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The Papacy:

Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Churches

by Abbé Guettée

Source: http://reocities.com/heartland/5654/orthodox/essays.html

of the Authority of the Bishops of Rome during the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth centuries.

We have already seen that the œumenical councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon had given to the Bishop of Constantinople the second place in the Catholic episcopacy, and that St. Leo, Bishop of Rome, had opposed this law, as changing the hierarchal order established at the first Œcumenical Council of Nicea.

We may believe that St. Leo was indeed only moved to this opposition by his respect for the canons. But his successors, probably, had another motive. They feared lest the Bishop of Constantinople should soon supplant them in the primacy. Such fears were the more reasonable that the Council of Chalcedon had only given as the reason of the primacy the dignity of the city of Rome, the capital of the empire. Now Rome was daily growing less influential. The Roman empire in the West had fallen under the blows of the barbarians; Rome was passing successively through the hands of various tribes, who destroyed every thing—even to the signs of her former greatness. Constantinople bad become the only centre of the empire, and increased in splendour in proportion as Rome was humbled. On the other hand, the emperor added daily to the prerogatives of the Bishops of Constantinople, thus increasing their influence, while they quite forgot the Bishops of Rome. It was therefore natural that the Roman Bishops Should be jealous of the prerogatives and honours of their brethren of Constantinople, and that jealousy betrayed itself in the relations necessary to be preserved between them. It was no less natural that the Bishops of Constantinople should show some degree of arrogance toward those of Rome, who had merely the semblance of a primacy and the memories of a glory that each day left more dim.

Such was the beginning of the struggles between the sees of Rome and Constantinople during the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, and the motive that impelled the Roman Bishops to aid in the establishment of a new Western empire, in which, thanks to the new emperors, they might so enlarge their prerogatives, that they should eclipse those of the see of Constantinople.

We must not lose sight of these general considerations if we would comprehend the history of the Papacy and those struggles which led to the rupture between the Eastern and Western churches.

No one denies that the emperors of Constantinople strove to increase the influence of the bishops of that city. They issued numberless decrees for this purpose; and the Emperor Zeno even made the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon a law of the state. The heads of the new empire of the East thought that they were adding to their own glory when they surrounded the see of their capital with splendour and power. In consequence of his position, the Bishop of Constantinople was the sole medium of intercourse not only between them and the other Oriental, but also the Western bishops. He became so powerful, that there grew up a custom to choose him from the members of the imperial or the most illustrious families.

The Bishop of Constantinople had, at first, only enjoyed an honorary title in virtue of the third canon of the second œcumenical council, (381.) Some time after, the Emperor Theodosius the younger, made two laws for the purpose of giving him a real authority over the provinces of Asia and Illyria. The Council of Chalcedon gave its ecclesiastical sanction to these laws, (451,) and extended the authority of the Bishop of Constantinople over Pontus and Thrace, in consequence of the ecclesiastical troubles that afflicted these countries. The Bishop of Constantinople himself thought himself entitled to extend his jurisdiction over the other Patriarchal sees of the East.

To trace the beginning of these undertakings we must go back to the fifth century.

In 476 Acacius was Bishop of Constantinople, and Simplicius Bishop of Rome. Basiliscus having driven Zeno from the imperial throne, declared himself in favour of the heretics condemned by the Council of Chalcedon, and recalled from exile Timothy Ælurus, the heretic Bishop of Alexandria, and Peter the Fuller, heretic Bishop of Antioch, both canonically deposed. These churches were filled with confusion, and a new council was talked of, to revoke the decrees of Chalcedon. Simplicius wrote to Basiliscus against the heretics, and at the same time applied to Acacius to obtain from the Emperor the expulsion of Timothy, and to dissuade that prince from convoking a new council. See Simplic. Epist. in Labbe's Collection. Evag. Hist. But Basiliscus was overthrown, and Zeno reäscended the imperial throne. Simplicius at once wrote to him, praying him to expel the heretics, especially Timothy of Alexandria.

Acacius sent a deacon to the Bishop of Rome, that he might consult with him upon the best means to remedy the evils of the churches. Simplicius replied, that under God, the Emperor only could remedy them; and advised that he should issue a decree exiling Timothy, and John of Antioch, who had supplanted Peter the heretic, and was no better than he had been; in a word, all the heretical bishops opposed to the Council of Chalcedon.

It is noteworthy that if the universal and absolute authority of the Bishop of Rome, now ascribed to him, had been recognized at that time, he would not have needed imperial intervention to reëstablish order and respect for the laws in the churches. The usurpers of bishoprics and the deposed bishops could not have had so numerous partisans.

Simplicius invoked the good offices of Acacius with Zeno in order to obtain the decree he desired, and to cause those to be excommunicated who were to be exiled. The Emperor issued the decree that Simplicius and Acacius asked for, and convoked a council of Eastern bishops, who excommunicated the heretical bishops, and particularly Peter and John, the usurpers of the see of Antioch, and Timothy of that of Alexandria. The council wrote to Simplicius praying him not to receive into his communion any of those who, had been condemned. Then Simplicius, on his part, excommunicated them, and gave Acacius notice of his sentence, entreating him at the same time to solicit from the Emperor the execution of the decree of proscription.

Timothy Ælurus, already feeble through age and infirmity, was permitted to die at Alexandria. After his death, his supporters elected Peter, surnamed Mongus, or "the Hoarse;" but the Emperor Zeno had him driven away, and reëstablished in the chair of Alexandria Timothy Salofaciolus, who had been unjustly expelled. The Roman court is now so little acquainted with these facts, that in a work published by it against the Eastern Church, over the name of Mr. Pitzipios, it makes Peter the Hoarse a Patriarch of Antioch. See Part I. ch. 2. The three Bishops of Rome, Constantinople, and Alexandria were thus in perfect communion, and mutually pledged themselves thereof.

But the Bishop of Antioch, who had taken the place of the two usurpers, Peter and John, was now killed in a riot. For that church was sadly divided, and the religious parties carried on a war to the knife there. To obtain pardon of the Emperor they now agreed to give up their right of election, and asked that Zeno should himself choose a bishop for them. He chose Stephen, who was consecrated at Constantinople by Acacius. This choice was not canonical; they knew that at Constantinople as well as at Rome; but they alleged the peculiar circumstances of the case as their excuse, and notified the Pope of what had occurred, in order that he should not refuse to enter into communion with the new bishop. Simplicius agreed to what had been done by the Emperor and Acacius, insisting, however, that such a choice, contrary to the canons of Nicea, should not establish a precedent. This was agreed to at Constantinople; but it is certain that the troubles of the churches of Antioch and Alexandria served to extend the influence of the Bishop of Constantinople over the whole Eastern Church; for the Emperor necessarily interfered in these troubles, and availed himself, in ecclesiastical matters, of the coöperation of the bishop nearest at hand, whose advice he could most easily obtain. Simplicius was not blind to the progress of the rival see, and that is why be so carefully appealed to the canons to prevent the interference of Acacius from becoming a matter of custom.

Nevertheless, upon Stephen's death, the Emperor chose Calandion to succeed him; and Acacius conferred the ordination.

Calandion, according to custom, wrote a letter of notification to the Bishop of Rome, who entered into communion with him. In the work before mentioned letters of communion are confounded with requests for confirmation, proving that the Roman court is no better acquainted with canon law than with historical facts. See Part I. ch. 3.

The see of Alexandria, after the death of Timothy Salofaciolus, gave greater trouble. John Talaïa was regularly elected and ordained; but Acacius declared against him, and persuaded the Emperor that John was unfit to be a bishop, and urged him to restore the see to Peter the Hoarse. This seemed to him to promise a restoration of peace; for Peter promised to abandon, with his followers, his opposition to the Council of Chalcedon; and the faithful would have no further objection to him if he were once canonically consecrated. The Bishop of Rome did not agree with Acacius, and declared that, though he would not grant intercommunion to John Talaïa, he never could recognize Peter the Hoarse as the legitimate bishop. Zeno overruled his opinion, and established Peter; and Acacius, deceived by the orthodox declarations of this wicked bishop, granted him communion.

John Talaïa, flying from Alexandria, went to Antioch and thence to Rome. In these two cities he made the most overwhelming charges against Mongus, and was received into communion by Calandion and Simplicius. He wrote to Acacius to ask for his removal; but Acacius replied that he did not recognize him as legitimate Bishop of Alexandria. Simplicius at once wrote to Acacius, blaming him for having granted communion to Mongus. He died before receiving the answer of the Bishop of Constantinople, (483.) He was succeeded by Felix, before whom John Talaïa at once pleaded his cause. John wrote a petition against Acacius; and Felix assembled a council at Rome, which decided that Acacius must reply to the petition of John, and pronounce an anathema against Peter the Hoarse. These decisions were sent to the Emperor. Felic. Epist. Labbe's Collection, vol. iv. Evag. Hist. Eccl. In the letters that Felix wrote to Zeno and to Acacius he bitterly complains that there had not even been an answer to the letters of his predecessor concerning the troubles of the Church of Alexandria. Zeno, by mingled terror and flattery, induced the envoys of Felix to communicate with Acacius and Peter Mongus; but the adversaries of these two bishops denounced these legates at Rome, and they were deposed. They had brought back letters in which Acacius and Zeno explained their conduct respecting Peter Mongus, and denied the accusations against that bishop.

This conduct wounded the Pope, who at once assembled a council of Italian bishops to excommunicate Acacius and depose him. He served on him a notice of the sentence, which was signed, "Felix, Bishop of the holy Catholic Church of Rome."

This sentence pronounced against Acacius was null and anti-canonical, since it was rendered outside of the district where the accused resided, and without the participation of the Eastern bishops, who were necessary judges in this case. The sentence has, moreover, a very passionate character; and in it Felix affects to give to his see of Rome the title of Catholic — that is, universal — in order that his authority should seem to extend over the whole Church.

From this we perceive that if the Bishops of Rome did not, as Gregory the Great tells us, accept for their persons the title of œcumenical or universal which the Council of Chalcedon is said to have offered them, they endeavoured, shortly after, to claim for this see, not merely an honorary title, but an œcumenical authority, as contrary to the intentions of the council as to the traditions of the entire Church. The Bishop of Rome showed himself disposed to exaggerate his prerogatives, in proportion as Acacius became more influential in the direction of the affairs of the Eastern Church; he became more angry as the Bishop of Constantinople treated him with more arrogance. Acacius despised the sentence of the Bishop of Rome, and even refused to receive it. Some bishops having declared against him, he caused them to be deposed; and Rome, on her part, excommunicated his adherents. After the death of Acacius, in 489, the dissension respecting him continued. If one could doubt the share that the jealousy of Rome had in her opposition to Acacius, such doubt would not survive the perusal of what Pope Gelasius wrote on this subject in 495. Having received a letter from the bishops of Dardania in which he was informed that, the partisans of Acacius relied principally, upon the irregularity of the sentence passed against him by the Italian Council, Gelasius replied to them, justifying himself by the Council of Chalcedon, which, he claimed, "condemned in advance those who should oppose it. It was therefore under the false pretext of his opposition to the council of Chalcedon that Rome had deposed Acacius, which belies the assertion contained in the work already cited, that no dogmatic question was pending between Rome and Constantinople under Acacius. Part I. ch. 3. But this was precisely the question—whether Acacius; had failed in the respect due to the Council of Chalcedon, by endeavouring to quiet the troubles raised in the East respecting that assembly. One evident fact is, that Acacius, in his efforts to settle these troubles, and in showing himself tolerant toward men, had sacrificed nothing of the Catholic doctrine defined at Chalcedon. No less clear is it that the men condemned first at Constantinople, afterward at Rome, had never been heard face to face with their accusers; that they had numerous supporters; that they had been condemned banished, and persecuted through the imperial power from which the Roman bishops were incessantly demanding severity, as their letters show. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that Acacius, even after his death, should have been regarded in the East as a great and holy bishop, and that the sentence of the Italian Council should have been considered as null and void? Gelasius is not happy in his answer to the objection of the bishops of Dardania to the illegality of this sentence. In return, he shows a great deal of temper when he tries to confute the argument drawn in favour of Acacius from the importance of the Byzantine see. "We laughed," he says, Gelas. Ep. ad Episcop. Dard. "at the prerogative that they (the Eastern bishops) claim for Acacius because he was bishop of the imperial city. Did not the Emperor reside for a long time at Ravenna, Milan, Sirmium, and Trèves? Have the bishops of these cities exceeded, on this account, the limits that antiquity has prescribed to them? If the question be upon the dignity of cities, the bishops of a second or third-rate see have more dignity than the bishops of a city which is not even a metropolis. The power of the secular empire is one thing, and the distribution of ecclesiastical dignities quite another. However small a city may be, it does not diminish the greatness of the prince who dwells there; but it is quite as true that the presence of the emperor does not change the order of religion; and such a city should rather profit by such an advantage to preserve the freedom of religion by keeping peaceably within its proper limits."

But what, then, was the foundation of the dignity of the Roman Church? Gelasius could indicate none other but the Council of Nicea. Now has not one œcumenical council the same rights as another? If at Nicea the Church had so ruled the hierarchal rank that Rome and Alexandria should be superiour to Antioch and Jerusalem, because their sees were more important, why should not the Council of Chalcedon have had the right to put Constantinople before Alexandria, and even before Rome? If, in the spirit of the Council of Nicea, Rome and Alexandria must precede Antioch and Jerusalem, it was evidently only because of their political importance, as was very properly expressed by the Council of Chalcedon. Why, then, should not Constantinople—already more important than Alexandria, and now the capital of the empire—why should she not be raised to a superiour hierarchal rank?

Gelasius was far from the point when he spoke of the imperial residences of Trèves, Milan, Ravenna, and Sirmium; for these cities were never reigning cities or capitals, like Rome and Constantinople. He went so far in his anger as to refuse Constantinople the bare title of metropolis, because the ancient Byzantium was not one. It is thus that, while accusing and condemning Acacius for his alleged opposition to the Council of Chalcedon, Rome affected to trample on the decrees of that very same Council. Of what consequence is it that Pope Leo protested against these decrees, under cover of those of Nicea? It is none the less true that those of Chalcedon are of equal value, since that assembly was equally œcumenical.

It is not our business, however, to notice all the historical blunders and erroneous assertions of the letter of Gelasius. We have only sought to show that the more Constantinople increased in influence the more Rome sought to humble her. The motive of this is easily understood. Rome was in the hands of the barbarians, losing each day more her prestige, while Constantinople, on the contrary, was at the height of her splendour.

In one of his treatises against Acacius Gelas. de. Anath. Gelasius reviews the decree of the Council of Chalcedon, which granted the second rank in the Church to the Bishop of Constantinople. He pretends that this decree is of no force because it was rejected by the Roman see. Why, then, does this see take for the foundation of its argument the Council of Nicea, as having of itself a superiour authority, to which Rome herself should submit? Was it not because the Council of Nicea was œcumenical? But was not the Council of Chalcedon equally so, and hence was not its authority the same as that of the Nicene Council?

