Answers to Eastern Orthodox Objections (Part 2) – Ecumenicity of Lyons/Florence, Patriarchs, Canon 28, Formula of Hormisdas

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Our interlocutor Max has responded to the previous posting. His comments in bold, my answers in normal type :

Eric Ybarra seems to forget that reunification councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439) were convened with the EXPLICIT aim of re-uniting separated Eastern Churches with the Church of Rome. How can Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439) be described as “Ecumenical Councils” when the Eastern Churches REJECTED them? Are Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439) “Ecumenical Councils” because the Bishop of Rome arbitrarily and unilaterally decided that they were to be “Ecumenical Councils”?

Lyons 1274 is Ecumenical, for starters, because it had universal representation. Around 500 bishops, 60 Abbots , 1000 prelates, alongside kings or their representatives…including the ambassadors of Emperor Michael Palaeologus who brought a letter from the East signed by 50 archbishops and around 500 bishops. The president of this Council, Gregory X (Canon of Lyons), when celebrating mass sung the Creed , and it was done in both Latin & Greek, and which included “qui a patre filioque procedit”, which the Greek clergy sang three times. Secondly, because it was ratified by the bishops in attendence, as well as by the Pope of Rome. Also, not that it means anything in particular for Catholics, but since the Orthodox love the authority of the great Emperor Justinian I, I will mention that Palaeologus and his son, Andronikus, wrote a letter to the Pope recognizing his ecclesial supremacy. Upon the finishing of the Council, the plan of re-union seemed achieved by Palaeologus, but ultimately the Byzantine clergy would not tolerate it. Although, John XI Bekkos, who occupied the See of Constantinople after the council had already completed, was an ardent defender of the union with the Latins. However, in 1282, just 8 years after the completion of the Council of Lyons, Palaeologus had died and the re-union with the Latins was repudiated officially at the Council of Blachernae 1285 under Palaeologus’ son Anronikus. Bekkos, who had campaigned in support of the re-union, was eventually exiled and imprisoned until his death near 1300. For Catholics, an Ecumenical Council is held valid upon its completion, with an a priori binding nature. It is not held in the suspense of reaction (cf A.S. Khamiokov). If this were the case, Chalcedon would have to be erased from the list of Councils, unless the Orthodox want to suggest that it became Ecumenical only under Justinian I with the Formula of Hormisdas or Constantinople III. But even then, it poses a problem. It is a similar situation for the council of Florence, continuation of Basle. The re-union of Latin West and the Oriental churches looked to be secured, but because ultimately the Byzantine clergy, for mixed reasons, of which duress is one, rejected the re-union as the Greek delegates returned to Constantinople. The Council was officially repudiated in Constantinople especially as the sack of the city came in 1453 .Now , whether the Greeks were held entirely under the duress, is a subject still being discussed to this very day; and surely we must be careful how much effect we give to duress, since many could have had this in those councils which are undisputed. What is known objectively is that Eastern representation was achieved in both cases, and under the Emperor of the Byzantines, and that consensus was reached in agreement. Catholics continue to number these in the official lists of Councils, if not for any other reason, than by the fact that the doctrines therein taught were given Papal approval, which at the very least obliges the submission of mind and will. But if an Orthodox Christian who holds to Khamiokov’s theory of “ecumenicity”, one wonders why any Orthodox Christian would have quams with the Catholic Church numbering Lyons 2 and Florence as Ecumenical, since the West has received it, and the Eastern episcopate, as of now, does not possess a jurisdictional right to deliberate on doctrine since they are severed from the communion of the Roman See. In other words, just as the Orthodox Chalcedonians have no problem regarding Chalcedon as ecumenical, despite the rejection by Egypt/Syria/Etc,Etc, since it was eventually accepted by the *true* episcopate, they should have no problem with Catholics numbering Lyons 2 and Florence as universally embraced over time.

