Saturday, April 12, 2014
Réné-Francois Guettée - The Papacy - part eight
Cyriacus was not touched by Gregory's tender exhortations, who, some time after, wrote to the Patriarch of Antioch, blaming him, in a friendly way, for not attaching enough importance to the usurpation of their brother of Constantinople. We see by that letter that the Patriarch of Antioch feared to draw upon himself the displeasure of the Emperor if' he declared against the Patriarch of Constantinople. He wrote his friend St. Gregory a very flattering letter. "But," replied the great Pope, " your Holiness, I perceive, would have your letter like the bee that carries both honey and a sting, that you might both satisfy me with honey and sting me. But I have found in this an occasion to reflect upon these words of Solomon, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.' (Prov. 27 : 6.)
"As regards what You say to me concerning the title whereat I am offended, that I should yield, because the thing is of no importance, the Emperor has written me to the same effect. That which he says by virtue of his power, I know you say out of friendship. I am not surprised to find the same expressions in your letter as in that of the Emperor, for love and power have many things in common ; both are in the first rank, and they always speak with authority.
"When I received the synodical letter from our brother and fellow-bishop, Cyriacus, I did not see fit to put off replying to him, in spite of the impious title he assumed in it, lest I should thereby trouble the unity of the holy Church; but I took care to tell him my opinion touching this grand and superstitious title; I told him that he could not have peace with us if he did not refrain from taking this title of pride, which was but an invention of the first apostate. You must not consider this same affair as unimportant; for, if we tolerate it, we corrupt the faith of the whole Church. You know how many, not heretics only but heresiarchs, have arisen in the church of Constantinople. Not to speak of the injury done to your dignity, it cannot be denied that if any one bishop be called universal, all the Church crumbles if that universal one fall. But far be it from me to lend an ear to such folly, to such levity! I confide in the all-powerful Lord, who will fulfil the promise he has made,
‘Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.’” (Luke 14 : 11.)
No one could more wisely estimate than does St. Gregory the serious inconveniences that the Church might suffer from a central authority assuming to represent and sum up the Church. Man, whatever he may be, and frequently from the superiour dignity itself with which he is invested, is subject to errour: if the Church be summed up in him, the Church falls with him. Such is St. Gregory's reasoning. He foresaw but too well; and the Roman Church has fallen into endless errours, with a Pope who claims to sum her up in his own person, and to be her infallible personification.
Happily the Church of Jesus Christ is neither that of one time nor that of one place, and she may always be distinguished by the Catholic criterion so clearly set forth by the Fathers of the Church. Otherwise, we must cease to believe the promises of Christ, and must say in an absolute sense what St. Gregory said hypothetically, The universal one has fallen, the whole Church has fallen!
They said at the court of Constantinople, that Gregory only made such fierce war against the title of universal from jealousy of the Bishop of the New Rome, and to debase him. The Emperor and Cyriacus wrote thus to him with all the respect that was his due; but Gregory made Cyriacus clearly understand that he had misjudged him. He sent to him and to the Emperor a deacon, Anatolius by name, to undeceive them, giving him letters for the
Emperor and the Patriarch. To the latter, after thanking him for his flattering words, he says:*
“It must be not only by words, but by deeds, that you show to me and to all your brethren the splendour of your charity, by hastening to renounce a title of pride, which has been a cause of offence to all the churches. Fulfil these words, 'Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, (Eph. 4 : 3,) and this other, 'Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.' (1 Tim. 5 : 14.) Your charity will shine forth if there be no division between us in respect to a vainglorious title. I call Jesus to witness, from the depth
of my soul, that I do not wish to give offence to any person, from the least to the greatest. I desire all to be great and honoured, provided such honour detracts nothing from that which is due to Almighty God. Indeed, who ever would be honoured against God is not honourable
in my eyes. . . . In this matter I would injure no one; I would only defend that humility which is pleasing to God and the peace of the holy Church. Let the things newly introduced be therefore abrogated in the same manner as they have been established, and we shall preserve amongst us the purest peace of the Lord. What kindly relations can exist between us if our sentiments are but words, and we wound one another with our deeds?"
In his letter to the Emperor, Gregory devotes himself to refuting the argument that was drawn from the insignificance of this honorary title, to which they pretended, at Constantinople, not to attach any great importance. “I pray your Imperial Piety," be says,†
“to observe that there are some frivolous things that are inoffensive, but also some others that are very hurtful. When Antichrist shall come and call himself God, it will be in itself a perfectly frivolous thing, but a very pernicious one. If we only choose to consider the
number of syllables in this word, we find but two, (De-us;) but if we conceive the weight of iniquity of this title, we shall find it enormous. I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, THE PRECURSOR OF ANTICHRIST, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The errour
into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One
wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others."
Nowadays they teach, in the name of the Church and in favour of the Bishop of
Such is the instruction that they would now foist upon us as Catholic doctrine. Do our modern innovators apprehend that Pope Gregory the Great regarded such a doctrine as diabolical, and has, in anticipation, called this Pope, so invested with an assumed universal episcopate, Antichrist?
