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Jοhn Ν. Karmiris
Professor in the University of Athens

The Schism of the Roman Church
Translated by Z. Xintaras

Theologia review, Athens 1950, 400-587 pp

Chapter I

Αmong the opponents and adversaries of the Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, the Papacy very early took its place. By the word Papacy we mean the tendency of the bishops of Rome, which is foreign to the genuine spirit of Christianity, towards absolute concentration of all the powers and properties of the Church -even up to the point of infallibility- in one ruler and the exercise by him of tyrannical government and sovereignty over the whole Church of Christ. In addition, the term implies all the accompanying innovations of the bishops of Rome in administration, worship and faith of the Church; moreover, it means the appropriation by the Papacy of political, namely worldly power. This tendency appeared early in the ancient Church, but because she was entangled in hard struggles against heretics and other enemies, internal and external, she did not hasten to suppress it in its genesis, The fact that it was expressed in the West, on the other hand, offered suitable ground for its growth for various reasons, but above all because of its distance from the Greek East, which was then the centre of all ecclesiastical, political, and intellectual movements, and because at that time the peoples of the West were uncivilized. In addition, the fact that there existed only one apostolic throne in the West, that of Rome, gave this tendency ground for development. It was natural for Rome to become a great ecclesiastical centre, as it already had become a political one(1),The Eastern Church, in which the great dogmatical and ecclesiastical struggles were taking place at this time that as a result gave to Christianity its definite and permanent form, was not touched immediately by the absolute papal ambitions. For this reason, she did not react effectively in time against the pursuits of the bishops of Rome, which in the beginning were put forward in the East in the form of a simple claim to honorary primacy. In this way, the Papacy found the opportunity to impose itself on the entire Western Church and to strengthen its position during the first eight centuries. When it thought itself sufficiently strong, it attempted to extend its sovereignty even over the Eastern Church during the latter half of the ninth century, taking advantage on the one hand of her weakness due to her subjugation by Mohammedanism and of the decline of the three ancient Patriarchates of the East -Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem; on the other hand, of its political emancipation from the Byzantine emperors and its alliances with the Frankish rulers of the West, through the aid of whom the Papacy had already obtained political power. The theory of the two swords and the papal primacy was thus shaped(2).

In this manner, there was somehow created in the Church a new degree in the priesthood, that of the Pope, who being considered as «episcopus episcoporum», and «episcopus universalis» and source of the priesthood, centralizes the highest ecclesiastical and worldly power and stands above all the hierarchs and patriarchs and even over the œcumenical Synods ; the Pope is the visible head and ruler of the whole Church and the vicar of Christ on earth, having the «plenam et supremam potestatem jurisdictionis in universam Ecclesiam» whenever he speaks «ex cathedra» and defines the teaching which ought to be observed by the whole Church in faith and morals, «ea infallibilitate pollere, qua divinus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam in definienda doctrina de fide vel moribus instructam esse voluit», as the Vatican Synod dogmatised in the past century(3) So in this way, the ancient simple honorary primacy of the bishop of Rome was perverted and changed into a primacy of jurisdiction that was even completed and crowned with infallibility. Of course, these fabrications of the Latinos, which are contrary to the letter and to the spirit of the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition, were able to find reception only in the West and not in the Greek Orthodox East which was the first teacher of Christianity and Civilization. For this reason, it is obvious that as soon as this monarchy and absolutism of the Pope, thus developed and enforced in the Western Church, would attempt to spread out over the independent and free Eastern Church, it would inevitably lead to conflict and schism of the two Churches, the responsibility resting with the Roman Church.

Moreover, the Papacy was not content with changing the organization of the Church alone, but ventured also to introduce many dogmatical and liturgical innovations that were unknown in the ancient Church. Thus, she innovated in the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Chrism and Holy Eucharist even up to the point of touching the dogmatical teachings of the ancient Church. But that which clashed more against the dogmatical conscience of the Orthodox was the addition of the «filioque» clause to the Creed, which in form was anti-canonical and in substance erroneous. This clause contains the new Latin teaching of the procession of the Holy Spirit «and from the Son», which was characterized by Photius as an «heretical belief», «atheistic opinion» and «blasphemy against the Spirit, or rather against the whole Trinity» and the «apex of evils(4). Peter of Antioch, writing to Cerularius,
characterized it as «an evil and of all evils the worst»(5). Because, it meant the forgery of the sacred symbol of the Church and a change in the most fundamental Christian dogma about the Holy Trinity, which the first two œcumenical Councils had formulated, which the great Fathers of the Church had theologically and philosophically examined and fortified and which the five succeeding œcumenical and other ecclesiastical Synods had recognized and validated. On this point, the Third œcumenical Synod decreed that «it is not permitted to anyone to pronounce another faith, by writing against that which was defined by the holy Fathers, who convened at Nicaea under the guidance of the Holy Spirit»(6). Its president, Cyril of Alexandria, added that to no one is it permitted to «change one word of the text, not even one syllable»(7). This was accepted by the earlier Popes, of whom Leo ΙΙΙ in 810 in order to protect the Creed from alteration ordered it to be written on two silver plates in Greek and Latin without the illegitimate addition and set it up in the Church of the Apostle Peter in Rome(8). Consequently, this new Latin belief of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son also, which by the Orthodox was considered anti-canonical and arbitrary as well as scripturally, historico-dogmatically, ecclesiastically and logically unacceptable, naturally contributed a great deal to the division between the Eastern Church adhering steadfastly to the teaching of the œcumenical Synods and the Western Church with its inclination to innovate in matters of faith(9).

