Papal authority dispute caused split


TURKEY:The East-West divide, known as "the Great Schism", had been threatening for some time before pope Leo IX and patriarch Michael I excommunicated each other in 1054, generally taken as the historical moment of the split between western and eastern Christianity.

The primary cause was a dispute over papal authority and how extensive it should be, with the eastern church asserting that such authority was only honorary where it was concerned.

There was also a theological row, known as the "filioque" dispute, over the insertion of three words into the Nicene creed by the western church. It concerned the addition of the words "and the Son" in the part of the creed that reads "I believe in the Holy Spirit . . . who proceeds from the Father and the Son [ filioque, in Latin]."

The eastern church claimed this diminished the authority of God the Father and had been introduced unilaterally by Rome.

The twain showed no sign of meeting for more than 900 years. Then, in 1963, ecumenical patriarch Athenagoras declared the Orthodox intention of entering serious dialogue with Rome. Down the years there were meetings between heads of the churches, and in 1979 pope John Paul and ecumenical patriarch Dimitrius I announced the setting up of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue by both churches. Last year both churches agreed to resume dialogue and earlier this year the joint commission met in Belgrade.