Emperichoretic Ecclesiology

“And to this end we brought to his remembrance the great examples left us by the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers.  For although the grace of the Holy Spirit abounded in each one of the Apostles, so that no one of them needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work, yet they were not willing to define on the question then raised touching the circumcision of the Gentiles, until being gathered together they had confirmed their own several sayings by the testimony of the divine Scriptures.

And thus they arrived unanimously at this sentence, which they wrote to the Gentiles:  ‘It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.’

But also the Holy Fathers, who from time to time have met in the four holy councils, following the example of the ancients, have by a common discussion, disposed of by a fixed decree the heresies and questions which had sprung up, as it was certainly known, that by common discussion when the matter in dispute was presented by each side, the light of truth expels the darkness of falsehood.

Nor is there any other way in which the truth can be made manifest when there are discussions concerning the faith, since each one needs the help of his neighbour, as we read in the Proverbs of Solomon:  ‘A brother helping his brother shall be exalted like a walled city; and he shall be strong as a well-founded kingdom;’ and again in Ecclesiastes he says:  ‘Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.'”

So also the Lord himself says:  ‘Verily I say unto you that if two of you shall agree upon earth as touching anything they shall seek for, they shall have it from my Father which is in heaven.  For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

 

The Sentence of the Fifth Ecumenical Council

90 Responses to Emperichoretic Ecclesiology

  1. Elliot B says:

    I have commented on this quotation before on my blog (it’s linked in my large, and notorious, prooftext-florilegium, as some here would have it, of papal supremacy), so all I shall say at this point is: the knife cuts both ways. The bolded claims can just as easily be read as a basis for papal autonomy as for empirochoretic collectivity, since the Roman pope does not need the input of other apostolic successors in the execution of his work. If anything, ironically, the kind of each-to-his-own episcopacy these quotes are motivating, undercuts the collegial thrust of Orthodoxy, wherein everyone really does need the collaborative chrism of everybody else (magisterially speaking). Indeed, since all cannot do without all, it is a prickly issue how any patriarch feels he can do without another one, especially one as Peter, long understood to “reside” in Rome.

    In any case, as Arthur has noted, the dogma of papal infallibility does not negate the collegiality of the episcopal college– its presupposes it. The pope’s only function (to use such a term) is to be the visible sign of episcopal union, which is a union primarily expressed in worship (concelebration) and teaching (magisterial orthodoxy); clearly he can only be that sign of union IN the episcopal communion. Supposing his Petrine autonomy removes him from his episcopal obligations exactly reverses the intent of the papal orthodoxy. In order to show the Pope is really at odds with this quote, is find a case of papal authority being exercised totally and explicitly apart from and in opposition to the larger episcopal (as apostolic) federation. Further, as Michael L argues, what is most clear about this passage is that it is establishing the apostolic basis for episcopal councils, not the impotence of the pope, nor, moreover, the sacramental equivalence of bishops and the Apostles.

    I find it very telling that a very large amount of patristic “matter” (not to presume here to call it evidence nor to deign to call it prooftexting), is supposedly answered by this one quote. You’ve trotted this horse out many times before, so it must be a prize (perhaps lone?) stallion among lesser mules. It may be the silver bullet you want, but that’s just it: it is THE bullet, and, by my lights, mostly a dud for the apposite issue.

  2. Perry:

    The argument you’re trying to make on the basis of the “Sentence” of the Fifth Ecumenical Council is much ado about nothing. From the fact, if it is a fact, that “no one of the Apostles needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work,” it does not follow that the bishops with apostolic succession, taken severally, don’t need such counsel either. So, even if the inference being made by the Council Fathers is as you interpret it, it is invalid. Pointing that out casts no doubt on any statement that council defined dogmatically and thus bound the Church as a whole to believe. It only casts doubt on one argument they used, if indeed the argument is what you suggest. But on my reading of the text, the Council Fathers were only explaining why it was both possible and helpful for the bishops to collectively rule on matters clear to each of the bishops taken severally. That explanation binds nobody even if was true.

    The Apostles, after all, were each direct recipients of the definitive revelation in Jesus Christ. Their successors, the bishops, were not and are not. To make the relevant inference go through, one needs the further premise that what was truly said of the Apostles above applies equally to their successors. I know you hold that premise, and perhaps the Fathers of the Council did too. But I know of no good argument for it; indeed, and to me, history very much suggests its falsity.

    Best,
    Mike

  3. acolyte says:

    Daniel,

    You forget, I am the source. (Insert Darth Sideous voice here) Of course I have the book!

  4. […] There is an interesting and enlightening discussion concerning the Fifth Ecumenical Council over at one of my favorite blogs, Energetic Procession. […]

  5. Cyril says:

    You want the one edited by Cardinal Kasper, and not the one by Puglisi, though they are both worth the dime (or $20).

    Cyril

  6. Todd,

    Can you do a post or take a few excerpts from that book?

    Daniel

  7. Joseph says:

    STK,

    Can you find that article online anywhere??

  8. There is an excellent article about St. Maximos’ views on the importance of the Church of Rome during the Monothelite controversy in a book called “The Petrine Ministry,” which was published by the Roman Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The article was written by Jean-Claude Larchet, and is entitled, “The Question of Roman Primacy in the Thought of St. Maximus the Confessor.” It is quite informative.

    God Bless,
    Todd

  9. Joseph says:

    Maximus is even more clear in his Four Centuries on Love that the divine essence is completely inaccessible to created hypostases. We need to be careful how we use Maximus.

  10. Matt says:

    “2) Maximus is quite clear elsewhere that Rome’s authority is granted to her by the whole Church and the Councils and not by some non-episcopal, non-apostolic Petrine charism that is above being a bishop or an apostle.”

    “Actually, St. Maximus is quite clear that Rome’s authority was granted to her by the very Incarnate Son of God Himself. This is also the teaching of Pope St. Agatho’s Dogmatic letter to the 6th Council which was received by that Council.”

    *Whew* Glad that got cleared up. Does anyone know if the Methodists are taking applications? I’ve always had some closet sympathies for Wesley and Co. As they say, all you need is Jesus…

  11. Edward De Vita says:

    ” Nobody is condemned for heresy based on negligence or lack of clarity. That is just ridiculous.”

    Dear Photios,
    Tell me then what you make of the following statement from the Sentence of the 5th Council:

    “Since it is manifest to all the faithful that whenever any question arises concerning the faith, not only the impious man himself is condemned, but also he who when he has the power to correct impiety in others, neglects to do so.”

    It seems to state quite clearly that not only is the impious man to be condemned but also the one who has the power to correct his impiety but neglects to do so.
    By the way, it may well be that Honorius was monothelite in his thinking. Nevertheless, I don’t think the evidence is clear and, given the testimony of St. Maximus and Pope John IV (who were there at the time), there seems to be some reason for doubting that he was. On the other hand, I don’t believe that there can be much doubt that he did allow monothelitism to thrive in the empire.

    “Maximus is quite clear elsewhere that Rome’s authority is granted to her by the whole Church and the Councils and not by some non-episcopal, non-apostolic Petrine charism that is above being a bishop or an apostle.”

    Actually, St. Maximus is quite clear that Rome’s authority was granted to her by the very Incarnate Son of God Himself. This is also the teaching of Pope St. Agatho’s Dogmatic letter to the 6th Council which was received by that Council.

    Ed

  12. Several posts in this thread have mentioned the fact that Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII consulted the bishops prior to issuing the two new Marian dogmas (i.e., the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption), and — of course — this is true, but as Bishop Gasser explained in his official relatio at the First Vatican Council, the Pope is not obligated to consult the bishops, and can issue a “definition” on his own authority, and even against wishes of the members of the Episcopal College.

    God bless,
    Todd

  13. Greg DeLassus says:

    Nobody is condemned for heresy based on negligence or lack of clarity. That is just ridiculous.

    This rather begs the question, no?

  14. A couple of things:

    1) There seems to be more reason to think that Maximus’ defense of Honorius, in his letter and in the disputation with Pyrrhus, is out of polemical necessity for credibility sake rather than on an exegetical analysis of Sergius and Honorius’ letters. His great ally in the East was gone, Sophronius, all that was left was Rome. As great as St. Maximus is, like all the Saints, shows his weakness here. And we are not bound to his opinion of Honorius here since the 6th Council judged the matter based on the texts in question. Nobody is condemned for heresy based on negligence or lack of clarity. That is just ridiculous.

    2) Maximus is quite clear elsewhere that Rome’s authority is granted to her by the whole Church and the Councils and not by some non-episcopal, non-apostolic Petrine charism that is above being a bishop or an apostle.

    3) Maximus is clear that when asked on trial who we would commune with Rome/Antioch/Const./Jerusalem/Alexandria if they all capitulated to the new theology of the Empire that he would be in communion with the Church (wherever this was) that maintained the true Orthodox faith. That is Maximus’ understanding of Math 16:18. It is that FAITH, i.e. the Orthodox faith, that is the rock of the Church for Maximus, not some geographical location.

