Great Schism

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This article concerns the schism between what is now called Catholicism and Orthodoxy. For the schism between Rome and Avignon, see the Wikipedia article, 'Western Schism'.

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The East-West Schism, or the Great Schism, is the historic sundering of eucharistic relations between the See of Rome (now the Roman Catholic Church) and the sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem (now the Orthodox Church). It divided medieval Mediterranean Christendom into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively. Relations between East and West had long been embittered by political and ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes.[1] Pope Leo IX and Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius heightened the conflict by suppressing Greek and Latin in their respective domains. In 1054, Roman legates traveled to Cerularius to deny him the title Ecumenical Patriarch and to insist that he recognize the Church of Rome's claim to be the head and mother of the churches.[1] Cerularius refused. The leader of the Latin contingent excommunicated Cerularius, while Cerularius in return excommunicated the legates.[1]

The Western legate's acts are of doubtful validity because Leo had died, while Cerularius's excommunication applied only to the legates personally.[1] Still, the Church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines, and the fundamental breach has never been healed. Western cruelty during the Crusades, the capture and sack of Constantinople in 1204, and the imposition of Latin Patriarchs made reconciliation more difficult.[1]This included the taking of many precious religious artifacts and the destruction of the Library of Constantinople. On paper, the two churches actually reunited in 1274 (by the Second Council of Lyon) and in 1439 (by the Council of Florence), but in each case the councils were repudiated by the Orthodox as a whole, on the grounds that the hierarchs had overstepped their authority in consenting to reunification. In 1484, 31 years after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, a Synod of Constantinople repudiated the Union of Florence, making the breach between the Patriarchate of the West and the Patriarchate of Constantinople final.[1] In 1965, the Pope of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople nullified the anathemas of 1054.[1] Further attempts to reconcile the two bodies are ongoing.

A schism is a break in the Church's authority structure and communion and is different from a heresy, which means false doctrine. Church authorities have long recognized that even if their minister is in schism, the sacraments, except the power to ordain, are valid. There have been many other schisms, from the second century until today, but none as significant as the one between East and West.

Dating the schism

The Great Schism was a gradual estrangement to which no specific date can be assigned, although it has been conventionally dated to the year 1054. This date is misleading since it seems to imply that there was peace and unity before 1054, animosity and division afterward.

The schism actually took centuries to crystalize. Some place the split in the time of Saint Photios, for example — or even earlier — or 1204, with the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, or even 1453, the fall of Constantinople, when the Latins gave no help to prevent it.


In Western circles, the term Great Schism is often used to refer to the fourteenth century schism involving the Avignon Papacy (an event also sometimes called the 'Western Schism', 'Papal Schism' or 'Babylonian Captivity').

To distinguish from that event, some historians prefer the term Great Ecumenical Schism to explain succinctly what happened and to capture the complexity of the event itself.

Other more recent historians prefer the term East-West Schism, because 'Ecumenical' properly means of Constantinople or of the Eastern Roman Empire. The schism involved more than just Constantinople, or the Byzantine Empire. It included both East and West Mediterranean, and was between East and West Mediterranean.


Leading to the Great Schism, Eastern and Western Mediterranean Christians had a history of differences and disagreements dating back to the second century.

Rise of Rome

John Binns writes that, after the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the natural leading centres of the Church were Antioch and Alexandria. Alexandria had been assisted by Mark [2], one of the Seventy Apostles. Antioch had attracted Peter and Paul and Barnabas, plus others of the Seventy. Antioch was the base from which Paul made his missionary journeys to the pagans. [3]. The Church of Antioch sent the apostles Peter and Paul to Rome to assist the fledgling church there in its growth, and because Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire. Antioch regarded Peter as its first bishop [4].

