Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2010

the Church is one

This entry is meant for all those who are seeking the Church of Christ, His Bride, and are becoming frustrated over the large number of different Christian Churches and communities. I can understand how appealing it may be to simply suspend the search for the "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" thinking that the division caused by the various groups is one that is against God's Will. I agree that division in Christianity goes against the very Will of God, and every Christian ought to be seeking to do that which is willed by God. So what is one supposed to do?

Let us begin with the very words of Christ Jesus:

"And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are." (John 17:11)

Jesus here declares that He will return to His Father in heaven, and then prays for the unity of Christians, for the unity of His Church. This prayer actually deserves a great deal of attention since Jesus also elaborates on the meaning of the unity He spoke of. He wants Christians to be one as He and the Father are one. This concept of unity stands at the very heart of ecclesiology. The Son is united to the Father in a real sense: these two persons are but one God along with the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, the unity proposed here is a real one that connects the one necessarily to the other. This unity is so perfect that Jesus said that "the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (John 10:38). Though distinct persons, one is in the other and vice-versa.

We can say that anyone seeking the Church of Christ is confronted with two main ideas:

a) that the Church of Christ is visible and that her unity is also visible
b) that the Church of Christ is invisible and that her unity also is invisible

The former idea is what is taught by Apostolic Churches (the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches), while the latter is the theory that developped following the protestant "reformation" (this idea is held by protestants including Anglicans).

Now, if we understand the Church to be the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:24; Colossians 1:18), then we must understand the unity to be visible, not invisible. The reason for this is that Christ had only one Body and His Body was visibly one. In a way we can say that the answer to the question about the correct ecclesiology is not given "by Jesus", but is Jesus Himself. In this sense, we must understand His claim of being the truth (John 14:6). He does not only speak truth, but He Himself is the truth.

St. Paul asked those who had caused troubles to the visible unity of the Church the following question:

"Is Christ divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:13)

And later declared:

"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)

So the Incarnation is the model for the Church. The Church must be understood as an extension of the Incarnation. Each individual Christian is part of one body - the Church - with each part being united to every other. There is not a single member that is not united to another. For this would mean that the body lost its organic unity. "So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).

The statement of every one member of the Church being member of another should be understood in relation to the statement that Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Him. Which ecclesiological teaching makes more sense? The one which postulates a real, visible unity in which every member of the Church is in communion with every other. Or is it the "invisible Church theory" whose members are not in communion with each other and wherein Christians may freely disagree on doctrinal matters, not being of "one mind"?

We already have the next keyword: communion. This is very important because the Church is a Eucharistic communion. The very unity of the Church as being the body of Christ Jesus is effected through the participation in the Mystery of Holy Communion. Hence St. Paul writes:

"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are, one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

So by participating in the communion of the blood of Christ and the partaking of the one bread which is the body of the Lord, we Christians become one body, the body of Christ. If however a person denies that the consecrated bread and wine he partakes of are not the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then he - by his own error - condemns himself. And those who do not think that bread and wine need be validly consecrated to become the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ will then have to accept that they are uniting themselves to nothing other than bread and wine - not to Christ Jesus.
At this point let us remember that those who have broken the line of Apostolic Succession are left without valid sacraments and thus are unable to participate in the Mystery of Holy Communion: this would exclude all protestants including Anglicans from this Divine Mystery.
And if then all protestants are excluded from this, is it still then reasonable to take into account their theory about the "invisibly united Church"?

It is because of this that the members of the Church must be in communion with each other, otherwise we would be left with a schism-riddled "invisible Church". That such a notion is wrong, one can demonstrate easily. Most Anglicans will admit that prior to 1054 a.D. the Catholic Church was visibly one (for some reason, they do not include Arians, Nestorians, Donatists, Montanists, Monophysites, etc. to their theory of the invisibly united Church). Then, after the schism between East and West and after the protestant "reformation", all of the sudden, the Church of Christ consists of members that are all part of the one Church, but who need not be in communion with each other, i.e. the one Church is made up of mutually exclusive members.

Is this possible? Such a theory can be examined well by using an analogy. Let us for instance take the state of Czechoslovakia. In the past there existed a state named Czechoslovakia. However, this state was then destroyed. Out of it became the two states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Does the state of Czechoslovakia still exist? No. Likewise, the case with the Empire of Austria-Hungary. After World War I, it no longer existed. What does this mean with regards to the Church? This means that if we claim that the Church was once visibly united and this unity ended, then we are left with a Church no longer existing. And this conclusion would certainly contradict the words of Him who cannot lie, since He promised to His Church that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

One could raise an objection though, that Christianity is no longer united. This is true, but this is true also before the schism of 1054 which was not the first schism to divide Christianity. What then is the explanation? The explanation is simple: that the division does not affect the Church: schisms do not divide the Catholic Church, but schisms separate Christians (in the wider sense of the term) from the Church. If the Church herself is divided, then the gates of hell have overpowered her. Instead we must affirm that those who are not in communion with us, are not in communion with the Church of Christ either; they have left the communion of the Church. This is true of the Arian and the Nestorian, as it is true of the Albigensian and the Anglican, and it is also true of the Monophysite and the Eastern Orthodox and any other schismatic.

