Friday, March 7, 2014

Another Papacy proof from the Early Church - (Pope Hormisdas, AD519)

Here's a relatively brief apologetics argument for the Papacy that I was introduced to which I think is worth sharing. I'll start with a historical background (with lots of assistance from Wikipedia), then present the argument, and then I'll end by examining some potential objections.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council which was held in Chalcedon in AD 451 condemned the heresy of Monophysitism, which was the heretical idea that the two (distinct) natures of Jesus, His humanity and His divinity were actually to be understood as one (combined) nature (mono-physis). While this Council was approved by Rome and Constantinople, the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch did not approve of the Council's condemnation, and as a result they latter separated from communion with the Universal Church. Most people are aware of the schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox starting around the year AD 1054, but this schism with Alexandria and Antioch took place 500 years earlier and remains to this day. (I wrote about this HERE.)

This schism of the Orientals (Alexandrian and Antioch) caused understandable pain in the Empire and the Church, so thirty years later in AD 482 the Emperor Zeno and Acacius the Patriarch of Constantinople got together to "fix" this problem. Their "solution" was to have bishops repudiate the Council of Chalcedon, which resulted in a backlash from Rome. As a result of their refusal to recant, Pope Felix excommunicated them, resulting in what is popularly termed the "Acacian schism" (which lasted from 484–519) which now had Constantinople (i.e. the Greeks) in schism. This thirty-five year schism between West and East was sought to be resolved by the new Pope (Hormisdas), the new Emperor (Justin), and the new Patriarch of Constantinople (John II).

To effect the restoration of communion, Pope Hormisdas wrote a theological Formula and demanded that Justin, John II, and the Eastern bishops sign it. This "Formula of Hormisdas" stated the following (red highlights mine):
"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," [Matthew 16:18], 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 ["the Cat"] and also Peter [Mongos] 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 ["the Fuller""] of Antioch with all his followers 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." [Source: "
Eastern Orthodox opposition to papal supremacy"]
As far as I can tell, no Eastern Orthodox denies this Formula is a historical document and is accurately presented here. What they do deny are the Papal 'overtones' of the document, which is what I'll be addressing in a moment.

From this Formula, it is clear that the See of Rome saw itself as the head of the Church by which all controversies are to be settled and all bishops (and Emperors) must submit to. Pope Hormisdas quotes Matthew 16:18-19 in regards to himself, he anathematizes the previous Patriarch of Constantinople, and he demands the new Patriarch of Constantinople and schismatic bishops all unconditionally sign this Formula. All these factors are huge for anyone who has common sense, for they clearly spell out that the Pope didn't see himself as subject to the whims of other bishops. Just the fact the Pope unilaterally condemned a Patriarch is huge, since that's something which is impossible in Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology.

And it is also undisputed in the sources I've checked (including EO sources) is that Emperor Justin and Patriarch John II of Constantinople did in fact sign this Formula. One Catholic I know even came upon the actual words of the Letter which Justin sent to the Pope:
You should know, most religious father, the end which for a long time was being sought by the highest efforts; you should know clearly – even before those who have been sent to you should have arrived – that the most blessed John, bishop of our New Rome, along with his clergy agrees with you, varying by no ambiguities, divided by no discords; you should know that that by him has been subscribed a certificate, which you had decided must be submitted, conforming with the council of the holiest fathers.
(Letter of Justin I to Pope Hormisdas, from Roman State & Christian Church: a Collection of Legal Documents to A.D. 535, vol. 3, edited by P. R. Coleman – Norton, p. 974)
Given that the Formula of Hormisdas and the subscription by Justin and John II are beyond dispute, we can now look at how the EO have chosen to try to get out of this plain evidence for Papal Supremacy in the early Church. 

Objection #1: The EO have no problem with agreeing with the Formula because Rome was teaching orthodoxy; the EO didn't agree with Rome because Rome was the leader.

Response: This is just silly. Yes, Rome was orthodox here, but the Formula says a lot more than "agree with this document because it's orthodox," and rather it is saying "submit to the Apostolic See, which cannot err."

Objection #2: Patriarch John II (allegedly) added this detail when he subscribed to the Formula: "I declare that the see of apostle Peter and the see of this imperial city are one." This indicates he saw himself on par with the Pope.

