Liturgical differences between Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholic?

Hi guys. I am Coptic Catholic and our denomination is quite small. As such we do not have many resources, and so I often have to look at Orthodox resources to learn more about the Coptic rite, in particular the liturgy according to different times of the year and their unique hymns, psalmodies and ways in which they should be sung.

And so, I was wondering, whether there are any liturgical differences between our two churches, so that I can deem whether or not I am able to acknowledge Orthodox resources as the correct way of doing things within my church. As far as I know, our churches are very similar despite our slight differences in belief (such as the filoque clause) and the attire of abouna (the hat).

I know that most of you will probably know hardly anything about this subject but I hope that if anyone knows even something small, they can share it. Thanks.


  • edited June 2019
    Not really. Besides the Liturgical, "hat", Pope Francis as Patriarch, and the Filoque, it's pretty much identical. There are only about 170,000 members in the Coptic Catholic church worldwide. It uses the Alexandrian Rite, so the organization and structure of the Divine Liturgy is practically identical. The only area I know of that has a population in the U.S. is in Los Angeles. Maybe some Latin terms may be used more openly, but that's basically it. All of the standard hymns and tones are 99.9% identical. Probably some differences are things like Papal infallibility and purgatory, but I believe Eastern Catholic churches aren't fully vested in those Roman views.
  • There are differences in the Hymns (verses) concerning HH Pope Tawadros (since you say Pope Francis “Pi Patriarshis”), the Creed, the Confession at the end of the liturgy (from “The Holies are for the Holies-Deacon’s response), Etc.
    These things are not so “small”, and we may look the same but we are not the same.
  • @ItalianCoptic thanks for your insight. We actually have a patriarch by the way, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, however the pope is still above him.

    @Jojo_Hanna  thank you, that is mostly what I thought, how we pray for different people especially in the hiteniat. 
  • How does your church separate Pope from Patriarch???
  • @Jojo_Hanna could you be more specific? I'm assuming that you're asking how they can be two different ranks, since you guys call Pope Tawadros "Pope" and combine both patriarch and Pope into one. They actually are separate ranks, however since all the Orthodox Churches do not have one unified head (like the Catholic Church has the Roman Catholic Pope), you can only give the title of Pope to Pope Tawadros, when realistically he should be patriarch since he only governs the Coptic Orthodox Church and not the other Orthodox churches.
  • I presume that the word pope is a recent invention but I am unsure of its history, possibly 19th century during the reign of Anba Cyril the 4th and his attempt to unite the Coptic Orthodox Church with the Greek one, but personally speaking I believe it is just a useless attempt reeking of envy, nothing more.. Ruined the uniformity of Coptic hymns too..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • The word “Pope” is Coptic.
    The first to use it was Pope Dionysius, in His letter about His predecessor (Pope Heraclas, 13th Patriarch) to a Priest.
    In Greek, “πάππας“, in English, Pope.
    The title of the leader of the See of Saint Mark is: "Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria", so They are two words describing the same Person (adjectives).
    You cannot seperate the two words, and say that they are different, the same way “Presbyter” and “Priest” are two titles for the same person.
    Pope Dyonisius was the 14th Patriarch, so the letter was written after 248 AD.
  • edited June 2019
    /“You can only give the title of Pope to Pope Tawadros, when realistically he should be patriarch since he only governs the Coptic Orthodox Church and not the other Orthodox churches.”/

    -If you guys take on all of our Traditions and Rites, then should you not acknowledge Him as Pope???

    -For that matter, Are you considered a Catholic church or an Orthodox Church?

    -Who exactly preached your Church?

    *(Pope is an Alexandrian term, and Pope/Patriarch are ONE rank)*
  • edited June 2019

    - Who made the traditions and rites exclusive to the Coptic Orthodox church? Coptic Orthodox split off in 451, while the Coptic Church itself was founded in 42. So you can't say we take on your traditions and rites when they are not yours exclusively to begin with. In fact if anything they are more ours, since your church was the one that split off. Therefore no, I do not have to acknowledge him as Pope.

    - ^

    - Saint Mark preached the Coptic Catholic church since it was the original church?

