I just happened across this very helpful tidbit written by our friend, Professor William J. Tighe, for the dearly lamented Pontifications. The context is a response to a passage from Louis Bouyer’s The Church of God (1982).
It is true that the date of 1054 is wholly “symbolic” (however important a symbol it later became) and without concrete importance in the process. Rome and Constantinople, it appears, had been in technical schism from one another since 1009, when Pope Sergius IV (1009-1012) may have sent, upon his election, a statement of faith including the filioque to Patriarch Sergius II (1000-1019) of Constantinople (Rome was to adopt the Creed with the filioque in 1014); however, it may be that Roman popes from 1009 onwards ceased to notify Constantinople of their election, which would account for the fact that the last Pope of Rome commemorated on the Constantinopolitan diptychs was John XVIII (1003-1009). While the events of 1054 certainly contributed to the alienation of the two sees from one another (as, more profoundly, did the shock of the sacking of Constantinople in 1204), it was far from being the date of the schism between “the East” and “the West,” and as late as the 1090s the Byzantine Emperor could inform the Latins who had reached Constantinople in the course of the First Crusade that it had been the negligence of past bishops of both Rome and Constantinople that had occasioned the alienation between them, and not differences of doctrine. As to the other Eastern Patriarchates, in Antioch there was open schism from 1100 onwards, in which year the Crusaders installed a Latin Patriarch and expelled the Byzantine one, and for the next two centuries, until the expulsion of the last Crusaders in 1291, two rival lines vied for the possession of the city’s churches and the allegiance of its clergy. In Jerusalem, the Turkish rulers had expelled the Greek patriarch in the 1070s, and although the Crusaders had agreed to restore the Byzantine patriarch when they captured Jerusalem, he died a few weeks before Jerusalem fell in July 1099. The Crusaders then elected a Latin patriarch, and a succession of Latin patriarchs seem to have been accepted by easterners and westerners alike for nearly a century, until Saladin reconquered Jerusalem for Islam in 1187. From 1099 onwards a series of Greek “Patriarchs of Jerusalem” continued at Constantinople, and it was to the Greek patriarch that Saladin gave control of the Jerusalem Church in 1188, and during the brief Latin reconquest of Jerusalem from 1229 to 1244 the two rival lines contended for the allegiance of the holy city’s churches and clergy. As for Alexandria, as late as 1215 its patriarch regarded himself as in communion with Rome, but this had evidently ceased by the close of the century; and Rome named a Latin “Patriarch of Alexandria” in 1310.
Up until the Council of Florence both the East and the West contained “rigorists” and “laxists” concerning the ecclesiastical status of the other, and while the papacy generally took a strict line in theory, holding that those who were not in the “communion and obedience” of the Apostolic See, in practice it took the line—certainly at Florence—that the division, whetever its precise nature and status, was within the Church. At Florence, or after it, all four Eastern patriarchs accepted the union that the council had achieved, and while the union appears to have been treated at Constantinople as broken from 1453 onwards, after the Turkish conquest, it was not until 1484 that all four patriarchs, either in person or through their representatives, meeting at Constantinople, formally repudiated Florence. So if there must be a date given for the schism, the best one is 1484—and this despite the fact that the Metropolitinate of Kiev appears to have succeeded in remaining in communion with Rome and Constantinople down to just before or after 1500.
So much for dating the schism. One had to add, though, that relations between Byzantines and Latins were very different in Slavic lands and in Greek/Arabic lands. In the former, Moscow’s prompt rejection of Florence in 1441 was followed-up by the anathematization of Latins as heretics and the requirement of rebaptism for all Latins wishing to enter Orthodoxy, and as Muscovite influence over Orthodoxy in neighboring Slavic lands grew over the succeeding 200 years (especially after then 1595 Union of Brest, which brought a substantial portion of the Kiev Metropolitanate back into union with Rome), this policy gradually became the norm. However, in the 1660s the Russians, under the influence of both Greek practice (the same meeting of patriarchs in 1484 that had repudiated the Council of Florence mandated the reception of Latin converts by chrismation) and, perhaps, Western sacramental teaching, abandoned the practice of rebaptism for chrismation only. However, the Constantinopolitan practice was itself about to change.
A watershed was passed in 1724 with the division of the Patriarchate of Antioch into two factions, one in favor of union with Rome, the other against. Ethnic rivalries were also involved in the dispute: by 1700 the Alexandrian and Antiochene patriarchates were both firmly under Greek control at a hierarchical level (the Alexandrian patriarchate, small in numbers, served some few ethnic Greek communities in Egypt, but the Jerusalem patriarchate, although exclusively Greek in its bishops, served a largely Arab laity, and most of its married clergy were Arabs as well), but in Antioch the patriarch (frequently) and the bishops (mostly) were Arabs. In the aftermath of the election of rival patriarchs in 1724, the Constantinople patriarchate managed to secure a decisive say in the choice of all three other eastern patriarchates, which amounted in the case of Antioch to a Greek take-over (it was not until 1878 that an Arab became patriarch again) , and while the first Melkite Catholic patriarch was quickly executed by the Turkish authorities, the end result was two Byzantine patriarchal lines in Antioch, one Catholic (in communion with Rome), the other Orthodox. This led to increasing hostility on both sides: in 1729 and again in 1753 Rome issued strict proscriptions banning any common worship or sacramental sharing between Catholics and Orthodox, and in 1755 the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem (but not Antioch, despite the bitterness of the disvision there), laid down that all Latin converts were to be received henceforth by rebaptism, not chrismation — a practice that Constantinople and Alexandria ceased to require in the 1960s, but which the Jerusalem patriarchate still maintains in its full rigor (as do various “Old Calendar” and “True Orthodox” Orthodox splinter groups) to this day.
One cannot pass over completely any mention of how, at times, and in some places, a theoretical rigorism coexisted with a practical laxity. Bishop Kallistos (Ware) has documented the degree of practical cooperation, and even sacramental sharing, that occurred in the Aegean region right down to the early 1700s in his article from the early 1970s “Orthodox and Catholics in the Seventeenth Century: Schism or Intercommunion” (Schism, Heresy and Religious Protest, ed. Derek Baker [Cambridge, 1972]) and similar examples could be provided from the Middle East in the same period.
(Thanks to Christopher at Orrologion for preserving the text of this article on his blog.)