What were the causes of the Great Schism?What were the causes of the Great Schism?

3 Answers

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The causes had to do with power and religious differences. Each church was sure that it had the one true interpretation of Chrisfianity. Neither would budge. Since being the one true church meant power, it was important to each side that it win.
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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Actually, the differences were much deeper than those indicated above. The Western Church, considered itself to be the one true church, the universal, hence "Catholic" Church. The Church in Constantinople considered itself the correct and traditional church, hence the "Orthodox" church.

The people of the Western Empire spoke Latin, and church services were conducted in that language. The people of Constantinople and the Eastern Empire spoke Greek. The Latins considered the people of Constantinople to be effeminate and unmanly; the people of the East considered the Western people as barbarian and classless. 

A further issue dividing the two was the use of Icons. The Eastern Church considered them graven images and thus a violation of the Second Commandment. The Western Church saw no such problem and used Icons of saints and the Blessed Virgin as well as Crucifixes regularly.

Finally, there was the issue of the supremacy of the Pope. The Pope originally was one of four patriarchs of the Church, one in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem, respectively. Alexandria and Jerusalem fell to the Muslims; after which the Pope claimed to be the successor to St. Peter and the Vicar of Christ on Earth. The Eastern patriarch did not agree; and each excommunicated the other. The schism thus became permanent in 1054.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I assume that you are asking about the schism of the Christian Church into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.  This schism happened gradually over centuries and became official in the year 1054.  It had political and religious causes.

The political cause was the splitting of the Roman Empire.  In the 400s AD, the Roman Empire split into a western empire (capital at Rome) and an eastern empire (capital at Constantinople).  The two empires became more and more different in terms of their politics and culture and their churches grew apart as well.

On the religious side, there were many doctrinal disagreements.  Perhaps the most important of these was the "filioque"controversy over the Nicene Creed (a statement of the core beliefs of the faith).  The Creed originally said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father.  The Roman church came to add the word "filioque" which changed the Creed to say that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son.

These were the major reasons for the Schism.