East–West Schism

East–West Schism
DateJanuary–July 1054
Also known asGreat Schism,
Schism of 1054
TypeChristian Schism
CauseEcclesiastical differences
Theological and Liturgical disputes
ParticipantsPope Leo IX
Ecumenical Patriarch Michael I Cerularius
OutcomePermanent split of the two churches into the modern-day Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches

The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which had lasted until the 11th century.[1] The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.

A succession of ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes between the Greek East and Latin West pre-dated the formal rupture that occurred in 1054.[2][3][4] Prominent among these were the issues of the procession of the Holy Spirit, whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist,[a] the Bishop of Rome's claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of the See of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.[8]

In 1053, the first step was taken in the process which led to formal schism: the Greek churches in southern Italy were forced either to close or to conform to Latin practices.[9][10][11] In retaliation, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Michael I Cerularius ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople. In 1054, the papal legate sent by Leo IX travelled to Constantinople for purposes that included refusing to Cerularius the title of "Ecumenical Patriarch" and insisting that he recognize the Pope's claim to be the head of all the churches.[2] The main purpose of the papal legation was to seek help from the Byzantine Emperor in view of the Norman conquest of southern Italy and to deal with recent attacks by Leo of Ohrid against the use of unleavened bread and other Western customs,[12] attacks that had the support of Cerularius. Historian Axel Bayer says the legation was sent in response to two letters, one from the Emperor seeking assistance in arranging a common military campaign by the eastern and western empires against the Normans, and the other from Cerularius.[13] On the refusal of Cerularius to accept the demand, the leader of the legation, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, O.S.B., excommunicated him, and in return Cerularius excommunicated Humbert and the other legates.[2] This was only the first act in a centuries-long process that eventually became a complete schism.[14]

The validity of the Western legates' act is doubtful, since Pope Leo had died and Cerularius' excommunication applied only to the legates personally.[2] Still, the Church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines, and the fundamental breach has never been healed, with each side sometimes accusing the other of having fallen into heresy and of having initiated the division. The Latin led Crusades, the Massacre of the Latins in 1182, the West's retaliation in the Sacking of Thessalonica in 1185, the capture and pillaging of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and the imposition of Latin patriarchs made reconciliation more difficult.[2] Establishing Latin hierarchies in the Crusader states meant that there were two rival claimants to each of the patriarchal sees of Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, making the existence of schism clear.[15] Several attempts at reconciliation did not bear fruit. In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I nullified the anathemas of 1054,[2] although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion.[16] Contacts between the two sides continue: every year a delegation from each joins in the other's celebration of its patronal feast, Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) for Rome and Saint Andrew (30 November) for Constantinople, and there have been a number of visits by the head of each to the other. The efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchs towards reconciliation with the Catholic Church have often been the target of sharp criticism from some fellow Orthodox.[17]


The schism between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Christians resulted from a variety of political, cultural and theological factors which transpired over centuries.[18] Historians regard the mutual excommunications of 1054 as the terminal event.[19] It is difficult to agree on an exact date for the event where the start of the schism was apparent.[20] It may have started as early as the[21] Quartodeciman controversy at the time of Victor of Rome (c. 180). Orthodox apologists point to this incident as an example of claims by Rome to papal primacy and its rejection by Eastern Churches.

Sporadic schisms in the common unions took place under Pope Damasus I in the 4th and 5th centuries.[22][23][24][page needed] 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). Most sources agree that the separation between East and West is clearly evident by the Photian schism for 4 years from 863–867.[25] [26]

Centres of Christianity

Apart from Rome in the West, "many major Churches of the East claim to have been founded by the apostles: Antioch by Peter and Paul, Alexandria by Mark, Constantinople by Andrew, Cyprus by Barnabas, Ethiopia by Matthew, India by Thomas, Edessa in eastern Syria by Thaddeus, Armenia by Bartholomew, Georgia by Simon the Zealot."[27] Famous also are the seven churches of Asia (the Roman province of Asia), mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Claims of the See of Rome

While the church at Rome claimed a special authority over the other churches, the extant documents of that era yield "no clear-cut claims to, or recognition, of papal primacy."[28][29]