If one can agree with this, then one has already reduced the list of possible ways to only three groups: the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Since the Oriental Orthodox broke communion with the Patriarchal Sees of the Church, we can safely say that theirs is not the Church of Christ. Furthermore, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians remained in communion with each other and faithful to the Ecumenical Councils of the Church after the Orientals had broken away from the union of the Church.

This now leaves us with two possibilities: the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy. Both Churches claim to have preserved the true faith and to be the "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" of Christ. So which is it? It may perhaps help to take a look at the tradition of the ancients when problems arose. What was the test to show that one was in communion with the Catholic Church? That either of these two is not in communion with the other is apparent: there is a schism. Thus, one of the two must be in grave error.

Let us recall the words of St. Cyprian:

"Do they think that Christ will be with them when they are gathered up, who are gathered outside the Church of Christ?...He is no martyr who is not in the Church....They cannot remain with God who will not be of one mind in the Church of God." (De catholicae ecclesiae unitate, 13-14 [C.S.E.L. III, 222])

So what was the test of communion? How could one know if one was actually in the Church of Christ? Ancient testimony points to the the Petrine See, that See of the Bishop of Rome. If one was in communion with this See, one was considered a Catholic; if not, one was considered to be a foreign body.

Thus St. Cyprian stated:

"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])
In like manner St. Optatus of Milevis wrote:

"You cannot deny that you know that the episcopal throne was set up by Peter in the city of Rome ... in which one throne the unity is kept by all, that the other apostles might not each set up his own, that he would be a schismatic and a sinner who should set up another against the one throne." (Opt. Mil. II, 2 [C.S.E.L.XXVI, p. 36])

It is because of this that the Catholic Church teaches in Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium the following:

"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)

Pope Boniface I (481-422) taught:

"It is therefore certain that this Church [the Roman see] is to the Churches throughout the world as the head to its members. If anyone cut himself off from this Church, not being in union with her, he is outside the Christian religion." (Ep. XIV, episcopis per Thessaliam [PL XX, 777 B])

Because of this St. Ambrose wrote:

"He sent for the bishop, nor did he think any grace true save that of the true faith, so he asked whether he was in communion with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church." (De excessu fratris sui Satyri, I, 47 [PL XVI, 1306])

That communion with the Holy See is the test for one's Catholicity is also expressed by St. Jerome who wrote a letter to Pope St. Damasus during the Meletian troubles at Antioch:

"I speak with the successor of the fisherman and the disciple of the cross. I, who follow none but Christ as first, am joined in communion with Your Holiness, that is with the See of Peter. On this rock I know that the Church was built. Whoever eats the lamb outside this house is profane. Whoever is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the deluge comes. I know nothing of Vitalis, I defy Meletius, I care nothing for Paulinus. Whoever does not gather with you scatters; for whoever does not belong to Christ is of Antichrist." (Ep XV, ad Damasum, 2 [PL XXII, 355-356])

When we consider that the Holy See was the fountain of unity and of all ecclesiastical authority, the words of St. Ambrose become easily understandable:

"Where Peter is, there is the Church; were the Church is, there is no death, but eternal life." (Enarr. in Ps. XL, no.30 [PL XIV, 1082])

All examples I have used come from the time before the schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Christians. There are indeed many more examples, but the ones I cited should be enough to demonstrate what special role Rome has played in the life of the Church of Christ. Of the two remaining possibilities - the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy - only one is still in communion with the Petrine See of which St. Theodore of Studium declared:

"I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Supreme See (Rome), in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal (Pope St. Paschal I) rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter." (Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63).

And I end this entry with a simple reminder:

Pope St. Agatho wrote the following in a letter to Emperor Constantinus Pogonatus (the first part is incorporated in the Acts of the 6th Ecumenical Council):

"Sancti quidem Doctores venerati atque secuti (Apostolicam Sedem); haeretici autem falsis criminationibus ac derogationum odiis insecuti."

"The holy Doctors have always held it (the Apostolic See) in reverence and clung to it; while heretics have ever persecuted it with their slanderous falsehoods and hateful calumnies." (Mansi, tom. xi. Col. 239)

May God enlighten the reader to find his way to His Church, the Catholic Church.

Montag, 18. Januar 2010

response to Apologist117, II

This entry will discuss Apologist117's second video response to my essays on orthodoxy.

my comments will be in black
Apologist117's statements in red
quotations from other sources in blue

Apologist117 claims that canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon was accepted by the Catholic Church:

"Following in every way the decrees of the holy fathers and recognising the canon which has recently been read out--the canon of the 150 most devout bishops who assembled in the time of the great Theodosius of pious memory, then emperor, in imperial Constantinople, new Rome -- we issue the same decree and resolution concerning the prerogatives of the most holy church of the same Constantinople, new Rome. The fathers rightly accorded prerogatives to the see of older Rome, since that is an imperial city; and moved by the same purpose the 150 most devout bishops apportioned equal prerogatives to the most holy see of new Rome, reasonably judging that the city which is honoured by the imperial power and senate and enjoying privileges equalling older imperial Rome, should also be elevated to her level in ecclesiastical affairs and take second place after her. The metropolitans of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, but only these, as well as the bishops of these dioceses who work among non-Greeks, are to be ordained by the aforesaid most holy see of the most holy church in Constantinople. That is, each metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses along with the bishops of the province ordain the bishops of the province, as has been declared in the divine canons; but the metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the archbishop of Constantinople, once agreement has been reached by vote in the usual way and has been reported to him."

