Journal Entry 13Reasons for the split between the western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox ChurchThis basic division was political and geographic as well as theological. When Constantine set up his capital in the East, he took an active role in the development and direction of the church and called the Council of Nicaea to settle theological differences. His successors followed his example and usually took an active part in directing religion. In the West, Rome had been left without an effective political leadership. The bishops of the Roman church stepped into this vacuum and even took some of the titles of the ancient Caesars. When the barbarians massed at the walls of Rome, it was thepopes who negotiated with them for the city. The theological differences between East and West were basic. Most of the great thinkers and leaders of the early church were from North Africa and Asia Minor. Most of the early councils that established Christian doctrine were held in the East. Eastern Christians tended to be more interested in theological formulations and became bitterly divided over certain issues. Western Christians tended to be more practical and were concerned with survival in a hostile, decaying world. Eastern theologians tended to emphasize the divine nature of Christ, whereas those of the West emphasizedhis humanity. The largest issue dividing Eastern and Western Christians was the papacy. The great cities of the East had outstanding bishops who became known as patriarchs. Although Constantinople was the capital, its patriarch could nevergain authority over the patriarchs of the other major cities. In the West, there was only Rome, and the bishop of that city clearly led the Western church. Gradually, the bishop of Rome claimed to be the leader of all Christendom, but the Eastern patriarchs refused to accept his authority. Numerous minor differences also developed between these churches, which came to be known as Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic. The Eastern church used icons—two-dimensional pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the disciples—in their worship, whereas the Western church long eschewed them. The East baptized infants by immersion, whereas the West allowed sprinkling. The East gave the people both bread and wine in the communion meal, whereas after the tenth century, the West gave them only bread. The East allowed its clergy the possibility of marriage before ordination, whereas the West came to insist on celibacy. The East used Greek as its language of worship, whereas the West used Latin until the midtwentieth century. The rift between the two branches of Christendom continued to grow during its first thousand years. Western Christians were busy repelling various barbarian invasions and building what has become Western Europe, while the East saw almost all of its empire fall into the hands of Muslim invaders in the seventh and eighth centuries. Antagonism reached a climax in 1054, when Leo IX sent delegates to Constantinople to excommunicate the
Patriarch Cerularius. This event, often referred to as the “Great Schism,”
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