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History of Europe

What caused the Great Schism?


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February 22, 2017 5:57AM

The Great Schism (meaning split) took place in the year 1054 AD. The primary causes of the Schism were disputes over the Pope's claims of authority or supremacy over the whole church (which were rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs) and over the insertion of the 'Filioque' clause (meaning 'and the Son') into the Nicene Creed by the Western patriarch (pope) in 1014 AD. The Eastern Orthodox Church stated that the 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon explicitly proclaimed the equality of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople, so there would not be one ruler over the whole church, but self-governing Patriarchs in Old Rome and New Rome (Constantinople).

There were other less significant reasons for the Schism, such as differences over liturgical practices, for example, the use of unleavened bread in the West.

Catholic Answer

There is some confusion over the term "Great Schism". In many volumes of Roman Catholic history, the Great Schism refers to the schism of the west when the papacy moved to Avignon, and there were two claimants, at one point, three to the papal throne. Others use the Great Schism to refer to the Schism of the East, when the Orthodox Church broke away from the Catholic Church.

from A Catholic Dictionary, edited by Donald Attwater, Second edition, revised 1957

The Great Schism, otherwise know as the Schism of the West was not strictly a schism at all but a conflict between the two parties within the Church each claiming to support the true pope. Three months after the election of Urban VI, in 1378, the fifteen electing cardinals declared that they had appointed him only as a temporary vicar and that in any case the election was invalid as made under fear of violence from the Roman mob. Urban retorted by naming twenty-eight new cardinals, and the others at once proceeded to elect Cardinal Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII, who went to reside at Avignon. The quarrel was in its origin not a theological or religious one, but was caused by the ambition and jealousy of French influence, which was supported to some extent for political reasons by Spain, Naples, Provence, and Scotland; England, Germany, Scandinavia, Wales, Ireland, Portugal, Flanders and Hungary stood by what they believe to be the true pope at Rome. The Church was torn from top to bottom by the schism, both sides in good faith (it was impossible to know to whom allegiance was due), which lasted with its two lines of popes (and at one time three) till the election of Martin V in 1417. It is now regarded as practically certain that the Urbanist popes were the true ones and their names are included in semi-official lists; moreover, the ordinal numbers of the Clementine claimants (who, however, are not called anti-popes,) were adopted by subsequent popes of the same name. Answer for those who think the Great Schism refers to the Schism of the East:

1. Disagreement on the Filoque Creed- added to the Nicene Creed in the West, but not approved by the Eastern churches, disagreement over authority of pope- Pope Leo IX claimed authority over 4 eastern Patriarchs, Western Church opposed Caesaropapism- control of the church by secular leader, Eastern Church accepted this as the Emperor controlled the Orthodox Church, Pope and Patriarch excommunicated each other over disagreements, West used unleavened bread in the Eucharist, the Eastern Church opposed this, disagreement on the ecclesiastical calendar- (the date of Easter)- Eastern and Western churches celebrate it different days. The Great Schism, also known as the East-West Schism was caused of the Schism were disputes over the Pope's claims of authority or supremacy over the whole church and over the insertion of the 'Filioque' clause.