Rome's primacy is not based on a theological premise, but on a political situation. Roman primacy is not "de jure divino". The Councils conferred upon Rome her privileges.

with regards to the claims against the de jure divino character of the Papacy:

"Since then, beloved, we see such a protection Divinely granted to us (the Pope), reasonably and justly do we rejoice in the merits and dignity of our founder, rendering thanks to the eternal King, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, for having given so great a power to him (Peter) whom He made Chief of the whole Church, that if anything, even in our time, be rightly done and rightly ordered by us (the Pope), it is to be ascribed to his working, to his guidance, unto who it was said, 'And thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren'' ....To him, therefore, let us ascribe this anniversary day of us his servant, and this festival, by whose patronage we have been thought worthy to share his Seat itself, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ sustaining us in all things, Who liveth and reigneth with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 4 Gaudeo, dilectissimi)

"For the government of the Apostolic See (Rome), engaged without ceasing in the care of the whole flock of the Lord, which care was delegated to the blessed Peter by the voice of our Savior Himself, 'And thou, converted, confirm thy brethren,' we (the Pope) neither can nor ought to dissemble such things as constrain our solicitude." (Pope St. Gelasius, Epist. v. ad. Honorium Dalmat. Episc.)

With regards to the claim that the primacy of the Roman Church is rooted in Rome's being an "imperial city", I would address the readers to the videos of Theologica37 on youtube who has already refuted Apologist117's false claims.

His videos regarding Apologist117 (I highly recomment watching all three):

Apologist117 claims that canon 28 was kept by the Patriarch of Constantinople thus rendering the ratification of canons by the Roman Pontiff in order for these to be valid and universally binding null and void. We are confronted with the following problem:

What then makes a Council ecumenical?

Eastern Orthodox theologians have two common answers (there is no unity as to what really IS the answer in the East): receptionism and pentarchial ratification.

If Apologist117 wishes to side with receptionism theory, which teaches that the decrees of a Council must be accepted by all the faithful before it can be considered ecumenical and thus universally binding, then he is forced to admit that canon 28 is to be rendered null and void since the Westeern portion of the Church did not accept it. Furthermore, there are enough Easterners who rejected this canon as well: thus following the rightful authority of the head of the Church, the Pope (more to this later).

If, however, Apologist117 wishes to side with pentarchial ratification, which teaches that a council that is ratified and accepted by all 5 patriarchs of the Church is to be considered ecumenical and thus universally binding, then his position with regards to canon 28 still fails since the "Western Patriarch", the Roman Pontiff, rejected this particular canon.

Either way, Apologist117 cannot claim any validity to canon 28: it is - as the Pope has already taught in the past - to be rejected.

The Council itself clearly identified the Pope as the visible head of the Catholic Church:

You are set as an interpreter to all of the voice of blessed Peter, and to all you impart the blessings of that Faith. -- Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

For if where two or three are gathered together in His name He has said that there He is in the midst of them, must He not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him ...Of whom you were Chief, as Head to the members, showing your good will. -- Chalcedon to Pope Leo (Repletum est Gaudio), November 451

Besides all this, he (Dioscorus) extended his fury even against him who had been charged with the custody of the vine by the Savior. We refer to Your Holiness. -- Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

You have often extended your Apostolic radiance even to the Church of Constantinople. -- Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

Knowing that every success of the children rebounds to the parents, we therefore beg you to honor our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded agreement to the Head in noble things, so may the Head also fulfill what is fitting for the children. -- Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

Especially the last quotation sounds odd when it comes to Apologist117's idea that "Rome is subject to Councils".

Let us refer to the Greek historian Socrates (I am quoting from my essays on Orthodoxy - portions which Apologist117 seemed to have ignored and which I have already stated cannot be reconciled with the schismatic ideas of Eastern Orthodoxy) who 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."

Indeed Rome is bound to the faith as much as any Catholic is. However, the authority which grants a Council its ecumenical character flows from Rome. Thus, we cannot say that a Council stands above Rome - so as to claim that Rome may be forced to accept what is against its definitive teachings by any Synod not enjoying its sanction.

Let us continue with canon 28. Pope St. Leo the Great ( a Saint greatly venerated also in the East ) said the following on the issue:

"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)

Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople - after hearing of the Pope's decision - wrote an apology to Pope St. Leo the Great:

"As for those things which the universal Council of Chalcedon recently ordained in favor of the church of Constantinople, let Your Holiness be sure that there was no fault in me, who from my youth have always loved peace and quiet, keeping myself in humility. It was the most reverend clergy of the church of Constantinople who were eager about it, and they were equally supported by the most reverend priests of those parts, who agreed about it. Even so, the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness. Therefore, let Your Holiness know for certain that I did nothing to further the matter, knowing always that I held myself bound to avoid the lusts of pride and covetousness." -- Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Leo, Ep 132 (on the subject of canon 28 of Chalcedon).

Did Apologist117 not claim that the Constantinopolitan Patriarch enforced canon 28? He admits here that the canon relies upon the ratification of the Pope.

So, the matter was settled; and, for the next 6 centuries, all Eastern churches speak of only 27 canons of Chalcedon -- the 28th Canon being rendered null and void by Rome's "line item veto." This is supported by all the Greek historians, such as Theodore the Lector (writing in 551 AD), John Skolastikas (writing in 550 AD), Dionysius Exegius (also around 550 AD); and by Roman Popes like Pope St. Gelasius (c. 495) and Pope Symmachus (c. 500) -- all of whom speak of only 27 Canons of Chalcedon.

