Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Réné-Francois Guettée - The Papacy - part eleven
This session terminated in anathemas against Photius and his partisans. In the following session, every paper which could implicate those of this council who had taken the part of Photius against Ignatius was burned before the whole council. Finally the council ended with some canons and a profession of faith. The acts were signed by one hundred and two bishops. This was but few when we reflect that the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone numbered at that time more than six hundred, and that the Emperor Basil had used all his influence to collect a numerous council. An immense majority of the bishops took no part in what took place at
Constantinople. Some zealous
friends of Photius were the only ones
who would make up their minds to appear before the assembly, and protest
against that which was done
there, and put the Emperor in the wrong by asking him to guarantee
to them full liberty for
A fact worthy of remark, and of the greatest significance, is that Ignatius, who presided side by side with the legates of
Rome, kept the most profound silence during the whole council.
A great number of
questions were discussed before him, upon which he alone could give positive information--such as
that of his resignation and the attendant
circumstances, the conduct of Photius toward him, and many others. Ignatius
to be discussed pro and contra, without saying one word to throw light upon the debates. Must it not be inferred from such silence that he did not know what side to take in view of
the facts as he knew they had happened, and of the plausible reasons under which the Roman legates and certain intriguers covered their, lying recitals?
Whatever we may choose to infer from this silence, we think that it can only be construed in favour of Photius, and of his version of all that had occurred.* We naturally ask why Ignatius did not deny that he had abdicated or assert that it had been extorted from him by violence, since this was the gist of the whole question. We may therefore conclude that
he really resigned his see, freely and conscientiously; but that Nicholas being unwilling, as he himself said, to accept that resignation, some ambitious men, personal enemies of Photius,
prevailed upon Ignatius to reconsider his determination, suggesting to him as a legitimate
motive the protest of the Patriarch of Rome against it.
But while he followed the impulsion of
Rome in what concerned his reinstalment in
his see, Ignatius did not allow himself disposed
to submit to all its requirements, as in the
matter of signing the Roman formula, and in the conference, which took place after the council, concerning the . Church of
Several members of the council, from hatred to Photius rather than from conviction, had already signed the formula which enslaved the whole Church to the Roman see. They had submitted to this demand in order that the council, from which, they expected results
satisfactory to their own secret desires, should not remain an impossibility. After it was over, they sent complaints to the Emperor and to Ignatius regarding their signatures, and asked that they should not be sent to
Rome. They protested, moreover, against
the qualified form in
which the legates had signed,
reserving the approbation of the
Pope, for thereby the Bishop
Rome reserved the right to approve or to cancel, at his will, what had been done.
It was too late to remedy this; but the Emperor, to ease his mind in regard to the formula, caused all the signatures that could be found in the house of the legates to be taken
* It must be observed that the Acts of this council of Constantinople, considered by
are only known to Anastasius
acts were taken from the legates by
the Sclavonians, who robbed them on their return
from Rome Constantinople. Anastasius pretended that
he had an exact copy of the acts,
which he translated into Latin at . It is
therefore to the
this man that we have to
refer for all that relates to this council. If the
acts, such as he has
are so favourable to Photius,
is it not reasonable
to think that they would be more so if they were
away during their absence. The legates protested; but in vain. Ignatius did not censure this act of the Emperor, and proved, in the conference about
Bulgaria, that he was not
a partisan of the doctrine
of the formula.
The Bulgarians learning that a council was sitting at Constantinople, sent deputies there to know whether their church should depend from Rome or Constantinople.*
The Emperor convoked the regales of
Rome and the East to answer
this question in presence of
Ignatius, "As we have
newly received the grace of baptism, we fear lest we
make a mistake; we
therefore ask you, who represent the Patriarchs, to what church
we should be subject."
Pope Nicholas had replied to the question, but his decision was only regarded as that of a single Patriarch. The legates of
Rome maintained that his decision
was supreme, and must
not be departed from. The Eastern legates
were not of this opinion.
The Romans protested that they had received no power
to examine the question
raised by the Bulgarians.
In spite of this special
pleading, the Eastern legates
judged it proper
to be decided. "From
whom have you conquered the provinces where you dwell ?" they asked of
the Bulgarians; “and what church was established there then ?"
"We wrested them from the Greeks," they replied; “and the Greek clergy were established there."
"In that case," said the legates, "your church depends from the Greeks ; that is, from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
"But, for the last three years," said the papal legates, “
Rome has sent
Latin priests there."
This prescription of
three years did not suffice,
in the eyes of the other
legates, to prevail over the ancient
possession and they declared that the Bulgarian church should be under
the jurisdiction of the
Patriarchate of Constantinople. Ignatius was of the same
opinion; but the Roman legates said that the holy see of Rome had not chosen
them for judges. "He, only," they added, "has the right to judge the whole Church. He despises your
opinion as readily as you give it lightly." As long as the condemnation of Photius was the
question, that opinion had been of far greater value in their eyes. They annulled the judgment that had been rendered, and begged Ignatius not to despise the rights of the holy see, which had restored him to his. The Emperor was angry at the pretensions of the legates. They soon left, and were robbed on the way by the Sclavonians, who took from them the authentic acts of the council.
In consequence of the decision of the Eastern legates, the Bulgarians dismissed the bishop and priests who had been sent by
Rome to them, and received
a Greek bishop and
priests. Adrian learning
this, wrote to the Emperor of the
East, threatening Ignatius
and the bishops he had sent to Bulgaria with excommunication.
There is extant only a fragment of a letter from Adrian II. to Ignatius. He speaks to him as a superior to an inferior; accuses him of violating the canons as they obtained at
and tells him, in threatening language, that a similar course had occasioned the fall of Photius.
Such letters make it very evident that
Rome had pursued
the reinstalment of' Ignatius, not for the sake of
justice, but to find occasion to do
an act of sovereignty in the East. A careful reading of these documents leaves no
doubt in this respect. Ignatius, in the eyes of
the Pope, was as guilty as Photius, the moment he refused to submit to this sovereignty.
Adrian II. died in the month of November, 872, and was succeeded by John VIII. This Pope took greatly to heart this affair of
Bulgaria. He wrote twice
to Ignatius to demand
that he should renounce all jurisdiction over that church.
The Emperor Basil (878) having
* See Vit. Pap. Hadr. et Epist. Hadr. in Labbe’s Collection, vol. viii.
asked him for legates to labour for the pacification of the religious troubles which had been rife in the East since the reëstablisbment of Ignatius, the Pope availed himself of this occasion to write to that Patriarch a third letter, in which he thus expressed himself :* "We give you this third canonical monition (he should have said anti-canonical) by our legates and letters; thereby we command you to send without delay to Bulgaria active men, who shall go through the whole country, and take away all those whom they may there find who have been ordained by you or by those of your dependence, so that in one month there shall
remain neither bishops nor clergy of your ordination ; for we cannot consent that they should infect with their errour this new church which we have formed. If you do not withdraw them within the time mentioned, and if you do not renounce all jurisdiction over
Bulgaria, you are hereby deprived of the communion of the
body and blood of the
Lord until you obey. A delay
of two months from the reception of this letter
is granted to you. If you remain
obstinate in your violation of discipline and your usurpation, you are hereby, by the judgment of Almighty God, and by the authority of the blessed Apostle Princes, and by the sentence of Our Mediocrity, deprived of and deposed from the dignity of the Patriarchate which you have received through our favour."
Thus, to usurp jurisdiction over the
, the Pope does not hesitate
to strike, ipso facto, a Patriarch with excommunication and deposition, if he does not
obey his orders! Have we observed any similar conduct on the
part of the Popes of the first eight centuries? Church of Bulgaria
But the bishops of the East were neither disposed to recognize the Papal authority nor to obey his anti-canonical orders. Those who supported Ignatius were as much opposed to this as the partisans of Photius.
John VIII. wrote to the Greek bishops and clergy in
Bulgaria a letter still more severe
than that addressed to the Patriarch
Ignatius. It began thus: "To all the bishops and other Greek clergy, invaders of the
diocese of Bulgaria, and excommunicate by these presents
gave them thirty days to obey his orders, and promised the bishops to give them other sees on
condition of leaving those they then occupied.
This was certainly acting, as absolute sovereign. John wrote to the Bulgarian King and to Count Peter, who had been envoy to
Rome in the time of Pope Nicholas. The substance of these letters is, that nothing
should be received
save from the Roman Church,
inasmuch as she is the source of all true doctrine. All these missives were sent by the
legates Paul and Eugene. When these
envoys reached Constantinople, Ignatius
was dead, and Ignatius was again Patriarch, (878.)*
After some difficulties, the legates recognized Photius as Patriarch, and even said that Pope John had sent them to
Constantinople to anathematize Ignatius and reinstate Photius. Photius and the Emperor Basil sent letters and ambassadors to the Pope.‡ John was apprised of this, and seemed disposed to pacify the and to receive Church of Constantinople
favourably the letters and envoys;§ which he really did, and sent them back with letters for the Emperor and Photius. These letters of John VIII. contain the most distinct answer to all
* Joann. Pap. VIII. Ep., Labbe’s Collection, vol. ix.
