Thinking allowed

The Great Schism

This morn­ing I listened to anoth­er pro­gramme in the BBC Radio 4 series, In Our Time. This must be the best pro­gramme on the radio, and this week it looked at the Great Schism between the east­ern and west­ern Church, con­cen­trated in the mutu­al excom­mu­nic­a­tion in 1054.

What is even more remark­able is the rel­ev­ance of much of what they were talk­ing about to the cur­rent goings-on at Lam­beth. Here we had a dis­pute primar­ily about author­ity, and about a shift in the bal­ance of power, from the ‘old church’ in the Greek-speak­ing east, towards the Lat­in-speak­ing west, culim­in­at­ing a determ­in­a­tion by the up-and-com­ing west and its pat­ri­arch at Rome to con­cen­trate author­ity in its hands, rather than shar­ing it in a more demo­crat­ic ‘first among equals’ basis.

My only caveat would be to won­der about the author­ity of an ‘expert’ who thinks that com­mu­nion in one kind, increas­ingly prac­tised in the West, meant that the laity were lim­ited to receiv­ing only the chalice, and not the bread — a state­ment which no one corrected.

Any­way, the broad­cast is worth listen­ing to, wheth­er or not you see any par­al­lels, or wheth­er you agree with my sug­ges­ted par­al­lels (per­haps it’s like a good ser­mon, which every listen­er thinks is dir­ec­ted solely at them). Then, if you haven’t done so before, enjoy you­self brows­ing through the archives listen­ing to pre­vi­ous broad­casts over the last couple of years.