To add more to the repudiation of Apologist117's false ideas, one ought to be reminded that papal supremacy need not even be right for Apologist117 to be wrong. He - as often pointed out by Theologica37 - clearly departed from the very tradition of his Church in order to make any case against the Papacy. He basically has promoted a canon to the level of universal validity whilst contradicting the two most common theories regarding the ecumenicity of Councils to be found in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Let us continue with yet another claim:

Canon 28 was accepted in the 2nd Council of Lyons (a.D. 1274)

II Lyons was the first of two Councils to effect a temporary reunion between the East and the West. We must remember that both unions lead to the East accepting the doctrinal teachings of the West as being truly orthodox.

I found nowhere in the Constitutions of II Lyons any evidence for the claim that canon 28 was ratified by the Pope. What one can find however is the following:

1. On the supreme Trinity and the catholic faith{5}

1. We profess faithfully and devotedly that the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle; not by two spirations, but by one single spiration. This the holy Roman church, mother and mistress of all the faithful, has till now professed, preached and taught; this she firmly holds, preaches, professes and teaches; this is the unchangeable and true belief of the orthodox fathers and doctors, Latin and Greek alike. But because some, on account of ignorance of the said indisputable truth, have fallen into various errors, we, wishing to close the way to such errors, with the approval of the sacred council, condemn and reprove all who presume to deny that the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, or rashly to assert that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and not as from one.

The Council brought about a mutual understanding on the doctrine of the Filioque (which is also contained int he Athanasian Creed that was not disputed by any orthodox Christian prior to the ramblings of Eastern polemicists).

Apologist117 then procceds by claiming that St. Meletius and St. John Chrysostom both were not in communion with Rome. This topic, I have already addressed in my first response to Apologist117's video series. One might consider the following implications of such a claim for Apologist117 though:

1) One must remember the claims of Apologist117 which include the idea that St. Cyprian was right in his rejection of the Pope's teaching with regards to "heretical baptism", i.e. the validity of baptism conferred by Non-Catholics. Thus, Apologist117 claims that only the Orthodox have the power of validly conferring any sacrament. The problem here is the fact that St. Meletius was ordained by Arians and this fact gives rise to problems not for Catholics, but for the Eastern Orthodox. I have already stated in my essays that the stubborn anti-Catholic position will inevitably lead to one that is absurd when seen as a whole.

2) Apologist117's argumentation also seems to rely upon the presupposition that the Church can be "visibly one"/"united" whilst the Pentarchial Sees are not even in communion with each other. But to be within the Church means to be in communion with the orthodox believers(in terms of belonging, not of any disciplinary measure such as excommunication placing a sinner outside the possibility of communicating). How can one then justify a claim that endorses an ecclesiology in which the members claimings to be of the same Church are not even in communion with each other? It makes even less sense when one understands the Church as being a Eucharistic Union - a teaching that we find in the epistle of St. Paul, the Apostle, to the Corinthians. Apologist117 in this case sounds more like a protestant, an Anglican, than as an Orthodox Christian. This perhaps is caused by his usage of mainly Anglican and other protestant sources.

"The Pope was neither invited, nor informed of the 2nd Ecumenical Council held in 381 a.D."

I have addressed this issue already in my first response.

When speaking of the Fathers of I Constantinople, Apologist117 stated: "they did not believe in the modern heresy of Papal Supremacy".

He forgets that what he condemns as "modern heresy" is a) not "modern", nor is it b) a "heresy". The examples cited in my two essays should suffice - eventhough they are but a small portion of the evidence available. Furthermore, if Apologist117 wishes to portray himself as someone faithful to the tradition of the living Church, then I hope we agree that the first Ecumenical Councils were held in response to heresies which were to be formally identified as such and universally condemned. With that in mind, I ask myself which Ecumenical Council has ever declared the doctrine of the Papacy to be a heresy? Who is he or any Eastern perlate to define what is universally bindung upon the people of God? Is this not actually a claim similar to infalliblity and supremacy? In fact, Eastern Orthodoxy is suffering from "arrested development", while the Catholic Church has continuously convoked Ecumenical Councils.

"The 7th Ecumenical Council was de facto presided over by Patriarch Tarasius of Constantinople. It did not ask for papal confirmation."

"The convocation of the council was announced to Pope Hadrian I (772-795) in a letter of Constantine VI and Irene, dated 29 August 784. They urged him either to attend in person or to send legates. Patriarch Tarasius sent the same message in synodal letters to the pope and the three eastern patriarchs. Pope Hadrian I gave his approval for the convocation of the council, stipulating various conditions, and sent as his legates the archpriest Peter and Peter, abbot of the Greek monastery of St Sabas in Rome."

Contrary to what Apologist117 postulates, the Roman Pontiff indeed was informed of the convocation of the Council which enjoyed his approval.

