Vol. 4, Chapter V. The Conflict of the Eastern and Western Churches and Their Separation

67. Sources and Literature

The chief sources on the beginning of the controversy between Photius and Nicolas are in Mansi: Conc. Tom. XV. and XVI.; in Harduin: Conc. Tom. V. Hergenröther: Monumenta Graeca ad Photium ejusque historiam pertinentia. Regensb. 1869.


I. On the Greek Side

Photius: Ἑγκύκλιος ἑπιστολή etc . and especially his Λόγος περὶ τῆς τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος μυσταγωγίας, etc. See Photii Opera omnia, ed. Migne. Paris, 1860-’61, 4 vols. (Patr. Gr. Tom. CI.-CIV.) The Encycl. Letter is in Tom. II. 722-742; and his treatise on the μυσταγωγία τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος in Tom. II. 279-391.

Later Champions

Caerularius, Nicetas Pectoratus, Theophylact (12th century). Euthymius Zigabenus, Phurnus, Eustratius, and many others. In recent times Prokopovitch (1772), Zoernicav (1774, 2 vols.).

J. G. Pitzipios: L’Egl. orientale, sa séparation et sa réunion avec celle de Rome. Rome, 1855. L’Orient. Les réformes de lempire byzantin. Paris, 1858.

A. N. Mouravieff (Russ.): Question religieuse d’Orient et d’Occident. Moscow, 1856.

Guettere: La papauté schismatique. Par. 1863.

A. Picheler: Gesch. d. kirchlichen Trennung zwischen dem Orient und Occident von den ersten Anfaengen his zur juengsten Gegenwart. München, 1865, 2 Bde. The author was a Roman Catholic (Privatdocent der Theol. in München) when he wrote this work, but blamed the West fully as much as the East for the schism, and afterwards joined the Greek church in Russia.

Andronicos Dimitracopulos: Ἰστορία τοῦ σχίσματος. Lips. 1867. Also his Βίβλιοθήκη ἐκκλης. Lips. 1866.

Theodorus Lascaris Junior: De Processione Spiritus S. Oratio Apologetica. London and Jena, 1875.


II. On the Latin (Roman Catholic) Side

Ratramnus (Contra Graecorum Opposita); Anselm of Canterbury (De Processione Spiritus S. 1098); Petrus Chrysolanus (1112); Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), etc.

Leo Allatius (Allacci, a Greek of Chios, but converted to the Roman Church and guardian of the Vatican library, d. 1669): De ecclesiae occident. atque orient. perpetua consensione. Cologne, 1648, 4to. ; new ed. 1665 and 1694. Also his Graecia orthodoxa, 1659, 2 vols., new ed. by Lämmer, Freib. i. B. 1864 sq.; and his special tracts on Purgatory (Rom. 1655), and on the Procession of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1658).

Maimburg: Hist. du schisme des Grecs. Paris, 1677, 4to.

Steph. de Altimura (Mich. le Quien): Panoplia contra schisma Graecorum. Par. 1718, 4to.

Michael le Quien (d. 1733): Oriens Christianus. Par. 1740, 3 vols. fol.

Abbé Jager: Histoire de Photius d’après les monuments originaux. 2nd ed. Par. 1845.

Luigi Tosti: Storia dell’ origine dello scisma greco. Firenze 1856. 2 vols.

H. Lämmer: Papst. Nikolaus I. und die byzantinische Staatskirche seiner Zeit. Berlin, 1857.

Ad. d’Avril: Documents relatifs aux églises de l’Orient, considerée dans leur rapports avec le saint-siége de Rome. Paris, 1862.

Karl Werner: Geschichte der Apol. und polemischen Literatur. Schaffhausen, 1864, vol. III. 3 ff.

J. Hergenröther: (Prof. of Church History in Würzburg, now Cardinal in Rome): Photius, Patriarch von Constantinopel. Sein Leben, seine Schriften und das griechische Schisma. Regensburg, 1867-1869, 3 vols.

C. Jos. von Hefele (Bishop of Rottenburg): Conciliengeschichte. Freiburg i. B., vols. IV., V., VI., VII. (revised ed. 1879 sqq.)


III. Protestant Writers

J. G. Walch (Luth.): Historia controversiae Graecorum Latinorumque de Processione Sp. S. Jena, 1751.

Gibbon: Decline and Fall, etc., Ch. LX. He views the schism as one of the causes which precipitated the decline and fall of the Roman empire in the East by alienating its most useful allies and strengthening its most dangerous enemies.