Will Durant writes that, after Jerusalem, the church of Rome naturally became the primary church, the capital of Christianity.[5] Rome had an early and significant Christian population.[5] It was closely identified with the Paul of Tarsus, who preached and was martyred there, and the Apostle Peter, who was a martyr there as well. The Eastern Orthodox liturgy calls Peter and Paul "the wisest Apostles and their princes" and "the radiant ornaments of Rome".[6][7] Peter is seen as founder of the Church in Rome,[8] and the bishops of Rome as his successors.[9][10] While the Eastern cities of Alexandria and Antioch produced theological works, the bishops of Rome focused on what Romans admittedly did best: administration.[5]

Leading Orthodox theologian, Father Thomas Hopko has written: "The church of Rome held a special place of honor among the earliest Christian churches. It was first among the communities that recognized each other as catholic churches holding the orthodox faith concerning God's Gospel in Jesus. According to St Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch who died a martyr's death in Rome around the year 110, 'the church which presides in the territories of the Romans' was 'a church worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and presiding in love, maintaining the law of Christ, bearer of the Father's name.' The Roman church held this place of honor and exercised a 'presidency in love' among the first Christian churches for two reasons. It was founded on the teaching and blood of the foremost Christian apostles Peter and Paul. And it was the church of the capital city of the Roman empire that then constituted the 'civilized world (oikoumene)'."[11]

Saint Thomas went east, and was said to be instrumental in establishing the Church in the Persian Empire and satellite kingdoms, although Addai and Mari, two of the Seventy Apostles were credited with most of the work of establishment in Persia itself. The Persian Church was larger than the Mediterranean Church for some centuries, especially in the sixth to eighth centuries with its highly successful movement into India, Mongolia, China, Tibet, [Korea, and Japan [12].

In the fourth century when the Roman emperors were trying to control the Church, theological questions were running rampant throughout the Roman Empire[13]. The influence of Greek speculative thought on Christian thinking led to all sorts of divergent and conflicting opinions [14]. Christ's commandment to love others as He loved, seemed to have been lost in the intellectual abstractions of the time. Theology was also used as a weapon against opponent bishops, since being branded a heretic was the only sure way for a bishop to be removed by other bishops. Incompetence was not sufficient grounds for removal.

In the early church up until the ecumenical councils, Rome was regarded as an important centre of Christianity, especially since it was the capital of the Roman Empire. The eastern and southern Mediterranean bishops generally recognized a persuasive leadership and authority of the Bishop of Rome, because the teaching of the bishop of Rome was almost invariably correct. But the Mediterrtanean Church did not regard the Bishop of Rome as any sort of infallible source, nor did they acknowledge any juridical authority of Rome.

After the sole emperor of all the Roman Empire Constantine the Great built the new imperial capital on the Bosphorous, the centre of gravity in the empire was fully recognised to have completely shifted to the eastern Mediterranean. Rome lost the senate to Byzantium and lost its status and gravitas as imperial capital.

The patriarchs of Constantinople often tried to adopt an imperious position over the other patriarchs. In the case of Nestorius, whose actual teaching is now recognised to be not overtly heretical, although it is clearly deficient, (Saint Cyril called it 'slippery'), [15], other patriarchs were able to make the charge of heresy stick and successfully had him deposed. This was probably more because his christology was delivered with a heavy sarcastic arrogance which matched his high-handed personality [16].

The opinion of the Bishop of Rome was often sought, especially when the patriarchs of the Eastern Mediterranean were locked in fractious dispute. The bishops of Rome never obviously belonged to either the Antiochian or the Alexandrian schools of theology, and usually managed to steer a middle course between whatever extremes were being propounded by theologians of either school. Because Rome was remote from the centres of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean, it was frequently hoped its bishop would be more impartial. For instance, in 431, Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, appealed to Pope Celestine I, as well as the other patriarchs, charging Nestorius with heresy, which was dealt with at the Council of Ephesus.

The opinion of the bishop of Rome was always canvassed, and was often longed for. However, the Bishop of Rome's opinion was by no means automatically right. For instance, the Tome of Leo of Rome was highly regarded, and formed the basis for the ecumenical council's formulation. But it was not universally accepted and was even called "impious" and "blasphemous" by some.[17] The next ecumenical council corrected a possible imbalance in Pope Leo's presentation. Although the Bishop of Rome was well-respected even at this early date, the concept of papal infallibility was developed much later.

Following the Sack of Rome by invading European Goths, Rome slid into the Dark Ages which afflicted most parts of Western Europe, and became increasingly isolated and irrelevant to the wider Mediterranean Church. This was a situation which suited and pleased a lot of the Eastern Mediterranean patriarchs and bishops [18].

It was not until the rise of Charlemagne and his successors that the Church of Rome arose out of obscurity on the back of the military successes of the western Mediterranean adventurers.

