Hi, guys —
I have some questions about the Orthodox Church and its beliefs
pertaining to its own history, and the history of the
I've read some information and it appears there are
some Orthodox Christians who believe the Orthodox
Church came first in history and that the Catholic
Church basically horned in on their eastern territory. I believe
they think that Catholics are the schismatics and not themselves.
- What, exactly, is their teaching in regard to their history?
- From the Church's view, has the Orthodox Church schism-ed
R.B. (Rachel Baer)
How does the Church view the Orthodox Church's history and did the Orthodox schism from them? }
No self-respecting church would admit they are a schismatic church
lest they defeat their own credibility. Therefore, don't expect the Orthodox
Churches to provide such a characterization of themselves.
Both churches do recognize the authentic Apostolic character of each other,
but the Catholic Church claims to hold the seat of Peter, the Papacy, and
therefore the charism of primacy and supremacy. Our debate with the Orthodox
is chiefly over this point; they concede primacy, but not supremacy, to
We hold that the Papacy is the critical seat of unity for the Church that
Christ built (He only built one.) and therefore the Orthodox are the schematics.
The day we work out this issue we will likely restore the unity that Christ
desired for His Church. (John 17:21) Our present Pope has made it a priority for his
papacy, to unify the lungs of the Body of Christ.
So, in the end, if you come to understand the full significance of the
Seat of Peter you will come to see the answer to the dilemma that separates
Just to add to what my colleague Bob has said:
Before 1054 A.D., the Catholic Church, with minor exceptions, was one. The
Eastern and Western Churches developed different traditions which were
both equally valid. Eastern and Western doctrines were, in essence (or in substance),
the same. However, since in the East, they asked different questions than in
the West, the explanations of the same truth varied.
It is also important to note that the schism of 1054 A.D. was about jurisdiction.
Prior to 1054,
the Bishop of Rome never really got involved in the administration
of the Eastern Churches. Just prior to the schism, at the behest of the
Greek faithful, Rome was asked to intervene to settle a dispute over who
the Patriarch on Constantinople should be. The Pope, reluctantly intervened.
The Eastern Church didn't like the decision and sought to overturn it.
Now it must be made clear, there is plenty of blame to go around on both
sides. This matter wasn't exactly handled with pastoral sensitivity.
schism could have been and should have been avoided.
The good news is that there is significant dialogue between Rome and the
Eastern Churches. There still are stumbling blocks, but both sides want
unity from the hierarchy down to the people.
Hence we continue to seek Christ together until the day we are one again.