Towards the end of the 2nd century, Victor, the Bishop of Rome, attempted to resolve the Quartodeciman controversy. The question was whether to celebrate Easter concurrently with the Jewish Passover, as Christians in the Roman province of Asia did, or to wait until the following Sunday, as was unanimously decreed by synods held in other Eastern provinces, such as those of Palestine and Pontus, the acts of which were still extant at the time of Eusebius, and in Rome.[30][31] The pope attempted to excommunicate the churches in Asia, which refused to accept the observance on Sunday. Other bishops rebuked him for doing so.[32] Laurent Cleenewerck comments:

Victor obviously claimed superior authority, probably from St. Peter, and decided – or at least "attempted" to excommunicate a whole group of Churches because they followed a different tradition and refused to conform. One could therefore argue that the Great schism started with Victor, continued with Stephen and remained underground until the ninth century! But the question is this: even if Victor was not acting wisely, did he not have the power to "cut off whole Churches"? This is what Roman Catholics argue with the implication that such an excommunication would be ontologically meaningful and put someone "outside the Catholic Church". Yet, we do not see bishops "pleading" but indeed "sharply rebuking" and "admonishing" Victor. Ultimately this is why his letters of excommunication came to no effect. Nevertheless it is possible to read in Eusebius' account the possibility that St. Irenaeus recognized that Victor could indeed "cut off whole Churches" and that such excommunication would have been ontologically meaningful. ... In the end, it took some patience and an Ecumenical Council to achieve what Victor could not achieve by his threat to excommunicate.[33]

Despite Victor's failure to carry out his intent to excommunicate the Asian churches, many Catholic apologists point to this episode as evidence of papal primacy and authority in the early Church, citing the fact that none of the bishops challenged his right to excommunicate but rather questioned the wisdom and charity of his action.[33]

The opinion of the Bishop of Rome was often sought, especially when the patriarchs of the Eastern Mediterranean were locked in fractious dispute. However, the Bishop of Rome's opinion was by no means accepted automatically. 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 Constantinople Patriarch Nestorius with heresy, which was dealt with at the Council of Ephesus.

In 342, Pope Julius I wrote: "The custom has been for word to be written first to us [in the case of bishops under accusation, and notably in apostolic churches], and then for a just sentence to be passed from this place".[34]

In 382 a synod in Rome protested against the raising of Constantinople to a position above that of Alexandria, and spoke of Rome as "the apostolic see".[35] Pope Siricius (384–399) claimed for papal decretals the same binding force as decisions of synods, Pope Innocent I (401–417) said that all major judicial cases should be reserved for the see of Rome, and Pope Boniface I (418–422) declared that the church of Rome stands to "the churches throughout the world as the head to its members" and that bishops everywhere, while holding the one same episcopal office, must "recognise those to whom, for the sake of ecclesiastical discipline, they should be subject".[36] Celestine I (r. 422–432) considered that the condemnation of Nestorius by his own Roman synod in 430 was sufficient, but consented to the general council as "of benefit in manifesting the faith".[37] Pope Leo I and his successors rejected canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, as a result of which it was not officially recorded even in the East until the 6th century.[38][39] The Acacian schism (484–519), when, "for the first time, West lines up against East in a clear-cut fashion",[40] ended with acceptance of a declaration insisted on by Pope Hormisdas (514–523) that "I hope I shall remain in communion with the apostolic see in which is found the whole, true, and perfect stability of the Christian religion".[41][42][43] Earlier, in 494, Pope Gelasius I (492–496) wrote to Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, distinguishing the power of civil rulers from that of the bishops (called "priests" in the document), with the latter supreme in religious matters; he ended his letter with: "And if it is fitting that the hearts of the faithful should submit to all priests in general who properly administer divine affairs, how much the more is obedience due to the bishop of that see which the Most High ordained to be above all others, and which is consequently dutifully honoured by the devotion of the whole Church."[44] Pope Nicholas I (858–867) made it clear that he believed the power of the papacy extended "over all the earth, that is, over every church".[45][46]

Claims of the See of Constantinople

Hagia Sophia, cathedral of Constantinople at the time of the schism

In 330, Emperor Constantine moved the imperial capital to Byzantium, a strategically located city on the Bosporus. He renamed the capital Nova Roma ("New Rome"), but the city would become known as Constantinople.[47] The centre of gravity in the empire was fully recognised to have completely shifted to the eastern Mediterranean. Rome lost the Senate to Constantinople and lost its status and gravitas as imperial capital.[48]