John Mason Neale (Anglican): A History of the Holy Eastern Church. Lond. 1850. Introd. vol. II. 1093-1169.

Edmund S. Foulkes (Anglic.): An Historical Account of the Addition of the word Filioque to the Creed of the West. Lond. 1867.

W. Gass: Symbolik der griechischen Kirche. Berlin, 1872.

H. B. Swete (Anglic.): Early History of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Cambr. 1873; and History of the Doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Apost. Age to the Death of Charlemagne. Cambr. 1876.


IV. Old Catholic Writers (Irenical)

Joseph Langen: Die Trinitarische Lehrdifferenz zwischen der abendlaendischen und der morgenlaendischen Kirche. Bonn, 1876.

The Proceedings of the second Old Catholic Union-Conference in Bonn, 1875, ed. in German by Heinrich Reusch; English ed. with introduction by Canon Liddon (Lond. 1876); Amer. ed. transl. by Dr. Samuel Buel, with introduction by Dr. R. Nevin (N. Y. 1876). The union-theses of Bonn are given in Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, vol. II., 545-550.


68. The Consensus and Dissensus between the Greek and Latin Churches

No two churches in the world are at this day so much alike, and yet so averse to each other as the Oriental or Greek, and the Occidental or Roman. They hold, as an inheritance from the patristic age, essentially the same body of doctrine, the same canons of discipline, the same form of worship; and yet their antagonism seems irreconcilable. The very affinity breeds jealousy and friction. They are equally exclusive: the Oriental Church claims exclusive orthodoxy, and looks upon Western Christendom as heretical; the Roman Church claims exclusive catholicity, and considers all other churches as heretical or schismatical sects. The one is proud of her creed, the other of her dominion. In all the points of controversy between Romanism and Protestantism the Greek Church is much nearer the Roman, and yet there is no more prospect of a union between them than of a union between Rome and Geneva, or Moscow and Oxford. The Pope and the Czar are the two most powerful rival-despots in Christendom. Where the two churches meet in closest proximity, over the traditional spots of the birth and tomb of our Saviour, at Bethlehem and Jerusalem, they hate each other most bitterly, and their ignorant and bigoted monks have to be kept from violent collision by Mohammedan soldiers.

I. Let us first briefly glance at the consensus.

Both churches own the Nicene creed (with the exception of the Filioque), and all the doctrinal decrees of the seven ecumenical Synods from a.d. 325 to 787, including the worship of images.

They agree moreover in most of the post-ecumenical or medieval doctrines against which the evangelical Reformation protested, namely: the authority of ecclesiastical tradition as a joint rule of faith with the holy Scriptures; the worship of the Virgin Mary, of the saints, their pictures (not statues), and relics; justification by faith and good works, as joint conditions; the merit of good works, especially voluntary celibacy and poverty; the seven sacraments or mysteries (with minor differences as to confirmation, and extreme unction or chrisma); baptismal regeneration and the necessity of water-baptism for salvation; transubstantiation and the consequent adoration of the sacramental elements; the sacrifice of the mass for the living and the dead, with prayers for the dead; priestly absolution by divine authority; three orders of the ministry, and the necessity of an episcopal hierarchy up to the patriarchal dignity; and a vast number of religious rites and ceremonies.

In the doctrine of purgatory, the Greek Church is less explicit, yet agrees with the Roman in assuming a middle state of purification, and the efficacy of prayers and masses for the departed. The dogma of transubstantiation, too, is not so clearly formulated in the Greek creed as in the Roman, but the difference is very small. As to the Holy Scriptures, the Greek Church has never prohibited the popular use, and the Russian Church even favors the free circulation of her authorized vernacular version. But the traditions of the Greek Church are as strong a barrier against the exercise of private judgment and exegetical progress as those of Rome.

II. The dissensus of the two churches covers the following points:

1. The procession of the Holy Spirit: the East teaching the single procession from the Father only, the West (since Augustin), the double procession from the Father and the Son (Filioque).

2. The universal authority and infallibility of the pope, which is asserted by the Roman, denied by the Greek Church. The former is a papal monarchy, the latter a patriarchal oligarchy. There are, according to the Greek theory, five patriarchs of equal rights, the pope of Rome, the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. They were sometimes compared to the five senses in the body. To them was afterwards added the patriarch of Moscow for the Russian church (which is now governed by the “Holy Synod”). To the bishop of Rome was formerly conceded a primacy of honor, but this primacy passed with the seat of empire to the patriarch of Constantinople, who therefore signed himself “Archbishop of New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.”

