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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 110, Essay 1 – The Great Schism

Christianity was not always split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  There used to be one great Christian nation, but that all changed after The Great Schism.

In the 9th century, there were five Christian patriarchs in the world: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.  The Roman Pope was the local patriarch and supreme pontiff, meaning all bishops, no matter their geographical location, had to report to him.

Despite all of the Christian kingdoms having to report to the same person, each area had their own rituals and language barriers.

Constantinople had been advancing technologically and socially over the years, and they wanted to become the “new Rome” of Christianity.  They started to take over the responsibility of the head Pope and disregarded the Pope of “old Rome.”  Rome refused to accept this, claiming that they were “holier” than Constantinople because their Church was founded by the Apostle Peter.

Michael Cerularius, the patriarch of Constantinople, started closing down Churches that followed Western customs.  He enforced the Eastern traditions on every Church that remained open.  When Rome heard of this, Roman legates were sent to try to negotiate with Cerularius.  When they could not come to an agreement, Michael Cerularius, and all his followers, were excommunicated from the Roman Church.

This event was considered to be the official start of the Great Schism.

As time went on, people started to realize that what happened created two separate Churches: the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Many Eastern patriarchs joined Cerularius and created their own regime that was separate from the Romans.

As you can see, the Great Schism was a momentous event in Christian history.  Its effects are still obvious today.  It is funny to think that nobody took it seriously when it first happened all those years ago.

Thanks for reading!


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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