Evidently Rome, by reason of her antipathy against Constantinople, put herself in a false position. To escape from it there was but one course open to her, namely, to proclaim that she held her authority from God, and was superiour to that of the councils. This course she took. She so affirmed timidly at first, openly when she saw a favorable opportunity.

These papal tendencies first appeared in the letters and instructions from the Popes in matters connected with those troubles which had arisen from the pretended deposition of Acacius. Nearly the entire East regarded this sentence as null. The Popes sustained it, and confounded that affair with that of the Council of Chalcedon, in order to give it more importance; nevertheless, the prevailing doctrine even in these documents, is that the council could alone determine the basis of reconciliations, thus excluding the idea of a central and sovereign authority at Rome or elsewhere. That thought chiefly pervades the writings of Gelasius, and Hormisda, who took the chief part in the troubles of the East. See their letters in Labbe's Collection of Councils, vol. iv. Peace was restored in a council held at Constantinople, (a.d. 519,) and upon conditions discussed with equal authority by either side. When, in 525, Pope John I. went to Constantinople by order of Theodoric, King of Italy, to plead for the Arians, he was invited to celebrate mass on Easter-day. He accepted on condition that he might be permitted to occupy the first seat. None denied him this privilege; still the demand betrays in the Papacy a serious anxiety on the subject of the Roman primacy. The Bishop of Constantinople was then rich and influential; the Bishop of Rome, on the contrary, subject to the whims of heretical kings, was in such poverty, that in 536, when Agapitus was made to go to Constantinople by order of Theodotus, king of the Goths, he was forced to sell some of the consecrated vessels in order to raise money sufficient for the journey. Agapitus was received by the Emperor Justinian with honours. The Emperor had called to the see of Constantinople Anthymus, Bishop of Trebizond, known for his attachment to the errours of Eutyches. The bishops who were at Constantinople availed themselves of the presence of the Pope, to hold with him a council against Anthymus, who preferred to return to his see of Trebizond, rather than to make a Catholic confession of faith. Mennas, chosen in his place by the clergy and people, and confirmed by the Emperor, was consecrated by the Pope. In a letter from the Eastern bishops it is remarked, that they give to Agapitus the titles of Father of fathers and Patriarch, and that in a letter from the monks, he was called Archbishop of the ancient Rome and œcumenical Patriarch. Labbe, vol. v. These titles were merely honorary and in the style of the age, especially in the East. They gave the title of Father of fathers to every bishop whom they particularly wished to honour. This proves nothing in favour of an authority which the Popes themselves did not yet claim.

The discussions relating to the "Three Chapters" furnish an incontestable proof of our assertion.

Ever since the Council of Chalcedon, the East had been filled with the most animated discussions; the most subtle reasoning was resorted to. Some openly tampered with the doctrine of the council, in order that they might attack it to better advantage; others denied its orthodoxy, as contrary to the Council of Ephesus and to St. Cyril. The latter charge arose from this, that the Fathers of Chalcedon had given cause to believe that they approved of the doctrine of Theodorus, Bishop of Mopsuestia, a letter of Ibas, and the writings of Theoderet against the anathemas of St. Cyril. The Emperor Justinian took great part in theological discussions, partly from inclination, and also because the various factions, each seeking to enlist him on their side, referred their causes to him. He thought that he had found the means of reuniting men's minds on the subject of the Council of Chalcedon, by clearing up the misunderstandings which the three writings above mentioned had occasioned, and condemning them, which he did, in fact. These are called the Three Chapters. They certainly had a Nestorian tendency; the authors were no longer at hand to explain them; and all that was requisite was to condemn the Nestorianism in their writings.

Justinian sent the condemnation of the Three Chapters to all the bishops, with orders to sign it. Some obeyed this, others resisted, regarding that condemnation only as in attack on the Council of Chalcedon. Pope Vigilius was ordered to Constantinople by Justinian. After refusing to concur in the condemnation, he consented without prejudice to the Council of Chalcedon. This reservation left unsatisfied the enemies of the council, while it did not excuse the condemnation in the eyes of the other party. The bishops of Africa, Illyria, and Dalmatia, and many other bishops individually, separated from the communion of Vigilius. Those of Africa solemnly excommunicated him in a council in 551. See Facundi op., edit. of Father Sirmond; and for the documents, Labbe's Collection of Councils. See also the Eccl. Hists. of Evag. and Theoph.

Without passing on the question at issue, these facts show clearly that in the sixth century the Bishop of Rome was regarded neither as infallible nor as the centre of Catholic unity; that this centre was believed to rest only in the pure and orthodox faith, and in the councils that represented the whole Church.

Vigilius, alarmed by the condemnations that were showered upon him, asked the Emperor for an œcumennical council to close the discussion. Justinian consented, and convoked the bishops. Vigilius withdrew his signature, and it was agreed that all should let the matter rest until the decision of the council. This proves that at Rome, as elsewhere, no infallible doctrinal authority was recognized, except that of the episcopate—the only interpreter of the universal faith.

Vigilius refused to attend the meetings of the council under pretext that the West was not as numerously represented as the East. He was told that the number of Western bishops then at Constantinople was greater than it had been at the other œcumenical councils. This objection raised by Vigilius proves that he did not think he could, by his presence or by delegation, give an œcumenical character to a council, as is now assumed at Rome. Nevertheless, Vigilius sent to the council his opinion upon the Three Chapters, opposing their condemnation. The council paid no heed to his opposition, examined carefully the three writings, and condemned the doctrine in them as opposed to anteriour councils, particularly to that of Chalcedon, which was solemnly recognized as œcumenical, on the same ground with those of Nicea, Constantinople, and Ephesus.

Before giving sentence, the council rehearsed its proceedings in respect to Vigilius. "When The Most Pious Vigilius," it said, Labbe's Collection of Councils. Counc. of Const. session 8. "was in this city; he took part in all the discussions concerning the Three Chapters, and condemned them several times both in writing and by word of mouth. After this he agreed, in writing, to come to the council and examine them with us, in order to come to a common decision. The Emperor having, in pursuance of our agreement, exhorted us to assemble, we were obliged to entreat Vigilius to fulfil his promise, recalling to him the example of the Apostles, who, filled with the Holy Ghost individually, and needing no deliberation, would not, nevertheless, determine the question 'whether the Gentiles must be circumcised,' until they had met in council and had strengthened their opinions by passages from Scripture. The Fathers who in times past have held the four councils, have followed the ancient examples, and have decided together all questions concerning heretics; for there is no other way of knowing the truth in questions of faith.

"According to Scripture, each one has need of his brother's aid, and when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ, he is in the midst of them. We have therefore repeatedly invited Vigilius, and the Emperor has sent officers to him for the same object; but he has only promised to give his judgment in private touching the Three Chapters. Having heard his reply, we have all considered what the Apostle says, 'That every one shall give account of himself to God;' and on the other hand, we have feared the judgment with which those are threatened who scandalize the brethren."

Then the council relates all that was done in examining the Three Chapters; it condemns them, while it declares its respect for the Council of Chalcedon. By this wise decision, the fifth œumenical council disproved the accusations that passionate men had spread among the Westerns touching the evil dispositions of most of its members. At the same time it exposed the pretexts held out by the adversaries of the Council of Chalcedon for rejecting the decisions of that holy assembly. It thus powerfully contributed to quiet the dissensions.

Vigilius saw he had been wrong in undertaking the defence of a bad doctrine, under pretence of his respect for the Council of Chalcedon. Six months after the closing of the council, he wrote to Eutychius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, acknowledging that he had sinned against charity in separating himself from his brethren. He adds that no one should be ashamed to retract, when he discovers the truth. "Having," he says, "examined the matter of the Three Chapters, I against find them condemnable." Then he declares against those who sustain them, and condemns his own writings in their defence. He publishes finally a long memorial to prove that the Three Chapters contained unsound doctrine. Labbe's Collection, vol. v. He returned to communion with those whom he had previously anathematized, and peace was restored.

The fifth œumenical council was neither convoked nor presided over by the Bishop of Rome, although he was present in the city where the council was held. The meetings were held not only without him, but against him. Nevertheless, the decision of this council was considered canonical, and the Pope himself, after some objections, arising out of his ignorance of certain facts, submitted to it. The West concurred with the council thus assembled without the Pope and against the Pope, and thus the assembly acquired its œcumenical character.

All the circumstances of this great fact of ecclesiastical history prove, beyond dispute, that nothing was known in the sixth century, even at Rome, of these pretended prerogatives that are now ascribed to the Papacy.

The discussions that took place at the close of that century, between John the Faster, successor of Eutychius, at Constantinople, and Pope Gregory the Great, clearly establish the same truth.

We have already mentioned that the title of œcumenical had been given to the Bishop of Rome as a mere honour in the Council of Chalcedon; that Pope Felix bad affected to give to his see the title of catholic in the same sense; and that some Oriental monks had called Pope Agapitus œcumenical Patriarch. These precedents were copied at Constantinople. The emperors were bent upon raising the Patriarch of that capital, which they called the new Rome, to the same degree of honour as belonged to the one of ancient Rome, still keeping him in the second rank, but only in respect of seniority. The Emperor Maurice thus gave to John the Faster the title of œcumenical Patriarch.

Pope Pelagius II. and his successor Gregory the Great protested against this title. Gregory then wrote those famous letters which so absolutely condemn the modern Papacy. We will give some extracts from them.

At the beginning of his episcopate, Gregory addressed a letter of communion to the Patriarchs John of Constantinople, Eulogius of Alexandria, Gregory of Antioch, John of Jerusalem, and to Anastasius, formerly Patriarch of Antioch, his friend. If he had considered himself the chief and sovereign of the Church; if he had believed he was so by divine right, he would certainly have addressed the Patriarchs as subordinates; we should find in that encyclical letter some traces of his superiority. The fact is quite the reverse of this. It speaks at great length of the duties of the episcopate, and not even dreams of mentioning the rights which such a dignity would have conferred on him.

He particularly insists upon the duty of a bishop not to permit himself to be engrossed by the cares of external things, and concludes his encyclical letter with his confession of faith, in order to prove himself in communion with the other Patriarchs, and through them with all the Church. St. Greg. Pap. Epist. 25, lib. 1.

Such silence on St. Gregory's part concerning the pretended rights of the Papacy is of itself significant enough, and Romish theologians would find it difficult of explanation. What, then, shall they oppose to the letters from which we are about to give a few extracts, and in which St. Gregory most unreservedly condemns the very idea which is the foundation of their Papacy as they understand it—that is, the universal character of its authority?

Gregory to John, Bishop of Constantinople:

"You remember, my brother, the peace and concord which the Church enjoyed when you were raised to the sacerdotal dignity. I do not, therefore, understand how you have dared to follow the inspiration of pride, and have attempted to assume a title which may give offence to all the brethren. I am the more astonished at it that I remember your having taken flight to avoid the episcopate; and yet you would exercise it to-day, as if you had run toward it, impelled by ambitious desires. You who used to say so loud that you were unworthy of the episcopate, you are no sooner raised to it than, despising your brethren, you aspire to have alone the title of bishop. My predecessor, Pelagius, of saintly memory, wrote very seriously to your Holiness upon this subject. He rejected, in consequence of the proud and magnificent title that you assumed in them, the acts of the synod which you assembled in the cause of Gregory, our brother and fellow-bishop; and to the archdeacon, whom, according to usage, he had sent to the Emperor's court, he forbade communion with you. After the death of Pelagius, having been raised, notwithstanding my unworthiness, to the government of the Church, According to St. Gregory, every bishop has a part in the government of the Church, the authority residing in the episcopate. it has been my care to urge you, my brother, not by writing, but by word of mouth, first by my envoy, The Bishop of Rome had kept representatives at the court of Constantinople ever since that city had become the imperial residence. and afterward through our common son, Deacon Sabinian, to give up such assumption. I have forbidden him also to communicate with you if you should refuse to yield to my request, in order that your Holiness may be inspired with shame for your ambition, before resorting canonical proceedings, in case shame should not cure you of pride so profane and so reprehensible. As before resorting to amputation, the wound should be tenderly probed, I pray you—I entreat you—I ask with the greatest possible gentleness, that you, my brother, will resist all the flatterers who give you an erroneous title, and that you will not consent to ascribe to yourself a title as senseless as vainglorious. Verily I have tears for this; and from the bottom of my heart I ascribe it to my own sins that my brother has not been willing to return to lowliness—he who was raised to the episcopal dignity only to teach other souls to be lowly; that he who teaches others the truth would neither teach it to himself, nor consent, for all my prayers, that I should teach it him.

"I pray you, therefore, reflect that by your bold presumption the peace of the whole Church is troubled, and that you are at enmity with that grace, which was given to all in common. The more you grow in that grace, the more humble you will be in your own eyes; you will be the greater in proportion as you are further removed from usurping this extravagant and vainglorious title. You will be the richer as you seek less to despoil your brethren to your profit. Therefore, dearly beloved brother, love humility with all your heart. It is that which insures peace among the brethren, and which preserves unity in the Holy Catholic Church.

"When the Apostle Paul heard certain of the faithful say, 'I am of Paul of Apollos, and I of Cephas,' he could not see them, without horror, thus rending the body of the Lord, to attach his members to various heads; and he exclaimed, 'Was Paul crucified for you?—or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?' If he could not bear that the members of the body of the Lord should be attached piecemeal to other heads than that of Christ, though those heads were Apostles, what will you say to Christ, who is the head of the universal Church—what will you say to him at the last judgment—you who, by your title of universal, would bring all his members into subjection to yourself? Whom, I pray you tell me, whom do you imitate by this perverse title if not him who, despising the legions of angels, his companions, endeavoured to mount to the highest, that he might be subject to none and be alone above all others; who said, 'I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High'? What are your brethren, the bishops of the universal Church, but the stars of God? Their lives and teaching shine, in truth, through the sins and errours of men, as do the stars through the darkness of the night. When, by your ambitious title, you would exalt yourself above them, and debase their title in comparison with your own, what do you say, if not these very words, I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God? Are not all the bishops the clouds that pour forth the rain of instruction, and who are furrowed by the lightnings of their own good works? In despising them, my brother, and endeavouring to put them under your feet, what else do you say than that word of the ancient enemy, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds? For my part, when, through my tears, I see all this, I fear the secret judgments of God; my tears flow more abundantly; my heart overflows with lamentations, to think that my Lord John—a man so holy, of such great abstinence and humility, but now seduced by the flattery of his familiars—should have been raised to such a degree of pride that, through the lust of a wrongful title, he should endeavour to resemble him who, vaingloriously wishing to be like God, lost, because he was ambitious of a false glory, the grace of the divine resemblance that had been granted to him, and the true beatitude. Peter, the first of the Apostles, and a member of the holy and universal Church; Paul, Andrew, John—were they not the chiefs of certain nations? And yet all are members under one only head. In a word, the saints before the law, the saints under the law, the saints under grace — do they not all constitute the body of the Lord? Are they not members of the Church? Yet is there none among them who desired to be called universal. Let your Holiness consider, therefore, how much you are puffed up when you claim a title that none of them had the presumption to assume.

