Today’s installment concludes Orthodox, Catholics Split,
the name of our combined selection from Henry F. Tozer and Joseph Deharbe. The concluding installment, by Joseph Deharbe from A Full Catechism Of The Catholic Religion, Preceded By A Short History Of Religion From The Creation Of The World, was published in 1863. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Joseph Deharbe was a Jesuit. His installment comes from his comprehensive work.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed five thousand words from great works of history. Congratulations!
Previously in Orthodox, Catholics Split.
Place: Rome and Constantinople
The bonds so often and so painfully knit between the Eastern and Western churches were destined at last to be completely torn asunder, and the truth of our Lord’s words, “Who is not for Me, is against Me,” was again to be proved. The Greek schism places strikingly before our eyes the fate of such churches as supinely yield their rights and independence, and submit willingly to State tyranny. In the year 857 the wicked Bardas, uncle to the reigning Emperor, who wielded an almost absolute power and disregarded all laws, human and divine, unjustly banished from his See, Ignatius, the rightful patriarch of Constantinople, and placed in his stead the learned, but worthless, Photius. Such bishops as refused to recognize the intruder (who had received all the orders in six days from an excommunicated bishop) were deposed, imprisoned and exiled.
Photius tried, by cruel ill-treatment, to force the aged Ignatius to abdicate, and by a well-contrived fabrication endeavored to obtain the support of Pope Nicholas I. When, however, this great Pope learned the true facts of the case from the imprisoned Ignatius, he assembled a synod in Rome in 864, by which Photius and all the bishops whom he had consecrated were deposed. Fired by ambition, Photius now threw off all concealments. He summoned the bishops of his own party, laid various charges against the Roman Church, and in his inconsiderate rage ended by anathematising the holy Father. Pope Nicholas, in a most powerful letter, exhorted the Emperor Michael III to set bounds to the disorders of Photius, warning him that a fearful judgment would await him if the faithful were misled and so many believers caused to swerve from the right path. It was not, however, till the reign of his successor that Photius was banished and the much-tried St. Ignatius restored to his rights.
To remedy the evil brought about by Photius, the eighth general council was held in Constantinople, at the desire of St. Ignatius and the Emperor, and presided over by the legates of Pope Adrian. Photius, when called upon to answer for himself, having nothing to say in his own defence, excused his silence by the example of our Lord, who also was silent when accused. The fathers were filled with indignation at this blasphemous speech, and his guilt having been fully proved, they cried unanimously: “Anathema on Photius, promoted through court favor! Anathema to the tyrant Photius, to the inventor of lies, to the new Judas! Anathema on all his followers and protectors! Everlasting glory to the most holy Roman Pope Nicholas! Long life to Adrian, the holy Father in Rome!” At the next sitting of the council, a collection of spurious and falsified writings, together with the acts of the synod which Photius had held against Pope Nicholas, and which were filled with lies and invective and had forged signatures appended to them, were publicly burned in the church. But hardly had Ignatius died in the year 879, when the crafty Photius, who knew well how to ingratiate himself with the Emperor, reascended the ill-fated chair and began afresh his old courses. His rule did not last long. He was again deposed and banished to a monastery, where he died about the year 891. His death, however, in nowise healed the wounds which he had inflicted on the Eastern Church. His party survived him. He had filled most of the Greek sees with men of his own cast, and had illegally bestowed benefices on great numbers of priests. These all harbored a deep-seated dislike towards Rome, and only awaited a favorable opportunity to renew the breach with her. Thus that sectarian spirit which Photius had kindled continued to smoulder on like a spark beneath the ashes, and spread itself wider and wider, as well among the worst sort of the clergy as among the fickle and discontented population.
It was after all this that the patriarchs of Constantinople attempted to make themselves fully independent of the West. The splendor of the imperial city of Byzantium was a constant incitement to their desire for freedom, and they were certain for the most part of being supported in their endeavors by the emperors. As early as the time of Pope Gregory the Great, the patriarch John the Faster had taken on himself the title of “Oecumenical,” or universal bishop, whilst Gregory, in apostolic humility, chose that of “Servant of the servants of God.” It was in the middle of the eleventh century that a complete separation was accomplished. The universally recognized precedence of the See of Peter was intolerable to the ambitious spirit of the patriarch Michael Cerularius. To aid him in casting off the hated yoke, he circulated, like Photius, a document in which the Western Church was loaded with invective and all manner of accusations laid to her charge. The celibacy of the secular clergy, the use of unleavened bread for the sacrifice, fasting on Saturdays, the shaving of beards, the omission of the Alleluia in Lent, were all brought forward as causes of offence. These complaints were at once answered by Pope St. Leo IX, who tried, in a most eloquent letter, to bring the deluded patriarch to reason. He reminded him of the sanctity and inviolability of the unity of Christ’s Church, the folly and presumption of his attempting to direct the successor of Peter, whom Christ had Himself confirmed in the faith, and pointed out to him with what ingratitude and contempt he was treating the Roman Church, the mother and guardian of all the churches. Lastly, he urged upon the patriarch to set aside all discord and pride, and to allow divine mercy and peace to prevail instead of strife. But the paternal words were spoken in vain, and the legates also who were sent by the Pope to Constantinople were powerless to move the obduracy of the patriarch. He persistently refused all communication with them by speech or writing. Having therefore formally laid their complaints in the most distinct terms before the Emperor and Senate, they proceeded to extremities. On the 16th of July, 1054, they appeared in the church of St. Sophia at the beginning of divine service, and declared solemnly that all their endeavors to re-establish peace and union had been defeated by Cerularius. They then laid the bull of excommunication on the high altar and left the church, shaking, as they did so, the dust from off their feet, and exclaiming in the deepest grief, “God sees it; He will judge.” Thus was the unhappy schism between the East and the West accomplished.
This ends our selections on Orthodox, Catholics Split by two of the most important authorities of this topic:
- The Church and the Eastern Empire by Henry F. Tozer published in 1888.
- A Full Catechism Of The Catholic Religion, Preceded By A Short History Of Religion From The Creation Of The World by Joseph Deharbe published in 1863.
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