Also, not that it means anything in particular for Catholics, but since the Orthodox love the authority of the great Emperor Justinian I, I will mention that Palaeologus and his son, Andronikus, wrote a letter to the Pope recognizing his ecclesial supremacy. Upon the finishing of the Council, the plan of re-union seemed achieved by Palaeologus, but ultimately the Byzantine clergy would not tolerate it. Although, John XI Bekkos, who occupied the See of Constantinople after the council had already completed, was an ardent defender of the union with the Latins. However, in 1282, just 8 years after the completion of the Council of Lyons, Palaeologus had died and the re-union with the Latins was repudiated officially at the Council of Blachernae 1285 under Palaeologus’ son Anronikus. Bekkos, who had campaigned in support of the re-union, was eventually exiled and imprisoned until his death near 1300. For Catholics, an Ecumenical Council is held valid upon its completion, with an a priori binding nature. It is not held in the suspense of reaction (cf A.S. Khamiokov). If this were the case, Chalcedon would have to be erased from the list of Councils, unless the Orthodox want to suggest that it became Ecumenical only under Justinian I with the Formula of Hormisdas or Constantinople III. But even then, it poses a problem. It is a similar situation for the council of Florence, continuation of Basle. The re-union of Latin West and the Oriental churches looked to be secured, but because ultimately the Byzantine clergy, for mixed reasons, of which duress is one, rejected the re-union as the Greek delegates returned to Constantinople. The Council was officially repudiated in Constantinople especially as the sack of the city came in 1453 .Now , whether the Greeks were held entirely under the duress, is a subject still being discussed to this very day; and surely we must be careful how much effect we give to duress, since many could have had this in those councils which are undisputed. What is known objectively is that Eastern representation was achieved in both cases, and under the Emperor of the Byzantines, and that consensus was reached in agreement. Catholics continue to number these in the official lists of Councils, if not for any other reason, than by the fact that the doctrines therein taught were given Papal approval, which at the very least obliges the submission of mind and will. But if an Orthodox Christian who holds to Khamiokov’s theory of “ecumenicity”, one wonders why any Orthodox Christian would have quams with the Catholic Church numbering Lyons 2 and Florence as Ecumenical, since the West has received it, and the Eastern episcopate, as of now, does not possess a jurisdictional right to deliberate on doctrine since they are severed from the communion of the Roman See. In other words, just as the Orthodox Chalcedonians have no problem regarding Chalcedon as ecumenical, despite the rejection by Egypt/Syria/Etc,Etc, since it was eventually accepted by the *true* episcopate, they should have no problem with Catholics numbering Lyons 2 and Florence as universally embraced over time.

Eric Ybarra seems to forget that the modern Catholic Church consists of the (Latin Rite) Roman Catholic Church and 23 sui iuris Eastern Catholic churches in Communion with Rome

No, I have not forgotten 🙂 The point I was making about the artificial structure of Patriarchates, Metropolitanates, etc,etc was that they were not direct institutions from Christ or His Apostles, and thus they are free to be used by the divine ekklesia for the best management of universal communion and administration. That said, we cannot size the Church essentially according to these standards of measurement, such that, as Max unfortunately attempted to do, we say that when Rome “severed from the Church” in the 11th (xx?) century, she broke away as a single Patriarchate versus the total of four other Patriarchates, implying that Rome was like 1/4th of the universal church. Doesn’t work that way. Christ instituted the Apostolate, and the Apostolate continues in the Episcopate which is divided into individual churches led by a single bishop, all cohesively glued together by the ecclesiastical bonds of unity. So if someone wished to give a true description of what broke away from what, they would need to categorize churches/bishops in their least common denominator. That changes the whole perspective.

Also seems odd that Pope St Leo the Great’s legates at the Council of Chalcedon also recognized Patriarchal order and divisions and asked asked why Patriarch St. Flavian had not been given second place in the council at Ephesus (II), the chief legate Paschalis saying “We will, please God, recognize the present bishop Anatolius of Constantinople as the first [i.e. after us], but Dioscorus made Flavian the fifth.

Before I respond to this, I want to note that, as a Catholic, I’m not responsible to answer for the views of Papal legates, particularly when their position is directly contrary to the position of the Pope himself, their ordinary and superior. Secondly, however much these legates arranged the seating at the Council, the very same legates proved themselves to be opposed to the 3rd canon of Constantinople 381 which assigned the Church of Constantinople 2nd place after Elder Rome, thus being ahead of the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch; during which they showed unhesitating certainty that Pope Leo, their superior, would not approve of the 28th canon seeking to renew the 3rd canon from the 381 Council. Anyone can read this for themselves in the 16th session of the Council. So for this point, I say for the neutral reader, he can take his pick. But for Catholics, the Pope set the standard for the legates, and they explicitly admit this fact. The better question on this subject is why did Patriarch Anatolius, the supposed leader of the Council after Rome, and who had the support of the Emperor Marcian, submit to Leo’s annulment of not just the 28th canon, but the 3rd canon of Council 381? Why was Pope Leo allowed to disregard the Council-sanctioned canons on this point?