"You know it, my brother; hath not the venerable Council of Chalcedon conferred the honorary title of universal upon the bishops of this Apostolic See, whereof I am, by God's will, the servant? And yet none of us hath permitted this title to be given to him; none hath assumed this bold title, lest by assuming a special distinction in the dignity of the episcopate, we should seem to refuse it to all the brethren.

. . . 'The Lord, wishing to recall to a proper humility the yet feeble hearts of his disciples, said to them, 'If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all;' whereby we are clearly taught that he who is truly high is he who is most humble in mind. Let us, therefore, beware of being of the number of those 'who love the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.' In fact, the Lord said to his disciples, 'Be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your Master . . . and all ye are brethren. Neither be ye called Fathers, for ye have but one Father.'

"What then could you answer, beloved brother, in the terrible judgment to come, who desire not only to be called Father, but universal Father of the world? Beware then of evil suggestions; fly from the counsel of offence. 'It is impossible,' indeed, 'but that offences will come; but,' for all that, 'Woe unto him through whom they come!' In consequence of your wicked and vainglorious title, the Church is divided and the hearts of the brethren are offended.

. . . "I have sought again and again, by my messengers and by humble words, to correct the sin which has been committed against the whole Church. Now I myself write. I have omitted nothing that humility made it my duty to do. If I reap from my rebuke nothing better than contempt, there will nothing be left for me but to appeal to the Church."

By this first letter of St. Gregory we see, first, that ecclesiastical authority resides in the episcopate, and not in any one bishop, however high in the ecclesiastical hierarchy; secondly, that it was not his private cause that Gregory defended against John of Constantinople, but that of the whole Church; thirdly, that he had not himself the right to judge the cause, and was compelled to refer it to the Church; fourthly, that the title of universal bishop is contrary to God's word, and vainglorious and wicked; fifthly, that no bishop, however high in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, can assume universal authority, without invading the rights of the entire episcopate and lastly, that no bishop in the Church can claim to be Father of all Christians without assuming a title which is contrary to the Gospel, vainglorious, and wicked.

John of Constantinople, having received his title of universal from the Emperor, Gregory wrote the following letter to that prince: Letters of St. Gregory, Book V. Letter 20, Benedictine edition.

"Our very pious lord does wisely to endeavour to accomplish the peace of the Church that he may restore peace to his empire, and to condescend to invite the priesthood to concord and unity. I myself desire it ardently; and as much as in me lies, I obey his worshipful commands. But since not my cause alone, but the cause of God is concerned; since it is not I alone who am disturbed, but the whole Church that is agitated; since the canons, the venerable councils, and the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ himself are attacked, by the invention of a certain pompous and vainglorious word; let our most pious lord cut out this evil; and if the patient would resist him, let him bind him with the bonds of his imperial authority. In binding such things you will give liberty to the commonwealth, and by excisions of this sort you will diminish the malady of your empire.

"All those who have read the Gospel know that the care of the whole Church was confided by our Lord himself to St. Peter, first of all the Apostles. Indeed, he said to him, 'Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.' Again it was said to him, 'Satan has desired to sift thee as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.' It was also said to him, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: and l will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' He thus received the keys of the celestial kingdom; the power to bind and loose was given to him; the care of all the Church and the primacy were committed to him; and yet he did not call himself universal Apostle. But that most holy man, John, my brother in the priesthood, would fain assume the title of universal bishop. I can but exclaim, O tempora! O mores!"

We cannot pass over these words of St. Gregory without pointing out their great importance. This learned doctor interprets, as we have seen, the texts of the Gospel, which refer to St. Peter, in the sense most favourable to that Apostle. He exalts Peter as having had the primacy in the Apostolic college; as having been intrusted by the Lord himself with the care of the whole Church. What does he infer from all this? Ever since the Popes have abused the texts that he quotes, in order to attribute to themselves an absolute, and universal authority in the Church, we know how they reason. They give to the language of the Gospel, in the first place, the very broadest and most absolute sense, and then apply it to themselves as the successors of St. Peter. St. Gregory acts quite otherwise: he places Peter's prerogatives side by side with his humility, which kept him from claiming universal authority; he is so far from holding himself out as Peter's heir, that he only quotes the example of that Apostle to confound John of Constantinople, and all those who would claim universal authority in the Church. Thus he attacks, by St. Peter's example, the same authority that the popes have since claimed in the name of St. Peter and as his successors.

St. Gregory continues:

"Is it my cause, most pious lord, that I now defend? Is it a private injury that I wish to avenge? No; this is the cause of Almighty God, the cause of the universal Church.

"Who is he who, against the precepts of the Gospel and the decrees of the canons, has the presumption to usurp a new title? Would to Heaven there were but one who, without wishing to lessen the others, desired to be himself universal! . . . .

"The Church of Constantinople has produced bishops who have fallen in the abyss of heresy, and who have even become heresiarchs. Thence issued Nestorius, who, thinking, there must be two persons in Jesus Christ, mediator between God and man, because be did not believe that God could become man, descended thus to the very perfidy of the Jews. Thence came Macedonius, also, who denied that the Holy Spirit was God consubstantial with the Father and the Son. But if any one usurp in the Church a title which embraces all the faithful, the universal Church—O blasphemy!—will then fall with him, since he makes himself to be called the universal. May all Christians reject this blasphemous title—this title which takes the sacerdotal honour from every priest the moment it is insanely usurped by one!

"It is certain that this title was offered to the Roman Pontiff by the venerable Council of Chalcedon, to honour the blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles. But none of us has consented to use this particular title, lest, by conferring a special matter upon one alone, all priests should be deprived of the honour which is their due. How, then, while we are not ambitious of the glory of a title that has been offered to us, does another, to whom no one has offered it, have the presumption to take it?"

This passage of Gregory is very remarkable. He first asserts that it was a council that offered the Bishops of Rome the honour of being called universal. Would this council have done this with a view to honour these bishops if it had believed that they already had universal authority by divine right? Moreover, St. Gregory asserts that the council wished to honour the bishops as an honour to St. Peter. He, therefore, did not believe that universal authority came to them by succession from that Apostle. The Church of Rome has cause to glory in St. Peter, for he made her illustrious by his martyrdom. It was, therefore, in remembrance of this martyrdom, and to honour this first of the Apostles, that the General Council of Chalcedon offered the Bishops of Rome this honorary title. How shall we reconcile these statements of St. Gregory with the pretensions of the modern Bishops of Rome, who believe that of divine right they are invested not only with the title of universal Bishop and common Father of the Faithful, but also with an universal sovereignty?

These letters of St. Gregory are unquestionable records attesting that the universal Church was startled from the moment there appeared in her bosom the first glimmerings of an universal power residing in a single bishop. The whole Church understood that such authority could not be established without depriving the entire episcopate of its rights; in fact, according to divine institution, the government of the Church is synodical. Authority can, therefore, only reside in the entire body of legitimate pastors, and not in any individual pastor.

We cannot declare in favour of the universal authority of one without destroying the divine principle of the organization of the Church.

This truth stands out prominently from the writings of Pope Gregory the Great.

He writes upon the same subject to Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria, and Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch. He says to them: "Eight years ago, in the life of our predecessor, Pelagius, of saintly memory, our brother and fellow-bishop, John, taking occasion from some other matter, assembled a synod in the city of Constantinople, and sought to assume the title of universal, which our predecessor no sooner learned than he sent letters by which, in virtue of the authority of the Apostle St. Peter, he nullified the acts of the synod."

Romish theologians have strangely misused this passage in favour of their system. Had they compared it with the other texts from St. Gregory on the same subject, and with the whole body of his doctrine, they might have convinced themselves of two things: First, that in this passage Gregory only refers to the primacy granted by the councils to the Bishop of Rome because of the dignity of his see, made glorious by the martyrdom of St. Peter, first of the Apostles. Secondly, that the only question before the synod of Constantinople was one of mere discipline, in which the accused priest had appealed to Rome. Pelagius, then Bishop of Rome, was therefore judge in the last resort in this matter, in virtue of the primacy granted to his see. This primacy had been granted to his see for the sake of St. Peter. The Council of Chalcedon, in order to honour St. Peter, had also offered the title of universal to the Bishops or Rome, as we learn from St. Gregory.

But between this and a sovereignty of divine right coming to the popes by succession from St. Peter, there is a great gulf; yet Romanists have found it all in the text from St. Gregory above quoted; carefully avoiding, to quote, however, the other texts that limit its meaning, and teach us the true doctrine of this Pope. They often act thus in respect of their quotations from the councils and the Fathers of the Church, as we have already repeatedly shown.

St. Gregory continues:

"As your Holiness, whom I particularly venerate, well knows, this title of universal was offered by the holy Council of Chalcedon to the Bishop of the Apostolic see, which, by God's grace, I serve. But'none of my predecessors would use this impious word, because, in reality, if a Patriarch be called universal, this takes from all the others the title of Patriarch. Far, very far, from every Christian soul be the wish to usurp any thing that might diminish, however little, the honour of his brethren! When we deny ourselves an honour that has been offered to us, consider how humiliating it is to see it violently usurped by another."

Roman theologians have carefully avoided calling attention to this passage, where St. Gregory considers himself a Patriarch equal to the other Patriarchs; where he clearly says, if one of the Patriarchs may claim to be universal, the others are, ipso facto, no more Patriarchs. This doctrine perfectly agrees with that of the primacy granted to the Patriarch of Rome, for St. Peter's sake, and in remembrance of the martyrdom suffered by this first of the Apostles at Rome; but does it agree with a universal sovereignty, coming by divine right to the Bishops of Rome, through Peter, their assumed predecessor? Assuredly not.

St. Gregory continues to unfold a teaching contrary to the modern Papal system:

"Therefore," he says, "let your Holiness not give to any one in your letters the title of universal, lest you deprive yourself of your own due, by offering to another an honour that you do not owe to him. For my part, though separated from you by great distance of land and sea, I am, nevertheless, closely bound to you in heart. I am confident that such are also the sentiments of your Holiness toward me; if you love me as I love you, no distance can separate us. Thanks be, then, to that grain of mustard-seed, which was, indeed, in appearance, small and contemptible, but which, spreading afar its branches, sprung all from one root, has formed a shelter for all the birds of the air! Thanks be, also, to that leaven which, hidden in three measures of meal, has joined in one unity the whole of mankind. Thanks, again, for that little stone, broken without effort from the mountain, that has covered the whole surface of the earth, which has so extended itself as to make out of the human race, now united, the body of the universal Church, which has even made distinctions of the parts serve to rivet the bonds of unity.

"Hence it follows, that we are not far from you, since we are one in Him who is everywhere. Let us give Him thanks for having so destroyed all enmities that, in his humanity, there is in the world but one fold and one flock, under one shepherd, which is Christ himself. Let us always remember these warnings of the Preacher of truth: 'Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' (Ephes. 4:3.) 'Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.' (Heb. 12:14.) The same said to his disciples, 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.' (Romans 12:18.) He knew that the good could have no peace with the wicked; therefore, he says at once, as you know, 'If it be possible.'"

Let us pause a moment over this part of Gregory's letter. Is it not remarkable that, in speaking of the Church as one flock under the guidance of a single pastor, which is Jesus Christ, he expressly says that Jesus Christ is the only visible pastor of the Church, or, which is the same thing, that he is the pastor in his humanity, in his flesh, according to the whole strength of the expression, "in carne suâ?"

Does not this exclude all idea of a universal pastor, taking the place of and representing Christ? Therefore, does it not, in one word, destroy all the assumptions of the modern Papacy, and reduce the true Papacy to a primacy established by the Church?

Further, St. Gregory, in quoting the epistle to the Romans, calls these Romans "disciples" of St. Paul. St. Paul only wrote his epistle to the Christians at Rome, a.d. 58. There were then at Rome very few Christians—not established as a Church, properly so called, and assembling at, the house of Aquila, one of their number. They had come to Rome from various countries that had been evangelized by St. Paul, and are thus called by St. Gregory his disciples. They wrote to him, beseeching him to visit and instruct them. Paul replied to them by his letter, in which he promises to evangelize Rome. He went there two years later. There he found some Jews, who only knew the Christians by name, and who, therefore, cannot have already been converted by St. Peter, their special Apostle. Paul formed a church at Rome, and gave it for a bishop one Linus, his disciple, whom Tertullian, St. Irenæus, and Eusebius mention, as we have already seen, as the first Bishop of Rome.

Where, now, is the alleged episcopate of St. Peter at Rome, upon which the Ultramontanes base all their systems? St. Peter evidently came to Rome but a short time before be suffered martyrdom there. It was because of the martyrdom of the first of the Apostles, and not because of his episcopate at Rome, that the councils, like that of Chalcedon and that of Sardica, for example, granted certain special privileges to the Bishops of Rome. Nor does St. Gregory, in his letters to the Patriarchs, endeavour to ascribe to himself, by right of Apostolic succession from St. Peter, an authority which was not his; he even very justly traces his Church back to St. Paul, and not to St. Peter. Thus, when, in another place, he calls the authority of his predecessor the authority of St. Peter, he means by that only the rights which the Bishops of Rome had received from the councils for the honour of St. Peter, who had made that Church illustrious by his glorious death!

Could any one find in St. Gregory's letter to the Patriarchs the language of a superiour toward his subordinates? St. Gregory, as first bishop of the Church, as first of the Patriarchs, takes the lead, calls the attention of the other Patriarchs, his brethren, to the encroachments of one of their number. He entreats them to join him in resisting what he regards as a misfortune for the whole episcopate; nay, for the universal Church. He does not make the slightest allusion to any superiour authority in himself; he appeals only to the divine precept and to the canons, against an usurpation, which he calls diabolical. Is this the language of a chief, of a universal monarch? Clearly not. We cannot read this beautiful letter of St. Gregory to the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria without being convinced that such a Papacy as is now assumed to be of divine right, was unknown to him; that he cried out against tendencies that may be looked upon as the first attempts at universal jurisdiction; that he looked upon those first attempts as an enterprise which might upset the Church and which threatened the rights of the entire priesthood. Perhaps he attached too much importance to a purely honorary title which only emanated from the imperial authority; but he saw, under this title, an anti-canonical undertaking, and the first attempts at a universal Papacy. What would he say of this Papacy itself, with all its modern pretensions? He would justly show himself its greatest enemy, and would see in it the source of all the evils with which the Church has been for centuries overwhelmed.

The Patriarch of Alexandria, not replying to him, Gregory wrote asking for his opinion. Letters of St. Gregory, Book VI., Ep. 60, Benedictine Ed.