Response: Again, this is just silly. Nothing in the Formula indicates the Pope saw anyone as an equal, and in fact the Formula recalled how the prior Pope unilaterally condemned the previous Patriarch of Constantinople. That's hardly seeing him on equal footing. That wasn't the point of the Formula at all. Even Justin's Letter shows this was about unconditional subscription, which he says he and John II did. Agreement with the Pope, yes, but on par with the Pope, no.

Objection #3: The EO link I provided above says: "Furthermore despite it being one of the demands in the formula the east continued to disregard papal demands by not condemning Acacius."

Response [Updated 3/9/13]: After some further research into this matter, the issue seems to be more of a pastoral problem than one of disregarding Papal Primacy. From the same work "Roman State & Christian Church" cited earlier (I can make pdf scans if people are interested), Emperor Justin wrote to Pope Hormisdas in AD520 saying:
[W]ith all attention we have ordained that the venerable Constantinopolitan Church and many others should support your wishes, not only in all other matters but also in withdrawing from the sacred diptychs the names which you particularly have demanded ought to be removed. But there have been several cities and churches, both Pontic and Asian and especially eastern, whose clergy and laity, though thoroughly assailed by all threats and persuasions, nevertheless to no avail have been influenced that they should abrogate and should remove the names of bishops whose repute has flourished among them, but they count life harsher than death, if they shall have condemned the dead, in whose life, when alive, they used to glory. What therefore are we to make of this kind of stubbornness, which, in not heeding the word, exists and despises tortures to such a degree that it judges it glorious and gladsome for itself, if it should desist from the body sooner than from religious opinion? Indeed there seems to us the need of acting rather mildly and rather leniently. ... Accordingly will it be more preferable that for the sake of minor matters so many multitudes should be separated entirely from us or that, after insignificant points have been conceded and remitted, greater matters and those which by all means must be investigated should be corrected, that at least in view of their necessary aspects may be selected for amendment those matters on which it has not been permitted to achieve entire acceptance? Accordingly we demand remission for the names, not of Acacius, not of each Peter, not of Dioscore or of Timothy, whose names your Sanctity's letters sent to us contained, but for the persons whom reverence for bishops has celebrated in other communities, with the exception also of the cities where your Beatitude's memorandum already has been accepted in its entirety, unless your Benevolence shall have decided that this part also should be emended more gently.  (Letter #560, p984)
Justin is very clear here and elsewhere that Patriarch John II of Constantinople and several other cities had indeed followed all the demands of the Formula including striking the names of certain clergy from the diptychs (a list of names read during the Mass). But what had happened was that even though certain clergy who were named and condemned in the Formula were indeed in the wrong, the Formula seemed to extend beyond these clergy to include successors of Acacius and others associated with him. This caused understandable discomfort to many churches in the east who saw striking the names of certain beloved clergy (some of them still living) as a insult and character smear. So Justin asks the Pope if he will take a more pastoral and lenient approach to this matter. Justin requests that the Pope either limit the condemnation to Acaius only, or better yet condemn the errors but don't mention any names. The fact that Constantinople obeyed without hesitation is no small historical detail, nor is it a minor matter that the Emperor looked to Rome to settle this matter. I see this 'disobedience' in the east as simply a pastoral issue.

I would also add that since Monophysitism was alive in the east, this could also explain some hesitancy by some eastern churches to condemn certain clergy, since significant churches in the east did reject Chalcedon. So what Justin could have been saying is that it would be more pastorally prudent if the Pope sought to win over Monophysite churches and just ignore the matter of striking out names, since the latter could be an unnecessary obstacle to the former goal.

Objection #4: Patriarch John II couldn't have submitted to the Formula in full because John II held on to Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, a canon which equated Constantinople's authority with Rome's authority. 

Response: It is beyond dispute that Rome never approved of Canon 28 of Chalcedon, despite a lot of begging by the Emperor and EO at the time of that Council. Pope Leo explicitly and repeatedly rejected Canon 28 as teaching error, specifically saying it contradicted Canon 6 of Nicaea (which it did). See more details about that HERE (scroll down to Leo). But that's not all, the Formula of Hormisdas explicitly requires all people to "endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion," which would mean they had to approve of Leo's famous Letters which he wrote to Constantinople and Emperor in rejection of Canon 28.

As you can see, the primary EO "objections" are pure desperation and completely ridiculous. They show just how far a person can sink and be blinded by the truth because of an embedded hatred of Catholicism. The historical record shows they will lie, cheat, etc, to not affirm or downplay the plain facts. And yet anyone can see that this kind of deceptive behavior is completely from the Devil, no excuses. No Christian should ever have to defend his position by saying his bishop had to resort to lies and deception to get by. That's not a 'victory over Rome' but a humiliating display of what not to do if you're doing apologetics.