† It is not our business to relate the doings of Photius during his exile. We therefore only refer to his letter those who wish for cumulative proof of the gentleness, charity, and ability whereby he regained the good graces of
the Emperor Basil. These documents more than sufficiently answer the hateful statements of his enemies, in
which absurdity vies with atrocity, and which, to every impartial man, only prove the blind hatred of those who composed them.
‡ Among these letters there was one in which Ignatius, near unto death, begged the Pope to recognize Photius as lawful Patriarch. Naturally enough, the enemies of Photius maintain that this letter is a forgery, but without proof.
§ Letters of Pope John VIII. in Labbe’s Collection.
the calumnies of the enemies of Photius. " In consideration," he said to the Emperor, " of the unanimity with which all the Patriarchs, even those who had been ordained by Ignatius, had acquiesced in the election of Photius, He consented to recognize him as Patriarch."
But as Photius had not waited for the recognition of
Rome to reäscend his episcopal
chair, and regarded as null the council assembled against
him, the Pope enlarged extensively upon this consideration: that necessity frequently exempts from the observance of rules. He
therefore passes over these formal difficulties the more readily
as the legates of his
predecessor had signed the acts of the council
conditionally and saving
the approbation of the Pope; he gives in detail the conditions upon which he recognizes Photius;
he must assemble a council and ask
pardon for having reäscended his seat without
a sentence of absolution ; he must renounce
all jurisdiction over Bulgaria, and must receive into his communion all the bishops
ordained by Ignatius. As to those of the
latter who should refuse to enter in
communion with Photius,
he threatens them with excommunication.
These latter bishops were very few in number. The Pope wrote to the principal ones, Metrophanes, Stylienus, and John, threatening them with excommunication ; and he charged the legates, whom he intrusted with his letters, to excommunicate all those who should refuse to recognize Photius as legitimate Patriarch, forbidding all, whoever they might be, to give credit to the calumnies circulated against this Patriarch.
It is, doubtless, out of respect for these commands of the Pope, that the Romish writers have vied repeating these calumnies of such as Metrophanes, Stylienus, Nicetas, and other inveterate enemies of Photius, and have refused to see any thing save knavery and hypocrisy in the familiar correspondence of this great man. They have left no means untried to disguise the importance of these letters of John VIII. Cardinal Baronius, in his Annals, goes so far as to maintain that the feminine weakness displayed by John in this matter, gave rise to the fable of a female pope Joan. Every one knows that John VIII., far from being weak in character, was energetic even to roughness; but Romish writers stick at nothing when they wish to rid themselves of facts, or even of Popes whose acts do not neatly fit into their systematic histories.
The legates with the Pope's letters having reached Constantinople, a council was called and attended by three hundred and eighty-three bishops, with Elias, who represented the Patriarch of Jerusalem.*
John's letters are full of the new teachings of the Papacy. He claims that he has, by divine right, the care of all the churches, and occupies the place of St. Peter, to whom Christ said, "Feed my sheep." He pretends that he has been entreated to admit Photius to the dignity of the Patriarchate, and even to ecclesiastical orders; he now admits him, although he has usurped the episcopate without the consent of the holy see, but on condition that he shall ask pardon in full council; he gives him absolution by virtue of the power he has received from Jesus Christ through St. Peter, to bind and loose all things without exception. He commands Photius to resign all jurisdiction over
Bulgaria, and forbids him to ordain any there. In all
his letters he gives commands and claims to exercise an absolute sovereignty of divine origin.
Such pretensions were not recognized in the East, which held to the doctrines of the first eight centuries on the subject of the Papacy. It was clear that if such letters as these were read in the council, all hope of peace was at an end. Hence only the substance of these letters was retained; every expression that could wound, or give reason to believe that the Pope wished to be Sovereign of the Church, was weeded out. Expressions of encomium in
use in the East were added. These letters, as Fleury tells us, were thus modified, “apparently in concert with the legates, who heard them read without complaint." The first of these
* Collection of Councils by Father Hardouin, vol. vi.
legates, Cardinal Peter, having asked, "Do you receive the Pope's letter?" the council replied, "We receive all that relates to the union with Photius and the interests of the Church, but not what concerns the Emperor and his provinces." By this, the Council rejected the pretensions of the Pope to
Bulgaria. From such
a unanimous disposition of nearly four
hundred Eastern bishops, we may judge what protests the Pope's letters would have excited if the legates
had not had the prudence to modify them in concert
with Photius.* The East had always preserved this maxim, followed
by all the œcumenical councils, that ecclesiastical divisions must follow those of the
empire. Bulgaria, having
been anciently a Greek province,
depended from the Greek Patriarch
and not the Latin.
Cardinal Peter having asked that the adversaries of Photius who had been excluded might be recalled, Photius replied, " The Emperor has only exiled two of them, and that for causes not ecclesiastical; we pray him to recall them."
“How did the Patriarch Photius reäscend his throne ?" asked Peter.
The council replied, “By the consent of the three Patriarchs, at the request of the Emperor ; or rather yielding to the violence done to him, and to the prayers of the whole Church of Constantinople."
“What!" asked Peter, "has there been no violence on the part of Photius? Has he not acted tyrannically?"
“On the contrary," replied the council, "all took place with gentleness and tranquillity."
“Thank God!" exclaimed the Cardinal.
Thus, nearly four hundred bishops, in presence of the Pope's envoys, and in public, confound the rare calumniators of Photius, and yet these calumniators are accepted in the West as writers worthy of faith, even while their histories give numberless proofs of a hatred akin to madness and absurdity!
When Cardinal Peter had finished his questions, Photius spoke as follows: “I tell you, before God, that I never desired this see; the majority of those here present know this well. The first time I took it against my will, shedding many tears, after resisting it for a long time, and in consequence of the insurmountable violence of the emperor who then reigned, but
with the consent of the bishops and clergy, who had given their signatures without my knowledge. They gave me guards"…
He was interrupted by the exclamations of the council, “We know it all, either of our own knowledge or by the evidence of others who have told us."
“God permitted me to be driven away," continued Photius. “I did not seek to return. I never excited seditions. I remained at rest, thanking God, and bending before his judgments, without importuning the Emperor, without hope or desire to be reïnstated. God,
who works miracles, has touched the Emperor's heart,† not for my sake but for the sake of his people: he has recalled me from my exile. But, so long as Ignatius of blessed memory lived,
I could not bring myself to resume my place, in spite of the exhortations and entreaties that were made by many upon this subject.”
The council said, "It is the truth."
* The Abbé Jager, in his indigestible pamphlet against Photisus, claims that the Pope's letters were altered by Photius alone. Would not the legates have protested against that fraud, since they heard them read in the council in their modified shape? Instead of complaining of these letters, they publicly sought to ascertain that
every one was satisfied with them. Moreover, they carried them back to Rome with the acts of the council. The
Pope did not protest, and it is in Rome ltself that they were afterward found.
† His enemies have said that he resorted to magic to dispose Basil in his favour and some serious historians have accepted this ridiculous accusation.
“I meant," continued Photius, “to make my peace with Ignatius firm in every way. We saw each other in the palace; we fell at each others feet, and mutually forgave each other. When he fell ill he sent for me; I visited him several times, and gave him every consolation
in my power. He recommended to me those who were most dear to him, and I have taken care of them. After his death the Emperor entreated me publicly and privately; he came himself to see me, to urge me to yield to the wishes of the bishops and clergy. I have yielded to so miraculous a change that I might not resist God”
The council said, "It is thus.”
Are not such words worth more, pronounced publicly as they were, and their truth attested by four hundred bishops, than all the diatribes of passionate enemies ?
In the following sessions, the legates of the Patriarchal sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem gave unquestionable proofs that their Patriarchs had always been in communion with Photius; that the pretended legates who were present at the council of 869, under Adrian, and who had concurred in the condemnation of Photius, were only envoys of the Saracens, as Photius himself had written in his protest against that assembly.
In consequence, that council was anathematized by the legates of Rome, by those of the other Patriarchal sees of the East, and by all the bishops present.*
The acts of the council of 879 are as full of dignity and as high-toned as those of the council of 869 were passionate and unworthy of true bishops. Adrian's legates were more like men possessed than like judges, if we may judge from the acts preserved by Anastasius the Librarian, while the legates of John, on the contrary, displayed in all things as much wisdom as moderation.† During their sojourn at Constantinople they repeatedly saw Metrophanes, one of the worst enemies of Photius, and one of the Writers who serve as guides to the Romish writers in their accounts. They requested him to furnish proofs against Photius, but could draw from him nothing but idle words. They summoned him to the council, but he refused to appear, under the false pretext of illness. " He is not so ill," said
the legates, " that be cannot talk a great deal, and yet say very little." Upon his refusal to
appear he was anathematized.
