Dienstag, 11. August 2009

Orthodoxy (Contra Errores Schismaticorum)

Against the Errors of Schismatics

This blog entry is for an Anglican whom I have been trying to show the truth about Christian orthodoxy which is truly and fully realized only in the Catholic Church.

First, I would have to clarify what the Catholic Church is - as there are not a few protestants and other schismatics nowadays who claim to be members of the "catholic Church". The Catholic Church - in orthodox understanding - is a visible, doctrinally united Church under the supreme rule of the Roman Pontiff, the Pope.

As a second point, I would like to also make clear that my usage of terms such as "schismatics", "heretics", and the like do not indicate anything emotional on my part - for some could claim that these terms are based on hatred; on the contrary, I use these terms hoping to avoid any misunderstanding in terms of theological contents..
Any Christian who is not in communion with the Roman Pontiff is a schismatic.
Any Christian who rejects at least one doctrine of the orthodox faith is a material heretic.

But now let us move on to discuss the position of the Anglican - whom I will call ST in this blog entry - with whom I have been discussing the issue of orthodoxy for a few days.

He wrote to me:

"What has been established by the first seven ecumenical councils is all that is necessary to believe and is all one needs to believe in order to be a Catholic. I believe all of that so I am justified in calling myself a Catholic."

I have to point out again that he is - as other schismatics - misusing the term "Catholic".

Anyhow, ST claims to follow only the first seven Ecumenical Councils which would be:

1) Council of Nicaea (325): assisted by Bishop Hosius of Cordova being the Papal Legate
2) 1st Council of Constantinople (381): under Pope Damasus and Emperor Theodoius I
3) Council of Ephesus (431): presided over by St. Cyril of Alexandria representing Pope Celestine I
4) Council of Chalcedon (451): under Pope St. Leo the Great and Emperor Marcian
5) 2nd Council of Constantinople (553): under Pope Vigilus and Emperor Justinian I
6) 3rd Council of Constantinole (680-681): under Pope Agatho and Emperor Constantine Pogonatus
7) 2nd Council of Nicaea (787): convoked by Emperor Constantine VI and presided over by legates of Pope Adrian I

Now, one may ask why ST chooses to accept only the first 7 Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church. He reasons:

"I don't accept the councils outside of the seven Ecumenical ones because it wasn't the church as whole who agreed."

What he means by the "church as whole" is the state of the Church prior to the great schism of 1054 - though the schism was finally formalized after the vehement rejection of the reunion achieved in the Council of Lyons (1274) under Pope Gregory X (with the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch, 500 bishops and more than 1000 other dignitaries).

His statements thus far already reveal the errors he has:

1) There are not only 7, but 8 Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church prior to 1054:

The 8th Ecumenical Council is the 4th Council of Constantinople (869) under Pope Adrian II and Emperor Basil, which condemned Photius who unlawfully seized the Patriarchal dignity at Constantinople and even convoked a conciliabulum (irregular council) against Pope Nicholas. Photius was deposed and Ignatius restored as Patriarch of Constantinople.

2) Claimed adherence to the decrees of the first seven Ecumenical Councils is all that is necessary to be a Catholic.

3) The rejection of all other Ecumenical Councils of the Church due to an - still - informal schism (1054).

I believe that ST's first error has already been adequately addressed by pointing out that there had been yet another Council prior to 1054 which he forgot to claim to accept.

Error #2 can be more tricky. Though, it can be simply dismissed by pointing out the fact that the Albigenses themselves also claimed to be "orthodox" whilst holding the belief that there were two deities: the "evil god of the Old Testament" and the "real good God of the New Testament, Jesus".

It should be obvious to everyone who claims the title "Christian" for himself that it is necessary to believe that God the Father is good and is the same God as the Son. The Albigensian and Waldensian heresies have been condemned only after 1054. Does this now mean that these heresies are permissible as the "first seven" did not explicitly address these groups?

What about certain parts of Sacred Tradition such as the teachings on abortion, contraception, murder, etc.? Are these then permissible?

As Catholics, we persevere in the Tradition handed down to us from the Apostolic age (all major Christian denominations have abandoned the traditional teachings on the aforementioned issues, except the Holy Roman Catholic Church).