St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (758-828) in his Great Apology:

"This Synod [the 7th Ecumenical Council which condemned the Iconoclasts in 787] possesses the highest fact, it was held in the most legitimate and regular fashion conceivable, because according to the divine rules established from the beginning it was directed and presided over by the glorious portion of the Western Church, I mean by the church of Ancient Rome. Without them [the Romans], no dogma is discussed in the Church, even sanctioned in preliminary fashion by the canons and ecclesiastical usages, can be considered to be approved or abrogated, for they are the ones, in fact, who have been endowed in order to fulfill the function of guide in the priesthood and we have given them the credit due to those among the Apostles and the Coryphaei [SS. Peter and Paul]." (James Likoudis, The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy, Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church, pp. 117)

Let us consider the background story to II Nicaea:

A recommendation to summon an ecumenical council, in order to correct the iconoclast heretics, had been addressed to Empress Irene, then acting as regent for her son Emperor Constantine VI (780-797) who was still a minor, both by Patriarch Paul IV of Constantinople (who had repented of his earlier iconoclast views) before his abdication from the see in 784 and by his successor as patriarch, Tarasius. The aim was to unite the church and to condemn the decrees passed by the council of 338 bishops held at Hiereia and St Mary of Blachernae in 754.

The Pope was already informed about the synod of Hiereia beforehand. St. Theodore of Studium wrote the following to Pope Leo III:

"Since it is to great Peter that Christ our God gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and entrusted the dignity of the chief of the flock, it is to Peter, that is to say, his successor, that one ought to submit every innovation which is made in the Catholic Church by those who would turn aside from the truth. That is what we humble and lowly monks have learnt from the ancient Fathers...I borrow now the cry of the Coryphaeus of the Apostles, calling Christ to his succour whent he waves of the sea were risen up, and I say to your Blessedness who art the Representative of Christ, 'O First 'Shepherd of the Church which is under heaven', save us now, we perish. Imitate the Christ, your Master, stretch out your hand to your Church as He stretched out His hand to Peter. Peter began to sink in the waves, while our Church is still once more submerged in the depths of heresy. Emulate, we beg you, the great Pope whose name you bear [Pope St. Leo the Great], and just as he on the appearance of the Eutychian heresy, stood erect spirituallyas a lion with his dogmatic letters, so in your turn (I dare say it because of your name) roar divinely, or rather send forth your thunders against the present heresy. For, if they, usurping an authority which does not belong to them, have dared to convene an heretical Council [that of Hieria with 338 bishops]. While those who following ancient custom, have not even the right of convoking an orthodox one without your knowledge, it seems absolutely necessary, we dare say it to you, that your divine Primacy should call together a lawful Council, so that the Catholic dogma may drive away heresy and neither your Primacy may be anathematized with all the orthodox by these new voices without authority, nor that wills evilly disposed may find in this adulterous Council an excuse for being involved in sin. It is in order to obey your divine authority as Chief Pastor that we have set forth these things as it befitted our nothingness, we the lest members of the Curch. (James Likoudis, The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy, Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church, pp. 115-116)

St. Theodore the Studite notes that the Pope is the supreme Pastor of the Church, that this rank is by divine institution, i.e. de jure divino, and that it is the Pope's prerogative to grant Councils their validity.

And here a letter of St. Theodore of Studium to Emperor Michael:

"I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Surpreme See (Rome), in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal (Pope St. Paschal I) rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter." (Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63).

To him then, the idea that Rome would "fall into heresy" and that the papacy itself would defect was unimaginable since Rome being the fountain of ecclesiastical unity was granted first and above all others the promise of indefectibility. We here have an example of tradition that is rejected by modern Eastern Orthodoxy through the postulation of an ecclesiology in which the Petrine See no longer is orthodox. How one can justify this heretical innovation is beyond my understanding.

Apologist117 continues his video by pointing to the Council of Constantinple held in 754 a.D. and stating that this Council was held without the participation of the Pope - either by himself or through legates. I am not sure what Apologist117 was planning to demonstrate here. This Council is not considered to have any authority, it is a Conciliabulum, an irregular and heretical Council, thus without any validity nor authority. Perhaps he (Apologist117) did not realize that this example does not at all speak against the Papacy.

Ending his video, he points to the Council of Frankfurt convoked and presided over by Charlemagne. I find it very difficult to see how this could serve as any argument against the Papacy. First it was wrong since it defied the canoncs of the 7th Ecumenical Council. Apologist117 concludes from Charlemagne's behaviour that Papal Primacy thus must be wrong since Charlemagne cared not about the 7th Ecumenical Council. But would not the same be true with regards to all orthodox Catholic prelates? Further we could even say that Charlemagne cared little about the authority of an Ecumenical Council. Considering this, it would be foolish to use his conciliabulim at Frankfurt as somewhat an example of "Christian orthodoxy against the false claims of the Papal Supremacy". With that said, I simply reject this "argument".

Already after the first two responses, I would like to remind those seeking the truth to not forget to examine the "overall picture" presented by either party. We cannot but notice Apologist117's arguments falling apart for a couple reasons: his arguments borrowed mainly from protestants are incompatible with Eastern Orthodox theology, he either diminishes or totally ignores evidence pointing to a clear primacy of the Roman Pontiff, he makes false claims, and last but not least: the overall picture does not work at all.

It also seems to me that Apologist117 may be implying in some of his videos that the fact that Councils were convoked by Emperors or that other prelates other than the papal legates presided over Councils have to be viewed as arguments against the divine prerogatives of the Bishop of Rome.