*Nevertheless, the Romanists call that council of 869 the eighth œcumenical.
† The acts of the council of 879 have been found In the original at Rome itself with all the authentic signatures,
Including those of the legates of Rome; and yet the ecclesiastical historians of the West insinuate that they may have been altered. On the other hand, the acts of the council of 869 were lost by the Roman legates, and are only known through Anastastus the Librarian, who pretended to have a copy; and the Western historians will not allow of a doubt as to their genuineness. Is this impartial? If the acts of the council of 879 had come from the East to the West, there might be some grounds for contesting their genuineness; but they were found at Rome, and were taken from the archives of Rome to give them to the public.
THE PAPACY WHICH CAUSED THE DIVISION HAS PERPETUATED AND STRENGTHENED IT BY INNOVATIONS, AND MADE IT A SCHISM.
FROM the facts which we have just discussed, it appears that the Papacy in the ninth century sought dominion over the Church, and the position of a sovereign pontificate, the centre of unity and the guardian of orthodoxy. Its defenders are very far from contesting this; but they claim that these pretensions were not new, and to prove this they appeal to the dogmatic testimony of the Fathers, to the facts of ecclesiastical history of the first centuries
of the Church, and even to the word of God.
We announced it as our special purpose to show their assertions to be false in regard to the first eight centuries of the Church, and this we have done.
We grant that after the ninth century the Popes assumed to exercise the sovereign pontificate. We have pointed out the first occasions on which Rome came before the Eastern Church with her new pretensions, and we have ascertained that the Oriental Church refused
to recognize them.
It is thus beyond all doubt that it was the Papacy which provoked the division, by seeking to impose a sovereignty upon the whole Church which had been unknown during the first eight centuries of the Church.
Union being reestablished, at least in appearance, between the Papacy and Photius, the Eastern Church was none the less separated from Rome; for there was now a radical divergency between them. Peace would not have existed even outwardly between them if the letters of Pope John had been read to the last council as they were written. In the assembly of
869 the partisans of Ignatius and Ignatius himself declared against the Papal sovereignty almost as energetically as Photius and his friends. On her side, Rome no longer did any thing without asserting her pretended sovereignty, and without setting herself up as the necessary centre of unity.
The controversies between the Papacy and Photius, like their reconciliation, would have remained as unimportant as a thousand others of the same kind in the history of the Church, if a radical division had not been worked out from that time in consequence of the institution of the Papacy. In following out these relations of the East with Rome, we shall meet with many attempts to reconcile the two churches at different periods. But Rome insisting upon a recognition of her sovereignty as a condition precedent, and the Eastern Church always appealing to the doctrine of the first eight centuries, unity could never be reestablished. It would now only be possible on condition that the Papacy should abandon its unlawful pretensions, or the Eastern Church the primitive doctrine. Now, the Eastern Church well knows that the renunciation of that doctrine would not only be criminal in itself, but would result in subjection to an autocracy condemned by the Gospel and by Catholic
doctrine; hence she cannot yield without incurring guilt and without committing suicide.
And the Papacy, on its side, knows that it annihilates itself by returning to the Catholic unity with the simple character of the ancient Roman episcopate. It will not, therefore, yield any of the prerogatives which it has grown to consider as emanating from a divine source. For this cause it not only provoked the division in the Church, but has perpetuated and strengthened it by the pertinacity with which it has maintained what was the direct cause of it.
To this first cause we must add the successive changes which it has introduced in orthodox doctrine and the œcumenical rules of discipline. The history of its innovations would be long. From the institution of the autocracy to the new dogma of the Immaculate
Conception, how many changes! how many important modifications! We may write this sad history in a special work. At this time it will suffice to consider the most serious innovation which it has permitted itself, namely, the addition which it has made to the Creed ; for that addition, together with the Papal autocracy, was the direct cause of the division which still exists between the Eastern and Western churches.
It has been sought to trace the discussion respecting the procession of the Holy Spirit to remote antiquity. We will not follow the learned upon this ground, but will simply show that it was in the eighth century that it first assumed any importance.*
Two Spanish Bishops, Felix d’Urgel and Elipand of Toledo, taught that Christ was the adopted Son of God, and not his Word, coëssential with the Father. Their errour called forth unanimous complaints in the West, particularly in France, whose kings then possessed the northern part of Spain. The defenders of orthodoxy thought they had found an excellent weapon against adoptivism when they decided that the Son is so thoroughly one in substance with the Father, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from him as well as from the Father.
This formula was looked upon as the bulwark of orthodoxy, and was introduced into the Creed, to which was added, in consequence, the word Filioque (and from the Son) after the words proceeding from the Father.
That addition, made by a local church which had no pretensions to infallibility, was for this very cause irregular. It was further wrong in giving a conception of the Trinity contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, according to which there is in God but one principal, which is the Father, from which proceed, from all eternity, the Word by generation, and the Spirit by procession. As the quality of a principle forms the distinctive character of the Father's personality, it evidently cannot be attributed to the Word without ascribing to Him that which is the distinctive attribute of another Divine Person. Thus the French and Spanish bishops, wishing to defend in the Trinity the unity of essence or of
substance, attacked the personal distinction and confounded the attributes which are the very basis of that distinction.
Another serious errour on their part was in giving a decision without first ascertaining that the words which they employed were authorized by Catholic tradition. Outside of the perpetual and established doctrine, no bishop can teach any thing without danger of falling into the most serious errours.
The dogmatic truths of Christianity relating to the very essence of God--that is, of the Infinite--are necessarily mysterious; hence no one should presume to teach them of his own authority. Even the Church herself only preserves them as she has received them.
Revelation is a deposit confided by God to His Church, and not a philosophical synthesis which may be modified. Without doubt these Spanish and French bishops had no other end in view but in the clearest manner to expound the dogma of the Trinity; but their exposition, not having the traditional character, was an errour.
The design of this work does not permit us to discuss thoroughly the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit.† We must limit ourselves to the history of this Roman addition.
* It seems certain that the addition to the Creed was made by a council of Toledo in 683, and was confirmed by another held in the same city in 653. N. Alexander, Hist. Eccl. Dissert. xxvii. In Sæcul. iv. maintains that it was admitted in the Council of Toledo In 589, but it has been proved that the acts of the council were altered in this particular.
† We recommend to those who need to be enlightened upon this important question the treatise published by Monseigneur Macarius, Archbishop of Krakow, In his Théologie Dogmatique Orthodoxe. This learned theologian has discussed the question, and summed up the labours of several theologians of the Eastern Church
upon the subject, in such a manner us to leave no doubt. The treatise of Monseigneur Macarius is one of the
That addition was first adopted in Spain, in the seventh century, in a committee at Toledo, and was adopted by several Western churches. In 767, Constantine Copronymus having sent some ambassadors to Pepin, King of the Franks, this prince received them in an assembly known as the Council of Gentilly. As the Greeks were accused of errour respecting the worship of images, so the ambassadors accused the Franks of errour concerning the Trinity, and in having added the word Filioque to the creed. The details of the discussion upon this subject are not extant, but it is certain that the addition was very little spread
through France before the close of the eighth century, when Elipand and Felix d'Urgel taught their errour. The Council of Frioul, in 791, saw fit to oppose them by approving the doctrine of the procession from the Father and the Son, but without admitting the addition of the Filioque, because the Fathers who composed the creed were right in using only the evangelical expression, proceeding from the Father.*
Felix of d’Urgel, after having been condemned in several councils, was banished to Lyons, by Charlemagne, in 799. He doubtless propagated his errours in that city, and the question of the procession of the Holy Ghost was discussed there. The learned Alcuin wrote to the brethren at Lyons, urging them both to avoid the errours of the Spanish Bishop and also any interpolation of the creed. "Beloved brethren," he says, “look well to the sects of the Spanish errour; follow in the faith the steps of the holy Fathers, and remain attached to the holy Church Universal in a most holy unity. It has been written, ‘Do not overstep the limits laid down by the Fathers; insert nothing new in the creed of the Catholic faith, and in religious functions be not pleased with traditions unknown to ancient times.’”†
This letter was written in 804. It thus appears that at the beginning of the ninth century the addition was already condemned in France by the most learned and pious men. Alcuin also censured, as we see, the usage that was beginning to prevail of chaunting the creed in the service instead of reciting it.
The interpolation in the creed had, nevertheless, some advocates, who, five years later, proposed, in a council at Aix-la-Chapelle, to solemnly authorize the Filioque. They
met with opposition, and it was decided to refer the question to Rome. Leo III. was then Pope. He compromised the matter. Without positively rejecting the doctrine of the procession from the Father and from the Son, he censured the addition made to the creed.‡ He even saw fit to transmit to posterity his protest against any innovation, by having the creed engraved upon two tablets of silver that were hung in St. Peter's Church, and under which
was written the following inscription: " I, Leo, have put up these tablets for the love and preservation of the orthodox faith.” The deputies from the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle had needed all the resources of their logic and erudition to persuade Leo III. that this doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost might be Catholic. Their erudition was inaccurate, and consequently the opinions they rested upon it were not true. They confounded in God the substance with the proper character of the divine personality, the essential procession of the Spirit with His mission in the world.§ Leo III., although he gave a hearing to their arguments,
most learned theological works that we have read. [Théologie Dogmatique Orthodoxe, French edition, vol. 1. Paris: Cherbuliez, 10 Rue de la Monnale.]