    Also where is your evidence that Pope is a Coptic word?
  • Excuse me @copt333, why would you go on an Orthodox forum, ask a question about liturgical rites and then say that the "Coptic Orthodox split off in 451"? If it was the Coptic Orthodox who split off, then they would have no credibility and there is no sense asking for their input, right?
  • I only said that because Jojo_Hanna thinks that the Coptic Orthodox church owns Coptic Traditions and rites. I didn't say that as a matter of disproving credibility, or else I obviously wouldn't be on this forum asking a question like you have said.
  • Dear @Jojo_Hanna,
    The word pope is not Coptic..
    Dear @copt333,
    I agree with @George27 that the Coptic Orthodox Church has not split off. Secondly, he makes a very good point that you had fended off by saying that the rites are not exclusive to the Coptic Orthodox Church. Yes they are actually..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • @copt333
    I guess as a matter of transparency. I also think that the Coptic Orthodox church owns Coptic Traditions. Similarly, I think the Eastern Orthodox Church owns the Eastern Orthodox traditions.
    I apologise for my bias, but it really seems like the Catholic Church has a well-tried playbook for cultural appropriation from the pagan statues in Rome to the Navajo Jesus icon (
    I apologise also because I've just been saying that we should be welcoming to visitors who sincerely want to learn, but this is not what I meant.
  • @copt333 You’re hilarious! :P
  • If the Orthodox church had not split off, you would still be called Catholic. Where is your evidence that the Rites are exclusive to the Orthodox church? This argument seems to be based on plain ignorance to me, or maybe a little bit of Orthodox superiority...

    Have you ever been in a Coptic Catholic church? I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't. Although the Coptic Catholic church is Catholic, we still maintain a seperate identity from the other Catholic Churches. We are in full communion with them, but that does not make us them. For example, just because the Roman Catholic church allows Eucharistic ministers, that does not mean that we see that as right, nor do we allow that sort of stuff. Kind of undermines the "in full communion" thing, I know, but as of late the Roman Catholic church has seemed to be going a little bit off the tracks.

    Now I do not wish to be enemies with you guys, I just rather enjoy debating things like this that I am passionate about. I don't mean to be offensive if sometimes my arguments seem like that...
  • @copt333,
    When did Coptic Catholicism come to place?
    Who EXACTLY preached this mix of a church?
    What year did it come to place?

    You see, if you ask these questions to any Coptic Orthodox Child, they will answer you immediately without hesitating. For someone from your Church, they would have to do lots of research first....
    So I don’t really know where you’re going with this?
    You’re not in communion with us, and you’re in communion with the Catholic Church.
    That means you belong to the Catholic Church, unless you will turn out to be Syriac or something ;)))
  • @Jojo_Hanna
    Why don't you answer the questions then? Of course I belong to the Catholic Church, I never doubted that...
  • I’m the one who is awaiting several responses to my several questions posed to you.

    Also, how can a Catholic come and imply Copts that they separated, do not own Coptic rites, and that they have their mindsets wrong on many things?
  • edited June 2019

    The World does not revolve around your point of view. I am in an Institute of Coptic Studies four year program through the Diocese of New York and New England.( I am a distance, so I take courses online..sadly not in English, but thank God for the Mothers at my church who give me everything in English) I just took an exam for Comparative Theology.

    I had to know everything about all Seven Ecumenical Councils. Yes, all seven, not just four. Part of the exam was about the Council of Chalcedon, obviously. The Abouna taught we were part of the first large schism in the church and split from Rome. This is an actual teaching in our church that WE did separate from Roman and Byzantine churches and were isolated after being persecuted by Chalcedonian Christians.

    That is precisely why your ancestors allowed the Ottoman Empire to slowly take over and Arab-ize your country within a few hundred years. Copts were cut off and isolated. For someone who is as knowledgeable as you, you can easily respond to your own questions.

    Copt333 has a different view than you do. Trashing him and making yourself feel superior because you believe you're more ethically valid is extremely narrowminded for a person of your intellect.

    You are obviously aware of how Eastern Catholic churches came to be, and all of the political aspects. You're painting Coptic Orthodox people as inclusive and ignorant. How do you expect to have a fruitful discussion with someone if you already tell them their wrong?

    Have a little understanding and prospective that Oriental Orthodoxy isn't exactly the largest, most influential and only historically important denomination of Christianity. The Catholic church is far more diverse and has a ton of history throughout the world. When you see it from that viewpoint, we did cut off from them. And in regards to size, influence and history, Rome was battling since the Nicea to be the epicenter politically and culturally of Christianity.

