Difference between revisions of "Eastern Orthodox Church"

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Traditionally and formally the Orthodox Church refers to itself as the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Ware, p. 307). (The phrase is contained in the [[Nicene Creed]] and is also used by some other denominations in other traditions who employ the Creed in their liturgy.) Its basic beliefs are articulated in the wording of the Nicene Creed (an essential statement of the Christian faith); and it is distinct in that it keeps the original liturgical [[calendar]].  
Traditionally and formally the Orthodox Church refers to itself as the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Ware, p. 307).  
The Orthodox Church is distinguished from the Western Christian Churches in not having undergone a [[Protestant Reformation|Reformation]] in the 16th century (wherein the Roman Church experienced significant separations from other churches within its jurisdiction) or a Counter-Reformation (Ware p. 1).<ref name=Ware/>.
The Orthodox Church is distinguished from the Western Christian Churches in not having undergone a [[Protestant Reformation|Reformation]] in the 16th century (wherein the Roman Church experienced significant separations from other churches within its jurisdiction) or a Counter-Reformation (Ware p. 1).<ref name=Ware/>.

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Crux Orthodoxa
The Eastern Orthodox Church collectively refers to those Christians who are in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople established during the Byzantine Empire (the eastern Roman Empire), which was until 1054 united with the the western European or Roman Catholic Church. [1] While the label orthodox is not currently exclusive to the Eastern Orthodox Church, this article will discuss the Eastern Orthodox Church which includes the original churches that were established during the period of the Roman Empire in Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria and Rome, the churches that were established directly from them including but not exclusive of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ethiopia and others, encompassing those who accept the canons of all of the original Seven Ecumenical Councils from 324 A.D. to 787 A.D.[2] and will include an account of those who have in the past but do not currently accept the canons of the Ecumenical Councils. It does not include churches outside of this communion that employ the term "orthodox" as part of their names.

Defining the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church also uses some other appellations self-referentially; some of these terms are also used by other denominations:

  • The Orthodox Christian Church
  • The Church of the Seven Councils
  • The Apostolic Church
  • The Ancient Christian Church.
  • The Church Ecumenical

Traditionally and formally the Orthodox Church refers to itself as the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Ware, p. 307).

The Orthodox Church is distinguished from the Western Christian Churches in not having undergone a Reformation in the 16th century (wherein the Roman Church experienced significant separations from other churches within its jurisdiction) or a Counter-Reformation (Ware p. 1).[1].

The most basic statement of faith of the Orthodox Church is the Nicene Creed (referred to as the Symbol of the Faith) with the exception of the Filioque (which was a later interpolation of the Western Church, and the subject of controversy between the Eastern and Western Churches, and was a contributing factor to the Great Schism of 1054).[3] The Creed still remains at the heart of many of these western Christian churches’ basic beliefs. However, over the years there have been additions, to doctrine and governance for example, that they have developed which are not shared by the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Church is a conciliar Church, which consists of various national churches who share a common faith, history, tradition, and worship; and who cooperate with each other; but which are each governed by their own local councils of bishops, in contrast to the centralized authority of the Papacy (Timothy Ware, p 23).[1]


A key term in The Church of the Seven Councils is “Canonical.” The Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils established basic beliefs and administrative guidelines. Adherence to these ancient canons is the foundation of a church’s canonical status and thus its interaction with other Orthodox Churches, a state referred to as “in communion.” Canonical churches are “in communion” with each other. Those that are not canonical are removed from the list of those in communion. [4] Adherence to the Seven and only the Seven Ecumenical Councils is another distinguishing character of the Orthodox Catholic Church. The Roman Church convened numerous other councils in which the other churches did not participate or vote

Patriarchates, Autocephalous and Autonomous Jurisdictions

The primary divisions in the Eastern Orthodox Church are administrative and not theological. They are comprised of geophysical, national and often linguistic differences. The Ancient Church acknowledged and constructed jurisdictions around ancient Roman districts and countries from which the current regions have evolved.