* Father Labbe, Collection of Councils, vol. vii.
† Alcuin Epist. 69.
‡ Sirmond’s Concil. Angiq. Gall., vol. ii.
§ This confusion is at the bottom of all the arguments of the Western theologians to this day. In support of their errour, they rely upon certain texts in which the Fathers speak only of the divine substance common to the three
persons, and make no mention of the essential character of the personality in each of them. This character In
the Father is that of being the sole principle of the Son by generation, and of the Spirit by procession. Such is the doctrine of the Church, including the Roman Church herself. Such admits that the Father is the sole principle in the Trinity, and that such is the character of His personality, without perceiving that she contradicts
did not show himself any more favourable to the addition, nor even to the chaunting of the creed in the services of the Church.
Nevertheless, the Creed continued to be chaunted with the addition in Spain and in all the countries subject to Charlemagne. Rome only adopted that practice at the
commencement of the eleventh century, (about 1015,) at the request of the Emperor Henry, but she seemed to agree with the other Western churches as to the substance of the doctrine. It was thus that Photius could justly reproach the Roman Church as well as other Western churches with admitting an innovation in the faith. After having been deposed by Nicholas, and after himself condemning that Pope, he sent to the Eastern Patriarchs a circular letter, in which he thus expresses himself upon the question of the Filioque:
"Besides the gross errours we have mentioned, they have striven, by false interpretations and words which they have added, to do violence to the holy and sacred Creed, which has been confirmed by all the œcumenical councils, and possesses irresistible force. O diabolical inventions! Using new language, they affirm that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father only, but from the Son also! Who ever heard such language, even from the mouth of the impious of past ages! Where is the Christian who could admit two causes in the Trinity, that is to say, the Father--cause of the Son and Holy Spirit; and the Son--cause of the same Spirit?
“This is to divide the first principle into a double divinity--it is to lower Christian theology to the level of Grecian mythology, and to wrong the Trinity incomprehensible and one in principle, (iperoúsion Ke monarhitís Triados) But how should the Holy Spirit proceed from the Son? If the procession He holds from the Father is perfect, (and it is thus, since He is very God of very God,) what is this procession from the Son, and what is its object? Certainly it is a vain and futile thing. Moreover, if the Spirit proceed from the Son as well as the Father, why is not the Son begotten by the Spirit as well as by the Father? Let them say this in order that there be no piety mixed with their impiety, that their opinions may agree with their language, and they may shrink from no undertaking. Let us consider further,
that if the property of the Holy Spirit be known in that He proceeds from the Father, the property of the Son likewise consists in His being begotten by the Father. But as they in their madness assert, the Spirit proceeds also from the Son; hence the Spirit is distinguished from the Father by more numerous properties than the Son, since the Spirit proceeding from both, is something common to the Father and to the Son. The procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son is the property of the Spirit. If the Spirit is further removed from the Father than the Son, the Son must be nearer to the substance of the Father than the Spirit. Such was the origin of the audacious blasphemy pronounced against the Holy Spirit by
Macedonius, who followed without knowing it the system and errour of those who teach it in these days.
“Moreover, if all be common between the Father and the Son, assuredly that which concerns the Holy Spirit is common also, namely, that He must be God, King, Creator, Almighty, Simple, without exterior form, Incorporeal, Invisible, and absolute All. Now if the procession of the Spirit be common to the Father and to the Son, then the Spirit must also proceed from Himself, He is His own principle--at one and the same time cause and effect. Even the Greeks have not gone to such length in their fables.
"One more reflection: if it were the property of the Spirit alone to have relation to different principles, He would be the only one to have a plural principle and not a single one.
herself in making of the Son another principle in the Trinity by her addition of Filioque, since she makes the personal action of the Son the same as that of the Father in the procession of the Holy Ghost.
"Let me add that if, in the things where there is community between the Father and Son, the Spirit must be excluded, and if the Father be one with the Son in substance only and not in properties, then necessarily the Holy Spirit can have nothing in common except what concerns the substance.
“You see how little the advocates of this errour are entitled to the name of Christians, and that they only take it to deceive others. The Spirit proceeding from the Son! Where hast thou learned this fact that thou assertest? In what Gospel hast thou found this word? To
what council belongs such blasphemy?"
Photius appeals to Scripture and Catholic tradition against the Western system. He adds that the consequence of this system is that there are in God four persons or hypostases; for the Spirit having a double principle, is a Being double as to personality. He further unfolds; many considerations which prove in him a profoundly philosophical mind, and to which the Western theologians have answered nothing to the purpose.* All the arguments in favour of pure Catholic tradition, prove conclusively that particular churches never, even with the best intentions, can meddle with impunity with the sacred deposit of Revelation.†
Photius brought several more accusations against the Roman Church. He knew perfectly that each particular church was entitled to its own regulations, and he had laid down this soundest of principles in opposition to Nicholas himself, who sought to impose the discipline of the Western Church upon the Eastern. But in discipline we should distinguish between Apostolic rules, which have a character of universality, and private regulations.
Now, he claimed that the Roman Church violated Apostolic rules of discipline upon three principal points. First, in imposing the fast and abstinence of Saturday. Secondly, in making ecclesiastical celibacy a general law. Thirdly, in regarding as void confirmation given by priests after baptism. The Roman Bishop who had been sent to the Bulgarians had transgressed the principles of orthodoxy so far as to repeat the sacrament of confirmation to those who had received it from Greek priests. This was such a flagrant violation that even
the Romanists do not defend it.
Photius, in his encyclical letter, appeals to all the Apostolic sees of the East against the innovations of the Italians. He concludes by entreating them to adhere publicly to the second Nicene Council, to proclaim it the seventh œcumenical, and to declare against the innovations of the barbarous nations of the West who undertake to adulterate the true doctrine.
Photius had some reason to consider the Western people as little civilized. Since the invasion by the tribes which had transformed the West, the ecclesiastical schools and libraries had been destroyed, and the clergy were profoundly ignorant.
* The reader will soon be of our opinion if he will read without prejudice and with an unbiased mind the treatise of Monseigneur Macarius, which we have already mentioned, and the learned work of Zœrnicave, who devoted almost his entire life to the study of the question before us in all the records of tradition. The works of such as Perrone and Jager, not to mention the rest, are very meagre as compared with those we speak of. This last- named author claims to rest his arguments upon ontological considerations to prove that the Father is the sole principle in the Trinity, although the Son is so also with him. A very original idea indeed to resort to the
science of the human being in order to explain the Infinite Being! And besides, the reflections of the Abbé Jager, and those authors upon whom he relies, have this slight defect, that they are unintelligible not only to the reader, but most probably to the writers. Ambiguous phrases never make a good argument for an innovation.
† Among the letters of Photius (Lib. II. ep. 24) there Is one to the metropolitan of Aquilela. He replies to the
texts of the Latins by saying that if ten or twenty can be found in favour of the innovation, there can be found
six hundred against it; whence it follows that tradition will always remain clear on this point. He also works out the same arguments as in his encyclical letter.
Charlemagne had given a strong impulse to letters; but in spite of his efforts and those of the distinguished men who aided him, the ecclesiastical sciences were in their infancy, and a certain pedantry too often took their place. Now, the character of a pedant is to be quite certain about every thing. The innovators therefore thought they had done a work of high religious philosophy in adding to the Creed those words of which Photius complained. They thought they had defined the nature of the Trinity better than the Nicene Council, in attributing to the Son the personal quality of the Father in order to prove that he had the same substance. They defended this doctrine by some misinterpreted texts from the Fathers, of whom they possessed very few works, and thus they set up a false opinion as a dogma, without regard to the testimony of the Apostolic churches of the East. They consulted the Popes; but the Popes, who were themselves very ignorant, swayed on the one hand by the reasoning of men whom they thought learned, and, on the other hand, desiring to avail themselves of this opportunity to do an act of sovereign authority, yielded and sanctioned the innovation, even while they resisted its introduction into the Creed.
Thus was Rome influenced by errour in the interest of her assumed sovereignty. And hence Nicholas felt that the Papacy itself was attacked by the encyclical letter of Photius. At a loss how to reply, he applied to those scholars who, in the Church of France, were the avowed champions of the innovation. Photius had taken no notice of the Latin innovations
so long as they remained in the West, and perhaps only knew of them vaguely. But when the Roman priests spread them through Bulgaria, in defiant opposition to the doctrine of the Eastern Church, and among a people brought into the faith by the Church of Constantinople, he could be silent no longer, and he drew up against the Roman Church such a bill of attainder as shall endure for ever as a protest against the abuses and errours of which she has been guilty.