    Photios

  15. If I were a Roman Catholic I wouldn’t want to get into a deep discussion of Monotheletism and Pope Honorius either. Romanist theologians, except for possibly Hefele and Balthasar, have shown a very superficial understanding of the theology that surrounds the Monothelite question.

    Photios

  16. Visibilium says:

    I’d like to go back to earlier comments. I am quite willing to grant that I’m not part of either of the Latin church’s lungs and that the Pope of Old Rome doesn’t poll non-Latin bishops.

    5. “must be held by the whole Church” (Vat. I, Session 4)

    Even if the Pope polls bishops before he makes an irreformable pronouncement, he may not poll all bishops. He may poll only a segment of bishops who happen to agree with him. And, even if he polls all bishops, that doesn’t mean that he polls the laity. I assume that the Latin church includes the laity in its definition of “whole church”, but maybe not.

    In any event, the conformity of the irreformable statement with the faith of the “whole church” would seem to be empirically verifiable only in hindsight. If the statement is found to be irrreformable only after the passage of time, then at the time that the statement is madethen the Pope cannot correctly claim that any statement he’s making is irreformable. An example would be Pope Leo XIII’s screed against Anglican orders, Apostolicae Curae, wherein the Pope said that his pronouncement was irreformable. Therefore, Pope Leo was either rendering an opinion about irreformabiliy, making a suggestion about irreformability, or blowing smoke about irreformability.

    Now, the only way to ensure that Pope Leo’s statement would be irreformable at the time he made it would be if something within Arthur’s conditions #1-4 automatically confers conformity with #5, assuming Arthur’s five conditions are exhaustive. Thus, infallibility would be reduced to the outcome of a mechanical (and perhaps magical) formula. This formulaic view conforms to the colloquial understanding of papal infallibility.

    When we’re talking about infallibility, we’re really talking about Truth. Anyone who speaks the Truth speaks infallibly, Pope or not. So, why does the Pope go out of his way on only a few occasions to say that he’s speaking infallibly, when the truth that he utters is already purportedly believed by the “whole church” and already believed to be the truth by the “whole church”?

  17. Edward De Vita says:

    acolyte wrote:
    “We have no problem with Agatho’s letter.”

    Dear acolyte,
    You should have a problem with his letter since he states quite clearly not only that the Apostolic See has never erred but also that it will never err in the future. Moreover, he makes this assertion on the basis of the promise of our Lord to Peter.
    As far as Pope Honorius is concerned, I don’t really want to get into a detailed discussion about him. Suffice to say that he was defended by both Pope John IV and St. Maximus on the grounds that when he asserted one will in our Lord he referred to the human will alone as not being divided against the Divine will. St. Maximus, in his letter to Peter, defends Honorius in these words:

    “In this regard the wretches have not conformed to the sense of the Apostolic
    See, and, what is laughable, or rather lamentable, as proving their ignorance,
    they have not hesitated to lie against the Apostolic See itself; but as though
    they were in its counsel, and as if they had received a decree from it, in the
    acts they have composed in defence of the impious ecthesis, they have
    claimed the great Honorius on their side.”

    They claim Honorius on their side on the basis of his letter to Sergius and, as St. Maximus says, they have misunderstood the sense of his words. Nevertheless, while Honorius had not taught the doctrine of one will in this letter, he had gone along with Sergius’ policy of forbidding the use of either of the expressions “one will” or “two wills.” Up until the time that Paul succeeded Pyrrhus to the See of Constantinople, the orthodox had succeeded in defending Honorius on the grounds stated above. But then Paul, on the basis of Honorius’ assent to Sergius’ policy, called on the Emperor Constans to publish an imperial decree called the typus of Constans in which talk of either “one will” or “two wills” was prohibited. It was only after the proclamation of the typus that the orthodox were no longer able to defend Honorius.

    “Public or private, I think it is clear that Honorious was a monothelite. He wasn’t condemned with Pyrrus for simply failing to say anything. This is why when Maximus the Confessor was pressed about Rome being monothelite along with every other patriarch at the time, he professed that it didn’t matter what Rome said if Rome professed the wrong faith. ”

    What St. Maximus said during his examination had nothing to do with whether or not Pope Honorius was a heretic (which St. Maximus did not believe), nor was it a denial of his strongly held belief in the authority of the Apostolic See. Rather, as is clear from the text of the examination, he knew full well that the then Pope, St. Martin, was undergoing persecution for the same reason as himself. He also knew that Pope St. Martin and several of his immediate predecessors had already condemned the monothelite heresy. Clearly, he wasn’t going to cast aside all this testimony for the actions of a couple of papal legates supposedly uniting with the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Holy Mysteries.

    “This is why the target of their later comments is still Vigilius even though they give him the titles due him such as “most religious” and such”

    This is mere conjecture on your part. They state that not only the impious man should be condemned but also he who has the power to correct such a man but refuses to do so. If the target of this were Vigilius then, by their own standards, they should have condemned him. They didn’t. Moreover, in failing to do so, the council would fall under its own condemnation.

    “In any case, it is clear I think from the original citation at the top of this thread that the Apostles did not in fact require Peter for the legitimate exercise of their ministry and so, neither do the bishops as their successors today.”

    This does not follow. First, the apostles received the grace of the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary manner, so much so that they were able to write inspired Scripture. And, while it is true that each of the apostles was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and could make decisions on his own, it does not follow that this would continue to be the case if one or more chose to sever themselves from the one whom our Lord had set as their leader, i.e., Peter. If John or James had rejected Peter and gone on their own to start their own little churches, they would have lost their apostolic authority. Similarly, if the bishops separate themselves from the one placed at their head, they likewise lose their authority. This is why it was important for the bishops at the 5th Council to obtain the approval of Vigilius. There is nothing in the teaching of the 5h Council nor in that of previous and subsequent councils that contradicts this interpretation of the passage in question.

    “In any case, it is clear I think from the original citation at the top of this thread that the Apostles did not in fact require Peter for the legitimate exercise of their ministry and so, neither do the bishops as their successors today”

    It is not clear at all. You’ve merely read your particular theology into the document. Even from an Orthodox perspective, bishops only have their authority if they are in communion with the Church. So the real question is, what does it mean to be in communion with the Church? The 5th Council doesn’t answer this question. We Catholics maintain that communion with the Church entails union with the head, i.e., the Apostolic See. Given that union, every bishop has the authority to judge matters in his own diocese.

    Ed

  18. Greg DeLassus says:

    [T]o which Letter or what section in Dvornik are you referring?

    Gosh, I was afraid that someone might ask for a page number, or some such. I am afraid that it was several years now since I returned that book to the library. In my notes which I took while reading I failed to note the page number, so I am afraid that I cannot give you anything more precise than the text of the letter (which Dvornik quoted in a footnote and which I provided in my above post). In any event, the text which I provided comes from John’s letter to Photios concerning John’s approbation of the council.

    Moreover, we need to be careful and not to be anachronistic. Since the issue of what “Ecumenical” meant was in part in play in the whole mess it is natural that Rome assert its primacy. But since more than one meaning can be poured into that term, we need to discover from the semantic usage what primacy amounted to for the various parties. It is not a forgone conclusion that when words like “first” “primacy” and “head” are used that they mean exactly and only what Rome now says they do.

    Fair enough, but this is something of a distraction from the real force of my quibble. You claimed that Rome had accepted the Photian synod as “ecumenical” and then later reneged on that acceptance 120 years later. My point is that it is historically difficult to establish that Rome ever accepted the synod of 879. The letter which offers said acceptance makes it conditional on the acceptance of certain Roman demands. Did Constantinople accede to those demands? We have no means of establishing an answer to that question. Certainly Rome did act, after the 879 council, as if She regarded Photios as the legitimate Patriarch, but that is merely circumstantial evidence. If push comes to shove there is no proof, as such, that Rome ever received the Photian synod as legitimate. As such, your claim that Rome first accepted the Photian synod and then later repudiated it is a mite overhasty. That is my only real point.

  19. acolyte says:

    Edward,

    We have no problem with Agatho’s letter. But here are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is customary not to take heretics as genuine “predecessors” so that people like Zephyrinus, Callustus and Honorious wouldn’t count as such. This is in part how Agatho can maintain his thesis. Second, there is a distinction between the See and its occupant. This is why Honorious was explicitly anathematized by every pope upon becoming pope up until the 14th or 15th centuries.