Thereupon John of Constantinople died. Gregory wrote at once to his successor, Cyriacus, who had sent him a letter of communion. He congratulates him upon his faith, but adds, concerning the title of universal, which he had followed the example of his predecessor in taking:

"We shall truly be at peace, Ibid. Book VII. Ep. 4. if you renounce the pride of an impious title, according to the word of the Apostle of the Gentiles, 'O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings.' (1 Tim. 6:20.) It is indeed too unjust that those who have become the preachers of humility, should glory in a vain title of pride. The Preacher of truth says, 'God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (Gal. 6:14.) Hence he is truly glorious who glories not in temporal power, but in what he suffers for the name of Christ. In this we heartily embrace you, in this we recognize you as priest, if, repelling the vanity of titles, you occupy an holy see with holy humility.

"For we have been offended in respect to a sinful title; we have had a grudge concerning it, we have declared loudly on the subject. Now you know, my brother, that the Truth hath said, 'If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against theeleave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.' (St. Matt. 5:23, 24.) Thus, although every fault is wiped away by the sacrifice, the evil of giving offence to the brethren is so great, that the Lord will not accept from him who is guilty of it the sacrifice that usually atones for sin. Hasten, therefore, to purify your heart of this offence, that the Lord may look with favour upon the offering of your gift."

Gregory having occasion to write again to Cyriacus, alludes again to the subject, so much importance did he attach to it:

"I could not express to you in this letter," says he, Ibid. Book VI. letter v. "how my soul is bound to you; but I pray Almighty God, by the gift of his grace, to strengthen still more this union between us, and destroy all occasion of offence, in order that the holy Church, united by a confession of the true faith, of which the bonds are riveted by the reciprocal sentiments of the faithful, may suffer no damage from any discussions that the priests may have among themselves. As for me, in spite of all I say, and through all the opposition that I make to certain acts of pride, I preserve charity in the depth of my heart, God be thanked, and while I sustain externally the claims of justice, I do not inwardly repel those of love and affection.

"On your part, reciprocate my sentiments, and respect the rights of peace and affection, that remaining in unity of spirit, there may be left no subject of division between us. We shall the more easily obtain the grace of the Lord if we come before him with united hearts."

Cyriacus was not touched by Gregory's tender exhortations, who, some time after, wrote to the Patriarch of Antioch, blaming him, in a friendly way, for not attaching enough importance to the usurpation of their brother of Constantinople. We see by that letter that the Patriarch of Antioch feared to draw upon himself the displeasure of the Emperor if he declared against the Patriarch of Constantinople. He wrote his friend St. Gregory a very flattering letter. "But," replied the great Pope, "your Holiness, I perceive, would have your letter like the bee that carries both honey and a sting, that you might both satisfy me with honey and sting me. But I have found in this an occasion to reflect upon these words of Solomon, 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.' (Prov. 27:6.)

"As regards what you say to me concerning the title whereat I am offended, that I should yield, because the thing is of no importance, the Emperor has written me to the same effect. That which he says by virtue of his power, I know you say out of friendship. I am not surprised to find the same expressions in your letter as in that of the Emperor, for love and power have many things in common; both are in the first rank, and they always speak with authority.

"When I received the synodical letter from our brother and fellow-bishop, Cyriacus, I did not see fit to put off replying to him, in spite of the impious title he assumed in it, lest I should thereby trouble the unity of the holy Church; but I took care to tell him my opinion touching this grand and superstitious title; I told him that he could not have peace with us if he did not refrain from taking this title of pride, which was but an invention of the first apostate. You must not consider this same affair as unimportant; for, if we tolerate it, we corrupt the faith of the whole Church. You know how many, not heretics only but heresiarchs, have arisen in the church of Constantinople. Not to speak of the injury done to your dignity, it cannot be denied that if any one bishop be called universal, all the Church crumbles if that universal one fall. But far be it from me to lend an ear to such folly, to such levity! I confide in the all-powerful Lord, who will fulfil the promise he has made, 'Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.'" (Luke 14:11.)

No one could more wisely estimate than does St. Gregory the serious inconveniences that the Church might suffer from a central authority assuming to represent and sum up the Church. Man, whatever he may be, and frequently from the superiour dignity itself with which he is invested, is subject to errour: if the Church be summed up in him, the Church falls with him. Such is St. Gregory's reasoning. He foresaw but too well; and the Roman Church has fallen into endless errours, with a Pope who claims to sum her up in his own person, and to be her infallible personification.

Happily the Church of Jesus Christ is neither that of one time nor that of one place, and she may always be distinguished by the Catholic criterion so clearly set forth by the Fathers of the Church. Otherwise, we must cease to believe the promises of Christ, and must say in an absolute sense what St. Gregory said hypothetically, The universal one has fallen, the whole Church has fallen!

They said at the court of Constantinople, that Gregory only made such fierce war against the title of universal from jealousy of the Bishop of the New Rome, and to debase him. The Emperor and Cyriacus wrote thus to him with all the respect that was his due; but Gregory made Cyriacus clearly understand that he had misjudged him. He sent to him and to the Emperor a deacon, Anatolius by name, to undeceive them, giving him letters for the Emperor and the Patriarch. To the latter, after thanking him for his flattering words, he says: Book VII. Ep. 31.

"It must be not only by words, but by deeds, that you show to me and to all your brethren the splendour of your charity, by hastening to renounce a title of pride, which has been a cause of offence to all the churches. Fulfil these words, 'Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, (Eph. 4:3,) and this other, 'Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.' (1 Tim. 5:14.) Your charity will shine forth if there be no division between us in respect to a vainglorious title. I call Jesus to witness, from the depth of my soul, that I do not wish to give offence to any person, from the least to the greatest. I desire all to be great and honoured, provided such honour detracts nothing from that which is due to Almighty God. Indeed, whoever would be honoured against God is not honourable in my eyes. . . . In this matter I would injure no one; I would only defend that humility which is pleasing to God and the peace of the holy Church. Let the things newly introduced be therefore abrogated in the same manner as they have been established, and we shall preserve amongst us the purest peace of the Lord. What kindly relations can exist between us if our sentiments are but words, and we wound one another with our deeds?"

In his letter to the Emperor, Gregory devotes himself to refuting the argument that was drawn from the insignificance of this honorary title, to which they pretended, at Constantinople, not to attach any great importance. "I pray your Imperial Piety," be says, Book VII. Ep. 33. "to observe that there are some frivolous things that are inoffensive, but also some others that are very hurtful. When Antichrist shall come and call himself God, it will be in itself a perfectly frivolous thing, but a very pernicious one. If we only choose to consider the number of syllables in this word, we find but two, (De-us;) but if we conceive the weight of iniquity of this title, we shall find it enormous. I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, THE PRECURSOR OF ANTICHRIST, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The errour into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others."

Nowadays they teach, in the name of the Church and in favour of the Bishop of Rome, the same doctrine that St. Gregory stigmatized with so much energy. The partisans of the Papacy teach continually that the Pope has a universal authority—that he is the universal bishop — that, properly speaking, he is the only bishop, the source whence flows all ecclesiastical dignity, including the episcopate, which is but indirectly and mediately of divine right.

Such is the instruction that they would now foist upon us as Catholic doctrine. Do our modern innovators apprehend that Pope Gregory the Great regarded such a doctrine as diabolical, and has, in anticipation, called this Pope, so invested with an assumed universal episcopate, Antichrist?

St. Gregory was in the habit of taking no important decision without giving information of it to the other Patriarchs. He therefore wrote to those of Alexandria and Antioch, to inform them what course he had adopted with regard to the new Patriarch of Constantinople. Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, was persuaded, and announced to Gregory that be would no longer give the title universal to the Bishop of Constantinople; but, thinking to flatter Gregory, whom he loved and who had done him service on many occasions, he gave the same title to him, and wrote that if he did not give it to the Bishop of Constantinople, it was in submission to the COMMANDS of Gregory. Gregory answered at once, and the following passage from his answer shows what idea he had of his own authority as bishop of Rome:

"Your Holiness has been at pains to tell us that in addressing certain persons you no longer give them certain titles that have no better origin than pride, using this phrase regarding me, as you have commanded.' I pray you let me never again hear this word command; for I know who I am and who you are. BY YOUR POSITION YOU ARE MY BRETHREN; by your virtues you are my fathers. I have, therefore, not commanded; I have only been careful to point out things which seemed to me useful. Still I do not find that your Holiness has perfectly remembered what I particularly wished to impress on your memory; for I said that you should no more give that title to me than to others; and lo! in the superscription of your letter, you give to me, who have proscribed them, the vainglorious titles of universal and of Pope. May your sweet Holiness do so no more in future, I beseech you; for you take from yourself what you give in excess to another. I do not ask to increase in dignities, but in virtues. I do not esteem that an honour which causes my brethren to lose their own dignity. My honour is that of the whole Church. My honour is the unshaken firmness of my brethren. I consider myself truly honoured when no one is denied the Honour due to him. If your Holiness calls me universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what I should then be altogether. God forbid! Far from us be the words that puff up vanity and wound charity."

Thus did Pope Gregory condemn, even in the person of the Bishop of Rome, the title of Pope and that of universal. He acknowledges that the Patriarch of Alexandria is his equal, that be is not entitled to lay any commands upon him and consequently that he has no authority over him.

How is this orthodox doctrine of St. Gregory's to be reconciled with the modern teaching that ascribes to the Pope a universal authority of divine right?Let the defenders of the Papacy answer.

St. Gregory, consistent with himself, sees the unity of the Church only in the true faith, and never makes the least allusion to the necessity of being in communion with the Church of Rome.

And no wonder; for he did not regard the see of Rome as the only see of St. Peter. He expressly acknowledged that the sees of Alexandria and Antioch were, quite as much as that of Rome, the see of the first of the Apostles, and that these three sees were but one. Let us quote his words. He writes thus to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria: Ib. Book VII. Ep. 39.

"Your Holiness has spoken to me at large, in your letters, of the see of St. Peter, prince of the Apostles, saying that he still resides here by his successors. Now, I acknowledge myself unworthy not only of the honour of the chiefs, but even to be counted in the number of the faithful. Yet I have willingly accepted all that you have said, because your words regarding the see of Peter came from him who occupies that see of Peter. A special honour has no charms for me; but I greatly rejoice that you, who are very holy, only ascribe to me what you also give to yourself. Indeed, who is ignorant that the holy Church has been made fast upon the solidity of the prince of the Apostles, whose name is the type of the firmness of his soul, and who borrowed from the rock his name of Peter?—that it was said to him by the Truth, 'I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren. . . Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Feed my sheep." Therefore, though there were many Apostles, the single see of the prince of the Apostles prevailed by his princedom; which see now exists in three places; for it is he that made glorious that see where he condescended to rest (quiescere) and close his present life. It is he who adorned the see, whither he sent the Evangelist, his disciple. It is he who strengthened the see, which he occupied for seven years, although finally compelled to leave it. Since then there is but one see of the same Apostle, and three bishops now hold it by divine authority. All the good I bear of you I also impute to myself."

Observe that St. Gregory, in speaking of Rome, only says that St. Peter rested there and died there. To Alexandria he only sent his disciple; but at Antioch he held the see for seven years. If, then, in the strict acceptation of the words, any bishop has inherited the see of St. Peter, it must be, according to St. Gregory, the Bishop of Antioch. The great Pope was well aware that Peter only went to Rome to die there; that the Roman Church was already founded and governed by a bishop; he accordingly limits himself to saying that he made glorious the see of Rome by the martyrdom he suffered there, while he designates Antioch as the true episcopal see of Peter. We believe that St. Peter was, strictly speaking, no more Bishop of Antioch than of Rome; but we only wish to show what was the opinion of St. Gregory; and that opinion, whatever it was, is no less a withering argument against the pretensions of the court of Rome.

Writing to Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch, to offer consolation in his sufferings, Gregory says: Ib. Book VIII. Ep. 2. "Behold now, your Holiness is weighed down with many tribulations in your old age; but remember what was said of him whose seat you fill. Is it not of him that the Truth himself said, 'When thou shalt be old . . . another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not"? (John 21:18.)

We know that these words were addressed by our Lord to St. Peter. In another letter to the same Anastasius, St. Gregory thus expresses himself, after having quoted what be believed to be the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch:

"I have introduced in my letter these words drawn from your writings, that your Holiness may know that your own holy Ignatius is also ours. For as we have in common the master, the prince of the Apostles, we must neither of us exclusively claim the disciple of this prince of the Apostles." Ib. Book V. Ep. 39.

St. Gregory wrote to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, "We have received, with the same tenderness as it was given us, the benediction of St. Mark the Evangelist, or rather, more properly speaking, of the Apostle St. Peter." Ib. Book VIII. Ep. 39.

He wrote again to the same, after having congratulated him upon his refutation of the errours of the Monophysites:

"Praise and glory be in the heavens to my saintly brother, thanks to whom the voice of Mark is heard from the chair of Peter, whose teaching resounds through the Church as the cymbal in the tabernacle, when he fathoms the mysteries—that is to say, when, as priest of the Most High, he enters the Holy of Holies." Ib. Book X. Ep. 35.

Was any thing more flattering ever said to the Bishops of Rome than Gregory here says to Eulogius of Alexandria? Does not the saintly Pope seem to copy the very words of the Council of Chalcedon, "Peter has spoken by the mouth of Leo"? Why draw such vast consequences from the words of the Fathers of Chalcedon, spoken in praise of the Bishop of Rome, and yet draw none whatever from those of the great Pope addressed to the Patriarch of Alexandria? He wrote again to the same: Ibid. Book XII. Ep. 50. "The bearers of these presents, having come to Sicily, were converted from the errours of the Monophysites and have joined the holy Church universal. Desiring to go to the Church of the blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, they have besought me to give them commendatory letters to your Holiness, in order that you might assist them against the attacks of their heretical neighbours."

In another letter, in which he discourses of simony, he writes to Eulogius : "Root out this simoniacal heresy from your most holy see, which is ours also." He calls the Church of Alexandria a most holy church. Ibid. Book XIII. Ep. 41. With such evidence before us, how can we draw any conclusion in favour of the Roman see from expressions like these of apostolic see, or holy see? Such epithets were common, during the first eight centuries, to all the churches founded by the Apostles, and were never exclusively employed to describe the Church of Rome.

From what we have shown of the doctrine of St. Gregory respecting the see of St. Peter, it is easy to see that no absolute sense can be honestly attached to such expressions as these, "My son, the lord Venantius has come toward the blessed Apostle Peter to beg me to commend his cause to you," etc. Ibid. Book II. Ep. 53. "The care of the whole Church was confided to Peter, prince of the Apostles." Ibid. Book V. Ep. 20. "He received the keys of the heavenly kingdom, the power to bind and to loose was given to him, the care of the whole Church, and the princedom were intrusted to him." Ibid. "Who does not know that the holy Church has been strengthened by the firmness of the prince of the Apostles?" Ibid. Book VII. Ep. 40.

These expressions certainly belong to St. Gregory; but is it fair to quote them separately and give them an absolute sense? Yet this is the course of the Romish theologians, not only with the works of Gregory, but with all those of the other Fathers of the Church. In this manner they have succeeded in deceiving a great number of the faithful, and even many sincere theologians; the latter could not suspect such a strange dishonesty in writers who at every turn are boasting of their devotion to the cause of the Church and truth, and they have thought it safe to quote from them at second hand.