    All Catholics are weird like that.
  • *Ethnically
  • edited June 2019
    Looking back at these comments I am astonished. Do all of you guys and gals believe Rites are owned? There are seven rites, and they are in ALL Apostolic churches. Also, traditions that one would classify as, "Coptic" are not canonical. You all seem to misunderstand the difference between a Tradition and a tradition. Even our Divine Liturgy is a hodgepodge of different influences fused together. Why would there be an offertory calling after we've already picked the Holy Body? That is one of our, "traditions" that is particularly strange.

    Coptic is merely an ethnicity folks. Orthodoxy was greatly influenced by nationalism of the late 18th and 19th century. A, "Copt" from 500 years ago would have no idea how you would identify so strictly with your ethnicity.

    Coptic is a very broad term and it's translation literally means, "Egyptian." You all know that. Egyptians aren't just blood lines from Egypt. There were millions of Greeks, Romans, Berbers, Jews, Arabs, Turks, and who knows who else, lived in Egypt for centuries.

    These different ethnicities intermingled for millennia and all influenced each other's culture. You do not own any hymn, Liturgical structure, Holy Sacrament or ethnicity. And as smart as so many of you are, pick up a book, Google something and always have different sources to come to an educated and logical conclusion. You're all being extremely ignorant and selfish. Everything that our church teaches us to not be.

    I understand the human element of why this occurs. People have not had access to knowledge and history as we do today. But most of us should, especially since all of us are speaking English. And please, all of you should never say a Rite, Hymn or anything that is merely intended follow the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, or to praise Our Lord, the Holy Theotokos, and the Saints, as something that denotes ownership.

  • Dear @ItalianCoptic,
    First of all I hope your account is not hacked as this is the first time I see you posting comments with an aggressive undertone. I know exactly what you mean but the wording seems rather out of keeping with how I view you (of course that could be my own fault anyway). Secondly, I believe that I may have used the wrong term of "ownership" but as you rightly said when a church modifies rites along the generations and keeps chopping and changing with another partly at least following this, then one is the original tradition and one is a subset of her. Please also note that the meaning of Coptic hymns (I am referring to the Coptic Orthodox Church hymns) has different connotations to the Catholic counterparts, etc..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • edited June 2019

    Thank you for your kind response. No, my account was not hacked. I just allowed my emotions to get the best of me. My frustration was based on the assumption that Rome split from Alexandria, yet Alexandria did not split from Rome.

    We were merely one of five Holy Sees, which were sadly, "replaced" by Byzantine and Roman Patriarchs over the centuries. Obviously, I do not agree with the validity of Chalcedonian or Roman Patriarchs controlling Alexandria, but to say Rome and Greece split from us is not fully true.

    There were attempts to reconnect Alexandria with the rest of the churches for four hundred years after Chalcedon, so to make it seem like it was one-sided is rather ignorant. Those posting on here know well enough what Eastern Catholicism is, and how it was mostly political in how it was created.

    @George27 said he believes we, "own" the traditions. That is what I was referring to in regards to ownership. I do understand the hymns are different and have different context, dogma and theology. I just cannot believe someone would think we could own such things as hymns, sacraments or rites!

    I am grateful that you think so highly of me, but I just could not take more of what I have been seeing. The more I learn from my studies in the church, the more I see the errors of what parishioners and even some Deacons teach our youth. I guess it's like the words of Beatle George Harrison who wrote in his song, "It's All Too Much": "The more I learn the less I know."

    Thank you for holding me in such high regard. I am human, and I am not without my shortcomings.
  • Dear @ItalianCoptic
    Thank you for your response. It is certainly a wake up call for me and I need to read more into that subject. Everything above is too well educated for me..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • @ItalianCoptic

    I apologize for the use of the term "own". It was not meant literally, but only in response to copt333's comment, "I only said that because Jojo_Hanna thinks that the Coptic Orthodox church owns Coptic Traditions and rites." He was the first person to use the term "own" in this thread and I was only reflecting the term back to him. I see now that his introduction of the term is being used as a straw-man and I'm sorry for helping to propagate its use.

    The main thing that bothers me in this thread is cultural appropriation (the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture). When you see a white guy wearing a native american headdress like in the picture in that article, taken out of context, I don't think it's exactly clear if he is mocking Native Americans or trying to celebrate with them.