    Secondly, I don’t take the line that Honorious was simply derelict in his duties seriously. I think from looking at his correspondence with Pyrrus that he indicated and taught monothelitism and I don’t think he thought it was his personal opinion since he uses indicators like “we teach” and such. Public or private, I think it is clear that Honorious was a monothelite. He wasn’t condemned with Pyrrus for simply failing to say anything. This is why when Maximus the Confessor was pressed about Rome being monothelite along with every other patriarch at the time, he professed that it didn’t matter what Rome said if Rome professed the wrong faith. This was in line with the decisions and criteria that the fifth council wrote against Vigilius, that if he professed the right faith, then they would accept him as their head. Eventually he did and so they did. This is why the target of their later comments is still Vigilius even though they give him the titles due him such as “most religious” and such. This fits the historical context well since Vigilius waffled. It is especially so since Vigilius invokes Augustine’s retractions as precedent and exculpatory for his past behavior.

    I just don’t think that contemporary Catholic apologists really grasp the theology of monothelitism and so make significant mistakes when reading, if they read them, the source documents. This is why people who have such as Hefle struggled so much with the case of Honorious.

    In any case, it is clear I think from the original citation at the top of this thread that the Apostles did not in fact require Peter for the legitimate exercise of their ministry and so, neither do the bishops as their successors today. They each could have decided the matter on their own. Notice also that there is no worry here as often expressed in contemporary Catholic apologetics that if you don’t have the Pope as the single principle of unity that there will be no possibility of a definitive answer. It should also be noted that this expresses the faith of not just Rome, since it agreed to it, but Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, some of which were also considered “Petrine” sees. They too had the fullness of the apostolic deposit.

  20. Adrian says:

    Arthur, I apologize for unnecessary harshness in my comment. Certainly you’re right that the Roman Papacy is more than merely monarchical, but as long as that element is there, there can’t be any agreement with the Orthodox. Of course, in practice, the Pope can and does consult the bishops on such matters as you have described above. But the elephant in the room is that this collegiality is based upon the good pleasure of the Pope and theoretically can be disregarded. For my part, I can’t really believe that true collegiality can exist when one of the members of that college presumes himself to be the Universal Pastor of the entire flock.

  21. acolyte says:

    Greg,

    Re: 880 Council, to which Letter or what section in Dvornik are you referring? It is also true that Photios felt free to alter those conditions or dismiss them, since some of them were for example, beyond his control, namely questions of imperial jurisdictions such as the question with the Bulgars.

    Moreover, we need to be careful and not to be anachronistic. Since the issue of what “Ecumenical” meant was in part in play in the whole mess it is natural that Rome assert its primacy. But since more than one meaning can be poured into that term, we need to discover from the semantic usage what primacy amounted to for the various parties. It is not a forgone conclusion that when words like “first” “primacy” and “head” are used that they mean exactly and only what Rome now says they do. The problem is that people can’t conceive of any other possible meaning and so they think of it in terms of an all or nothing deal. Either the Pope is absolutely supreme or he is not. I am not saying that you said this, but just tossing out a recognition of primacy doesn’t do any argumentative work until and unless we know what “primacy” amounted to. Given the citation that started this thread, I’d argue that Primacy doesn’t mean that the Apostolic sees required the ministry of Peter’s successors for the exercise of their apostolic perogatives.

    So, unless there is a demonstration that shows that primacy means what Rome says it does from the evidence, I don’t think that noting that Photios had to admit that Rome was first in rank and that ecumenical did not imply a usurpation of that rank really moves the Roman case. So here I sit, unmoved.

    That said, I will see your dilemma and raise you one. The 8th council anathamartizes those who add the filioque and adhere to it as part of the faith. So I’ll take a recognition of Roman “primacy” if you’ll accept that Rome is anathema.

  22. Arthur says:

    Correction: After looking around I learned that Pope Pius IX did poll 604 bishops regarding the Immaculate Conception prior to defining it ex cathedra. Thus, both instances of an ex cathedra teaching were proceeded by a polling of the world’s bishops and received an overwhelming affirmation.

    This, of course, solidifies the case that the Pope does not teach in a vacuum in isolation from the episcopate. (Although it is true that the Orthodox were not consulted, it should not be expected that those who regard the Pope as a heretic would participate.)

  23. Arthur says:

    Alice:

    Why is it important to you that Rome recognize eastern patriarchs or convene “truly ecumenical councils?”

    If the West is all heretics as the Orthodox believe, then why bother for Rome’s recognition or seek participation in Rome’s councils?

  24. Petra says:

    I’m truly sorry if I have offended anyone on this thread. I will not participate in this discussion from now on, as it has mostly made me angry and uncharitable. (I’ve already been to Confession about it.)

    The only way to achieve Christian unity is through prayer, fasting and looking at Our Blessed Lord.
    Come, Lord Jesus!

  25. Petra says:

    Sorry. “Measures” not “measurements”
    and. “tried to debunk”
    Gotta go… 🙂

  26. Petra says:

    This is all I found in my quick search re: communion between us,

    “Another point needs to be stressed. It is true that Orthodox Christians are considered by some Catholic priests to be eligible to receive communion in their parishes; but this practice is not formally sanctioned by the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Holy Office or Magisterium).”

    There are also some Protestant Christians who are considered by some Catholic priests to be eligible… etc. These priests are either heretics or mistaken. That’s not what the Catholic Church teaches (fortunately we have the Catechism and many official Church documents on the issue…)

    What exists however are measurements in cases of grave necessity (such as imminent danger of death) that a non-Catholic may receive Communion from a Catholic priest. But these are extraordinary measures. (A prerequisite is of course that the non-Catholic professes faith in the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist – this does not mean of course to adhere to the Thomist definition of Transubstantiation, but the Real Presence together with the acknowledgement of the necessity of a validly ordained priest etc.)

    @Alice:
    I’ve got to know you elsewhere (esp. at Pontifications) as a thoughtful and intelligent person. Then why are you presenting here the tritest prejudices about the Papacy that Arthur has already try to debunk about ten times above? Please!

    @Adrian:
    “The Pope is judged by no-one but God.”
    Well, yes. That should be a pretty good incentive…. 🙂
    And in fact, this argument could be held against the Orthodox bishops as well (how dare they declare what’s the Apostolic Faith and Tradition! how dare they pronounce anathemata!).
    In fact, it rather seems like a leftover from the Evangelical arguments box against Apostolic Christianity…. 😉

  27. From Bishop Gasser’s official relatio at Vatican I:

    “But the issue is pressed by saying (and this is the third axiom): the consent of the Churches is a rule of faith which even the Pope ought to follow, and therefore he should consult those who rule the Churches before he makes a definition in order that he may be certain about the consent of the Churches. I reply. The matter has come to its extreme point and we must accurately distinguish between true and false lest we suffer shipwreck in port. It is true that the Pope in his definitions “ex cathedra” has the same sources (“fontes”) which the Church has, viz., Scripture and tradition. It is true that the consent of the present preaching of the whole magisterium of the Church, united with its head, is a rule of faith even for pontifical definitions. But from all that it can in no way be deduced that there is a strict and absolute necessity of seeking that consent from the rulers of the Churches or from the bishops. I say this because this consent is very frequently able to be deduced from the clear and manifest testimonies of Sacred Scripture, from the consent of antiquity, that is, of the Holy Fathers, from the opinion of theologians and from other private means, all of which suffice for full information about the fact of the Church’s consent.

    Finally it must never be overlooked that there is present to the Pope the Tradition of the Church of Rome, that is, of that Church to which faithlessness has no access and with which, because of its more powerful primacy, every Church must agree. Therefore that strict necessity [i.e., of consulting the bishops], such as is required for a dogmatic constitution, can in no way be demonstrated. It can happen that there be so difficult a case that the Pope thinks it necessary, for his own information, to ask the bishops, as an ordinary means, what the sense of the Churches is, as he did, for example, in the case of the Immaculate Conception. Such a case, however, is not able to be established as a rule.”

  28. Alice C. Linsley says:

    By claiming primary over the other patriarchs of the Church catholic, the Pope overthrows the collegiality of the Apostles and the synergy of their co-equality. The three great heresies confronting Orthodoxy today are: modern ecumenism, materialism and papism (defined as the Vatican’s assumption of primacy and universal jurisdiction.) I respect Pope Benedict because he has made some good decisions. Now I hope that in his papal wisdom he will recognize the Patriarchs of Orthodoxy as sharing fully in the apostolic ministry and convene truely ecumenical councils.

  29. Ed,

    It seems to me that the Church anathemetized those who had a detrimental influence on the faith and practice of those who followed their teachings, albeit post-posthumously. The ones they did not anathemetize were not conciliarly deemed as detrimental. The Council was very specific in it’s anathematizations of Origen’s teachings and apparently did not deem the famous panegyric to Origen, nor its author as causing the same problems, and that’s where it ended. I’m sure others could speak more specifically about Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas.

    The Councils were more concerned with surgically weeding out heresies than condemning people whole cloth. Origen is not seen as causing the same degree of damage as Arius from where I lazily sit, and many of his teachings are still respected.

