Before Honorius

“And if the Lord shall be gracious to us, what other support do we need? But if the wrath of God remain upon us, what help can we get from Western superciliousness? They [Pope Damasus] who neither know nor endure to learn the truth, but, preoccupied with false suspicions, are doing now just what they did before in the case of Marcellus, when they quarelled with those who reported to them the truth, and by their own action supported heresy. For I myself, without concert with any, was minded to writer to their leader [Damasus]: nothing indeed about ecclesiastical matters, except so much as to hint that they neither know the truth of what is going on among us, nor accept the way by which they might learn it; but generally about the duty of not attacking those who are humbled by trials, and of not taking disdainfulness for dignity, a sin which of itself is sufficient to set a man at emnity with God.”

Saint Basil the Great 376 A.D. Epistle 239

4 Responses to Before Honorius

  1. William B says:


    1. Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, DESCRIBING THE HONOUR OF A BISHOP AND THE ORDER OF HIS CHURCH, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: “I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this, then, is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church; when the Church is established in the bishop and the clergy, and all who stand fast in the faith. [Epistle 26]

  2. A couple of interesting quotations from Pope Gregory the Great:

    Gregory the Great to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria:

    “Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places [i.e., Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch] is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself. If you believe anything good of me, impute this to your merits, since we are one in Him Who says, That they all may be one, as You, Father, art in me, and I in you that they also may be one in us.” [Registrum Epistolarum, Book VII, 40]

    Gregory the Great to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria:

    “Your Blessedness has also been careful to declare that you do not now make use of proud titles, which have sprung from a root of vanity, in writing to certain persons, and you address me saying, ‘As you have commanded.’ This word, command, I beg you to remove from my hearing, since I know who I am, and who you are. For in position you are my brethren, in character my fathers. I did not, then, command, but was desirous of indicating what seemed to be profitable. Yet I do not find that your Blessedness has been willing to remember perfectly this very thing that I brought to your recollection. For I said that neither to me nor to any one else ought you to write anything of the kind; and lo, in the preface of the epistle which you have addressed to myself who forbade it, you have thought fit to make use of a proud appellation, calling me Universal Pope. But I beg your most sweet Holiness to do this no more, since what is given to another beyond what reason demands is subtracted from yourself. For as for me, I do not seek to be prospered by words but by my conduct. Nor do I regard that as an honour whereby I know that my brethren lose their honour. For my honour is the honour of the universal Church: my honour is the solid vigour of my brethren. Then am I truly honoured when the honour due to all and each is not denied them. For if your Holiness calls me Universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what you call me universally. But far be this from us. Away with words that inflate vanity and wound charity.” [Registrum Epistolarum, Book VIII, 30]

  3. Fr. Oliver Herbel says:

    This last quote from Eusebius, if you did into it, crumbles the whole idea of monepiscopacy in Rome before sometime in the third (probably mid-third) century. At some point, I keep hoping to jot down an essay about it but one can find the essence of the problem very well argued (though densely argued, so be forewarned) in Allen Brent’s Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century. I’ve not encountered a review that disagreed yet, though I’ve encountered many who have not read it and just assume the Vatican 1 papacy “must” have existed back then, too. Please. From what we can tell, Rome had more than one bishop! But again, I haven’t time to debate it out. I’m just commenting to point one on to Brent’s work.

  4. William B says:

    I wonder why that wasn’t included in Steve Ray’s book!

    “Well, let us suppose that those bishops who decided the case at Rome were not good judges; there still remained a plenary Council of the universal Church, in which these judges themselves might be put on their defence; so that, if they were convicted of mistake, their decisions might be reversed.” [Augustine, Letter 43, Chapter 7]

    “It is not the case that there is one church at Rome and another in all the world beside. Gaul and Britain, Africa and Persia, India and the East worship one Christ and observe one rule of truth. If you ask for authority, the world outweighs its capital. Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be at Rome or at Engubium, whether it be at Constantinople or at Rhegium, whether it be at Alexandria or at Zoan, his dignity is one and his priesthood is one. Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty makes him more a bishop or less a bishop. All alike are successors of the apostles.” [Jerome, Letter 146]

    “9. Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately ATTEMPTED TO CUT OFF from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.

    10. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.

    11. Among them was Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom…” [Eusebius, Church History, V, Ch. 24]

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