The Great Schism Of The Church

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The Great Schism of the Church
2005, 2015
July 6, 1054 was rapidly approaching, and the Christian world was about to experience a major event on the road to a schism that continues to our day — the divide between the Western and Eastern Christian churches. The central actors in the looming conflict were Michael Cerularius, the patriarch of Constantinople,1 and Leo IX, the bishop or pope in Rome.

In the months leading up to July 6, 1054, Cerularius had strongly condemned the Western church for some of its religious practices and beliefs.2 As part of his attack, Cerularius excommunicated the bishops of Constantinople who followed certain rites of the Western church, and he closed down their churches.

In April, Leo sent a legation to Cerularius, headed by Cardinal Humbert, with his own set of demands and accusations against the patriarch. As it turned out, Leo died in the midst of the mission, but the group continued its task. The meetings between Cardinal Humbert and Patriarch Cerularius were angry and bitter. Mistrust and a desire to maintain ecclesiastical power ruled the day. No useful dialogue could occur in such a poisoned atmosphere.

Mutual excommunication
Finally, relations between Cerularius and Humbert were strained to the breaking point. The Roman legates marched into
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