  30. Arthur says:

    Adrian,

    Your comments only further prove my point that you and other Orthodox are wedded above all to a simplistic, reductionistic view of the papacy. You are unwilling to learn any alternate point of view. Apparently, in your view the ecumenical councils recognized by Rome since 1054 were all dominated by the pope. This could not be more false. These councils have always been the work of the episcopate in communion with Rome. Paul VI did not sit down and write Vatican II.

    But, alas, you must hold to the strictly monarchical view of the papacy. That IS one dimension, but it is only one among many. In practice Rome virtually never acts on its own. It hold councils and synods and consults with the college of cardinals etc. The pope is not just running around and making stuff up–though you seem to need to think so. And, that IS bad faith.

  31. Edward De Vita says:

    “It is my understanding that as in Origen’s case, it was about certain of his teachings being anathemetized as they if taken to their logical conclusions lead people into heresy. The Orthodox Church takes binding and loosing more in light of saying what is the true Apostolic witness of the Faith, and what constitutes heresy. Someone who promulgates heresy is anathemetized and removed from their sphere of influence, but the Eastern Church does not damn them to hell. I think it’s explained in one of the councils or canons that a bishop will be demoted to priest, a priest to layman, and a layman would be kicked out completely if they are compromising the faith. A person who is not in the Church is left to the mercy of God to deal with on judgment day, since they have shunned the safe haven of the Church of Truth. Any deception causes progressive ill-health/dysfunction in the Body if not dealt with.”

    Andrea,
    I grant you all this. But the fact of the matter is that Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas were all deceased by the time the 5th Council came along. So, as far as being removed from the sphere of influence of other members of the Church, our Lord had already taken care of that. Excommunication, as I understand it from Sacred Scripture, is for the sake of the salvation of the one in error as well as for the welll-being of the Church. But why excommunicate and anathematize someone who is alread dead, especially if the Church had not seen fit to do so while they were still living? That was the case with Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas who all died within the bosom of the Church. If Emperor Justinian wanted to rid the Church of his day of their influence, a simple condemnation of their doctrine would have been sufficient, would it not?
    Origen is another case of the same kind of thing. But if Origen was to be condemned then why not also St. Gregory Thaumaturgus and St. Gregory Nazianzen. Both of these saints were heavily influenced by Origen’s thought, the latter even holding to the condemned doctrine of apocatastasis. The former wrote a famous panegyric to Origen thereby aiding and abetting a heretic. Where does it end?

    Ed

  32. Arthur,

    Thanks for the compliment. I didn’t mean to cause you any offense or an ungodly or temperamental impasse in the conversation. Please forgive me.

    This is all I found in my quick search re: communion between us,

    “Another point needs to be stressed. It is true that Orthodox Christians are considered by some Catholic priests to be eligible to receive communion in their parishes; but this practice is not formally sanctioned by the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Holy Office or Magisterium).”

    from oca.org
    June 2007, Article #1
    Why Not “Open Communion”?
    Written by the Very Rev. John Breck

  33. Adrian says:

    To claim bad faith on the part of the Orthodox is rhetorically empty, because there really are differences. One can grant that in practice, the Pope requires collegiality to exercise his office. However, in theory the Pope is judged by no-one but God. Is this collegiality? It’s like an king who entreats his subjects to trust him despite the lack of restraints on absolute power. It is the principle, the constitution of the Church, that East and West are divided upon. Are all the bishops equal, or are some bishops more equal than others?

  34. Arthur says:

    Well, Andrea, at least you are honest.

    I dont think it is less than theology that separates us. It is more than theology that separates us. We have almost completely different temperaments. I believe it is the Holy Spirit that impells us toward unity, to make good on the prayer of Jesus Christ that we be one.

    The East does not share in an openness to this same Spirit. It has somehow entered into the DNA of the Orthodox to relish their disdain for the West. Even this conversation is evidence of this. It appears to be essential to the East to see Catholics and Orthodox as opposite. I have made a vain attempt to show that the Petrine office is less of a hinderance to episcopal collegiality than the Orthodox assume. Rather than learn anything, it seems to be very important to stress difference and opposition.

    This is ungodly and I regret having made the good will effort. May others be more successful.

  35. Arthur says:

    No, you should not be receiving communion in the Catholic Church. You are not in communion with Rome.

  36. Petra,

    Then why are we invited to take communion in Catholic Churches (which we are told not to do)? That’s communication without representation!

  37. Ed,

    What does it mean to anathematize a deceased individual who, while he was still alive, was recognized by all to be in the Church? Does this mean that Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas are in hell? If not, what is the purpose in anathematizing them? Wouldn’t it have been enough to simply condemn their doctrine? Is it saying that though they were allowed in the Church while they were alive, they weren’t really in it? If so, are not all the Fathers of Chalcedon condemned as having allowed heretics to remain in the Church?

    It is my understanding that as in Origen’s case, it was about certain of his teachings being anathemetized as they if taken to their logical conclusions lead people into heresy. The Orthodox Church takes binding and loosing more in light of saying what is the true Apostolic witness of the Faith, and what constitutes heresy. Someone who promulgates heresy is anathemetized and removed from their sphere of influence, but the Eastern Church does not damn them to hell. I think it’s explained in one of the councils or canons that a bishop will be demoted to priest, a priest to layman, and a layman would be kicked out completely if they are compromising the faith. A person who is not in the Church is left to the mercy of God to deal with on judgment day, since they have shunned the safe haven of the Church of Truth. Any deception causes progressive ill-health/dysfunction in the Body if not dealt with.

  38. […] Well, Cathedra Unitatis, to give him credit, did take notice of the post put up by Perry taking a cite from the 5th Ecumenical Council.  The discussion there is well underway now, with about 45 responses at the time of this […]

  39. Petra says:

    Sorry, the the first sentence was meant without quotation marks. So: Orthodox bishops.

  40. Petra says:

    I must say I’m flabbergasted by the question why the “Orthodox bishops” were not polled for the definition of the IC…
    I mean, seriously: why should they have been? We’re not in Communion. They view us as “heretics” who have introduced “novelties” into the faith. Why should they be consulted at all? I mean, would you consult the Patriach (“Pope”) of the Copts? Or the bishops of the Nestorian Assyrians???

    And another point: some Orthodox apparently think that the expression “Two Lungs” is some sort of official Catholic ecclesiology. It is not. Catholic ecclesiology is contained in “Lumen Gentium”, “Dominus Jesus” and the document that will come out tomorrow. It says that “the Church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church”. By the “Two Lungs” John Paul II referred to spritual traditions of the East and West, not to ecclesiology. (I must say it is quite distressing to see how our deceased Pope’s love for the East can be so misinterpreted and often sneered at…)

    BTW, the Eastern Bishops did have their say in all these cases, and also at the Second Vatican Council. But they’re the bishops you don’t like – the “treacherous” “uniate” ones… The Catholic Church is not only “the West”, you know… 🙂

  41. Arthur,

    I dont think another ecumenical council in the near future is in the offing. But, were there one, I cant imagine any Eastern participation beyond observer status given the current climate in the East, even daggers aside.

    What, do you think our guys would sit in the wings to avoid getting cooties? Or perhaps hurl boos, jeers and tomatoes from the balcony?

    If the East wants to hold veto power over every decision of the West since 1054, then I would ask if the problem is not the the East thinks of itself collectively as a “pope.” Your suggestion that the East’s role in future cooperation is to set itself up as a judge of the West is very unhelpful. It is precisely this inability to conceive of a relationship that is not zero-sum, winner-loser, that makes ecumenical relations slow if not impossible. But, apparently that is the way you all like it. Perhaps Jesus will find a way.

    That’s an interesting point. I don’t think we think of ourselves as the Pope because we think that office replaces Christ in practicality (which I want to address from Ed’s post below) over the faithful. The East views the whole Church, including the Bishops, as the Bride of Christ – a unified Body that is made one with Him by His energies and functions in concert with Him, but does not replace Him. I’m sure others here understand that better.

    I don’t think I said that the East sets itself up as judge with veto power over the West, but I suppose we unofficially do that in our own minds, but I am exploring with you what a Council would look like if the West did invite the East, then terms would change. We would expect to have a hearing over our issues with what we consider doctrinal, dogmatic, and practical development (like which way the priest faces, leavened or unleavened bread etc.) The West comes across as more magnanimous in saying that they don’t have a problem with our teachings and practices, except for the Palamas hesychasm issue which doesn’t seem to be as problematic nowadays. But the west’s comfort with us is, imo, because we haven’t changed, and the West still has maintained what we believe is true, more willingly now. It’s just that it has more for us to swallow than we are willing to. So I guess we do veto these perceived developments and are unwilling to do as the Eastern Catholics, and say you do it your way and we’ll do it ours under the magnanimous Papal umbrella, and viva la difference.

    You are pointing out legal and probably scientific (defining transubstantiation) developments as being inconsequential to the faith, but I think they put truth under a different jurisdiction, the rational, scholastic more open ended realm as opposed to the organic, consistent, functioning Body circumscription. Our rational, informed explanations are subordinate to the reality of the Body and Blood.