Seems odd that the Popes of Rome themselves used the title “Patriarch of the West” until Pope Benedict XVI deleted the title “Patriarch of the West” from the Annuario Pontificio — the annual directory of the Holy See relatively recently in 2006.

Again, I admire the title “Patriarch of the West”, but the explanation of my purpose in bringing this up has nothing to do with whether it is a useful title or not. See above.

YES! The East was ravaged by one heresy after the other in the first millennium of Christianity BUT were the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church of the first millennium of Christianity held merely to ratify/rubber stamp what Rome had decreed along the lines of “Rome has spoken, the case is closed”?

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. But that is entirely irrelevant since the Pope’s themselves always handled issues in Councils within the Apostolic See. So I sense a straw man here .

Seems odd that the Sixth Ecumenical Council condemned Pope Honorius for heresy, when all he did was express his personal opinion (theologumen) in an unofficial capacity. Roman Catholic apologists also generally attempt to salvage the dogma of papal infallibility from the case with Honorius by saying that he was not giving an ex cathedra statement but merely his opinion as a private theologian. Therefore he was not condemned in his official capacity as the pope. According to the Roman Catholic Church there are certain conditions which must be met for the teaching of the pope to fall within the overall guidelines of that which is considered to be. He must be teaching in his official capacity as the pope and he must be defining doctrine for the entire Church. The claim is made that Honorius did not meet these conditions.

I don’t agree that Honorius expressed his personal opinion. He gave a direct order, and it was certainly in official capacity. It seems to me that Max has misunderstood the distinction between the ordinary magisterium, even Papal ordinary, with extraordinary Papal magisterium. All forms of magisterial teaching are “official”. But as I said in the previous post, this is a very rare situation, and it is arguable whether Honorius was a monothelite anyhow. And there is no sense in appealing to the intelligence of the Council on the matter of Honorius’ personal status. Max should know this more than anyone, since either the Council of Chalcedon or the Council of Constantinople II got it wrong concerning the authors of the Three Chapters. What’s to say that Constantinople III is absolutely infallible in its determination of Honorius as a Monothelite heretic. In any case, the Council, together with and under the presidency of the Popes, felt it their right to condemn the writings of Honorius as heretical, and the West persisted in this belief even afterwards. In fact, to this day, it is still admitted that a Pope, even using his official magistserium, can err and have himself condemned – especially post-mortam.

We NOW know what the Symmachean forgeries are in RETROSPECT, people back then did not have this luxury and obviously did not have a fair chance of distinguishing truth mixed with lies

I have to say I’m disappointed that Max has responded in this way. Here is a perfect opportunity to admit that he was flat wrong . I had originally made the point that Greeks who were victims of the Monophysite control in the East at during the inception of the 6th century had believed that the Roman bishop was successor of Peter by a unique and divine law given by Christ to Peter himself, and which continues today with the prerogative of a universal pastorate over the Church. Max initially hand-waved this as untrue (?) on the basis of the well-known Symmachean forgeries. This letter from the Greeks has nothing to do with the forgery-collection. Neither do the letters of St. Avitus and St. Ennodius, and neither the description of the Italian synod. The best thing to do here is to admit that the forgery objection was entirely irrelevant, leaving my original claim  still standing.

“According t Dr. Klaus Schatz, the Symmachean forgeries were only to get the principle “the First see is judged by none” into canon law. The drafters of the forgery already knew the valid existence of the principle under the pontificate of Pope Gelasius.” What “valid existence”? Is Erick referring to a specific Church Canon from the undivided Church or an Ecumenical Council? Do self-aggrandizing claims constitute “valid existence”?

