Why does the Roman Catholic Church have so many more people in it than the Orthodox Church does? Doesn't that say something about its authenticity? Afterall, we need to judge a church by its fruits and if they have lots of converts, perhaps the Holy Spirit is working with them. Although then again that could be said of Islam since many people belong to it.
I don't know the exact statistics, but correct me if I am wrong, in some Latin American countries all people are Roman Catholics, simply because when their birth is registered, their belonging to the RC is authomatically affirmed. That includes tribal people who live in the jungle of the Amazon basin and who may well have no understanding of words like God, Christ, Church etc.
The countries where the Eastern Orthodoxy was widespread have, on the most part, experienced foreign occupation (Turks) or Communist anti-theistic terror (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Georgia). That certainly resulted in a substantial decrease in the numbers of people who openly confess their Orthodox faith.
How do we know that it was the Orthodox Church that was the original church and that the Catholic Church split from it and not the other way around? The beliefs of the Orthodox Church is the beliefs of the people, is it not? God will lead us into all truth. So if the majority of the Christian people at the time believed that the pope was... well... the pope, then wouldn't that mean that there was some validity behind the statement. Is the reason we know the Eastern Church is the true church because they had the most original patriarchs? Or is it simply because they have the same beliefs as the early Christians.
Where did the Patriarchates come from? Aren't they kind of like mini-popes in that they were not around from the beginning but had their status elevated so that they could be in charge of their patriarchate?
Berofe 1054, the Church was one, and it included several administrative units, each headed by a very respected prelate or Patriarch. There were five of them: the Patriarch (or archbishop, or Pope) of Rome, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Patriarch of Constantinople. All of them were equal in status, and they ruled the entire Church in a consiliar manner. However, in the 7th-10th century there appeared a belief that the archbishop of Rome has a unique status, higher than the remaining four Patriarchs. For example, some clergy in the West began to believe that the Archbishop or Pope of Rome can appoint other prelates. When the clergy and laity of Constantinople put a man called Photius on the throne of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Pope of Rome became furious and ordered his subordinate clergy to ignore the following Ecumenical Council. The other four Patriarchs, however, argued that this self-elevation of the Pope does not have any grounds in Scripture or in the Church Tradition; the Church has only one Head, Who is Christ Himself, and before His glorious Second Coming the Church should be run not by any one individual but by councils of bishops who all have an equal status ("charisma").
Because of this diagereement, the relationships between the Roman archbishop or Pope and the remaining four Patriarchs became very tense, and finally in 1054 an ambassador from the Pope brought to Constantinople a "bull" (letter) from the Pope, in which the Pope excommunicated the four Patriarchs. Since that moment the Roman archdiocese began its separate existence as the "Roman Catholic Church."
There are certainly many threads on this forum and elsewhere that have already discussed this issue. Personally, I would recommend a wonderful, comprehensive historical study of this issue made by Metropolitan Lakkistos (Timothy Ware), in his book, "The Orthodox Church." Here is a link to its text:http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/history_timothy_ware_1.htm