We can now understand what St. Gregory meant by the see of St. Peter, and by the titles of first and prince of the Apostles. But that we may throw still stronger light upon his thoughts, we will quote a few more texts, both decisive and clear, which shall determine the exact meaning of these phrases, that have been so culpably misused by the advocates of Popery.

St. Gregory, in his book upon the Pastoral Rule, lays down this principle: that the pastors of the Church should not use their authority toward blameless believers, but only toward sinners whom gentleness could not correct. In support of this principle he quotes the examples of the Apostles Peter and Paul. "Peter," he says, "the first pastor holding the princedom of the holy Church, by the will of God, (auctore Deo,) showed himself humble toward the faithful, but showed how much power he had beyond others when he punished Ananias and Sapphira; when it became necessary to punish sins, he remembered that he was the highest in the Church, (summus,) and in taking vengeance of the crime, he exercised the right of his power." St. Greg. Pastoral Rule, Part II. Chap. vi.

In the same passage he proves by the example of St. Paul, as well as by that of St. Peter, that the pastor should be humble toward the faithful, and only exercise his power when he is compelled to take in hand the cause of justice. Thus St. Paul declared himself the servant of the faithful, the least among them; "but," adds St. Gregory, "when he finds a fault to correct, he remembers he is master, and says, 'What will ye? I will come to you with a rod of iron.' Hence," concludes St. Gregory, the highest places are best filled when he who presides rules rather his own vices than the brethren. But when those who preside correct those who are subject unto them, they should observe this duty," etc. St. Greg. loc. cit.

It appears from this that St. Gregory regarded St. Paul as well as St. Peter and their successors as filling the highest place in the Church, as presiding in the Church. If he says that Peter held the princedom, he also says that Paul was master; he uses the same word (summus) to signify the authority of St. Peter and that of St. Paul, and of all those who have the right to exercise authority in the Church. Would he have expressed himself in a manner so general, if by this word princedom he had meant to signify a superiour authority ascribed exclusively to St. Peter? Just as by the see of St. Peter, he means the first degree of the episcopate represented by the Patriarchs; so likewise by the words "superiour authority," he only means that of the episcopate which the pastors of the Church have inherited.

The more intimate we grow with the works of the Fathers of the Church, the more we are convinced of their unanimity in considering the authority in the church as one and possessed jointly and severally by the first pastors or the bishops. At first blush we might believe that the word "princedom," or that of "prince" of the Apostles, given by them to St. Peter, clashed with this principle. St. Gregory has shielded us from this false interpretation. For while ascribing to Peter the princedom of the Church, he has not exalted him more than St. Paul. He shall tell us so most clearly in his own words. We read in his Dialogues:

"Peter. How can you prove to me that there be those who do no miracles, and yet are not inferior to those who do them?

"Gregory. Dost thou not know that the Apostle Paul is the brother of Peter, first of the Apostles in the princedom?

"Peter. I know this perfectly," etc., etc. St. Greg. Dialogues, Book I. chap. 12.

Thus Paul was the equal or brother of Peter in the Apostolic princedom. Is it possible to say with greater clearness that by such titles no particular personal and exclusive dignity was intended?

In another place St. Gregory regards St. Paul as having a right, as well as St. Peter, to the title of first Apostle. In relating in his Dialogues the death of one Martin, a priest, he says that this holy man saw Peter and Paul calling him to heaven: "I see, I see," said Martin. "I thank you. I thank you!"

As he often repeated these words, his friends about him asked him to whom he spoke. He wondered at their question, and said, "Do you not see here the holy Apostles? do you not perceive Peter and Paul the first of the Apostles?" Ibid. Book IV. Chap. 11.

And lastly, Gregory leads us to think that St. Peter was never Bishop of Rome. We have already quoted some positive texts on this point. Here is another to confirm them:

"It is certain," he says, "that at the time when the holy Apostles Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom, the faithful came from the East to beg the bodies of these Apostles, who were their fellow-countrymen. They carried these bodies as far as the second mile stone, and deposited them in the place called the Catacombs. But when they would have taken them up, to continue their journey, the thunder and lightning threw those who attempted it into such a panic that no one has ever again dared to attempt their removal." Letters of St. Gregory, Book IV. Ep. 30.

It is not our business to discuss the truth of this story; but one truth may be clearly inferred from this recital, namely, that the Eastern people could claim the body of St. Peter because he was of their country, and that the Romans never dreamed of answering that his body belonged by a better title to them, because be had been their bishop.

Thus the doctrine of Gregory the Great upon the Church destroys, piece by piece, the whole Papal system. We defy the Romanists to find in the writings of this great Pope a single word which gives any idea of that universal monarchy whose centre is in the Church of Rome, and whose sovereign the bishop of that city. This doctrine runs utterly counter to that of St. Gregory. According to him, the unity of the Church results from the reciprocal relations of its chiefs. "May your piety," he wrote to Anastasius, Archbishop of Corinth, "reply to our letters in which we have notified him of our ordination, and by replying (litteris reciprocis) give us the pleasure of knowing that the Church is united."

He defines the "unity of the Catholic Church" as "the totality (compago) of the body of Christ." Ibid. Book II. Ep. 47. He does not swerve from this: the individual churches are the members of the church; each church is governed by its pastors; the authority is the same, of divine right, in all the pastors of the Church; the whole edifice is supported upon the see of St. Peter; that is, upon the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, which exercise, of ecclesiastical right, a supervision over the whole Church.

Can any thing be conceived more diametrically opposed to the Papal system than this doctrine of St. Gregory?

Maurice having been killed by Phocas, Pope Boniface III. hastened to apply to the murderer, that he might obtain official recognition of the primacy of the Roman Church. He saw it imperilled by the title of œmmenical, that Maurice had granted to John the Faster. That pious emperor had been the chief support of the title taken by the Bishop of Constantinople. The Patriarch did not long enjoy the good graces of Phocas, whose violence he condemned, Rome made advances to the tyrant; Gregory the Great himself covered him with adulation; and Boniface III., who was raised to the see of Rome after the short episcopate of Sabinian, wrote to the murderer of Maurice, to ask for the same title of œcumenical that Gregory the Great had so energetically condemned. Noël Alexandre. Hist. Eccl. It was generally understood that the Bishop of Constantinople assumed by this title to be the first in the Church. Accordingly, the historian of the Popes, Anastasius the Librarian, thus mentions this proceeding of Boniface III.:

"He (Boniface) Anast. De Vit. Rom. Pontif. §67. Bonif. III. obtained from the Emperor Phocas, that the Apostolic see of the blessed Apostle Peter, that is to say, the Roman Church, should be the chief (caput, the head) of all the churches, because the Church of Constantinople wrote that she was the first of all the churches."

Paul the Deacon thus records the same fact: Paul. Diac. De Gestis Longobard. Lib.IV. §37. "At the request of Pope Boniface, Phocas decreed that the see of the Roman and Apostolic Church should be the chief (caput) of all the churches, because the Church of Constantinople wrote that she was the first of all the churches."

Such is for the Church of Rome the official origin of the title of chief of the universal Church, which she claims for her bishop. It had been given to him occasionally before, but only in flattery, and without attaching, to it any other meaning than that of head of the episcopate, or of first bishop; it was occasionally given to the Roman Church itself, and then the word caput only meant chief in the sense of head. She had been called head of the Church, that is, first of the churches. This title, becoming official, thanks to Phocas, soon changed its signification. "Chief " no longer meant head, but sovereign prince; to-day it means absolute monarch, infallible autocrat. Such is the progress of this title of caput, given to the Roman Church by Phocas, one of the vilest men that ever occupied a throne.

Some years later (633) arose the quarrel of the Monothelites, which gives us further proofs against the Papal system, and demonstrates that in the seventh century the self-styled universal authority of the Bishops of Rome was not recognized. See Theoph. Eccl. Hist., and Labbe's Collection of the Councils, vol. vi. for the documents. See also Histoire du Monothélisme, par Combefis.

An Arabian bishop, named Theodore, starting from this Catholic truth, defined at Chalcedon, that there is but one person in Christ, inferred that there was in Christ but one will and one operation. He thus neglected the distinction of the two natures, divine and human, which are hypostatically united in Jesus Christ, but not mingled, and which retain their respective essence, each consequently with its own will and its own proper action or operation, since will and action are as necessary attributes of the human being as of God. Theodore thus confounded being with personality. Sergius, Bishop of Constantinople, consulted by Theodore, fell into the same errour with him. He believed that his system was calculated to bring back to the Church those who were still opposed to the Council of Chalcedon. Accordingly, he sent them a paper upon this subject, and opened communications with them. Cyrus, Bishop of Alexandria, who shared his views, did the same, and many of the opponents of the Council of Chalcedon accepted its decrees with this pretended explanation.

This result encouraged the Monothelite bishops, who were also sustained by the Emperor Heraclius. Sophronius, a monk of Alexandria, had declared against his bishop, and had gone to Constantinople to confer upon the question with Sergius, whom he found in perfect agreement with Cyrus. Sophronius, in despair for this new errour, was returning when he was elected Bishop of Jerusalem. Sergius, believing that in his high position Sophronius would declare against him, and would seek the support of the West, wrote to Honorius, Bishop of Rome, setting forth his doctrine, and its good results in the East, particularly at Alexandria. Honorius replied with his famous letter, in which he also only recognizes one will and one operation in Jesus Christ; he censured those who were in favour of admitting two, and promised to remain in perfect harmony with Sergius, telling him, however, at the same time, that the Church should not be troubled by this new question, whether there were one or two wills or operations, and that such a war of words should be left to grammarians.

Sophronius, ordained Bishop of Jerusalem, at once assembled his synod, and read before it the letter of communion, which, according to custom, he was to address to the other Patriarchs of the Church. He sent it to Sergius and also to Honorius. This letter was very explicit in regard to the two wills and two operations. Honorius, having, read it, told the messengers of Sophronius that, for the good of the Church, it was best not to agitate that question. The messengers agreed to this, and Honorius wrote to the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, making the same request.

Sophronius, who saw that the faith was in peril, wrote a paper, in which he proved from the Fathers that, according to the constant traditions of the Church, two wills and two operations should be recognized in Jesus Christ. He proved this to be the necessary consequence of the two natures. In despair of convincing Sergius and Cyrus, who had openly declared in favour of the contrary doctrine, he sent one of his suffragan bishops to Rome, hoping to overcome her hesitancy rather than to convert Constantinople or Alexandria. We are ignorant of the result of this embassy. Honorius died in 638, and was succeeded by Severinus, who in turn was succeeded soon after by John IV. It was during the brief pontificate of Severinus that the Emperor Heraclius published his Ἔêèåóéò or Exposition, to give an official character to the Monothelite doctrine. This Ἔêèåóéò was addressed to all the bishops, and was solemnly accepted by those of Alexandria and Constantinople. It is not known whether Severinus approved it or not. But after the death of Heraclius, John IV. condemned it in a Roman council. We perhaps owe that condemnation to the explanations of the envoy of Sophronius. Sergius had died before this decision of the Roman council. Pyrrhus, his successor, set up in opposition to the decision of John IV. the letter of Honorius, John's predecessor. John attempted an apology; but the letters of Sergius and Honorius still exist; they prove that John's defence was untenable; that Honorius had perfectly understood Sergius; that he had answered him, agreeing with the letter he had received from him; that both rejected in a general way the two distinct wills and operations. It was with justice, then, that Honorius was condemned as a heretic by the sixth œcumenical council, as we shall shortly see.

After the publication of the Ἔêèåóéò of Heraclius, the discussions upon the two operations and two wills assumed greater proportions. The whole East was filled with them. Many bishops declared against the new doctrine, and appealed to the West, in the person of the Bishop of Rome, to sustain the Catholic faith. Pyrrhus, having abandoned his see, was succeeded by Paul, who wrote letters of communion to Theodore, then Bishop of Rome. Theodore replied, praising the orthodoxy of Paul's faith, but expressing surprise that he had not condemned the Ἔêèåóéò of Heraclius. Yet he himself did not dare to censure that document openly; he ought, therefore, to have understood why Paul, who was then at Constantinople, had not solemnly condemned it. In his answer, Theodore urged that Pyrrhus, Paul's predecessor, must be canonically deposed, or be sent to Rome to be judged. This opinion was not followed. But Pyrrhus himself, having been proved to be in errour by the monk Maximus of Constantinople, asked to go to Rome, where he was received with all honours due to his title of ex-Patriarch, by Theodore, to whom he intrusted a perfectly orthodox confession of faith.

Rome took advantage of the occasions offered by Monothelism to enlarge her authority. The two Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria having declared in favour of the new doctrine, all those who were orthodox in the East had occasion to turn to the Patriarch of Rome and write to him as the bulwark of the faith which was threatened throughout the East. At such a time the title of successor of St. Peter was not withheld from him, and some bishops went so far as to trace back to that Apostle the authority of the Roman see. This flattered the tendencies which were destined to be daily more and more developed at Rome.

Some Popes, particularly St. Leo, had made altogether too much of the prerogatives of the Apostle Peter, and possibly with a purpose. St. Gregory the Great, indeed, came in to determine the orthodox sense of the expressions of his predecessors; but it is certain that beginning with St. Leo, the Bishops of Rome were tending to exaggerate the prerogatives of the first of the Apostles, in order to appropriate them by right of succession. As the small patriarchate of Jerusalem was under the authority of St. Sophronius, the most illustrious defender of orthodoxy in the East, the Pope thought he might properly have himself represented there. He chose for his legate Stephen of Dora, who had been sent to Rome by Sophronius himself to enlighten Honorius. This was a step unheard of before in the East, and therefore it should not pass unnoticed; it sustains our allegation that the Popes intended to profit by every circumstance in order to increase their authority, the more as it was threatened by the Bishops of Constantinople. The two highest Patriarchs of the East had fallen into heresy, and now or never should Rome speak out. The Popes did not let the opportunity go by. Nevertheless, the authentic documents concerning the question of Monothelism agree in proving that all the Patriarchs discussed the dogmatic questions among themselves on a footing of equality. Many bishops having declared against Paul of Constantinople, he gave explanations that might be interpreted either way, and which satisfied no one. But as he was continually found fault with for his silence respecting the Ἔêèåóéò he prevailed upon the Emperor Constans to publish a new edict, which received the name of Type. By this edict the Ἔêèåóéò was withdrawn, and both parties were silenced.

This was precisely what Honorius had formerly asked in the letter in which he declared in favour of Monothelism. But Theodore was no longer satisfied with this. He assembled a council of Italian bishops, and there deposed Paul of Constantinople, and Pyrrhus, who had relapsed into Monothelism after he left Rome. He dared to sign this anti-canonical sentence with a pen dipped in the consecrated wine. Such impiety might satisfy the rancour of Rome, but it could only have calamitous results. Paul continued to consider himself legitimate Bishop of Constantinople, and replied to the violence of the Bishop of Rome with corresponding violence. He caused to be overthrown the Roman altar of the palace of Placidia, where the two envoys of the Roman Bishop resided, and forbade them to celebrate the holy mysteries. This was to declare them and their bishop excommunicate.