This response shoves the Max’s erroneous objection with the Symmachean forgeries under the carpet, and he then seeks to undermine the validity of the principle of “the First See is judged by none”. Clearly, the Italian synod, Avitus, Ennodius, and Gelasius beforehand had held to its validity. Gelasius was no doubt referring to the canons of Sardica, which were ratified via Trullo 692 for the Byzantines. But even so, Sardica had the representation of Rome, Alexandria, Spain, Gaul, Illyricum, Palestine, and other places even in the East. There is more to Sardica than normally accrued. Lastly, your spiritual heroes of the East such as St. Theodore the Studite venerated Popes such as St. Leo & St. Innocent, and particularly for their involvement with ecumenical issues, and Max would have it that they were hungry for prestige, making self-aggrandizing claims. I wonder if Max could even be well received by the Eastern saints of the 8th/9th century given the statements he makes about the Pope’s claim for their divinely authorized position.

Eric Ybarra cannot seem to distinguish between Petrine Faith (which all orthodox Bishops are expected to confess), Petrine succession (at the Petrine See’s of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch) and Petrine Primacy (formerly held by Rome on account of the city’s status as the former imperial capital).

I see no point to discuss here, as I don’t disagree with it. What really happened here, however, is that Max initially wanted his readers to know that St. Gregory allegedly held that the See of Peter was really a single See in a tri-partite location, namely, Rome/Alexandria/Antioch. This would, I presume, undermine the singularity claimed by Catholics regarding the Roman see of Peter. That Max was intending to this was clear from his appeal to St. John Chrysostom and St. Theodoret of Cyrus regarding the see of Antioch. However, as I’ve shown in my previous post, St. Gregory was very clear on the subordination of all churches under Rome, and this is admitted by both an Anglican & Lutheran scholar (Kelly & Pelikan), both of whom are widely quoted in the field of scholarship.

What happens when the orthodoxy of the universal primate is questioned by the rest of the Church and when the universal primate only enjoys support within his own Patriarchate?

Before we get to responding to this question, Max needs to show that the Eastern churches were even aware of a divinely created Petrine institution in the Christian episcopate. When they can come to admit this in the Patristic data, then I can proceed to speak on the subject and scenario of Papal failure. Until they acknowledge its existence, what point is there in discussing? Besides, there is enough data material in the debate to determine the question of the last sentence, more so than the original question.

Was the Robber Council at Ephesus (449) repudiated just because Pope Leo overturned the decrees at Ephesus or because the rest of the Church (with the exception of Dioscorus and his thugs from Alexandria) opposed this Council on grounds that it was a “robber” Council?

The Robber synod was repudiated because it taught heresy, and committed a grave offense by concluding a council for the Church in opposition to the Apostolic See. See the letter of St. Fulgentius of Ruspe’s letter to Pelagius, the Roman deacon who accompanied Pope Vigilius (and who would be his successor). Also see the record of admission by the Eastern patriarchs to Pope Vigilius @ the Church of St. Euphemia while the Pope held sanctuary there. Then, read the opening of session 1 of Chalcedon where the Papal legates said that it is impossible to conclude a universal synod without the Apostolic See’s agreement. You can also read Gregory’s letter wherein he said synod acts have no ecumenical authority until ratified by the Apostolic See. Then also see the statements made by the Studite monks of the 8th century, as well as St. Ignatius of Constantinople together with St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of the same church. None of these persons attributed this right to the Roman See on the basis of canonical legislation, but on the divine institution of the Lord Jesus and his investment of universal ecclesial governance in the person & successor of St. Peter.

As for canon 28, Rome accepted Constantinople’s place in writing in 869 and had no issue with Constantinople sitting in second place in 451 (in fact, the papal legates dinged Dioscorus for not putting Flavian in second place at Ephesus so this is really an issue of Rome reneging on a canon)

Sure. In fact, I think Pope Leo should have allowed Constantinople to have 2nd place back @ Chalcedon. Obviously, with some clarifications to the extent of the canonical text.

