EWTN Catholic Q&A
Orthodox Churches
Question from frankie on 07-16-2008:

Dear Fr. Loya Were the Orthodox Churches part of the Catholic Church before the schism of 1054? I was told by the former moderator that they were Catholic and Orthodox at the same time. But that is very confusing. One cannot belong to two different faiths at the same time. If Christ founded the Catholic Church who founded the Orthodox Church?

Answer by Fr. Thomas Loya on 08-13-2008:

Glory to Jesus Christ!


Prior to the Schism of 1054 the terms "Orthodox" and "Catholic" as we use them today did not exist. It was basically just the "Church" but the Church of the West and the Church in the East (the "two lungs" of the Church as John Paul II would say.) The term "Roman Catholic" developed well after the Schism. After the Schism the Eastern Churches referred to themselves as Eastern "Orthodox." Prior to the Schism there were five great centers or "Patriarchates" of the one whole Church: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem with Rome becoming the pre-eminent Patriarchate. In the First millennium The Church had an image of itself as diverse yet united in belief. I hope this clarifies things a bit.