Devin Rose said...

Good analysis. I'm reading (Eastern Orthodox) Fr. John Meyendorff book "Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions" The Church AD 450 - 680 from the St. Vladimir Press Church in History series.

He raises some of the arguments you rebut in this post. His overall tenor throughout the book is to diminish and down-play anything from the West and the pope in particular, but he raises some other mitigating factors to this triumph of Rome. None however fully blunt the force of it.

Nick said...

Hello Devin,

Thank you for your comment. I would guess that since Meyendorff was cited in the Eastern Orthodox link I gave that his main objections were addressed.

You might be interested to see Objection #3 above has been revised to address Meyendorf's claim that many in the east disobeyed the Pope. It turns out this wasn't so much 'disobedience' as it was a way to (understandably) avoid unfair tarnishing of their eastern heritage.

Unknown said...


2500 Greek and eastern bishops signed this Formula. This formula is an absolute death blow to EO ecclesiology.

About 6 weeks ago, I was debating an EO priest.The debate lasted 2 weeks! I accidentally stumbled upon this Hormisdas Formula on Google,8 pages into the search!

Once I posted this formula to him, I never heard back from him! Lol!

Where Pope Hormisdas refers to Matt 16 to himself,is a killer.

You are 100% correct, they will lie, cheat, smear, smother, change and twist facts around to justify their erroneous theology.

This type of deceit can only come from one source; The Devil.

Bottom Line, they are heretics and schismatics, and continually dispense Catholic Sacraments illegally.


Carl Anderson knights of Columbus said...

This is the detailed history that you have shared about Catholicism and its very interesting to got to know about the background of Pope and Catholicism history in detail.

Carl Anderson knights of Columbus

Anonymous said...

"Bottom Line, they are heretics and schismatics, and continually dispense Catholic Sacraments illegally."

Not Catholic but LCMS but doesn't this comment seem contrary to other position statements I've read regarding Catholicism's view of the Sacraments in the Eastern Orthodox Church? Maybe I'm not understanding the language of some of those statements but thought that EO Sacraments were valid?

Wanderedintokonya said...

But what do you make of the fact that the name of Acacius was never removed from the Dyptich and that the bishops in the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem never signed it? What do you make of the fact that the bishop of Thessalonika tore it up in front of his congregation and nothing ever happened to him?

@St. Peter "2,500 bishops signed?" Where is this number from?

All in all, RCs talk a big talk about the letter, but I'd be interested to see the "signed copy" - that'll settle the dispute about how important it was.

Nick said...


I addressed this in my original post. There are two plausible answers for why certain bishops in the East didn't strike out his name.

(1) It was pastorally tough for them to strike out a beloved figure from recent memory.

(2) These diocese contained bishops who subscribed to the Monophysite heresy, which is why many in the Syriac/Alexandrian regions rejected Chalcedon, and thus they weren't in communion with Rome or Constantinople and thus kept the Chalcedon-denyers like Acacius in their prayer books.

ukjh said...


I am no expert on these matters, but I would venture to guess that it comes down to the difference between valid and licit. Just as when a priest is laicized and excommunicated, they are forbidden from confecting the Eucharist. However: "once a priest, always a priest." If that excommunicated and laicized priest chooses to disobey, he is still capable of consecrating bread and wine because of the indelible character on his soul. It gets even more complex when excommunicated bishops enter the equation since they are capable of giving faculties to priests under their charge, thus enabling them to hear confessions validly inspite of it being unlawful.

Unless I have misunderstood, even a Roman Catholic can, when in danger of death, receive the sacraments from an excommunicated and/or laicized priest be that EO, SSPX, etc.

***Anyone is free and welcome to correct me if the above is not entirely accurate.

Anonymous said...

"Bottom Line, they are heretics and schismatics, and continually dispense Catholic Sacraments illegally."

Even if we accept that Peter is the primate and leader of the Apostles ---

How do you explain the fact that not just Rome but also the Church of Antioch was founded by Peter.

Today the Church of Antioch is the Antiochian Orthodox Church!