Dorotheus, bishop of Thessalonica, tore the Formula of Hormisdas in two in front of the people. He was brought to Constantinople for trial, exiled to Heraclea while his case was being considered, but then restored to his see in Thessalonica without ever signing the Formula. The emperor Justin wrote to Hormisdas that many found it difficult to sign the libellus: they “esteem life harder than death, if they should condemn those, when dead, whose life, when they were alive, was the glory of their people.” In reply, Pope Hormisdas urged the emperor to use force to compel them to sign. According to Denny’s Papalism (referenced in Moss’s The Old Catholic Movement) the other patriarchates of the East refused to sign this statement, and were reconciled through a different agreement. Patriarch John was succeeded by Epiphanius in 520. Patriarch Epiphanius (520-35) wrote to the pope to explain that “very many of the holy bishops of Pontus and Asia and, above all, those referred to as of the Orient, found it to be difficult and even impossible to expunge the names of their former bishops … they were prepared to brave any danger rather than commit such a deed.” Pope Hormisdas wrote to Patriarch Epiphanius and gave him authority to act on his behalf in the East. In this letter, Hormisdas made restoration of communion dependent on agreeing to a declaration of faith that left unmentioned the claimed prerogatives of the bishop of Rome.”

This historical revisionism is absolutely embarrassing. It has been over 100 years that anti-Papalists have written in this manner with regard to the transaction between Pope Hormisdas and Justinian/John/Epiphanius. In the first place, the real reason the Bishop of Thessalonica had torn the FoH in two in front of the people was because he was opposed to the Council of Chalcedon, the Tome of Leo, and to Pope Hormisdas since the latter held to the former. Dorotheus had joined the party of Timothy I of Constantinople, an ardent monophysite, who was ordained by Emperor Anastasius. The Emperor had just deposed the former Patriarch Macedonius II for refusing to condemn the Council of Chalcedon. By joining himself to the anti-Chalcedon party, Dorotheus ran into some conflict with both the Greek & Illyricim episcopate. The great Byzantine scholar, Fr. Adrian Fortescue, describes the situation: “Dorotheus of Thessalonica had passed over to the party of Timothy I of Constantinople, now more and more openly Monophysite. So in 515, forty bishops of Illyricum and Greece separated themselves from him and held a synod, which sent legates to Rome to announce that they desired communion with the Holy [Roman] See. The next year, 516, a synod in the south of Illyricum, in the old province of Epirus, chose a certain John to be Metropolitan of Nicopolis. John sent a deacon, Rufinus, to announce his election to Pope Hormisdas; he protests his adherence to Chalcedon and detestation of the Monophysite chiefs; he declares that he adheres without reserve to the dogmatic letter of Leo the Great [Tome], and asks the Pope what he is to do. All the members of the synod at the same time send a letter to the Pope, asking him to recognize their new Metropolitan. The Pope then tells John to be faithful to the Catholic faith; he sends by a subdeacon, Pullio, an Indiculus, that is, an instruction as to how schismatics are to be reconciled to the Church. In a second letter he sends a form to be signed by all who desire communion with the Holy See. This form is the Formula of Hormisdas. It was signed by all, as we shall see; so Illyricum returned to unity with Rome.” (The Reunion Formula of Hormisdas, page 10-11). It gets worse. We read above that John, Metropolitan of Nicopolis, became a defender of Chalcedon. Dorotheus was actually a persecutor of the orthodox in Illyricum, even using the secular government to impose resistance to those who believed the Tome of Leo. Eventually, with enough appeals, Hormisdas was able to see to it that Dorotheus was to be judged at Constantinople for his crimes (see A dictionary of Christian biography and literature to the end of the sixth century A.D., with an account of the principal sects and heresies, page 280). So there you have it. Without knowing it, I’m sure, Max would have his readers find support against the Papal-theory explicated in the Formula of Hormisdas by the resistance of a Monophysite heretic who persecuted the orthodox, and was held to account for such criminal behavior even by the court of Constantinople. Much to the contrary of Max’s import, we find that the metropolitan Bishop of Nicoplis as well as many in the Greek & Illyricum episcopate thought highly of the Formula. What import is left for Max but a withdrawal of his claims against this pro-Papal event? If Max desired to achieve a witness against Papal claims by the reaction of Dorotheus to the Formula of Hormisdas (tearing it in two), it only proves that what was written in the Formula by Hormisdas were actually authentic Papal claims, which means that 6th century Rome was Papalist. And if that was truly the case, than it makes matters even worse since the Eastern Patriachates entered into communion with Papalist Rome in order to escape schism, when, given Max’s coordination of the facts, this only put them in a state of heresy & schism again. But I digress. Especially since the facts show that Dorotheus’ real reason for tearing the Formula was his protest of Chalcedon and the Tome of Pope Leo.