Ancient Patriarchates

As of the 21st century the four ancient patriarchates still exist intact (Ware pp. 127, 133 & 134). [1]

  • The Patriarchate of Constantinople. Also known as the Ecumenical patriarchate, this Patriarchate is the legal leader in a number areas of the Church of the Seven Councils in that it can consecrate bishops and establish monasteries in other canonical districts.
  • The Patriarchate of Alexandria
  • The Patriarchate of Antioch
  • The Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The Roman Patriarchate, which technically still exists in the Pope and the Vatican, does not envisage itself as a patriarchate and thus an equal with the other ancient patriarchates. This is one of the major divergence principles and dates to the 11th century during the Great Schism.

The jurisdictional regions also include other autocephalous and autonomous divisions. An autocephalous church may appoint their own metropolitan (archbishop) and is self-governing. Some of them are designated Patriarchates. An autonomous church receives a metropolitan or bishop that is consecrated (and thus appointed) by another jurisdiction but is largely self-governing otherwise.

Other Patriarchates

  • Armenia: Also known as Armenian Apostolic Church or the Armenian Orthodox Church is no longer in communion with the canonical churches. Armenia separated from the Eastern Orthodox Church in AD 506, after the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451).
  • Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s autocephaly has been recognised more than once due to political and military upheavals which extinguished or exiled members of the church on various occasions. Autocephaly dates first to 927 A.D. (declared in 919 in Bulgaria and recognised later by the Ecumenical Patriarchate) and was reinstated twice thereafter in 1235 and 1945 following WWII. [5]
  • Georgia: the Georgian church was originally part of the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch. The church was granted autocephaly by the Patriarch of Antioch in 466. The Georgian Orthodox Church lost its autocephalous status in 1811 when it was subsumed by the Russian Synod. It regained its autocephalous status in 1943 by the Russian Orthodox Church and was recognised again in 1989 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. [6]
  • Russia: Autocephaly recognised in 1589 by Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • Serbia: Serbia’s autocephalous stature dates from mid 14th century, was briefly lost and restored in the mid 16th century
  • Romania: Although Romania’s Orthodox Church dates from the 1st century, it was only recognised as autocephalous in 1885 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Autocephalous and autonomous churches without Patriarchate status

  • The Church of Sinai. The Church is centered around St Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The original construction was a chapel denoting the site of Moses’ encounter with God, the Burning Bush, built by Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine I. The Monastery was built by Emperor Justinian I during the period 527-565 A.D. The Church of Sinai is autonomous and its Archbishop is consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem (Ware. p. 135).[1]
  • The Church of Cyprus. Autocephalous since the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) (Ware, p. 136) [1]
  • The Church of Greece; Autocephaly recognised in 1850 by Ecumenical Patriarchate (Ware. p. 136). [1][7]
  • Poland: Poland’s autocephaly was recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1924.[8]
  • Albania: Recognised autocephalous in 1937 by Ecumenical Patriarch.[9]
  • Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands: Autocephaly recognised in 1998 by Ecumenical Patriarchate [10]
  • Orthodox Church in Slovakia: Autocephaly recognised in 1998 by Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • Orthodox Church in America: Formerly known as the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, The OCA was granted autocephalous status by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970 and as yet has not been recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.[11]
  • The Church of Japan: The Church’s autonomy was recognised in 1970 at the same time the Patriarchate recognised the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. Its primate (Bishop) is consecrated by the Russian Patriarchate. [12]
  • The Church of China: The Church has a mission in Hong Kong whose Metropolitan is appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • The Church of Finland: Autonomous status was granted by Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1923. [13]
  • Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church: The Estonian Church was granted autonomy by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1921 and again in 1996 [14]
  • Orthodox Church of Ukraine: Autonomy recognised by the Russian Patriarchate in 1990. There are three churches in the Ukraine, Church of Ukraine (Moscow Patriarchate) (UOC-MP) (which is in communion with the Orthodox Church) and the Church of Ukraine (Kiev Patriarchate) (UOC-KP), Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) neither of which are in communion with the mainstream Orthodox Churches.

Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed (also referred to as the Nicene-Constantinople Creed) embodies the fundamental beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became man; and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; and suffered, and was buried; and arose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; Who procedeeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets. In One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins; I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the age to come. Amen.[15]

The Creed is sung or read at every celebration of the Eucharist and twice daily at Midnight Office and Compline. The Nicene Creed, unlke the Apostles Creed or the Athanasian Creed, is the only creed proclaimed by an Ecumenical Council and thus the only creed vested with the authority of the Orthodox Church. The Apostles Creed is an ancient statement of faith whose use as a Baptismal Creed and inherent teaching is respected by the Orthodox Church but it is never used in Orthodox Service. The Athanasian Creed is also not used in Orthodox worship services but is occasionally printed out in the Book of Hours (Horologian) without the Filioque [1]


The Filioque represents one of the two greatest differences of opinion between the Orthodox Christian Church and the Roman Catholic Church and arguably was one of the causes of the Great Schism of 1054.[16] The Latin word filioque simply means from the son. The opinions expressed today by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church demonstrate this explicitly in their language which is often couched in the strongest terms.[17][18] The dispute is also founded upon yet another principle that the Eastern Orthodox Church rejects, the Primacy of the Roman Catholic Pope (the ultimate authority of what the Eastern Churches often referred to as the Latin Church), an issue that the Eastern Orthodox Church believes was pointedly resolved at the Fourth Ecumencial Council as worded in Canon XXVIII in which the Ecumencial Patriarchate was recognised.[19]

In the 589 A. D. the Synod of Spain at the Third Council of Toledo added “filioque” to a phrase of the Nicene Creed: “Credo ... in Spiritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem: qui ex patre ((inserted word)) procedit. Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur: qui locútus est per Prophétas.” (“And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father ((and the Son)) who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.”)[20]

The Filioque, simply put, is a dogma in which the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This diverges from the original creed in which the Spirit is asserted to proceed from the Father exclusively. The issue is a very particular doctrine since the concept of the divinity of the three involves their eternal nature and their one substance--not three but one--and must not imply a beginning, therefore the use of the word procedit (proceeds). The canonicity of the placement of the word in the creed is disputed on the basis that it was not a term used in the original creed of Nicea nor subsequent amendments in the Seven Councils. Its theological import is such that it indicates a different relationship between the Father and the Son and the Son and the Spirit which is not confirmed by the Scriptures. As such, it is a paramount issue in the beliefs of Orthodox Christians.

The Eastern Orthodox Church recognises only the canons of the Seven Councils while the Roman Catholic Church stipulates canons added after the last of the Seven Councils, notably, in the case of the Filioque, at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the Second Council of Lyons (1274), and the Council of Florence (1438-1445). This last council was declared fully ecumenical by the Latin Church in that the Eastern Orthodox Church had sent representatives. At the time the Greek Empire (Constantinople) was attempting to enrol allies in their conflict with the Ottoman Turks. To this day Roman Catholic sources insist that a reunification of the ancient patriarchates was effected at the Council of Florence [21] Meanwhile, Orthodox sources emphatically insist this was never accomplished. [19]

Apostolic Succession

The Orthodox Christian Church adheres to the concept of Apostolic Succession. The basic premise of this concept is that the Eastern Orthodox Church hierarchy has a historical heritage of ordination descended directly from the original Apostles. This implies three essential components: a body of beliefs handed down directly from the first followers of Jesus, the Twelve Apostles, (a concept claimed by many other Christian churches who may or may not incorporate the term “Apostolic” in their own title and tend to interpret this in numerous ways); an actual physical succession of ordination of the church hierarchy unlike other churches with the exception of the Anglican Church[22] and the Roman Catholic Church;[23] and a spiritual lineage. This line of succession therefore dates to the original Twelve Apostles [24] without break over a period of nearly 2000 years.

