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Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download.Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more — all for only .99...Their adherents everywhere belong of course to the Western portion.

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To find a time when there was one Eastern Church we must go back to the centuries before the Council of Ephesus (431).

Since that council there have been separate schismatical Eastern Churches whose number has grown steadily down to our own time.

The point may be stated more scientifically by using the old division of the patriarchates. Western Christendom may be defined quite simply as the Roman patriarchate and all Churches that have broken away from it.

All the others, with schismatical bodies formed from them, make up the Eastern half.

Moreover, although all these Eastern-Rite Catholics of course agrees in the same Catholic Faith we profess, they are not organized as one body.

Each branch keeps the rites (with in some cases modifications made at Rome for dogmatic reasons) of the corresponding schismatical body, and has an organization modelled on the same plan.

To these we must add those formed by missionaries (especially Russians) from one of these Churches.

Later Latin and Protestant missions have further complicated the tangled state of the ecclesiastical East.

We have already noted that they are by no means all in communion with each other, nor have they any common basis of language, rite or faith.

All are covered by a division into the great , those formed by the Nestorian and Monophysite heresies (the original Monothelites are now all Eastern-Rite Catholics), and lastly the Catholic Eastern Rites corresponding in each case to a schismatical body.

Theologically, to Catholics, the vital distinction is between Eastern Catholic, on the one hand, and schismatics or heretics, on the other.

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