Getting to Know Something About Our Eastern Catholic Faith – 20131229

From the start Greeks and Latins had each approached the Christian Mystery in their own way. For example, when reflecting on the Crucifixion, Latins thought primarily of Christ the Victim, while Greeks thought of Christ the Victor; Latins talked more of redemption, Greeks of deification; and so on. Like the schools of Antioch and Alexandria within the east, these two distinctive approaches were not in themselves contradictory; each served to supplement the other, and each had its place in the fullness of Catholic tradition. But after the two sides became strangers to one another – with no political and little cultural unity, with no common language – each side began to follow its own approach in isolation and push the differences to extremes, forgetting the value in the other point of view.
It was obvious that there were different doctrinal approaches in east and west.  As pointed out, two points of doctrine where the two sides no longer supplemented one another, but entered into direct conflict, were the claims of Rome as the head of the Church and the Filioque. While these factors were sufficient in themselves to place a serious strain upon the unity of Christendom, two further points of difficulty caused the separation to be damaging to unity.
It was not until the middle of the ninth century that the full extent of the disagreement first came properly into the open, but the two differences themselves date back considerably earlier. We have already had occasion to mention the     Papacy when speaking of the different political situations in east and west; and we have seen how the centralized and monarchical structure of the western Church was reinforced by the barbarian invasions. Now so long as the Pope claimed an absolute power only in the west, Byzantium raised no objections. The Byzantines did not mind if the western Church was centralized, so long as the Papacy did not interfere in the east. The Pope, however, believed his immediate power of jurisdiction to extend to the east as well as to the west; and as soon as he tried to enforce this claim within the eastern Patriarchates, trouble was bound to arise. The Greeks assigned to the Pope a primacy of honor, but not the universal supremacy which he regarded as his due. The Pope viewed infallibility as his own prerogative; the Greeks held that in matters of the faith the final decision rested not with the Pope alone, but with a Council representing all the bishops of the Church.

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