What divided East and West in the Great Schism?

I know this has been asked many times, but I am preparing an informational series on Church history to be used for RCIA and other events. My question is what separates or are differences between East and West. I am looking for the big issues. thanks in advance for any information that can be provided so that i can properly present the information. Peace.

As a Catholic revert who once attempted joining my Eastern Orthodox brethren, I can tell you that the main thing that separates us is St. Peter’s headship of the Church. In order to be accepted as Orthodox, I would have had to deny Papa Francis’ as head of the Church and I could not do that.

If you ask my teenage daughter, she sees them as the same faith, separated by egos and politics.

There are many issues:

  1. The Eastern Orthodox do not accept the universal jurisdiction and the infallibility of the Roman Pope. But they are willing to grant him a primacy of honor in a reunited Church.
  2. filioque.
  3. The Eastern Orthodox allow divorce and remarriage under certain restricted conditions, citing the practice of the early Church.
  4. Questions have been raised about the modern Catholic liturgy and the leniency of the Catholic fasting requirements.
  5. According to the EO, ordinarily, Baptism should be done by triple immersion and not by sprinkling.
  6. EO allow for married priests and do not require celibacy of their priests as a general rule.
  7. EO believe that icons are more appropriate than statues and they have certain rules which must be followed by monks who create these sacred icons. They do not allow more modern representations in their icons, but only allow the traditional formulation.
  8. The sign of the cross is to be made from the right to the left as was the case from ancient times.
  9. Unleavened bread is not permitted, but leavened bread must be used for the Sacrament.

This is true. I don’t think that the Eastern Orthodox would agree that: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”-Unam Sanctam

A minor quibble: per the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the filioque is actually not a huge issue, or else we’d have required the Churches coming back into union with Rome to adopt it (which we didn’t; go to any Byzantine-rite Catholic Church and listen to the Creed, they don’t say it).

247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. The use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). The introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who proceeds from the Father”, it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77 The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, “legitimately and with good reason”,78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle”,79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.

-ACEGC

Very few of these things are a major quibble from the Catholic point of view. (I should mention that this list is only a small fraction of the problems that the Orthodox have with the Catholics from their point of view.)

It might help, though, if you gave a better description of what your purpose is. For instance, it might be best to emphasize the similarities instead of the differences.

If that is true, then why do not Roman Catholics change their teachings on these points so that they would not be issues blocking the reunion between East and West?

If the filioque is not a huge issue, then why doesn’t the Roman Catholic Church drop it from its creed in the interest of promoting harmony between East and West?

Why should we forsake our theology/traditions/customs as if they were heretical or unimportant, moreover, in the first millennia of the Church, different apostolic traditions/customs were allowed to prevail and/or co-exist, as such, why should we now allow only a Byzantine interpretation of such traditions/customs/theology?

Because:
1.

and
2. If the Roman Catholic Church desires reunion with the Eastern Orthodox Church it should be prepared to make minor adjustments.

Orthodoxs believe that everything that is Western is heretic, the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic churches are wrong, the Pope is the Antichrist, Rome is “whore of babylon” only they are right, only byzantine tradition is right :shrug: they also have to change their attitude, we are no longer in 1054

This is an absurd caricature of the Orthodox.

As a purely practical matter, not a matter of theological intricacies few can understand, Orthodoxy is “territorial” whereas Catholicism is not.

The Catholic Church claims the right to be anywhere on earth where human beings are found. Orthodoxy (most especially the Russian version) is very territorial; territorial to the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize the right of the Greek Orthodox to be in Ukraine, (though they are theoretically the same church) let alone the Latin or Ukrainian Catholic Churches.

Russian Orthodoxy claims to have the sole right to have its churches, evangelists, etc even in the Americas, to the exclusion of all others; a remarkable claim based on the former Russian colonization of Alaska. It claims the Catholic Church has no right to be in the Philippines, (notwithstanding virtually every Filipino is Catholic) because it is believed some Russian Orthodox missionaries preached in China before the Spanish reached the Philippines. So Asia is off-limits as well.

So, Orthodox churches tend to be “ethnic” or “national” in their composition. They tend to have closer relations with their respective states than do other churches, and more identification with the ethnic state.

This is not some tangential issue. It’s very serious. Even if this was the only difference, it would preclude union because (if nothing else) Catholics worldwide would not consent to the conditions; that the Catholic Church abandon Asia, Europe (except for the City of Rome and part of the Roman countryside) and the Americas, and that all Catholics in those places be admitted to the Russian Orthodox Church, remarried in that church, possibly re-baptized. It’s just a non-starter.

Will the Russian E.O. give all that up? No reason to think so, and every reason not to. To this day, it’s a big issue in the former Russian Empire (and Soviet) states, particularly Ukraine.

And among the Eastern Orthodox, the Russian church is far and away the largest segment.