The bishop of Byzantium was under the authority of the metropolitan of Heraclea when in 330 Roman Emperor Constantine I moved his residence to this town, which, rebuilt on a larger scale, became known as Constantinople.[49] Thereafter, the bishop's connection with the imperial court meant that he was able to free himself from ecclesiastical dependency on Heraclea and in little more than half a century to obtain recognition of next-after-Rome ranking from the First Council of Constantinople (381), held in the new capital. No Western bishop took part in this council, and the Latin Church recognized it as ecumenical only in the mid-6th century.[50] It decreed: "The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome",[51] thus raising it above the sees of Alexandria and Antioch. This has been described as sowing the seed for the ecclesiastical rivalry between Constantinople and Rome that was a factor leading to the schism between East and West.[52][53] The website of the Orthodox Church in America says that the Bishop of Byzantium was elevated to Patriarch already in the time of Constantine.[54]

Disunion in the Roman Empire contributed to disunion in the Church. Theodosius the Great, who in 380 established Nicene Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire (see Edict of Thessalonica), was the last Emperor to rule over a united Roman Empire. Following the death of Theodosius in 395, the Empire was divided for the final time into western and eastern halves. In the 4th century, the Roman emperor (reigning in Constantinople) started to control the Church in his territory.[55]

The patriarchs of Constantinople often tried to adopt an imperious position over the other patriarchs, provoking their resistance. For example, in 431 Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria impeached for heresy Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople.[56][56]

Alexandria's objections to Constantinople's promotion, which led to a constant struggle between the two sees in the first half of the 5th century,[57] were supported by Rome, which proposed the theory that the most important sees were the three Petrine ones, of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria,[58] with Rome in first place.[50]

However, the power of the patriarch of Constantinople continued to grow.[59] Eastern Orthodox state that the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon (451)[60] explicitly proclaimed the equality of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople,[61][62] and that it established the highest court of ecclesiastical appeal in Constantinople.[60] The patriarch of the imperial capital succeeded in his efforts[63] to become the leading bishop in the Byzantine Empire: he "headed a vast curia and other bishops who resided in Constantinople constituted a permanent synod, which became the real governing body of the church".[64]

Patriarch John IV of Constantinople, who died in 595, assumed the title of "Ecumenical Patriarch".[38]

The idea that with the transfer of the imperial capital from Rome to Constantinople, primacy in the Church was also transferred, is found in undeveloped form as early as John Philoponus (c. 490 – c. 570). It was enunciated in its most advanced form by Photios I of Constantinople (c. 810 – c. 893). Constantinople, as the seat of the ruler of the empire and therefore of the world, was the highest among the patriarchates and, like the emperor, had the right to govern them.[65]

Council of Nicaea (325)

After the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity (with the Edict of Milan), he summoned the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325. 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.[66] These sees were later called Patriarchates.[citation needed] These 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.[67]

First Council of Constantinople (381)

Roman dominate Emperor Theodosius I convened the second ecumenical council (Constantinople I) at the imperial capital city in 381. The council elevated the see of Constantinople, to a position ahead of the other chief metropolitan sees, except that of Rome thus raising it above the sees of Alexandria and Antioch.[b] This action has been described as sowing the seed for the ecclesiastical rivalry between Constantinople and Rome which was ultimately a factor leading to the schism between East and West.[69][70][c] It demarcated the territory within the praetorian prefecture of the East into five canonical territories corresponding to the five civil dioceses: Diocese of Egypt (metropolis in Alexandria), Diocese of the East (metropolis in Antioch), Diocese of Asia (Metropolis of Ephesus), Diocese of Pontus (metropolis in Caesarea Cappadociae), and Diocese of Thrace (metropolis in Heraclea, later under Constantinople);[citation needed][50][self-published source][72] The council mentioned the churches in the civil dioceses 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 sees of Alexandria and Antioch.[72]

No Western bishops attended the council and no legate of the bishop of Rome was present.[73] The Latin Church recognized the council as ecumenical about 150 years later,[clarify][73] in the mid-6th century.[50][self-published source][71]

Chalcedon (451)

Rome's Tome of Leo (449) was highly regarded, and formed the basis for the Council of Chalcedon formulation. But it was not universally accepted and was even called "impious" and "blasphemous" by those who condemned the council that approved and accepted it.[74] 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 East holds that the concept of the primacy of the Roman See and Papal Infallibility were only developed much later.