Nicholas so far humbled himself that he applied to Hinemar, a famous Archbishop of Rheims, who had resisted his autocratic pretensions. He felt he had need of this great theologian of the West to resist Photius. He had received the accusations of that Patriarch through the Prince of Bulgaria. " In reading that paper," he says,* “we have concluded that the writers dipped their pen in the lake of blasphemy, and that instead of ink they used the
mire of errour. They condemn not only our Church, but the whole Latin Church, because we fast on Saturday and teach that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son; for
they maintain that He proceeds from the Father only." Nicholas sums up some further complaints of the Greeks. Some of them are not to be found in the circular of Photius to the Easterns. "What is still more senseless," he adds, “before receiving our legates, they would oblige them to make a profession of faith, in which these articles and those who have maintained them are anathematized, and to present canonical letters to him whom they call their œcumenical Patriarch." We perceive by this that the Easterns, in order to preserve the ancient faith and discipline against Roman innovations, resorted to all the means in their power.
It is impossible to share the opinion of Nicholas, who chose to regard as foolish measures of caution both perfectly legitimate and canonical, which were only wrong inasmuch as they were an obstacle to his ambitious projects.
Having exhibited his grievances against the Easterns, Nicholas commanded all the Metropolitans to assemble Provincial Councils, reply to the accusations of Photius, and send the result of their deliberations to Hincmar of Rheims, who would transmit them to him. The Bishops of France assembled. Several of them entered the lists against the Easterns, particularly Æneas of Paris. Ratramn, a monk of Corbey, composed the most learned work.
* Nichol. Epist. in Labbe’s Collection, vol. viii.
No one could have done better in the defence of a bad cause. At a time when the records of tradition were very rare in the West, it was difficult to compile from the many complete instruction. The Frankic divines therefore quoted in their favour only, a few texts, of which many were from apocryphal works. Photius seems to allude to these labours when he says in his letter to the Metropolitan of Aquileia, that if one could quote ten or twenty Fathers in favour of the opinions of the Latins, one might quote six hundred in support of the belief of the Church. The historical facts adduced by Ratramn in proof of the Roman primacy are completely distorted for want of proper information; and, besides, in defending that primacy, he had no intention whatever to maintain a sovereignty of divine right. His reasoning and his quotations, like those of Æneas, respecting the celibacy of the priesthood, did not reach that question; for the Easterns did not disapprove of celibacy in itself considered, but only as a general law imposed upon the clergy. In this light celibacy certainly changed the general discipline of the primitive Church, and the Easterns were right in attacking it on this ground.
Under John VIII. the question of the Procession of the Holy Ghost changed its character at Rome like that of the elevation of Photius to the Patriarchal chair. The addition of the Filioque made to the Nicene Creed in the West was solemnly condemned in the sixth session of the council of 879. The legates of the Pope, those of the Eastern Patriarchal sees, and all the bishops concurred in that condemnation.
The Pope; upon receiving the transactions, wrote to Photius.*
“We know the unfavourable accounts that you have heard concerning us and our Church; I therefore wish to explain myself to you even before you write to me on the subject. You are not ignorant that your envoy, in discussing the Creed with us, found that we preserved it as we originally received it, without adding to or taking anything from it; for we know what severe punishment he would deserve who should dare to tamper with it. To set you at ease, therefore, upon this subject, which has been a cause of scandal to the Church, we again declare to you that not only do we thus recite it, but even condemn those who, in their folly, have had the audacity to act otherwise from the beginning, as violators of the divine word, and falsifiers of the doctrine of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the Fathers, who have transmitted the Creed to us through the councils; we declare that their portion is that of Judas, because they have acted like him, since, if it be not the body of Christ itself which they put to death, it is, at all events, the faithful of God who are his members, whom they tear by schism, giving them up, as well as themselves, to eternal death, as also did that base Apostle. Nevertheless, I think that your Holiness, so full of wisdom, is aware of the difficulty of making our bishops share this opinion, and of changing at once so important a practice which has taken root for so many years. We therefore believe it is best not to force any one to abandon that addition to the Creed, but we must act with moderation and prudence, little by little, exhorting them to renounce that blasphemy. Thus, then, those who accuse us of
sharing this opinion do not speak the truth. But those who say that there are persons left among us who dare to recite the Creed in this manner, are not very far from the truth. Your Holiness should not be too much scandalized on our account, nor withdraw from the healthy part of the body of our Church, but zealously contribute by your gentleness and prudence to the conversion of such as have departed from the truth, so that with us, you may deserve the promised reward. Hail in the Lord, worthily venerated and catholic brother!"
John VIII. spoke particularly of the addition; but the expressions he used prove that he condemned the doctrine, as well, which that addition represented. The word would have been no blasphemy if it had expressed a truth. The Papacy was changeful, then, as to the
* Joann. viii. epist.
doctrine; it hesitated under Leo III.; it approved the new dogma under Nicholas I.; it rejected it as blasphemous under John VIII.*
After having ascertained this principal Roman innovation, let us now continue our account of the Roman enterprises against the East.
John VIII. being dead, Marin† was elected Bishop of Rome. He had been one of the legates of Nicholas in Bulgaria and at the council of 869. It could not, therefore, be hoped that he would follow the course of his immediate predecessor. It is thought that it was he who carried to Constantinople the letters of John approving the council of 879, except in those things wherein the legates had exceeded their powers. This exception was a mere formality; for he had received the acts; knew perfectly what had happened; very modestly urged Photius not to take it amiss, that he had demanded a submission from him; and knew the Patriarch had not been willing to make one, for this reason, that only the guilty should beg pardon.‡ Marin could not concur with the council of 879, without condemning that of
869, of which he had been one of the presidents. He, therefore, refused, when he was at Constantinople, to condemn himself by condemning that council, and the Emperor Basil detained him a prisoner one month for this cause.
Raised to the Roman episcopate, (882,) Marin had a grudge to satisfy. He hastened to condemn Photius. But his pontificate was short, and in 884 he was succeedecl by Adrian III., who also condemned the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Emperor Basil wrote very energetic letters to this Pope, but they only arrived at Rome after his death, and were
delivered to his successor, Stephen V., (885,) who had been the intimate friend and confidant of Marin, against whom the Emperor's letters were particularly directed. Stephen undertook his defence. We will quote some passages of his letter, which are well worthy of notice.§
“As God has given you the sovereignty of temporal things, in like manner we have received from him, through St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, the sovereignty of spiritual things. To us is committed the care of the flock; this care is as much more excellent as the heavens are
above the earth. Hear what the Lord said to Peter, Thou art Peter, etc. I therefore entreat
your Piety to honour the name and dignity of the Prince of the Apostles by conforming to his decrees; for the episcopate in all the churches on earth owes its origin to St. Peter, by whom we instruct all the faithful, teaching them wholesome and incorruptible doctrine."
Here is a clear enunciation of Papal sovereignty and Papal infallibility of divine right. Stephen pretends that the legates of Pope Sylvester, at the first Council of Nicea, established this principle, " That the first bishop could not be judged by any one., Such an assertion was worthy of the erudition of that age. As a consequence of his doctrine of the episcopal character, Stephen claims that Photius never was any thing but a layman, since he did not derive his episcopate from Rome.
"Did not the Roman Church," he adds, "write to you to hold a council at Constantinople? I ask you, to whom could it write? To Photius, a layman? If you had a Patriarch, our Church would often visit him by letters. But, alas! the glorious city of Constantinople is without a pastor, and if the affection that we bear toward you did not lead us to bear patiently the insult to our Church, we should be obliged to pronounce against the
* Several Western writers have endeavoured to disprove the authenticity of this letter of John VIII. Their arguments cannot counterbalance this fact, that this letter was published from Western manuscripts. Had the Easterns invented it, as the Romanists maintain without any proof, It would have come from the East to the West, while it really went from the West to the East. This certain fact speaks louder than all their dissertations, and answers every objection.
† Known also as Martin II.
‡ Joann. viii. Epist.
§ Steph. V. Epist. Labbe’s Collection, vol. ix.
prevaricator, Photius, who has so basely spoken against us, more severe penalties than our predecessors. We do not presume, in thus speaking, to fail in the respect due to you; we speak in our own defence and that of Pope Marin, who held the same sentiments as Pope Nicholas."
Thus Nicholas had bequeathed to Marin the sentiments which the latter had bequeathed to Stephen. As for the acts of John VIII., they were completely ignored. Photius did not change as easily as the Popes, and he followed the rules of ancient law with moderation and intelligence.