3. The immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed as a dogma by the pope in 1854, disowned by the East, which, however, in the practice of Mariolatry fully equals the West.

4. The marriage of the lower clergy, allowed by the Eastern, forbidden by the Roman Church (yet conceded by the pope to the United Greeks).

5. The withdrawal of the cup from the laity. In the Greek Church the laymen receive the consecrated bread dipped in the wine and administered with a golden spoon.

6. A number of minor ceremonies peculiar to the Eastern Church, such as trine immersion in baptism, the use of leavened bread in the eucharist, infant-communion, the repetition of the holy unction (τὸ εὐχέλιον) in sickness.

Notwithstanding these differences the Roman Church has always been obliged to recognize the Greek Church as essentially orthodox, though schismatic. And, certainly, the differences are insignificant as compared with the agreement. The separation and antagonism must therefore be explained fully as much and more from an alienation of spirit and change of condition.


Note on the Eastern Orthodox Church

For the sake of brevity the usual terminology is employed in this chapter, but the proper name of the Greek Church is the Holy Oriental Orthodox Apostolic Church. The terms mostly in use in that church are Orthodox and Oriental (Eastern). The term Greek is used in Turkey only of the Greeks proper (the Hellens); but the great majority of Oriental Christians in Turkey and Russia belong to the Slavonic race. The Greek is the original and classical language of the Oriental Church, in which the most important works are written; but it has been practically superseded in Asiatic Turkey by the Arabic, in Russia and European Turkey by the Slavonic.

The Oriental or Orthodox Church now embraces three distinct divisions:

1. The Orthodox Church in Turkey (European Turkey and the Greek islands, Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine) under the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

2. The state church of Russia, formerly under the patriarch of Constantinople, then under the patriarch of Moscow, since 1725 under the Holy Synod of St. Petersburg and the headship of the Czar. This is by far the largest and most important branch.

3. The church of the kingdom of Greece under the Holy Synod of Greece (since 1833).

There are also Greek Christians in Egypt, the Sinaitic Peninsula (the monks of the Convent of St. Catharine), the islands of the AEgean Sea, in Malta, Servia, Austria, etc.

Distinct from the Orthodox Church are the Oriental Schismatics, the Nestorians, Armenians, Jacobites, Copts, and Abyssinians, who separated from the former on the ground of the christological controversies. The Maronites of Mount Lebanon were originally also schismatics, but submitted to the pope during the Crusades.

The United Greeks acknowledge the supremacy of the pope, but retain certain peculiarities of the Oriental Church, as the marriage of the lower clergy, the native language in worship. They are found in lower Italy, Austria, Russia, and Poland.

The Bulgarians, who likewise call themselves orthodox, and who by the treaty of Berlin in 1878 have been formed into a distinct principality, occupy an independent position between the Greek and the Roman Churches.


69. The Causes of Separation

Church history, like the world’s history, moves with the sun from East to West. In the first six centuries the Eastern or Greek church represented the main current of life and progress. In the middle ages the Latin church chiefly assumed the task of christianizing and civilizing the new races which came upon the stage. The Greek church has had no Middle Ages in the usual sense, and therefore no Reformation. She planted Christianity among the Slavonic races, but they were isolated from the progress of European history, and have not materially affected either the doctrine or polity or cultus of the church. Their conversion was an external expansion, not an internal development.

The Greek and Latin churches were never organically united under one government, but differed considerably from the beginning in nationality, language, and various ceremonies. These differences, however, did not interfere with the general harmony of faith and Christian life, nor prevent cooperation against common foes. As long and as far as the genuine spirit of Christianity directed them, the diversity was an element of strength to the common cause.

