The Churches Split
During the 700s A.D., the church in Rome faced serious challenges. The Roman Empire had fallen, and with it went the protection that the powerful emperors had given the Catholic Church. The region was now under constant attack from the Germanic tribes of the North.
The Pope in Rome sought help from the emperor in Byzantine. When the emperor refused to provide the needed help, the Pope was forced to look to a Germanic tribe that had been converted to Christianity.
The lack of help from the Byzantines created resentment in the hearts of those in the West who practiced Roman Christianity that would last for centuries.
In 1054 A.D., the division of the church in the East from the church in the West had become so deep that the two churches were essentially functioning as separate organizations. A conflict between the Pope in Rome and leaders of the church in Constantinople was the last straw. The Pope excommunicated members of the church in the East, while leaders of the church in the East excommunicated the Pope and members of the church in the West.
Both churches claimed to have the authority of God behind them, and to be the original church of Christ. The church in the West became the Holy Roman Catholic Church, while the church in the East became the Eastern Orthodox Church.