The disputed[38][75] canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, confirming the authority already held by Constantinople, granted its archbishop jurisdiction over Pontus and Thrace.[76]

The council also ratified an agreement between Antioch and Jerusalem, whereby Jerusalem held jurisdiction over three provinces,[77] numbering it among the five great sees.[78] As thus interpreted, 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.

Although Leo I, whose delegates were absent when this resolution was passed, recognized the council as ecumenical and confirmed its doctrinal decrees, he rejected its canon 28 on the ground that it contravened the sixth canon of Nicaea and infringed the rights of Alexandria and Antioch.[50][79] However, by that time Constantinople, the permanent residence of the emperor, had in reality enormous influence, and had it not been for the opposition of Rome, its bishop could easily have been given first place among all the bishops.[50]

This canon would remain a constant source of friction between East and West, until the mutual excommunications of 1054 made it irrelevant in that regard;[80] but controversy about its applicability to the authority of the patriarchate of Constantinople still continues.[81]

The same disputed canon also recognized an authority of Constantinople over bishops of dioceses "among the barbarians", which has been variously interpreted as referring either to all areas outside the Byzantine Empire or only to those in the vicinity of Pontus, Asia and Thrace or to non-Greeks within the empire.[38]

Canon 9 of the Council also declared: "If a bishop or clergyman should have a difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and there let it be tried." This has been interpreted as conferring on the see of Constantinople a greater privilege than what any council ever gave Rome,[82] or as of much lesser significance than that.[83][84]

After the Council of Chalcedon (451), the position of the Patriarchate of Alexandria was weakened by a division in which the great majority of its Christian population followed the form of Christianity that its opponents called Monophysitism.[50]

Separation of the West from the Roman Empire

In 476, when the last emperor of the western part of the Roman Empire was deposed and the western imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople, there was once again a single Roman Emperor. However, he had little power in the West, which was ruled almost entirely by various Germanic tribes. In the opinion of Randall R. Cloud, the permanent separation of the Greek East from the Latin West was "the fundamental reason for the estrangement that soon followed between the Greek and the Latin Christians".[85]

The dominant language of the West was Latin, while that of the East was Greek. Soon after the fall of the West to invaders, the number of individuals who spoke both languages dwindled, 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 schism was still centuries away, its outlines were already perceptible.[86]

In the areas under his control, Justinian I established caesaropapism as the constitution of the Church in a scheme according to which the emperor "had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest detail of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church".[87] According to the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, this caesaropapism was "a source of contention between Rome and Constantinople that led to the schism of 1054".[88] Explicit approval of the emperor in Constantinople was required for consecration of bishops within the empire. During the period called the Byzantine Papacy, this applied to the bishops of Rome, most of whom were of Greek or Syrian origin. Resentment in the West against the Byzantine emperor's governance of the Church is shown as far back as the 6th century, when "the tolerance of the Arian Gothic king was preferred to the caesaropapist claims of Constantinople".[89] The origins of the distinct attitudes in West and East are sometimes traced back even to Augustine of Hippo, who "saw the relationship between church and state as one of tension between the 'city of God' and the 'city of the world'", and Eusebius, who "saw the state as the protector of the church and the emperor as God's vicar on earth".[90]

Decline of three patriarchates

By 661, Muslim Arabs had taken over the territories assigned to the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, which thereafter were never more than partially and temporarily recovered. In 732, Emperor Leo III the Isaurian, in revenge for the opposition of Pope Gregory III to the emperor's iconoclast policies, transferred Sicily, Calabria and Illyria from the patriarchate of Rome (whose jurisdiction until then extended as far east as Thessalonica) to that of Constantinople.[91] The Constantinople patriarchate, after expanding eastward at the time of the Council of Chalcedon to take in Pontus and the Roman province of Asia, which at that time were still under the emperor's control, thus expanded equally to the west, and was practically coextensive with the Byzantine Empire.

