Why not even Greek Orthodox?


The split between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church is a tragedy, rather like an estrangement between brothers. The reasons were chiefly political. The schism commenced by Photius in 867 would never have happened had it not been for political rivalry concerning jurisdiction over Bulgaria. In 861 the Bulgarians were converted by missionaries from Constantinople (the Greek headquarters of the Eastern half of the Church rather than the Western Rome-based Church). In 866 Pope Nicholas I appointed Catholic Bishops for the Bulgarians in order to bring them under the control of the Roman Catholic Church rather than the Greek Church. (The Pope’s infallibility only extends to matters of faith and morals, not, as in this case, to politics.) The Greeks resented this, and so Photius (Patriarch of Constantinople) condemned the Catholic Church for this undeniable provocation, but his rebuke was excessive because it questioned Catholic doctrine which is above reproach. The Pope excommunicated Photius and Photius, in turn, excommunicated the Pope and the schism began. Photius later made peace with Pope John VIII and the reconciliation endured until Photius died. But trouble between both Churches persisted until 1054 when Michael Cerularius (the then Patriarch of Constantinople) renewed the break with Rome. Michael declared wrongly that the Greek Church should not be subordinate to the Church of Rome. Pope of the time, Leo, sent two cardinals to Constantinople to mediate but they imprudently excommunicated Michael Cerularius and he, in turn, excommunicated Pope Leo and so took the Greek Church into schism. Sadly, from that time on, no Patriarch of Constantinople has officially submitted to the authority of the Pope. Political quarrels and personal antagonisms, with faults on both sides, were the original cause of the Greek schism, not dogmatic differences. Vladimir Soloviev (1889) had the following to say regarding the East / West contrast: It is the Emperor Constantius who ruthlessly persecutes St. Athanasius; it is Pope Julius who takes his part and defends him against the whole East. It is Pope Innocent who makes energetic protest against the persecution of St. John Chrysostom and after the death of the saint takes the first step towards the rehabilitation of his memory in the Church. Again, it is Pope Celestine who backs St. Cyril with all the weight of his authority in his courageous struggle against the heresy of Nestorius and its political champions; and there can be no doubt that without the aid of the Apostolic See the patriarchate of Alexandria for all its energy would not have succeeded in overcoming the combined forces of the imperial power and the greater part of the Greek clergy.


Orthodox means straight teaching, yet the Orthodox Church has deviated from orthodoxy. The true Church of Jesus Christ is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC & APOSTOLIC. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church is neither ONE nor CATHOLIC.

- It is not one in government being composed of Churches with independent authority

- It is not catholic (universal). It is confined mainly to portions of the Greek and Slavonic races

- It is not infallible. It does not claim to be infallible

- It does not accept the primacy of the Pope, yet Jesus taught that there would be one shepherd and one sheepfold, that all may be one in unity (Jn 10, Jn 21:16, Jn 17:11)

- It does not have a clear teaching on: divorce & re-marriage; IVF; birth control & other moral questions

- It recognises the invalid priesthood of the Anglican Church

- It questions Catholic dogmas such as Purgatory and the Immaculate Conception

- It disputes the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son in the Creed

- The Greek Fathers approved of the papal primacy declared by Pope St Leo I, but their claimed heirs in the Greek Orthodox Church reject it

Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies, Volume 2, p. 307 Carroll, A., Christ the King, Lord of History, p. 160 Sheehan, Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, 2001, Drummey, Catholic Replies, p. 113

* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.