This is Part I of a talk I gave at the parish about the major divisions in Christianity.
Here are a few notes that were distributed to the people:
Christianity began with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, dated c. AD 33.
Non-Chalcedonian churches (Oriental Orthodox Churches)
The first important split in Christianity happened over the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. That Council declared that Jesus Christ is one person in two natures. Several churches refused to accept this definition: the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, Malankara Syrian and Armenian Apostolic churches. They are in communion with each other but not with other Christians.
Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches
The “Great Schism” is when communion was broken between the Patriarch of Rome and the Eastern Patriarchs (Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem). In AD 1054 Legates of the Pope excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, and vice versa. The Eastern half of the Church is now called the Eastern Orthodox Church while the western half is the Catholic Church. (other dates: 1204 sack 1453 fall).
In 1965, the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople removed the excommunications of 1054.
– This division is primarily emotional rather than doctrinal. The principal disagreement is over how much authority the Pope has over Patriarchs.
The Eastern Orthodox churches are divided into many essentially independent churches along national lines: Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian, Greek, Romanian, Orthodox Church in America.
The Catholic Church is composed of the Roman Catholic Church (also called the Latin Church, following the Roman liturgical tradition) and 22 other churches which follow various Eastern liturgical traditions (the Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Byzantine (or Greek) and Chaldean liturgical traditions).