Traditional Catholics can’t always be blamed for tripping up on “things Eastern,” what with being panicked over the third Confiteor at Mass or decrying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. It’s distracting stuff. So imagine my surprise when several traditional Catholics, including the historian Roberto de Mattei, started combating the media-spread exaggeration that the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope of Rome have been estranged for 1,000 years. While some Orthodox contest the dating, there is a strong case to be made that the Patriarchate of Moscow came officially into being in 1589, with its Metropolitan status originating a century early in 1448 when it, arguably, inherited the lineage of the See of Kyiv, albeit without canonical approval from the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Although Mattei identifies the beginning of the East/West Schism as 1054, he takes note of the reunion Council of Florence in 1439 and the sad reality that that the fall of Constantinople in 1453 effectively dashed all hope of a permanent end to the rending of Christendom. However, Mattei’s suggestion that the Rome/Moscow split should be dated at the founding of its patriarchate is rather questionable. There should be no doubt that by the time the Russians had imprisoned and illegally deposed Metropolitan Isidore in 1441 for accepting the Council of Florence and illicitly replaced him in 1448 with Jonah of Moscow, the Russian Orthodox Church became officially estranged from the See of Rome.
With respect to the Kyivan Metropolia, while it is well known that a number of its bishops reestablished full communion with Rome in 1596, there was a period of separation between Rome and Kyiv that some date to the end of Metropolitan St. Macarius the Hieromartyr’s brief reign in 1497 or Joseph II in 1501. There can be no doubt that by the time Jonah of Kyiv ascended the throne in 1503, the Metropolia was no longer in full communion with Rome, choosing instead to realign with the Eastern Orthodox who had rejected Florence. This period of estrangement between Rome and Kyiv thankfully came to an end less than a century later, though Russian aggression in the region during the 17th Century, which included Moscow’s imperial claim over the See of Kyiv and its Orthodox adherents, severely undermined Brest and the Greek Catholic Church, along with the rights of Ukrainian Orthodox to this day.