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Timeline of Schisms


During Period of the Single Church

Within Orthodoxy

  • 1265-1310 Arsenite Schism.
  • ca.1666-67 Old Believers became separated after 1666-1667 from the hierarchy of the Church of Russia as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon of Moscow.
  • 1921 Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).
  • 1935 Old Calendar Schism, when three bishops declared their separation from the official Church of Greece stating that the calendar change was a schismatic act.
  • 1990 Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP).

Roman Catholic

  • 1378-1417 Western Great Schism ensues, including simultaneous reign of three Popes of Rome.
  • 1723 The Church of Holland, (or Church of Utrecht) broke with Rome under its own archbishop and hierarchy, becoming the mother church of the Old Catholic Churches.
  • 1889 In southern India 5000 Catholics broke from Rome over an organizational dispute, and formed the Independent Catholic Church of Ceylon, Goa and India (i.e. the Jacobite Church of Ceylon, Goa and India; today this is a self-governing branch of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church, known as the Brahmavar (Goan) Orthodox Church, a uniate faction under the Indian Orthodox Church).
  • 1889 Federation of Old Catholic Churches, not in communion with Rome, at the Union of Utrecht.
  • 1945 Bp. Carlos Duarte Costa of Botucatu (in Brazil), a strong advocate for the liberal reform of the Roman Church since the 1930s, was finally excommunicated by the Vatican on July 2, 1945, in particular for his criticisms of Vatican foreign policy during World War II toward Nazi Germany; in 1945 Bp. Costa became the founder and first patriarch of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, an independent Roman Catholic Church (claiming 58 dioceses and five million members in 17 countries, as of 2007).
  • 1957 The "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association" (the official state-approved Church) is established by the People's Republic of China's Religious Affairs Bureau, to exercise state supervision over mainland China's Catholics; the unofficial (Papal) Church continues function as a separate entity.
  • 1970 In opposing the changes within the Church associated with the Second Vatican Council, French Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), which is still the world's largest Traditionalist Catholic priestly society, composed of 4 bishops and 463 priests, 85 brothers, 75 oblates and 160 seminarians.

Eastern Catholic Churches

The Vatican's Annuario Pontificio gives the following list of 22 Eastern Catholic Churches and of countries in which they possess an episcopal ecclesiastical jurisdiction (date of union or foundation in parenthesis):

Alexandrian liturgical tradition

  1. Coptic Catholic Church (patriarchate): Egypt (1741)
  2. Ethiopian Catholic Church (metropolia): Ethiopia, Eritrea (1846)

Antiochian (West-Syrian) liturgical tradition

  1. Maronite Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico (union re-affirmed 1182)
  • 685 John Maron elected first Maronite patriarch, founding the Maronite Catholic Church, which embraced Monothelitism, rejected the teaching of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, and separated from the Orthodox Church.
  • 694 Byzantine army of Justinian II defeated by Maronites, who became fully independent.
  • 1182 Maronites, who assisted the Crusaders during the Crusades, reaffirm their affiliation with Rome in 1182.
  1. Syriac Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United States and Canada, Venezuela (1781).
  2. Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (major archiepiscopate): India, United States (1930).
  • 1930 Some of the New Party (Puthankuttukar), joined the Catholic Communion on on September 20, 1930 as the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

Chaldean or East Syrian liturgical tradition

  1. Chaldean Catholic Church (patriarchate): Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, United States (1692)
  2. Syro-Malabar Church (major archiepiscopate): India, Middle East, Europe and America (date disputed)
  • 1599 The Synod of Diamper, held at Udayamperoor/Diamper, (Kerala, India) formally united the ancient Christian Church of the Malabar Coast Saint Thomas Christians with the Roman Catholic Church, and severed its direct ties with the Assyrian church of the East.
  • 1653 A group of the Saint Thomas Christians gathered at Mattancherry near Fort Kochi under the leadership of their archdeacon; They swore the Coonan Cross Oath not to obey the Pope of Rome; subsequently they received a bishop, Mar Gregory, from the Syriac Orthodox Church of West Syrian tradition; those who accepted Mar Gregory became known as the New Party (Puthankuttukar).
  • 1663 A large section of the Old Party (Pazhayakuttukur) cut its ancient ties with the churches in Persia and joined the Catholic Communion in 1663 AD with the ordination of Chandy Bishop. This section is presently known as Syro-Malabar Church.

Armenian liturgical tradition

  1. Armenian Catholic Church (patriarchate): Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Ukraine, France, Greece, Latin America, Argentina, Romania, United States, Canada, Eastern Europe (1742)

Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) liturgical tradition

  1. Albanian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic administration): Albania (1628).
  2. Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (no established hierarchy at present): Belarus (1596).
  3. Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church (apostolic exarchate): Bulgaria (1861).
  4. Byzantine Church of the Eparchy of KriĹževci (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (1611).
  5. Greek Byzantine Catholic Church (two apostolic exarchates): Greece, Turkey (1829).
  6. Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (an eparchy and an apostolic exarchate): Hungary (1646).
  7. Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (two eparchies and a territorial abbacy): Italy (Never separated).
  8. Macedonian Greek Catholic Church (an apostolic exarchate): Republic of Macedonia (1918).
  9. Melkite Greek Catholic Church (patriarchate): Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Brazil, United States, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Egypt and Sudan, Kuwait, Australia, Venezuela, Argentina (1726).
  10. Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (major archiepiscopate): Romania, United States (1697).
  11. Russian Catholic Church: (two apostolic exarchates, at present with no published hierarchs): Russia, China (1905); currently about 20 parishes and communities scattered around the world, including five in Russia itself, answering to bishops of other jurisdictions.
  12. Ruthenian Catholic Church (a sui juris metropolia, an eparchy, and an apostolic exarchate): United States, Ukraine, Czech Republic (1646).
  13. Slovak Greek Catholic Church (metropolia): Slovak Republic, Canada (1646).
  14. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) (major archiepiscopate): Ukraine, Poland, United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Scandinavia, France, Brazil, Argentina (1596).
  • 1596 Union of Brest-Litovsk, several million Ukrainian and Byelorussian Orthodox Christians, living under Polish rule, leave the Church of Constantinople and recognize the Pope of Rome, without giving up their Byzantine liturgy and customs, creating the Uniate church.


Oriental Orthodox Communion

Church of Alexandria (Coptic)

  • ca.451 Coptic Christianity broke from the Byzantine churches in the wake of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451; Shenouda the Great, abbott of White Monastery in Egypt (d.466), is considered the founder of Coptic Christianity.
British Orthodox Church

Church of Antioch (Syriac)

  • 541 Jacob Baradeus organizes the Non-Chalcedonian Church in western Syria (the "Jacobites"), which spreads to Armenia and Egypt. Church of Antioch (Syriac).
  • 544 Jacob Baradeus consecrates Sergius of Tella as bishop of Antioch, opening the lasting schism between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chalcedonian Church of Antioch.
Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church

Armenian Apostolic Church

  • 554 Church of Armenia (Armenian Apostolic Church) officially breaks with West in 554, during the second Council of Dvin where the dyophysite formula of Chalcedon was rejected.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

  • 1959 Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, (Abbysinia), is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia that was part of the Coptic Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Pope Cyril VI.

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church

  • 1993 Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church was formerly a part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, its autocephaly being reluctantly recognized by the Ethiopian Patriarchate after Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.

The Church of India (Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church)


Assyrian Church of the East

  • 410 Council of Seleucia declares Mesopotamian Nestorian bishops independent of Orthodox bishops.
  • 424 Formal separation of the Assyrian Church of the East ("Syrian Church" or the "Persian Church"), from the See of Antioch and the western Syrian Church under the Byzantine Emperors, occurred at a synod in 424; (in India, it is known as the Chaldean Syrian Church; In the West it is often known as the Nestorian Church).
  • 484 Synod of Beth Lapat in Persia declares Nestorianism as official theology of Assyrian Church of the East, effectively separating the Assyrian church from the Byzantine church.

Protestant Groups

  • 1517 Lutheran Church founded by Martin Luther, nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to door at Wittenburg, sparking Protestant Reformation.
  • 1525 Anabaptism established; (today's descendants include the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Bruderhof, and Mennonites).
  • 1534 Church of England (Anglicanism) founded by King Henry VIII.
  • 1541 Calvinism, (the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) founded, as the French theologian Johannes Calvinus establishes the first Reformed church in Geneva.
  • 1560 Presbyterian religion founded by John Knox in Scotland.
  • 1571 Dutch Reformed Church founded at the Synod of Emden.
  • 1592 Congregationalist religion originated by Robert Brown in Holland.
  • 1609 Baptist religion launched by John Smyth in Amsterdam.
  • ca.1630-40 Puritan movement in England; approximately 20,000 Puritans emigrated to New England in the Great Migration; in 1662 the Puritans (also known as "Dissenters", later "Nonconformists") left or were forced out of the Church of England altogether.
  • 1648 Society of Friends (Quakers) founded by George Fox, as a Nonconformist breakaway movement from English Puritanism.
  • 1744 Methodist religion began by John and Charles Wesley in England; (the movement did not form a separate denomination in England until after John Wesley's death in 1795).
  • 1773 Unitarian denomination dates from the secession of Theophilus Lindsey from the Anglican Church.
  • 1789 Episcopal Church formally separated from the Church of England, so that clergy would not be required to accept the supremacy of the British monarch; a revised version of the Book of Common Prayer was also written for the new church in 1789.
  • 1827 Plymouth Brethren; Anglican priest John Nelson Darby became an influential member of the movement now known as the Plymouth Brethren, and advocate of Dispensational Premillenialism, an innovative Protestant movement that gave rise to Evangelicalism.
  • 1830 Mormon (Latter Day Saints) religion started by Joseph Smith, in Palmyra, New York; Book of Mormon published.
  • 1844 Seventh Day Adventists arose from the Millerite movement of the 1840s, which was part of the wave of revivalism in the United States known as the Second Great Awakening, and was formally established in 1863.
  • 1865 Salvation Army sect began with William Booth in London.
  • 1879 Christian Scientist religion is born, founded by Mary Baker Eddy.
  • 1879 Jehovah's Witnesses founded by Charles Taze Russell.
  • 1906 Pentecostal movement spreads after the Azusa Street Revival (1906-09); also known as "Charismatic Movement" from ca.1960 onwards.
  • 1925 United Church of Canada, the second-largest Christian denomination in Canada after the Roman Catholic Church, is founded as a merger of four Protestant denominations.
  • 1957 United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination principally in the United States, generally considered within the Reformed tradition, formed in 1957 with the union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches.

See also