Were there Bishops in the West Left After the Schism?

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Kenneth writes: “Tough questions for the Orthodox: If all the (Catholic) bishops of Rome became non bishops, after the 1054 Schism, then as the Orthodox are supposed to love everyone in all nations, who were the “true Orthodox bishops” appointed in the 1,000 years after the split? Give is the list of the “true apostolic bishops” in all those vast countries over which the bishop of Rome held jurisdiction before the split, up until this present day.”

Well, that’s actually impossible– for a while. During the period between 1040 and 1080, a faction formed loyal to a mad cleric named Hildebrand of Savona, who became Pope of Rome (arguably illegally) and had amassed factions and military camps loyal to him. Through a serious of bloody campaigns, true Bishops that tried to stop him along with married clergy and loyal monastics (one of the Bishops protesting wrote a letter warning of the evils being done at the time; it is translated here on this site) were removed by force and replaced with loyalists to the Hildebrandian faction.

So awful was the change being implemented that a council was held at Brixen to depose Hildebrand and install another Pope, Clement III, who actually did attempt to negotiate peace with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, Hildebrand’s successor Urban was able to convince the Byzantine Emperor of the ability to gather troops for a crusade against Islam. The faction which did in fact have an Orthodox understanding of secular authority and respect for the Church’s tradition was eventually killed off, the Hildebrandian faction became the Roman “Catholic Church” and the entire period was then euphemized as the “Investiture Controversy.” By using this period as a guide you can in fact see when each apostolic lineage in the West dies off. After this period, Roman and Orthodox missionizing in each other’s regions were historically treated with hostility.

Now, since then, there were two failed attempts to unite heretical Rome with the Orthodox (1274 and 1453,) after which the Roman religion sought subjugation through the Uniate model– unite with politically desperate groups and let them keep their Orthodox practices, while in effect adopting Roman beliefs. Outside of this, certain mission areas led to overlap and confusion, such as the Spanish (Roman) and Russian missions on the West coast of the United States in the 18th century. Meanwhile, the Orthodox worked to bring the Uniates back to the true faith, and this led to one of the largest reconversions to Orthodoxy at the start of the 20th century, with the defection of St. Alexis Toth (and subsequently thousands of Uniates) to the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Bishop St. Tikhon of Moscow, then bishop of North America.

Thus we can say without irony that there were NO Orthodox Bishops in the West from the completion of the Hildebrandian program of Urban II until the establishment of missions in Western territories. You find a history of interesting Orthodox missionaries such as St Tryphon of Pechenga, but until the 20th century there were no real established hierarchies outside Orthodox countries, and until then– even now– such missionary work is responded to with sectarian violence.

I invite you to learn more about the fall of Rome with my video, “Who invented the Roman Catholic Church?” in the sidebar.