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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Letter of Pope Agatho?
« on: August 04, 2017, 10:14:25 AM »

Aside from the fact that Pope Honorius was condemned as a heretic, what is the Orthodox response to the Letter of Pope Agatho, where he very bluntly seems to proclaim Papal Jurisdiction and Infallibility?
I know that the idea of Papal Jurisdiction began to develop around this time, but aren't Ecumenical Councils infallible?

This is from the 6th Ecumenical Council:

"Because the true confession thereof for which Peter was pronounced blessed by the Lord of all things, was revealed by the Father of heaven, for he received from the Redeemer of all himself, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church; under whose protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error, whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church, and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced, and followed in all things; and all the venerable Fathers have embraced its Apostolic doctrine, through which they as the most approved luminaries of the Church of Christ have shone; and the holy orthodox doctors have venerated and followed it, while the heretics have pursued it with false criminations and with derogatory hatred. This is the living tradition of the Apostles of Christ, which his Church holds everywhere, which is chiefly to be loved and fostered, and is to be preached with confidence, which conciliates with God through its truthful confession, which also renders one commendable to Christ the Lord, which keeps the Christian empire of your Clemency, which gives far-reaching victories to your most pious Fortitude from the Lord of heaven, which accompanies you in battle, and defeats your foes; which protects on every side as an impregnable wall your God-sprung empire, which throws terror into opposing nations, and smites them with the divine wrath, which also in wars celestially gives triumphal palms over the downfall and subjection of the enemy, and ever guards your most faithful sovereignty secure and joyful in peace. For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy; which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God, has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations, but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the Apostles of Christ, and remains undefiled unto the end, according to the divine promise of the Lord and Saviour himself, which he uttered in the holy Gospels to the prince of his disciples: saying, Peter, Peter, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you, that (your) faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren. Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Saviour of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter's faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the Apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing: of whom also our littleness, since I have received this ministry by divine designation, wishes to be the follower, although unequal to them and the least of all."

Response?
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Offline Vanhyo

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 11:44:51 AM »
I never seen this letter before, is it part of the ecumenical council or just a letter ?

Offline Xavier

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 12:14:50 PM »
Pope St. Agatho clearly shows it is an Apostolic Tradition and indeed a divine institution that the Roman Pontiff enjoys supreme authority in shepherding the whole flock of Christ. The saintly Pontiff's letter to the Council can be read here.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3813.htm

Also the refutation of monothelitism in the Pope's dogmatic tome is inspired and fantastic, on par with Pope St. Leo the Great's tome against Eutyches. The familiar acclamation "Peter has spoken through Agatho" was repeated by the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Quote
For if anybody should mean a personal will, when in the holy Trinity there are said to be three Persons, it would be necessary that there should be asserted three personal wills, and three personal operations (which is absurd and truly profane). Since, as the truth of the Christian faith holds, the will is natural, where the one nature of the holy and inseparable Trinity is spoken of, it must be consistently understood that there is one natural will, and one natural operation. But when in truth we confess that in the one person of our Lord Jesus Christ the mediator between God and men, there are two natures (that is to say the divine and the human), even after his admirable union, just as we canonically confess the two natures of one and the same person, so too we confess his two natural wills and two natural operations
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 12:33:37 PM »
Pope St. Agatho clearly shows it is an Apostolic Tradition and indeed a divine institution that the . The familiar acclamation "Peter has spoken through Agatho" was repeated by the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

You're going to have to cite that.
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Offline Xavier

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 12:51:53 PM »
"Agatho summoned a council in Rome in 680 which professed the orthodox doctrine of Christ’s wills and then wrote two letters to the Emperor Constantine, refuting monotheletism and proposing a council to resolve the issue finally. A year earlier, Theodore had been succeeded by the orthodox George I as Patriarch of Constantinople, commemorated by the Church as a saint, feast together with Patriarch John V (669–675) on 18 August. Constantine now agreed and the council was duly held in Constantinople, November 680–September 681, the 6th Œcumenical Council, condemning monenergism and monotheletism. After the reading of the pope’s letter to the assembled prelates at its opening, they declared, ‘Peter has spoken through the mouth of Agatho,’ echoing the famous cry, ‘Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo,’ at Chalcedon. But before the council could conclude, the pope had already fallen asleep in the Lord on 11 January 681."

http://www.sevencouncils.com/an-orthodox-journey/st-agatho-pope-of-rome
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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 01:31:52 PM »
"Agatho summoned a council in Rome in 680 which professed the orthodox doctrine of Christ’s wills and then wrote two letters to the Emperor Constantine, refuting monotheletism and proposing a council to resolve the issue finally. A year earlier, Theodore had been succeeded by the orthodox George I as Patriarch of Constantinople, commemorated by the Church as a saint, feast together with Patriarch John V (669–675) on 18 August. Constantine now agreed and the council was duly held in Constantinople, November 680–September 681, the 6th Œcumenical Council, condemning monenergism and monotheletism. After the reading of the pope’s letter to the assembled prelates at its opening, they declared, ‘Peter has spoken through the mouth of Agatho,’ echoing the famous cry, ‘Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo,’ at Chalcedon. But before the council could conclude, the pope had already fallen asleep in the Lord on 11 January 681."

http://www.sevencouncils.com/an-orthodox-journey/st-agatho-pope-of-rome

Your blog gives no source that I can see. What is the source?
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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 01:43:32 PM »
Pope St. Agatho clearly shows it is an Apostolic Tradition and indeed a divine institution that the Roman Pontiff enjoys supreme authority in shepherding the whole flock of Christ. The saintly Pontiff's letter to the Council can be read here.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3813.htm