In fact, the reason for schisms and condemnations issued by Councils is rooted in the simple fact that certain Christians - regardless of the quantity - have abandoned the line of sound doctrine and Tradition:

"And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6

With all this being said, it should be clear by now that adherence solely to the decrees of the first 7 ecumenical Councils does not suffice in order for one to be Catholic.

Error #2 contains yet another aspect which I attempted to show by not speaking of "adherence" to the decrees of the first seven Ecumenical Councils, but rather by speaking of "claimed adherence."

I used the latter formulation since the only Christians who truly adhere to the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils are Catholics (according to the orthodox definition, i.e. Roman Catholics).
I will point out later why this is the case.

Let us now move on to the 3rd error of ST's:

This error is one that is easy to refute. He claims that adherence to only the first 7 Ecumenical Councils is necessary because these were the only Councils "agreed upon by the whole Church".
One aspect of this error is already refuted by the refutation of his first error: there being 8 Councils prior to 1054.
The other aspect is the fact that what took place in 1054 was a mutual excommunication between Patriarch Michael Keroularios and Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida. The schism of the Eastern Orthodox from the Catholic Church was formalized only after the later rejection of the reunion achieved in the Council of Lyons in the 13th century.
Another idea to be considered is the fact that a schism does not "destroy" the Church, nor does it render the Church "invisible" as a type of "Hyper Ekklesia" (a terminology denoting the ideology expressed by schismatics claiming "we are all members of the spiritual catholic church even if there are doctrinal differences here and there"). Such position cannot be backed by any examples coming from the timeframe of the first seven Ecumenical Councils. As such, this idea cannot be claimed to be "orthodox" at all. Wherefore we now see that our friend ST is not being consistent in his ecclesiology: he claims adherence to the first 7 Ecumenical Councils, but promotes ideas foreign and even contrary to the faith of the Catholics of this timeframe. He often refers to the Nicene Creed to claim orthodoxy: this Creed states that "we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church". The Creed speaks of the 4 marks of the Church:
She is:
1) one: affirming one faith, one truth without any doctrinal contradictions: to suggest that doctrinal condtradictions may exist within the one Church is to suggest that the heretics and schismatics have formally remained members of the Catholic Church and never were condemned, nor commanded to adhere to "sound doctrine". This idea would also be against Sacred Scripture speaking of a "time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Timothy 4:3).
Needless to say that the concept of a "Hyper-Ekklesia" totally contradicts the testimony of the Fathers.
Furthermore, the unity of the Church is even more stressed by the fact that she is the mystical Body of Christ. Christ is one and undivided. To suggest otherwise of the Church is to give a positive answer to St. Pauls question: "Is Christ divided?"(1 Corinthians 1:13).
2) holy: the Church is holy as she is established by Divine Right. Her members make up the mystical Body of Christ, the Lord. She is the gateway to heaven, the universal sacrament of salvation (CCC 774-776), for being the mystical Body of Christ, we must affirm to be also true of the Church what Christ said of Himself that "no man cometh to the Father, but by me" (John 4:16).
3) catholic: the Church is universal with no limitations of gender, nationality, skin colour, race: everyone can enter into the communion of the Church. Catholicity does not mean disorganization though. The universal Church is organized as the human body is organized:
"For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12).
4) apostolic: the Church is Apostolic: only those communities with valid Apostolic Succession can be called "Churches": which is why Catholics do not speak of protestant "Churches". While the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches are called Churches in affirmation of their historical lineage and faithfulness to the sacraments, they are still not "the Church" which Christ Himself established upon Peter, the Rock.
further info: http://www.zenit.org/article-20090?l=english

A schism merely means the formal separation between the orthodox and the heretics. One cannot therefore argue that - because a large number of heretics have defected from sound doctrine - the Church is no longer existent. Schismatics had already abandoned communion with the Church proper long before 1054, yet ST still accepts the Councils that took place after such schisms: an example would be the Arian controversy or the schism of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. What happened after the rejection of the Council of Lyons was that some - not all since there are Easterners in full communion with Rome called "Eastern Catholics" - Easterners rejected the unity achieved by the aforementioned Council and thereby defected from the Church. They have separated themselves from the Catholic Church. This act did not mean the "disappearance" of the Catholic Church.