New Rome

When the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great embraced Christianity, he summoned the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 to resolve a number of issues which troubled the Church. The bishops at the council confirmed the position of the metropolitan sees of Rome and Alexandria as having authority outside their own province, and also the existing privileges of the churches in Antioch and the other provinces.[19] These sees were later called Patriarchates and were given an order of precedence: Rome, as capital of the empire was naturally given first place, then came Alexandria and Antioch. In a separate canon the Council also approved the special honor given to Jerusalem over other sees subject to the same metropolitan.[20]

Five patriarchs

Soon, Constantine erected a new capital at Byzantium, a strategically-placed city on the Bosporus. He renamed his new capital Nova Roma ("New Rome"), but the city would become known as Constantinople. The Second Ecumenical Council, held at the new capital in 381, now elevated the see of Constantinople itself, to a position ahead of the other chief metropolitan sees, except that of Rome.[21] Mentioning in particular the provinces of Asia, Pontus and Thrace, it decreed that the synod of each province should manage the ecclesiastical affairs of that province alone, except for the privileges already recognized for Alexandria and Antioch.[22]

The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451, confirming the authority already held by Constantinople, granted its archbishop jurisdiction over the three provinces mentioned by the First Council of Constantinople:

[T]he Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city. And the One Hundred and Fifty most religious Bishops [i.e., the Second Ecumenical Council], actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges (ἴσα πρεσβεῖα) to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging that the city which is honoured with the Sovereignty and the Senate, and enjoys equal privileges with the old imperial Rome, should in ecclesiastical matters also be magnified as she is, and rank next after her; so that, in the Pontic, the Asian, and the Thracian dioceses, the metropolitans only and such bishops also of the Dioceses aforesaid as are among the barbarians, should be ordained by the aforesaid most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople.[23]

The council also ratified an agreement between Antioch and Jerusalem, whereby Jerusalem held jurisdiction over three provinces,[24] numbering it among the five great sees.[25] There were now five patriarchs presiding over the Church within the Byzantine Empire, in the following order of precedence: the Patriarch of Rome, the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Patriarch of Antioch and the Patriarch of Jerusalem (see Pentarchy).

Empires East and West

Disunion in the Roman Empire further contributed to disunion in the Church. Theodosius the Great, who established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, died in 395 and was the last Emperor to rule over a united Roman Empire; following his death, the Empire was divided into western and eastern halves, each under its own Emperor. By the end of the fifth century, the Western Roman Empire had been overrun by the Germanic tribes, while the Eastern Roman Empire (known also as the Byzantine Empire) continued to thrive. Thus, the political unity of the Roman Empire was the first to fall.

In the West, the collapse of civil government left the Church practically in charge in many areas, and bishops took to administering secular cities and domains.[5] When royal and imperial rule reestablished itself, it had to contend with power wielded independently by the Church. In the East, however, imperial and, later, Islamic rule dominated the Eastern bishops.[5]


Many other factors caused the East and West to drift further apart. The dominant language of the West was Latin, whilst that of the East was Greek. Soon after the fall of the Western Empire, the number of individuals who spoke both Latin and Greek began to dwindle, and communication between East and West grew much more difficult. With linguistic unity gone, cultural unity began to crumble as well. The two halves of the Church were naturally divided along similar lines; they developed different rites and had different approaches to religious doctrines. Although the Great Schism was still centuries away, its outlines were already perceptible.[26]

An example is the defective translation of the Canones of the Seventh Ecumenical Council from Greek to Latin. It caused Charlemage to task his frankish theologians with the wording of a refutation ("Libri Carolini").

Papal Supremacy and Pentarchy

Compounding the dogmatic issue was that the Creed was changed without agreement of the whole Christian Church. The Creed had been agreed upon at an Ecumenical Council and revised at another, bearing universal authority within the Church.

For the Pope of Rome to change the Creed unilaterally without reference to an Ecumenical Council was considered by the Eastern bishops to be offensive to other bishops, as it undermined the collegiality and right of the episcopacy.

This led to the primary causes of the Schism - the disputes over conflicting claims of jurisdiction, in particular over papal authority. Pope Leo IX claimed he held authority over the four Eastern patriarchs (see also Pentarchy).

Pope Leo IX allowed the insertion of the Filioque into the Nicene Creed in the West in 1014 [27]. Eastern Orthodox today state that the 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon explicitly proclaimed the equality of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople, and that it established the highest court of ecclesiastical appeal in Constantinople.