Fr. Adrian Fortescue explained the matter at hand:

"What it comes to in practice is this: the Bishop of Rome is the right person to take the lead in any common action of the whole Church; particularly it is his right to summon a general council, to preside at it, either himself or by his legate, and to confirm its decisions. But this does not mean that he has always done each of these things. To say that a man has a right does not mean that he has always used his right. There have been council, afterward recognized by as ecumenical, that were not summoned by the Pope. Our point of view, in this case, is that the Pope should have been summoned, if the council were intended to be ecumenical; but then the Pope accepted what had happened and by so doing made up all irregularity in the summons." (Adrian Fortescue, fourth edition edited by Alcuin Reid, "The Early Papacy to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451", pp 40-41)

Thus, though the Pope has the right to convoke, preside over and confirm Ecumenical Councils, he is not required to always make use of the first two rights. A Council lacking his ratification, however, cannot be considered ecumenical at all.

Here I end my second response.

God bless and peace to all.

Donnerstag, 7. Januar 2010

response to Apologist117, I

This will be the first of a series of entries dealing with Apologust117's critique of my two essays on Orthodoxy.

I will type in Apologist117's claims in red and then address them. Quotations from other sources will be in blue.

Bishop Hosius of Cordova was not a papal legate. He was the president of the Council. This is not to be expected if the authority of the Popes is true. Hosius did not represent the bishop of Rome.


"When the Council of Nicæa met, Hosius presided, together with the two Roman priests Vitus and Vincent. In what capacity he presided is a matter much discussed: Gelasius of Cyzicus [5th century writer from Asia Minor] is categorical in declaring that it was in the name of the pope (Hist. Nic. Conc., Bk. II, c. v). Hefele is of the same opinion. Chapman holds that he was nominated by Constantine. Leclercq inclines to the same opinion, but leaves the question open. After the council, Hosius probably returned to Spain."


"The actual president seems to have been Hosius of Cordova, assisted by the pope's legates, Victor and Vincentius."

Indeed it appears that Hosius of Cordova presided over the council in terms of leading it. However, the claim that a Council depends on Papal authority for its ecumenicity is not at all addressed by any of Apologist117's claims. The simple fact that papal legates attended this Ecumenical Council assisting the president speaks for this.

At the Council of Nicaea, the bishop of Rome was not even present.

"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)

Papal legates were present in this Council as admitted by Apologist117 himself.

The First Council of Constantinople was held without the knowledge of the Pope (Pope St. Damasus).

"No copy of the council's doctrinal decisions, entitled tomos kai anathematismos engraphos (record of the tome and anathemas), has survived. So what is presented here is the synodical letter of the synod of Constantinople held in 382, which expounded these doctrinal decisions, as the fathers witness, in summary form: namely, along the lines defined by the council of Nicaea, the consubstantiality and coeternity of the three divine persons against the Sabellians, Anomoeans, Arians and Pneumatomachi, who thought that the divinity was divided into several natures; and the enanthropesis (taking of humanity) of the Word, against those who supposed that the Word had in no way taken a human soul. All these matters were in close agreement with the tome that Pope Damasus and a Roman council, held probably in 378, had sent to the East."

"The ecumenical character of this council seems to date, among the Greeks, from the Council of Chalcedon (451). According to Photius (Mansi, III, 596) Pope Damasus approved it, but if any part of the council were approved by this pope it could have been only the aforesaid creed. In the latter half of the fifth century the successors of Leo the Great are silent as to this council. Its mention in the so-called "Decretum Gelasii", towards the end of the fifth century, is not original but a later insertion in that text (Hefele). Gregory the Great, following the example of Vigilius and Pelagius II, recognized it as one of the four general councils, but only in its dogmatic utterances (P.G., LXXVII, 468, 893)."

How could Pope St. Damasus approve of something he had no knowledge of?

And here another quite intriguing aspect about I Constantinople:

"The Acts of the council have almost entirely disappeared, and its proceedings are known chiefly through the accounts of the ecclesiastical historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret."

Let me quote these two Greek historians regarding early Church customs:

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."

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."

Thus both of these historians whom we owe much information about I Constantinople were aware of the claim of papal ratification being necessary with regards to ecclesiastical matters.
Are we aware of revolts from orthodox Catholic prelates?

"Saint Meletius was not in communion with Rome." (claim from Fr. Puller's "De Sacerdotio")

To this claim let us consider the following:

1) Saint Meletius was consecrated by Arians. I am not sure whether Apologist117 belongs to the Eastern Orthodox who accept the validity of sacraments conferred by those they deem to be "heretics". If I recall correctly, Apologist117 once sided with St. Cyprian's wrong opinion that baptism conferred by heretics is invalid. By the same logic, the consecration of Saint Meletius would then be invalid and this would thus harm his claim to the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch.

2) Saint Meletius and Saint John Chrysostom (ordained by the former as a deacon) were both in communion with Rome. Neither the former, nor the latter was excommunicated by the Holy See. Furthermore, I am not aware of any official decree cutting off either from communion with the Holy See. With regards to the latter, his cordial interaction with the Holy See is historically evident.

