The Pope & Christian Unity


I was raised in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. For the past 4 years I have attended a Roman Catholic Church. I found the people in the Orthodox Church to worship Ukraine more then God. I believe within the Catholic Church there is more unity, love, and worship. I believe that Romanians, Carpatho-Russians, Russians, etc. have the same problems.

The Bible states that Christ said to Peter, “on this rock I shall build my church”. Why do we refuse to accept the Pope and work together to glorify God. Why must we see others faults first and seek unity second.


A thorough examination of the “On This Rock” passage of Scripture is far beyond the scope of an email, as it involves a variety of interpretations, theological perspectives, and historic realities which would comprise a veritable volume to discuss and debate. I can state, however, that the Orthodox view and attitude of the Roman Papacy is not a matter of refusing to accept the authority of the Pope but, rather, a matter of historic reality. The bottom line is that, during its 2000 year existence, the Orthodox Church had not been subject to the administrative authority of the Pope of Rome, and this is borne out in the extant decrees of the early Church councils. These councils, while acknowledging the Pope as the “first among equals,” in no way envision the Bishop of Rome’s “primacy of honor” as a “supremacy of jurisdiction.” The papal claims to supremacy are of much later origin, and there are many who would argue that such claims have done far more damage to the unity of Christendom than anything else. [If one looks at the hundreds upon hundreds of Protestant groups that grew out of Roman Catholicism—there is little parallel here within Orthodox Christianity—one might also question the papacy as a point of unity.

While Orthodox Christians do indeed pray and hope for “the unity of all,” and while it is unfortunately that there are some Orthodox Christians who are less than charitable in addressing non-Orthodox confessions, the fact remains that the unity one seeks must be a genuine unity rooted in Jesus Christ as the Great Archpastor and High Priest, as Saint Paul writes, and not in an administrative “Vicar.”

I might suggest that you reconsider your experience of the Orthodox Church by visiting other parishes, speaking with other Orthodox Christians, and opening yourself to the possibility that the experience you had, obviously in a specific parish, is not necessarily the experience of the Orthodox Church as a whole. I my own parish I have faithful of every possible ethnic background. Many of them hold their ethnic roots in high esteem, but none of them, including the immigrants, put their ethnic roots before their Orthodoxy. By the same token I have personally visited Catholic communities, both of the Latin and Byzantine Rite, in which the ethnic flavor is as heavy as it sometimes is in some Orthodox congregations.

God bless you, and I hope this helps—or at least gives you a somewhat different framework in which to evaluate your experiences.