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.

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