As for the person who wrote the above quote --

Friend, I cannot believe that people like St Seraphim of Sarov, St John of San Francisco, St Theophan the Recluse, St Gregory Palamas, St Tikhon of Moscow and Father Seraphim Rose were schismatics devoid of all grace!
But, pardon me, the same does not apply for post-schism Catholic saints.
Please go to this website:

I pray that God leads you to the Truth.

Christ Is Truly Risen!

Anonymous said...

One crucial point has been ignored in this proof. As the Acacian Schism had been causing division is the empire at the time, Emperor Justin took it upon himself to repair the schism. As Michael Whelton notes in his book, "Two Paths", he used imperial authority to force the Eastern Church to comply. Meaning that the Eastern Bishops who signed this were forced into doing so.

You say that the Eastern bishops continued to recognize the Pope's supreme jurisdiction after this was signed? So maybe you can explain how in the Council of Constantinople in 879, the sees of Rome and Constantinople agreed "not to interfere in each other's internal affairs"? This is a flat rejection of any claim of supremacy by the Pope. And no, the Pope was not forced into agreeing to this, it was completely of his own accord.

Another undeniable example of the Pope flatly denying his supreme jurisdiction lies in the 28th canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council. "For the fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city. And the One Hundred and Fifty most religious Bishops, actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges to the most holy throne of New Rome [Constantinople], justly judging that the city which is honored with the Sovereignty and the Senate, and enjoys equal privileges with the old imperial Rome, should in ecclesiastical matters also be magnified as she is." Not only does this explicitly state that the church of Rome has equal privileges to the church of Constantinople, but it also notes that these privileges were granted because of the POLITICAL STANDING of these cities, and having nothing to do with a "See of Peter." What is important to note here, is that for a council to be considered Ecumenical, it had to be recognized by all of the Patriarchs, THE POPE INCLUDED. Meaning that the Pope accepted the rulings of this council, fully conceding that the office of the Pope had no supreme jurisdiction, and that it was not descended from a See of Peter.

In short, the fact that one Pope believed he held supreme jurisdiction and was able to get the Emperor to support him, is nothing near a proof of the early papacy. On the other hand, an Ecumenical Council agreed upon universally by the church... THAT is solid proof.

Nick said...


You said: "So maybe you can explain how in the Council of Constantinople in 879, the sees of Rome and Constantinople agreed "not to interfere in each other's internal affairs"?"

Response: You gave virtually no context to this quote and will have to give a link to a specific document. Further, the Council of 879 is not held as Ecumenical by Rome, nor even by all EO. So I don't see how this is a powerful proof for anything you're saying.

You said: "Another undeniable example of the Pope flatly denying his supreme jurisdiction lies in the 28th canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council."

Response: WHICH Pope affirmed this? You do know that Pope Leo was the Pope at the time of this and that he explicitly rejected this Canon, saying that it violated the Nicene Canons?

You said: "What is important to note here, is that for a council to be considered Ecumenical, it had to be recognized by all of the Patriarchs, THE POPE INCLUDED."

Response: WHERE is this ever taught, anywhere, by anyone? This idea is a myth, and I'd even say it's your third strike in a row about your credibility. How does that argument even work when one of the Patriarchs is on trial by a Council (e.g. Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople)? The heretical Patriarch would just Vote No if they said he was in error.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for not providing a source. That quotation was from "The Truth," by Clark Carlton, a very well learned historian. Whether or not the council was ecumenical has no relevance to this point. If the Pope agreed not to interfere with the Patriarch of Constantinople, he's not going to interfere with him. The agreement wouldn't even have needed a council to bear legitimacy.

I had been reading that the Roman Catholic church accepts the councils because they have all been accepted by the Pope, so I assumed that the Pope would have accepted this canon as well. Upon further research, I do admit to have been wrong in this regard. However, Pope Leo's rejections to this canon had absolutely nothing to do with its derailing of the "authority" of the Pope. He refused to give his consent to the canon "Because the decree of Chalcedon took from the Bishop of Alexandria the second rank, and the third from the Bishop of Antioch, and was in so far forth contrary to the sixth canon of the Council of Nicea, and because the same decree prejudiced the rights of several primates or metropolitans." (The Papacy - Abbe Guettee, citing epistle 53 of St Leo) It certainly seems strange that if papal authority were so commonly and universally recognized, it would make it through a document like this letter without mention.

And regardless of whether or not the Pope accepted this canon, how could one possibly claim that the church fully recognized the authority of the Pope, when a council of the ENTIRE CHURCH said specifically otherwise?