Council in Trullo (Quinisext, 692)

The West's rejection of the Quinisext Council of 692 led to pressure from the Eastern Empire on the West to reject many Latin customs as non-Orthodox. The Latin practices that had got the attention of the other Patriarchates[citation needed] and that had been condemned by this Council included the practice of celebrating Mass on weekdays in Lent (rather than having Pre-Sanctified Liturgies);[92] fasting on Saturdays throughout the year;[93] omitting the "Alleluia" in Lent; depicting Christ as a lamb;[94] using unleavened bread.[95] Larger disputes were revealed regarding Eastern and Western attitudes toward celibacy for priests and deacons, with the Council affirming the right of married men to become priests (though forbidding priests to marry and forbidding bishops to live with their wives)[96][97] and prescribing deposition for anyone who attempted to separate a clergyman other than a bishop from his wife, or for any cleric other than a bishop who dismissed his wife.[98]

Pope Sergius I, who was of Syrian ancestry, rejected the council.[99] Emperor Justinian II ordered his arrest.[100] This was thwarted.[101][102]

In 694, in Visigothic Spain, the council was ratified by the Eighteenth Council of Toledo at the urging of the king, Wittiza.[103] Fruela I of Asturias reversed the decision of Toledo sometime during his reign (757–768).[103]

Papal supremacy and Pentarchy

The primary causes of the schism were disputes over conflicting claims of jurisdiction, in particular over papal authorityPope Leo IX claimed he held authority over the four Eastern patriarchs—and over the insertion of the Filioque clause into the Nicene Creed by the Western patriarch in 1014.[104] Eastern Orthodox today state that Council of Chalcedon canon 28 explicitly proclaimed the equality of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople and that it established the highest court of ecclesiastical appeal in Constantinople.[105] Council of Ephesus canon 7 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 Nicæa. 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[106]

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, it is claimed, but not the substance, had been modified by the second Ecumenical Council, making additions such as "who proceeds from the Father".

Eastern Orthodox argue that First Council of Ephesus canon 7 explicitly prohibited modification of the Nicene Creed by any man (not by ecumenical church council) drawn up by the first Ecumenical Council in 325.[107] In reality, the Council made no exception for an ecumenical council or any other body of bishops,[108] and the Greeks participating in the Council of Florence emphatically denied that even an ecumenical council had the power to add anything to the creed.[109] The creed quoted in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus of 431 (the third ecumenical council) is that of the first ecumenical council, that of Nicaea (325), without the modifications that the second ecumenical council, held in Constantinople in 381, is understood to have made to it, such as the addition of "who proceeds from the Father".[110][111] Eastern Orthodox theologians state this change of the wording of the churches' original creed, was done to address various teachings outside of the church in specific the Macedonius I of Constantinople teaching which the council claimed was a distortion of the church's teaching on the Holy Spirit. This was not a change of the orthodoxy of the churches' original creed.[112] Thus the word ἑτέραν in the seventh canon of the later Council of Ephesus is understood as meaning "different" or "contradictory" and not "another" in the sense of mere explanatory additions to the already existing creed.[109] Some scholars hold that the additions attributed to the First Council of Constantinople were adopted only with the 451 Council of Chalcedon, 20 years after that of Ephesus,[113][114] and even that the Council of Ephesus, in which Alexandrian influence was dominant, was by this canon excluding the Constantinopolitan Creed, which eventually annexed the name and fame of the creed adopted at Nicaea.[115]

Other points of conflict

Many other issues increased tensions.

  • The iconoclast policy enforced by a series of decrees of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian in 726–729 was resisted in the West, giving rise to friction that ended in 787, when the Second Council of Nicaea reaffirmed that images are to be venerated, but not worshipped. The Libri Carolini, commissioned by Charlemagne criticized what a faulty translation gave as the council's decision, but their objections were rebutted by Pope Adrian I.
  • The Western Church's insertion of Filioque into its Latin version of the Nicene Creed (accepted in Rome in 1014) was objected to as done without holding a council or obtaining consent from the Eastern Churches.[116]
  • In the East, Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople responded to the practice of certain Frankish monks in Jerusalem who attempted to impose the practice of the Filioque on their Eastern brothers.[117][failed verification]
  • The Byzantine Empire was a theocracy, the Emperor was the supreme authority in both church and state.[118][119][120][121] "The king is not God among men but the Viceroy of God. He is not the logos incarnate but is in a special relation with the logos. He has been specially appointed and is continually inspired by God, the friend of God, the interpreter of the Word of God. His eyes look upward, to receive the messages of God. He must be surrounded with the reverence and glory that befits God's earthly copy; and he will 'frame his earthly government according to the pattern of the divine original, finding strength in its conformity with the monarchy of God'.[122]"[123]
  • 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,[124] while in the West, where the decline of imperial authority left the Church relatively independent,[125][126][127][128] 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.[129] Until this happened, Rome often tried to act as a neutral mediator in disputes among the Eastern Patriarchies
  • Certain liturgical practices in the West that the East believed represented illegitimate innovation: the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist, for example (see azymite).
  • Celibacy among Western priests (both monastic and parish), as opposed to the Eastern discipline whereby parish priests could be married men. However, the Latin church has always had some priests who were legally married. They have been a small minority since the 12th century.