The principal sees of the East were directly founded by the apostles — with the exception of Constantinople — and had even a clearer title to apostolic succession and inheritance than Rome. The Greek church took the lead in theology down to the sixth or seventh century, and the Latin gratefully learned from her. All the ecumenical Councils were held on the soil of the Byzantine empire in or near Constantinople, and carried on in the Greek language. The great doctrinal controversies on the holy Trinity and Christology were fought out in the East, yet not without the powerful aid of the more steady and practical West. Athanasius, when an exile from Alexandria, found refuge and support in the bishop of Rome. Jerome, the most learned of the Latin fathers and a friend of Pope Damasus, was a connecting link between the East and the West, and concluded his labors in Bethlehem. Pope Leo I. was the theological master-spirit who controlled the council of Chalcedon, and shaped the Orthodox formula concerning the two natures in the one person of Christ. Yet this very pope strongly protested against the action of the Council which, in conformity with a canon of the second ecumenical Council, put him on a par with the new bishop of Constantinople.

And here we approach the secret of the ultimate separation and incurable antagonism of the churches. It is due chiefly to three causes. The first cause is the politico- ecclesiastical rivalry of the patriarch of Constantinople backed by the Byzantine empire, and the bishop of Rome in connection with the new German empire. The second cause is the growing centralization and overbearing conduct of the Latin church in and through the papacy. The third cause is the stationary character of the Greek and the progressive character of the Latin church during the middle ages. The Greek church boasts of the imaginary perfection of her creed. She still produced considerable scholars and divines, as Maximus, John of Damascus, Photius, Oecumenius, and Theophylact, but they mostly confined themselves to the work of epitomizing and systematizing the traditional theology of the Greek fathers, and produced no new ideas, as if all wisdom began and ended with the old ecumenical Councils. She took no interest in the important anthropological and soteriological controversies which agitated the Latin church in the age of St. Augustin, and she continued to occupy the indefinite position of the first centuries on the doctrines of sin and grace. On the other hand she was much distracted and weakened by barren metaphysical controversies on the abstrusest questions of theology and christology; and these quarrels facilitated the rapid progress of Islâm, which conquered the lands of the Bible and pressed hard on Constantinople. When the Greek church became stationary, the Latin church began to develop her greatest energy; she became the fruitful mother of new and vigorous nations of the North and West of Europe, produced scholastic and mystic theology and a new order of civilization, built magnificent cathedrals, discovered a new Continent, invented the art of printing, and with the revival of learning prepared the way for a new era in the history of the world. Thus the Latin daughter outgrew the Greek mother, and is numerically twice as strong, without counting the Protestant secession. At the same time the Eastern church still may look forward to a new future among the Slavonic races which she has christianized. What she needs is a revival of the spirit and power of primitive Christianity.

When once the two churches were alienated in spirit and engaged in an unchristian race for supremacy, all the little doctrinal and ritualistic differences which had existed long before, assumed an undue weight, and were branded as heresies and crimes. The bishop of Rome sees in the Patriarch of Constantinople an ecclesiastical upstart who owed his power to political influence, not to apostolic origin. The Eastern patriarchs look upon the Pope as an anti-christian usurper and as the first Protestant. They stigmatize the papal supremacy as “the chief heresy of the latter days, which flourishes now as its predecessor, Arianism, flourished in former days, and which like it, will in like manner be cast down and vanish away.”


70. The Patriarch and the Pope. Photius and Nicolas

Comp. § 61, the Lit. in § 67, especially the letters of Photius and Nicolas.

Hergenröther: Photius (Regensb. 1867-69, vol. I. 373 sqq.; 505 sqq.; and the second vol.), and his Monumenta Graeca ad Photium ejusque historiam pertinentia (Ratisb. 1869, 181 pages). Milman: Hist. of Latin Christianity, bk. V. Ch. IV. Hefele IV. 224 sqq.; 384 sqq.; 436sqq. The chief documents are also given by Gieseler II. 213 sqq. (Am. ed.)

The doctrinal difference on the procession of the Holy Spirit will be considered in the chapter on the Theological Controversies. Although it existed before the schism, it assumed a practical importance only in connection with the broader ecclesiastical and political conflict between the patriarch and the pope, between Constantinople and Rome.

The first serious outbreak of this conflict took place after the middle of the ninth century, when Photius and Nicolas, two of the ablest representatives of the rival churches, came into collision. Photius is one of the greatest of patriarchs, as Nicolas is one of the greatest of popes. The former was superior in learning, the latter in statesmanship; while in moral integrity, official pride and obstinacy both were fairly matched, except that the papal ambition towered above the patriarchal dignity. Photius would tolerate no superior, Nicolas no equal; the one stood on the Council of Chalcedon, the other on Pseudo-Isidor.