Now, with regard to the sending of the Formula of Hormisdas to the Eastern Sees through Emperor Justinian I. The claim made by Max is that the Eastern bishops were able to be critical of the contents, and in particular, the descriptions of the authority of the Papacy. Pope Hormisdas had written that the Lord Christ had promised to build His Church on the rock of Peter, and that this was proven since “in sede apostolica inviolabilis semper Catholica custoditur religio” (in the Apostolic See the Christian religion has always been kept inviolate). Then, there are condemnations of specific persons. The list contains Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Timothy the Cat, Peter of Alexandria, Acacius, and Peter of Antioch. These names, as well as all who do not hold communion with the Apostolic See, are to be banished from the sacred diptychs.  And then the Formula states that those who sign should follow Rome in all things, since it is “in the Apostolic See that the Church’s perfect solidity [perfecta soliditas, the Rock] resides“.  In March, 519, the Patriarch of Constantinople, John, signed the Formula without any subtraction of the Papal claims therein. After this Justinian gave orders the following month that all the bishops of all the provinces should sign as well. Come to find out certain bishops were extremely difficult to persuade to remove from their diptychs the names which were held precious by their flocks, but which were not Chalcedonian. Justinian then sent a subsequent letter to Hormisdas, describing the difficulties. Now, it is important to understand these bishops did not find difficulty expunging the names of Acacius, Dioscorus, Timothy the Cat, the two Peters, but rather they refused to remove the names of those bishops who had been involved in the Acacian schism that they thought were holy men of God. Now, let’s take a halt for a moment. The Eastern bishops were so meticulously seeking to be honest in their signing of the Formula, that they spent the extra time writing to Justinian, and waiting for Justinian to write to the Pope, by expressing their difficulty in removing the names of certain men of the Acacian schism that they believed are worthily included into the diptychs. If they were that honest, why don’t we hear anything of their protest against the Papal claims? Not a single protest on record. Interesting, indeed. And so, Justinian begged Hormisdas to show some leniency, and to allow a dispensation for these specific churches. And note, this was a problem for all the Eastern churches. The Pope wrote back to Justinian leaving the determination of that to Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and asserted that he would hold communion with whoever Ephiphanius considered worthy, but yet they had to subscribe to the rest of the Formula in the whole sense in which it was originally written.  Now, pause. If Hormisdas thought that there was a threat of rejecting the Papal claims made in the Formula, why would he transfer the court of this issue to the Patriarch of Constantinople? That would be absurd, indeed. But reality was that there wasn’t a hint of rejection of Papal claims. Only this issue of the expunging of names from the diptychs. What Max has done, from support of hasty scholarship, is to assert that when Hormisdas allowed Epiphanius to take in libelli from the Eastern churches without expunging all the names of certain clergy from the Acaian schism, the Eastern churches intentionally wrote up a new Formula of faith deleting the Papal claims, so as to avoid agreeing with them, yet still fulfilling the need to commune with Rome. Yet, as I’ve mentioned above, there is no objection to the Papalist statements of the Formula by these bishops. If they were honest enough to withhold their agreement and signature because they couldn’t fulfill all the demands of the original request of the Formula, why would they fail to mention their honest objection to the statements made about Peter and the infallibility of the Apostolic See? It is as if Max understands that these Eastern bishops secretly settled for re-union on their own terms without explicitly complaining about their Papalist objections.  And if we read the new Libelli that was written to Justinian from these Eastern churches, they prefaced it with a paraphrase of the original Papal claim, “..the Church of God, which resting upon the rock of the chief of the Apostles, retaining a right and inflexible confession, confidently with him always exclaims, ‘Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God'” (Mansi viii. 511). Now, Hormisdas’ indulgence came with a clear requirement. Dom John Chapman writes on this: “Epiphanius is to use his judgment. He must transmit to the Apostolic See a list of all whom he reconciles, enclosing the contents of the Libelli they send in (Mansi viii. 1032). This profession must be faithful to the original formula, ‘eodem tamen, ut dixi, tenore conscriptam’ (ibid. 1036). Similarly in his letter to the Emperor the Pope says that Epiphanius may admit to communion those who are worthy, libelli tamen, qui a nobis interpositus est, tenore servato (ibid. 520)….Nothing can be more certain than that not a bishop of the East was admitted to full catholic communion except on the terms of Rome….there is no evidence of any objection whatever having been made to it, except in so far as it implied the omission from the diptychs of former bishops who had been really orthodox, and had been merely in unavoidable schism through the fault of the Emperor.” (The First Eight General Councils and Papal Infallibility, page 45 footnote 4).

