The Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholicism were branches of the same body—the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church until 1054 AD, which is the date of the first major division and the beginning of “denominations” in Christianity. The Christian Church divided into two Churches, East and West. Both Churches believe that they are the original Church established by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and they disapprove each other. The Church in the East added “orthodox”, which comes from the Greek word “orthodxia”, to show that they retain the original teachings and traditions. Every Church in the Eastern Orthodox system can trace their roots back to the five early Christianity center—the Roman Church, the Jerusalem Church, Antioch, the Alexandrian Church and the Church of Constantinople. Although all Orthodox Churches recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as the ecumenical Patriarch and the supreme leader, the Churches are independent of each other in the mutual recognition of state instead of entirely united. Disagreements between the two branches of Christianity—Eastern Orthodox and Wang 2
Roman Catholicism—had long existed even before the division, and increased throughout the first millennium. Their disputes include issues pertaining to the nature of the Holy Spirit, the use of icons in worship, and the correct date to celebrate Easter. Also, the Eastern mindset inclined more toward philosophy, mysticism and ideology. They reject rationalism, as they believe that unless God speaks out, humans can not know him through reason. The Western outlook guided more by a practical and legal mentality, a perfect example being the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas which successfully fused Aristotelian philosophy with ideology. The Catholics believe that humans can one day see the true body of the Lord through rationality. With these disputes worsening and the gaps widening, separation was inevitable. The slow process of it was encouraged in 330 AD when Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to the city of Byzantium and called in Constantinople. After he died, the Roman empire was divided by his two sons into the Eastern portion, which was ruled from Constantinople, and the Western portion, which was ruled from Rome. The formal split took place in 1045 AD when Pope Leo IX, leader of the Roman Church at the time, excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, leader of the Eastern Church. Cerularius then condemned the Pope in mutual excommunication. Michael Cerularius was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1043-1058 AD, and played a prominent role in the East-West Schism. In 1045 he wrote a letter to the Pope claiming the title “ecumenical patriarch” and addressing Wang 3
Pope Leo as “brother” rather than “father”. It can be argued that it was this letter that initiated the events which followed. At the time the two primary disputes were Rome’s claim to a universal papal supremacy and the adding of the word filioque to the Nicene Creed. Filioque is a Latin word which means “and from the Son”. By inserting it to the Nicene Creed during the 6th century, the phrase pertaining to the origin of the Holy Spirit “who proceeds from the Father” was changed to “who proceeds from the Father and the Son”. The change was made to emphasize Christ’s divinity, but was strongly objected by the Eastern Christians, as they not only opposed any alteration of anything by the first ecumenical council, but also disagreed with its new meaning. Eastern Christians believe that both the Holy Spirit and the Son have their origin in the Father. During the time of the Crusades beginning in 1095, Rome joined the East in fight against the Turks to defend the Holy Land. But by the end of the Forth Crusade in 1204, all hope for potential reconciliation between the two Churches was over as the hostility between them continued to worsen. The Eastern and Western...
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