They returned to Rome, and one of them, Martin, was elected to succeed Theodore, who died soon after throwing this new element of discord into the Church by his sentence, (649.) Martin was no sooner consecrated, than he assembled at Rome a numerous council of bishops from the environs of Rome, from the Exarchate of Ravenna, from Sicily, and from Sardinia. Some African bishops, Stephen of Dora, and some Greek monks, refugees in Rome, were present. The question of the two wills and two operations was examined, the Ἔêèåóéò the Type and their defenders were condemned. Martin signed the acts of the council as follows: "Martin, by the grace of God, Bishop of the holy catholic and apostolic Church of the city of Rome. I have signed as judge this sentence in confirmation of the orthodox faith, and also the condemnation of Theodore, formerly Bishop of Pharan, of Cyrus of Alexandria, of Sergius of Constantinople, of Pyrrhus and Paul his successors, and of their heretical writings, of the impious Ἔêèåóéò and the impious Type, published by them."

All the bishops, one hundred and five in number, employed the same formula in signing. They concurred in the condemnation, as judges, as well as the Bishop of Rome, who merely had the first place in the council.

Martin sent the transactions of the Council of Rome to the East, and named John, Bishop of Philadelphia, his vicar for the entire East, condemning as heretics the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria as well as the Patriarch of Constantinople. Martin declared in the commission given to John of Philadelphia, that he gave it to him "by virtue of the power that he had received from St. Peter," and because of the unhappy condition of the East now ravaged by Mussulmans.

It was thus that the Bishop of Rome availed himself of the misfortunes of the East to seize upon universal power in the Church by virtue of an alleged succession from St. Peter. These formulas became more and more the fashion at Rome after the middle of the seventh century, and Martin particularly contributed to carry them out. He claimed authority such as his predecessors never enjoyed. Thus, being dissatisfied with the letter of communion he had received from Paul, the new Bishop of Thessalonica, he dictated the formula he should accept. Paul refusing to comply, Martin announced to him without the form of a trial that he was deposed from his see. He was the more inclined to make this bishop feel his power, because his province had been submitted to the jurisdiction of Constantinople in spite of Rome.

The patriarchal churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem had enough to do to defend themselves against the ferocious conquerors of the East; they, therefore, took no notice of the encroachments of Rome, nor the acts of her vicar. They only protested by their silence and by ceasing to keep up any relations with the Roman see. For them, Constantinople became the first see of the Church, and they remained in communion with it. The only contest was now between the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople.

By the Council of Rome, Martin had obviously desired to pay back the last Council of Constantinople in which his predecessor, Vigilius, had been, as he himself confessed, convicted of errour. But be had not imitated the prudence of this council, which, while it condemned the errours of Vigilius, had not sought to depose him, and thus violate the rights of the bishops of the Roman province. Moreover, Martin attacked the Emperor himself in condemning The Type, which had been promulgated as a law of the state. He had, indeed, endeavoured to ascribe that document to the Bishop of Constantinople, and had written to the Emperor to persuade him that he was not personally concerned in the decision. But these precautions only irritated Constans, who had Martin ousted from Rome. He accused him not only of heresy, but of rebellion and high treason. One Eugene was substituted for Martin in the episcopate of Rome. Martin, speaking of his deposition, says in one of his letters: Mart. Epist. ad Theod. "It has never been practised in this manner; for, in the absence of the bishop, he is replaced by the archdeacon, the archpriest, and the dean."

He never dreamed of appealing to any exclusive privilege in favour of the Bishops of Rome, and acknowledged that they were subject to the common law.

The anti-canonical deposition of Martin answered to that which he had himself pronounced, as uncanonically against Paul of Constantinople. It may be safely said that if Martin had had, like Paul, the imperial power at his disposal, he would have treated his antagonist as he himself was treated.

The letters of the Roman bishops to the emperors will satisfy any one that it was a matter of tradition among them to ask for violent measures against all whom they considered heretics; and we know how faithful they were to these traditions when they had in their own hands both the spiritual and the temporal power.

From a purely ecclesiastical point of view, it was natural that the first encroachments of the Papacy should excite a powerful reäction. Martin, coming to Constantinople, (654,) was treated as a prisoner of state; insults were heaped upon him, and he was shamefully maltreated. The Bishop of Constantinople, who was ill, disapproved of such violence, and besought the Emperor not to treat a bishop thus. He died soon after expressing these kindly, sentiments. Martin was banished to Cherson. Thence he wrote several letters. He complains that the Roman Church sent him no aid; and in one of his letters he thus expresses himself in regard to the Roman clergy and of the successor who bad been appointed to his place: Mart. Epist. xviii. Labbe's Collection. "I am amazed at those who belong to the Church of St. Peter, because of the little care they have of one who is of them. If that Church have no money, she lacks, thank God, neither grain, nor wine, nor other provisions that she could send to my aid. . . . Have I been such an enemy to the Church, and particularly to them? I pray God nevertheless, by the intercession of St. Peter, to preserve them unshaken in the orthodox faith, and chiefly the pastor who now governs them." Thus Martin regarded Eugene, who bad been put in his place, and whose promotion had been approved by the Roman clergy, as the legitimate Bishop of Rome. It must be acknowledged that his letter is not very favourable to the pretensions of the modern Papacy, and is a more than sufficient answer to what he himself said of his universal power inherited from St. Peter. He died about a year after writing this letter.

Pyrrhus, the former Bishop of Constantinople, was the same year reïnstalled in that see; but he only survived his restoration a few months, and was succeeded by Peter. Eugene, Bishop of Rome, was succeeded by Vitalianus, in 658. Constans, going to Rome under his episcopate, was received by him with great honours, and communicated with him, although this Emperor had never revoked his Type, and had persecuted Pope Martin and the monk Maximus, who was regarded in the East as the great defender of orthodoxy. During the episcopate of Vitalianus—fourteen years—no differences existed between the sees of Rome and Constantinople. In 664 Constans died, and Constantine Pogonatus ascended the imperial throne. In 674 Vitalianus was replaced by Adeodatus, who was succeeded by Donus. He died in 679, and Agatho was elected to the see of Rome. Peter of Constantinople had been succeeded by Constantine, who gave place, in 678, to Theodore. This Patriarch, full of pacific intentions, had sent to Donus a letter exhorting him to peace. But the Bishop of Rome did not reply, imitating his predecessors, who had given no answer to the synodical letters of the later bishops of Constantinople. This schism grieved the Emperor, who determined to reëstablish friendly relations between the Eastern and Western churches. He therefore inquired of Theodore and of Macarius of Antioch as to the cause of the division. V. Theoph. Eccl. Hist. and vol. vi of Labbe's Collection They replied: "There have been introduced new modes of speaking of the mysteries, either through ignorance or from excessive curiosity; and never, since these questions have been under discussion, have the two sees assembled to search out the truth." The Emperor concluded that the remedy for these divisions was a council, and consequently wrote thus to Donus: "Circumstances do not allow the assembling of a complete council; but you may send discreet and learned men, who, with the Patriarchs Theodore and Macarius shall solve these questions. They shall enjoy complete security here, and even for their return, in case they do not come to an understanding. After this we shall be justified in the sight of God; for while we can exhort to union, we are unwilling to compel any one. Send us from your holy Church three men at most, if you will, and from your council (that is, of his ecclesiastical province,) about twelve bishops, including the metropolitanS." Beside this, the Emperor offered every assistance and safeguard to the deputies for their journey. Donus was dead when the imperial missive reached Rome, (679.) It was given to Agatho, who convoked at Rome a large council, to choose the delegates that should be sent to Constantinople. All the provinces of Italy took part in that assembly, in which were also several bishops from France. Agatho did not, then, it should seem, claim for himself the right to send delegates by his own authority to Constantinople. The council sent the Emperor a letter, signed by the Pope and all the members of the assembly. Agatho addressed him another in his own name. The delegates were well received at Constantinople by the Emperor. Theodore was no longer Patriarch; George had succeeded him. He and Macarius of Antioch assembled the metropolitans and the bishops depending from their sees. The churches of Alexandria and Jerusalem were represented there. All united with the Western delegates to form what is known as the sixth œcumenical council.

The first session took place on the seventh of November, a.d. 680. The Emperor occupied the first place, in the middle; on his left were the delegates from Rome and Jerusalem; on his right, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Antioch, and the delegate from Alexandria; next, on each side, quite a great number of metropolitans and bishops. During several sessions the Emperor caused the acts of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon to be read, together with all the texts cited for or against the two wills and two operations in Christ. The question being discussed, all agreed, except the Patriarch of Antioch and his disciple Stephen, in condemning Monothelism and all those who had supported it, including Honorius, Pope of Rome. This important decree, which so loudly refutes the pretensions of the modern Papacy, deserves to be quoted verbally. Conc. Constant, sees xiii in Labbe's Collection.

"Having examined the pretended dogmatical letters of Sergius of Constantinople to Cyrus, and the replies of Honorius to Sergius, and finding them opposed to the doctrine of the Apostles, to the decrees of the councils, and to the sense of all the Fathers, but agreeable, on the contrary, to the false doctrines of the heretics, we entirely reject them, and detest them as calculated to corrupt souls. And while we reject their impious dogmas, we also think that their names should be banished from the Church—namely, of Sergius, formerly Bishop of this city of Constantinople, who first wrote upon this errour; of Cyrus of Alexandria; of Pyrrhus Paul, and Peter, Bishops of Constantinople; of Theodore, Bishop of Pharan; all of whom Pope Agatho mentions in his letter to the Emperor, and hath rejected. We pronounce anathema against them all. With them we think we should expel from the Church, and pronounce anathema against Honorius, formerly Bishop of Old Rome. We find in his letter to Sergius that he follows, in every respect, and authorizes his impious doctrine."

In the sixteenth session, after the profession of faith of the Patriarch George of Constantinople, the council rung with declamations, and among others, with the following: "Anathema to Theodore of Pharan, to Sergius, to Cyrus! Anathema to Honorius the Heretic!" In the profession of faith of the council, read in the last session, Honorius is condemned with the other heretics; anathema is again pronounced against him as well as against the other Monothelites.

The council enacted many canons. The thirty-sixth renewed those of Constantinople and Chalcedon touching the rank of the Patriarchs in the Church. It is thus worded: "Renewing the decrees of the hundred and fifty holy Fathers assembled in this royal city, blessed of God, and of the six hundred and thirty assembled at Chalcedon, we decree that the see of Constantinople shall enjoy the same prerogatives as that of Old Rome that it shall be as great in ecclesiastical matters, being the second after it. After these shall be the sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and then that of the city of Jerusalem. "Thus did the council answer the pretensions of Rome. The legates of Agatho and one hundred and sixty bishops subscribed to the acts of the council. Five copies were made of them, which were signed by the Emperor's hand—one for each of the five Patriarchal churches. Fifty-five bishops, and the delegates of the Oriental churches, addressed a letter to Agatho, requesting him to concur in what had been done.

Those who had been condemned by the council—six in number—hoping, without doubt, to prevail on the West not to concur in these acts, asked to be sent to the Pope. The Emperor granted this, and banished them to Rome.

Meanwhile, (682,) Agatho having died, Leo II. was elected Bishop of Rome. It was he that received the legates and the transactions of the council. The Emperor wrote two letters—one to the Pope, the other to the members of the Western councils—in reply to those he had received. Leo II. solemnly concurred in the acts of the council, by his letter to the Emperor, of May seventh, a.d. 683. Among other passages, we read: "We, anathematize the inventors of the new errour, to wit, Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius, Pyrrhus Paul and Peter of Constantinople, and also Honorius, who, instead of purifying this Apostolic Church by the doctrine of the Apostles, has come near to overthrowing the faith by an impious treason."

Nothing is wanting, as we see, to the condemnation of Pope Honorius as an heretic; yet this has not prevented Romish theologians from saying he was not so condemned. They have written long disquisitions upon this subject, in which they have distorted all the facts. The acts which we have quoted are clear enough of themselves to prove, to any honest man, that the sixth œcumenical council did not believe in the doctrinal authority of the Bishops of Rome; that those bishops themselves did not believe themselves possessed of any such authority.

Is it not incredible that the Romish theologians should have dared to cite this council in favour of their system? Among their acclamations the Fathers said, "Peter has spoken by Agatho;" "therefore," say the Romanists, "they recognized the same doctrinal authority in Agatho as in Peter." They will not reflect that this acclamation was made after the examination of Agatho's letter, when it appeared to be in conformity with Apostolic doctrine. The council approved of Agatho's letter as it condemned that of Honorius, his predecessor. It was therefore the council that possessed doctrinal authority; and no more of it was recognized in the see of Rome than in other Apostolic sees.

The doctrine of one Pope was esteemed to be that of Peter, because seen to be Apostolic; that of another Pope was condemned as contrary to Peter's teaching, because it differed from Apostolic tradition. This fact stands out so prominently in the Acts of the Sixth Council, that it is difficult to understand how men who claim to be in earnest have ever contested it.

Under the reign of Justinian II there assembled at Constantinople two hundred and eleven bishops, of whom the four Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were the chief. See the transactions of this council in Labbe's Collection, vol. vi. This assembly is known under the title of the Council in Trullo, because it was assembled under the Trullus or dome of the imperial palace. Its object was to add to the acts of the fifth and sixth œcumenical councils, which had not made any disciplinary rules. Church discipline was alone discussed. Customs widely different already prevailed in the Eastern and Western churches, particularly in regard to the marriage of priests. The Roman Church even then was drifting, toward ecclesiastical celibacy as a general law. The Eastern Church, on the contrary, solemnly proclaimed the ancient law respecting marriage of priests, deacons, and sub-deacons. Rome, therefore, refused to receive the laws of the Council in Trullo. This embittered the antagonism already existing between Rome and Constantinople. In thus disavowing ancient discipline, and refusing to subscribe to canons, which were its exact expression, she was laying, the groundwork of that wall of separation which was so soon to be raised between the two churches. It was Pope Sergius (692) who refused to admit the canons of the Council in Trullo. He particularly relied upon this, that the council prescribed to the Roman Church, to change her practice regarding the Saturday fast, a practice that she had followed from time immemorial. Some zealous Romans, like the priest Blastus, had tried as early as the fifth century to impose the Roman custom upon the whole Church; at the close of the seventh century the East undertook to impose hers upon Rome. It must be granted that a council of two hundred and eleven bishops had more authority than Blastus and his followers; but it was a matter of mere discipline, and the Eastern usage should not have been imposed upon the Western Church, but submitted to the judgment of the bishops of that Church. We may believe that the Eastern Church assembled in Trullo meant, by several of her canons, to remind the Roman Church how far she had removed from the primitive discipline, and that the Roman Church would not accept that lesson, chiefly because it came from Constantinople.

