You are probably asking yourselves, and for sure you are being asked what the essential difference is between the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. There are many differences since the Western church, often guided by the spirit and the wisdom of this world, has adopted various novelties that have further distanced the Roman church from the Orthodox Church of Christ. The biggest difference however, and the divide that cannot be overcome, is bishop of the town of Rome, as we call him: Roman Pope.
Since the Church is, as we pledge with our Creed: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Orthodox Catholic Church is guided with the principal of Catholicism, which means that the essential questions of faith and life are resolved on a summit, a congregation of all bishops, all equal among themselves. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church is governed by one bishop, distinguished with higher honors and power from the rest of his brothers.
This is opposite to the will of the Founder of Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ, since in His Church there cannot be a man – even if his name is Roman Pope – that decides in the name of the all, but rather all the bishops, gathered in the name of the Lord, and guided by the Holy Spirit, interpret the word of God and govern the Church.
The question of the roman bishop is the stumbling block and the unsurmountable divide between One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church and Roman Church. Romans would easily and quickly, running if you wish, renounce all the novelties, regardless of which church question they may pertain to, but this main novelty, unfortunately, I don’t think they will ever renounce. Hence, there will be no Church unity, regardless of what we are told and promised.
Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Founder and the Head of his Church, had never distinguished neither of his apostles; he had not given greater rights to any of his disciple over the others but he sternly warned them not to aspire to power or distinguishment but to the servitude of others. When apostles quarreled among themselves who among them could be considered greater, the Lord reprimanded them “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called “benefactors”. But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22, 25-26).
From its very beginning, Church of Christ diligently obeyed the will of its Founder, not allowing neither of its bishops any greater rights over the other bishops. “Legislative power for the entire Church cannot belong to one person, even if he were the eldest bishop in Church – we are thought by Nikodim Milas – since as there is no one visible, symbolic ruler of the entire Church, there cannot be, by the teaching of the Orthodox Catholic Church, one person that has risen so much over the Church to prescribe the laws to the entire Church”. “Or can there be a person that could believe that God can bless one with the righteousness, whoever he may be, and that he would take away from the other priests that have gathered at the convocation?” – asked the fathers of the Carthaginian Sabor roman bishop Celestine in 424AD, who uninvited started to interfere in the workings of the Carthaginian Church.
One event, in recent times, is attracting a great deal of attention and I would, brothers and sisters, keeping in mind the principle of unity and catholicism, like to say few words. You have heard, read and watched, since media is putting a great emphasis on this news, that bishop of Constantinopole, with the title of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinopole, had gone in front of bishop of Rome, titled Roman Pope, and tha the hugged him and kissed him promising to him by the end of this unfortunate century church unity; approximately in this way: They should meet in a few years and sign the paper; one in the name of one church and the other in the name of the other church, and that all of a sudden, regardless of everything, or rather in spite of everything, in life above all; we become brothers and roman Pope our father.
Does the bishop of Constantinopole, presently called Istanbul, regardless of how that bishop is called and with what title he is honored, has the right to make such crucial decisions in the name of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Orthodox Church? The answer is once again clear and simple: He does not.
In the spirit of the principle of catholicism of the Orthodox church, all the bishops are equal among themselves: the youngest one that was maybe ordained today in Holy Liturgy somewhere and the eldest with the highest honor and the title. To the bishop of a once emperor’s city his brothers have given the right away of honor – to simplify it, he is the first one to pour soup in his bowl – but they have never given him the right of government; not to make the decisions in his own name let alone in the name of all of them, the bishops of the Orthodox Church of Christ. The actions of Constantinopole bishop are extremely dangerous and can have tragic repercussions for the faith and order of Church of Christ.
In this context you can interpret signing of various papers by our metropolitans and bishops all over the world.
In Church there cannot be despotic rule, “more important” and “less important”, “smarter” than smart. Saint Apostles were full of wisdom of Holy Spirit, and as Milas says, “they could on their own resolve many disputes, that arose in Church, but they did not do that, instead they have gathered and in congregations resolved every prominent question; and in this way they wanted to show to their followers how they are to conduct themselves”. “Only in the congregation of bishops of each autocephalous church, the completeness of church government is centered; as it is only in the congregation of bishops of all the church that the completeness of ecumenical church government is centered. This is the fundamental teaching of the Orthodox Church that is based on God’s law” (Milas).
There is not a more important bishops, consequently there is not a more important church. The flow of grace from the Holy Spirit is spread equally among all local churches. “The presence of the true spirit of freedom and love makes every fight for power misplaced, since all the churches are actually just the parts of one universal body of Christ’s church, where there is place for everyone at the Tsar’s table. There are no “greater” nor “lesser”, in the same way as “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all”. (Mijac)