GREEK CHURCH, TTIE. In the widest sense of the term, all those Christians following the Greek or Greco-Slavonic rite. They agree in receiving the first seven general councils of the Catholic Church, but reject the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, and all the later councils of the Western Church. The Greek Church calls itself "the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church." It includes three important branches— the Church within the Ottoman Empire, subject directly to the Patriarch of Constantinople; the Church in the Kingdom of Greece, ruled by the Holy Synod of Greece; and the Russo-Greek Church, in the Russian Empire, ruled by the Russian Holy Synod under the authority of the Czar. There are besides the churches of Rumania and Servia, which no longer recognize the author ity of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Bulgarian Church, which has been independent since the Berlin Congress in 1878.
The tendency to snake ecclesiastical dignity and authority follow political importance was noted early in the East. As a result of this the See of Jerusalem was at first only an ordinary bishopric under the Metropolitan of Cirsarea. Slight differences between Oriental and Occiden tal churches manifested themselves even during the first century. The Greek language was used in the religious services of the East, the Latin in the West. Certain unimportant liturgical differ ences arose, though the unity of faith was not affected thereby. In the West the Pope was the sole Patriarch; in the East there were at first three Patriarchs—those of Constantinople, Anti och, and Alexandria, and in 451 Jerusalem also became a patriarchate. The history proper of the Greek Church as a separate body dates from the commencement of the efforts on the part of the Church of Constantinople to establish for itself a distinct jurisdiction and an independent pri macy in the eastern division of the Empire. The ecclesiastical preeminence of Constantinople fol lowed upon the political distinction to which it rose as the seat of the Imperial Government. Originally Byzantium was but a simple episcopal see, subject to the Metropolitan of Heraclea. The rank of the see rose with the fortunes of the city, but there are many early instances in which questions arising within the district which after wards became the Patriarchate of Constanti nople, questions affecting the bishop himself, and even his relations to other patriarchs of the Oriental Church, were referred to the bishops of Rome. It was not long, however, before the po
litical rivalries of East and West revealed a certain lack of harmony between Rome and Con stantinople. The Council of Chalcedon (451) passed a decree which confirmed the precedence of Constantinople, and assigned to its Patriarch not only an extensive range of jurisdiction, but grounded these ecclesiastical privileges, in the case of the new as in that of the old Rome, upon the political precedence to which both had risen. The Roman legates protested against this canon. The consequence was a serious misunderstanding between the two churches, which was widened by certain doctrinal differences in some of the ehristological controversies. This culminated some thirty years later when the Emperor Zeno, in 482, issued the Henoticon, a decree meant to reconcile the Monophysites. This decree care fully avoided mention of the formula of the two natures in Christ, which had been adopted at the Council of Chalcedon. The Henoticon was ac cepted by the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, who, as a consequence, were, with the Emperor, excommunicated by Pope Felix III. in 484. This is the first Eastern schism, and the Eastern and Western churches were actually separated for a period of about thirty-five years. The terms upon which the excommunication was withdrawn by Pope Hormisdas in 519 involved a complete acknowledgment of the exclusive su premacy of the Roman Pontiff. The Council in Trullo (see QUINISEXT) , held in 592. caused a renewal of the misunderstanding by various de crees condemning Western ecclesiastical prac tices. The Patriarch, John the Faster, claimed the title of Ecumenical Patriarch, that is. Bishop of the Universal Church. toward the end of the sixth century. His claim was reprobated by Gregory the Great (see GREGORY I.). but the pretension was not entirely abandoned. Finally the foundation of the Western Empire, in close relations with the Pope, completed political separation, and certain patriarchs took advan tage of it to foster Church disunion.