It appears from the letter of Stephen V. that the Papacy was no longer so very defiant toward the emperors of the East. The Roman empire of the West had crumbled with Charlemagne. From its fragments had sprung a thousand little independent states, for ever quarreling among themselves. The feudal system was organizing: The Papacy no longer saw a powerful prince at hand to protect it. Rome itself was a prey to the quarrels of several hostile parties. Meanwhile the Mussulmans continued their conquests. Checked in the East by the Emperor Basil, they were pouring in upon the West, and Rome itself was threatened. John VIII. knew that Rome could obtain better aid from the Emperor of the East than from the divided princes of the West. His successors, with less cleverness, implored the same assistance without sacrificing any of their contemptible personal grudges. It was only fair that they should not succeed.
Had the Papacy been happily inspired, it might have availed itself of its influence in the West to arouse the Princes against the Mussulmans, and unite them with the Emperor of the East in that great struggle. But Rome preferred to indulge her antipathies against a Church which set up the doctrine and laws of the primitive Church in opposition to her usurpations. She aroused the West as much against the Eastern Christians as against the Mussulmans, and thus introduced a radical fault in those great movements of nations known as the Crusades. The conception of these expeditions was grand, and for the West it led to some useful results. We do not deny it; but historical impartiality demands that it should be confessed, at the same time, that the Papacy, which set these expeditions on foot, failed to give them the character of grandeur they would have had, if instead of circumscribing them to the West it had united in a fraternal embrace the Eastern Christians with the Crusaders. Rome sacrificed all to her hatred of the Eastern Church.
The Emperor Basil died shortly after receiving the letter of Pope Stephen V. Leo, the Philosopher, son of Basil, succeeded him upon the throne of the East. He drove Photius from the see of Constantinople, to Put there his own brother Stephen. As a pretext for this usurpation, he sent two of his officers to the Church of Saint Sophia, who ascended the pulpit and publicly read off the crimes which it pleased the Emperor to impute to Photius; and the Patriarch was next accused of having been concerned in a plot, the object of which was to place one of his relatives on the throne. Not a single proof of this charge could be adduced. Then Leo had Bishop Stylien brought to court, who was a personal enemy of Photius, and the two composed an infamous letter for the Pope (A.D. 886) in which they collected all the accusations of the enemies of Photius--accusations which had been declared to be calumnies by John VIII., and by a council of four hundred bishops. This letter of Stylien is one of the Principal documents of which the Western writers have made use in their accounts of what they call the schism of the East.*
Its value may be estimated at a glance. Stylien’s letter only arrived at Rome after
Stephen’s death, (891.) Formosus, his successor, replied that Photius had never been any
* The Abbé Jager innocently says, “The letter of Stylien is a historic monument upon which we have frequently drawn.” Hist. of Phot. book ix. p. 387, edit. 1854.
thing more than a layman; that the bishops whom he had ordained were likewise nothing but laymen; that he was therefore condemned without need of any trial; that the bishops, his adherents, should be treated with mercy but only as laymen.† The Pope who wrote this answer was exhumed by Pope Stephen VI. His putrescent corpse was cited, judged, and condemned. John IX. reversed this judgment of Stephen VI. These facts and the atrocious immoralities of the Popes of that period are covered by Romanists with a veil of complaisance. They have anathemas only for a great Patriarch who, by his virtues and ecclesiastical learning, deserves to rank with the most illustrious bishops of the Church. There is no doubt that Photius died the same year that Formosus wrote his famous letter to Stylien against him, that is, in 891. ‡
The Eastern Church holds Ignatius and Photius in equal veneration. She has declared anathemas against all that has been written against either of them. She is perfectly wise in this decision. It was her will that these two Patriarchs should be judged by themselves and
by their own writings, without reference to other writings dictated by passion. Now, Ignatius wrote nothing against Photius; and the latter, in his numerous writings, never attacked Ignatius. After the restoration of Ignatius, and the reconciliation of Photius with the Emperor Basil, they saw each other, forgave each other, and it may be said that Ignatius died in the arms of Photius according to what this latter Patriarch declared before four hundred bishops
in the council of 879.
It is therefore dishonest to appeal to the testimony of a few enemies of Photius who were Greeks, on the ground that they belonged to the Eastern Church. That Church has disowned them, and has had the wisdom to warn her faithful that calumnies inspired by blind hatred, whether they come from Greeks or Latins, are alike to, be condemned.§
Stylien, Bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, and an enemy to Photius, remained in correspondence with the Popes after the death of that Patriarch. John IX. wrote to him in the year 900,** to this effect, "it is our will that the decrees of our predecessors (concerning the Patriarchs of Constantinople) should remain inviolate;” but this Pope did not attempt to reconcile those of John VIII. with those of Nicholas, both of whom were equally his
predecessors;. Five years after, the court of Rome had some relations with the East, to sanction an act of injustice. The Emperor Leo VI. having married for the fourth time, had thereby violated the discipline of the Eastern Church, sanctioned even by civil laws. The Patriarch Nicholas besought him to have the case examined by the five Patriarchal churches. Leo feigned to consent, and wrote to Sergius III., Pope of Rome, to Michael, Pope of Alexandria,* to Simeon, Patriarch of Antioch, and Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Patriarchs sent legates. The Emperor bribed them. The faithful bishops were exiled. Nicholas was deposed, and Euthymius put in his place; and, finally, a dispensation was
† See Labbe’s Collection of Councils, vols. viii. and ix.
‡ M. Jager, who thinks himself a historian of some weight, says that Photius died In 891, adding that this was
several years after the letter of Formosus. That letter, however, as well as the pontificate of Formosus only dates from the year 891, Stephen V., his predecessor, having died only the same year.
§ The Abbé Jager sees an astonishing contradiction in the conduct of the Greek Church. (Hist. of Phot. book ix, p. 392). This is the fault of his eyes, which by the effect of a singular mirage have made him see things quite
different from what they are in reality. A historian who "starts with the principle of only listening to the
enemies of the person whose history he is about to write, must necessarily find contradictions in those who have followed an opposite course. The question is, whether in judging a man it is expedient to refer exclusively to
his enemies. There is in the work of the Abbé Jager a contradiction much more astonishing than that which he imputes to the Greek Church. It is the Satanic character he ascribes to Photius, side by side with that which
shows forth from the letters he has quoted of this great man. Mr. Jager did not perceive that Photius, by his
letters, belies all these infamous accusations that he renewed against him.
** See Collection of Councils, by Father Labbe, vol. ix.
* The Patriarch of Alexandria took the title of Pope as well as the Bishop of Rome, and still preserves it.
granted to the Emperor for his fourth marriage. Thus did Rome sustain the unjust deposition of a Patriarch who was guilty of nothing more than of maintaining the rules of church discipline. For in all things she acted less in accordance with justice than with her own interest. If she had taken the part of Ignatius, it was because she feared the opposition of Photius to her sovereignty. If she so readily sacrificed Nicholas, it was in order to do an act of authority in the East. Power was her sole object. Pope Sergius could not indeed be fastidious upon the subject of the illicit marriage of Leo, for he was himself the lover of the infamous Marozia, and had by this adulterous connection a son, who was a Pope like himself.† Such a Pope could not understand the delicacy of conscience of the Patriarch Nicholas. After the death of the Emperor Leo, Euthymius was driven away and Nicholas reinstated. This Patriarch was even placed at the head of the regency during the minority of the young Emperor Constantine, surnamed Porphyrogenitus. Reinstalled in his see, he wrote (A.D. 912) to Pope Anastasius III., the successor of Sergius, to complain of the conduct of
his legates at Constantinople. “They seem,”‡ he wrote, “to have come from Rome for no other purpose than to declare war against us, but since they claimed the primacy in the Church, they ought carefully to have ascertained the whole affair, and written a report of it, instead of consenting to the condemnation of those who had incurred the displeasure of the Prince only for their detestation of incontinency. It is not, indeed, to be wondered at that two or three men should be taken by surprise; but who could have supposed that Western bishops would confirm that unjust sentence by their votes without knowledge of the cause? I learn that the pretext of dispensation is brought forward, as if by a dispensation debauchery could be authorized and the canons violated. Dispensation, if I am not mistaken, is intended to imitate the mercy of God; it extends its hand to the sinner and lifts him up, but it does not permit him to remain in the sin into which he has fallen."
This perfectly just doctrine was not that of Rome. At one time, under pretence of observing the canons, she would throw an entire kingdom into confusion, as under Nicholas
I., in relation to the marriage of Hloter; then again she could give dispensation without
difficulty in equally important cases. This was because her study was always to establish the principle of her absolute power over laws as well as men. Her will was her law, and the interest of her sovereignty her only rule.
The Patriarch Nicholas felt the consequences of the palace intrigues; he was banished and again reinstated. Peace was finally reestablished in 920, by an imperial decree which again recognized the discipline for which Nicholas had suffered persecution. This Patriarch wrote to Pope John X. to renew friendly relations between the churches of Rome and Constantinople. But John X. was more engrossed by his adulterous amours with Theodora, Marozia's sister, than by the affairs of the Church.
