On 11 May 330 AD
Constantine renamed the Greek city of Byzantium in his honor, and Constantinople became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor. There were now two primary centers of authority in the Empire, Church authority in Rome and civil authority in Constantinople. The Patriarch of Constantinople had the Emperor’s ear.
The Holy Land became significant in Christianity because of the land’s association as the place of nativity, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians regard as their Saviour or Messiah.
By the end of the 4th century, following Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity (313 AD) and the founding of the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Land had become a predominantly Christian country. Churches commemorated various events in the life of Jesus and thus erected key sites.
The Language Barrier: Rome was Latin, and that of Constantinople was Greek. There was a difference in perception of Church authority between the East and West. All of the early Christian Churches were followers of Jesus of Nazereth from the time of the Apostles, and considered themselves one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Each developed and retained their ancient and distinctive liturgies, rites, and customs.
Rome asserted the Pontiff, as the representative of Peter, had supreme authority over all of Christianity, whereas the East considered the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and the representative of Peter, as presiding “with love, as a first among equals.” Decisions made in the first seven ecumenical Councils of the Church were universally recognized by East and West.
The difference in perception of Church authority produced the conflict over the addition of the word filioque (“and the Son”) to the Nicene Creed by the Roman Catholic Church. The Nicene Creed originated at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and was expanded to quote John 15:26, “the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father” at the Council of Constantinople in 381, to form the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
Theological thought on the Trinity progressed with time, particularly with St. Augustine, who saw the Holy Spirit as an expression of love between the Father and the Son. Charlemagne had the word filioque added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and the phrase read “the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son” (as Roman Catholics say today). The Eastern Churches claim that the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed “is the common possession of the whole church and that any change must be done by an ecumenical Council.”
The naming of Charlemagne as the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on December 25, 800 only deepened the rift between East and West. The iconoclast controversy in the eighth century worsened matters, when the Eastern Emperor Leo III, influenced by Muslim and Jews, ordered the destruction of all Church images in 726. This was reversed by the Empress Irene and the seventh ecumenical Council, the second council of Nicaea in 787.
The excommunication of Pope Nicholas by the Patriarch Photius in 867, which was reversed within two years, signaled deepening East-West estrangement. What began as a conciliatory effort between Pope Leo IX and the Greek Patriarch Michael Cerularius ended in disaster in 1054. The Papal envoy Cardinal Humbert in anger delivered a Papal Bull of excommunication (after Leo IX had died), and laid it on the altar, right during the afternoon liturgy at the Church of Santa Sophia on Saturday July 16, 1054.
The Christian Schism: The Schism between the Western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Byzantine (Orthodox) Churches, formally declared on July 16, 1054, occurred by the mutual excommunication of Pope Leo IX and the Byzantine Patriarch Michael Cerularius.
The Schism historically evolved over centuries and was sealed in 1204 with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Those Eastern Churches that remained loyal to Rome, such as the Maronite Church of Lebanon, were known as the Eastern Catholic Churches.
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