By now we have seen that the logical consequences derived from ST's position are all erroneous and contrary to the orthodox faith. What I have demonstrated should suffice to show that ST's position is heretical. But simply showing something to be false is not my intention. My intention is ST's entry into the Catholic Church for the well-being of his eternal soul. For this reason, I will demonstrate what constitutes orthodoxy in the Christian religion:

I have one basic claim:

Communion with the chair of Peter, the Apostolic See, the Successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, the Pope, is what makes the Church orthodox.

I chose this main point as it is the one which all schismatics are guilty of not following.

Before I continue, I would like to remind the readers, especially ST, that it does not suffice to oppose a position in order to show the validity of one's own: one has to demonstrate that the opponent's views are evidently wrong and that one's own are correct.

For this purpose - as we are dealing with someone who accepts only the timeframe prior to 1054 - I will be using as main arguments those coming from that time.

Since ST affirms that the Conciliar decrees express the orthodox faith -with which I agree - my task is to show whence an Ecumenical Council derives its validity. And I will also show that communion with Rome, the Apostolic See was indeed the rule of orthodoxy. I will start with the latter point and then move on to the former:

I communion with Rome, the Apostolic See:

1) St. Iranaeus:

"it is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about." (Ad Haereses 3:3:1 [a.D. 189])

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul - that church which has the traditionand the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition." (ibid.; 3:3:2)

St. Irenaeus spoke of heretics and uses Apostolic Succession to show why heretics are wrong since they defected from Apostolic Tradition. And as a general rule, he states that "all the faithful" must agree with the Church of Rome. This is only realized in the Catholic Church. All schismatics have abandoned communion with the Roman See.

further he writes:

"It is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church - those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the Apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But it is also incumbent to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth." (ibid., 4:26:2)

compare these to the statements of the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium (2nd Vatican Council):
"The college or body of bishops has for all that no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head, whose primatial authority, let it be added, over all, whether pastors or faithful, remains in its integrity." (Lumen Gentium #22)

2) St. Cyprian of Carthage:

"The Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with marytrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and desiring the evangelic and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold the Church in any way." (Letters 69[75]:3 [a.D. 253])

"And He says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed My sheep.' It is on him that He builds the Church, and to him that He entrusts the sheep feed. And although He assigns a like power to all apostles, yet He founded a single Chair, thus establishing by His own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly we should hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcpate itself to be one and undivided." (The Unity of the Church, 4-5 [a.D. 251-256])

"After such things as these, moreover, they still dare - a false bishop having been apointed for them, by heretics - to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access." (To Cornelius, Epistle 54/59:14 [a.D. 252])

compare these with the statements from the Dogmatic Constitution of the 2nd Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium:

"In order that the episcopate itself, however, might be one and undivided, He put Peter at the head of the other Apostles, and in him set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion." (Lumen Gentium #18)

How come no other "Church" teaches this after the schism of the Easterners?

3) Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus wrote to Pope Leo I in the 5th century:

"If Paul, who was the herald of truth, the organ of the Holy Spirit, had recourse to the great Peter, in order to obtain a decision from him concerning the obeservance of the Law, for those who disputed at Antioch on this subject; with greater reason we, who are abject and weak, have recourse to your Apostolic Throne, that we may receive from you remedies for the wounds of the churches, for it is fit that in all things you should be first, since your Throne is adorned with many prerogatives."

of these prerogatives, Pope Nicholas I wrote to Emperor Michael in a.D. 863:

"the privileges of our See, which, received by Blessed Peter from God, and handed on to the Roman Church, are acknowledged and venerated by the Universal Church."

4) The 6th century Byzantine Emperor Justinian wrote to Patriarch Euphemius showing that orthodoxy meant communion with Rome stating that the Roman Pontiff was:

"the Head of all the most holy priests of God, and because as often in these parts heretics have arisen, it is by sentence of that venerable See that they have been brought to naught."