The seventh canon of the Council of Ephesus declared:

It is unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different (ἑτέραν) Faith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Ghost in Nicea. But those who shall dare to compose a different faith, or to introduce or offer it to persons desiring to turn to the acknowledgment of the truth, whether from Heathenism or from Judaism, or from any heresy whatsoever, shall be deposed, if they be bishops or clergymen; bishops from the episcopate and clergymen from the clergy; and if they be laymen, they shall be anathematized[28]

Eastern Orthodox today state that this Canon of the Council of Ephesus explicitly prohibited modification of the Nicene Creed drawn up by the First Ecumenical Council in 325, the wording of which but, it is claimed, not the substance, had been modified by the First Council of Constantinople, making additions such as "who proceeds from the Father".

In the Orthodox view, the Bishop of Rome (i.e. the Pope) would have universal primacy in a reunited Christendom, as primus inter pares without power of jurisdiction.[29]


Filioque is a word that changes the Latin version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed to include the wording [Spiritus Sanctus] qui ex Patre Filioque procedit or "Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son."

The first appearance of this insertion into the Creed happened in Toledo, Spain, where Latin theologians were trying to refute a brand of the Arian heresy. Those theologians had better access to the writings of Latin theologians, particularly of St. Augustine of Hippo, than to Greek theologians. Augustine used the teaching from John 16:7 to emphasize that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and that neither is subordinate to the other.

So the Creed was changed by the local synod of bishops at Toledo with the justification that it asserts the divinity of Christ (refuting Arianism), and asserts the unity of the Trinity and the equality of each hypostasis of the Trinity.

It should also be noted that St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome, and many other pre-schism Popes disagreed with the decision of the Toledo Council, one even going so far as to engraving the Creed without the Filioque on the doors of St. Peter's Basilica.

There were other less significant catalysts for the Schism however, including variance over liturgical practices.

Other points of conflict

Many other issues increased tensions.

  • Emperor Leo III the Isaurian outlawed the veneration of icons in the eighth century. This policy, which came to be called Iconoclasm, was rejected by the West.
  • The Western Church's insertion of "Filioque" into the Latin version of the Nicene Creed.
  • Disputes in the Balkans, Southern Italy, and Sicily over whether Rome or Constantinople had ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
  • In the East, endorsement of Caesaropapism, subordination of the church to the religious claims of the dominant political order, was most fully evident in the Byzantine Empire at the end of the first millennium,[30] while in the West, where the decline of imperial authority left the Church relatively independent,[31] there was growth of the power of the Papacy.
  • As a result of the Muslim conquests of the territories of the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, only two rival powerful centres of ecclesiastical authority, Constantinople and Rome, remained.[32]
  • Certain liturgical practices in the West that the East believed represented illegitimate innovation such as the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist.
  • Clerical celibacy of Western priests (both monastic and parish), as opposed to the Eastern discipline whereby parish priests could be married men.

Previous schisms

Some scholars[33] have argued that the Schism between East and West has very ancient roots, and that sporadic schisms in the common unions took place under Pope Victor I (second century), Pope Stephen I (third century) and Pope Damasus I (fourth and fifth century). Later on, disputes about theological and other questions led to schisms between the Churches in Rome and Constantinople for 37 years from 482 to 519 (the Acacian Schism), and for 13 years from 866-879 (see Patriarch Photios the Great).

Mutual excommunication of 1054

Most of the direct causes of the Great Schism, however, are far less grandiose than the famous filioque. The relations between the papacy and the Byzantine court were good in the years leading up to 1054. The emperor Constantine IX and the Pope Leo IX were allied through the mediation of the Lombard catepan of Italy, Argyrus, who had spent years in Constantinople, originally as a political prisoner. Leo and Argyrus led armies against the ravaging Normans, but the papal forces were defeated at the Battle of Civitate in 1053, which resulted in the pope being imprisoned at Benevento, where he took it upon himself to learn Greek. Argyrus had not arrived at Civitate and his absence caused a rift in papal-imperial relations.

