Of the world’s population of 7.8 billion, Christianity is the most widely practised religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers. Next in popularity are 1.5 billion followers of Islam and 900 million Hindu. There are many beliefs that Christians have in common. There are however, not unsurprisingly, also many differences in the more than 21,000 Christian denominations.
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Catholicism is by far the largest branch of Christianity with an estimated 1.285 billion followers.
The first schism in the early church was between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The two traditions began to divide, as the Roman Empire fragmented, after the seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 CE and is commonly believed to have finally split over the conflict with Rome in the so-called Great Schism in 1054.
From 1378 to 1417 the Papal schism saw two, and later on three, popes all claiming jurisdiction, who each excommunicated the others. Unlike the other schisms this was a power play rather than a disagreement over religion.
The Reformation of the 1500’s, where Protestantism broke away from the Church of Rome is the second most significant split in Christianity.