Official relations were not interrupted between the two churches; but for a long time they had been far from fraternal. The opposition of Rome to the Council in Trullo did not prevent her intercommunion with Constantinople; but these relations were feebly kept up until the discussion regarding images arose in 726.

The Emperor Leo the Isaurian Leo III declared himself the enemy of that "cultus" which was addressed to images, alleging that it was idolatrous. This idea does not speak very well for his judgment; The Editor reminds the reader that the Abbé Guettée is not a Protestant, and that the value of his work is the greater as the testimony of one who has no protestant objections to Romish errours. The veneration of Icons or pictures (not images) in the Greek Church, is a gross abuse, and needs to be reformed practically; but the Romish education of the Abbé leads him, perhaps, to be less sensitive on this subject than many of the Russo-Greeks. The Catechism of Platon, Metropolitan of Moscow, exhibits a genuine dread of the peril of Idolatry which even his own dogma involves.—[Ed.] but he had the power, and many bishops took sides with him. See Eccl. Hist. of Theoph. and Niceph., and Labbe's Collection of the Councils.

Constantinople at that time possessed a great and holy Patriarch, Germanus, who energetically opposed the Emperor's errours. He wrote concerning them to several bishops, and particularly to Gregory II., then Bishop of Rome, who answered, assuring him that he was of his opinion.

The Emperor resorted to every expedient to corrupt Germanus. Failing in this, he persecuted him. Germanus preferred to resign his office rather than concur in the Emperor's decree against images. He retired to his father's house, where he lived like a monk and died like a saint. Anastasius, his assistant, was put in his place by the Emperor. He was an ambitious man, who had sold his faith to the Emperor for the Patriarchal see. Leo also endeavoured to corrupt Gregory II.; but his promises and threats had no other effect than to raise against him in rebellion all those who still recognized the imperial authority in the West.

Anastasius sent a letter of communion to the Pope, who refused to recognize him, and even threatened his deposition if he should continue to maintain heresy. Meanwhile Gregory II. died, (731,) and was succeeded by Gregory III. This Pope wrote to the Emperor several letters full of excellent doctrine and the most valuable information. Letters of Greg. III. in Labbe's Collection. Thus, in the first, he says to the Emperor: "The decisions of the Church belong not to emperors but to the bishops; accordingly, as these do not meddle in civil affairs, so likewise should the emperors not busy themselves with ecclesiastical matters. If the emperors and the bishops agree, then they form in common a single power to treat of affairs in the spirit of peace and charity."

Leo proposing a council, Gregory told him that such an assembly was not needed, since it was only necessary for himself to return to order, that peace might be universal respecting the question at issue. "You think to frighten us," he said, "by saying, 'I will send to Rome and break the image of St. Peter, and will carry off Pope Gregory loaded with chains. I will treat him as Constans treated Martin.' Know, then, that the Popes are mediators and arbiters of peace between the East and the West. We do not, therefore, fear your threats; at one league from Rome we shall be in safety."

These words depict, exactly the position which the Bishops of Rome had taken in the midst of all the nations who had dismembered the Roman empire in the West—a position that became one of the elements of their power. As to any pretensions to any sort of political authority, or the supreme authority in the Church, no trace of either can be found in the letters of Gregory III. He saw this authority only in the bishops; that is, he only saw a collective authority in the Church. The Emperor replying that he possessed both imperial and sacerdotal power, Gregory wrote him an admirable letter upon the distinction of the two powers, still placing the ecclesiastical authority in the episcopate. Agreeably to his principles, Gregory III. called a council at Rome to give a collective decision concerning images. He sent that decision to the Emperor and to Anastasius of Constantinople, with private letters to lead them back to the right way. His efforts only served to redouble the persecutions against the Catholics of the East. The bishops of those countries could neither come together in convention nor obtain a hearing. In their stead John Damascene took up the defence of the Church. The Mohammedan yoke gave the great theologian liberty boldly to attack the Emperor and those who served as his instruments to give sanction to his errours or execute his cruelties.

The doctrinal whims of Leo the Isaurian had a political result which he was far from foreseeing. The West renounced him, and Rome, threatened by the Lombards, turned to Karl Martel, Duke of the Franks, to offer him the Roman Consulate. Gregory III. made this proposition to Karl. This terrible warrior died then, and Gregory III. also. But the idea remained. Pepin, the son of Karl, and Pope Zachary renewed the negotiations. Zachary approved for Pepin's benefit the deposition of the first race of Frankic kings. In return, the new king delivered Rome from the attacks of the Lombards, became its lord paramount, and gave it in appanage to the Pope. Thus the relations ceased between the Popes and the Eastern emperors, whom they no longer recognized as sovereigns. The separation became complete when the son of Pepin, Karl the Great, better known as Charlemagne, was proclaimed at Rome Emperor of the West.

This political rupture made way for the religious schism between the East and the West. Rome was rising again from her ruins at the same moment that Constantinople was falling into decay. The Popes, become more rich and powerful than ever, crowned with the diadem of temporal power, could not but meditate revenge for the humiliations to which in their pride they imagined they had been subjected.

While the West was quite escaping him forever, Constantine Copronymus, the son of Leo, assembled councils and caused the condemnation of images in an assembly of bishops bereft of conscience, who endeavoured to dishonour the memory of the Patriarch St. Germanus and the learned John Damascene. Pope Stephen II. (756) prevailed upon Pepin, King of France, to take the cause of the Church in hand. Constantine Copronymus had sent to this prince an embassy which troubled the Pope. Stephen feared lest politics should binder his plans, and the Emperor of the East should resume some influence in the affairs of the West. He therefore wrote thus to Pepin: Steph. II. Epist. in Cod. Carol. "We earnestly entreat you to act toward the Greeks in such manner that the Catholic faith may be for ever preserved, that the Church may be delivered from their malice, and may recover all her patrimony." The Church of Rome had had considerable property in the East, which had been confiscated since the rupture between Rome and the empire. "Inform us," adds the Pope, "how you have talked to the envoy, and send us copies of the letters you have given him, that we may act in concert."

Paul, who succeeded Stephen II., continued in the same relations with Pepin. His letters Paul et Steph. III. Epist. in Cod. Carol. show that he had to struggle against the influences of certain politicians, who were endeavouring to effect an agreement between the King of France and the Emperor of Constantinople. The latter particularly depended upon the Lombards against Rome. The Popes were alarmed at what might be the results of such an alliance. They accordingly strove to excite the Frankic kings against the Greeks and Lombards.

We have now come to the last years of the eighth century. The Eastern empire, delivered from Copronymus and his son Leo IV., breathed again under the reign of Constantine and Irene.

Charlemagne reigned in France, Adrian I. was Bishop of Rome; Tarasius, a great and saintly Patriarch, ruled at Constantinople. Before consenting to his election, Tarasius addressed to the court and people of Constantinople a discourse from which we quote the following passage: "This is what I principally fear, (in accepting the episcopate:) I see the church divided in the East; we have different languages among, us, and many agree with the West, which anathematizes us daily. Separation (anathema) is a terrible thing; it drives from the kingdom of heaven and leads to outer darkness. Nothing is more pleasant to God than union, which makes us one Catholic Church, as we confess in the creed. I therefore ask you, brethren, that which I believe is also your will, since you have the fear of God: I ask that the Emperor and Empress assemble an œcumenical council, in order that we may make but one body under a single chief, who is Jesus Christ. If the Emperor and Empress grant me this request, I submit to their orders and your votes; if not, I cannot consent. Give me, brethren, what answer you will." Theoph. Annal. Labbe's Collection of Councils, vol. vii., Vit. Taras. ap. Bolland. 14 Februar.

All but a few fanatics applauded the project of a council, and then Tarasius consented to be ordained and instituted bishop. He at once addressed his letters of communion to the churches of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. See all the documents in Labbe's Collection of the Councils, 7th vol. In these he made as usual his profession of faith, and invited those churches to the Council which the Emperor was about to assemble. The Empress-regent and her son wrote to Pope Adrian that they had resolved to assemble an œcumenical council; they begged him to come to it, promising to receive him with honours; or to send representatives if he could not personally accept their invitation.

Adrian's answer to the Emperor and Empress is a very important document, in regard to the question we are examining. We find in it a style which the Bishops of Rome had not hitherto allowed themselves to adopt toward the emperors.

Rome, jealous of Constantinople, was soon to crown Charlemagne Emperor of the West, and thus to break all political ties with the East. The Pope enjoyed great temporal authority in that city under the protection of the Frankic kings; he was rich, and he was ambitious to surround his see with still greater magnificence and splendour. Adrian therefore replied arrogantly to the respectful letter he had received from the court of Constantinople. He insisted upon certain conditions, as one power dealing with another, and particularly upon this point: that the patrimony of St. Peter in the East, confiscated by the iconoclastic emperors, must be restored in toto. We will quote from his letter what he says respecting the Patriarch of Constantinople: "We are very much surprised to see that in your letter you give to Tarasius the title of œcumenical Patriarch., The Patriarch of Constantinople would not have even the second rank without the consent of our see; if he be œcumenical, must he not therefore have also the primacy over our church? All Christians know that this is a ridiculous assumption."

Adrian sets before the Emperor the example of Charles, King of the Franks. "Following our advice," he says, "and fulfilling our wishes, he has subjected all the barbarous nations of the West; he has given to the Roman Church in perpetuity provinces, cities, castles, and patrimonies which were withheld by the Lombards, and which by right belong to St. Peter; he does not cease daily to offer gold and silver for this light and sustenance of the poor."

Here is language quite new on the part of Roman bishops, but henceforth destined to become habitual with them. It dates from 785; that is, from the same year when Adrian delivered to Ingelramn, Bishop of Metz, the collection of the False Decretals. Due to the length of the footnote (it spans several pages of the book!), the footnote's text is at the end of this page.—trv There is something highly significant in this coïncidence. Was it Adrian himself who authorized this work of forgery?

We do not know; but it is an incontestable fact that it was in Rome itself under the pontificate of Adrian, and in the year in which he wrote so haughtily to the Emperor of the East, that this new code of the Papacy is first mentioned in history. Adrian is the true creator of the modern Papacy. Not finding in the traditions of the Church the documents necessary to support his ambitious views, he rested them upon apocryphal documents written to suit the occasion, and to legalize all future usurpations of the Roman see. Adrian knew that the Decretals contained in the code of Ingelramn were false. For he had already given, ten years before, to Charles, King of the Franks, a code of the ancient canons, identical with the generally received collection of Dionysius Exiguus. It was, therefore, between the years 775 and 785 that the False Decretals were composed.

The time was favorable to such inventions. In the foreign invasions which had deluged the entire West with blood and covered it with ruins, the libraries of the churches and monasteries had been destroyed; the clergy were plunged in the deepest ignorance; the East, invaded by the Mussulman, had now scarcely any relations with the West. The Papacy profited by these misfortunes, and built up a power half political and half religious upon these ruins, finding no lack of flatterers who did not blush to invent and secretly propagate their forgeries in order to give a divine character to an institution that has ambition for its only source.

The False Decretals make as it were the dividing point between the Papacy of the first eight and that of the succeeding centuries. At this date, the pretensions of the Popes begin to develop and take each day a more distinct character. The answer of Adrian to Constantine and Irene is the starting-point.

The legates of the Pope and those of the Patriarchal churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, having gone to Constantinople, Nicea was appointed as the place of assembling the council. The first session took place September twenty-fourth, 787. This second Council of Nicea is reckoned the seventh œcumenical, both by the Eastern and Western churches. See its transactions in Labbe's Collection, vol. viii. Adrian was represented by the Archpriest Peter, and by another Peter, Abbot of the monastery of St. Sabas at Rome. The Bishops of Sicily were the first to speak, and said, "We deem it advisable that the most holy Archbishop of Constantinople should open the council." All the members agreed to this proposition, and Tarasius made them an allocution upon the duty of following the ancient traditions of the Church in the decisions they were about to make. Then those who opposed these traditions were introduced, that the council might hear a statement of their doctrine. Then were read the letters brought by the legates of the Bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, for the purpose of ascertaining what the faith of the East and the West might be. The Bishop of Ancyra had shared the errour of the iconoclasts. He now appeared before the council to make his confession of faith, and commenced with the following words, well worthy of being quoted: "It is the law of the Church, that those who are converted from a heresy, should abjure it in writing, and confess the Catholic faith. Therefore do I, Basil, Bishop of Ancyra, wishing to unite myself with the Church, with Pope Adrian, with the Patriarch Tarasius, with the Apostolic sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and with all Catholic bishops and priests, make this confession in writing, and present it to you, who have power by apostolic authority."

This most orthodox language clearly proves that at that time the Pope of Rome was not regarded as the sole centre of unity, the source of Catholic authority; that unity and authority were only recognized in the unanimity of the sacerdotal body.

The letter of Adrian to the Emperor and Empress, and the one he had written to Tarasius were then read, but only in so far as they treated of dogmatic questions. His complaints against the title of œcumenical and his demands concerning the patrimony of St. Peter, were passed over in silence. Nor did the legates of Rome insist. The council declared that it approved of the Pope's doctrine. Next were read the letters from the Patriarchal sees of the East whose doctrine agreed with that of the West. That doctrine was compared with the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, in, order to verify not only the present unanimity, but the perpetuity of the doctrine; and the question was also examined, whether the iconoclasts had on their side any true Catholic tradition. After this double preparatory examination, the council made its profession of faith, deciding that according to the perpetual doctrine of the Church, images should be venerated, reserving for God alone the Latria or adoration, properly so called.

The members of the council then adjourned to Constantinople, where the last session took place in the presence of Irene and Constantine and the entire people.

The Acts of the seventh œumenical council, like those of the preceding ones, clearly prove that the Bishop of Rome was only first in honour in the Church; that his testimony had no doctrinal weight, except in so far as it might be regarded as that of the Western Church; that there was as yet no individual authority in the Church, but a collective authority only, of which the sacerdotal body was the echo and interpreter.

This doctrine is dramatically opposed to the Romish system. Let us add, that the seventh œcumenical council, like the six that preceded it, was neither convoked, presided over, nor confirmed by the Pope. He concurred in it by his legates, and the West concurred in the same way, whereby it acquired its œcumenical character.

But this concurrence of the West was not at first unanimous, at least in appearance, notwithstanding the well-known concurrence of the Pope; which proves that even in the West such doctrinal authority was not then granted to the Pope, as his supporters now claim for him. Seven years after the Council of Nicea, that is, in 794, Charlemagne assembled at Frankfort all the bishops of the kingdoms he had conquered. In this council several dogmatic questions were discussed, and particularly that concerning images. By the decisions there rendered, the council intended to reject that of the second council of Nicea, which had not been thoroughly understood by the Frankic Bishops. These Bishops reproached the Pope with his concurrence in that decision, and Adrian in a manner apologized for it.