St. Gregory was in the habit of taking no important decision without giving information of it to the other Patriarchs. He therefore wrote to those of Alexandria and Antioch, to inform them what course he had adopted with regard to the new Patriarch of Constantinople. Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, was persuaded, and announced to Gregory that be would no longer give the title universal to the Bishop of Constantinople; but, thinking to flatter Gregory, whom he loved and who had done him service on many occasions, he gave the same title to him, and wrote that if he did not give it to the Bishop of
* Book VII. Ep. 31.
† Book VII. Ep. 33.
Constantinople, it was in submission to the COMMANDS of Gregory. Gregory answered at once, and the following -passage from his answer shows what idea he had of his own authority as bishop of Rome:
“Your Holiness has been at pains to tell us that in addressing certain persons you no longer give them certain titles that have no better origin than pride, using this phrase regarding me, I as you have commanded.’ I pray you let me never again hear this word command; for I know who I am and who you are. BY YOUR POSITION YOU ARE MY BRETHREN; by your virtues you are my fathers. I have, therefore, not commanded; I have only been careful to point out things which seemed to me useful. Still I do not find that your Holiness has perfectly remembered what I particularly wished to impress on your memory; for I said that you should no more give that title to me than to others; and lo! in the superscription of your letter, you give to me, who have proscribed them, the vainglorious titles of universal and of Pope. May your sweet Holiness do so no more in future, I beseech you; for you take from yourself what you give in excess to another. I do not ask to increase in dignities, but in virtues. I do not esteem that an honour which causes my brethren to lose their own dignity. My honour is that of the whole Church. My honour is the unshaken
firmness of my brethren. I consider myself truly honoured when no one is denied the Honour due to him. If your Holiness calls me universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what I should then be altogether. God forbid! Far from us be the words that puff up vanity and wound charity."
Thus did Pope Gregory condemn, even in the person of the Bishop of Rome, the title of Pope and that of universal. He acknowledges that the Patriarch of Alexandria is his equal, that be is not entitled to lay any commands upon him and consequently that he has no authority over him.
How is this orthodox doctrine of St. Gregory's to be reconciled with the modern teaching that ascribes to the Pope a universal authority of divine right? Let the defenders of the Papacy answer.
St. Gregory, consistent with himself, sees the unity of the Church only in the true faith, and never makes the least allusion to the necessity of being in communion with the Church of Rome.
And no wonder; for he did not regard the see of Rome as the only see of St. Peter. He expressly acknowledged that the sees of Alexandria and Antioch were, quite as much as that of Rome, the see of the first of the Apostles, and that these three sees were but one. Let us quote his words. He writes thus to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria:*
“Your Holiness has spoken to me at large, in your letters, of the see of St. Peter, prince of the Apostles, saying that he still resides here by his successors. Now, I acknowledge myself unworthy not only of the honour of the chiefs, but even to be counted in the number of the faithful. Yet I have willingly accepted all that you have said, because your words regarding the see of Peter came from him who occupies that see of Peter. A special honour has no charms for me; but I greatly rejoice that you, who are very holy, only ascribe
to me what you also give to yourself. Indeed, who is ignorant that the holy Church has been made fast upon the solidity of the prince of the Apostles, whose name is the type of the firmness of his soul, and who borrowed from the rock his name of Peter?--that it was said to him by the Truth, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven..... When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren..... Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep." Therefore, though there were many Apostles, the single see of the prince of the Apostles prevailed by his princedom; which see now exists in three places; for it is he that made
* Ib. Book VII. Ep. 39.
glorious that see where he condescended to rest (quiescere) and close his present life. It is he who adorned the see, whither he sent the Evangelist, his disciple. It is he who strengthened the see, which he occupied for seven years, although finally compelled to leave it. Since then there is but one see of the same Apostle, and three bishops now hold it by divine authority.
All the good I bear of you I also impute to myself."
Observe that St. Gregory, in speaking of Rome, only says that St. Peter rested there and died there. To Alexandria he only sent his disciple; but at Antioch he held the see for seven years. If, then, in the strict acceptation of the words, any bishop has inherited the see
of St. Peter, it must be, according to St. Gregory, the Bishop of Antioch. The great Pope was well aware that Peter only went to Rome to die there; that the Roman Church was already founded and governed by a bishop; he accordingly limits himself to saying that he made glorious the see of Rome by the martyrdom he suffered there, while he designates Antioch as the true episcopal see of Peter. We believe that St. Peter was, strictly speaking, no more Bishop of Antioch than of Rome; but we only wish to show what was the opinion of St. Gregory; and that opinion, whatever it was, is no less a withering argument against the pretensions of the court of Rome.
Writing to Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch, to offer consolation in his sufferings, Gregory says:* "Behold now, your Holiness is weighed down with many tribulations in your old age; but remember what was said of him whose seat you fill. Is it not of him that the Truth himself said, ‘When thou shalt be old . . . another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not"? (John 21 : 18.)