Besides, intellectual and ecclesiastical differences, which appeared many centuries earlier between the Greeks and Romans, and the racial and political differences existing among them had gradually prepared an ecclesiastical schism. These differences had their beginning and roots in the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great to Constantinople. We are able to discern differences arising even before this, in the occupation of Greece by the Romans and much earlier in the establishment of the first Greek colonies on Italian and Gallic soil. Αll these, together with the aforementioned theory of papal primacy, we consider as the principal, real and deeper causes of the ecclesiastical schism between East and West while, on the contrary, the events and the protagonists of the schism in the ninth and eleventh century were only the immediate and lesser occasion for it. The schism would have been realized sooner or later inasmuch as it depended upon persons not imbued deeply with the Christian spirit of love. It is obvious that the causes and pretences of the schism should not be confused, as is often done.

In fact, we must seek the first, principal and deeper causes and roots of the schism in the intellectual and ecclesiastical differences between the Greeks and the Latinos on the one hand and in their theological tendencies on the other. For example, the Greek Fathers were distinguished for their theoretical and philosophical mind; the Latin for their practical and organizing spirit. This difference existed from antiquity, as confirmed by the differences existing between the Alexandrian theologians and Tertullian who represented the West. From the time of Origen to Photius this difference pervaded all theological thought, resulting in the severance of the Christian East from the West. This severance was intensified by the totally peculiar and almost independent development of each in the field of theological speculation, ecclesiastical organization and divine worship, It was accompanied by the partial or total lack of understanding on the part of both, by the love for power and leadership and by the rivalry of the bishops of Rome and Constantinople «for the thrones. Thus, the first disagreement between the East and the West occurred with the decisions of the Second (381) and particularly the Fourth (451) œcumenical Councils which bestowed equal privileges to the Patriarch of Constantinople with «the bishop of Rome, for Constantinople becoming new Rome…(the Fathers) rightly deciding that the city which was honoured for royalty and senate, should enjoy equal rights with the older royal Rome, and be magnified in church affairs like Rome, being the second after her...and to the older Rome did the Fathers reasonably give privileges because she was the ruling city»(10). But more significant was the first real schism between the East and the West which lasted thirty-five years (484-519) and which was caused by Zeno's «Henotikon», issued with the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople Acacius(11). The smaller schisms caused by the persecution of John Chrysostom (406-407)(12) and Maximus the Confessor (649)(13) and others of smaller significance are overlooked.

Furthermore, deeper and more official became the antithesis and dissension between the Eastern and Western Church on account of the Canons 36, 38, 13, 55 and 56 of the Quini-sextum Councίl (Trullanum) in 691 by which the primary rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople were again recognized and the general obligatory celibacy of the Clergy and the fast of the Latinos during the Saturdays of Lent were condemned(14). Contributing also to the antithesis was the decision of the Lateran Council of 769 against the synod of 754 called by Constantine V during the Image controversy(15). This antithesis continued until the end of the Image controversy.

In addition to the intellectual, theological and ecclesiastical differences, it is also necessary to add the racial national, and political antitheses and antipathies which existed before Christ between the Greeks and Romans and later between the Christian Emperors of Byzantium and the Popes of Rome. And, between the ancient Greeks and Romans, because of their mutual tyrannical conquests and subjections and the conflict of their great national and economic interests, it was natural for a permanent enmity to develop. This was intensified by significant differences in respect to culture, spirit, language, national, religious and social character, life, manner and customs etc. But, this dissension continued after Christ when the capital was transferred to Byzantium. Since then, the bishops of Rome maintained an unfriendly disposition toward Byzantium which was dawning as an ecclesiastical as well as political centre, and on the other hand they began to try to invest themselves with and consolidate the double authority of their predecessors, pontifices maximi, as well as that of the emperors of pagan Rome in order to exercise both ecclesiastical and political authority. They hoped to continue under the new cloak of papo-caesarisrn the old caesarean imperialism and totalitarianism. Τo this end, they contrived the theory of the so-called papal supremacy.