In Eastern Christendom, the teaching of papal supremacy is said to be based on the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals,[130] documents attributed to early popes but actually forged, probably in the second quarter of the 9th century, with the aim of defending the position of bishops against metropolitans and secular authorities. The Orthodox East contests the teaching that Peter was the Patriarch of Rome, a title that the West too does not give him. Early sources such as St. Irenaeus can be interpreted as describing Pope Linus as the first bishop of Rome and Pope Cletus the second. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes states: "In the late 2nd or early 3rd cent. the tradition identified Peter as the first bishop of Rome. This was a natural development once the monarchical episcopate, i.e. government of the local church by a single bishop, as distinct from a group of presbyter bishops, finally emerged in Rome in the mid-2nd cent. The earlier tradition, however, which placed Peter and Paul in a class apart as the pioneers who together established the Roman church and its ministry, was never lost sight of."[131] St. Peter was according to tradition bishop of Antioch at one point, and was then succeeded by Evodius and Ignatius. The Eastern Orthodox do not hold the primacy of the Pope of Rome over the Eastern church; they teach that the Pope of Rome is the first among equals. The first seven Ecumenical Councils were held in the East and called by the Eastern Emperors, Roman pontiffs never presided over any of them.[132]

Filioque and primacy issues (867–879)

Three councils were held, two by Constantinople, one by Rome.[133] Rome attempted to replace a seated Patriarch with one amenable to the Filioque dispute. The Orthodox responded by denouncing the replacement and excommunicating the pope convening the Roman council, denouncing the pope's attempt to control affairs outside the purview of Rome, and denouncing the addition of Filioque as a heresy. Each church recognizes its own council(s) as legitimate and does not recognize the other's council(s).[134][135][136][135][137][136][138][139]

Mutual excommunication of 1054

Changes in extent of the Empire ruled from Constantinople.
476 End of the Western Empire; 550 Conquests of Justinian I; 717 Accession of Leo the Isaurian; 867 Accession of Basil I; 1025 Death of Basil II; 1095 Eve of the First Crusade; 1170 Under Manuel I; 1270 Under Michael VIII Palaiologos; 1400 Before the fall of Constantinople

In 1053 Leo of Ohrid, at the instigation, according to J. B. Bury, of Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople,[140] wrote to Bishop John of Trani a letter, intended for all the Latin bishops, including the pope, in which he attacked Western practices such as using unleavened bread for the Eucharist, and fasting rules that differed from those in Constantinople, while Cerularius himself closed all Latin churches in Constantinople.

In response, Leo IX wrote the letter In terra pax of 2 September 1053,[141] addressed to Cerularius and Leo of Ohrid, in which he speaks at length of the privileges granted through Saint Peter to the see of Rome. In one of the 41 sections of his letter he also speaks of privileges granted by the emperors, quoting from the Donation of Constantine document, which he believed to be genuine (section 20).[142] Some scholars say that this letter was never actually dispatched, but was set aside, and that the papal reply actually sent was the softer but still harsh letter Scripta tuae of January 1054.[143]

The advance of the Norman conquest of southern Italy constituted a threat to the possessions of both the Byzantine Empire and the papacy, each of which sought the support of the other. Accordingly, conciliatory letters, the texts of which have not been preserved, were written to the pope by the emperor and Cerularius. In his January 1054 reply to the emperor, Quantas gratias,[144] Leo IX asks for his assistance against the Normans and complains of what the pope saw as Caerularius's arrogance. In his reply to Caerularius,[145] he upbraided the patriarch for trying to subject the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch to himself and for adopting the title of Ecumenical Patriarch, and insisted on the primacy of the see of Rome.[142]

Division between the Eastern and Western Churches[146][147]
The religious distribution in 1054[148]

