December 7: A Family Reunion

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December 7: A Family Reunion

Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

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December 7, 1965 CE. Pope Paul IV and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I lift mutual excommunications which existed since the Great Schism of 1054 CE. The Great Schism had its roots in the crowning of Charlemagne, then King of the Franks, by Pope Leo III as Holy Roman Emperor in 800 CE. With Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor, the Byzantine Empire grew enraged with the Pope’s decision, as they stood as the last remnant of Roman power. Crowning a “barbarian” king as the sole authority of Roman power meant completely disregarding Byzantine claims to the title. By the year 1054 CE, relations between the two churches hit a boiling point, leading to the eventual schism. Pope Paul IV and Patriarch Athenagoras’ decision to lift the excommunication proved incredibly important, as this allowed for the mending of a previously viciously divided religion.