The Greek Orthodox Church (as part of the broader Eastern Orthodox Church) split ten centuries ago from Roman Catholicism, when Pope Leo IX and Eastern Patriarch Michael I excommunicated each other.
There were many factors behind this historic rupture – including differences in the ecclesiastical languages (Greek in the East, Latin in the West); and disputes over Papal authority.
It was not until the late 20th century when Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos Paraskevaides of Greece met to commence reconciliation.
“The Greek Orthodox Church is more open and has embodied elements from Greek life since antiquity,” Dr. Maria Hnaraki, director of Greek Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, told IB Times.
“In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has a rather secular power. Throughout the years, several attempts have been made by major religious leaders to bridge what once used to be ‘one faith’. The religious dialogues continue, of course.”
Leontis commented: “There is now goodwill at least. Whether the churches will ever be in communion is another question.”
So, with all these underlying differences, is Greece truly European?
Hnaraki commented: “Greece is at the borders of the so-called East and West. That is exactly where its uniqueness lies. It has served -- and still does so -- as a crossroads amongst three continents and, historically, peoples of various socio-cultural backgrounds. Thus, Greek identity is an amalgam of all those elements.”
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