Sharing an article from the “Dear Padre” column.
The Greek Orthodox religion seems a lot like the Roman Catholic. Why did they break away from our Church? ~ Dar C.
Dear Dar C.,
Not only does the Greek Orthodox Church seem similar to the Roman Catholic Church, they are also alike in practice. Jesus founded only one Church, and when it began, it was fully united. Peter, as Christ’s successorand the first pope, established the Church in Rome, which was the political centre of the ancient world. This base helped the Church to grow, develop and maintain unity.
The Church spread even further when the Roman Emperor Constantine legalised Christianity in AD 313. When the empire fell in 476, the city of Rome was no longer the focal point of civilisation. Language began to separate people, and differences arose between the Greek-speaking East and the Latin-speaking West.
The Great Schism, or divide between the East and West happened in 1054, when Pope Leo IX and Eastern Patriarch Michael I excommunicated each other. The primary cause was a dispute over papal authority. The Eastern churches denied that the pope had any unique authority over them. There was also a dispute over the Nicene Creed known as the filioque. While the Western Church stated that the Holy Spirit came from the Father and the Son, the Eastern Church believed the Holy Spirit to be only of the Father.
Although there is still a division, we do have much in common with the Orthodox. In May of 2001, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos Paraskevaides of Greece met to begin a reconciliation. Each forgave the other’s church for past wrong-doings. We continue to pray for more unity among Christians worldwide.
Fr Patrick Keyes C.Ss.R