We know that these words were addressed by our Lord to St. Peter. In another letter to the same Anastasius, St. Gregory thus expresses himself, after having quoted what be believed to be the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch:
“I have introduced in my letter these words drawn from your writings, that your
Holiness may know that your own holy Ignatius is also ours. For as we have in common the master, the prince of the Apostles, we must neither of us exclusively claim the disciple of this prince of the Apostles."†
St. Gregory wrote to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, " We have received, with the same tenderness as it was given us, the benediction of St. Mark the Evangelist, or rather, more properly speaking, of the Apostle St. Peter."‡
He wrote again to the same, after having congratulated him upon his refutation of the errours of the Monophysites :
"Praise and glory be in the heavens to my saintly brother, thanks to whom the voice
of Mark is heard from the chair of Peter, whose teaching resounds through the Church as the cymbal in the tabernacle, when he fathoms the mysteries--that is to say, when, as priest of the Most High, he enters the Holy of Holies."§
Was any thing more flattering ever said to the Bishops of Rome than Gregory here says to Eulogius of Alexandria? Does not the saintly Pope seem to copy the very words of the Council of Chalcedon, Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo"? Why draw such vast consequences from the words of the Fathers of Chalcedon, spoken in praise of the Bishop of
Rome, and yet draw none whatever from those of the great Pope addressed to the Patriarch of Alexandria? He wrote again to the same :** “The bearers of these presents, having come to
Sicily, were converted from the errours of the Monophysites and have joined the holy Church
* Ib. Book VIII. Ep. 2.
† Ib. Book V. Ep. 39.
‡ Ib. Book VIII. Ep. 39.
§ Ib. Book X. Ep. 35.
** Ibid. Book XII. Ep. 50.
universal. Desiring to go to the Church of the blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, they have besought me to give them commendatory letters to your Holiness, in order that you might assist them against the attacks of their heretical neighbours."
In another letter, in which he discourses of simony, he writes to Eulogius : "Root out this simoniacal heresy from your most holy see, which is ours also." He calls the Church of Alexandria a most holy church.* With such evidence before us, how can we draw any conclusion in favour of the Roman see from expressions like these of apostolic see, or holy see? Such epithets were common, during the first eight centuries, to all the churches founded by the Apostles, and were never exclusively employed to describe the Church of Rome.
From what we have shown of the doctrine of St. Gregory respecting the see of St. Peter, it is easy to see that no absolute sense can be honestly attached to such expressions as these, "My son, the lord Venantius has come toward the blessed Apostle Peter to beg me to commend his cause to you," etc.† “The care of the whole Church was confided to Peter, prince of the Apostles."‡ "He received the keys of the heavenly kingdom, the power to bind and to loose was given to him, the care of the whole Church, and the princedom were intrusted to him."§ “Who does not know that the holy Church has been strengthened by the firmness of the prince of the Apostles ?"**
These expressions certainly belong to St. Gregory; but is it fair to quote them separately and give them an absolute sense? Yet this is the course of the Romish
theologians, not only with the works of Gregory, but with all those of the other Fathers of the Church. In this manner they have succeeded in deceiving a great number of the faithful, and even many sincere theologians; the latter could not suspect such a strange dishonesty in writers who at every turn are boasting of their devotion to the cause of the Church and truth, and they have thought it safe to quote from them at second hand.
We can now understand what
St. Gregory meant by the see of St. Peter, and by the titles of first and prince of the Apostles. But that we may throw still stronger light upon his
thoughts, we will quote a few more texts, both decisive and clear, which shall determine the
exact meaning of these phrases, that have been so culpably misused by the advocates of
St. Gregory, in his book upon the Pastoral Rule, lays down this principle: that the pastors of the Church should not use their authority toward blameless believers, but only toward sinners whom gentleness could not correct. In support of this principle he quotes the examples of the Apostles Peter and Paul. "Peter," he says, "the first pastor holding the princedom of the holy Church, by the will of God, (auctore Deo,) showed himself humble toward the faithful, but showed how much power he had beyond others when he punished Ananias and Sapphira; when it became necessary to punish sins, he remembered that he was the highest in the Church, (summus,) and in taking vengeance of the crime, he exercised the
right of his power."††
In the same passage he proves by the example of
St. Paul, as well as by that of St. Peter, that the pastor should be humble toward the faithful, and only exercise his power when he is compelled to take in hand the cause of justice. Thus St. Paul declared himself the servant of the faithful, the least among them; "but," adds St. Gregory, "when he finds a fault to correct, he remembers he is master, and says, 'What will ye? I will come to you with a rod
* Ibid. Book XIII. Ep. 41.
† Ibid. Book II. Ep. 53.
‡ Ibid. Book V. Ep. 20.
** Ibid. Book VII. Ep. 40.
†† St. Greg. Pastoral Rule, Part II. Chap. vi.
of iron.' Hence," concludes St. Gregory, the highest places are best filled when he who presides rules rather his own vices than the brethren. But when those who preside correct those who are subject unto them, they should observe this duty," etc.*
It appears from this that St. Gregory regarded St. Paul as well as St. Peter and their successors as filling the highest place in the Church, as presiding in the Church. If he says that Peter held the princedom, he also says that Paul was master; he uses the same word (summus) to signify the authority of St. Peter and that of St. Paul, and of all those who have the right to exercise authority in the Church. Would he have expressed himself in a manner so general, if by this word princedom he had meant to signify a superiour authority ascribed exclusively to St. Peter? Just as by the see of St. Peter, he means the first degree of the episcopate represented by the Patriarchs; so likewise by the words " superiour authority," he only means that of the episcopate which the pastors of the Church have inherited.
