I recently read an interview with some Russian Orthodox priest, and he was very critical on the matter of common prayers with Catholics or protestants. Basically he said that in Russian Orthodox church there is a ban for such things.

Do people from Catholic or Baptist churches think the same way? Can you pray together with Russian Orthodox Christians for example?

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2 Answers 2


Toward the secondary question of how Catholics approach ecumenical prayer, ecumenism is generally encouraged by the Catechism and the teaching of the bishops.

What is allowed to the faithful Catholic is to join in those spiritual activities which we can engage in together in an honest way, since the Catholic church teaches that all Christians have a real unity by way of our baptism, but also recognizes that we have real differences which have resulted in a visible separation. These activities are most commonly prayer, bible study, and praise/singing (not "worship" as Catholics define it). A Catholic may also be a reader in a non-Catholic gathering if invited. Catholics may also attend services/celebrations which are recognized as valid by the Catholic church, such as the baptism of a relative.

What is not allowed is to participate with other Christians in ways that would be dishonest. For example, in the Catholic conception of communion, when a Catholic receives the Eucharist, they are expressing that they are one with Christ as well as that they are one with the Catholic community. In most cases, the Catholic is also professing a significantly different understanding of what is happening during communion. For these reasons, a Catholic could not participate with a non-Catholic in a communion service, because what they would be "saying" by their actions would be dishonest. Catholics are also taught that it is not appropriate to participate in non-Catholic services if their intent is to seek the things they should be seeking from the Mass. So it would be illicit for a Catholic to attend a non-Catholic service instead of attending Mass in most cases.

This also highlights the differences in the structure of different Christian communities. What it means to be Catholic is to be in communion with the preaching and teaching authority of the bishop of one's diocese, which is handed down from the apostles, where the bishop is himself in communion with the bishop of Rome. However, in other churches, such as many Protestant or Orthodox national churches, there may not necessarily be universal agreement on what is expected, or there may be significantly different local interpretations of canon law or other more universal "touchpoint" documents.

This is not the main question, but I can provide references on particular points if helpful. However, it is usually best to create a separate question if you want to receive several in-depth answers with references.


There is a canon law prohibiting common prayer with heretics.

It therefore depends on who is interpreting the relationships between denominations.

The particular priest most probably has the conviction that Christians that are in communion with Rome are heretics. Others will tell you a different story.

Hope that this clarifies more than it adds more confusion.

  • I find that troublesome since you can have heretics within your own denomination - depending how granular you get. Jul 13, 2015 at 16:05
  • The proper treatment within the Eastern Orthodox Church is the following: "by definition heresy can only be committed by a person who considers himself a Christian, but rejects the teachings of the Christian Church. A person who completely renounces Christianity is not considered a heretic, but an apostate; a person who renounces the authority of the Church, but not its teachings, is a schismatic, while an individual outside of the Orthodox Church who considers himself to be Christian might be called Heterodox." see Heresy Jul 13, 2015 at 16:14
  • Also: "Heretics usually do not define their own beliefs as heretical. Heresy is the expression of a view from within an established belief system." Jul 13, 2015 at 16:16
  • Protestant by definition would be a group that rejects the authority of "the church". IDK... but thanks for the additional definitions, it was helpful. Jul 13, 2015 at 16:21
  • Protestant therefore is schismatic from the point of view of Roman Catholic communion churches and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Yet LDS and Jehovah Witness therefore fall into the heretic category for most Christians (including Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and even Non-Chalcedonian churches). Jul 13, 2015 at 18:08

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