I’d hope that both Max and his informants, if still around, would make a public withdrawal from this claim of the Eastern churches modifying the Formula in order to fit their own theology, which happens to be anti-Roman. It would be very disingenuous of these churches to find restoration to the fullness of ecclesial unity while retaining their own anti-Roman convictions. These former schismatics were in no position to begin representing the right-view of the Episcopate, and yet this is likely what Max would have his readers think otherwise. And I think the weakest part of Max’s argument is that even if it were the case that these Eastern churches did delete those Papal parts of the Formula, that would mean it was clear to them what Rome was claiming at the time, and since Rome was the Church holding fast to orthodoxy throughout this whole process, she makes for a preferable choice of reliable witness. If not for the reason stated, than for the reason that they were claim to hold agreement with the Holy See, but then to implicitly reject certain of her teachings. Lastly, if they were being disingenuous, why use them as reliable witnesses anyhow?

When Patriarch John II of Constantinople accepted the Formula of Hormisdas, he did so with the qualification:”I declare that the See of the apostle Peter and the see of this imperial city are one.”That is, whatever Constantinople recognized of the See of Rome, she also recognized of her own. The basis of Constantinople’s rise to 2nd (at the time) in rank was because of the move of the capital to Constantinople which was New Rome.

Another historical revisionism, but more an issue of interpretation. Max here is claiming that whatever prerogatives that are stated in the Formula of Hormisdas regarding Rome are to be equally attributed to the see of Constantinople, the “Imperial city”. It is the old argument of Anglican F.W. Puller who said, “It will be noticed that by means of this preamble the Patriarch [John] managed to blunt very considerably the edge of his formulary; for by identifying in some curious fashion his own see of new Rome with the Papal see of old Rome, he managed to claim for the Constantinopolitan See a share in all the special privileges which in the formulary were assigned to the Western apostolic chair” (The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome, page 400). But this isn’t supported by the facts. Let’s briefly read the Formula of Hormisdas, and my answer to this objection will be just following:

“The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,”  should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied. From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus and also Peter of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter  of Antioch with all his followers together together with the followers of all those mentioned above.Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.” (Formula of Hormisdas)

Now, Max and Puller say that the Patriarch John was intending on telling Hormisdas that whatever the descriptions of the Formula say of Rome, it says of Constantinople, right? Really? The first thing that is said of Rome is that the Christian religion had always been perfectly taught there. How could Constantinople be claiming equation with this when it is the very see that was presently working its way out of the much of the Acacian schism and the Monophysite heresy? Secondly, the Formula involves a petition to retain the communion of the Apostolic See, “in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides”. If John was saying that Constantinople *is that very communion*, why even sign the Formula? In other words, John is supposed to be signing this formula in order to enter that communion, not to prove that she had always been that communion.

But what do we make of the statement “one See”?  It is more than likely that this “unam esse” (one See) means a closeness of unity. It is similar to the statement made by Pope Gregory the Great when he says that the Sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch were “one See of Peter” (Epistle 7:40). Monsignor Pierre Battifol comments, “This means to say that the bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople are in agreement, not that he ‘identified his own see with the Roman see’ – a phrase that has no meaning. Compare the letter Quando Deus of the same John to the same Hormisdas which once more uses the same terms – and the reply of Hormisdas to John, consideranti mihi. Coll. Avellan. 161 and 169 (pp. 612, 624)” (Catholicism and Papacy, page 123) .