Meanwhile, the Normans were busy imposing Latin customs, including the unleavened bread—with papal approval. Patriarch Michael I then ordered Leo of Ochrid, to write a letter to the bishop of Trani, John, an Easterner, in which he attacked the "Judaistic" practices of the West, namely the use of unleavened bread. The letter was to be sent by John to all the bishops of the West, Pope included. John promptly complied and the letter was passed to one Humbert of Mourmoutiers, the cardinal-bishop of Silva Candida, who was then in John's diocese. Humbert translated the letter into Latin and brought it to the pope, who ordered a reply to be made to each charge and a defence of papal supremacy to be laid out in a response.

Although he was hot-headed, Michael was convinced, probably by the Emperor and the bishop of Trani, to cool the debate and prevent the impending breach. However, Humbert and the pope made no concessions and the former was sent with legatine powers to the imperial capital to solve the questions raised once and for all. Humbert, Cardinal Frederick of Lorraine, later Pope Stephen IX, and Peter, Archbishop of Amalfi, set out in early spring and arrived in April 1054. Their welcome was not to their liking, however, and they stormed out of the palace, leaving the papal response with Michael, whose anger exceeded even theirs. The seals on the letter had been tampered with and the legates had published, in Greek, an earlier, far less civil, draft of the letter for the entire populace to read. The patriarch determined that the legates were worse than mere barbarous Westerners, they were liars and crooks. He refused to recognise their authority or, practically, their existence.[34]

When Pope Leo died on April 19, 1054, the legates' authority legally ceased, but they did not seem to notice.[35] The patriarch's refusal to address the issues at hand drove the legatine mission to extremes: on July 16, the three legates entered the church of the Hagia Sophia during the divine liturgy on a Saturday afternoon and placed a papal bull of excommunication on the altar. The legates left for Rome two days later, leaving behind a city near riots. The patriarch had the immense support of the people against the Emperor, who had supported the legates to his own detriment, and Argyrus, who was seen still as a papal ally. To assuage popular anger, Argyrus' family in Constantinople was arrested, the bull was burnt, and the legates were anathematised—the Great Schism had begun.

Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Kallistos writes, that the choice of cardinal Humbert was unfortunate, for both he and Patriarch Michael I were men of stiff and intransigent temper... . After [an initial, unfriendly encounter] the patriarch refused to have further dealings with the legates. Eventually Humbert lost patience, and laid a bull of excommunication against Patriarch Michael I on the altar of the Church of the Holy Wisdom... . Michael and his synod retaliated by anathematizing Humbert.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The consummation of the schism is generally dated from the year 1054, when this unfortunate sequence of events took place. This conclusion, however, is not correct, because in the bull composed by Humbert, only Patriarch Michael I was excommunicated. The validity of the bull is questioned because Pope Leo IX was already dead at that time. On the other side, the Byzantine synod excommunicated only the legates.

It should be noted that the bull of excommunication issued against Patriarch Michael stated as one of its reasons for the excommunication the Eastern Church's deletion of "filioque" from the original Nicene Creed. It is now common knowledge that the Eastern Church did not delete anything, it was the Western Church that added this word to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

East and West since 1054

"Even after 1054 friendly relations between East and West continued. The two parts of Christendom were not yet conscious of a great gulf of separation between them. … The dispute remained something of which ordinary Christians in East and West were largely unaware".[36]

There was no single event that marked the breakdown. Rather, the two churches slid into and out of schism over a period of several centuries, punctuated with temporary reconciliations. During the Fourth Crusade, however, Latin crusaders and Venetian merchants sacked Constantinople itself, looting The Church of Holy Wisdom and various other Orthodox Holy sites. This event and the final treaty established the Latin Empire of the East and the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople (with various other Crusader states). This period of chaotic rule over the sacked and looted lands of the Byzantine Empire is still known among Eastern Christians as Frangokratia. Later attempts at reconciliation, such as the Second Council of Lyon, met with little or no success until the middle of the Twentieth Century.

In 1965, the Catholic Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople lifted the mutual excommunications dating from the eleventh century.[37]. In 1995 (Jun 29), Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople again withdrew the previous 11th century excommunications.

In May 1999, John Paul II was the first pope since the Great Schism to visit an Eastern Orthodox country: Romania. Upon greeting John Paul II, the Romanian Patriarch Teoctist stated: "The second millennium of Christian history began with a painful wounding of the unity of the Church; the end of this millennium has seen a real commitment to restoring Christian unity."

