Dr. Douglas Farrow, Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University, threw down the gauntlet in a recent article for Catholic World Report with a sharp critique of the current regime run by Pope Francis. Though it is clear he put much thought into the content, I have to say that the article is ultimately a bust. The beginning portion decries the growing rise of “Papalotry” that begin to show itself, according to Farrow, with even the famous Dictatus Papae which came out during the Pontificate of Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-1085). I could find you similar claims being made by at least Pope St. Nicholas I (858-867) in his interaction with King Lothair II and his overturning of Episcopal synods in Constantinople in favor of St. Ignatious as rightful occupant of the Patriarchal chair. But I digress. In any case, the current situation in Rome is that the Papacy is beginning to be exalted above its rightful place and appropriate function (see Cardinal Ouellet’s letter to Archbishop Vigano, for one example). Thereafter, in the second half of the article, Farrow decries the beefing up of Episcopal Synods as carrying the ability to exercise magisterial authority, since this will allow the ability of fragmented Synods and particular churches going their own way. With Francis’s desire to decentralize the Papacy, this reduces him to a quasi-neutral referee, and may, in the end, this plan for decentralization is just another form of returning to Gallicanism.
An award winning and Cambridge-reared scholar in Patristics and Early Christianity, Dr. Allen Brent M.A., D.D., who is former Professor in Early Christian History and Iconography at the University of London, King’s College, and who is currently Professor at the Patristics Institute of the Lateran University (Augustinianum) , has made his way into the Catholic Church. He was simultaneously ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Norwhich Cathedral as part of the Anglican Ordinariate. Continue reading →
Christians throughout the world who are actively seeking to join the original “Church” which Christ founded are confronted with the myriad of communities and denominations which compete with each other. Each of these entities professes to faithfully pronounce the doctrine of the Gospel as handed down from our Lord Jesus to the Apostles, and from the Apostles onward. How to ascertain who is right? One could spend a million years picking through all the arguments, debates, claims, books, articles, journals, monographs, academic reviews, commentaries, and histories before they can boil the options down to 10 or 5 competitors. This is because there are truly so many intelligent minds that enter into the work of scholarly apologetics, and most of them are at least touching the surface, if not appropriating the whole, of the absolute truth of the content of Christ’s divine revelation. Most competing apologists grasp at least *something* true, and this is what makes it difficult to choose who is right over and against the others. X has a good point. Oh, Y has a good point. Ah, X has a good counter point to Y. <yawn> Y has a good counter point to X. On and on. Who has time for all of this? It is a truly daunting, even grueling, task for the average theologian, let alone lay person whose responsibilities allow only a sliver of time to devote to these matters. Continue reading →
No student of Church history underestimates the important place of the Council of Chalcedon 451, held in modern day Kadıköy (district of Istanbul). This Council established the 2-in-1 [2 natures in 1 Person] doctrine of Christ as opposed to the followers of Eutyches and Dioscorus who wanted to say Christ had 1 single nature [Mono-physite]. Following the Council, there was relative peace between Rome and Constantinople due to Patriarch Anatolius’ obedience to Pope St. Leo I’s annulment of the 28th canon, but soon enough things were destined to change because the Monophysites had been, with relatively strong arguments, pressing for a new Council to overturn Chalcedon. In an attempt to conciliate the Monophysites and the Chalcedonians, Emperor Zeno issued his “henoticon”, a document of Christology sought to pave the way for union. The henoticon would be accepted by Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople, Peter Mongus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Peter the Fuller, Patriarch of Alexandria. This brought about what is known as the Acacian Schism, and lasted from 484 to 519, a total of 35 years. When Pope St. Gelasius entered Papal office in 492, this schism had been operating for already 8 years. Not only was the “reform” on Chalcedon in Zeno’s henoticon an issue of dispute between Rome and the East, but also the assumption that Constantinople should occupy 2nd place in Christendom, which is what Canons 3/28 of Constantinople 381 and Chalcedon