The Eastern Church vs. the Western Church
In the year 1054, due to political, cultural and religious reasons, the Great Schism divided Christianity into the Eastern Church (the Orthodox Church) and the Western Church (the Catholic Church). As a result of the Schism, differences increased between the two. The primary differences are the Papal claims of authority and the insertion of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed (Ware, 1963). Since the two were one prior to the Schism, there are similarities; for example, both celebrate the seven Sacraments, partake of Holy Communion, have Apostolic origins, have a hierarchical priesthood and celebrate Easter; however, even within these similarities are differences.
The primary difference between the Eastern Church and the Western Church is in regards to the title and role of the head of the Church. The Pope is the head of the Western Church; whereas, the Patriarch is the leader of the Eastern Church. In the Catholic Church, the Pope is infallible. He can contradict lower ranking Church leaders. On the other hand, in the Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of Constantinople, also known as the Ecumenical Patriarch, is not infallible and does not have supreme authority. Sitting at the head of a council of Orthodox bishops, he is considered a "first among equals" (Brown, 2013).
In addition to the difference between the Pope and Patriarch, is the insertion of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed. Originally the Nicene Creed states: "I believe...in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified" ("The Nicene creed," n.d.). This is the Creed that the Eastern Church still recites to this day. The Creed is recited in both faiths; however, after the Synod of Toledo in Spain in 589, the addition of the filioque altered the Creed recited by the Western Church to read: "...Who proceeds from the Father and the...