He recognized, it is true, the orthodoxy of the doctrine professed by the council, but alleged that other motives would have impelled him to reject that council, had he not feared lest his opposition might be construed into an adherence to the heresy condemned. "We have accepted the council," Resp. ad. lib. Carolin. in Labbe's Collection, vol. viii. wrote Adrian, "because its decision agrees with the doctrine of St. Gregory; fearing lest if we did not receive it, the Greeks might return to their errour, and we be responsible for the loss of so many souls. Nevertheless, we have not yet made any answer to the Emperor on the subject of the council. While exhorting them to reëstablish images, we have warned them to restore to the Roman Church her jurisdiction over certain bishoprics and archbishoprics, and the patrimonies of which we were bereft at the time when images were abolished. But we have received no answer, which shows that the are converted upon one point, but not upon the other two. Therefore, if you think fit, when we shall thank the Emperor for the reëstablishment of images, we will also press him further upon the subject of the restitution of the patrimonies and the jurisdiction, and, if he refuse, we will pronounce him a heretic."

The attacks of the Frankic Bishops against Adrian, although unjust, prove abundantly that they did not recognize in the Papacy the authority it claims to-day. The False Decretals had not yet been able completely to prevail over the ancient usages. Adrian replied to these attacks with a modesty that is easy of explanation, when we reflect how much he needed the Franks and their King Charlemagne to establish the basis of the new Papacy. Far from mentioning that alleged authority which he so proudly strove to impose upon the East, he was willing, in respect to the Franks, to play the part of prisoner at the bar. He made advances to them to the extent of proposing to pronounce the Emperor of Constantinople a heretic for a mere question of temporal possessions, or of a disputed jurisdiction. But we find in Adrian, under this humble show of submission, a prodigious shrewdness in creating occasions for increasing his power. If the Franks had asked him to declare the Emperor of Constantinople a heretic, they would thereby have recognized in him a sovereign and universal jurisdiction, and laid thus a precedent which would not have been neglected by the Papacy.

Adrian I. died in 796, and was succeeded by Leo III, who pursued the same policy as his predecessor. Immediately after his election, he sent to Charlemagne the standard of the city of Rome and the key of the confession of St Peter. In return the Frankic King sent him costly presents by an ambassador, who was to come to an understanding with him upon all that concerned "the glory of the Church, and the strengthening of the Papal dignity, and of the Roman patriciate given to the Frankic King. Alcuin Ep. 84.

Leo had some intercourse with the East upon the occasion of the divorce of the Emperor Constantine. Two holy monks, Plato and Theodore Studites, declared themselves with special energy against the adulterous conduct of the Emperor. Theodore applied to several bishops for aid against the persecutions which their opposition to the Emperor had drawn upon them. The letters of Theodore Studites Theod. Stud. Ep. 15. are replete with fulsome praises of those to whom he writes. The Romish theologians have chosen to notice only the compliments addressed to the Bishop of Rome. With a little more honesty they might as easily have noted those, often still more emphatic, that are to be found in his other letters; and they must then have concluded that no dogmatic force could be attached to language lavished without distinction of sees, according to circumstances, and with the evident purpose of flattering those to whom the letters were addressed in order to render them favourable to the cause which Theodore advocated. The Romanists have not been willing to notice so obvious a fact. They have quoted the fulsome praises of Theodore as dogmatic testimony in favour of Papal authority, and have not chosen to see that if they have such a dogmatic value in the case of the Bishop of Rome, they must also have it no less in behalf of the Bishop of Jerusalem, for example, whom he calls "first of the five Patriarchs," or others, whom he addresses with as much extravagance. On these terms we should have in the Church several Popes enjoying, each of them, supreme and universal authority. This conclusion would not suit the Romish theologians; but it follows necessarily if the letters of Theodore Studites have the dogmatic value that Rome would give them to her own advantage. Moreover, if Theodore Studites occasionally gave pompous praise to the Bishop of Rome, he could also speak of him with very little respect, as we may see in his letter to Basil, Abbot of St. Sabas of Rome. Theod. Stud. Ep. 28.

At the commencement of his pontificate, Leo III. had to endure a violent opposition on the part of the relatives of his predecessor, Adrian. They heaped atrocious accusations upon him.

Charlemagne having come to Rome (800) as a patrician of that city, assembled a council to judge the Pope. But Leo was sure beforehand that he would prevail. He had received Charlemagne in triumph, and the powerful king was not ungrateful for the attentions of the pontiff. Sismondi alleges that this mock trial and the subsequent capital punishment of Leo's accusers were preärranged, together with the coronation mentioned in the text, during Leo's visit to Charlemagne a short time previous at Paderborn. Sismondi, Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. xvii.—[Editor.] The members of the council accordingly declared with one voice: "We dare not judge the Apostolic see, which is the head of all the churches; such is the ancient custom!" Men were not overnice in those days in matters of erudition. By the ancient usage the Bishop of Rome was to be judged like any other bishop; but the doctrines of the False Decretals had no doubt begun to spread. Ingelramn of Metz, who had used them in his lawsuit at Rome, was the chaplain of Charlemagne, and one of his first councilors. According to this new code of a new Papacy, the Apostolic see, which could judge all, could be judged of none. Rome neglected no chance to establish this fundamental principle of her power, of which the inevitable consequence is Papal infallibility and even impeccability. These consequences were not developed at once, but the principle was now skilfully insinuated upon one favourable occasion. Leo III. justified himself upon oath. Some days later, on Christmas-day, a.d. 800, Charlemagne having gone to St. Peter's, the Pope placed upon his head a rich crown, and the people exclaimed, " Long life and victory to the august Charles, crowned by the hand of God great and pacific Emperor of the Romans! "These acclamations were thrice enthusiastically repeated; after which the Pope knelt before the new Emperor and anointed him and his son Pepin with the holy oil.

Thus was the Roman empire of the West reëstablished. Rome, who had always looked with jealousy upon the removal of the seat of government to Constantinople, was in transports of joy; the Papacy, pandering to her secret lusts, was now invested with power such as she had never before possessed. The idea of Adrian was achieved by his successor. The modern Papacy, a mixed institution half political and half religious, was established; a new era was beginning for the Church of Jesus Christ—an era of intrigues and struggles, despotism and revolutions, innovations and scandals.

Here are some details regarding the False Decretals:

It appears from the acts of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, that the Church had already a Codex Canonum, or collection of the laws of the Church. Several of these laws are held to have emanated from the Apostles themselves. What they had commenced the councils continued, and, as soon as the Church began to enjoy some little tranquillity, these venerable laws were collected and formed the basis of ecclesiastical discipline; and, as they were mostly in Greek, they were translated into Latin for the use of the Western churches.

At the beginning of the sixth century Dionysius, surnamed Exiguus, a monk at Rome, finding this translation incorrect, made another at the request of Julian, curate of St. Anastasia at Rome, and a desiple of Pope Gelasius. Dionysius collected, besides, whatever letters of the Popes he could discover in the archives, and published in his collection those of Siricius, Innocent, Zosimus, Boniface, Celestine, Leo, Gelasius, and Anastasius, under which last he lived. The archives of Rome at that time possessed nothing prior to Siricius—that is, to the end of the fourth century.

At the beginning of the seventh century, Isidore of Seville undertook to complete the collection of Dionysius. He added the canons of some national or provincial councils of Africa, Spain, and France, and some letters of a few of the Popes, going back no further than to Damasus, who died in 384, and was the predecessor of Siricius. This collection of Isidore of Seville begins with the canons of the Council of Nicea. He used the old translation, and not that of Dionysius for the Greek canons.

His collection was but little known, and in history we do not meet it until 785, and then disfigured and interpolated by an unknown forger, giving his name as Isidore Mercator. This collection contained, beside the pieces contained in the collection of Isidore of Seville, certain Decretals which he ascribed to the Popes of the first three centuries. Several scholars make Isidore Mercator and Isidore of Seville separate writers, while others think that the latter had added, through humility, the word Peccator to his name, which was corrupted to Mercator. However this may be, the best Ultramontane critics as well as the Gallicans, agree that the Decretals ascribed to the Popes of the first centuries in the collection of Isidore Mercator, are spurious. Marchetti himself admits their spuriousness. "Learned men of great piety," he adds, "have declared against this false collection, which Cardinal Bona frankly calls a pious fraud." "Baronius does not as frankly regard them as a fraud; nevertheless, he would not use them in his Ecclesiastical Annals, less it should be believed that the Roman Church needed suspicious documents to establish her rights."

The Ultramontanes cannot openly sustain these Decretals as true, for it has been abundantly proved that they were manufactured partly from ancient canons, with extracts from the letters of the Popes of the fourth and fifth centuries. Entire passages, particularly from St. Leo and Gregory the Great, are found in them. The whole is strung together in bad Latin, which for even the least critical scholar has all the characteristics of the style of the eighth and ninth centuries.

The collection of Isidore Mercator was disseminated chiefly by Riculf, Archibishop of Mayence, who took that see in 787. Several critics have concluded from this that this collection first appeared at Mayence, and even that Riculf was its author.

Were these False Decretals fabricated in Spain, Germany, or Rome? We have no certainty on the subject. The oldest copies tell us that it was Ingelramn who brought this collection to Rome from Metz, when he had a lawsuit there in 785; but other copies tell us that it was Pope Adrian who, upon that occasion, delivered it to Ingleramn, September nineteenth, a.d. 785. Certain it is, that at Rome we find the first mention of it. Yet Adrian knew that these Decretals were false, since, ten years before, he had given Charlemagne a copy of the canons, which was no other than that of Dionysius Exiguus.

The False Decretals were so extensively circulated in the West, that they were everwhere received, and particularly at Rome, as authentic.

The Ultramontanes, while they do not dare to maintain the authority of the writings ascribed to the Popes of the first three centuries, nevertheless indirectly sustain them. Several works have been written with this object against Fleury, who justly asserted and abundantly proved that they changed the ancient discipline. We will quote among these Ultramontane works those of Marchetti, of Father de Housta, and Father Honoré de Sainte-Marie:

"We may conjecture," says Marchetti, "that Isidore gathered the Decretals of ancient Popes which the persecutions of the first centuries had not permitted to be collected, and that animated by a desire to transmit the collection to posterity, he made such haste that he overlooked some faults and chronological errours which were afterward corrected by more exact criticism."

Thus, then, the Decretals of the first three centuries are false; neverthless they are substantially true. Such Is the Ultramontane system. It only remains to say, to make the business complete, that the texts of St. Leo and St. Gregory the Great, which are found in these Decretals, do not belong to those fathers, who, in that case, must have copied them from the Decretals of their predecessors. It would be quite as reasonable to maintain this opinion, as to say that we only find in the False Decretals a few faults and chronological errours.

To this first system of defence, the Ultramontanes add a second. They make a great display of eloquence to prove that an unknown person without any authority could never have introduced a new code in the Church. We think so too. But there is one great fact of the very highest importance which our Ultramontanes have left out of sight, that., at the time when the False Decretals appeared, the see of Rome had for about two centuries taken advantage of every occurrence to increase her influence and to put into practice what the False Decretals lay down as the law. Every one knows that after the fall of the Roman empire, most of the Western nations were essentially modified by the invasion of new races; that the Church seriously felt this change; that the pursuit of learning was abandoned, and that after the seventh century the most deplorable ignorance reigned in the Western churches. From that time the Bishops of Rome began to take part directly in the government of individual churches, which frequently lay in the hands of only half-Christianized conquerors. They sent missionaries to labour for the conversion of the invading tribes; and these missionaries, like St. Boniface of Mayence, retained for the Popes who sent them, the feelings of disciples for their masters. The churches newly founded by them, remained faithful to these sentiments. It would not, thereore, be surprising if the fabricator of the False Decretals lived in or near Mayence. He composed that work of fragments from the councils and the Fathers, and added regulations which were in perfect harmony with the usages of the see of Rome at the end of the eighth century, and which Rome, doubtless, inspired.

This coïncidence, joined to the ignorance which then prevailed, explains sufficiently how the False Decretals could be accepted without protest—the see of Rome using all its influence to spread them. As most of the churches had been accustomed for two centuries to feel the authority of the Bishops of Rome, they accepted without examination documents which seemed to be no more than the sanction of this authority. The False Decretals did not therefore create a new code for the Western churches; they only came in aid of a régime which, owing to political disturbances, the Popes themselves had created.

Thus the Romanists have their labour for their pains, when they seek to defend the Decretals by saying that an unknown author without authority could not have established a new code.

Here are the objections that Fleury makes to the False Decretals: "The subject matter of these letters [footnote to footnote:]Hist. Eccl. liv. xliv. reveals their spuriousness. They speak of archbishops, primates, patriarchs, as if these titles had existed from the birth of the Church. They forbid the holding of any council, even a provincial one, without permission from the Pope, and represent appeals to Rome as habitual. Frequent complaint is therein made of usurpations of the temporalities of the Church. We find there this maxim, that bishops falling into sin may, after having done penance, exercise their functions as before. Finally, the principal subject of these Decretals is that of complaints against bishops; there is scarcely one that does not speak of them and give rules to make them difficult. And Isidore makes it very apparent in his preface that he had this matter deeply at heart"

The object of the forger in this last matter is evident. It was to diminish the authority of the metropolitans, who, from time immemorial, had enjoyed the right to convoke the council of their province to hear complaints against a bishop of that province in particular, and judge him. The forger, whose object it was to concentrate all authority at Rome, would naturally first endeavour to check the authority of the metropolitan, and make the appeals to Rome seem to offer greater guarantees and to be more consonant with episcopal dignity.

One must be utterly ignorant of the history of the first three centuries, not to know that at that period the Church had no fixed organization; that it was not divided into provinces and dioceses until the reign of Constantine and by the Council of Nicea; that it was this council that recognized in the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch a superiority common to them all over a certain number of churches to which they had given birth, and over which, according to custom, they exercised a special supervision. But the forger does not hesitate for all this to bring into play archbishops, primates, and patriarchs during the first three centuries, and ascribes to the first Bishops of Rome, as rights, prerogatives which the councils had never recognized, and which these bishops had usurped in the West since the invasions of the barbarians had overthrown the ancient Roman polity.

After our deep study of the history of the Church, we feel at liberty to assert that it is impossible to accumulate more errours than the Ultramontanes have done, to defend the alleged legal force of the False Decretals; that the False Decretals established in the ninth century a new code completely opposed to that of the first eight Christian centuries; and that the forger had no other object than to sanction the encroachments of the court of Rome during the two centuries preceding the composition of his work. We have carefully studied what has been said pro and contra upon this subject. The writings of the Romanists have convinced us that this forger of the ninth century has never been defended but by arguments worthy of him; that is to say, by the most shameful misrepresentations. The works of the Gallicans are more honest, and show deeper research. Yet even in them we perceive a certain reticency which injures their cause, and even now and then a forced and unnatural attitude concerning Papal prerogatives, which they do not dare to deny. (See the works of Hincmar of Rheims, and the Annals of Father Lecointe.)



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Article published in English on: 6-2-2010.

Last update: 6-2-2010.