St. Maximos the Confessor (580-662) – Papal Supremacy and Infallibility by Divine Right

I have edited this article extensively to interact with Orthodox Byzantine historian A. Ed Siecienski.

Erick Ybarra


As many readers know, the Monothelite controversy occupied the Church’s attention in the 7th century, and it was concluded by a firm condemnation of the belief that in Christ there is only one single will or that his acts were from one theanadric operation. This evil which inflicted the Church was partly attributable to Pope Honorius I, who’s letters to Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, seemed to have supported the idea that Christ had two natures but one will.  Shortly after the reception of these letters, the Eastern Emperor, Heraclius, upon the composition of the Patriarch, released an edict called the Ecthesis ( εκθεσις , literally “statement of faith”), wherein Christ is taught to have one will. This was also accepted by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch , and Jerusalem. It is reported that the successor of Honorius, Severinus, had time before his death to reject it. The successor of Severinus…

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St Nicodemus the Hagiorite on Constantinople’s Right to Hear Appeals

Nicodemus the Hagiorite on Constantinople’s Right to Hear Appeals

Rudder published in Athens in 1841, p. 108

Orthodox Synaxis

In the Ukrainian tomos and elsewhere recently, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has asserted a universal right to hear appeals from bishops and clergy anywhere in the Orthodox world, on the basis of Canons 9 and 17 of the Council of Chalcedon. While Constantinople often likes to give the impression that this purported right is uncontested, historically it has been resisted just as often as it has been asserted. In his Rudder, St Nicodemus the Hagiorite (d. 1809) gives a long footnote to Canon 9 of the council, presented in its entirety below (Greek text after the jump) demonstrating on historical, logical and canonical grounds that Constantinople does not possess the right to hear appeals from other patriarchates, but that only an ecumenical council is the final judge in such cases. In particular, St Nicodemus notices that then, just as now, Constantinople’s claim seems to be motivated by its…

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Celibacy and Continence in the Priesthood according to the Church Fathers – A Study of Greek East & Latin West


ordination of augustine

The scandals which have broken out in the Roman Catholic Church over the past decades, particularly since the Summer of 2018, have caused many scholars and analysts to ponder whether the rule on celibacy for the ordained clergy might be a cause for the the grave acts of sexual misconduct. However much there is a connection to be made or not made, I wanted to devote an extensive article on the rule on priestly celibacy (abstention from married life) and continence (abstention from sexual intercourse, but not necessarily marriage) in the early Church Fathers.  Before I venture to do that, I would be remiss if I did not point the reader to a post already published by Unam Sanctam Catholicam on the subject, which is devoted mainly to citations from the early Church fathers and councils on this important matter. What I offer here is less citation (although I add ones not provided by Unam) and more commentary and reflection, particularly how this phenomena developed in both Eastern and Western Christendom. Although it is not always mentioned, the rule of priestly celibacy was one of the issues separating the ecclesial centers of Byzantium and the Latin West during the time of the great schism. It would be, therefore, all the more beneficial to see how the practice began from the earliest centuries.  Continue reading

The Roman Church Cannot Do Whatever It Pleases – Cardinal Godfrey of Verdome (1065- 1132)


Pope Paschal II

This was written in reaction to Pope Paschal II’s capitulation to King Henry V’s insistence on lay investiture. Although the Pope only conceded to allow lay investiture to the King in light of harsh imprisonment, we have the following reaction to this from Godfrey of Vendome (1065- 1132), who was a French Benedictine, monk, Cardinal, and a strong supporter of the Papacy. He worked alongside many Popes during his life, and could hardly be seen as a Papal opponent. His epistolary consists mainly in his opposition to lay investiture, which he condemned as heresy and simony. As I was reading through Anglican historian Karl Morrison’s book on Tradition in the Western Church, I was fortunate to come across this little snippet, whose ocassion was to contend Paschal II’s concession to Henry V. To be fair to the Pope, he condmened lay investiture before and after his imprisonment, but his momentary concession afforded this interesting comment.

Finally, [Abbot] Godfrey of Vendome, a member of the Sacred College, condemned on grounds of tradition Paschal II’s decree approving lay investiture. Some men claim, he wrote (ca. 1116), that the Roman Church can do whatever it pleases, and that by some dispensation it can even do other than the Scriptures command. But the Roman church could surely not do what Peter could not do, and , as Paul showed by resisting Peter to his face, Peter could not dissolve the law of the divine Scriptures. Rome, therefore, must use the power to bind and loose not according to its own will, but ‘according to the tradition of Christ’

(Ep. ad Bernarium, MGH Ldl. 2, 688; taken from “Tradition and Authority in the Western Church: 300-1140”, Karl Morrison, pg. 310)