In the modern age, many of us Catholics are fed up with the weak papacy of Pope Francis and poor liturgical reform of the 60s. For many, it is so easy to look to Eastern Orthodoxy for help. They have had no major liturgical reform like the Roman Rite, and they have no universal head like the Pope to lead the entire Church into confusion as seen with Pope Francis’ repeatedly confusing encyclicals. However, we do not fix the Catholic Church by leaving her, and you do not leave Jesus because of Judas. To see why, we must look at why Orthodoxy is NOT the answer.
I will be the first to admit that I too am drawn to the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. It is not only beautiful but timeless too. We too can attend this Divine Liturgy without becoming Orthodox. In communion with Rome there are 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, where any Catholic can attend the liturgies of the Orthodox that have come into communion with Rome. These Eastern Catholics, of whom I am myself, hold to Orthodox theology, as well as the Orthodox Liturgy, and share the same prayers. The only differences in theology between the Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are the acceptance of the Papal Primacy, and acceptance of the filioque (which can look different depending on the particular Church) by the Eastern Catholics.
Now, if there is no reason to join the Orthodox Church based on theology and liturgy, the only reason would be to “escape” the horrific papacy of Francis. This, however, is also ignorant. Within Orthodoxy, there is no universal head, which looks like a very good thing when tired of a weak Pope, but from the inside of Orthodoxy, the Church hierarchy is even more of a mess than in the West. Many Patriarchal decisions are politically based, like the 2018 excommunications. The Patriarch of Constantinople granted autocephaly (self-governance) to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which led to the Patriarch of Moscow excommunicating the Patriarch of Constantinople, which had left half of Orthodoxy out of communion with the other half. Problems like this cannot be solved without a universal head. Even if one has to suffer through horrible Popes, we must endure them to keep unity throughout the whole Church.
We even see at the First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople that the Patriarch of Constantinople declared his See as “Second Rome.” This was not putting himself on the same level as the Pope, but rather “second only to Rome,” showing the See of Constantinople to be under the Pope. This is the admissions of Papal Primacy by the See that would later be the root of the Schism between Catholic and Orthodox. This alone disproves the Orthodox position as they at one point held the Catholic position.
Another problem found within Orthodoxy is the reception of converts. As Catholics, we receive non-baptized converts through baptism, Protestant converts through Confirmation, and Orthodox converts through Confession and Profession of Faith. Orthodox have no set rule like this. The base is to receive all converts through Baptism and Christmation, and only when oikonomia is observed that non-Orthodox baptisms are recognized. This is a major problem for Catholics, as we recognize all Trinitarian baptisms are valid.
If one would like to learn more about the Eastern Catholic position, or more against Orthodoxy, check out Fr. Deacon Anthony Dragani’s blog here: https://east2west.org/