For a century there was scarcely any intercourse between the churches of Rome and Constantinople; which did not tend to reunite them in matters of doctrine.§ In 1024 the Patriarch Eustathius attempted to have himself recognized at Rome as the ecclesiastical chief of the East, in the same way as the Pope was chief of the West. His envoys were on the point of succeeding--thanks to their money, of which the court of Rome was very greedy; but the intrigue transpired, and caused some agitation, principally in Italy. The court of Rome did
not dare to go further. This fact proves, at least, that the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople were not at strife. Those of Rome were mostly unworthy of their place; their political business and the struggles which prevailed in most of the Western churches were as
† Rome was then governed by three prostitutes, Theodora and her two daughters Marozia and Theodora, who disposed of the Popedom in favour of their lovers and adulterine children.
‡ Nicol. Epist. in the Collection of the Councils, vol. ix. Appendix.
§ Nat. Alex. in Hist. Eccl. Dissert. IV. Sæcul. ix. et. x.
much as they could attend to, and they did not trouble themselves with the Eastern churches, where their sovereignty was always opposed. But the contest recommenced in 1053, when Leo IX. was Bishop of Rome.
Having received letters of communion from Peter, the new Patriarch of Antioch, Leo affected, in his answer, to tell him that he held the third rank in the Patriarchate, thus ignoring the Patriarch of Constantinople, notwithstanding the decrees of the œcumenical councils, which had given him the second rank, the third to the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the fourth to the Patriarch of Antioch. At that time Michael Cerularius was Patriarch of Constantinople; he had written a letter to John, Bishop of Trani, against several disciplinary or liturgical practices of the Latin Church.* Cardinal Humbert having read this letter at the Bishop's
house, translated it into Latin and sent it to Pope Leo IX. The Pope wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in unmeasured terms. The Patriarch then wrote a second letter against the Latins, completing his accusations. The most serious one was that of adding the Filioque to the Creed. Leo IX. should have calmly answered these accusations; proved that many of them were unfounded; and excused several Latin usages upon the principle that discipline may vary in different countries, provided the regulations of the Apostles and of the
œcumenical councils are kept inviolate; confessed, in fine, that many of the accusations made by the Patriarch were just, and undertaken the reform of the Western Church. But Leo IX. only cared for the injury that he thought was done to his pretensions as sovereign head of the Church, and he wrote to Michael Cerularius under the influence of that thought.†
After a long exordium upon the unity of the Church, he claims that unity to be in the Roman Church, which has received that high prerogative from God through St. Peter. That Church having received as its foundation Jesus Christ through St. Peter, is the unshaken rock against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. There can, therefore, be no errour in the Roman Church, and it is only through pride that the Eastern Church makes those accusations. He attacks that Church on account of the heresies that have sprung up in her bosom; but he
does not observe that no church can be made responsible for heresies she has condemned;
whilst the Roman Church was herself accused of having taught errour in lieu of sound doctrine. He ventures to recall the opposition of the ancient Bishops of Rome to the title of œcumenical, but does not remark that the Popes had usurped the thing as well as the title, although not officially introduced in all their acts; he falsely maintains that the first Council of Nicea declared that no one could judge the Bishop of Rome, and that he was the chief of all the churches. He cites an apocryphal grant of Constantine to prove the sovereign power of the Pope in a temporal as well as a spiritual point of view. He thinks also that he has subdued the impudent vanity of those who contested the rights of the Papacy. He resorts to those texts of Scripture which at all times have constituted the meagre arsenal of the Papacy. He maintains that Constantinople owes to the Holy See the second rank that she occupies
among the Patriarchal Churches. As for the Roman Church, she has an exceptional rank, and to attack her rights is to attack the Church Universal, of which she is the divine centre. Pride and jealousy alone could suggest such sacrilegious intentions.
Such is the substance of the first letter of Leo IX. to the Patriarch Michael Cerularius. Politics envenomed these first discussions. The Normans were attacking the empire.
The Emperor Constantine Monomachus, too weak to resist all his enemies, resolved to ask the aid of the Germans and Italians, and to this end applied to the Pope, who had great influence over those people. In order to conciliate the Pope he wrote to him that he ardently desired to reestablish friendly relations, so long interrupted, between the churches of Rome
* This letter may be found in the Annals of Baronius. See Letters of Leo IX. in the Collection of Cuoncils. Nat. Alesand. Hist. Eccl. Synop. Sæcul. xi. c. iv.
† Leo IX. Ep. in Labbe’s Collection of Councils, vol. ix.
and Constantinople. He persuaded the Patriarch Michael to write in the same strain to Leo IX., who at once sent three legates to Constantinople with a letter for the Emperor and another for the Patriarch, (1054.)
He begins by felicitating the Emperor upon the pious desire he had communicated to him, but very soon comes down to the rights of the Roman see. “The Catholic Church,” he says, “mother and immaculate virgin, although destined to fill the whole world with her members, has nevertheless but one head, which must be venerated by all. Whoever dishonours that head claims in vain to be one of her members." That head of the Church is Rome, whose power the great Constantine recognized by his grant. Now, as Bishop of Rome, he is the Vicar of God charged with the care of all the churches. He therefore wishes
to restore its splendour to the Roman Episcopate, which for a long time has been governed by mercenaries, he says, rather than pastors. The Emperor of Constantinople can aid him in this work, by restoring the estates which the Roman Church possessed in the East, and by checking the enterprises of the Patriarch Michael, whom he accuses of ambitious projects against the churches of Alexandria and Antioch.
In his letter to Michael Cerularius, Leo IX. first acknowledges the receipt of the letters written to him by that Patriarch in favour of a pacification. "We shall have peace," he tells him, “if you will, in future, abstain from overstepping the boundaries set up by the Fathers." This is just what the Eastern Church said to the Papacy. Leo then finds fault with Michael for his ambition, his luxury, and his wealth. Did such blame fall with a good grace from the mouth of a Pope? He adds, "What a detestable, lamentable, sacrilegious usurpation is yours, when in speech and in writing you call yourself universal Patriarch Then he mentions the opposition of St. Gregory to this title; and this brings him to the pretended rights of the Church of Rome. "The Roman Church," he says, "is not, as you allege, a local church; is she not the head and mother? How could she be this if she had neither members
nor children? We proclaim this openly because we believe it firmly; the Roman Church is so little a local church, that in all the world, no nation which presumes to disagree with her can any longer be regarded as belonging to the Church. It is thenceforth only a conventicle of heretics--a synagogue of Satan! Therefore let him who would glory in the name of a Christian cease to curse and attack the Roman Church; for it is vain in him to pretend to honour the Father of the family if he dishonours his spouse! "
Is it surprising that the Eastern Church energetically protected against this sacrilegious doctrine ?
Cardinal Humbert was chief of the legates of Leo IX., who were bearers of these letters. The Emperor received them with distinction, and Humbert opened the discussion at once, entering upon the defence of the Latin Church, making sundry accusations against the Greek Church, and showing that the Greek Church had her own peculiar discipline and her own peculiar abuses as well, as the Latin Church. His writings were translated into Greek by the Emperor's order.
The Patriarch Michael refused to communicate with the legates. Without doubt he knew that it was a foregone conclusion with the, Emperor to sacrifice the Greek Church to the Papacy in order to obtain some aid for his throne. The letter he had received from the Pope had enlightened him sufficiently as to what Rome meant by union. The legates proceeded to the Church of Saint Sophia at the hour when the clergy were preparing for the mass. They loudly complained of the obstinacy of the Patriarch, and placed upon the altar a sentence of excommunication against him. They went out of the church, shaking the dust from their feet and pronouncing anathemas against all those who should not communicate with the Latins. All this was done with the Emperor's consent; which explains why the Patriarch would have no intercourse with the legates. The people, convinced of the
Emperor's connivance, revolted. In the moment of danger Constantine made some concessions. The legates protested that their sentence of excommunication had not been read as it was written; that the Patriarch had the most cruel and perfidious designs against them. However that may be, and had Michael even been guilty of such wicked designs, this manner of acting was none the more dignified or canonical. Michael has been further accused of making groundless complaints against the Latin Church. Several of these were, in fact, exaggerated; but it has not been sufficiently observed that the Patriarch, in his letter, only echoed the sentiments of all the Eastern churches. Ever since the Papacy had attempted to impose its autocracy upon them, there had been a strong reaction in all these churches. On
the spur of this sentiment every thing had been sought out that could be laid at the door of the Roman Church, which by her bishops held herself out as the infallible guardian of sound doctrine. Michael Cerularius was only the interpreter of these complaints; he would never have had enough influence to impose his grievances, true or pretended, upon the whole Christian East; so that those who call him the consummator of the schism commenced under Photius, have but superficially understood the facts. What made the strength of Photius against the Papacy was, that all the churches of the East were with him, in spite of political intrigues, imperial influence, Papal violence, and the spite of relentless enemies. Therein lay the strength of Michael Cerularius also. This Patriarch possessed neither the learning, the genius, nor the virtues of Photius; but he spoke in the name of the East, and the East recognized its own sense in his protests against the innovations of Rome. The Emperor, jealous of the influence he had acquired, banished him, and was endeavouring to have him deposed by a council, when he heard of his death, (1058.)