The more intimate we grow with the works of the Fathers of the Church, the more we are convinced of their unanimity in considering the authority in the church as one and possessed jointly and severally by the first pastors or the bishops. At first blush we might believe that the word "princedom," or that of "prince" of the Apostles, given by them to St. Peter, clashed with this principle. St. Gregory has shielded us from this false interpretation. For while ascribing to Peter the princedom of the Church, he has not exalted him more than
St. Paul. He shall tell us so most clearly in his own words. We read in his Dialogues:
"PETER. How can you prove to me that there be those who do no miracles, and yet are not inferior to those who do them?
“GREGORY. Dost thou not know that the Apostle Paul is the brother of Peter, first of the Apostles in the princedom ?
"PETER. I know this perfectly," etc., etc.†
Thus Paul was the equal or brother of Peter in the Apostolic princedom. Is it possible to say with greater clearness that by such titles no particular personal and exclusive dignity was intended?
In another place St. Gregory regards
St. Paul as having a right, as well as St. Peter, to the title of first Apostle. In relating in his Dialogues the death of one Martin, a priest, he says that this holy man saw Peter and Paul calling him to heaven: " I see, I see," said Martin. " I thank you. I thank you!"
As he often repeated these words, his friends about him asked him to whom he spoke. He wondered at their question, and said, "Do you not see here the holy Apostles? do you not perceive Peter and Paul the first of the Apostles?‡
And lastly, Gregory leads us to think that St. Peter was never Bishop of Rome. We have already quoted some positive texts on this point. Here is another to confirm them:
"It is certain," he says, "that at the time when the holy Apostles Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom, the faithful came from the East to beg the bodies of these Apostles, who were their fellow-countrymen. They carried these bodies as far as the second mile stone, and deposited them in the place called the Catacombs. But when they would have taken them up, to continue their journey, the thunder and lightning threw those who attempted it into such a panic that no one has ever again dared to attempt their removal."§
It is not our business to discuss the truth of this story; but one truth may be clearly inferred from this recital, namely, that the Eastern people could claim the body of St. Peter
* St. Greg. loc. cit.
† St. Greg. Dialogues,
chap. 12. Book I.
‡ Ibid. Book IV. Chap. 11.
§ Letters of St. Gregory, Book IV. Ep. 30.
because he was of their country, and that the Romans never dreamed of answering that his body belonged by a better title to them, because be had been their bishop.
Thus the doctrine of Gregory the Great upon the Church destroys, piece by piece, the whole Papal system. We defy the Romanists to find in the writings of this great Pope a single word which gives any idea of that universal monarchy whose centre is in the Church of Rome, and whose sovereign the bishop of that city. This doctrine runs utterly counter to that of St. Gregory. According to him, the unity of the Church results from the reciprocal relations of its chiefs. "May your piety," he wrote to Anastasius, Archbishop of Corinth,
"reply to our letters in which we have notified him of our ordination, and by replying (litteris reciprocis) give us the pleasure of knowing that the Church is united."
He defines the "unity of the Catholic Church " as "the totality (compago) of the body of Christ."* He does not swerve from this: the individual churches are the members of the church; each church is governed by its pastors ; the authority is the same, of divine right, in all the pastors of the Church; the whole edifice is supported upon the see of St. Peter ; that is, upon the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, which exercise, of ecclesiastical right, a supervision over the whole Church.
Can any thing be conceived more diametrically opposed to the Papal system than this doctrine of St. Gregory?
Maurice having been killed by Phocas, Pope Boniface III. hastened to apply to the murderer, that he might obtain official recognition of the primacy of the Roman Church. He saw it imperilled by the title of œmmenical, that Maurice had granted to John the Faster.
That pious emperor had been the chief support of the title taken by the Bishop of Constantinople. The Patriarch did not long enjoy the good graces of Phocas, whose violence he condemned,
Rome made advances to the tyrant; Gregory the Great himself covered him with adulation; and Boniface III., who was raised to the see of Rome after the short episcopate of Sabinian, wrote to the murderer of Maurice, to ask for the same title of
œcumenical that Gregory the Great had so energetically condemned.† It was generally
understood that the Bishop of Constantinople assumed by this title to be the first in the Church. Accordingly, the historian of the Popes, Anastasius the Librarian, thus mentions this proceeding of Boniface III.:
"He (Boniface)‡ obtained from the Emperor Phocas, that the Apostolic see of the blessed Apostle Peter, that is to say, the Roman Church, should be the chief (caput, the head) of all the churches, because the Church of Constantinople wrote that she was the first of all the churches."
Paul the Deacon thus records the same fact:§ "At the request of Pope Boniface, Phocas decreed that the see of the Roman and Apostolic Church should be the chief (caput) of all the churches, because the Church of Constantinople wrote that she was the first of all the churches."
