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The Great Schism (sometimes also called East-West Schism) is a word that is used to describe how Christianity developed into two big branches in the Middle Ages. The Western part later became the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern part is known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. During the centuries views on politics and theology developed differently in several ways.
During the 5th and 6th Centuries the East and West became isolated from each other due to the invasions of the Balkan peninsula. They also had different languages. Latin was the most important language in the West. The East mainly spoke the Greek language. Because of this, talking to each other was difficult. The West came under Frankish influence (as opposed to Byzantine) in the 700s.
|“||I believe...in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,who proceeds (comes) from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and together glorified.
In the West, the Creed was changed to read
|“||I believe...in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,who proceeds from the Father and from the son...||”|
Some people said that the Holy Spirit was a creature. The filioque became a question of theological controversy since it was added to the Creed without an ecumenical council's approval.
There were many bishops in the church, and in the East the Pope was considered the "first among equals", but Rome claimed that the Pope was the only remaining Apostolic see. At first the Eastern Orthodox did not mind the Pope's claim for power over the West - as long as his power stayed in the West. But it came to pass that the Pope decided he also had power over Eastern Christendom as well and he tried to enforce his power on the eastern Patriarchates. A letter written in 865 by Pope Nicholas claims the Pope's power extends "over all the earth, that is, over every church". Pope Nicholas also went beyond his powers as stated in Canon 111 of the Council of Sardica (343) when he overturned a verdict and ordered a retrial on a matter concerning Photius and St. Ignatius, two Patriarchs of Constantinople. This was as a result of petitions to Rome by backers of Ignatius. However, it should be noted that not all the Popes after Nicholas were as extreme - that is, until Pope Leo IX. When, in 1053 Cerularius attempted friendly relations with Pope Leo IX after a disagreement, a bull (religious legal document) of excommunication (expulsion from the Church) was brought to Constantinople. Each Church excommunicated the other.
These were just some of the issues plaguing the Eastern and Western Christians that led to the Great Schism. It seems that even after 1054 relations between the east and west were not completely unfriendly, and the common peasant was probably not immediately affected by the schism.
- Joseph P. Farrell. God, History, & Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes and Their Cultural Consequences. Bound edition 1997. Electronic edition 2008.