The primary reference for the Apostolic Succession is found in the New Testament, Matthew 16:13-19. In response to his disciple Peter who states, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, there are a number of important concepts that are derived from this passage.; [25]

  • Jesus clearly states the intention to form a corporate Body, the Church, corporate in the sense that it has a physical form. The believers who hold to the belief stated by Peter are not to be disassociated, disconnected individuals. Believers are to be members of this Church and theirs is a shared faith.
  • Peter is a rock upon which the church will be built, metaphorically, the essence of the foundation, Peter, the first stone of the Church’s foundation. St. Paul, in the Letter to the Ephesians (2:20) elaborates on this by saying, “the church has been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone.” In the Gospel of John, (21:15-23) Jesus also states Peter’s mission (“Feed my sheep”) and he gives Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven," again with the authority to bind on earth what is bound in heaven. While this authority is given to Peter first, it is also given to the other Apostles (John 20:20-23).
  • The Rock upon which the Church is built is in fact faith embodied in Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This refers to the statement that the Orthodox perception is that the Christ Himself, the Truth, is the One upon who the Church is built.

These points are contested by the Roman Catholic Church who believe that Peter is the one and only Rock and therefore authority for God rests with his direct successors in Rome. It also diverges from Protestants and non-denominational Christian’s beliefs which hold that the concept of succession is to all Christians and is wholly spiritual or even metaphorical in that there is no actual physical succession handed down through an elect church hierarchy and therefore, there is no unified corporate body of the Church. There are many interpretations integral to other creeds and denominations which diverged from the original Orthodox doctrine sometime after it was established in the early part of the first millennia A.D.

A paramount premise of Apostolic Succession is that the Christ is the Truth Incarnate, or God made flesh. The concept of Jesus as God and Man is a integral part of the Nicaene Creed and as such is axiomatic in the Ancient Christian Church. Truth, seen from this perspective is not a body of ideas or a proposition but a physical manifestation, the Christ.[25]

The premise of Apostolic Succession also places the authority of church in the priests and bishops who are the teachers fulfilling the sacramental office as the officers of the first true believer, Peter the Disciple. [26]

The early church sent leaders to the new Christians (Act 8:14,15)

  • “14. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
  • “15. Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.”

In this instance the interpretation is that those who heard the Word of God were not a church nor in the Church per se, and having heard the Word of God they had yet to undergo the act of receiving the Holy Ghost. In the doctrine of Apostolic Succession the premise is that though the Christians of Samaria had heard the Word of God, they were still to be administered directly to by the Apostles, in this case, the first generation, those who had been with the Christ in the beginning. The doctrine of Apostolic Succession in this instance draws on the recorded act of actually, physically going to the Christians of Samaria and taking part in their leadership physically as well as spiritually. While they had been baptised they were not physically or spiritually a part of the Church.[25]

Earlier Philip, one of the original deacons, had gone to Samaria to preach.[27] Philip, also know as the Evangelist, had been made a deacon (Acts 6:3-6), along with six others who were not of the original Apostles, to serve the business of the church, and tend to the needs of the Christians. He later went to the Gaza desert to speak to the Eunuch (Acts 8:27-39) and then on to Caesarea (Acts 8:40). Apparently Philip was at Samaria at the same time as Peter and John but it is clear that as a deacon and evangelist he had specific roles and the Apostles John and Peter had roles that Philip did not. In other words, deacons could preach and baptise but a bishop, one who was an Apostle or had received the Succession, had to confirm the baptism and pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

The process of Apostolic ordination

The act of making Philip and the others deacons also provides the doctrine of Apostolic Succession with a precedent in that the Apostles themselves (including Matthias who had replaced Judas Iscariot) ordained the seven deacons personally.