Such is for the Church of Rome the official origin of the title of chief of the universal Church, which she claims for her bishop. It had been given to him occasionally before, but only in flattery, and without attaching, to it any other meaning than that of head of the episcopate, or of first bishop; it was occasionally given to the Roman Church itself, and then the word caput only meant chief in the sense of head. She had been called head of the Church, that is, first of the churches. This title, becoming official, thanks to Phocas, soon
* Ibid. Book II. Ep. 47.
† Noël Alexandre. Hist. Eccl.
‡ Anast. De Vit. Rom. Pontif. §67. Bonif. III.
§ Paul. Diac. De Gestis Longobard. Lib.IV. §37.
changed its signification. “Chief " no longer meant head, but sovereign prince; to-day it means absolute monarch, infallible autocrat. Such is the progress of this title of caput, given to the Roman Church by Phocas, one of the vilest men that ever occupied a throne.
Some years later (633) arose the quarrel of the Monothelites, which gives us further proofs against the Papal system, and demonstrates that in the seventh century the self-styled universal authority of the Bishops of Rome was not recognized.*
An Arabian bishop, named Theodore, starting from this Catholic truth, defined at Chalcedon, that there is but one person in Christ, inferred that there was in Christ but one will and one operation. He thus neglected the distinction of the two natures, divine and human, which are hypostatically united in Jesus Christ, but not mingled, and which retain their respective essence, each consequently with its own will and its own proper action or operation, since will and action are as necessary attributes of the human being as of God. Theodore thus confounded being with personality. Sergius, Bishop of Constantinople, consulted by Theodore, fell into the same errour with him. He believed that his system was calculated to bring back to the Church those who were still opposed to the Council of Chalcedon. Accordingly, he sent them a paper upon this subject, and opened communications with them. Cyrus, Bishop of Alexandria, who shared his views, did the same, and many of the opponents of the Council of Chalcedon accepted its decrees with this pretended explanation.
This result encouraged the Monothelite bishops, who were also sustained by the Emperor Heraclius. Sophronius, a monk of
Alexandria, had declared against his bishop, and had gone to Constantinople to confer upon the question with Sergius, whom he found in perfect agreement with Cyrus. Sophronius, in despair for this new errour, was returning when he was elected Bishop of Jerusalem. Sergius, believing that in his high position Sophronius would declare against him, and would seek the support of the West, wrote to Honorius, Bishop of Rome, setting forth his doctrine, and its good results in the East,
Alexandria. Honorius replied with his famous letter, in which he also only
recognizes one will and one operation in Jesus Christ; he censured those who were in favour of admitting two, and promised to remain in perfect harmony with Sergius, telling him, however, at the same time, that the Church should not be troubled by this new question, whether there were one or two wills or operations, and that such a war of words should be left to grammarians.
Sophronius, ordained Bishop of Jerusalem, at once assembled his synod, and read before it the letter of communion, which, according to custom, he was to address to the other Patriarchs of the Church. He sent it to Sergius and also to Honorius. This letter was very explicit in regard to the two wills and two operations. Honorius, having, read it, told the messengers of Sophronius that, for the good of the Church, it was best not to agitate that question. The messengers agreed to this, and Honorius wrote to the Patriarchs of Constantinople and
Alexandria, making the same request.
Sophronius, who saw that the faith was in peril, wrote a paper, in which he proved from the Fathers that, according to the constant traditions of the Church, two wills and two operations should be recognized in Jesus Christ. He proved this to be the necessary consequence of the two natures. In despair of convincing Sergius and Cyrus, who had openly declared in favour of the contrary doctrine, he sent one of his suffragan bishops to
Rome, hoping to overcome her hesitancy rather than to convert Constantinople or Alexandria. We are ignorant of the result of this embassy. Honorius died in 638, and was
* See Theoph. Eccl. Hist., and Labbe’s Collection of the Councils, vol. vi. for the documents. See also Histoire du Monothélisme, par combefis.
succeeded by Severinus, who in turn was succeeded soon after by John IV. It was during the brief pontificate of Severinus that the Emperor Heraclius published his Êkthesis, or Exposition, to give an official character to the Monothelite doctrine. This 'Ekthesis was addressed to all the bishops, and was solemnly accepted by those of
Alexandria and Constantinople. It is not known whether Severinus approved it or not. But after the death of Heraclius, John IV. condemned it in a Roman council. We perhaps owe that condemnation
to the explanations of the envoy of Sophronius. Sergius had died before this decision of the Roman council. Pyrrhus, his successor, set up in opposition to the decision of John IV. the letter of Honorius, John's predecessor. John attempted an apology; but the letters of Sergius and Honorius still exist ; they prove that John's defence was untenable; that Honorius had perfectly understood Sergius; that he had answered him, agreeing with the letter he had received from him; that both rejected in a general way the two distinct wills and operations. It was with justice, then, that Honorius was condemned as a heretic by the sixth œcumenical council, as we shall shortly see.