5) Speaking at the 3rd Ecumenical Council of the Church, the Council of Ephesus (431) which defined Mary as the Theotokos, the papal legate, the priest Philip stated:

"It is doubtful to no one, nay it has been known to all ages, that the holy and blessed Peter, the rince and Head of all the Apostles, the Pillar of the Faith, and the Foundation of the Catholic Church, received the Keys of the Kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, and that to him was given the power of binding and loosing sins, who, up to this time and always lives and exercises judgement in his successors. His successor therefore and Representative, our holy and most blessed Pope, Bishop Celestine, has sent us to this Synod to supply his place."

6) Pope St. Damasus (382):

"...We have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic churches spread abroad through the world compromise but one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Saviour who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound upon earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven'...The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf od blessed Peter, by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious marytrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt, before he came to Rome, and where the name Christian was first applied, as to a new people." (William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Liturgical Press, Collegevill, MN, Vol. I, pges 406-407)

7) Pope Boniface I (418-422 a.D.):

"Never was it lawful to discuss again any matter which had been decided by the Apostolic See." (Ep. 13)

"The institution of the universal nascent Church began from the honor bestowed on Blessed Peter, in whom its government and headship reside. For from him as its fountainhead did ecclesiastical discipline flow throughout all the churches, when now the culture of religion had begun to make progress. Nor the canons of Nicaea testify otherwise, inasmuch as they do not venture to make any regulations in his regard, seeing that nothing could be conferred that was superior to his own dignity, and knowing that all things had been given him by the words of Christ. It is certain, then, that this See stands, in relation to the churches spread over the whole world, as the Head is to its own members; from which Church whoso has cut himself off becomes an outcast from the Christian religion, since he has ceased to be in the same bonds of fellowship." (Ep. 14 to the Bishops of Thessaly)

8) Pope St. Leo the Great (440-441) [also venerated by the Eastern schismatics] wrote in his Sermon 4:

"...More profitable and more worthy by far it is to raise the mind's eye unto the contemplation of the most blessed Apostle Peter's glory, and to celebrate this day [the anniversary of his pontificate] in honor of him who was watered with streams so copious from the very fountain of all graces, that while nothing has passed to others without his participation, yet he received many special privileges of his own. The Word made flesh already was dwelling in us, and Christ had given up Himself whole to restore the race of man. Elements were obeying, spirits ministering, angels serving; it was impossible that mystery could fail of its effect, in which the Unity and the Trinity of the Godhead itself was at once working. And yet out of the whole world, Peter alone is chosen to preside over the calling of all the Gentiles, and over all the Apostles and the collected Fathers of the Church; so that though there be among the people of God many priests and many Shepherds, yet Peter rules by immediate commission, whom Christ also rules by sovereign power..."

9) Pope Clement of Rome:

"The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth ...But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." (1st Epistle to the Corinthians 1,59:1 [c.a.D. 96])

10) St. Ambrose:

"But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church?" (The death of Satyrus, 1:47 [a.D. 378])

"Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church the head of the whole Roman world and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all (churches) the bonds of sacred communion. " (To Emperor Gratian, Epistle 11:4 [a.D. 381])

11) Pope St. Gelasius (492-496 a.D.) in various letters:

"We do not hesitate to mention that which is known to the Universal Church, namely, that as the See of Blessed Peter the Apostle has the right to loose what has been bound by judgement of any bishops whatsoever, and since it has jurisdiction over every church, so that no one may pass judgement on its verdict, the canons providing that any appeal should lie to it from any part of the world, no one is permitted to appeak against its judgement...[This See] ratifies each Council by its authority, and safeguards it by its ceaseless oversight, in virtue of its leadership (principatu), which the Blessed Apostle Peter by the word of the Lord, and which by common agreement of the Church he has always possessed and still retains."

"...The Apostoloc See has frequently had occasion, as it has been said, by ancient custom, even without any previous council, both of absolving those whom a council had unfairly condemned and of condemning without the presence of a council those whom it ought to condemn."

"...The canons...ordered it [the Roman See] to give judgement relative to the whole Church, but itself to have recourse to the judgement of none."

