Expert Answer Forum

SPlitting of the Church QUESTION from Kim March 13, 2000 What is the difference between Byzantine Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. Didn't the Byzantine sect originate from a split in the Roman Catholic Church? How when and why did it happen?
Thank you. Kim
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on March 18, 2000 Dear Kim
I think you have certain terms confused. Byzantine Catholics are those who are members of the Byzantine Catholic Church which is in union with the Pope. I think you're referring to the schism between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which does not recognize the authority of the pope.
The origins of the schism between the Eastern and and Western churches are complicated and can't be narrowed down to a few events and causes. There are a number of factors which provoked the separation. I think some of the most pertinent factors are:
Distance between Rome and Constantinople Different approaches to theology Different cultures and languages Political manoeuvring
Essentially what happened is that the East and the West, because of the distance between them and their different mentalities, grew apart and the political relationship between East and West deepened the divide.
Traditionally, the Eastern Schism is said to have occurred in 1054 A.D. with the excommunication of Michael Cerularius. For a summary of events of that period, as well as an account of the differences between the Greek and Latin Church, click here to see my answer to John Saranko. While the events of 1054 were certainly decisive in determining the course of relations between the Patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople, of themselves, they did not cause a split; firstly because the excommunication of Michael Cerularius was invalid, and secondly because nothing came of the controversy over unleavened bread. However, the crisis of 1054 came to symbolize the differences between East and West. In actual fact, it wasn't unti the Crusades that East and West regarded each other as in schism. The sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Crusaders seared hatred of the West in the minds of the people of the Byzantine Empire. It was motivated purely by greed, and the Byzantines took it as a sign that the Western Church was out to dominate them and destroy their customs and their Faith.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne
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