After the publication of the 'Ekthesis of Heraclius, the discussions upon the two operations and two wills assumed greater proportions. The whole East was filled with them. Many bishops declared against the new doctrine, and appealed to the West, in the person of the Bishop of Rome, to sustain the Catholic faith. Pyrrhus, having abandoned his see, was succeeded by Paul, who wrote letters of communion to Theodore, then Bishop of Rome. Theodore replied, praising the orthodoxy of Paul's faith, but expressing surprise that he had not condemned the 'Ekthesis of Heraclius. Yet he himself did not dare to censure that document openly ; he ought, therefore, to have understood why Paul, who was then at
Constantinople, had not solemnly condemned it. In his answer, Theodore urged that Pyrrhus, Paul's predecessor, must be canonically deposed, or be sent to Rome to be judged. This opinion was not followed. But Pyrrhus himself, having been proved to be in errour by the monk Maximus of Constantinople, asked to go to Rome, where he was received with all honours due to his title of ex-Patriarch, by Theodore, to whom he intrusted a perfectly orthodox confession of faith.
Rome took advantage of the occasions offered by Monothelism to enlarge her authority. The two Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria having declared in favour of the new doctrine, all those who were orthodox in the East had occasion to turn to the Patriarch of Rome and write to him as the bulwark of the faith which was threatened throughout the East. At such a time the title of successor of St. Peter was not withheld from
him, and some bishops went so far as to trace back to that Apostle the authority of the Roman see. This flattered the tendencies which were destined to be daily more and more developed at Rome.
Some Popes, particularly St. Leo, had made altogether too much of the prerogatives of the Apostle Peter, and possibly with a purpose. St. Gregory the Great, indeed, came in to determine the orthodox sense of the expressions of his predecessors; but it is certain that beginning with St. Leo, the Bishops of Rome were tending to exaggerate the prerogatives of the first of the Apostles, in order to appropriate them by right o succession. As the small patriarchate of Jerusalem was under the authority of St. Sophronius, the most illustrious defender of orthodoxy in the East, the Pope thought he might properly have himself represented there. He chose for his legate Stephen of Dora, who had been sent to Rome by Sophronius himself to enlighten Honorius. This was a step unheard of before in the East, and therefore it should not pass unnoticed; it sustains our allegation that the Popes intended to profit by every circumstance in order to increase their authority, the more as it was threatened by the Bishops of Constantinople. The two highest Patriarchs of the East had fallen into heresy, and now or never should Rome speak out. The Popes did not let the opportunity go
by. Nevertheless, the authentic documents concerning the question of Monothelism agree in proving that all the Patriarchs discussed the dogmatic questions among themselves on a footing of equality. Many bishops having declared against Paul of Constantinople, he gave explanations that might be interpreted either way, and which satisfied no one. But as he was continually found fault with for his silence respecting the 'Ekthesis, he prevailed upon the Emperor Constans to publish a new edict, which received the name of Type. By this edict the
'Ekthesis was withdrawn, and both parties were silenced.
This was precisely what Honorius had formerly asked in the letter in which he declared in favour of Monothelism. But Theodore was no longer satisfied with this. He assembled a council of Italian bishops, and there deposed Paul of Constantinople, and Pyrrhus, who had relapsed into Monothelism after he left Rome. He dared to sign this anti- canonical sentence with a pen dipped in the consecrated wine. Such impiety might satisfy the rancour of Rome, but it could only have calamitous results. Paul continued to consider himself legitimate Bishop of Constantinople, and replied to the violence of the Bishop of Rome with corresponding violence. He caused to be overthrown the Roman altar of the palace of Placidia, where the two envoys of the Roman Bishop resided, and forbade them to celebrate the holy mysteries. This was to declare them and their bishop excommunicate.
They returned to Rome, and one of them, Martin, was elected to succeed Theodore, who died soon after throwing this new element of discord into the Church by his sentence, (649.) Martin was no sooner consecrated, than he assembled at Rome a numerous council of bishops from the environs of Rome, from the Exarchate of Ravenna, from Sicily, and from Sardinia. Some African bishops, Stephen of Dora, and some Greek monks, refugees in Rome, were present. The question of the two wills and two operations was examined, the
'Ekthesis, the Type and their defenders were condemned. Martin signed the acts of the council as follows: “Martin, by the grace of God, Bishop of the holy catholic and apostolic Church of the city of Rome. I have signed as judge this sentence in confirmation of the orthodox faith, and also the condemnation of Theodore, formerly Bishop of Pharan, of Cyrus of Alexandria, of Sergius of Constantinople, of Pyrrhus and Paul his successors, and of their heretical writings, of the impious 'Ekthesis,; and the impious Type, published by them."
All the bishops, one hundred and five in number, employed the same formula in signing. They concurred in the condemnation, as judges, as well as the Bishop of Rome, who merely had the first place in the council.
Martin sent the transactions of the Council of Rome to the East, and named John, Bishop of Philadelphia, his vicar for the entire East, condemning as heretics the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria as well as the Patriarch of Constantinople. Martin declared in the commission given to John of Philadelphia, that he gave it to him “by virtue of the power that he had received from St. Peter," and because of the unhappy condition of the East now ravaged by Mussulmans.
