I bought a few "Orthodox" books to get the feel for them. They have a very rich spirituality to them which is very attractive and for the most part are compatible with the Catholic Faith. They depart only (as far as I can tell) by the histories of their authors.
All of this research and reading has spurred a great love in my heart for the Christian East. Yet I am feeling a little deflated by the whole thing. Reading the Catechism or listening to our apologists gives you the idea that we are within spitting distance of reunion. But I don't think that is really true, at least it may not be "humanly possible" without a serious and massive conversion.
In this post I am only going to focus on one area: Holy Orders. Let's take a look at an answer to a Q&A on the Orthodox Church in America's website. [My Emphasis and Comments]:
Concerning Roman Catholic orders: Within the OCA Roman Catholic clergy generally are received into the Orthodox Church through "vesting"; that is, they are not ordained anew. While there are some Orthodox Christians today who would not follow this practice, there is evidence that this was in fact the practice in Russia several centuries ago. [So in other words, Romans who convert are generally not re-ordained. But other Orthodox people believe they should be. The implications of this are huge for Orthodox Christians. Imagine if your parish got a convert priest. Half the congregation could leave if he wasn't re-ordained. They wouldn't believe he is a priest.] One must also keep in mind that the practice of the Orthodox Church on this issue has been subject to change from time to time and place to place, often depending on situations appropriate to the setting. [Do they know what a priest IS? Could you imagine if it was the practice of the Catholic Church to NOT conditionally ordain clergy from other confessions where a doubt regarding their orders existed...but only from time to time?!!]
Concerning the Eucharist: Many Orthodox Christians do view the Roman Catholic Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ; others today would not subscribe to this. [So is the doubt growing or shrinking?] The answer is linked to whether one believes that Roman Catholicism is "with grace" or "devoid of grace."
Concerning the "grace of the priesthood": This is partially answered in point 1 above. The answer to this is also intimately linked on whether the Orthodox view Roman Catholicism as a body that is "with grace" or "devoid of grace." [Read carefully here.] Some Orthodox would say that Roman Catholic priests do possess grace; others would say that they do not. And I have encountered still others who would say that, upon conversion to Orthodoxy, the Holy Spirit "heals all that is infirm," a phrase found in the prayers of ordination and other sacramental prayers of the Orthodox Church. [They seem to not have a clear idea of what makes a priest a priest. "Some" Orthodox believe a man can lose his priesthood if he falls away. So what happens if man awakes one day and doubts his faith and falls away. Later in the same day he believes again, but then falls away after dinner. Before going to bed he believes again. How many times in that day was he no longer a priest?] A thorough examination of this question would also require a preliminary discussion on the meaning of "grace," as the Orthodox definition of grace [At least they defined something, right?] is quite distinct from "grace" as defined in Roman Catholic circles.
Concerning sacramental absolution: Your question here is highly theoretical, inasmuch as one might ask why an Orthodox person would approach a Roman Catholic priest for confession and absolution in the first place. Again, a thorough discussion of this would necessarily involve a survey of the different understanding of Confession held by Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Church. For example, does one confess to the priest, who personally has the "power" to offer absolution and forgiveness, or does one confess to Christ in the presence of the priest, with the priest proclaiming God's forgiveness at the conclusion. [This is theological double-talk. Both of these are within the Catholic viewpoint so I don't see the problem here. I have never heard a Catholic priest say "You are not confessing to Christ, only to me!" This is the type of misunderstanding that gets worked out in theological and ecumenical discussions. Or perhaps they could read one of our Catechisms....]
Concerning whether Roman Catholicism is considered a heresy: Orthodox Christianity in general would view certain aspects of Roman Catholic teaching as heretical. The filioque is the classic example of this, although the Vatican a few years ago has made this addition to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed an option even, if I am not mistaken, for Latin Rite Catholics. [I believe he is mistaken, at least in a liturgical sense.] Most Byzantine Rite liturgical books I have seen of late either do not include the filioque or include it in brackets, indicating that it is optional. Orthodox Christianity also rejects [Rejects? Or maybe they just have a different view of the same mystery?] such teachings as the Immaculate Conception, purgatory, and other uniquely Roman Catholic doctrines.
Source for the article: http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=200&SID=3
The article goes on from there, but I think the point is made. The OCA website gives a good example of just how confusing Orthodoxy is. I for one, would never want to belong to a Church that couldn't tell me who did and who did not have the "grace of the priesthood". That would be a spiritual nightmare.
Perhaps I've been unnecessarily harsh on the Orthodox. If I have, leave a comment and let's discuss.