    We sincerely, not with intentional or premeditated antagonism, believe the developments in the West compromise the Faith. If the Pope is the individual Roman successor of Peter, as opposed to the whole Church in union with the Apostolic Deposit, like the laymen who opposed Florence as we believe, then I think his office has been compromised, but God has not allowed the gates of hell to prevail because the Faith has been maintained elsewhere. And because He is merciful and will give grace to whomsoever He desires.

  42. Edward De Vita says:

    What do Orthodox make of the Dogmatic Letter of Pope St. Agatho which was received by the 6th Ecumenical Council, in which, among other things, are contained the following words?

    “This is the rule of the true faith, which in prosperity and adversity this spiritual Mother of your most serene Empire, the apostolic Church of Christ, has ever held and defends; and she, by the grace of almighty God, will be proved never to have wandered from the path of apostolic tradition, nor to have succumbed to the novelties of heretics; but even as in the beginning of the Christian faith she received it from her founders, the Princes of the Apostles of Christ, so she remains unspotted to the end, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour Himself, which he spake to the prince of His disciples in the holy Gospels: ‘Peter, Peter, saith He, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as he who sifts wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, and thou one day being converted, strengthen thy brethren. Let your clemency therefore consider that the Lord and Saviour of all, to whom faith belongs, who promised that the faith of Peter should not fail, admonished him to confirm his brethren; and it is known to all men that the Apostolic Pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always done this with confidence. These my lowliness desires to follow, though unworthy and small, yet in accordance with the ministry which I have received by the divine mercy.”

    The letter of Pope Agatho was read in the 8th session of the Council and accepted by said Council. In this portion, he asserts that the Apostolic See has never erred and never will err according to the promise of our Lord to Peter. This sounds to me like a rather imprecise, but nevertheless clear, doctrine of the infallibility of the Apostolic See.
    It is interesting to note that neither the wavering of Vigilius nor the weakness of Honorius seems to have lessened the authority of the Apostolic See in the eyes of the 6th Council.

    Ed

  43. Edward De Vita says:

    One comment on The Sentence of the 5th Ecumenical Council. The council Fathers write:
    “Since it is manifest to all the faithful that whenever any question arises concerning the faith, not only the impious man himself is condemned, but also he who when he has the power to correct impiety in others, neglects to do so.”

    The translator’s footnote states that this last clause refers to Pope Vigilius. For several reasons, I find this conclusion to be rather absurd. First, in the same document Vigilius is referred to as “the most religious Vigilius.” The only other persons in the document referred to as “most religious” are the Emperor Justinian himself and St. Augustine (“of most religious memory”) Second, Vigilius is never condemned in the body of the document. If then, Vigilius had been intended by the clause above, there should have been an explicit condemnation of him by name. Otherwise, the Council Fathers would have contradicted themselves. Third, the sentence immediately following the one in quotes above makes clear that the Council Fathers were referring to themselves. Here’s the sentence:

    “We therefore, to whom it has been committed to rule the church of the Lord, fearing the curse which hangs over those who negligently perform the Lord’s work, hasten to preserve the good seed of faith pure from the tares of impiety which are being sown by the enemy.”

    As regards Pope Vigilius’ wavering vis-a-vis his “Judicatum” and then his “Constitutum’ etc.., it seems to me that, to be fair to him, he was put in a pretty tight spot by the Emperor. If he condemned the three chapters outright, he would risk alienating the whole western church which would have viewed such a condemnation as tantamount to a condemnation of Chalcedon. If, on the other hand, he did not condemtn the three chapters, he would be viewed by the Emperor and the Monophysites whom the Emperor was trying to conciliate as a Nestorian. The result was that Vigilius wavered between condemnation solely of the doctrine contained in the three chapters (i.e., Nestorianism) and condemnation of the doctrine along with the persons of Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. The Emperor would settle for no less than the latter and that is what he finally got. This Council was definitely a case of an unlawful and unnecessary interference of the Sovereign in the affairs of the Church. Despite that fact, the Council was eventually received by the whole Church and its doctrinal teaching is sound. Moreover, it can also be said with certainty that Vigilius never wavered with regard to his condemnation of the doctrinal error contained in the three chapters. On the other hand, he knew that there was nothing to be gained by the condemnation (it was, after all, a condemnation of a doctrine that had already been dealt with at the 3rd Council) and much to be lost. He was correct in this, as the aftermath of the Council makes clear.
    Finally, a word about posthumous condemnation. What does it mean to anathematize a deceased individual who, while he was still alive, was recognized by all to be in the Church? Does this mean that Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas are in hell? If not, what is the purpose in anathematizing them? Wouldn’t it have been enough to simply condemn their doctrine? Is it saying that though they were allowed in the Church while they were alive, they weren’t really in it? If so, are not all the Fathers of Chalcedon condemned as having allowed heretics to remain in the Church?

    Ed

  44. Greg DeLassus says:

    Sure, it is fine to say that the provisions necessary for a formal definition were only expostulated explicitly in 1870, but unless we are claiming that the idea of authoritative papal teaching ex cathedra is a Catholic invention, it follows that these provisions were already in force before 1870. As such, it will not do to respond to Acolyte’s point about the IC by saying that it does not have to meet all 5 conditions by virtue of its having been promulgated before Vatican I. Either the IC meets all five points (in which case it can be regarded as binding on all the faithful) or else it does not. The date of its promulgation is beside the point.

  45. Arthur says:

    Greg.

    Good point. However, law does change. The provisions for defining something ex cathedra were only set out in 1870.

  46. Greg DeLassus says:

    The IC was defined… BEFORE Vatican I. Only ex cathedra teachings following Vatican I… are required to fulfill “condition 5.”

    Surely this is nonsense, no? We Catholics contend that our councils merely preserve that which has always been believed. To say that a council postulated dogmatic claims which did not apply before the council is to concede the Orthodox apologist’s point that we really are adding to the deposit of the faith. As a Catholic, I find this explanation very hard to swallow.

  47. Arthur says:

    Andrea:

    But regarding future pronouncements, I don’t think anticipation of agreement or disagreement ever was a prerequisite or disqualifier for participation in an Ecumenical Council or surely Arius wouldn’t have been available for St. Nicholas to slap or vice versa. Or was that behind the curtain?

    Good point. I dont think another ecumenical council in the near future is in the offing. But, were there one, I cant imagine any Eastern participation beyond observer status given the current climate in the East, even daggers aside.

    If the East wants to hold veto power over every decision of the West since 1054, then I would ask if the problem is not the the East thinks of itself collectively as a “pope.” Your suggestion that the East’s role in future cooperation is to set itself up as a judge of the West is very unhelpful. It is precisely this inability to conceive of a relationship that is not zero-sum, winner-loser, that makes ecumenical relations slow if not impossible. But, apparently that is the way you all like it. Perhaps Jesus will find a way.

  48. Arthur,

    That’s the thing, so many changes have been made by the western church without eastern input it would be really hard to start having conciliar councils on them now, though if Rome would like to review these things around the table with the Eastern Patriarchs, and possibly the other autocephalus Metropolitans, I’m sure all would be polite and safe. Security guards and equipment would detect hidden knives and such things smuggled in under robes, not that they could get past airport security anyway.

    But regarding future pronouncements, I don’t think anticipation of agreement or disagreement ever was a prerequisite or disqualifier for participation in an Ecumenical Council or surely Arius wouldn’t have been available for St. Nicholas to slap or vice versa. Or was that behind the curtain?

  49. Arthur says:

    Andrea:

    The pre-definition polling in 1949 for the 1950 definition took place before the modern ecumenical era, so it is hard to imagine polling the eastern bishops. Given the generally negative response to Ut Unim Sint among the East on a speculative project regarding future conceptions of the Petrine ministry, it is not hard to imagine an eastern response to a specific formula to be defined ex cathedra. If the East holds the role of the papacy in disdain, how could one image an eastern participation in a process leading to an ex cathedra teaching? To presume a postitive eastern response, it seems to me, does very much violate the law of non-contradiction.

    The exact teaching of the Catholic Church on its relationship to the Eastern Churches will likely be explained in detail in tomorrow’s document on”subsistit in.”

  50. Greg DeLassus says:

    Hasn’t the Pope acted outside of ecclesial consensus every time he’s spoken ex cathedra without the Orthodox Bishops, the so-called “other lung”?

    Once again, this is just a small quibble with little import to the overall thread, but the Orthodox are not the “other lung.” The Eastern Church is the “other lung” (at least in Ut Unum Sint, the document in which Ven John Paul II first coined the “both lungs” phrase).

  51. Arthur says:

    Acolyte:

    The IC was defined in 1854 BEFORE Vatican I. Only ex cathedra teachings following Vatican I (and there is only one) are required to fulfill “condition 5.” That IC is an infallible teaching is a matter of reading that text on its own merits. However in 1870 the requirements binding future ex cathedra teaching were established. That is the way law works, it is embedded in time.

