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Eleventh Century

The Great Schism

In 1009 Pope Sergius of Rome wrote a con­fes­sion of faith which includ­ed the fil­ioque in the creed. At this time his name, and that of the Roman Church were omit­ted from the dip­tychs — being the offi­cial list of sis­ter church­es and bish­ops offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized and litur­gi­cal­ly com­mem­o­rat­ed by a giv­en church — of the church of Constantinople.

By 1052 a great con­tro­ver­sy arose between Con­stan­tino­ple and Rome, not only about the fil­ioque, but also about the place of the Roman papa­cy in the Church, and about diver­gent litur­gi­cal prac­tices in East and West. The imme­di­ate cause of the con­flict at this time was the Pope’s sup­pres­sion of Greek litur­gi­cal prac­tices in South Italy, and the sup­pres­sion of Latin prac­tices in the East by the patri­arch of Con­stan­tino­ple. In 1053 the Pope sent legates to Con­stan­tino­ple in an attempt to restore com­mu­nion between the church­es. Michael Ceru­lar­ius, the patri­arch of Con­stan­tino­ple, refused to give the papal legates a hear­ing because he thought they were polit­i­cal­ly motivated.

On July 16, 1054, Car­di­nal Hum­bert, the head of the papal del­e­ga­tion, was tired of wait­ing. He was irri­tat­ed by the lack of respect shown to the Roman ambas­sadors, so he placed a doc­u­ment of anath­e­ma and excom­mu­ni­ca­tion (apply­ing only to the “patri­arch Michael Ceru­lar­ius and those in sym­pa­thy with him”) on the altar table of the Holy Wis­dom (Hagia Sophia) cathedral.

At the same time, the car­di­nal was very care­ful to praise Con­stan­tino­ple as a “most ortho­dox city.”

The offi­cial rea­sons for Humbert’s anath­e­ma and excom­mu­ni­ca­tion of Ceru­lar­ius were the removal of the fil­ioque from the Creed; the prac­tice of mar­ried cler­gy; and litur­gi­cal errors. Patri­arch Michael Ceru­lar­ius respond­ed to Humbert’s action by excom­mu­ni­cat­ing all respon­si­ble” for the July 16 inci­dent. He drew up a long list of Latin abus­es, most­ly of diver­gent litur­gi­cal prac­tices such as the use of unleav­ened bread for the eucharist, and the prac­tice of bap­tism by one immersion.

Although Car­di­nal Hum­bert act­ed only against the per­son of the patri­arch and his sym­pa­thiz­ers, and although the patri­arch react­ed only against Hum­bert him­self, the attempt to restore uni­ty between East and West in 1054 result­ed in a per­ma­nent schism between the two church­es which per­sists until today. Sev­er­al ges­tures of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, such as the sym­bol­ic “lift­ing of the anath­e­mas of 1054” by Pope Paul VI and Patri­arch Athenago­ras I in 1966, were made, but to no avail.

The Papacy

The reform­ing spir­it of the Roman papa­cy reached its height in the eleventh cen­tu­ry under Hilde­brand who, as Pope Gre­go­ry VII (1073–1085), firm­ly estab­lished the papa­cy as a sec­u­lar pow­er. In 1089 the East asked Pope Urban II for a con­fes­sion of faith. He refused to com­ply since such a com­pli­ance would pre­sume that the bish­op of Rome could be judged in the Church by anoth­er. Thus, although Patri­arch Nicholas III of Con­stan­tino­ple (1084–1111) said: “Let the pope con­fess the ortho­dox faith and he will be first,” this was nev­er again to hap­pen in history.

The Crusades

By the time of the first cru­sade in 1095 no one in the East doubt­ed that the Pope of Rome was emper­or in the West. It was ulti­mate­ly the cru­sades which sealed the schism between the church­es. The cru­saders took over Jerusalem in 1099, expelled the Moslems, and estab­lished a Latin hier­ar­chy in place of the local, exist­ing church order.

Kievan Russia

In Kievan Rus­sia in the eleventh cen­tu­ry the new Chris­t­ian faith was flour­ish­ing. Saint Antho­ny (d. 1051) found­ed the monastery of the caves in Kiev, the Kie­vo-Pech­er­skaya Lavra. Saint Theo­do­sius (d.1074), its great­est saint, came to be called the “founder of Russ­ian monas­ti­cism.” Saint Theo­do­sius fol­lowed the exam­ple of the hum­ble Christ of the gospels in an evan­gel­i­cal form of spir­i­tu­al life. This form has come to be known as Russ­ian kenoti­cism which means a life of self-emp­ty­ing humil­i­ty and love for the brethren. (cf. Philip­pi­ans 2:6) The Kievan Monastery of the Caves was the cen­ter of Chris­t­ian char­i­ty and social con­cern, as well as of spir­i­tu­al and intel­lec­tu­al labor and enlightenment.

Boris and Gleb

Among the saints of Kiev are num­bered the broth­ers Boris and Gleb who were the sons of Saint Vladimir. They refused to fight their broth­er Svi­atopolk in a pow­er strug­gle after the death of their father. As they knew that there was no hope of win­ning in bat­tle, the two young broth­ers refused to fight in order to save the lives of their faith­ful fol­low­ers who were cer­tain to be pun­ished if they did fight. As “suf­fer­ers of non-resis­tance,” Saints Boris and Gleb were the first to be can­on­ized by the Russ­ian Church in 1020. They were glo­ri­fied — not as mar­tyrs or Chris­t­ian paci­fists — but as those who laid down their lives that oth­ers might live.

Theological Works

Dur­ing this peri­od Saint Theo­phy­lac­tus of Bul­gar­ia was writ­ing volu­mi­nous com­men­taries on the holy scrip­tures in the East. Anselm of Can­ter­bury (d.1109) in the West was pro­duc­ing his most influ­en­tial the­o­log­i­cal dis­cours­es which con­tained the so-called “onto­log­i­cal proof” for the exis­tence of God, a defense of the doc­trine of the fil­ioque, and the so-called “sat­is­fac­tion the­o­ry” of the atone­ment in which it was con­tend­ed that the death of Christ on the cross was the ade­quate sac­ri­fice nec­es­sary to sat­is­fy the jus­tice and wrath of God the Father.

The West

The eleventh cen­tu­ry in the West wit­nessed the Cis­ter­cian reforms of the Bene­dic­tine order (now known as the “trap­pists”). This movement’s great­est rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Bernard of Clair­vaux was an asceti­cal, mys­ti­cal the­olo­gian and church activist. He preached cru­sades and fought with Abelard, the famous author of Sic et Non. The Carthu­sian move­ment of eremitic monas­ti­cism began as well at this time.