Pope John Paul II visited other heavily Orthodox areas such as Ukraine, despite lack of welcome at times, and he said that healing the divisions between Western and Eastern Christianity was one of his fondest wishes.

Extant disputes

Ecclesiological issues

A lot of the issues that currently separate the two churches are ecclesiological. Principal among them is the content of papal primacy within any future unified church. The Orthodox insist that it should be a "primacy of honor", as in the ancient church and not a "primacy of authority", whereas the Catholics wish to maintain the pontiff's role as has been recently developed. Celibacy of the clergy is also a dividing point, although the Catholic church does allow married men to be ordained in its Eastern Rite particular churches. Finally there is disagreement on divorce: the Catholic church forbids it, whereas the Orthodox permits it, though allowing remarriage only in penitential form.

A major sticking point is the style of church government. The Orthodox Church has always maintained the original position of collegiality of the bishops.

The Orthodox Church has also emphasized 'economia', or a certain amount of flexibility in the rules depending upon the exigencies of a particular situation.

Some of the Orthodox Churches unofficially acknowledge Apostolic succession within the Catholic Church and admit the validity of its episcopal ordination. The relationship between the Antiochian Orthodox and the Maronite Catholic bishops is a case in point. Some Orthodox Churches do not require baptism in the case of a convert already baptized in the Catholic Church, Most Orthodox Churches allow marriages between members of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church allows its clergy to administer the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, if these spontaneously ask for the sacraments and are properly disposed.[38] It also allows Catholics who cannot approach a Catholic minister to receive these three sacraments from clergy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided.[39] Catholic canon law allows marriage between a Catholic and an Orthodox only if permission is obtained from the Catholic bishop.[40] The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches authorizes the local Catholic bishop to permit a Catholic priest, of whatever rite, to bless the marriage of Orthodox faithful who being unable without great difficulty to approach a priest of their own Church, ask for this spontaneously.[41] In exceptional circumstances Catholics may, in the absence of an authorized priest, marry before witnesses. If a priest who is not authorized for the celebration of the marriage is available, he should be called in, although the marriage is valid even without his presence.[42] The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches specifies that, in those exceptional circumstances, even a "non-Catholic" priest (and so not necessarily one belonging to an Eastern Church) may be called in.[43]

Divergent theologies

There are a number of divergent theological issues.

The two Churches have different approaches to understanding the Trinity. The influence of St Augustine and by extension Thomas Aquinas in the western Mediterranean on this issue is not generally accepted in the Orthodox Church.[44]

The Filioque clause first introduced by the Council of Toledo (589)[45][46] under the influence of the teaching of St Augustine of Hippo. [47][48]

However the Roman Catholic Church recently has shown some flexibility on the Filioque issue. In accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's practice of including the clause when reciting the Creed in Latin,[49] but not when reciting the Creed in Greek,[50] Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have recited the Nicene Creed jointly with Patriarchs Demetrius I and Bartholomew I in Greek without the Filioque clause.[51][52][53][54][55][56] The action of these Patriarchs in reciting the Creed together with the Popes has been strongly criticized by some elements of Eastern Orthodoxy, such as the Metropolitan of Kalavryta, Greece in November 2008[57] and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church in America.


'If one wishes to find a villain on the Orthodox side for the development of the schism, Absentee Greek Patriarch of Antioch Balsamon is a far stronger candidate than either Patriarchs of Constantinople Photius or Cerularius. Hitherto the chief asset of the Orthodox in the controversy had been their doctrine of Economy, the charity that enabled them to overlook and even to condone divergences in the interest of peace and goodwill. But Balsamon was a lawyer; and lawyers like things to be cut and dried. Charity is not one of their characteristics.' — Steven Runciman, The Eastern Schism, Wipf & Stock, Oregon, 3/3/2005, p138