The contest between them was at first personal. The deposition of Ignatius as patriarch of Constantinople, for rebuking the immorality of Caesar Bardas, and the election of Photius, then a mere layman, in his place (858), were arbitrary and uncanonical acts which created a temporary schism in the East, and prepared the way for a permanent schism between the East and the West. Nicolas, being appealed to as mediator by both parties (first by Photius), assumed the haughty air of supreme judge on the basis of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, but was at first deceived by his own legates. The controversy was complicated by the Bulgarian quarrel. King Bogoris had been converted to Christianity by missionaries from Constantinople (861), but soon after applied to Rome for teachers, and the pope eagerly seized this opportunity to extend his jurisdiction (866).

Nicolas, in a Roman Synod (863), decided in favor of the innocent Ignatius, and pronounced sentence of deposition against Photius with a threat of excommunication in case of disobedience. Photius, enraged by this conduct and the Bulgarian interference, held a counter-synod, and deposed in turn the successor of St. Peter (867). In his famous Encyclical Letter of invitation to the Eastern patriarchs, he charged the whole Western church with heresy and schism for interfering with the jurisdiction over the Bulgarians, for fasting on Saturday, for abridging the time of Lent by a week, for taking milk-food (milk, cheese, and butter) during the quadragesimal fast, for enforcing clerical celibacy, and despising priests who lived in virtuous matrimony, and, most of all, for corrupting the Nicene Creed by the insertion of the Filioque, and thereby introducing two principles into the Holy Trinity.

This letter clearly indicates all the doctrinal and ritual differences which caused and perpetuated the schism to this day. The subsequent history is only a renewal of the same charges aggravated by the misfortunes of the Greek church, and the arrogance and intolerance of old Rome.

Photius fell with the murder of his imperial patron, Michael III. (Sept. 23, 867). He was imprisoned in a convent, and deprived of society, even of books. He bore his misfortune with great dignity, and nearly all the Greek bishops remained faithful to him. Ignatius was restored after ten years of exile by the emperor Basil, the Macedonian (867-886), and entered into communication with Pope Hadrian II. (Dec. 867). He convened a general council in the church of St. Sophia (October, 869), which is numbered by the Latins as the Eighth Ecumenical Council. The pontifical legates presided and presented a formula of union which every bishop was required to sign before taking part in the proceedings, and which contained an anathema against all heresies, and against Photius and his adherents. But the council was poorly attended (the number of bishops being at first only eighteen). Photius was forced to appear in the fifth session (Oct. 20), but on being questioned he either kept silence, or answered in the words of Christ before Caiaphas and Pilate. In the tenth and last session, attended by the emperor and his sons, and one hundred and two bishops, the decrees of the pope against Photius and in favor of Ignatius were confirmed, and the anathemas against the Monothelites and Iconoclasts renewed. The papal delegates signed “with reservation of the revision of the pope.”

But the peace was artificial, and broken up again immediately, after the Synod by the Bulgarian question, which involved the political as well as the ecclesiastical power of Constantinople. Ignatius himself was unwilling to surrender that point, and refused to obey when the imperious Pope John VIII. commanded, on pain of suspension and excommunication, that he should recall all the Greek bishops and priests from Bulgaria. But death freed him from further controversy (Oct. 23, 877).

Photius was restored to the patriarchal see three days after the death of Ignatius, with whom he had been reconciled. He convened a council in November, 879, which lasted till March, 880, and is acknowledged by the Orientals as the Eighth Ecumenical Council, but denounced by the Latins as the Pseudo-Synodus Photiana. It was three times as large as the Council of Ignatius, and held with great pomp in St. Sophia under the presidency of Photius. It annulled the Council of 869 as a fraud; it readopted the Nicene Creed with an anathema against the Filioque, and all other changes by addition or omission, and it closed with a eulogy on the unrivalled virtues and learning of Photius. To the Greek acts was afterwards added a (pretended) letter of Pope John VIII. to Photius, declaring the Filioque to be an addition which is rejected by the church of Rome, and a blasphemy which must be abolished calmly and by, degrees. The papal legates assented to all, and so deceived their master by false accounts of the surrender of Bulgaria that he thanked the emperor for the service he had done to the Church by this synod.

But when the pope’s eyes were opened, he sent the bishop Marinus to Constantinople to declare invalid what the legates had done contrary to his instructions. For this Marinus was shut up in prison for thirty days. After his return Pope John VIII. solemnly pronounced the anathema on Photius, who had dared to deceive and degrade the holy see, and had added new frauds to the old. Marinus renewed the anathema after he was elected pope (882). Photius denied the validity of his election, and developed an extraordinary, literary activity.