    If you dont consider the papacy as a power against the episcopate, then what is your argument?

    Perry Robinson:

    You are right, 50 years is about right for the warming of Catholic relations with the East. The East’s warming of relations with the Vatican, however, has yet to begin. I am unaware of the Catholic Church using the word ‘heresy’ in regard to the Orthodox in any of its teaching documents of the past 50 years. The acrimony that remains is very clearly one sided. Perhaps we will see progress in Cyprus soon. I pray for that.

  52. Greg DeLassus says:

    Is there any way to tell whether a Pope of Rome is speaking irreformably at the moment at which he claims to be doing so?

    For what little my own (Catholic) opinion on this subject is worth, I would submit that the answer to this question is “no.” That is, while I affirm the claim that the pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra, I think that this point makes no difference to the life of the Church because it is never really possible to nail down when it is that the Pontiff is speaking ex cathedra. One would be hard pressed, for instance to specify what it is about the definition at the end of Unam Sanctam that distinguishes it from the definition at the end of Ineffabilis Deus, and yet you could count on one hand the number of theologians willing either to affirm the ex cathedra nature of the former or deny the ex cathedra nature of the latter.

    As such, I dare say that even Catholics like myself can happily agree with the conciliar decree at the top of this thread when it proclaims that there is no “other way in which the truth can be made manifest”; at least not in practise. A papal decree could only serve to settle the matter if it can be established that the papal decree is ex cathedra, the which is easier said than done.

  53. Arthur,

    “But, practically speaking, given their commitment to anti-Catholicism it is not practical to consult with them broadly. If Rome were to attempt a poll of the Eastern bishops in preparation for a dogmatic definition ex cathedra, how many would respond?”

    We are more committed to the Seven Ecumenical Councils that preceded the Pope’s current role. That’s the difference. Yall are more committed to the one Bishop, we are more committed to the 200 or so Bishops at a time who presided over those councils who are not considered to be mutinous by either side, at least in speech. Though the dual position by the west on their decrees violates the law of non-contradiction by my lights.

    And maybe if Rome were to poll our Bishops for a dogmatic definition, or had shortly before 1054, or accepted the dogmatic definition already made, some headway could be made. Saying that’s “not practical” or assuming a contemptuous response that violates the gospel is pretty dismissive and “We don’t need the ‘other lung’ after all”-ish. Not to mention a violation of non-contradiction.

  54. Greg DeLassus says:

    This is exactly the claim regarding the 8th Ecumenical Council of 879, which was ratified by the papacy and then later revoked over 120 years later.

    This is a small point, of little importance to the overall flow of this thread, but I would like to quibble about the accuracy of this claim. The truth of this claim depends on that which one means by “ratified.” In his work The Photian Schism Francis Dvornik quotes the letter which Pope John VIII sent to Patriarch Photios wherein he recognizes Photios as Patriarch and the Constantinopolitan synod of 879-80 as a legitimate ecumenical council rescinding the synod of 869-70.

    Basically, in his letter, John accepts Photios and his council conditionally. John intructed that his legates should insist on certain assurances from Photios. If John’s conditions (including that Photios acknowledge Roman supremacy) are met, then the council is accepted. If his conditions are not met, then the council is rejected. So, were John’s conditions accepted by Photios and the Constantinopolitan church? We have no letter in reply from Photios to John which would make his acceptance explicit. As such, given that John’s reception of the 879 synod is conditional on such acceptance, we cannot say with any precision that Rome did or did not receive the 879 synod as authoritative. It is worth noting, however, that to the precise extent that one is willing to assert that Rome ratified the Photian synod, one is implicitly asserting that no less a light than Photios explicitly affirmed Roman supremacy (including supremacy over decisions ratified in councils).

    The relevant text of the letter reads: “Nam & ea, quae pro causa tuae restitutionis synodali decreto Constantinopoli misericorditer acta sunt, recipimus. Si forasse nostri legati in eadem sinodo contra apostolicam preceptionem egerint, nos nec recipimus nec iudicamus alicuius existere firmitatis.”

  55. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    It is well known that the IC was rejected by Catholic theologians in good faith for centuries, Aquinas not being the least of them. What then denotes “the whole church” to fulfill condition 5?

    And I never said the pope’s function was “against” the episcopate.

  56. Arthur says:

    Acolyte:

    In a way, I suppose the teaching on papal infallibility is a bit circular. And, that is my point exactly. The pope cannot define anything that is not already part of the deposit of faith. That is, he may raise a teaching to the level of infallible and thus beyond speculation, but he cannot invent teaching. In other words, the pope’s function is in concert with the episcopate and the ordinary magisterium, not against the episcopate.

  57. Arthur,

    I think, being Orthodox, we are committed to the true faith as delivered to us and not on being anti-Catholic. And the general warming of relations coming from Rome is quite recent, only in the last fifty years or so. Well into the 1940’s and 50’s Catholic theologians were describing Palamas’ theology as “the worst heresy ever introduced into the Christian Church.” I don’t think the Orthodox hold the West in “contempt.” Thinking that it is in heresy and schism doesn’t amount to contempt from us anymore than it does when we are accused of heresy for denying the papacy and being in schism.

  58. Arthur says:

    The Immaculate Conception was defined before Vat. I which laid out the requirements for an ex cathdra teaching. Only the Assumption teaching of 1950 is an example of the exercise of papal infallibility AFTER Vatican I, thus the polling of the episcopate.

  59. Arthur says:

    George–

    Excellent question. Theologically, sacramentally and ecclesiologically the Eastern Churches ARE the other lung of the Church. But, practically speaking, given their commitment to anti-Catholicism it is not practical to consult with them broadly. If Rome were to attempt a poll of the Eastern bishops in preparation for a dogmatic definition ex cathedra, how many would respond? Of those, how many would respond with mere contempt?

    If there is animosity in Orthodox-Catholic relations, it is from the East. As long as they continue to hold their western bretheren in contempt in direct violation of the Gospel, then I dont see much progress forthcoming. Fortunately, it is the Lord’s Church and He can save us from ourselves. He, not mere human endeavor, is our hope and with Him all things are possible.

  60. wayfarer says:

    An Orthodox member of Catholic Answer Forums raised more or less the same issue as that of this blog entry. See the final two paragraphs of this post:

    http://forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?s=c220447a55ce6a00e2b8e813b6109a07&p=2436403&postcount=92

    From that post: ‘French Catholic Bishop Bossuet observed: “These things prove, that in a matter of the utmost importance, disturbing the whole church, and seeming to belong to the Faith, the decrees of sacred council prevail over the decrees of Pontiffs, and the letter Ibas, though defended by a judgment of the Roman Pontiff could nevertheless be proscribed as heretical”.’

    As far as I can see, no one responded on the forums regarding the issue.

    Another thread on those forums may be of interest regarding this topic as well.
    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=139507

  61. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    The latitude in the citation you provided seems to be a latitude with respect defining doctrine. That being so, it follows that achieving consensus is not the necessary ground for such a papal definition.

    I never claimed that the Pope can contradict the Church since the church is defined by reference to the pope and not the other way around and so such a contradiction is a priori impossible on Roman principles. What I claimed was that the Pope can contravene and revoke an ecumenical council. This is exactly the claim regarding the 8th Ecumenical Council of 879, which was ratified by the papacy and then later revoked over 120 years later.

    I don’t think you have grasped my dialectical framing of the issue. If the Papal office is to be distinguished from the episcopate, complemtarity or not, it is still historically done in terms of the Pope having something the bishops lack, namely the Petrine Chrism. Isn’t that what distinguishes the Pope from a mere bishop? The same will be true on your example of marriage as the head per saint Paul is the man and not the woman so that the woman lacks headship. The man came from the woman and not the other way around. Here you read too much per English connotation into my usage of “opposition” which carries with it *as I am using it* Greek metaphysical baggage and not a negative moral connotation.

    As for your ad hominem regarding my “Orthodox worldview” I simply dismiss it. Even if that were the cause of my belief, it in no way logically follows that the belief is false.

    Your “work” has been largely irrelevant and you are self confessedly ignorant of the Council in question and the pertinent documents. I’d make a friendly suggestion that you go read the primary source material first and then come back and discuss the facts of history with us. I am not going to do your homework for you.

    As for my comment re Visibilium, if the Papal statements must be formulated in consultation with the whole church and reach or produce a consensus first, how are we to know what the whole church is apart from those who already agree with the position of the pope at the time, unless we circularly say that those who agree with the pope are the church? My question here doesn’t even invoke the Orthodox as a possible member of the church. What I am asking is, what constitutes the “whole church” here? How are we to know when point 5 is fulfilled, namely that a position is held by the “whole church?” The Immaculate Conception certainly wasn’t, not historically and certainly the papal dogmas weren’t either. So that leads me to think that “whole church” must mean more than just those Catholics in communion with Rome. So please, explain, because I obviously don’t understand what “whole church” denotes and how it is known. Perhaps you can shed some light on it for us.

