Could someone give me an indepth explaination on the Western Schism, why it happened, and why the Eastern Orthodox Church claims to be the Church established by Christ. Thank you.
Try reading ‘The History of Heresies and their Refutation’ chapters 9-10 by St. Alphonsus Marie de Liguori.
In the reign of the Emperor Michael, the Church of Constantinople was governed by the Patriarch, St. Ignatius. This great Prelate was son to the Emperor Michael Curopalates; and when his father was dethroned, he was banished to a monastery, and there brought up in all the penitential austerities of monastic life. His virtues were so great, that, on the death of Methodius, Bishop of Constantinople, he was placed in the vacant See, and his appointment gave universal satisfaction; but his fortitude in defence of the Faith, and of the rights of his Church, raised up for him many powerful enemies, and among them, three wretches who were unceasing in their persecution of him Bardas, uncle to the Emperor, Photius, and Gregory Asbestas, Bishop of Syracuse.
**Bardas **wishing to be sole master in the Empire of his nephew, Michael, had either procured the death or banishment of all who stood in his way at Court. He even shut up in a Monastery his own sister, the Empress Theodora, because he could not bend her in all things to his wishes, and then began a persecution against St. Ignatius, because he refused to give her the veil (1). What irritated him, above all, against the Saint was, he had repudiated his wife, and lived publicly with his step daughter, a widow. St. Ignatius admonished him of the scandal he was giving; but he took so little note of this, that he presented himself one day in the church to partake of the Holy Mysteries, and the Saint then excommunicated him. Bardas threatened to run him through with his sword, and from that out never ceased misrepresenting him to the Emperor, and at last, on the 23rd of November, in the year 858, got him banished out of the Patriarchal Palace, and exiled to the Island of Terebintum (2), and sent after him several Bishops, Patricians, and some of the most esteemed judges, to induce him to renounce the Bishopric. Their journey was all in vain; and Bardas then promised to each of the Bishops the See of Constantinople, if they deposed St. Ignatius, and these unfortunate Prelates lent themselves to the nefarious scheme, though every one of them had previously taken an oath, that he would not vote for the Patriarch’s deposition, unless he was convicted of a Canonical fault; but they were all deceived in the end, for Bardas, after promising that the Emperor would give the Bishopric to each of them, persuaded them that it would be most grateful to the Emperor, if each one, when called, would at first, through humility, as it were, refuse it, and they took his advice. The Emperor sent for each of them, and preferred the Bishopric; every one declined at first, and was not asked a second time, so that their villany was of no use to them .
The Patriarch chosen by the Court, was the impious Photius, a Eunuch of illustrious birth, but of the most inordinate ambition. . . . We cannot say much for his religious character, for he was already a schismatic, as he joined** Gregory, Bishop of Syracuse,** a man convicted of several crimes, and whose character was so bad, that when St. Ignatius was elected Bishop of Constantinople, he would not permit him to attend at his consecration. . .
Such was Gregory,** with whom Photius was leagued,** and as this last was elected Bishop of Constantinople, not according to the Canons, but solely by the authority of Bardas, he was at first rejected by all the Bishops, and another was elected by common consent. They adhered to their resolutions for many days, but Bardas by degrees gained them over. Five still held out, but at length went with the stream, and joined the rest, but only on condition that Photius would swear to, and sign a paper, promising to renounce the schism of Gregory, and to receive Ignatius into his communion, honouring him as a father, and to do nothing contrary to his opinion.** Photius promised every thing**, and was accordingly consecrated, but by the very same Gregory, and took possession of the See (6).
Six months had not yet passed over, since his consecration, and he had broken all his oaths and promises; he persecuted St. Ignatius, and all the Ecclesiastics who adhered to him; he even got some of them flogged, and by promises and threats, induced several to sign documents, intended for the ruin of his sainted predecessors. Not being able to accomplish his design, he laid a plot, with the assistance of Bardas, that the Emperor should send persons to take informations, to prove that St. Ignatius was privately conspiring against the state. Magistrates and soldiers were immediately sent to the island of Terebintum, where St. Ignatius dwelt, and endeavoured by every means, even resorting to torture, to prove the charge, but as nothing came out to inculpate him, they conveyed him to another island called Jerium, and put him in a place where goats were kept, and, in a little time after, brought him to Prometum, near Constantinople, where he underwent cruel sufferings, for they shut him up in a confined prison, and his feet were fastened to the stocks by two iron bars, and the captain of his guard struck him so brutally with his clenched fist, that he knocked two of his teeth out. He was treated in this brutal manner, to induce him to sign a renunciation of his See, to make it appear, that of his own free will he gave up the Patriarchate. . .
And so on, a story of political ambition beyond measure in the Byzantine Empire.
It’s complicated. More than can be explained in a post.
By the way, at least in Catholic parliance, the term “Western Schism” refers to something that happened in the West, with three concurrent claimants to the chair of Peter (see the CE article) – although I would not be surprised if Orthodox used that term for what we call the Eastern Schism – or, if you want to be more politically correct, the Great Schism.
Thanks for replying guys! :D:D:thumbsup::D:D
The Cardinals elected a Pope, who proved to be unpopular. Nine months later, those same Cardinals deposed the Pope and elected somebody else.
What’s that, you say? You didn’t think Popes could be deposed? Many Popes have been deposed, but the legitimacy of such an act is highly questionable.
For this reason, loyalty to both men was split. A third guy also got into the act.
It got pretty crazy. There were two (and then three) Colleges of Cardinals electing their own Popes.
Forty years later, the Ecumenical Council of Constance deposed all three “popes” and installed another, ending the Western Schism. But the legitimacy of that guy is questionable, because the “real” Pope may have still been around (and recently deposed).
To this day, the Church has never officially taught who was the “actual” Pope during the Schism, or, indeed, if anybody was - I feel that only the first guy was legitimate and all of the successors were anti-Popes. Most Catholic theologians don’t agree with me and prefer the Roman line.
It’s a good thing that there’s no such thing as Papal succession (ie, Popes don’t inherit their authority from their predecessor). If we had Papal succession, this Schism would be a REALLY HUGE problem, even for the modern Church.
Questions and answers on Catholicism and Protestantism
Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
152. Did not the Great Western Schism disprove the unity of the Catholic Church?
No. What is known as the “Great Western Schism” lasted from 1378 till 1417. It was not strictly a schism at all. During that period besides the lawful Pope, there were two others who unlawfully proclaimed themselves Popes, each having a following convinced that his claims were riVht By 1417 things were straightened out, and one lawful Pope was acknowledged by all. The unity of the Church as a Church was no more affected by this than the unity of the Kingdom of England was affected by the fact that at various times there were Pretenders to the Throne with followers convinced of their rightful claims.
155. The Great Western Schism must have permanently injured the Church.
It did not. It was but a transitory historical episode; and as I have said was not really a schism at all. The confusion was ended by the Council of Constance in 1417 when the lawful Pope Gregory XII resigned, the two Pretenders were declared not lawful Popes at all, and Pope Martin V was elected and acknowledged by everybody as the one true Pope. Over five hundred years have elapsed since then without any recurrence of such confusion.
The only Church established by Christ is the Catholic Church and no other can legitimately deny that fact.
Re: the E Orthodox
Where is Peter among the E Orthodox? Antioch perhaps?
They can’t claim Antioch. Peter left Antioch and went to Rome. And the Orthodox know that a bishop’s see is not where a bishop was but where he is. And Peter’s see is Rome.
Anybody NOT in union with Peter is in schism.
Re: the Western schism