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Western Churches are those that either gravitate around Rome or broke away from her at the Reformation.
Eastern Churches depend originally on the Eastern Empire at Constantinople; they are those that either find their centre in the patriarchate of that city (since the centralization of the fourth century) or have been formed by schisms which in the first instance concerned Constantinople rather than the Western world.
Since that council there have been separate schismatical Eastern Churches whose number has grown steadily down to our own time.
The Nestorian heresy left a permanent Nestorian Church, the Monophysite and Monothelite quarrels made several more, the reunion with Rome of fractions of every Rite further increased the number, and quite lately the Bulgarian schism has created yet another; indeed it seems as if two more, in Cyprus and Syria, are being formed at the present moment (1908).
True, many Eastern Churches know nothing of Greek; the oldest (Nestorians, Armenians, Abyssinians) have never used Greek liturgically nor for their literature; nevertheless they too depend in some sense on a Greek tradition. vi) there were three patriarchates, those of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.
Their adherents everywhere belong of course to the Western portion.All the others, with schismatical bodies formed from them, make up the Eastern half.But it must not be imaged that either half is in any sense one Church.The literature of those that do not use Greek is formed on Greek models, is full of words carefully chosen or composed to correspond to some technical Greek distinction, then, in the broadest terms, is: that a Western Church is one originally dependent on Rome, whose traditions are Latin; an Eastern Church looks rather to Constantinople (either as a friend or an enemy) and inherits Greek ideas. In any case the Roman patriarchate was always enormously the greatest.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.
We may, then, say that any ancient Church east of that line is an Eastern Church.