  62. George says:

    Sorry Arthur – I commented before reading your last note, which places me square in the category of “naive and silly”. I sort of knew that already, but how do I reconcile statements by Catholic friends that I’d be welcome to join in communion with them while remaining Orthodox, and that the eastern church is the other lung, with the idea that papal proclamations are only made with universal consensus of the bishops, but universal doesn’t mean universal.

  63. George says:

    I don’t know if this is where Visibilium was headed, but to me it’s a question being begged…

    From Arthur:
    “Polling of the episcopate is simply required.”
    “It is well documented that on May 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII, asked all bishops in the world…”

    Hasn’t the Pope acted outside of ecclesial consensus every time he’s spoken ex cathedra without the Orthodox Bishops, the so-called “other lung”?

  64. Arthur says:

    Echoing Visibilium, isn’t the “whole church’ those bishops in communion with Rome? If so, then isn’t the statement a tad bit circular?

    No, this isnt circular. When the Catholic Church speaks of the Church it is referring to the Catholic Church. The Orthodox have broken from the Petrine ministry. To assume that they are included in every mention of the church would be naive and silly.

    Likewise, to assume that being in communion with Rome means that everyone is in agreement all the time is also naive.

    Interesting that you make two opposite arguments: First, that the pope and bishops must necessarily be opposed. Second, that being in communion with Rome implies complete accord.

    Do you actually have a position from which you are arguing or are you just being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative?

  65. Arthur says:

    Yes, Vat. I gives broad latitude to the means by which a pope may achieve the consensus required to define an ex cathedra teaching. But, he may not ever contradict the teachings of the Church as previously defined.

    Please indicate to me precisely where in Vat. I or Vat. II it says the pope may contradict the teaching of the Church on faith and morals. In fact, you will find quite the opposite.

    As for your semi-philosophical, though poorly thought out, claim that the pope and bishops must be opposed in order to not be the same. This is just flat out ridiculous and false reasoning. You imply the the only two relationships between things are 1) opposition or 2) being identical. What about marriage? Are you saying that a husband and wife must either be in opposition to one another or just the same? That does not make sense. What about the relationship of complimentarity? As a husband and wife are complimentary instead of opposed or identical, the papacy and the rest of the episcopate are complimentary, not opposed nor identical.

    It is only in your Orthodox world view that bishops and the pope must be opposed because in fact all your bishops do oppose the pope. But this is not how Catholic experience the Petrine ministry. So, lets not presume.

    As I have done the great majority of the work in this conversation, I am going to rely on you to explicate the Vigilius matter more fully or drop it. If you cant take the time to explain it, I am not going to take the time to attempt and answer to it. Your turn.

  66. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    Follow up. The Constitutum is a document written by Vigilius after the Judicatum. He writers two versions of it.

  67. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    I’d recommend looking at the actual documents and discussion in Hefle. IN some sense episcopate and the papacy have to be opposed in order to distinguish them, do they not? That is, the papacy has to have something the bishops lack, otherwise they would be the same, right?

    The text I cited seems to indicate that the Apostles individually have no need of a Petrine chrism to fully exercise their ministry. That seems pretty plain. And that does seem to flat out contradict the papal theory which to my understanding says that Peter via the chrism fulfills the ministry of the other apostles in communion with him and so the Pope does with their successors since he is the successor of Peter.

    I am not concerned with pronouncing on a whim. I am merely pointing out that the idea itself, right or wrong is that there is no necessary connection between consultation and ex cathedra promulgation, either in form or content. This is why Popes can revoke and contradict councils. The Petrine chrism does not depend on nor derive from the episcopate or any union or lack therefore from the larger episcopate. To think otherwise seems to capitulate to Gallicanism.

    Echoing Visibilium, isn’t the “whole church’ those bishops in communion with Rome? If so, then isn’t the statement a tad bit circular?

  68. Arthur says:

    Also, for better explication of Catholic ecclesiology please see: LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF THE CHURCH UNDERSTOOD AS COMMUNION (May 1992).

    See Section II, para. 9:

    9. In order to grasp the true meaning of the analogical application of the term communion to the particular Churches taken as a whole, one must bear in mind above all that the particular Churches, insofar as they are “part of the one Church of Christ”(38), have a special relationship of “mutual interiority”(39) with the whole, that is, with the universal Church, because in every particular Church “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active”(40).

  69. Arthur says:

    Acolyte.

    I admit that I am not altogether familiar with the historical context of this council. You have presented a specific text as if it were a contradiction to Catholic theology. It is not. Popes do not have the authority to define whatever they like as infallible without reference to the broader church or the ancient faith. To simply oppose papal authority to episcopal authority is to completely misunderstand Catholic ecclesiology.

    Clearly, each bishop has his own authority within his diocese. However, bishops teach collectively in councils and do so with the highest authority. Ex cathedra teaching is one specific case of the authority of the whole expressed through the ministry of Peter. There is no contradiction here.

    You seem wedded to you straw man, the ogre in the Vatican pronoucing dogmas on a whim against the better judgment of the rest of the bishops. This is simply false. Collectively, the episcopate together with Rome has the highest teaching authority. This authority can be expressed in ex cathedra teachings where the pope speaks for the church as a whole with the infallibility vested in the church as a whole.

    Visibilium: Excellent question. The “whole church” is not juridically defined as far as I am aware. I believe the text presumes the teaching is one that is held by the great majority of the faithful and the episcopate.

    Acolyte: I confess that I am unfamiliar with “Vigilius’ First Constitutum.” What is it? Please explain.

  70. Arthur says:

    Why is my last response not showing up on the blog? Have I been blocked?

  71. Visibilium says:

    Arthur,

    5. “must be held by the whole Church” (Vat. I, Session 4)

    Thanks. First, what is meant by the whole church, and does anyone have a veto? Second, does the belief of the whole church have to be a belief that is both consistent and contemporaneous with the irreformable statement?

  72. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    Given that those are the conditions for an infallible statement, can you indicate why Vigilius’ First Constitutum fails to meet them?

  73. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    The statements you cite from V1 seem disjunctive and so allow for a number of possibilities that are listed. I see no necessity in polling the biships in the text you cited. That is what “or” and ” , ” and “suggested” are for. And I am not sure how you connect being in communion with other bishops with the idea of polling them. These two ideas don’t see co-extensive. Can you show me some authoritative texts that do so? And, the text from Vat 1 does say that they Popes did consult but it doesn’t say that such consulation was necessary. If it is necessary, what do you think is the difference between that view and various forms of Gallicanism?

    More to the point, how does that fit with the citation above, which we seem to be getting away from since it seems to indicate that the apostles, and consequently bishops as successors of the apostles were free to define things individually, but for good order did not do so. There is nothing there or in the fifth council that I can see that would correspond to the requirements, and much against that you are articulating.

    And you ignored my first question. Could you please address it?

  74. Arthur says:

    Acolyte.

    “It seems obvious though from papal statements and well informed Catholic theologians, particularly conservative ones, that this is not required for a statement to be infallible.”

    You have confuse popular misconception with acuracy. What is “obvious” to you clearly contradicts the texts of Vat. I, Vat. II and the actual practice of the Church. That is three strikes, Acolyte.

    But dont be embarassed, it is a very common misconception.

  75. Arthur says:

    Visibiliium:

    Yes, the text must clearly indicate the following:

    1. “the Roman Pontiff”
    2. “speaks ex cathedra” (“that is, when in the discharge of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, and by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority….”)
    3. “he defines”
    4. “that a doctrine concerning faith or morals”
    5. “must be held by the whole Church” (Vat. I, Session 4)

  76. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    Were the bishops at the Fifth Council defining an issue in communion with Peter when Peter had already issued a self confessedly irreformable statement and was sitting his his cell while the other bishops debated?

    I don’t deny that Pius 12 or any other Pope has querried other bishops. It seems obvious though from papal statements and well informed Catholic theologians, particularly conservative ones, that this is not required for a statement to be infallible.

  77. Arthur says:

    Vatican I Decree on the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff (Session 4, Chapter 4, paragraph 5)

    The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or consulting the opinion of the churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God’s help, they knew to be in keeping with sacred scripture and the apostolic traditions.

    Polling of the episcopate is simply required. Crudely put, Papal infallibility is a substitute for a council. “Without consent of the Church” refers only to a consent after the fact of a doctrinal definition ex cathedra.

    You really must look up Gallicanism and do some reading to understand this text. Otherwise, you end up with a proof texted narrow interpretation that not even Benedict XVI could agree with. This is the proverbial strong man.

  78. Arthur says:

    Acolyte.