But after the death of the Emperor Basilius (886), he was again deposed by Leo VI., miscalled the Wise or the Philosopher, to make room for his youngest brother Stephen, at that time only sixteen years of age. Photius spent the last five years of his life in a cloister, and died 891. For learning, energy, position, and influence, he is one of the most remarkable men in the history of Eastern Christianity. He formulated the doctrinal basis of the schism, checked the papal despotism, and secured the independence of the Greek church. He announced in an Encyclical of 866: “God be praised for all time to come! The Russians have received a bishop, and show a lively zeal for Christian worship.” Roman writers have declared this to be a lie, but history has proved it to be an anticipation of an important fact, the conversion of a new nation which was to become the chief support of the Eastern church, and the most formidable rival of the papacy.

Greek and Roman historians are apt to trace the guilt of the schism exclusively to one party, and to charge the other with unholy ambition and intrigue; but we must acknowledge on the one hand the righteous zeal of Nicolas for the cause of the injured Ignatius, and on the other the many virtues of Photius tried in misfortune, as well as his brilliant learning in theology, philology, philosophy, and history; while we deplore and denounce the schism as a sin and disgrace of both churches.



The accounts of the Roman Catholic historians, even the best, are colored by sectarianism, and must be accepted with caution. Cardinal Hergenröther (Kirchengesch. I. 684) calls the Council of 879 a “Photianische Pseudo-Synode,” and its acts “ein ächt byzantinisches Machwerk ganz vom Geiste des verschmitzten Photius durchdrungen.” Bishop Hefele, in the revised edition of his Conciliengesch. (IV. 464 sqq.), treats this Aftersynode, as he calls it, no better. Both follow in the track of their old teacher, Dr. Döllinger who, in his History of the Church (translated by Dr. Edward Cox, London 1841, vol. III. p. 100), more than forty years ago, described this Synod “in all its parts as a worthy sister of the Council of Robbers of the year 449; with this difference, that in the earlier Synod violence and tyranny, in the later artifice, fraud, and falsehood were employed by wicked men to work out their wicked designs.” But when in 1870 the Vatican Council sanctioned the historical falsehood of papal infallibility, Döllinger, once the ablest advocate of Romanism in Germany, protested against Rome and was excommunicated. Whatever the Latins may say against the Synod of Photius, the Latin Synod of 869 was not a whit better, and Rome understood the arts of intrigue fully as well as Constantinople. The whole controversy between the Greek and the Roman churches is one of the most humiliating chapters in the history of Christianity, and both must humbly confess their share of sin and guilt before a reconciliation can take place.


71. Progress and Completion of the Schism. Cerularius

Hergenröther: Photius, Vol. III. 653-887; Comp. his Kirchengesch. vol. I. 688 sq.; 690-694. Hefele: Conciliengesch. IV. 587; 765 sqq.; 771, 775 sqq. Gieseler: II. 221 sqq.

We shall briefly sketch the progress and consolidation of the schism.


The Difference About Tetragamy

The fourth marriage of the emperor Leo the Philosopher (886-912), which was forbidden by the laws of the Greek church, caused a great schism in the East (905). The Patriarch Nicolas Mysticus solemnly protested and was deposed (906), but Pope Sergius III. (904-911), instead of siding with suffering virtue as Pope Nicolas had done, sanctioned the fourth marriage (which was not forbidden in the West) and the deposition of the conscientious patriarch.

Leo on his death-bed restored the deposed patriarch (912). A Synod of Constantinople in 920, at which Pope John X. was represented, declared a fourth marriage illegal, and made no concessions to Rome. The Emperor Constantine, Leo’s son, prohibited a fourth marriage by an edict; thereby casting a tacit imputation on his own birth. The Greek church regards marriage as a sacrament, and a necessary means for the propagation of the race, but a second marriage is prohibited to the clergy, a third marriage is tolerated in laymen as a sort of legal concubinage, and a fourth is condemned as a sin and a scandal. The pope acquiesced, and the schism slumbered during the dark tenth century. The venal Pope John XIX. (1024) was ready for an enormous sum to renounce all the claim of superiority over the Eastern patriarchs, but was forced to break off the negotiations when his treasonable plan was discovered.


