The Great Schism of 1054

(The Orthodox Church by Kallistos Ware)

I. The Estrangement of East & West

1. Christianity first spread throughout a united (politically & culturally) Roman Empire.

  • A broad Greco-Roman civilization: Latin and Greek were understood almost everywhere - most were bilingual.

2. By the 3rd century political unity fades. East & West have Emperors.

  • In 381, Constantinople, under Constantine proclaims Constantinople as the "New Rome."

3. By the 5th century, the Barbarian invasions provided the final blow to a united Empire.

From the 4th-6th centuries there was a massive migration of Germanic Tribes (Franks, Normans, Lombards & Germans) from Northeastern Europe to central Europe.

II. Changes in Rome

1. Between 500-1000 is a period in which Roman institutions fell by the way side.

2. The Church in general and the Bishop in Rome in particular became the exponent of order in the West

  • Education was by the Church
  • The Bishop of Rome became the focal point of Western Church life.

3. During the Dark Ages certain characteristics of the Pope of Rome become pronounced.

  • The Pope became both religious and political leader.
  • The Bishop of Rome was viewed increasingly as the vicar of St. Peter.
  • The Bishop of Rome became viewed as a "Universal Bishop" by the West. By the 7th C. no Western Bishop could exercise power without Rome.

III. The Franks

1. By the 8th C., the Franks were the most important of the Germanic tribes. In 754, Pope Stephen visited the Frankish ruler Pepin and entered into an alliance in order to save Rome from the invading Lombards. This marked the beginning of the "Papal State." On December 25th, in the year 800, Charlemagne, is crowned Emperor of the West by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne is not simply crowned Emperor of the Franks, but Emperor of the Romans as well. Charlemagne saw his Frankish empire as a continuation of the Roman empire. There was one problem - there was already a Roman emperor. . . Empress Irene in Constantinople.

  • The Byzantines regarded Charlemagne as an intruder and the Papal coronation as an act of Schism within the Empire.
  • Charlemagne denounced the Greeks for not using the "Filioque" (filioque is Latin for "and the son"- The Holy Spirit Processed from the Father "and the son" ) and he declined to accept the 7th Ecumenical Councils’ endorsement of the use of Icons in the Church.

( The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, read: "I believe . . . in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified." This is the original form, the west inserted an extra phrase, "and from the Son" {in Latin, filioque} so that the Creed now reads: "I believe . . . in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and from the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.)

1. Frankish Theology:

The first formal attempt to propagate the "Filioque" as an essential element of Faith came from the Carolingian theologians in the 8th C. in a document called "Libri Carolini." Within the context of this document there is a firm affirmation that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. These theologians believed that the filioque belonged to the original Creed (which may have been omitted by the East) The Franks believed that they were propagating the correct faith. This statement was officially approved by the Frankish Bishops meeting in Frankfurt in 794.

IV. The Conflict between Rome & the Franks

Western Monks in Jerusalem began to use the filioque in the Creed during the beginning of the 9th C. A controversy began to erupt among the monks. In 807, a letter was sent to Pope Leo III, in Rome which outlined the accusations of the Eastern Monks against Western Monks. Leo responded in a letter which he affirmed the theology of the filioque but did not recognize its addition to the Creed.

Pope Leo engraved two shields in Latin and in Greek with the Creed written on them without the filioque. Rome continued to use the Creed without the filioque until the 11th C. In 808, Pope Leo wrote a letter to Charlemagne expressing that although he agreed that doctrinally the filioque was sound, he considered it a mistake to tamper with the Creed. Here, Rome acted as a mediator between the East and the Franks.

The Reasons for the objection of the filioque by the East

  • The Creed is the common possession of the whole Church, any changes made to it must be done by the whole Church in the form of an Ecumenical Council. i.e. all the Bishops of the Church assembled together. To change it without consulting the East was a sin against the unity of the Church.
  • It is theologically untrue. The Father is the Godhead from which the Son is begotten and from which the Holy Spirit precedes.

From Estrangement to Schism- Four Factors played an Important Role: 858-1204

1. St. Photios the Great & Pope Nicholas I (858-67)

  • In 858, Photios was elected Patriarch of Constantinople following the resignation of Patriarch Ignatius. A conflict arose between some followers of Ignatius and Photios.
  • In 861, Pope Nicholas sent legates to investigate the dispute. The legates presided at a council and determined that Photios was the legitimate Patriarch.
  • When the legates returned to Rome, Nicholas declared that they had exceeded their powers.
  • In 863, Pope Nicholas convenes his own council in Rome and recognizes Ignatius as the legitimate Patriarch and ordered Photios to be deposed.
  • Constantinople did not respond.
  • In 865, Pope Nicholas declared in a letter, that the "Pope is endowed with authority over all the earth, that is over every Church."