"How does that argument even work when one of the Patriarchs is on trial by a Council (e.g. Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople)? The heretical Patriarch would just Vote No if they said he was in error." Um, no. You seem to be confused about what it means for a council to be considered ecumenical. A general council would come to a consensus, and whatever that consensus is would be the ruling of the council. This part is completely unrelated to the part that had to be approved by all five patriarchs. Long after the council, if it came to be accepted by all five patriarchs, then it would earn the term "ecumenical".

To any who are truly in pursuit of the truth, I must recommend "The Papacy" by Abbe Guettee. This book absolutely obliterates just about every existing claim to the early papacy. It's one of, if not the, most well researched and documented book I have ever found on any subject. Since its publication in 1866, there has not been a book so much as attempting to refute its assertions, despite how commonly the book is cited to disprove Papal claims.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to share some more of my thoughts regarding the Papal claims, particularly in the first few centuries of the Church.

I find that in citing early church fathers that seem to support the Papacy, Roman historians rely almost completely on isolated quotes, given completely out of context, often found in obscure works of said fathers. If, I ask, the Papacy had been so universally recognized, would there not have been long, extended works on the subject? Would there not be detailed chapters upon chapters, books upon books on the subject of the Rome’s supremacy? Yet not a single work can be cited that goes into any detail whatsoever on the Papacy. How is it possible that something so absolute as the Papacy could receive so little mention in the early church?

St. Augustine is a perfect example of this. Out of all the works of Augustine, Catholic historians have found ONE quote that seems to show he gave a special authority to the Pope. “Rome has spoken, the case is finished.” The quote is already a rather weak proof, but that does not even matter because the quote does not exist! The first part, “Rome has spoken”, is a complete invention by Roman historians. The actual text goes: “Rescripts have returned, the case is closed—may it please God that also the error be so!” See this link, pages 77-78, for all the details on how Augustine gave absolutely no authority to the Pope in not only this quotation, but all of the events surrounding it.

The invention of this quote begs the question, if proof of the Papacy existed within this text from Augustine, why the necessity to forge it? I’ll say a bit more on this point later.

Michael Whelton says it perfectly in his book Two Paths.

“St. Augustine had ample opportunity in his actions and vast literary works to express his belief in the supreme jurisdiction of Rome. Of all the Fathers of the Church, St. Augustine wrote the most on church unity and authority. He wrote 75 chapters to the separated Donatists on the Unity of the Church, using all sorts of arguments to urge them to return to communion. Of the necessity of communion with Rome, or Rome as a centre of unity, or Rome’s supreme authority, there is not one single word.”

How is it REMOTELY possible that something as universal as the Pope’s supremacy could make it through all the works of St. Augustine unmentioned? The claim that the Papacy in the early church even remotely resembles that of today is absurd. (continued)

Anonymous said...

St. Irenaeus is like this. In all the works of St. Irenaeus, Catholic historians find a SINGLE quotation that seems to lead to a Papacy. Not only this, but the translation of this quotation is highly debated. Once again, without further examination, this “proof” already raises some doubts. Many different translations exist, but a typical Roman Catholic translation would look like this: “For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree.” Other translations read something like this: “For it is necessary that every church come together with this church on account of its greater antiquity.” At this link, starting on page 23, there is a very, very strong argument as to why the latter translation is more accurate. But, I do not think this sort of analysis is even necessary. The context of the quote makes the translation quite clear. Throughout the entire text, Irenaeus praises Rome for maintaining the Apostolic Tradition, or for its purity of faith. In other words, he praises Rome for being an outstanding example OF ITS CLASS. An examination of the entire work makes this very clear. This link goes into much greater detail on this.

Once again, in all of the vast works of a church father, not a single reference exists supporting any authority of Rome. Once again, if the authority of Rome were so widely recognized, it would be spoken of EVERYWHERE, and it would be done so very, very clearly. This is quite clearly not the case.

