The Great Schism

By Bishop of Diocleia
Kallistos Ware

«We are unchanged; we are still the same as we were in the eighth century… Oh that you could only consent to be again what you were once, when we were both united in faith and communion!» (Alexis Khomiakov).
The estrangement of Eastern and Western Christendom
One summer afternoon in the year 1054, as a service was about to begin in the Church of the Holy Wisdom (in Greek, «Hagia Sophia»; often called «Saint Sophia» or «Sancta Sophia» by English writers) at Constantinople, Cardinal Humbert and two other legates of the Pope entered the building and made their way up to the sanctuary. They had not come to pray. They placed a Bull of Excommunication upon the altar and marched out once more. As he passed through the western door, the Cardinal shook the dust from his feet with the words: «Let God look and judge.» A deacon ran out after him in great distress and begged him to take back the Bull. Humbert refused; and it was dropped in the street.

The Orthodox attitude to the Papacy is admirably expressed by a twelfth-century writer, Nicetas, Archbishop of Nicomedia:

My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy amongst the five sister Patriarchates; and we recognize her right to the most honorable seat at an Ecumenical Council. But she has separated herself from us by her own deeds, when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office… How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on the lofty throne of his glory, wishes to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high, and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our Churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves, not the sons, of such a Church, and the Roman See would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves (Quoted in S. Runciman, The Eastern Schism, p. 116).

Read more here.

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