    My claim is that if he is not celebrating with them, within their culture, then he is mocking them. He could accurately say that a particular Native American tribe does not "own" the tradition of the headdress. He would be technically correct, but wildly misleading. None of the little things that make up the Native American tradition are "owned" by any particular tribe, yet the particular way a tribe expresses those little things is how they identify themselves. A foreigner, purposefully doing those same things, outside of the unity and tradition of that tribe, is mocking them.

    copt333 is doing a very nice job of demonstrating how to appropriate culture right in this thread:

    "Who made the traditions and rites exclusive to the Coptic Orthodox church? Coptic Orthodox split off in 451, while the Coptic Church itself was founded in 42. So you can't say we take on your traditions and rites when they are not yours exclusively to begin with. In fact if anything they are more ours, since your church was the one that split off. Therefore no, I do not have to acknowledge him as Pope."

    He's saying that the Coptic Orthodox Church does not "own" it's traditions, therefore the Roman Catholic Church under the name of "Coptic Catholic" is free to appropriate whatever rites and traditions it wants. Then he's de-legitimizing the actual Coptic Church and saying that it's traditions really belong to Rome.

    Let me address some of the nuance here. I say that the "Coptic Catholic" Church is actually just a local name for the Roman Catholic Church because that is what it is. In 1741 a Coptic Bishop converted to Roman Catholicism and was appointed as a "vicar apostolic" by Pope Benedict XIV. If you report to the Roman Pope and you believe in papal infallibility (et. al.) then you are Roman Catholic.

    In my statement I also say that the Coptic Orthodox Church is the "actual" Coptic Church because that is what they are. The little things that the Orthodox people have been doing in Egypt for nearly 2000 years, while they are not bought or copyrighted by any individual, make up the history and tradition of the Coptic Church.
  • Fair enough.
  • I am not sure if you meant that I was the first to introduce this idea of ownership, or if you meant that Jojo_Hanna did as he clearly stated before I wrote that:
    "-If you guys take on all of our Traditions and Rites, then should you not acknowledge Him as Pope???".

    I also still do not understand why you exclude Coptic Catholicism from the Coptic Church in general, or why you seem to think that Coptic culture originated from only the Coptic Orthodox church. Unless I am mistaken historically about the origin of the Coptic Catholic church, is it not older than the Coptic Orthodox? @ItalianCoptic, do you know anything of this matter?

    Finally George, we are not the Roman Catholic Church. In communion with them, yes, because their patriarch, Pope Francis, is what we call "first among equals". Technically he is of the same rank as our Coptic Catholic Patriarch, however in Catholicism, unlike in Orthodoxy, we need one unified head of all the Churches, and it just so happens that the Roman Catholic church have had that privilege for quite a while now.
  • The Coptic Catholics are not “older” than THE COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ALEXANDRIA.
    Saint Mark OUR first Pope preached us 2000 years ago, establishing the COC.

    Why do you insist on saying that we are more recent compared to you? When in fact we are the OLDEST Church in the entire world???
  • edited July 2019 maybe have some confusion concerning the history of the Coptic Catholic Church.

    First, if your Patriarch is His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, then your church was founded in 1741 by the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Athanasius of Jerusalem when he decided to become Catholic...That might of been a result of failed attempts to unite the coptic and the catholic churches...these are the Catholic missionary trips (those are a lot more complicated to talk about). You can find this on catholic pages:

    So, we can conclude that St. Mark was not the founder of the Coptic Catholic Church, rather it was a bishop who separated himself from the Coptic Church, willingly, and through the help of Catholic missionaries in Egypt, converted some Copts in what we may call the dark ages for the Coptic Church in Egypt. 

    I don't blame you for the confusion though. Many think the Catholic Coptic Church to be the one that resulted from the Council of Chalcedon schism...but that is incorrect because those were called the "Melkites"--derived from the word "melki" meaning royal or context, they would be loyal to the Byzantine Emperor. If you want to know who are the Melkite Copts these days, i would say that's the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria....and they call themselves "The Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa"....ignoring the jurisdiction of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  • edited July 2019
    They are correct. I was Roman Catholic, and they probably teach in the Coptic Catholic church just as do in the Roman that, "Catholic Church", or Universal, means that they are the true Apostolic church. They fail to mention that after the East-West Schism, they added dogma and theology that deviated from true Nicean Christianity. Especially in the latter half of the 20th Century. I am speaking of Latin Catholicism specifically.

    In a church such as yours who did keep with traditions, it is more understandable for you to feel that way. But, it is true that the Coptic Catholic church was the result of Roman Catholic missionary work from the 18th century in Egypt. I am sure many Catholic clergy felt their denomination was superior in 18th century Italy, they were either unaware or did not think highly of Orthodoxy in Egypt and went to Egypt to convert people. They ended up converting a Bishop .You are not the original church of St. Mark, but I can completely understand if that's what you have been taught.
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