Church History 3 - The Church of Imperial Byzantium (about AD 1000)

Table of contents

Share |

Relations with the West

Relations with the Latin West, meanwhile, were becoming more ambiguous. On the one hand, the Byzantines considered the entire Western world as a part of the Roman oikoumene of which the Byzantine emperor was the head and in which the Roman bishop enjoyed honorary primacy. On the other hand, the Frankish and German emperors in Europe were challenging this nominal scheme, and the internal decadence of the Roman papacy was such that the powerful patriarch of Byzantium seldom took the trouble of entertaining any relations with it. From the time of Patriarch Photius (patriarch 858-867, 877-886), the Byzantines had formally condemned the Filioque clause, which stated that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and from the Son, as an illegitimate and heretical addition to the Nicene Creed, but in 879-880 Photius and Pope John VIII had apparently settled the matter to Photius' satisfaction. In 1014, however, the Filioque was introduced in Rome, and communion was broken again.The incident of 1054, wrongly considered as the date of the Schism (which had actually been developing over a period of time), was, in fact, an unsuccessful attempt at restoring relations, disintegrating as they were because of political competition in Italy between the Byzantines and the Germans and also because of disciplinary changes (enforced celibacy of the clergy, in particular) imposed by the reform movement that had been initiated by the monks of Cluny, France. Conciliatory efforts of Emperor Constantine Monomachus (reigned 1042-55) were powerless to overcome either the aggressive and uninformed attitudes of the Frankish clergy, who were now governing the Roman Church, or the intransigence of Byzantine patriarch Michael Cerularius (1043-58). When papal legates came to Constantinople in 1054, they found no common language with the patriarch. Both sides exchanged recriminations on points of doctrine and ritual and finally hurled anathemas of excommunication at each other, thus provoking what has been called the Schism.

Search site

Loading ...