In my opinion and belief, the schism was always about territoriality and identification with a particular state or national group. It wasn’t really about the filioque or how one crossed oneself. In the East, it was possible to identify with a singular state and ethic composition, until the very fall of Constantinople. Then the bulk of it passed to Russia. In the west, there was almost no time during which the Catholic Church could identify with any single stable state or ethnicity, and it didn’t.

Oh yes, one more thing. The Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, some in the Balkans) are not the same as the Oriental Orthodox (North Africa, Middle East).

As a purely practical matter, not a matter of theological intricacies few can understand, Orthodoxy is “territorial” whereas Catholicism is not.

Not true. Sure there are differences and disagreements on territory where there is overlap - but the same was true for the Catholic Church, why else were there German, Irish, Italian parishes one block from each other?

The Catholic Church claims the right to be anywhere on earth where human beings are found. Orthodoxy (most especially the Russian version) is very territorial; territorial to the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize the right of the Greek Orthodox to be in Ukraine, (though they are theoretically the same church) let alone the Latin or Ukrainian Catholic Churches.

Not true. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism claim the right to be anywhere on earth, but not to have 10 bishops over the same territory, although this does happen to both for various reasons. The Greek Orthodox aren’t in Ukraine by the way, the Ukrainian Orthodox are - although divided into 3 groups.

Russian Orthodoxy claims to have the sole right to have its churches, evangelists, etc even in the Americas, to the exclusion of all others; a remarkable claim based on the former Russian colonization of Alaska. It claims the Catholic Church has no right to be in the Philippines, (notwithstanding virtually every Filipino is Catholic) because it is believed some Russian Orthodox missionaries preached in China before the Spanish reached the Philippines. So Asia is off-limits as well.

These few Russian Orthodox are off the mark, just as some Latin Catholics keep trying to claim worldwide jurisdiction but keep limiting the Eastern Catholic Churches from doing the same.

So, Orthodox churches tend to be “ethnic” or “national” in their composition. They tend to have closer relations with their respective states than do other churches, and more identification with the ethnic state.

Some do some don’t. This generalization absurd.

This is not some tangential issue. It’s very serious. Even if this was the only difference, it would preclude union because (if nothing else) Catholics worldwide would not consent to the conditions; that the Catholic Church abandon Asia, Europe (except for the City of Rome and part of the Roman countryside) and the Americas, and that all Catholics in those places be admitted to the Russian Orthodox Church, remarried in that church, possibly re-baptized. It’s just a non-starter.

Good thing its not a serious concern to anyone.

In my opinion and belief, the schism was always about territoriality and identification with a particular state or national group. It wasn’t really about the filioque or how one crossed oneself. In the East, it was possible to identify with a singular state and ethic composition, until the very fall of Constantinople. Then the bulk of it passed to Russia. In the west, there was almost no time during which the Catholic Church could identify with any single stable state or ethnicity, and it didn’t.

Are you unaware of Avignon, the Frankish overtaking, the suppression of local Latin Rites - Sarum, Ambrosian, Gallican, Mozarabic, etc; and the suppression of Eastern Catholic Churches, which even extends to today in some areas - including the USA (see how married Eastern priests were treated by Latins)?

Just to clarify, there are Eastern Orthodox Patriarchates in both Jerusalem and Antioch, just as there is an Oriental Orthodox Patriarchate in Antioch (Syriac Orthodox) and in Jerusalem (Armenian Orthodox). In the case of Antioch, I believe the Syriac Orthodox are more numerous than the Eastern Orthodox, while in the case of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, I believe that there are more members of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem than the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. So both the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox are both historically and presently associated with the Middle East.

2 examples, William C. Skurla archbishop of Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Church of Pittsburgh, David Zubik bishop of the Roman Catholic Church of Pittsburgh.
Stefan Soroka archbishop of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Chuch of Philadelphia and Charles Chaput archbishop of Roman Catholic Church of Philadelphia

Even if it is a minor quibble, i.e., it is not a heresy more than it is a misunderstanding, it is not a minor adjustment, i.e., when an apostolic Church has believed in something for as long as we have the filioque, than we are giving up more than you think, i.e., we are giving up part of our identity. So rather than having to give up something, why don’t we go back to the fact that the earlier Church allowed for different apostolic tradition/customs/theology to flourish? Moreover, it is not just the filioque that we are contending with, as such, you’re rationale is basically to give up all that is Roman/Western in order for unification to be possible, i.e., only that which is Byzantine would be allowable according to your reasoning.

Well, then that implies that the Roman Catholic Church only wants reunion on its terms. But the Eastern Orthodox have their concerns and are not willing to reunite based on strict adherence to terms set down by the Roman Catholic Church.

Right, Tombstone, that’s exactly what I was trying to say. :rolleyes:

Correct. I listed only a very few of the issues. There was a harsh letter published recently in which two Orthodox bishops gave their outlook on the situation.

lastampa.it/2014/04/15/esteri/vatican-insider/en/translate-to-english-accuse-di-eresia-al-papa-da-due-vescovi-ortodossi-fyvTzgPXICGuU8sVcIRX4O/pagina.html
orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/epistle-to-pope-francis.pdf

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