This theory, however, inevitably caused conflict not only with the Patriarchs of the East, but also with the emperors of Byzantium. And in fact, the Byzantine emperors bore heavily the loss of their sovereignty over central Italy, which was subjected during the 8th century by the papal state established by the Franks. They resented, as well, the political manoeuvres of the Popes, conditioned each time by the advent of powerful rulers in the West. Similarly, the Popes also resented both the political and ecclesiastical subjection of southern Italy, Sicily and Eastern Illyricum by Byzantium. Besides, the Popes sought to emancipate themselves fully from the Byzantine court in order
to effect more easily their ecclesiastico-political projects; towards this end, already from the middle of the 8th century they had placed themselves under the protection of the Franks who had recently appeared and whose rulers Pepin and Charlemagne they had crowned emperors. In this way, they contributed to the establishment of the western empire, limiting the authority of the Byzantine emperors to the East, which later was even threatened by the Christian West(16). Through such political manoeuvres the Popes sought chiefly to put an end to their dependence and relations with the lawful Roman emperor in Byzantium and to invest themselves with political power by provoking and accepting the so-called papal state in Italy as a gift (17) of the Frankish rulers. Henceforth, the Popes bear two swords, that is, exercise two powers, priestly and royal, ecclesiastical and political. And in order to strengthen these, they fabricated the fictitious «Gift of Constantine» and the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals(18). So, already for one century before Photius, the Popes for the sake of their own ecclesiastico-political
ambitions and pursuits had created first the political schism of the West from the East. The ecclesiastical schism followed as a necessary and inevitable consequence with the Popes taking the lead(19).


1. - See also Β. Stefanides, Church History, Athens 1948, p. 261 seq. (in Greek).

2. - Very characteristic is the event that to justify all this and particularly to support the papal primacy of jurisdiction and the other arrogant claims of the Papacy the two known fictitious fabrications called «Donatio Constantini» and the «Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals» were forged in the West from the middle of the eighth century to about the middle of the ninth. Because their forgery remained unperceived for a very long time, they caused a complete revolution in the ecclesiastical form of government, which was held from the first centuries of Christianity. Because, the administrative, legislative and judicial powers of the Pope of Rome were enlarged and completed by the addition of worldly power. For further details see Nectarius Kephalas, Metropolitan of Pentapolis, Historical study of the causes of the schism, its perpetuation and the possibility or impossibility of the union of the two Churches Eastern and Western, Athens 1911 vol. Ι, p.p. -185-200 (in Greek). j. Dollinger (Janus), Der Papst und das Concil. Leipzig 1869, p.p: 101 seq. Ph. Vafeides, The primacy of the Pope of Rome developing in the history of the Church, Salonika 1929, pp. 114, 131 seq. (in Greek). Β. Slefanides, οp. cit., p. 274 seq. Such myth - making and forgeries were customarily made by the Latinos, and even the great scholastic theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas was influenced by them. See J. Karmiris, -Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Athens 1935, p. 33/4 (in Greek).

3. - Η. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, Freiburgi 1911, ed. 11. p. 487.490.

4. - J. Valletas. Letters of Photius, the most-wise and saintly Patriarch of Constantinople, Lοndοn 1864, pp. 171, 175, 177, 191/2 (in Greek).

5. - Letter to Michael Cerularius, in Migne P.G. 120, 804.

6. - Canon 7. in Mansi, Concil. 4, 136. G. Rhalles and Μ. Potles, The Constitution of the sacred Canons, Athens 1852, vοl. ΙΙ p. 200 (in Greek). See also Μansi 7,117. 11,640.

7. - Mansi. Concil. 5,308/9.

8. - Fοr this reason he noted: «haec (Leo) pro amore el cautela οrthodoxae fidei fecit», and Baronius observed that Leo ΙΙΙ «indelebili monumentum erigendum putavit, quo posteris innotesceret, in sacro symbolo nihil esse addendum» (οp. cit., vol. 9. p. 481 seq). See also Α. Palmieri, Filioque, article in Α. Vacant and Ε. Mangenot, Dictionnaire de Theologie catholique, vοl.5 p. 2316/7. C. Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, Freiburg i. Β. 1877, vοl. 3 p. 753 seq.