It was thus that the Bishop of Rome availed himself of the misfortunes of the East to seize upon universal power in the Church by virtue of an alleged succession from St. Peter. These formulas became more and more the fashion at Rome after the middle of the seventh century, and Martin particularly contributed to carry them out. He claimed authority such as his predecessors never enjoyed. Thus, being dissatisfied with the letter of communion he had received from Paul, the new Bishop of Thessalonica, he dictated the formula he should
accept. Paul refusing to comply, Martin announced to him without the form of a trial that he was deposed from his see. He was the more inclined to make this bishop feel his power, because his province had been submitted to the jurisdiction of Constantinople in spite of Rome.
The patriarchal churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem had enough to do to defend themselves against the ferocious conquerors of the East; they, therefore, took no notice of the encroachments of Rome, nor the acts of her vicar. They only protested by their silence and by ceasing to keep up any relations with the Roman see. For them, Constantinople became the first see of the Church, and they remained in communion with it. The only contest was now between the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople.
By the Council of Rome, Martin had obviously desired to pay back the last Council of Constantinople in which his predecessor, Vigilius, had been, as he himself confessed, convicted of errour. But be had not imitated the prudence of this council, which, while it condemned the errours of Vigilius, had not sought to depose him, and thus violate the rights
of the bishops of the Roman province. Moreover, Martin attacked the Emperor himself in condemning The Type, which had been promulgated as a law of the state. He had, indeed, endeavoured to ascribe that document to the Bishop of Constantinople, and had written to the Emperor to persuade him that he was not personally concerned in the decision. But these precautions only irritated Constans, who had Martin ousted from Rome. He accused him not only of heresy, but of rebellion and high treason. One Eugene was substituted for Martin in the episcopate of Rome. Martin, speaking of his deposition, says in one of his letters:! " It
has never been practised in this manner; for, in the absence of the bishop, he is replaced by the archdeacon, the archpriest, and the dean."
He never dreamed of appealing to any exclusive privilege in favour of the Bishops of
Rome, and acknowledged that they were subject to the common law.
The anti-canonical deposition of Martin answered to that which he had himself pronounced, as uncanonically against Paul of Constantinople. It may be safely said that if Martin had had, like Paul, the imperial power at his disposal, he would have treated his antagonist as he himself was treated.
The letters of the Roman bishops to the emperors will satisfy any one that it was a matter of tradition among them to ask for violent measures against all whom they considered heretics; and we know how faithful they were to these traditions when they had in their own hands both the spiritual and the temporal power.
From a purely ecclesiastical point of view, it was natural that the first encroachments of the Papacy should excite a powerful reaction. Martin, coming to Constantinople, (654,) was treated as a prisoner of state; insults were heaped upon him, and he was shamefully maltreated. The Bishop of Constantinople, who was ill, disapproved of such violence, and besought the Emperor not to treat a bishop thus. He died soon after expressing these kindly, sentiments. Martin was banished to Cherson. Thence he wrote several letters. He complains that the Roman Church sent him no aid; and in one of his letters he thus expresses himself in regard to the Roman clergy and of the successor who bad been appointed to his place:† "I am amazed at those who belong to the Church of St. Peter, because of the little care they have of one who is of them. If that Church have no money, she lacks, thank God, neither grain, nor wine, nor other provisions that she could send to my aid. . . . Have I been such an enemy to the Church, and particularly to them? I pray God nevertheless, by the intercession of St.
Peter, to preserve them unshaken in the orthodox faith, and chiefly the pastor who now governs them." Thus Martin regarded Eugene, who bad been put in his place, and whose promotion had been approved by the Roman clergy, as the legitimate Bishop of Rome. It must be acknowledged that his letter is not very favourable to the pretensions of the modern
! Mart. Epist. ad Theod.
† Mart. Epist. xviii. Labbe’s Collection.
Papacy, and is a more than sufficient answer to what he himself said of his universal power inherited from St. Peter. He died about a year after writing this letter.
Pyrrhus, the former Bishop of Constantinople, was the same year reinstalled in that see; but he only survived his restoration a few months, and was succeeded by Peter. Eugene, Bishop of Rome, was succeeded by Vitalianus, in 658. Constans, going to Rome under his episcopate, was received by him with great honours, and communicated with him, although this Emperor had never revoked his Type, and had persecuted Pope Martin and the monk Maximus, who was regarded in the East as the great defender of orthodoxy. During the episcopate of Vitalianus--fourteen years--no differences existed between the sees of Rome and Constantinople. In 664 Constans died, and Constantine Pogonatus ascended the imperial throne. In 674Vitalianus was replaced by Adeodatus, who was succeeded by Donus. He
died in 679, and Agatho was elected to the see of Rome. Peter of Constantinople had been succeeded by Constantine, who gave place, in 678, to Theodore. This Patriarch, full of pacific intentions, had sent to Donus a letter exhorting him to peace. But the Bishop of Rome did not reply, imitating his predecessors, who had given no answer to the synodical letters of the later bishops of Constantinople. This schism grieved the Emperor, who determined to reestablish friendly relations between the Eastern and Western churches. He therefore inquired of Theodore and of Macarius of Antioch as to the cause of the division.* They replied: “There have been introduced new modes of speaking of the mysteries, either through ignorance or from excessive curiosity; and never, since these questions have been under discussion, have the two sees assembled to search out the truth." The Emperor concluded that the remedy for these divisions was a council, and consequently wrote thus to Donus : “Circumstances do not allow the assembling of a complete council; but you may send discreet and learned men, who, with the Patriarchs Theodore and Macarius shall solve these questions. They shall enjoy complete security here, and even for their return, in case
they do not come to an understanding. After this we shall be justified in the sight of God; for while we can exhort to union, we are unwilling to compel any one. Send us from your holy
Church three men at most, if you will, and from your council (that is, of his ecclesiastical province,) about twelve bishops, including the metropolitan.” Beside this, the Emperor offered every assistance and safeguard to the deputies for their journey. Donus was dead when the imperial missive reached Rome, (679.) It was given to Agatho, who convoked at Rome a large council, to choose the delegates that should be sent to Constantinople. All the provinces of Italy took part in that assembly, in which were also several bishops from
France. Agatho did not, then, it should seem, claim for himself the right to send delegates by his own authority to Constantinople. The council sent the Emperor a letter, signed by the Pope and all the members of the assembly. Agatho addressed him another in his own name. The delegates were well received at Constantinople by the Emperor. Theodore was no
longer Patriarch; George had succeeded him. He and Macarius of Antioch assembled the metropolitans and the bishops depending from their sees. The churches of Alexandria and Jerusalem were represented there. All united with the Western delegates to form what is known as the sixth œcumenical council.
