The Great Schism, 1054

“…[Cerularius] reflected, [that] the Pope was a Prisoner.  How was it that he had managed to send legates?  What assurance was there that they represented his intentions?  He refused to recognize their legatine authority.  His caution was justified.  On 15 April [1054], a few days after the legates’ arrival at Constantinople, Pope Leo died.  By all the precedents of Canon Law legates cannot represent a dead Pope.  When the news of Leo’s death reached him, Cerularius could congratulate himself on his prudence…

…Humbert went further and raised the question of the Filioque.  He doubtless supposed that Pope Leo would have wished him to do so; for just before the legates left Italy the Pope had been allowed by the Normans to go to Bari and to give before a small local synod there his views about the desirability of the word.  Even under this provocation, which irritated the Byzantine public, Cerularius kept silent and ignored the presence of the legates.  Humbert’s patience was at last exhausted.  On Saturday, 16 July 1054, just as the afternoon liturgy was about to be sung, he and his colleagues stalked into the Church of St. Sophia and laid on the altar a Bull excommunicating Michael Cerularius, Leo of Ochrida, Michael Constantine, the Patriarchal Chancellor, and all their followers.  They then strode out of the church, ceremoniously shaking its dust off their feet.  A deacon ran out after them and begged them to take back the Bull.  They refused; and he dropped it in the street.  It was picked up and eventually brought to Cerularius.  When it had been translated for him he must have smiled; for few important documents have been so full of demonstrable errors.  It is indeed extraordinary that a man of Humbert’s learning could have penned so lamentable a manifesto.  It began by refusing to Cerularius, both personally and as Bishop of Constantinople, the title of Patriarch.  It declared that there was nothing to be said against the citizens of the Empire or of Constantinople, but that all those who supported Cerularius were guilty of simony (which, as Humbert well knew, was the dominant vice at the time of his own Church), of encouraging castration (a practice that was also followed at Rome), of insisting on rebaptizing Latins (which, at that time, was untrue), of allowing priests to marry (which was incorrect; a married man could become a priest but no one who was already ordained could marry), of baptizing women in labour, even if they were dying (a good Early Christian practice), of jettisoning the Mosaic Law (which was untrue), of refusing communion to men who had shaved their beards (which again was untrue, though the Greeks disapproved of shaven priests), and, finally, of omitting a clause in the Creed (which was the exact reverse of the truth).

Sir Steven Runciman, The Eastern Schism, pp.  45-48.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s