9. - Because, as Β. Stefanides rightly observes: «the teaching about the filioque clause, officially introduced into the Bulgarian Church, ceased to be a theological opinion in the relations between the Western. And Eastern Church; it now appeared as an ecclesiastical dogma. For this reason did Photius first attack this as being heretical precisely at this time» (op. cit., p. 326). But even earlier in 807/8 the orthodox monks of Jerusalem under the leadership οf the monk John characterized the Frankish monks as heretics, because they had recited the sacred symbol οf Nicaea-Constantinople in Bethlehem with the addition of the «filioque». See J. Hergenrother, οp. cit., vol. Ι p. 696 seq. C. Hefele, op. cit., vol. 3 p. 750, Α. Palmieri, ante p.2315.

10. - See Rhalles and Potles, οp. cit, vοl. II p. 173. 281. With the 28th Canon of the Fourth œcumenical Synod «the primary rights of honor of Constantinople were equal to those of Rome». But amongst equal honorary rights, those chronologically older come first. (See 16th meeting of the Fourth ocumenical Synod, Mansi 7, 450, Hefele, Conciliengeschichte 2, 543). The rights of the Pope of Rome were no longer superior in themselves, but only as being the more ancient. Τhe East recognized these ancient primary rights of honour and for this reason called the bishop of Rome «proto-throne».(Β. Stefanides, op. cit., p. 267). Against the 28th Canon the Pope Leo Ι protested. See Ε. Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, Tubingen 1930, vοl. Ι p. 527 seq.

11. - The Pope Felix without any right invited imperatively to Rome the Patriarch of Constantinople Acacius in order to apologize. Because of his refusal, the Pope deposed him and crossed out his name from the diptychs. It is understood that the Eastern Church, recognizing nο such jurisdiction of the Pope, paid no attention to his anti-canonical action. Acacius, however, repaying in equal measure, ordered the name of the Pope to be crossed out from the diptychs. In this way, the first serious schism between the two Churches broke out. The responsibility rests with Felix. Although it is called the «Acacian» schism. His example was followed by his successors. Gelasius I, Anastasius II, Symmachus and Hormisdas at whose time the schism was lifted. See also Nectarius Kephalas, Metropolitan of Pentapolis, οp. cit.,p. 147 seq. Ε. Caspar, οp. cit. vοl. ΙΙ p. 10 seq.

12. - See Β. Stefanides, οp. cit., p. 190.

13. - Ibid. p.223.

14. - See Rhalles and Potles, op. cit., vοl. ΙΙ pp. 333, 387, 392, 434, 436. Likewise the canοns 67 and 82 about the edibility of blood containing animals and the representation of Christ as a lamb (ibid. pp. 462 and 492) seem to refer to the Latin practices, as do the canons ,52 and 57 about the celebration of the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified during the Lenten period, excepting Saturday, Sunday and Αnnunciation Day, as well as that «there is no need to offer honey and milk to the altars» (ibid. pp. 427 and 437). See also Ε. Caspar, οp. cit , ΙΙ p. 632 seq. Μ. Jugie characterizes the above canons as «la premiere offensive contre la primaute romaine», inasmuch as the Fathers of the Synod «attaquent plusieurs points de la discipline de l'Eglise romaine et les proscrive sous peine d'excommunication ou de deposition». (Le schism byzantin, p. 25,26).

15. - See. also Nicetas chartophylax of Νicaeus, For what reasons and when did the Roman Church break away from the Church of Constantinople, Μigne Ρ. G. 120, 712-720. G. Kremos, History of the Schism of the two Churches Greek and Roman, Athens 1905, vol. Ι pp. 128 seq., 218 seq., 259 seq., 283 seq., 409 seq , 447 seq., 493 seq. Β. Stefanides, op. cit., p. 236 seq. Μ. Jagie, οp. cit. p. 9.

16. - See also G. Kremos, op, cit., pp. 475/6.

17. -. See Β. Stefanides, οp, cit., p. 317/8

18. -. About these see p. 402 footnote 2. Concerning their forgery, Β. Stefanides οp. cit., p. 274 observes that «no other forgery in the history of the world was accomplished with so much skill and no other had greater results. The forgeries mentioned are simple fabrications of the imagination... p. See also F. Heiler, Altkirchliche Autonomie und papstlicher Zentralismus. Munchen 1941, p. 235 seq., 243 seq.

19. - See Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, The primacy of the bishop of Rome, Athens 1930, p. 127 seq. Α. Pichler, Geschichte der kirchlicheu Trennung zwischen dem Οrient und Occident, Munchen 1865, vοl. Ι p. 146 seq. Nectarius of Pentapolis, οp. pp. cit. 199-200.

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