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, s.v. "Great Schism"
  2. John Binns, An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, p144
  3. Acts 11:19-26, Acts 12:24-25, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 14:24-28, Acts 15:1-2, Acts 15:22-40, Acts 18:22-23, Acts 19:21-22, Gal 2:11-14
  4. John Binns, An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, p144
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
  6. Great Vespers of 29 June
  7. Menaion, 29 June
  8. The Illuminator, The Newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, Oct.-Dec. 2004, p.7
  9. "Linus was bishop of Rome after the holy apostle Peter"
  10. Pope Benedict XVI is "the 265th successor of the St Peter" (Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, 2007 Annual Report to His All Holiness Bartholomew
  11. Roman Presidency and Christian Unity in our Time
  12. John Binns, An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, esp pp 28-29
  13. John Binns, An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, pp 162-164
  14. John Binns, An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, p68
  15. John McGuckin, Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy, SVS Press, NY, 2004, p173
  16. John McGuckin, Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy, SVS Press, NY, 2004, p173
  17. The Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, vol. II, p. 254
  18. Aristeides Papadakis The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, SVS Press, NY, 1994 esp p14
  19. "Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges" (First Ecumenical Council, Canon VI).
  20. "Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Ælia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honored, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honor" (First Ecumenical Council, Canon VII
  21. "The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome" (Second Ecumenical Council, Canon III)
  22. "Let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs" (Second Ecumenical Council, Canon II)
  23. Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon XXVIII
  24. Fourth Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Jurisdiction of Jerusalem and Antioch
  25. Bishop Kallistos (Ware) (1963), The Orthodox Church (Penguin Books, London, ISBN 0-14-020592-6), p. 34
  27. Aristeides Papadakis The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, SVS Press, NY, 1994 p14)
  28. (Extracts from the Acts of the Council of Ephesus). The creed quoted in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus (the Third Ecumenical Council) is that of the first Ecumenical Council]], not the creed as modified by the Second Ecumenical Council, and so does not have additions such as "who proceeds from the Father" (ibidem).
  29. Template:Cite web
  30. Church and State in the Byzantine Empire
  31. Church and State in Western Europe
  32. "During the decade following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, his followers captured three of the five 'patriarchates' of the early church — Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem — leaving only Rome and Constantinople, located at opposite ends of the Mediterranean and, eventually, also at opposite ends of the Schism of 1054" (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
  33. Cleenewerck, Laurent His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism between the Catholicand Eastern Orthodox Churches. Washington, DC: EUC Press (2008) pp. 145-155
  34. Norwich, John Julius. The Normans in the South 1016-1130. (1967) pg 102.
  35. Norwich, John Julius Byzantium, The Apogee. New York: Alfred A. Knoff (1992) p.320
  36. Bishop Kallistos (Ware), op. cit., p. 67
  37. Joint Declaration [1]
  38. Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 125; cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844 §3 and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 671 §3
  39. Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 123; cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844 §2 and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 671 §2
  40. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 813 and Code of Canon Law, canon 1124
  41. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 833
  42. Code of Canon Law, canon 1116 and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 832
  43. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 832
  44. A basic characteristic of the Frankish scholastic method, mislead by Augustinian Platonism and Thomistic Aristotelianism, had been its naive confidence in the objective existence of things rationally speculated about. By following Augustine, the Franks substituted the patristic concern for spiritual observation, (which they had found firmly established in Gaul when they first conquered the area) with a fascination for metaphysics. They did not suspect that such speculations had foundations neither in created nor in spiritual reality. FRANKS, ROMANS, FEUDALISM, AND DOCTRINE — [ Part 2 ] EMPIRICAL THEOLOGY VERSUS SPECULATIVE THEOLOGY-Empirical Theology- John S. Romanides [2]
  45. Russian Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist
  46. Anglican Theological Review, Summer 2001
  47. The pretext of the Filioque controversy was the Frankish acceptance of Augustine as the key to understanding the theology of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods.John S. Romanides Filioque [3]
  48. During the ensuing centuries long course of the controversy, the Franks not only forced the Patristic tradition into an Augustinian mold, but they confused Augustine's Trinitarian terminology with that of the Father's of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods. This is nowhere so evident as in the Latin handling of Maximos the Confessor's description, composed in 650, of the West Roman Orthodox Filioque at the Council of Florence (1438-42). The East Romans hesitated to present Maximos' letter to Marinos about this West Roman Orthodox Filioque because the letter did not survive in its complete form. John S. Romanides Filioque [4]
  49. Missale Romanum 2002 (Roman Missal in Latin), p. 513
  50. Ρωμαϊκό Λειτουργικό 2006 (Roman Missal in Greek), vol. 1, p. 347
  51. Video recording of joint recitation
  52. programme of the celebration
  53. Pope, Patriarch appeal for unity
  54. Asia News
  55. Demetrius I
  56. CNS
  57. The Metropolitan's own blog, reported also by this Religious News Agency

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