Another blatant use of a text completely out of context lies in the letter of St Clement to the Corinthians. Catholic historians claim that this letter, instructing the Corinthians in matters of doctrine, was written by virtue of a superior authority of St Clement, Bishop of Rome. This attempt at a proof falls apart on many different levels. Firstly, if the Roman claims were true, it would be much, much more obvious. The wording I have heard from Roman Catholics is that the letter uses an “authoritative tone.” Once again, the authority of Rome would have been written in far more clear terms. It is hard to imagine that it could make it through such a letter without even a few mentions. Secondly, St Clement was not yet even Bishop of Rome at the time that he sent this letter. Page 17 of The Papacy (link already provided above) proves this with resounding conclusiveness. The letter was written 24 YEARS before St Clement was consecrated Bishop of Rome. The use of this letter as a proof of the authority of this Pope has at this point already been shattered. However, allow me to continue on this point. The matter of doctrine that St Clement was instructing the Corinthians in actually proves to be quite solid proof AGAINST the Papacy. The great “sin” that the Corinthians were guilty of, was BEING PARTIAL AMONG THE APOSTLES. In other words, teaching that one of the apostles was greater than the others. St Clement clearly did not believe in any authority among the apostles. Further detail into this letter is given in the link to “In Defense of the Faith” that I gave above.

This is something I think Abbue Guettee does particularly well in his book. He masterfully examines quotations in the full light of all their context, both textual and historical, to find their true meaning. (continued)

Anonymous said...

His insights into the works of St. John Chrysostom shows quite well his mastery of this skill. Starting on page 66 of the link I have provided, he says,

“[Roman Catholic historians] have accumulated texts to prove that the great Bishop of Constantinople gave to St. Peter the titles of first, of great apostle, of Coryphæus, of prince, of chief, and of mouth of the Apostles.
But if he has given the same titles to the other Apostles, what can we conclude in favour of St. Peter?
Now, in several places in his writings he says of all the Apostles, that they were the foundations, the columns, the chiefs, the doctors, the pilots, and the pastors of the Church.
He calls Peter and John in the same sense, princes of the Apostles.*He says of Peter, James, and John collectively, that they were "first in dignity among the Apostles, the foundations of the Church, the first called, and princes of the disciples.”
If he says of St. Peter, "Peter so blotted out his denial, that he became the first of the Apostles, and that the entire universe was confided to him," he likewise says elsewhere of Peter and John, that the universe was confided to them; he says of St Paul: “Angels often receive the mission of guarding the nations, but none of them ever governed the people confided to him as Paul governed the whole universe. . . .The Hebrew people were confided to Michael the Archangel, and to Paul were committed the earth, the sea, the inhabitants of all the universe--even the desert."** "In the kingdom of heaven," he says, “it is clear that no one will be before Paul." He further calls him the pilot of the Church, vessel of election, the celestial trumpet, the leader of the spouse of Christ; that is, the Church. In the following passage, he evidently places him above St. Peter: “In the place where the cherubim are covered with glory, and where the seraphim soar, there shall we see Paul with Peter, (Paul) who is the prince and president (prostátis) of the choir of saints."

With his extensive research, Guettee proves beyond any level of doubt that St John Chrysostom assigned to Peter absolutely no position over the other apostles. Guettee does this time and time again with the quotations Catholic historians use from church fathers.

Many Roman Catholic attempts at a proof of the Papacy, when examined more closely, end up becoming resounding evidence of the exact opposite.

The case of the Third Ecumenical Council is among these. Pope Pius XI, in his Lux Veritatis attempts to make the case that the council undeniably proves the existence of the Pope as an authority of the church. Historians Orthodox and Catholic alike have pointed out the errors in his assertions.

Three months before the council was convened, Pope Celestine had already excommunicated Nestorius for his heresy. However, despite this fact, the council was still convened to give the ruling on the Nestorian controversy. This makes it quite clear that the church did not regard the sentence of the Pope as final.

Pope Pius claims that Emperor Theodosius, who convened the council, did not yet know of the excommunication. This claim has no historical basis whatsoever. Celestine’s letter of excommunication was sent on August 11, 430. The council was convened on November 19 of the same year. British Byzantine historian Steven Ranchman states that two months would have been more than enough time for this letter to be delivered, and the council was convened over three months after the sending of the letter. (continued)

Anonymous said...

The Lux Veritatis also claims that Cyril recognized the Celestine as Pope when he addressed him as “the most blessed Father Celestine, beloved of God.” Gushing language like this was very common at the time, and was by no means addressed solely to the bishops of Rome. For example, Cyril addresses Nestorius’ successor in Constantinople as “My most holy and worshipful Lord, Archbishop Father Maximiam.” Or when Pope Sixtus III wrote to Cyril saying “all are subject to you.” Had such statements been made towards the Pope, there is no doubt Catholic Historians would have exaggerated it many times, claiming that it is undeniable evidence of a Papacy.

