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Between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Reformation, were there any Christian groups outside the Roman Catholic Church? Who were they?

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Interesting question; I wonder how many were suppressed as heresy / anathema; the church at that time was not exactly known for it's easy-going response to any threat to it's supremacy, with execution for heresy (or: the threat of execution) not uncommon. –  Marc Gravell Feb 6 '12 at 9:17
    
    
Is the following article, General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches, relevant? –  user1272 Feb 6 '12 at 9:51
    
Well, I am not sure. Let me read it first. –  brilliant Feb 6 '12 at 15:06

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Taking your defined period for the Middle Ages—starting at the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE and ending with the 95 Theses in 1517 (which began the Protestant Reformation)—a number of minor Christian groups that were considered heretical, and thus outside the communion of the Catholic Church, popped up.

Given the definition of Catholicism, anyone who does not accept the entire Dogmata of the Church would not be in communion with it. It would therefore be impossible to enumerate every single person or minor group in a 1,000 year time span who may or may not have been in communion with the Church during that time period. However, it should be noted that the Church, from time to time, did address these heresies in the form of Synods, Ecumenical Councils, Papal Bulls, Encyclicals, and so forth.

Among the points of contention in the Middle Ages were the following:

Those aside, there were two major events, or schisms:

  • The Great Schism of 1054: Brought on by a number of issues, the Eastern Eurpean Churches, centered around Constantinople (now the Orthodox Church, or the Eastern Orthodox Church), fell out of communion with the Western European Churches (now called the Roman Catholic Church).

  • The Western Schism (1378–1417): Due to a political issue with most of the major powers in Western Europe, three Papacies, all laying claim to the Church, arose: one out of Rome (backed by the Holy Roman Empire), another out of Avignon (backed by France), and a for a short third out of Pisa (backed by a small number of cardinals and bishops).

It's important to note that, like the Protestant Reformation that would come a few hundred years later, in both cases, all sides laid claim to Catholicity and considered themselves Catholic due to the First Council of Constantinople, which established there is only one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

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Gosh! I am sorry, I meant Western Europe in my question. I'll edit it now. –  brilliant Feb 6 '12 at 9:00
    
WOW!!! Thank you! –  brilliant Feb 6 '12 at 15:05
    
There were actually three Papal lines in the Western Schism. –  TRiG Feb 6 '12 at 15:18
    
@TRiG Fixed, thanks. –  user72 Feb 6 '12 at 18:26
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I disagree with your assertion that it is "almost always incorrect." The meaning (at least in this context) is unambiguous, and the same as your CE. Just the same, I'll leave your answer alone. :) –  Flimzy Feb 6 '12 at 18:34

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