Was the Emperor Justinian allowed a vote at the Fifth Ecumenical Council? Yes/No?
Was Pope Vigilius in Constantinople and invited to participate at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople? Yes/No?
Were the “Three Chapters” clearly heretical? Yes/No

To #1 – Officially no, practically Yes
To #2 – Yes, but no invitation to the wider West. Nor was Vigilius granted his request to have his Roman synod prior to, which was customary. So you can call it an invitation, but it was more of a summons on secular conditions.
To #3 – Yes

But here is what you aren’t getting. You can be theologically correct and be in the wrong. For example, can a perfectly Orthodox bishop of OCA enter into the internal affairs of ROCOR and begin issuing commands & binding discipline? No. What if he says he subscribes to all the right doctrine? That wouldn’t matter still.

 

8 thoughts on “Answers to Eastern Orthodox Objections (Part 2) – Ecumenicity of Lyons/Florence, Patriarchs, Canon 28, Formula of Hormisdas

  1. Jay008,

    I appreciate the challenge to a debate. What are we debating? And why is it you cannot exchange your points of view through textual disputation? That is what I am comfortable with doing. Here are some initial observations that I’d like to know how you’d respond to. And then we can get into the the whole issue of the common will being the source of the Spirit.

    First, I never claimed Palamism and Thomism are able to be reconciled. So I wouldn’t be much of an opponent on that subject. Secondly, what do you do with the veneration of Orthodox Saints who taught the Filioque? There are very clear statements in Orthodox Saints to this effect. I will produce a few here and then add some more commentary below that.

    “Seeing then that the only-begotten Son is from the Father and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Father and Son, not like a creature which also belongs to Father and Son, but as one living with each and powerful and eternally subsisting from that which is Father and Son” (Pope St. Leo I, Patrologia Latina 54, 402A)

    “We believe in God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, maker of things visible and invisible, by whom all things in heaven and on earth were made, that this one God and this one Trinity is of the divine substance: that however the Father is not the Son but has the Son who is not the Father; the Son is not the Father but is the Son of God from the nature of the Father; that there is the Spirit the Paraclete who is neither Father nor Son, but proceeds from Father and Son” (St. Leo the Great, 447)

    Modern Orthodoxy has the following to say regarding Pope Leo:

    “O Champion of Orthodoxy, and teacher of holiness,The enlightenment of the universe and the inspired glory of true believers.O most wise Father Leo, your teachings are as music of the Holy Spirit for us!Pray that Christ our God may save our souls!” (Troparian – Tone 8)

    “O glorious Leo, when you rose to the Bishop’s throne,You shut the lions’ mouths with the true doctrine of the Holy Trinity:You enlightened your flock with the knowledge of God.Therefore you are glorified, O seer of things divine!” (Kontakion – Tone 3)

    But I think a more important witnesses exists:

    “Great and incomprehensible is the mystery of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, an undivided Trinity, and yet it is known because of its characteristic of the Father to generate the Son, characteristic of the Son of God to be born of the Father equal to the Father, characteristic of the Spirit to proceed from the Father and Son in one substance of deity” (Pope St. Hormisdas, Patrologia Latina 63, 514B)

    I say it is important is because it was via Pope St. Hormsidas that the Eastern patriarchs were able to return to Catholicism. How could catholic union have been done between the Patriarchs when one was, at least, was a Filioquist? None of these quotes can be understood as economical in nature, but ad intra.

  2. Pope St. Leo I, a hero of the orthodox faith and a “champion” of Trinitarian faith (according to the Troparion ) makes it very clear he understood that the Spirit originates eternally from the Father and the Son. Consider Letter XV, section II:

    “And so under the first head is shown what unholy views they hold about the Divine Trinity: they affirm that the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one and the same, as if the same God were named now Father, now Son, and now Holy Ghost: and as if He who begat were not one, He who was begotten another, and He who proceeded from both yet another”

    Leo, in the first sentence, is characterizing classic Sabellianism (i.e. that there is one hypostases in God, albeit in three different modes). But how does he counter Sabellius? By articulating the hypostatic distinctions . He notes that there is a begetter (hypostatic distinction), the One begotten (hypostatic distinction), and the One who proceeds from Father and Son (hypostatic distinction).

    No where in this context does the idea of temporal economia enter into view, since it is quite outside the point of what occurs in God in relation to creatures. Leo is speaking of what distinguishes the three divine and subsisting hypostases, and posits the procession of the Spirit from Father and Son.

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