3) Saint Meletius himself claimed to be in communion in Rome: both he and Paulinus sought to obtain the recognition of Pope St. Damasus to the exclusion of the other party. This thus is hardly evidence against the Primacy of Rome, but rather for it. (Grumel; Echos D'Orient (1922), p.291)

4) The Pope was misled and misinformed during this period of troubles in the Catholic Church. He got his information from Alexandrian sources: Alexandria with St. Athanasius also favoured Paulinus over Saint Meletius. St. Basil the Great voices his anger over such misinformation in his letter to his friend, Eusebius of Samosata (P.G. xxxii, 893. Ep. 239. But cf. Ep. 69 and 265.)

5) for more information on the so-called "Meletian schism", I suggest reading the following:

"The Eastern Churches and the Papacy" by the Rev. S. Herbert Scott

6) We see in the example of the "Meletian Schism" a prime example of when the meddling of secular powers into ecclesiastical domain can have two effects: positive and negative. The same Constantine who banished Arius in 325 a.D. also banished the Catholic Patriarch Eustathius 5 years later: an event which stood at the beginning of the events leading to the "Meletian schism".

(Council of Ephesus) St. Cyril of Alexandria did not represent the Pope.

Indeed St. Cyril of Alexandria was not a papal legate. It was not my intention to make this claim. Rather, what I meant by "representing the Pope" was that St. Cyril of Alexandria communicated with Pope Celestine I. prior to the convocation of the Council to deal with the heresy of Nestorius. This is the letter sent by Pope Celestine I. To St. Cyril of Alexandria:

"Wherefore, assuming to yourself the authority of our See, and using your stead and place with 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 judgement concerning him, yea, rather the divine judgement of Christ our Lord, may be manifest." (The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy, James Likoudis, p. 71)

The Fathers declared their unity with the "holy head", Pope Celestine:

"...Being necessarilyimpelled 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 declared:

"It was the Bishop of Rome who was exercising the direction of the plotting of the Council of Ephesus against me." (Livre d'Heraclide, p. 327)

One could say that the entire Council represented the directions of Pope Celestine I.

The Council of Chalcedon was held against the expressed opinion of the Pope (Pope St. Leo the Great)

"It was the emperor Marcian who, after the "robber" council of Ephesus (449), commanded this council to meet. Pope Leo I was opposed to it. His view was that all the bishops should repent of their ways and individually sign his earlier dogmatic letter to Flavian, patriarch of Constantinople, and so avoid a new round of argument and debate. Moreover, the provinces of the West were being laid waste by Attila's invasions. But before the pope's view became known, the emperor Marcian had, by an edict of 17 May 451, convoked the council for 1 September 451. Although the pope was displeased, he sent legates: Paschasinus bishop of Lilybaeum, Bishop Lucentius, the priests Boniface and Basil, and Bishop Julian of Cos. No doubt Leo thought that the council would cause people to leave the church and go into schism. So he wanted it to be postponed for a time, and he implored the emperor that the faith handed down from ancient times should not become the subject of debate. The only business should be the restoration of the exiled bishops to their former positions. "

It is this same Council in which Pope St. Leo the Great refused to ratify canon 28 and without Papal ratification, it was not valid. Here is Mark J. Bonocore's exposition on canon 28:

The Acts of the Council also proclaim the primacy of the Roman Pontiff:

"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 be cast out. This instruction we must carry out." (Acts of the Council, session 1 [a.D. 451])

The Council of Chalcedon is far from being an example against Papal Supremacy. One could ask simply how the "head of all churches" might be separated from the Church: is it possible for the head to be without the body and the body without the head?

The Council had the last say on orthodoxy, not the bishop of Rome.

And the Conciliar degrees depending upon papal ratification presents papal authority as the final arbiter of orthodoxy. Pope St. Leo the Great answered the petitions of Easterners to ratify canon 28 with the following words: "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)

If Papal Supremacy based on divine right (de Jure Divino) was "heretical" as Apologist117 portrays it to be, then this epistle to Empress Pulcheria wherein Pope St. Leo the Great claims authority over an Ecumenical Council by virtue of being the successor of Pope St. Peter must be expected to have encoutered opposition by the "orthodox". We see none of this, instead Pope St. Leo the Great is celebrated in East and West as a champion of orthodoxy.

II Constantinople was convoked by Emperor Justinian in opposition to Pope Vigilius.

Indeed Pope Vigilius was against the ideals being followed by Pope Justinian. We must however observe the following:

1) Pope Vigilius opposed the Council due to the fact he knew that Emperor Justinian was engaged in coercion and intimidation of its bishops. (The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and modern Eastern Orthodoxy, James Likoudis, p. 129)

2) The decrees of the Fifth Ecumenical Council coul have no ecumenical authority without confirmation by the Roman Pontiff. (ibid.)

"His opposition [to condemning the "Three Chapters" in the vein of Justinian] had never been based on doctrinal grounds but on the decency and opportunness of the measures proposed, the wrongful Imperial violence, and a delicate fear of injury to the authority of the Council of Chalcedon." (ibid. p. 130)

Church historian Luis Duchesne judges the situation this way:

"...the Pope [Vigilius] was inopportunist, the [Fifth] Council was opportunist, and for the sake of peace the Pope gave in to the conciliar decree of condemnation. But the proof that he was in the right is shown by the fact that this very condemnation was misunderstood in the West and caused serious troubles and schisms." (Churches Separated from Rome, page 47)