“Two Paths” goes into much greater detail on this matter, addressing all of the arguments made in the Lux Veritatis. Quite contrary to the claims of Pope Pius XI, the Third Ecumenical Council is resounding proof against the Papacy.

Another example that the Romans use to support their case, that proves to show the exact opposite: the case of St John Chrysostom.

After extensive documents and evidence (See pages 56-59 of “The Papacy”), it is clearly seen “That the saint did not appeal to Rome; that he sought in the Western Church a support against his enemies of the East; that the Western bishops only acted collectively to cause his case to be determined; that they only ascribed to a, general council authority to pronounce final sentence; that they only claimed for themselves the right to separate themselves from the communion of such as they deemed accomplices of injustice; and lastly, that Innocent of Rome acted with no more authority in all these discussions than the Bishop of Milan or of Aquileia.”

The above is but a few examples of hundreds of cases in which the Roman Catholic attempts at a proof of the Papacy fall apart immediately when given any historical context. When, in the 11th century, the Papacy emerged as an authoritative figure, the Popes sought to prove that the Papacy had always existed to justify their office. Today, the Catholic Church has had a thousand years to scour through historical documents to find anything that they can twist to support their claims. However, during the 11th century, the West had not yet had the time to do any such thing. As a result, they had to resort to forging hundreds of letters and other such documents to support their cause. I will list a few of these here.

One forgery was a letter written from St. Athanasius to Pope Felix II, “The canons certainly enjoin that apart from the Roman Pontiff we must not decide anything about the greater causes…” St Athanasius died in 373, while Pope Felix II was consecrated bishop in 483. Clearly, not only did the Romans forge documents, but they also must not have put very much effort to it.

The Donation of Constantine is another completely made up story. As far as I know, there are few who still try to claim that it is genuine, but if there are, “Two Paths” shuts down all of the claims in its chapter on the subject.

St. Cyril, according to the forgeries, said, “Besides that we may remain members of our head, the Apostolic See of the Roman Pontiffs, it is our duty to seek what we ought to believe and hold, venerating him and asking him for all things, since it is his duty alone to blame, to correct, to ermine, to dispose . . . “ All scholars today, including the Catholics, recognize this quotation to be completely nonexistent.

Another forgery was listed above, “Rome has spoken, the case is finished.” (continued)

Anonymous said...

Not only does the use of forgeries remove much credibility on the part of the Romans, but, once again, it begs the question, if absolute proof of a Papacy existed, why was there a necessity to forge all these documents?

I think worth mentioning are the interpretations of the church fathers on Matthew 16:18, a verse which Roman Catholics have so thoroughly abused.

Roman Catholic scholar Jean de Launoy, after much research into the works of the church fathers, finds that 80% of the Fathers did not recognize the person of Peter as the rock. A mere 20% did. And even among those in the 20%, there cannot be cited a single one who used the verse to give any authority to Peter. If you think you have a counterexample, read “The Papacy”. Guettee covered just about everything. They saw Peter only as a symbol of the apostles, representing all of them in their reception of the keys of the kingdom. Among the 80% there are many who are quite renowned. This includes SAINT AUGUSTINE, St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Cyril, St Leo, St Gregory the Great, St John Damascene, and very many more.

St Augustine:
“See what praises follow this faith. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build this Church.” What meant, “Upon this rock I will build My Church”? Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock,” saith He, “I will build my Church.””

St John Chrysostom:
“And I say unto thee, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,” that is, on the faith of his confession.”

St Cyprian:
“The rock is the unity of faith, not the person of Peter.”

St Ambrose:
“Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was not on the person but of the faith of St Peter that it was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it; it is the confession of faith that has vanquished hell. Jesus Christ is the Rock.”

The evidence against the early Papacy is absolutely overwhelming. ALL of the Roman Catholic arguments have been refuted. Every single one. The two books that I cited above (Two Paths - Michael Whelton, and The Papacy- Abbe Guettee) cover pretty much everything. This link is also quite good to any who wish to look into it: I pray that God leads you all to the truth. Glory to Jesus Christ!

Unknown said...

I can see why Catholics would read into this more than what it says. You come to this with a certain perspective and you wish to fit the facts into that.

You should note that the text refers to a council where Monophysitism was condemned. Note the formula does not itself say that Monophysitism was defeated by the pope alone - but by two bishops, Roman and Alexandrian.

