Getting to Know Something About Our Eastern Catholic Faith – 20140216

Where we left off in the history of the Great Schism was the death of Ignatius (877) and Photius again becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople. Photius was recognized by Rome and ecclesiastically master of Bulgaria.

Until recently it was thought that there was a second Photian schism, but Dr. Dvornik has proved with devastating   conclusiveness that this second schism is a myth: in Photius’ later period of office (877-86) communion between     Constantinople and the Papacy remained unbroken. The Pope at this time, John VIII (872-82), was no friend to the Franks and did not press the question of the Filioque nor did he attempt to enforce the Papal claims in the east. Perhaps he recognized how seriously the policy of Nicolas had endangered the unity of Christendom.

Thus the schism was outwardly healed, but no real solution had been reached concerning the two great points of difference which the dispute between Nicolas and Photius had forced into the open. Matters had been patched up and that was all.

Photius, always honored in the east as a saint, a leader of the Church, and a theologian, has in the past been regarded by the west with less enthusiasm, as the author of a schism and little else. His good qualities are now more widely appreciated. If I am right in my conclusions, so Dr. Dvornik ends his monumental study, we shall be free once more to recognize in Photius a great Churchman, a learned humanist, and a genuine Christian, generous enough to forgive his enemies, and to take the first step towards reconciliation.

At the beginning of the eleventh century there was fresh trouble over the Filioque. The Papacy at last adopted the addition: at the coronation of Emperor Henry II at Rome in 1014, the Creed was sung in its interpolated form. Five years earlier, in 1009, the newly-elected Pope Sergius IV sent a letter to Constantinople which may have contained the Filioque, although this is not certain. Whatever the reason, the Patriarch of Constantinople, also called Sergius, did not include the new Pope’s name in the Diptychs: these are lists, kept by each Patriarch, which contain the names of the other Patriarchs, living and departed, whom one recognizes as orthodox. The Diptychs are a visible sign of the unity of the Church and deliberately to omit a person’s name from them is tantamount to a declaration that one is not in communion with him. The Pope’s name did not appear after 1009.

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