Cerularius and Leo IX

Michael Cerularius (or Caerularius), who was patriarch from 1043 to 1059, renewed and completed the schism. Heretofore the mutual anathemas were hurled only against the contending heads and their party; now the churches excommunicated each other. The Emperor Constantinus Monachus courted the friendship of the pope for political reasons, but his patriarch checkmated him. Cerularius, in connection with the learned Bulgarian metropolitan Leo of Achrida, addressed in 1053 a letter to John, bishop of Trani, in Apulia (then subject to the Eastern rule), and through him to all the bishops of France and to the pope himself, charging the churches of the West that, following the practice of the Jews, and contrary to the usage of Christ, they employ in the eucharist unleavened bread; that they fast on Saturday in Lent; that they eat blood and things strangled in violation of the decree of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts, Act_15:1-41); and that during the fast they do not sing the hallelujah. He invented the new name Azymites for the heresy of using unleavened bread (azyma) instead of common bread. Nothing was said about the procession of the Spirit. This letter is only extant in the Latin translation of Cardinal Humbert.

Pope Leo IX. sent three legates under the lead of the imperious Humbert to Constantinople, with counter-charges to the effect that Cerularius arrogated to himself the title of “ecumenical” patriarch; that he wished to subject the patriarchs of Alexandria and of Antioch; that the Greeks rebaptized the Latins; that, like the Nicolaitans, they permitted their priests to live in wedlock; that they neglected to baptize their children before the eighth day after birth; that, like the Pneumatomachi or Theomachi, they cut out of the symbol the Procession of the Spirit from the Son. The legates were lodged in the imperial palace, but Cerularius avoided all intercourse with them. Finally, on the 16th of July, 1054, they excommunicated the patriarch and all those who should persistently censure the faith of the church of Rome or its mode of offering the holy sacrifice. They placed the writ on the altar of the church of Hagia Sophia with the words: “Videat Deus et judicet.”

Cerularius, supported by his clergy and the people, immediately answered by a synodical counter-anathema on the papal legates, and accused them of fraud. In a letter to Peter, the patriarch of Antioch (who at first acted the part of a mediator), he charged Rome with other scandals, namely, that two brothers were allowed to espouse two sisters; that bishops wore rings and engaged in warfare; that baptism was administered by a single immersion; that salt was put in the mouth of the baptized; that the images and relics of saints were not honored; and that Gregory the Theologian, Basil, and Chrysostom were not numbered among the saints. The Filioque was also mentioned.

The charge of the martial spirit of the bishops was well founded in that semi-barbarous age. Cerularius was all-powerful for several years; he dethroned one emperor and crowned another, but died in exile (1059).

The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem adhered to the see of Constantinople. Thus the schism between the Christian East and West was completed. The number of episcopal sees at that time was nearly equal on both sides, but in the course of years the Latin church far outgrew the East.


The Latin Empire in the East. 1204-1261

During the Crusades the schism was deepened by the brutal atrocities of the French and Venetian soldiers in the pillage of Constantinople (1204), the establishment of a Latin empire, and the appointment by the pope of Latin bishops in Greek sees. Although this artificial empire lasted only half a century (1204-1261), it left a legacy of burning hatred in the memories of horrible desecrations and innumerable insults and outrages, which the East had to endure from the Western barbarians. Churches and monasteries were robbed and desecrated, the Greek service mocked, the clergy persecuted, and every law of decency set at defiance. In Constantinople “a prostitute was seated on the throne of the patriarch; and that daughter of Belial, as she is styled, sung and danced in the church to ridicule the hymns and processions of the Orientals.” Even Pope Innocent III. accuses the pilgrims that they spared in their lust neither age nor sex, nor religious profession, and that they committed fornication, adultery, and incest in open day (in oculis omnium), “abandoning matrons and virgins dedicated to God to the lewdness of grooms.” And yet this great pope insulted the Eastern church by the establishment of a Latin hierarchy on the ruins of the Byzantine empire.


72. Fruitless Attempts at Reunion

The Greek emperors, hard pressed by the terrible Turks, who threatened to overthrow their throne, sought from time to time by negotiations with the pope to secure the powerful aid of the West. But all the projects of reunion split on the rock of papal absolutism and Greek obstinacy.