You should also look at the historical context of that condemnation. The pope at the time had already condemned Monophysitism and yet still an Ecumenical Council was held to judge matters for themselves.

That Ecumenical Council was called for against the express wishes of the pope.

Regarding Dioscorus, the pope had already condemned him. Papal legates, in the first session of the council demanded that Dioscorus be banned from the council.
“Paschasinus, the most reverend bishop and legate of the Apostolic See, stood up in the midst with his most reverend colleagues and said: We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city, which is the head of all the churches, which directions say that Dioscorus is not to be allowed a seat in this assembly, but that if he should attempt to take his seat he is to be cast out. This instruction we must carry out; if now your holiness so commands let him be expelled or else we leave.”
Extracts from the Acts. Session I. (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. IV., col. 93.) at

Despite this “Dioscorus was admitted to the first session of the Council.”
Morrison, K., (1969) Tradition and Authority in the Western Church (Princeton University Press), p67.

Wanderedintokonya said...

Most of the East never signed the Libelkus, essentially just Constantinople and its environs. In a letter to Patriarch Epiphanios of Constantinople, John's successor, Pope Hormisdas writes up a new formula that removed every mention of Peter and hint towards infallibility leaving a long Christological formula that is to be signed. It was after this that the rest of the East resumed communion with Rome. We know that Rome itself considered this the valid reunion formula and knew it held sway in the East because, at the anti-Photian council of 869, when the legates wishes to remind Constantinople of how her and Rome had split paths and then resumed communion, the legates read the text of the letter of Pope Hormisdas to Epiphanius (that's how we have the Greek text) but no mention of the Libellus is in the Acts of 869 brought up.

Considering the "second" Libellus was suddenly signature worthy after being stripped of Petrine prerogatives, we have a very clear view of how the East viewed the claims of a proto-infallibility and proto-Gregorian Reforms.

Craig said...

Denny makes a huge claim without any citations. I never heard anywhere that there were two Hormisdas letters.

Unknown said...

A Bishop condemning another Bishop is in no way out of the ordinary. Cyril did it, Athanasius did it, multiple Patriarchs of Rome were Anathematized in correspondence, Honorius was condemned at an ecumenical council. Notice in the letter, he addresses himself on par with the Bishop of Alexandria.

In no way does the correspondence from Justin hint at the pope being above him, the Emperor simply says "we all agree with your position." This, as you mentioned, was a tenuous time in the empire when Italy had been separated from the Empire; Justinian had been tasked with reunifying the church to preclude the reconquest of Italy, as the pope, having a great influence on the peninsula.

The dyptichs, and the striking of names also does not in any way mean that Rome is excercising authority over the other churches, the other churches simply agree with them... In fact, virtually every single ecumenical council proves, without a doubt, that the pope was on equal footing with the other Patriarchates. Every ecumenical council was called by an Emperor, many of them expressly against the wishes of the Roman Pontiff - Calcedon being a prime example.

This article, I'm sorry as I don't mean to be rude, is a really sad argument for the papacy. The footing of papal supremacy/papal monarchy is so scant that Rome had to declare it "treasonous and heresy to question, or to use any historical proofing, as the pope himself is the sole arbitor of truth." .....

Papal supremacy is built solely on forgeries such as the donation of Constantine. The Spanish church is a perfect example of how, even in the West, Romes suprême authority wasn't recognized. They implemented the filioque in opposition to the Roman Pontiff for 300 years until it became so prevelant that Rome had to accept it - as they have so many forbidden practices over the years.I find it hilarious how RCs say ",you don't have a way to resolve theological disputes" as if that's true - which it isn't - and "y'all are stuck in the first millennium"as if that's not a badge if honor, Truth is eternal, and so is the Orthodox Church.... Rome, unfortunately, fell away from the true church. 4 of the 5 Patriarchates disagreed with their claims - which again, were based on forgeries. Rome's arguments are defeated simply by looking at it, it's constantly innovated for the last 1,000 years. Christ says you will know His people by their fruits .. we can see the fruits of the Roman Pontiff.... War, persecution of other Christians both Protestants and Orthodox... Read what the Jesuits did to Peter the Aleut, read what the Catholic knights did to what is now western Ukraine and how they were able to lock in "communion" with the Uniates.... "Catholic" means One faith, One Creed, One Truth shared once and for all, a constant beacon of truth.... A single teaching in all places at all times, only the Orthodox Catholic Church has that