12) To formally end the Acacian schism (which lasted 35 years, from 484-519 a.D.), the Eastern schismatics were made to sign a reunion formula drafted by Pope St. Hormisdas. This formula was signed by over 2000 Eastern Bishops seeking the reconciliation to the Catholic Church after the Acacian schism:

"The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the orthodox faith and to deviate in nothing from the laws of the Fathers. And one cannot pass in silence the affirmation of Our Lord Jesus Christ who says 'Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build My Church,' etc. may not be ignored is proved by the result: for it is in the Apostolic See that the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate. Not wishing therefore to separate ourselves from this hope and from this faith, following in everything the laws of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies [such heretics as Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Timothy the Cat, Peter Mongos, Acacius, and Peter of Antioch receive specific condemnation]...We receive and approve all the Letters written by Pope Leo I on the Christian religion, desiring to follow in everything, as we said, the Apostolic See; and proclaiming all its constitutions. I hope therefore to enter into communion with you representatives of the Apostolic See; it is there that the Christian religion finds its perfect solidity. I promise, then, that in future I will not recite in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is to say, those who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See."

In 519 a.D. the Patriarch of Constantinople John II and his suffragan bishops were reconciled to the See of Peter on the basis of the acceptance of this same formula.

13) St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430):

"Number the Bishops from the very See of Peter, and observe the succession of every father [bishop] in that order; it is the Rock against which the proud Gates of Hell prevail not." (Psalm contra partem Donati, str. 18)

"The Roman Church, in which the Primacy of the Apostolic See has always been in force." (Letter 43, 7)

"You insane Donatists whom we earnestly desire to return to the unity of the Holy Church...What has been done to you by the Chair of the Church at Rome in which Peter sat and from which you have severed yourselves in mad fury?" (Epist. LIV, Ad Januarium, c. 1, and Contra epistulas Petiliani, II, 51)

"Many things more justly hold me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. I am held by the consent of peoples and of nations; by that authority which began in miracles, was nourished by hope, was increased by charity, and made steadfast by age; by that succession of priests, down to the present Episcopate, from the Chair of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection entrusted His sheep to feed; finally the name of Catholic holds me, which, not without cause, amid so many heresies, that Church has alone retained in such sort, that whereas all heretics wish themselves to be called Catholics, nevertheless, to any stranger who asked, 'Where is the meeting of the Catholic Church held?' no heretic would dare to point out his own Basilica or house." (Contra. Epist. Fundam. Manich., n.5)

A material heretic wishing himself to be called and accepted as a "Catholic" is not uncommon. You will find Eastern Schismatics, Anglicans, even other new-age protestants refer to themselves as "Catholics"; but as has been demonstrated by the 13 examples, to be Catholic is to be in communion with the Apostolic See, the chair of Peter, the Pope.
There are certainly more examples that can be given in support of this truth, but I believe these 13 to suffice - considering the fact there is no orthodox argument to the contrary.

Now, all I need to show is that a Council has to be ratified by the Pope in order for its decrees to be valid, legitimate, binding on all the faithful of the Church.

II the validity of Ecumenical Councils and the Pope:

1) The fact that all Councils which ST claims to follow have been ratified by the Pope or their representatives gives ST no orthodox argument against the position of the Catholic Church.

2) see I, 5 (the statements of the papal legate Philip)

3) see I, 6: the Apostolic See enjoys supreme authority by Divine Right, not by conciliar decree

4) see I, 7 regarding the canons of the Council of Nicaea

5) the Council of Chalcedon:

"Bishop Paschasinus, guardian of the Apostolic See, stood in the midst [of the Council Fathers] and said, ' We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city [Pope Leo I], who is the head of all churches, which directions say that Dioscorus is not to be allowed to sit in the [present] assembly, but that if he should attempt to take his seat, he is to eb cast out. This instruction we must carry out." (Acts of the Council, session 1 [a.D. 451])

It is necessary to read the information provided in the following link as it shows how Pope St. Leo the Great - by virtue of being the Roman Pontiff, the Pope - refused to ratify "Canon 28" of the Council and thereby did not have any validity. This "Canon 28" was then struck out of the Conciliar decrees. This makes clear that conciliar decrees are not "valid" merely because a Council wrote them down, nay, they are valid only with the approval of the Pope.