Another Church historian, Philip Hughes adds, that "after a six months of bullying, of isolation, and imprisonment, Vigilius past eighty years of age, yielded.", only to die the next year in Syracuse after the Emperor Justinian had allowed him to return to Rome (after ten years of virtual house imprisonment). (The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and modern Eastern Orthodoxy, James Likoudis, p. 131)

Contrary to the contention of Protestants, Jansenists, Gallicans, and modern enemies of the Papacy, the "Case of Vigilius" fails to support their thesis that Ecumenical Councils are superior to the Pope and that Papal Infallibility is disproved. Actually, in the words of Dom John Chapman, O.S.B., (ibid.)
"No Council has more emphatically testified than the Fifth Ecumenical Council that under ordinary circumstances the Pope must preside, that his decision should be the ground of the Council's decree, and that his confirmation is a "sine qua non" if a Council is ro have ecumenical authority." (The First Eight Ecumenical Councils and Papal Infallibility, CTS, London, 3rd edition, 1928)

Let us listen to what Pope Vigilius and the 6th century Church believed in with regards to the Papacy:

"To no one well-or-ill-informed is it doubtful that the Roman Church is the foundation and the mould of the churches, from which no one of right belief is ignorant that all churches here derived their beginning. Since, though the election of the Apostles was equal, yer a preeminence over the rest was granted to Blessed Peter, when he is also called the Cephas, being the head and beginning of all the Apostles: and what has gone before in the head must follow in the members. Wherefore the holy Roman Church, through his merit consecrated by the Lord's voice, and established by the authority of the holy Fathers, holds the Primacy over all the churches, to which as well the highest concerns of bishops, their causes, and complaints, are ever to be referred, as to the head. For he who knows himself to be set over others should not object to one being placed over himself. For the Church itself, which is the first, has bestowed its authority on the rest of the churches with this condition, that they be called to a part of its solicitude, not to the fullness of its power. Whence the causes of all bishops who appeal to the Apostolic See, and the proceedings in all greater causes, are known to be reserved to that holy See; especially as in all these its decisions must always be awaited: and if any bishops attempts to resist this course, let him know that he will give account to that holy See, not without endangering his own rank." (Fragment of a letter written in 538 a.D. - Mansi, ix. 33)

Pope Honorius I was condemned and anathematized by an Ecumenical Council.

Indeed Pope Honorius was condemned by an Ecumenical Council. Let us consider the following:

1) He was condemned post-mortem, thus without being given the chance to explain his case.

2) He was not deposed, nor his papacy declared null and void. He died in communion with the Church.

"St. Agatho died before the conclusion of the council. The new pope, Leo II, had naturally no difficulty in giving to the decrees of the council the formal confirmation which the council asked from him, according to custom. The words about Honorius in his letter of confirmation, by which the council gets its ecumenical rank, are necessarily more important than the decree of the council itself: "We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius, ...and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted." This appears to express exactly the mind of the council, only that the council avoided suggesting that Honorius disgraced the Roman Church. The last words of the quotation are given above as in the Greek of the letter, because great importance has been attached to them by a large number of Catholic apologists. Pennacchi, followed by Grisar, taught that by these words Leo II explicitly abrogated the condemnation for heresy by the council, and substituted a condemnation for negligence. Nothing, however, could be less explicit. Hefele, with many others before and after him, held that Leo II by the same words explained the sense in which the sentence of Honorius was to be understood. Such a distinction between the pope's view and the council's view is not justified by close examination of the facts. At best such a system of defence was exceedingly precarious, for the milder reading of the Latin is just as likely to be original: "but by profane treachery attempted to pollute its purity". In this form Honorius is certainly not exculpated, yet the pope declares that he did not actually succeed in polluting the immaculate Roman Church. However, in his letter to the Spanish King Erwig, he has: "And with them Honorius, who allowed the unspotted rule of Apostolic tradition, which he received from his predecessors, to be tarnished." To the Spanish bishops he explains his meaning: "With Honorius, who did not, as became the Apostolic authority, extinguish the flame of heretical teaching in its first beginning, but fostered it by his negligence." That is, he did not insist on the "two operations", but agreed with Sergius that the whole matter should be hushed up. Pope Honorius was subsequently included in the lists of heretics anathematized by the Trullan Synod, and by the seventh and eighth ecumenicalcouncils without special remark; also in the oath taken by every new pope from the eighth century to the eleventh in the following words: "Together with Honorius, who added fuel to their wicked assertions" (Liber diurnus, ii, 9). It is clear that no Catholic has the right to defend Pope Honorius. He was a heretic, not in intention, but in fact; and he is to be considered to have been condemned in the sense in which Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who died in Catholic communion, never having resisted the Church, have been condemned. But he was not condemned as a Monothelite, nor was Sergius. And it would be harsh to regard him as a "private heretic", for he admittedly had excellent intentions."

Further we see that e.g. Pope Agatho who addressed the issue surrounding Pope Honorius, made a distinction between the person and the papal office:

“The heretics have followed some passing expressions imprudently set down by one Pope [Honorius], who made no appeal to papal authority, nor to tradition from St. Peter. Against this I put the repeated, the continuous protest of Pope after Pope, authoritative, grave, deliberate. Their voice was intended to be, and was, the voice of the infallible Roman Church.” (Mansi, xi, 285).

The statement ends with a claim to infallibility for the Roman Church.

To those interested in a long debate on this issue, I suggest reading the following link:

Here I end my responde to Apologist117's first video response to my essays.