUE CHURCH, but the founders of the Orthodox did go into schism.
But in similar manner as the case with the heresy of the Protestant reformers, the current day Protestants are not in FORMAL hersey, and the Orthodox are not in FORMAL schism.
But, Protestants ARE in material heresy and the Orthodox are in material schism.
These are techicalities. I am not concerned with making this point when in true dialogue. The times you will see me making this statement boldly is when I am confronted with a person who is boldly making the opposite point and refusing to accept historical fact. Error must be met with truth.
But, if an argument about who split from who is avoided, then we can have a positive ecumenical dialogue that I pray will result someday in the unity that Christ intended.
Back to Index Page

You have successfully subscribed!