These two letters were entrusted to a delegation of three legates, headed by the undiplomatic cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, and also including Frederick of Lorraine, who was papal secretary and Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica, and Peter, Archbishop of Amalfi. They were given friendship and support by the emperor but were spurned by the patriarch. Finally, on 16 July 1054, three months after Pope Leo's death in April 1054 and nine months before the next pope took office,[143] they laid on the altar of Hagia Sophia, which was prepared for celebration of the Divine Liturgy, a bull of excommunication of Cerularius and his supporters. At a synod held on 20 July 1054, Cerularius in turn excommunicated the legates.[142][149] In reality, only Michael may have been excommunicated along with his then-living adherents.[d]

At the time of the excommunications, many contemporary historians, including Byzantine chroniclers, did not consider the event significant.[151][152][153][154]

Efforts were made in subsequent centuries by emperors, popes and patriarchs to heal the rift between the churches. However, a number of factors and historical events worked to widen the separation over time.[155]

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".[156]

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.

Sectarian tensions in the Byzantine Empire in the 11th–12th centuries

Starting from the late 11th century, dependency of Byzantine Empire on the naval forces of Republic of Venice and, to a lesser extent, Republic of Genoa and Republic of Pisa led to predominance of Catholic merchants in Byzantium (they were getting major trading concessions starting from the 1080s), subsequently causing economic and social upheaval. Together with the perceived arrogance of the Italians, it fueled popular resentment amongst the middle and lower classes both in the countryside and in the cities.[157]

By the second half of the 12th century practically uncontrollable rivalry between competitors from different city states made it to Italians raiding quarters of other Italians in the capital, and retaliatory draconian measures by the Byzantine authorities led to subsequent deterioration of inter-religious relations in the city.

When in 1182 regency of empress mother Maria of Antioch, an ethnical French notorious for the favoritism shown to Latin merchants and the big aristocratic land-owners, was deposed by Andronikos I Komnenos on the wake of popular support, the new emperor allowed mobs to massacre hated foreigners. Henceforth Byzantine foreign policy was invariably perceived as sinister and anti-Latin in the West.[158]

Fourth Crusade (1204) and other military conflicts

In the course of the Fourth Crusade of 1202–1204 Latin crusaders and Venetian merchants sacked Constantinople itself (1204), looting the Church of Holy Wisdom and various other Orthodox holy sites,[159] and converting them to Latin Catholic worship. The Norman Crusaders also destroyed the Imperial Library of Constantinople.[160][161][162] Various holy artifacts from these Orthodox holy places were taken[by whom?] to the West. The crusaders also appointed a Latin Patriarch of Constantinople.[159] The conquest of Constantinople and the final treaty established the Latin Empire of the East and the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople (with various other Crusader states). Later some religious artifacts were sold in Europe to finance or fund the Latin Empire in Byzantium – as when Emperor Baldwin II of Constantinople (r. 1228–1261) sold the relic of the Crown of Thorns while in France trying to raise new funds to maintain his hold on Byzantium.[163] In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos brought the Latin Empire to an end. However, the Western attack on the heart of the Byzantine Empire is seen[by whom?] as a factor that led eventually to its conquest by Ottoman Muslims in the 15th century.

In northern Europe, the Teutonic Knights, after their 12th- and 13th-century successes in the Northern Crusades,[164] attempted (1240) to conquer the Eastern Orthodox Russian Republics of Pskov and Novgorod, an enterprise endorsed by Gregory IX[164] (Pope from 1227 to 1241). One of the major defeats the Teutonic Knights suffered was the Battle of the Ice in 1242. Catholic Sweden also undertook several campaigns against Orthodox Novgorod. There were also conflicts between Catholic Poland and Orthodox Russia. Such conflicts solidified the schism between East and West.

Second Council of Lyon (1272)

The Second Council of Lyon was convoked to act on a pledge by Michael VIII to reunite the Eastern church with the West.[165] Wishing to end the Great Schism that divided Rome and Constantinople, Gregory X had sent an embassy to Michael VIII, who had reconquered Constantinople, putting an end to the remnants of the Latin Empire in the East, and he asked Latin despots in the East to curb their ambitions.

On 29 June (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul patronal feast of Popes), Gregory X celebrated a Mass in St John's Church, where both sides took part. The council declared that the Roman church possessed "the supreme and full primacy and authority over the universal Catholic Church."