had attempted to pass as an ecumenical canon. Acacius must have not taken seriously the words of his predecessor Anatolius who wrote the following to Pope Leo I on this – “the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness.” (Patrologia Latina 54.1082B). Concerning the same canons, Pope St. Leo claimed that “by the blessed Apostle Peter’s authority we absolutely dis-annul in comprehensive terms” (Ep. 105). No doubt, therefore, Chalcedon is completed by the recognition of Petrine supremacy over the field of an Ecumenical Council. Acacius, however, was of a different mind on this. Though St. Gelasius, as well as his successors Anastasius II and St. Symmachus, attempted to bring the East back into the fold of Christ, it was not until Pope St. Hormisdas that re-union was established through his Formula of Reunion which required a recognition of much of what St. Gelasius had already been writing on. Below, I will be posting material found in the letters of Pope St. Gelasius, drawing from three sources: (1) his letter to the Bishops of Dardania (495), (2) his instructions to a Papal legate Magister Faustus, and (3) his letter to the Emperor Anastasius. Continue reading →
Many contemporary readers on things Catholic, Anglican, and even Eastern Orthodox are at least familiar with the name John Henry Cardinal Newman, the 19th century Anglican who converted to Catholicism, if not with his whole story. Well, another Anglican who came after Blessed Newman’s time is Frederick Joseph Kinsman, a Bishop of the American Episcopal Church and Oxford trained Professor of Ecclesiastical History who converted to Catholicism in 1919 after resigning from his Bishopric in Delaware. While Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua is his very scholarly review of his defenses for his journey to Catholicism, Kinsman’s Salve Mater is less scholarly and much more practical. Like Newman, He taught and lectured in many places, though his specialty was History and not Theology. What I find more practical about Kinsman is that, unlike Newman, he engaged with the Greek and Russian Orthodox Apologetic, which makes for something a tad more relevant to our contemporary times wherein we are beginning to see many traditional Catholics make an exodus to Eastern Orthodoxy in light of the current situation. Now, I don’t happen to agree with every point Kinsman brings up contra-Orthodoxy, but overall he summarizes the primary reason I chose to remain Catholic and not go Orthodox, namely, that the Papal office is as essential to the Church as the Bishop’s office, and thus we cannot have the Church at x-point in history with the Papacy and then y-point in history without the Papacy. Many Orthodox today are willing to concede a great amount of recognition of Rome’s authoritative primacy in the 1st millennium, though relegate its institution to more ecclesiastical institution, and thus leaving it to an institution even less divine than the office of Deacon. In other words, the Church can do with it or without it. Others, of course, not as plentiful, have stated that the current Patriarch of Constantinople assumes the same position of the Pope in the 1st millennium, and so attempt to say that the Orthodox have never really dumped the universal Primate from its constitutions, for reasons, at times, which run along the lines of synodality being non-existent without primacy. As faithful to history as this all may or may not be, the fact that there is a variety of divergent voices in Orthodoxy on the matter is already an indication which makes Kinsman’s apologetic contra-Orthodoxy just as relevant as it was to him in the early 1900’s. Ultimately, if the Papal office, being the office of St. Peter, is a creation of Jesus Christ, then the earthly Church has no rights to remove it from the visible constitution of the Church without axing off something essential to itself. Below, I have taken the time to type out large sections from Kinsman’s Salve Mater which deals with his reasons for going to Rome and not Constantinople. For those who wish to read more, I recommend getting the whole book, which can be read online for free here , or the physical book can be purchased at relatively low costs via AbeBooks. Continue reading →
A quick look at the 9th century Orthodox confrontation with Papal supremacy.
Just before the Synod of Constantinople 879-80, Pope John VIII had written a letter to Emperor Basil I concerning the re-instating of Photius upon the death of St. Ignatius, who occupied the episcopal throne prior to. Photius had actually been reconciled to St. Ignatius, and actually canonized him after his death. This letter from John VIII contained clear indication of some of the basic elements of the definitions @ Vatican 1 on the founding and prerogatives of Papal power, and that in both Latin & Greek versions. Here is the passage I am referring to: Continue reading →