The first session took place on the seventh of November, A.D. 680. The Emperor occupied the first place, in the middle; on his left were the delegates from Rome and Jerusalem; on his right, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Antioch, and the delegate from Alexandria; next, on each side, quite a great number of metropolitans and bishops. During several sessions the Emperor caused the acts of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon to be read, together with all the texts cited for or against the two wills and two
* V. Theoph. Eccl. Hist. and vol. vi of Labbe’s Collection
operations in Christ. The question being discussed, all agreed, except the Patriarch of Antioch and his disciple Stephen, in condemning Monothelism and all those who had supported it, including Honorius, Pope of Rome. This important decree, which so loudly refutes the pretensions of the modern Papacy, deserves to be quoted verbally.*
"Having examined the pretended dogmatical letters of Sergius of Constantinople to Cyrus, and the replies of Honorius to Sergius, and finding them opposed to the doctrine of the Apostles, to the decrees of the councils, and to the sense of all the Fathers, but agreeable,
on the contrary, to the false doctrines of the heretics, we entirely reject them, and detest them as calculated to corrupt souls. And while we reject their impious dogmas, we also think that their names should be banished from the Church--namely, of Sergius, formerly Bishop of this city of Constantinople, who first wrote upon this errour; of Cyrus of Alexandria; of Pyrrhus Paul, and Peter, Bishops of Constantinople; of Theodore, Bishop of Pharan; all of whom
Pope Agatho mentions in his letter to the Emperor, and hath rejected. We pronounce anathema against them all. With them we think we should expel from the Church, and pronounce anathema against Honorius, formerly Bishop of Old Rome. We find in his letter to Sergius that he follows, in every respect, and authorizes his impious doctrine."
In the sixteenth session, after the profession of faith of the Patriarch George of Constantinople, the council rung with declamations, and among others, with the following: "Anathema to Theodore of Pharan, to Sergius, to Cyrus! ANATHEMA TO HONORIUS THE HERETIC!" In the profession of faith of the council, read in the last session, Honorius is condemned with the other heretics; anathema is again pronounced against him as well as against the other Monothelites.
The council enacted many canons. The thirty-sixth renewed those of Constantinople and Chalcedon touching the rank of the Patriarchs in the Church. It is thus worded: "Renewing the decrees of the hundred and fifty holy Fathers assembled in this royal city, blessed of God, and of the six hundred and thirty assembled at Chalcedon, we decree that the
see of Constantinople shall enjoy the same prerogatives as that of Old Rome that it shall be
as great in ecclesiastical matters, being the second after it. After these shall be the sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and then that of the city of Jerusalem. "Thus did the council answer the pretensions of Rome. The legates of Agatho and one hundred and sixty bishops subscribed
to the acts of the council. Five copies were made of them, which were signed by the Emperor's hand--one for each of the five Patriarchal churches. Fifty-five bishops, and the delegates of the Oriental churches, addressed a letter to Agatho, requesting him to concur in what had been done.
Those who had been condemned by the council--six in number--hoping, without doubt, to prevail on the West not to concur in these acts, asked to be sent to the Pope. The Emperor granted this, and banished them to Rome.
Meanwhile, (682,) Agatho having died, Leo II. was elected Bishop of Rome. It was he that received the legates and the transactions of the council. The Emperor wrote two letters--one to the Pope, the other to the members of the Western councils--in reply to those he had received. Leo II. solemnly concurred in the acts of the council, by his letter to the Emperor, of May seventh, A.D. 683. Among other passages, we read: “We, anathematize the inventors of the new errour, to wit, Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius, Pyrrhus Paul and Peter of Constantinople, and also Honorius, who, instead of purifying this
Apostolic Church by the doctrine of the Apostles, has come near to overthrowing the faith by an impious treason."
* Conc. Constant, sees xiii in Labbe’s Collection.
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