    Thanks for your comments. There is disagreement here. It is not rude to disagree. It is only rude to be, well, rude. That is, to ascribe bad intentions to another and to not take him at his word, etc. I dont use the word “polemics” for instance, unless I apply it to both sides of an acrid and uncharitable argument, such as ” the 16th Century Protestant-Catholic polemics. Otherwise, an environment is created in which neither party is likely to try to see the other’s point of view.

    Looking again at LG 25: they [bishops] nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.(40*)

    When is there such a state of affairs? When do bishops define doctrine in communion with the Holy See without meeting in council? There is no such thing unless we are speaking of Papal Infallibility. The next sentence then refers to bishops meeting in council. So bishops define doctrine collectively in a council and at some other time when not gathered together. When is that occasion? Why is this statement the introduction to the discussion of papal infallibility?

    You seem to be missing an essential piece of history here. It is well documented that on May 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII, asked all bishops in the world whether they thought this belief in the assumption of Mary into heaven should be defined as a proposition of faith, and whether they with their clergy and people desired the definition. Almost all the bishops replied in the affirmative.

    This polling was not something casual and unnecessary. One of the requirements of ex cathedra teaching is that the pope teaches in communion with the universal episcopate. The “irreformable” part has to do with the quality of the teaching after its definition. But the virtual consensus of the episcopate is part of the teaching on papal infallibility.

  79. Visibiliium says:

    Ex cathedra doctrinal definitions are irreformable of themselves. But, and this is a very big BUT, the pope has very specific limits on what he can infallibly define. Such a definition must be on faith or morals and must be taught in communion with the college of bishops. Once defined, an infallible definition is irreformable and needs no ratification, but he may not pronounce on just anything he likes because he is serving as the mouthpiece of the Church as a whole whose teaching is infallible.

    Is there any way to tell whether a Pope of Rome is speaking irreformably at the moment at which he claims to be doing so?

  80. acolyte says:

    Arthur,

    If per the citation none of the apostles required the aid of any of the others for the execution of their apostleship, then it sems to undercut the ROman claim that they in fact needed Peter who in principle received the keys and the others only derivatively so.

    Moreover, I think V1 and Lumen Gentium are quite clear, the papal statements in question do not derive their authority from any polling or consultation from other bishops but from the Petrine charism alone. They are, “of themselves” and not from the consent of the church” infallible and authoritative. And the acts of the Fifth council which was not called by the papacy seem to indicate that the vast majority of bishops present not only lacked the idea of Petrine primacy in terms of Vatican 1, but were quite hostile to anything close to it such that they excommunicated the Pope after he gave a self confessedly “irreformable” judgment on the matter and only received him when he changed his mind and obviously fallible judgment and that after imperial compulsion was added to the mix via Justinian.

    Consequently, it seems to me that the Orthodox have good grounds here for an authoritative reading of what it means for ROme to be the first see. If the doctrine of the Petrine chrism were of the apostolic deposit, then the other apostolic sees should, in an ecumenical council, which was ratified without question by Rome, recognized and given in, but they didn’t. The chief of the synod is not beyond removal since all of the apostles were in principle equal.

    That the council had this in mind seems quie clear from the subsequent comments where they indicate that plurality in consensus, contrary to many a popular Catholic polemic is not only superior but the only way to reach a definite conclusion. Vigilius in his subsequent personal letters writes as if he has his hat in hand and explains that he was opposed to the council merely out of ignorance.

    I just don’t see how reading through the Fifth couincil this is consistent with the Papal theory. It seems strange to me that when a local tradition or view springs up, Catholics argue that this is not the teacing of the church, except when it is a tradition limited to their particular see. To glance in Newman’s direction, if the heresy were anything else or done by anyone else and condemned by the whole church, Protestants would not flinch in condemning it, but such is not the case with their own position. The same can be applied to Rome’s position it seems to me.

    On the one hand we are told over and over again that the Fathers aren’t sufficiently reliable so we need the papacy and then we are told that the Fathers, specifically those in the locale of Rome taught the papal view. I don’t see how both can be true. If the Fathers aren’t sufficiently reliable, then you can’t use them to establish the papacy and you certainly can’t use the statements of one see over against the others, especially when the views of the others are universally confirmed as seems to be the case in the fifth council.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but this is just how things seem to me. So I do see some significant contravening evidence in the citation and the acts of the Fifth Council.

  81. JH says:

    “David Richards Says:

    July 7th, 2007 at 6:47 pm
    *crickets chirping*”

    Might not have noticed but we have been preoccupied with womething else the last few days lol

  82. Arthur says:

    Sorry, I messed up the code for closing italics.

  83. Arthur says:

    Prooftexting is often in the eye of the beholder. The best way to catch a case of prooftexting is to test the surrounding context for indications of an opposite interpretation. Quoting out of context is the essence of the error of prooftexting. In this case I dont really see a problem. Even without looking at the surrounding text, I find nothing shocking or objectionable about this passage as a discourse on either Orthodox or Catholic ecclesiology which are not as opposed as polemics suppose.

    Ex cathedra doctrinal definitions are irreformable of themselves. But, and this is a very big BUT, the pope has very specific limits on what he can infallibly define. Such a definition must be on faith or morals and must be taught in communion with the college of bishops. Once defined, an infallible definition is irreformable and needs no ratification, but he may not pronounce on just anything he likes because he is serving as the mouthpiece of the Church as a whole whose teaching is infallible. Read here from Lumen Gentium:

    Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.(40*) This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.(41*)

    And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith,(166) by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.(42*) And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith.(43*) The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.(44*) (LG 25)

    The only instance of an ex cathedra teaching after Vatican I was the definition of the Assumption of the BVM. This took place only after an informal though extensive polling of the world’s bishops who were in overwhelming support. Much is made of Papal Infallibility but it is essentially like a council without the bishops meeting together physically in one place.

    To understand properly the “irreformable in itself” clause from Vatican I, it was a correction of the error of Gallicanism in which the Catholic Church in France had declared the any papal teaching had to be approved by the Bishops of France in order to take effect there.

    It is also significant that the Church taught in council in 1870 that the Pope could teach on behalf of the world’s bishops with the same authority as a council at precisely the moment when it became extraordinarily difficult for the Church to hold a council. The same council was cut short by the invasion of Rome, leaving its major work on the many issues of the Church to a succeeding Council nearly a century later. For this reason, it was common belief through the 1950’s that there might never be another ecumenical council.

    Anyway, what is simplistic about any above argument opposing the Fifth Ecumenical Council to Catholic teaching is not the misinterpretation of the above text, but the misunderstanding of Papal Infallibility as an act which takes place in utter isolation from the universal body of bishops.

  84. Petra,

    Here is the problem. It seems to contradict the Catholic doctrine that Peter was the principle of unity. The Pope isn’t, per Catholic dogma, bound to speak with the bishops or counsel with them in making de fide statements. This is quite clear in Vat 1. And the fact of the matter is in the Fifth council, the bishops bring the Pope to heel after he is pronounced a self proclaimed “irreformable” statement, which he then later reforms under pressure.

    As for prooftexting, I threw the text out to make quite a few points, not the least of which was to motivate a discussion of and to highlight the way the Orthodox understand ecclesiology which is modled on the interpenetrating unity of the divine energies. Moreover, if you don’t care for prooftexting, then perhaps you can remind your Catholic brothers and sisters to stop doing it to us.

  85. Petra says:

    Sorry, but as a Catholic I can only say: So what? Why do you think Catholics would have a problem with this? Why do you think the Catholic Church has called a total of 21 (!) Ecumenical Councils (including the first seven ones)? The Pope could just have settled anything by himself, couldn’t he?? 😉

    There is a Catholic principle called “both/and” – the Pope has to act and speak in accordance with the Apostolic faith and the community of the bishops. So no contradiction there at all, sorry to disappoint you…

    BTW: Prooftexting like this seems to me awfully like those Protestant “arguments” from the letters of Paul about “sola fide” or “once saved, always saved” (“see? he writes ‘believe’, ‘believe’, ‘believe’!”)… Or like the lovely “Catholics should read the Bible!” argument. Well, we have read it for a 2000 years… Same applies to the documents of the Ecumenical Councils. 🙂

  86. […] (”Acolyte”) from Energetic Procession has posted an excerpt from the acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, which he presents as a piece of counter-evidence to […]

  87. David Richards says:

    By the way, I am waiting for a bibliography on the problem of evil in the Reading section of this weblog…

  88. David Richards says:

    I thought you posted an excerpt from it awhile back and there were few if any responses to it then.

  89. acolyte says:

    One of the possible thread titles was “whistling in the dark in Rome.” I thought this one was a tad bit less rhetorical.

    One thing that is interesting is that this citation is explicitly emplyed by the Patriarch of Antioch rebutting the Pope during the controversy about leavened bread. Rome never addressed it in any of the correspondence. And I have yet to find a reference or treatment of it by Roman apologsts from the 19th century forward. I haven’t read everything, but you’d think it would show up more one way or another.

  90. David Richards says:

    *crickets chirping*

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