This appointment and ordination and its attendant process and its ultimate goal also provides further definition to the doctrine of Succession. The Apostles had a role to fulfil while members of the community complained that some of their number were not being taken care of. The Christian community at that time was Jewish and they followed the traditions of that faith. The needy in Jewish communities were administered to through the synagogue collections that provided food, the weekly kuppah (basket) and the daily tamhui (tray). The early Christian Church did the same for their community. However, the Greek-speaking Jews felt that the widows were not receiving the daily distribution of food as the Hebrew-speaking widows. This led to discord, which the Twelve Apostles dealt with personally. They directed the main body of disciples to choose seven men to fulfil the required roles so that they would not have to “abandon the word of God to serve tables.”[28]

The seven men were chosen (Acts 6:5) and the Apostles prayed for them and laid hands on them. The process then included an appointment by the disciples and the subsequent ordination by the Apostles which included the physical act of placing their hands on the heads of the chosen seven (the laying on of hands). The act of physically ordaining and preserving a direct corporeal lineage is supported in a number of instances in the New Testament

  • Acts 8:14-19: Peter and John placed their hands on new Christians in Samaria;
  • Acts 9:12,17: Ananias places his hands on Saul (later known as Paul the Apostle);
  • Acts 13:2-3: The Apostles lay hands on Barnabas and Saul prior to sending them out;
  • Acts 19:6: Paul the Apostle administers the laying on of hands;
  • Acts 28:8: Paul the Apostle administers the laying on of hands.

The physical act of laying on of hands is further mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:14 & 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:5-6 and is listed in the elementary teachings about Christ in Hebrews 6:1-2

Another aspect of act of ordination shows that the Church was in fact developing as a structured institution, consistent with Christ’s commission in Matthew 16:13-19.[28]

The demarcation between the roles of the administrators and managers was also clear in that the Apostles defined roles for the deacons and roles for the Apostles and they were not the same. These role models are developed through the New Testament. The differences between Philip the Evangelist (one of the ordained deacons in Acts 6:1-7) and the Apostles becomes apparent in later events conveyed in the Acts of the Apostles.

Christian and Church

The doctrine of Apostolic Succession does not say that one can not be a Christian unless one is in the Apostolic Church.[29] It simply does not support the idea found in many non-Catholic communities that they are of the Christian Church.

A great deal can happen to an individual prior to entering the Church. An individual can experience divine visions, baptism of the Holy Spirit can precede the baptism with water but the presence of an Apostle or one who has received the Succession is still paramount in the act of placing the Christian within the Church.[25] A centurion by the name of Cornelius (Acts 10) was instructed in a vision to locate the Apostle Simon Peter. After they met, Simon Peter preached and the centurion and others received the Holy Spirit:

  • "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."(Act 10:44)

Relative to the doctrine of Apostolic Succession, an integral aspect of Acts 10 is that the centurion required the intervention of an Apostle to complete the transition into the Church.[30]

Apostolic Commission

The Commission inherent in the Apostolic Succession is, simply put, a directive issued by the Christ to the original disciples, sending them out into the world as he had been sent by God the Father. The implications for the role and authority and the responsibility of the Orthodox Clergy are stated in the Book of John Chapter 20, verses 21-23. The Disciples are to “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”

Historical Perspective

Clement, the third Bishop of Rome in the first century dealt with the problem of authority in the Church of Corinth specifically referring to the purpose of the Apostolic Succession.[31] Members of the Church had deposed the ordained leaders and Clement reminded them that Apostolic Succession was to provide continuity and prevent strife over the office of the bishop

  • 1Clem 44:1 And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop's office.
  • 1Clem 44:2 For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. [32]

Tertullian, a priest in the Church of Carthage[33] writing in the beginning of the third century referred to the Apostolic Succession to confront heresy (false teachings). Tertullian declared that heresies were to be revealed by the roll of bishops from that day back to the beginning to demonstrate that any Church in question had initially received its commission from an Apostle “. . . Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, . . . to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,“ In this passage Tertullian also confirms the Apostolic Succession of Polycarp in the Smyrnaean Church and that of Clement in the Church of Rome.[34][35]

The Seven Ecumenical Councils

The doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox Church were estabished in seven different ecumencial councils in the first millenium. These doctrinal definitions are, in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, infallible statements of faith and constitute "an abiding and irrevocable authority". [1][36]

Ecumenical Patriarchate

At the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451 A.D. the bishops resolved in Canon XXVIII that the Bishop of New Rome (Patriarch of Constantinople) was to have the same honour as the Bishop of Old Rome--the Pope--and was charged with ordaining the metropolitans (leaders of the clergy in specified areas) of Pontus, Asia, Thrace, and Barbarian bishops.[37] [38]