The union effected was "a sham and a political gambit", a fiction maintained by the emperor to prevent westerners from recovering the city of Constantinople, which they had lost just over a decade before, in 1261.[166][167][168] It was fiercely opposed by clergy and people[169][170] and never put into effect,[171] in spite of a sustained campaign by Patriarch John XI of Constantinople (John Bekkos), a convert to the cause of union, to defend the union intellectually, and vigorous and brutal repression of opponents by Michael.[169][172] In 1278 Pope Nicholas III, learning of the fictitious character of Greek conformity,[168] sent legates to Constantinople, demanding the personal submission of every Orthodox cleric and adoption of the Filioque,[173] as already the Greek delegates at Lyon had been required to recite the Creed with the inclusion of Filioque and to repeat it two more times.[174] Emperor Michael's attempts to resolve the schism ended when Pope Martin IV, seeing that the union was only a sham, excommunicated Michael VIII 1281 in support of Charles of Anjou's attempts to mount a new campaign to retake the Eastern Roman provinces lost to Michael.[169][175][176][177][178][179][180][181] Michael VIII's son and successor Andronicus II repudiated the union, and Bekkos was forced to abdicate, being eventually exiled and imprisoned until his death in 1297.

Council of Ferrara-Florence (1439)

In the 15th century, the eastern emperor John VIII Palaiologos, pressed hard by the Ottoman Turks, was keen to ally himself with the West, and to do so he arranged with Pope Eugene IV for discussions about reunion to be held again, this time at the Council of Ferrara-Florence. After several long discussions, the emperor managed to convince the Eastern representatives to accept the Western doctrines of Filioque, Purgatory and the supremacy of the Papacy. On 6 June 1439 an agreement was signed by all the Eastern bishops present but one, Mark of Ephesus, who held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism. It seemed that the Great Schism had been ended. However, upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their agreement with the West broadly rejected by the populace and by civil authorities (with the notable exception of the Emperors of the East who remained committed to union until the Fall of Constantinople two decades later). The union signed at Florence has never been accepted by the Eastern churches.

Fall of Constantinople (1453) and thereafter

In May 1453, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire fell to the invading Ottoman Empire. But Orthodox Christianity was already entrenched in Russia, whose political and de facto religious centre had shifted from Kiev to Moscow. The Russian Church, a part of the Church of Constantinople until the mid-15th century, was granted full independence (autocephaly) and elevated to the rank of Patriarchate in 1589. The Russian political and ecclesiastical elite came to view Moscow as the Third Rome, a legitimate heir to Constantinople and Byzantium.[182]

Under Ottoman rule, the Orthodox Church acquired the status of an autonomous millet, specifically the Rum Millet. The Ecumenical Patriarch became the ruler (millet başı) of all the Orthodox Christian subjects of the empire, including non-Greeks. Upon conquering Constantinople, Mehmed II assumed the legal function of the Byzantine Emperors and appointed Patriarch Gennadius II. The sultans enhanced the temporal powers of the Greek orthodox hierarchy that came to be politically beholden solely to the Ottoman sultan and, along with other Ottoman Greek nobles, came to run the Balkan Orthodox domains of the Ottoman Empire. As a result, the entire Orthodox communion of the Balkans and the Near East became isolated from the rest of Christendom. For the next four hundred years, it would be confined within the Islamic world, with which it had little in common religiously or culturally.

In Russia, the anti-Catholic sentiments came to be entrenched by the Polish intervention during the Time of Troubles in the early 17th century, which was seen as an attempt to convert Moscow to Catholicism. The modern Russian national holiday, Unity Day, was established on the day of church celebration in honour of the Our Lady of Kazan icon, which is believed to have miraculously saved Moscow from outright Polish conquest in 1612. Patriarch Hermogenes of Moscow was martyred by the Poles and their supporters during this period (see also Polish–Lithuanian–Muscovite Commonwealth).[183][184]

First Vatican Council (1870)

The doctrine of papal primacy was further developed at the First Vatican Council, which declared that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches". This council also affirmed the dogma of papal infallibility, declaring that the infallibility of the Christian community extends to the pope himself, when he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church. These new dogma, as well as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception promulgated in Ineffabilis Deus a few years prior, are unequivocally rejected by the Eastern Church as heretical.[185][not in citations given]

Nullification of mutual anathemas (1965)

A major event of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), was the issuance by Pope Paul and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople of the Catholic–Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965. At the same time, they lifted the mutual excommunications dating from the 11th century.[186] The act did not result in restoration of communion.