Pope St. Leo the Great stated:
"Resolutions of bishops which are repugnant to the holy canons defined at Nicaea...we rescind and utterly annul by the authority of the blessed Apostle Peter, since in all ecclesiatical questions we defer to those laws which the Holy Ghost laid down through the three hundred and eighteen prelates, with a view to their peaceable observance by all bishops." (Epistle 105 to the Empress Pulcheria)

Another papal legate at the Council of Chalcedon, Lucentius, said without contradiction that Dioscorus "had dared to hold a council without the authority of the Apostolic See, which has never been done."

6) Greek historian Socrates wrote how Pope Julius (337-352) had charged Arianizing bishops with "the violation of the canons, neglecting to request his attendance at a Council, seeing thast, by ecclesiastical law, no decisions of churches are valid unless sanctioned by the Bishop of Rome."

7) Another Greek historian, Sozomen, noted that "he (Pope Julius) alleged that there is a sacerdotal canon, which declares that whatever is enacted contrary to the judgement of the Bishop of Rome is null."

8) Before the Council of Ephesus (431), Pope Celestine wrote to St. Cyril of Alexandria stating:

"Wherefore, assuming to yourself that authority of our See, and using our stead and place with your power (exousia), you will deliver this sentence with the utmost severity, that within ten days counted from the day of your notice, he (Nestorius) shall condemn in a written confession his evil teaching , and promise for the future to confess the faith concerning the birth of Christ our God which both the Church of Rome and that of your Holiness and the whole Christian religion preaches, forthwith your Holiness will provide for that church. And let him know that he is altogether removed from our body. We have written the same to our brothers and fellow-bishops, John, Rufus, and Flavian, whereby our judgment concerning him, yea, rather the divine judgement of Christ our Lord, may be manifest."

The answer of the Council to the directions from Rome was:

"...Being necessarily impelled thereto by the canons and by the letter of our most holy Father and colleague, Celestine, Bishop of the Roman church with many tears have arrived at the following sentence against him...this same Nestorius is deprived of the episcopal dignity and all sacerdotal intercourse."

Nestorius himself confessed in one of his final writings:

"It was the Bishop of Rome who was exercising the direction of the plotting of the Council of Ephesus against me." (Livre d'Heraclide, page 237)

9) St. Maximus the Confessor:

"How much more in the case of the clergyand church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter & Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issue in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her Pontificate...even as all these things are equally subject to her (the church of Rome) according to sacerdotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers (the Popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic church of Rome." (Maximus, in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10)

10) St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (759-826) wrote to Pope Leo III:

"Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred." (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)

"Let him (Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople) assemble a synod of those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that representatives of the other patriarchs should be present, a thing which might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch (the Roman Pope) to be present, to whom is given authority over an ecumenical synod; but let him make peace and union by sendign his synodical letters to the Prelate of the First See." (Theodore the Studite, Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)

11) St. Methodius (brother of St. Cyril, Apostle to the Slavs, contemporary of the anti-Catholic Photius) stated in c. 865 a.D.:

"Because of his primacy, the Pontiff of Rome is not required to attend an Ecumenical Council; but without his participation, manifested by sending some subordinates, every Ecumenical Council is as non-existent, for it is he who presides over the Council." (Methodius, in N. Brianchaninov, The Russian Church (1931), 46; cited by Butler, Church and Infallibility, 210) (Upon This Rock (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999) p. 177)

12) The 6th Nicene Canon and the Papacy:

We have therefore now established two main points:
a) for someone to be orthodox, i.e. Catholic, it is necessary to be in communion with the Chair of Peter, that is to say , with the Bishop of the Apostolic See, Rome.
b) the validity of Ecumenical Councils depend upon the approval of the Roman Pontiff, thus it is the Chair of Peter which is the fountain, i.e. the source, of orthodoxy.