This decision, attributed to the 150 Bishops present at the Council, has been contested by the Roman Catholic Church, but to this day the Eastern Orthodox Churches must maintain, by definition, communion with the Patriarchate in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) where the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew maintains the Patriarchate. [39][1]

Schism with Rome

The division, also known as The Great Schism, did not happen all at once. In 1009 the newly elected Pope Sergius IV, in the systatic letter notifying the other patriarchs of his election, included the filioque in the creed for the first time. The response of Constantinople was to omit his name from the diptychs, the official lists read out at the Eucharist. This became the normal practice there, but the practice of the other patriarchates varied.

In 1053, legates were sent by the Roman Catholic Pope Leo IX to negotiate Papal reforms with Patriarch Michael Cerularius in Constantinople. Their leader, Cardinal Humbert, was displeased with their reception and on July 16, 1054 placed a document of Anathema or excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia. This document was meant to excommunicate the Patriarch and those who supported him. However, the Pope had died some weeks earlier, making the legal validity of the excommunication doubtful.

"Anathema" in this context simply means to accuse another of being wrong and then isolating them or rejecting them, possibly even declaring them accursed (αναθεμα -- anathema). The Apostle Paul uses the word in Galatians 1:8 & 9 when he states:

  • Gal 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
  • Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.(KJV).

The rationale for excommunication involved several disagreements between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Pope. These included the removal of the Filioque from the Creed (which was not in any of the versions approved by the Seven Ecumenical Councils), the practice of married clergy (a change brought about by the Roman Church long after the tradition of married clergy had been established in the Western and the Eastern Church) and liturgical practices that diverged from the Roman Church (practices which had a long standing tradition in the Eastern Churches predating the Roman changes by centuries). Patriarch Michael responded by drawing up a list of abuses committed by the Latin Church and issued a Bull of Excommunication against the legates and those believed to support them after a synod of Eastern Orthodox Bishops on July 20 of 1054. This was in turn supported by the other Patriarchates.

When the crusaders captured Antioch in 1097, Jerusalem in 1099 and Constantinople in 1204, they deposed the patriarchs and appointed replacements. These appointments were confirmed by the Papacy. Alexandria never fell to the crusaders, and legates of its patriarch took part in the 4th Lateran Council in Rome in 1215.

In 1274, at the Council of Lyons, the Patriarch of Constantinople agreed to reunion with Rome, but died two days later, and the agreement never got off the ground. The Pope appointed his own Patriarch of Alexandria in 1310. In 1439, at the Council of Florence, Constantinople again agreed to reunion with Rome. This reunion remained in force, at least nominally, until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, after which it was quietly forgotten.

In later centuries a number of patriarchs of Antioch were in communion with Rome and Constantinople simultaneously, the last being Athanasius III. On his death in 1724, a successor was elected who wished to continue this policy, but Constantinople refused to recognize him and appointed its own patriarch. In the resulting schism, most of the faithful ended up Roman Catholic.

In 1729 the Pope forbade sharing of worship and sacraments, ending the common practice whereby visiting Jesuits in the East would preach sermons in Orthodox churches and hear confessions from the faithful. In 1755 the Orthodox Church decreed that Catholics converting to Orthodoxy must be rebaptized.