The Council of Lyons. a.d. 1274

Michael Palaeologus (1260-1282), who expelled the Latins from Constantinople (July 25, 1261), restored the Greek patriarchate, but entered into negotiations with Pope Urban IV. to avert the danger of a new crusade for the reconquest of Constantinople. A general council (the 14th of the Latins) was held at Lyons in 1273 and 1274 with great solemnity and splendor for the purpose of effecting a reunion. Five hundred Latin bishops, seventy abbots, and about a thousand other ecclesiastics were present, together with ambassadors from England, France, Germany, and other countries. Palaeologus sent a large embassy, but only three were saved from shipwreck, Germanus, ex-patriarch of Constantinople, Theophanes, metropolitan of Nicaea, and the chancellor of the empire. The pope opened the Synod (May 7, 1274) by the celebration of high mass, and declared the threefold object of the Synod to be: help for Jerusalem, union with the Greeks, and reform of the church. Bonaventura preached the sermon. Thomas Aquinas, the prince of schoolmen, who had defended the Latin doctrine of the double procession was to attend, but had died on the journey to Lyons (March 7, 1274), in his 49th year. The imperial delegates were treated with marked courtesy abjured the schism, submitted to the pope and accepted the distinctive tenets of the Roman church.

But the Eastern patriarchs were not represented, the people of Constantinople abhorred the union with Rome, and the death of the despotic Michael Palaeologus (1282) was also the death of the Latin party, and the formal revocation of the act of submission to the pope.


The Council at Ferrara — Florence. a.d. 1438-1439

Another attempt at reunion was made by John VII. Palaeologus in the Council of Ferrara, which was convened by Pope Eugenius IV. in opposition to the reformatory Council of Basle. It was afterwards transferred to Florence on account of the plague. It was attended by the emperor, the patriarch of Constantinople, and twenty-one Eastern prelates, among them the learned Bessarion of Nicaea, Mark of Ephesus, Dionysius of Sardis, Isidor of Kieff. The chief points of controversy were discussed: the procession of the Spirit, purgatory, the use of unleavened bread, and the supremacy of the pope. Bessarion became a convert to the Western doctrine, and was rewarded by a cardinal’s hat. He was twice near being elected pope (d. 1472). The decree of the council, published July 6, 1439, embodies his views, and was a complete surrender to the pope with scarcely a saving clause for the canonical rights and privileges of the Eastern patriarchs. The Greek formula on the procession, ex Patre per Filium, was declared to be identical with the Latin Filioque; the pope was acknowledged not only as the successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, but also as “the head of the whole church and father and teacher of all Christians,” but with variations in the Greek texts. The document of reunion was signed by the pope, the emperor, many archbishops and bishops, the representatives of all the Eastern patriarchs except that of Constantinople, who had previously died at Florence, but had left as his last sentence a disputed submission to the catholic and apostolic church of old Rome. For the triumph of his cause the pope could easily promise material aid to his Eastern ally, to pay the expenses of the deputation, to support three hundred soldiers for the protection of Constantinople, and to send, if necessary, an army and navy for the defense of the emperor against his enemies.

But when the humiliating terms of the reunion were divulged, the East and Russia rose in rebellion against the Latinizers as traitors to the orthodox faith; the compliant patriarchs openly recanted, and the new patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophanes, now called in derision Metrophonus or Matricide, was forced to resign.


After the Fall of Constantinople

The capture of Constantinople by the Mohammedan Turks (1453) and the overthrow of the Byzantine empire put an end to all political schemes of reunion, but opened the way for papal propagandism in the East. The division of the church facilitated that catastrophe which delivered the fairest lands to the blasting influence of Islâm, and keeps it in power to this day, although it is slowly waning. The Turk has no objection to fights among the despised Christians, provided they only injure themselves and do not touch the Koran. He is tolerant from intolerance. The Greeks hate the pope and the Filioque as much as they hate the false prophet of Mecca; while the pope loves his own power more than the common cause of Christianity, and would rather see the Sultan rule in the city of Constantine than a rival patriarch or the Czar of schismatic Russia.

During the nineteenth century the schism has been intensified by the creation of two new dogmas, — the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and the infallibility of the pope (1870). When Pius IX. invited the Eastern patriarchs to attend the Vatican Council, they indignantly refused, and renewed their old protest against the antichristian usurpation of the papacy and the heretical Filioque. They could not submit to the Vatican decrees without stultifying their whole history and committing moral suicide. Papal absolutism and Eastern stagnation are insuperable barriers to the reunion of the divided churches, which can only be brought about by great events and by the wonder-working power of the Spirit of God.