In accordance to point "b", Lumen Gentium, a Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council states:
"There never is an Ecumenical Council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's Successor. And it is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke such Councils, to preside over them and to confirm them." (Lumen Gentium #22)

While the Catholic Church in communion with Peter's Successors has continued to have Ecumenical Councils to - as evident in Tradition - combat the heresies of the ages and to uphold the orthodox faith, one may ask when the last time the Eastern Orthodox Churches convoked an Ecumenical Council and by whose authority? What of the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the evangelicals, etc.?
They all cannot be the Catholic Church for the simple reason that they have all defected from the unity cathedrae Petri, of the Chair of Peter. Since - as stated by the famous words of St. Ambrose: "Where Peter is, there is the Church."

What is then to be said of all those who refuse to return to the unity of the Chair of Peter, the unity of the Catholic Church? What is to be said of all schismatics?

St. Augustine of Hippo:
"There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism...There can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the Church...To start a schism from the unity of Christ, or to be in schism, is an immense evil." (contra Epistulam Parmeniani, II, 2; Contra Cresconium, II, 1, 5)

St. Irenaeus:
"The spiritual disciple will judge also those that work schisms; who are devoid of the love of God, considering their own advantage than the unity of the Church; and who for slight and trivial causes, rend and divide the great glorious Body of the Christ, and as far as in them lies, bring it to nothing. They speak peace, but work war; a straining indeed at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. No correction they can effect will compensate for the injury which arises from schism." (Ad Haereses 4, 33:7)

Now that we have established this, one may point to the necessity of being in communion with the Roman Pontiff.

Every Christian should know the traditional axiom "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus", outside the Church there is no salvation.

As St. Augustine of Hippo said:
"Salvation no one can have but in the Catholic Church. Out of the Catholic Church, he may have anything but salvation. He may have honor, he may have Baptism, he may have the Gospel, he may both believe and preach in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; but he can find salvation nowhere but in the Catholic Church." (Sermo ad Caesariens. De Emerit.)

And St. Iraenaeus:
The Church "is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them...we hear it declared of the unbelieving and the blinded of this world that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come...Resist them in defense of the only true and life giving faith, which the Church has received from the Apostles and imparted to her sons." (Ad Haereses III [a.D. 202])

Thus, by Sacred Tradition, we know that it is necessary to be Catholic to attain life eternal.
Wherefore the Second Vatican Council declared:
"Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ, would refuse to enter her or to remain in her could not be saved." (Lumen Gentium #14)
This does not mean that one will be saved without being a Catholic when one is not convinced that Catholicism is the true religion while knowing of the Catholic Church.
The same Dogmatic Constitution explains the possible exception:
"those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience." (Lumen Gentium #16)

We can therefore conclude that "it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Pope Boniface VIII, Papal Bull "Unam Sanctam")

"...It is a perfectly well-known Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. and that those who are contumacious against its authority and the definitions of that same Church, and those who are pertinaciously divided from that unity of the same Church and from Peter's Successor, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the custody of the Vineyard has been committed by the Saviour, cannot obtain salvation." (Blessed Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidam)

To conclude, a couple words in addition:

It is well-known that not few schismatics have ventured to the task of misrepresenting the Church Fathers, trying to take certain quotes and statements out of context in order to justify their heresies and schisms. One thing remains clear though: while the Fathers' statements can be understood perfectly in light of Catholic tradition, the heretical views would propose the notion that either the Fathers were schizophrenic or they were highly inconsistent theologians.
Apparently, the Church Fathers were Catholic.

And now to ST. I have done what I was asked to do. I have offered - to my judgement - sufficient evidence for the truth about what it means to be an orthodox Christian, a Catholic.
I believe that the only way one could still refuse conversion is by simply ignoring all this without a good basis for one's own ideas, or to acknowledge this truth, but still reject it.

Let us then ask the Lord - through the intercession of the most blessed Mother of God, the Virgin Mary - to grant the schismatics - especially ST - the grace needed for their conversion that they too may possess the solid hope for life eternal.

1 Kommentar:

  1. I see that you cited Maximus the Confessor. I am wondering why you left out his refusal at the end of his life at his trial to take communion with Rome unless Rome professed the right faith. Why was this not included?