The Anathema stood for 911 years. In January of 1964, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem, the first time the leaders of the two churches had met face to face since the Council of Florence in 1438-39. On December 7, 1965 the Anathemas of 1054 were revoked by the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Vatican Council and the Holy Synod respectively (Ware, page 315).[1][40][41][42]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Timothy Ware “Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia” (1963) The Orthodox Church. New Edition. Reprinted 1997. London:Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-014656-3
  2. The Seven Ecumenical Councils Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Calvin College
  3. F.L. Cross & E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd Ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), s.v. "Filioque", p 512.
  4. Eastern Orthodox Church
  5. History of the Bulgarian Church
  6. History of the Orthodox Church of Georgia
  7. The Church of Greece
  8. The Holy Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church
  9. Church of Albania; From 1767 to 1937
  10. The Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands
  11. The Road to Autocephaly 1963-1970
  12. The Road to Autocephaly 1963-1970
  13. Finnish Orthodox Church
  14. History of the Orthodox Church of Estonia
  15. Prayer Book (1986). Jordanville, New York: Holy Trinity Monastery (page 125) 4th edition
  16. This is not to imply that these are the only differences. There are others of lesser importance which nonetheless do carry significant import. For example: Immaculate Conception - (this was added in the 19th century as a dogma that the Theotokos was born sinless.) Orthodox believe, contrary to the position of the Latin Church, that although the Mother of God (Theotokos) didn't sin, she still wasn't sinless, i.e. nature. This only belongs to God and the angels that didn't fall. She exclaimed "my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!" Another big issue is the idea of scholasticism v. spirituality in the medieval period. Another is the use of force to spread the faith (i.e. Crusades) v. the Orthodox/Apostolic ideal of expose, not impose one to the faith. Force has been used in Orthodox countries for defense of a homeland, but not exporting one's faith.
  17. Dogmatic Meaning of Filioque
  18. Alexander Kalmiros (1967). Against False Union. Translated by George Gabriel. Seattle, Washington: St. Nectarios Press
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ivan N. Ostroumoff (1971) The History of the Council of Florence. Translated by Basil Popoff Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery
  20. Filioque Controversy
  21. Filioque
  22. Apostolic Succession-A Primer
  23. Apostolic Succession
  24. Note that at the time of the events conveyed in the Acts of the Apostles, Judas Iscariot had been replaced by Matthias
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Fr. Gregory Rogers (1989). Apostolic Succession. Ben Lomond CA: Conciliar Press
  26. John Meyendorff et al (1963) “The primacy of Peter and the Orthodox Church". Bedfordshire, Great Britain: The Faith Press” p. 11. Quoted in Fr. G. Rogers “The Apostolic Succession
  27. St. Philip the Apostle There were two Philips in the early Church, one the Apostle and the other a deacon and evangelist referred to in Acts 6:3-6 & Acts 8:5-6 and elsewhere.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Barclay, Wm. (1976) The Acts of the Apostles (revised edition). Philadelphia: Westminster Press
  29. see for instance the conservative position taken by Pope Benedict If it isn’t Roman Catholic then it’s not a proper Church, Pope tells Christians Times On Line July 11, 2007
  30. This section is also of importance in that it is the clear message that the Gospel be taken to the Gentiles (non-Jews)
  31. Clement of Rome Kiefer, James E. The letter itself does not bear Clement’s name but is referred to some years later in a letter the Church of Corinth wrote to the Church of Rome
  32. The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians Lightfoot, J.B. (translator) in Early Christian Writings
  33. Tertullian
  34. Prescription Against Heretics Chapter 32. Holmes, Peter (translator)
  35. The Demurrer Against the Heretics 32 The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession
  36. The Seven Ecumenical Councils Schaff, Philip & Wace, Henry (1900). The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church: Their Canons and Dogmatic Decrees. Online archive. The Canons and the commentaries of the original Seven Ecumenical Councils Includes canons of local synods which have received ecumenical acceptance, Edited by Percival, Henry R.
  37. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Eds) (1900). The Seven Ecumencial Councils. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Second series. Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers. Reprint of original edition published in 1900 By Chas. Scribner & Sons
  38. All Ecumenical Councils-All Decrees see Councils 1-7. This is a site that includes councils after the 7th Ecumencial Council as accepted specifically by the Roman Catholic Church as opposed to just those 7 accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church. It also notes that the Canon XXVIII was not accepted by Pope Leo
  39. Official site of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
  40. The Great Schism of 1054 St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
  41. for a discussion of differences from the perspective of the Latin Church before and after, see Filioque A.J. Maas (1909) The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Note the date of the article is more than 50 years prior to the revocation of the Anathema.
  42. The Great Schism of 1054 Fr. Victor Potapov, Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, D.C.