After the death of the Patriarch Michael intercourse between Rome and Constantinople became even less frequent than before. We hear of one legate sent in 1071, by Pope Alexander II., but rather for a political object than from motives of religion. He thought that the Eastern Emperors might be of great help in the Crusades.
Gregory VII, who soon after ascended the Papal chair, (in 1073,) raised the Papacy to its greatest height, by skilfully taking advantage of the divisions caused by the feudal system, to extend the influence of the Church, which he summed up in the Bishop of Rome. But he did not use his influence to reconcile the West with the East; and besides the antagonism was too great between the two churches, to allow the diplomatic negotiations of the Popes with
the Emperors of the East to have any useful result. The Papacy had spread throughout the West the idea that the Greeks were schismatics and dangerous enemies to the Church, while the Easterns regarded the people of the West in the light of barbarians who were Christians only in name and had tampered with the faith and the holiest institutions of the Church. Hence the distrust of the Crusaders on the part of the Greeks, and the violence of the Crusaders against them. We are not concerned with those expeditions in this work. We will only notice this acknowledged fact, that the Crusades only strengthened the antipathy which had long existed between East and West, and that if any attempt were made to reconcile them, it was ever the emperors, acting from motives of policy and interest, that took the lead. These emperors never ceased to think of their Western possessions. They watched the contests between several of the Popes and the emperors of the West. These contests, as animated as they were protected, were caused by the Papacy, which, in virtue of its spiritual sovereignty, pretended to overrule the temporal powers. Alexis Comnenus endeavoured to turn them to account. He sent (A.D.. 1112) an embassy to Rome announcing that he was inclined to proceed thither to receive the imperial crown from the hands of the Pope. This step did not lead to any thing more but it proves that the emperors of that period had a decided tendency to conciliate Rome from motives of mere policy. Manuel Comnenus;
(A.D. 1155) sought the alliance of the Pope and of Frederic, Emperor of the West, against the
Normans, who had wrested Sicily from the empire of Constantinople. Upon that occasion
Pope Adrian IV. sent legates to Manuel, with a letter for Basil, Archbishop of Thessalonica,
in which he exhorted that bishop to procure, the reunion of the churches.* Basil answered that there was no division between the Greeks and Latins, since they held the same faith and offered the same sacrifice. "As for the causes of' scandal, weak in themselves, that have separated us from each other," he adds, "your Holiness can cause them to cease, by your own extended authority and the help of the Emperor of the West.”
This reply was as skilful as it was wise. The Papacy had innovated; it enjoyed a very widespread authority in the West. What was there to prevent its use of that authority to reject its own innovations or those it had tolerated? It was in the power of the Church of Rome to bring about a perfect union between the two churches. But the Papacy had no such idea of union; no union could exist in its view except upon the submission of the Eastern Church to its authority. But the Eastern Church, while maintaining the ancient doctrine, was in an attitude of continual protest against this usurped authority, and was not disposed to submit to this unlawful yoke.
The emperors continued their political intrigues while the Church was in this situation. They kept on good terms with the Emperor of the West so long as he was friendly with the Papacy; but as soon as new struggles arose, they profited by them to renew their applications to the Popes respecting the imperial crown. Alexander III. being at war with Frederic, Manuel Comnenus sent him (A.D. 1166) an embassy, to make known to the Pope his good intentions of reuniting the Greek and Latin churches, so that Latins and Greeks should thenceforth make but one people under one chief. He asked, therefore, the crown of the whole Roman empire, promising Italy and other material advantages to the Roman Church. The Pope sent legates to Constantinople. Two years later (A.D. 1169) Manuel sent a new embassy to Alexander, offering to reunite the Greek and Latin churches, if he would grant him the crown he solicited. The Pope refused, under pretext of the troubles that would
follow that grant. Notwithstanding this refusal the most friendly relations existed between
the Pope and Manuel, at whose request a Cardinal sub-deacon, named John, went to Constantinople to work for the union of the churches. But Manuel’s tendencies were not approved of by the Greeks, who detested the Latins, not only for religious reasons, but also from resentment for the violence they had suffered from the Crusaders. And accordingly, after Manuel's death, the Latins were massacred without mercy at Constantinople, (A.D.
1182.) Cardinal John was one of the victims. Andronicus, who had instigated the massacre, was elected Emperor. He died shortly after, and was succeeded by Isaac Angelus, who was dethroned by his brother, Alexis Angelus. Innocent III. was Bishop of Rome, (A.D. 1198.) Since Gregory VII. no other Pope had had so much influence in the West. Alexis Angelus hastened to follow the policy of the Comneni: he sent ambassadors, with a letter to the Pope from him, and another from the Patriarch John Camaterus, in order to prove to him that they desired to procure a union between the churches. Innocent dispatched legates to Constantinople, bearing letters in which he exalted the Roman Church beyond all measure. The Patriarch gave the legates his answer, which began thus:
“To Innocent, very holy Roman Pope, and our beloved brother in the Lord Christ, John, by the Divine Mercy, Archbishop of Constantinople, Patriarch of New Rome, love and peace from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Here is the substance of his letter:
"In reading the letter you have sent to our Humility, we have approved of the zeal of your Holiness for our mutual union in the faith. But I will not conceal from you what has greatly embarrassed me in your letter. It amazes me, in fact, that you call the Church of
* Adrian iv. Ep. 7.
Rome one and universal, since it is well established that the Church is divided into particular churches, governed by pastors, under one sole, supreme pastor, Jesus Christ. And what I do not further understand is, that you call the Church of Rome the mother of the other churches. The mother of the churches is that of Jerusalem, which surpasses them all in antiquity and dignity. I cannot, therefore, plead guilty to the accusation, which your Holiness makes against me, that I divide the single and seamless coat of Christ. When, on one side, we behold our own Church carefully preserving the ancient doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Ghost, and, on the other, your Church fallen into errour on this point, we may well ask you which of them has rent the coat of Christ?
"I am not the less disposed, for all that, to second the kind intentions of the Emperor for good."
The Emperor also answered the Pope, who replied in two letters from which we will give some extracts. He writes to the Patriarch: " The primacy of the Roman see has been established, not by man, but by God, or rather, by the Man-God; this can be proved by numberless evangelic and apostolic evidences, confirmed by canonical constitutions which attest that the most holy Roman Church was consecrated in Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles, to be the mistress and mother of all the others." Innocent cites many texts from Scripture, interpreting them in his own way.* He wonders that the Patriarch is ignorant of these interpretations then he undertakes to answer the two questions which he had put to him: “You ask me," he says, "how the Roman Church is one and universal. The universal Church is that which is composed of all the churches, according to the force of the Greek word Catholic. In this sense, the Roman Church is not universal, it is only a part of the Universal Church; but the first and the principal part, like the head in a body. The Roman Church is such because the fulness of power resides in her, and that only a part of that fulness
overflows to the others. That one Church is therefore universal in this sense, that all the others are under it. According to the true sense of the word, the Roman Church only is
universal, because it is the only one that has been raised above the others. . . . . .
“You ask me how the Roman Church is the mother of the churches? She is so not according to time but according to dignity. The Church of Jerusalem may be regarded as the mother of the faith, because that faith came first from her bosom; the Church of Rome is the mother of the faithful, because she has been placed over them all by the privilege of her dignity." Innocent then congratulates the Patriarch upon his desire for unity, and adds that he owes respect and obedience to the Roman Church and to its bishop as to his chief; that he
will receive him upon condition that he shall be subject as a member should be to the head, but that if he refuse respect and obedience, he will proceed against him and the Greek Church.
Innocent III. liked to talk like a master. He expresses himself in the same manner in his reply to the Emperor. He declares his willingness to call a council, although the constitution of the Church is not synodal; that he will invite the Patriarch to it; that if he will there submit to the Roman Church, and render it the obedience which he owes to it, peace shall be made with him. He begs the Emperor to see that the Patriarch appears at the council thus disposed; and concludes this letter also with threats.
He did not carry them into execution, however; for he knew that to secure the success of the Crusade which was then organizing, he must keep on good terms with the Greek Emperor. He therefore wrote to the Crusaders who had just left Venice, and were on their way to Constantinople, "Let none among you flatter himself that he may be permitted to invade or pillage the land of the Greeks, under pretext that it is not sufficiently submissive to
* We have already determined their true sense in the first chapter of this work.
the Holy See, or that the Emperor is an usurper, having wrested the empire from his brother. What crimes he or his subjects may have committed, it is not for you to judge; and you have not taken the Cross to avenge that injury."
The Crusaders knew perfectly well that their success would insure their absolution. They had made a treaty at Venice, with the young Alexis, son of Isaac and nephew of the Emperor. This prince promised, that if the Crusaders should give him back the throne his uncle had usurped, be would subject the Greek Church to