Death of a Pope and The Eastern Churches

I hope this blogger develops the theme a bit more because it’s crucial to understanding the religious divides of the Templar period this blog deals with. As our blogger here says – the five patriarchs of the early Christian church were almost on an equal footing and a very fractious bunch – beating up each others supporters on occasion. By the time of the crusades, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria had been in Islamic hands for hundreds of years leaving Constantinople and Rome to fight for supremacy over the world’s Christians. The popes in Rome pushed the idea of their right to dictate to temporal rulers while the bishops in the eastern churches were subservient to the emperor. The divisions between eastern and western Christianity undoubtedly helped the Saracens to eventual victory.


As the Vatican offered its condolences to the Church of Alexandria for the passing of Pope Shenouda III, I would like to begin a brief review on the multiple Eastern Churches and their relationships each keep with the Roman Catholic Church.

During the Nicea Council in 325, three major ‘Patriarchates’ were recongnized: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. Later on, the Council of Constantinople (381) added Constantinople and Jerusalem as ‘Patriarchates’ as well.

These five patriarchs were known as the Pentarchy; with the Patriarch of Rome and Alexandria also recieving the name of Popes. However, due to different ecclesiological and doctrinal issues, the Pentarchy did not last long an by 1054 they were not united anymore.

Today’s Eastern Churches can be divided into 4 groupings:

1. The Eastern Orthodox Church. Is the largest group and follow the Byzantine tradition.
2. The groups of six independent churches known as Oriental Orthodox Churches

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