The issue of Papal Authority:

Issues of dispute, according to Canon III of the Council of Saedica (343) states that a Bishop under a sentence of condemnation can appeal to Rome and the Pope, the Pope can issue a retrial however, it is to take place in the providence adjacent to that of the condemned Bishop. Pope Nicholas’ actions against Photios were an uncanonical interference in the affairs of another Patriarchate.

  •  At the same time, Greek and German missionaries clash in Bulgaria. Both Rome and Constantinople wanted to add Bulgaria to their territory. The German missionaries attacked the Eastern practices of: Married Clergy, rules of fasting, and of not using the filioque in the Creed.
  •  Pope Nicholas gives full support to the German missionaries insistence upon using the filioque. The Papacy was no longer neutral between the Franks and the East.
  • Photios reacts: in 867, an encyclical letter is sent to the Eastern Patriarchates (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria) denouncing the filioque as a heresy .
  •  In the same year (867), Photios was deposed by Nicholas and Ignatius was restored as Patriarch.
  •  In 869, a council was held in Constantinople which condemned an excommunicated Photios. This council is known in the West, as the 8th Ecumenical Council. At this council a total of 12 Bishops were present.
  •  This same council decided to place the Bulgarian Church under Constantinople and Bulgaria accepted. From 870, the German missionaries were expelled and the filioque was heard no more.
  •  At the same time, Ignatius and Photios are reconciled and when Ignatius dies in 877, Photios succeeded him as Patriarch.
  • In 879, another council is held in Constantinople, attended by 383 Bishops. They excommunicated the "8th Ecumenical Council of 867" and all condemnations of Photios were withdrawn. All this with no protest from Rome.
  •  Between 877-886, communion between Rome and Constantinople remained. Pope John VIII, was not a fan of the Franks and realized the serious nature Nicholas’ decisions in siding with the Franks.

2. The Diptychs of 1009

The diptychs are lists kept by each Patriarch which contain the names of the Patriarchs living and dead who are recognized as canonical. The diptychs are understood as a sign of unity. To omit a name is equivalent to excommunication.

a.) In 1009 Pope Sergius IV sent a letter to Constantinople containing the filioque. From 1009 the Pope’s name did not appear in the diptychs.

b.) In 1014, at the coronation of Emperor Henry II at Rome the Creed was sung with the filioque

3. The attempt of Reconciliation in 1053-54

  • The Normans in Byzantine Italy were forcing the Greeks to adopt Latin practices.
  • Patriarch Michael in return demanded that Latins in Constantinople should adopt Greek practices. In 1052, when the Latins refused he closed the Churches.
  • In 1053, Michael wrote to Pope Leo IX offering to restore the Pope’s name to the diptychs. In response to this, the Pope send three legates to Constantinople under the leadership of Cardinal Humbert.
  • When the legates arrived they were hostile to Michael and delivered a letter signed by the Pope but drafted by Humbert.
  • The Patriarch refused to see the legates.
  • Humbert lays the "Bull of Excommunication" on the altar of Agia Sophia and leaves. n The Greeks are charged in the "Bull" for not using the filioque in the Creed.
  • Michael, excommunicate Humbert but not Rome.

At this point the schism is not on the level of the ordinary person. It is not until the crusades that the schism is felt by everyone.

4. The Crusades

The first crusades were a success in freeing Holy Lands from the Turks. Antioch was reclaimed from the Turks in 1098 and Jerusalem in 1099. They set up Latin Patriarchs in these cities. At Jerusalem there was no problem however, in Antioch there was already a Greek Patriarch in residence. From 1100 on, the local Greeks did not accept the Latin Patriarch and a local schism officially exists.

The 4th crusade 1202-1204 was on its way to Egypt. They were invited into Constantinople by Alexis the Son of the deposed Emperor Isaac II. Alexis wanted to restore his Fathers’ throne and offered the crusaders treasures if they would help him. The crusaders sacked the city for three days and set up their own hierarchy on the throne of Constantinople.

IV. Cultural Differences

1. By 450, there are few in western Europe who can read Greek and by 600 the Greeks no longer spoke Latin.

2. Under Charlemagne, an "anti-Greek" prejudice develops for obvious political reasons.

In the East: a.) many Churches were founded by the Apostles b.) Equality among Bishops c.) Collegial nature of the Church d.) The Emperor was in charge of secular order. e.) A strong "lay" participation in theology.

In the West: a.) Only Rome could claim apostolic ties, thus Rome becomes recognized as the Apostolic see b.) Monarchical nature of the Church. c.) The Papacy become the head of secular order & unity. d.) Only the priests were theologically trained

V. Early differences in Theological presuppositions:

  • East- influenced by experience of worship and liturgical life West - influenced by juridical ideas of Roman Law
  • East- emphasized the "threeness of the persons" of the Trinity. West- emphasized the "unity of the Godhead."
  • East - emphasized Christ as the "Victor" on the Cross West - emphasized Christ as the "Victim" on the Cross
  • East - emphasized "personal deification." West- emphasized "redemption."