Also the refutation of monothelitism in the Pope's dogmatic tome is inspired and fantastic, on par with Pope St. Leo the Great's tome against Eutyches. The familiar acclamation "Peter has spoken through Agatho" was repeated by the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Quote
For if anybody should mean a personal will, when in the holy Trinity there are said to be three Persons, it would be necessary that there should be asserted three personal wills, and three personal operations (which is absurd and truly profane). Since, as the truth of the Christian faith holds, the will is natural, where the one nature of the holy and inseparable Trinity is spoken of, it must be consistently understood that there is one natural will, and one natural operation. But when in truth we confess that in the one person of our Lord Jesus Christ the mediator between God and men, there are two natures (that is to say the divine and the human), even after his admirable union, just as we canonically confess the two natures of one and the same person, so too we confess his two natural wills and two natural operations

Clearly?  No, not so much. It's his opinion.
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Offline Vanhyo

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2017, 03:44:25 AM »
Quote
Response?
I don't think there can be a satisfying response to this, we simply view the events with different glasses:

- In the Orthodox Church, Orthodox confession come first then the honors and the praises.
- in romancatolicism, the honors and the praises are an entitlement, therefor they assert that they have the orthodox confession.

You see ? Pope St Agatho had all the honors and praises that belong to an Orthodox Pope, unlike Pope Honorius who was rejected as a heretic, also pay attention to what St Pope Agatho writes:

Quote
For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God, has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations

It is impossible to accuse the Orthodox Church of innovation, the Church remains the same forever unchanged, keeping the apostolic faith without any innovations or addition. This cannot be said for Rome, which had altered almost everything they could, from baptism to all the sacraments, from how they cross themselves to how they fast and pray, everything is altered in their tradition.

If St Pope Agatho is resurrected today and walk among us, which Church do you think he will recognize as his own ?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 03:46:08 AM by Vanhyo »

Offline Sam G

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2017, 10:11:41 PM »
Also from the letter of St. Agatho to the 6th Council:

“And we recognize that each one (of the two natures) of the one and the same incarnated, that is, humanated (humanati) Word of God is in him unconfusedly, inseparably and unchangeably, intelligence alone discerning a unity, to avoid the error of confusion. For we equally detest the blasphemy of division and of commixture. For when we confess two natures and two natural wills, and two natural operations (energies) in our one Lord Jesus Christ, we do not assert that they are contrary or opposed one to the other (as those who err from the path of truth and accuse the apostolic tradition of doing. Far be this impiety from the hearts of the faithful!), nor as though separated (per se separated) in two persons or subsistences, but we say that as the same our Lord Jesus Christ has two natures so also he has two natural wills and operations (energies), to wit, the divine and the human: the divine will and operation he has in common with the coessential Father from all eternity: the human, he has received from us, taken with our nature in time. This is the apostolic and evangelic tradition, which the spiritual mother of your most felicitous empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, holds.”

If Essence (Nature) and Energy (Operation) are identical in God, why does St. Agatho confess Christ's Divine Operation and Will as separate from his Divine Nature?

There's a case to be made for Roman Primacy, but it hinges on Rome confessing the Orthodox faith, which they have clearly abandoned.
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Offline kabane52

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2018, 02:46:23 AM »
The letter of St. Agatho is indeed a fascinating document. There are a few things to remember when considering it from an Orthodox perspective:

1. Even after the schism, medieval Byzantine theologians, including and especially St. Symeon of Thessaloniki and St. Mark of Ephesus, did not reject the idea that the Bishop of Rome was given by Christ a particular office in the Church in virtue of its unique succession from the Apostle Peter. St. Mark in particular was very conciliatory, conceding to Eugene IV the titles of “Vicar of Christ”, “head of the Church” (this one was also found in the first millennium), and “father and teacher of all Christians.” So if one begins by stating that the only reason Rome has primacy is because of its status as the imperial city, it’s a non-starter. There’s no way to justify that from the first millennium. There’s too much from the Eastern Fathers alone to refute that, not to mention the Western Fathers.

2. The universal primacy enjoyed by the Apostolic See was not merely ceremonial, and indeed, “primacy of honor” has historically meant something more than a merely ceremonial primacy. An archbishop enjoys a primacy of honor on his synod. This means that he is responsible for actively coordinating relations among the Churches under his headship, serving as the court of appeals when disputes arise among them. Apostolic Canon 34 grounds this in the mystery of the Trinity. Primacy and Conciliarity necessitate one another, just as the Father’s primacy in the Trinity necessitates the Conciliar identity of the Trinity- the Father is only the Father because of the Son and the Spirit who eternally manifests their unity. So contra the very local and very recent opinions of some Orthodox theologians, primacy belongs to the nature of the Church Catholic. As the Synod of Chalcedon stated, St. Leo the Great was the “Archbishop of all the Churches.” An archbishop enjoys appellate jurisdiction of the Churches under him, but not immediate jurisdiction like that given to the Pope of Rome at Vatican I.

So we can say that the Bishop of Rome, in view of his identity as the Successor of Peter, possesses a universal primacy, being head of all the Churches of God, archbishop of all the Churches, and the court of appeal for disputes among the Churches. The way that this universal primacy is exercised is worked out synodically, as Maximus says- the Apostolic See receives its privilege from Christ AND from the Holy Synods and Canons.

3. In order to understand how the ancient Church thought of the Roman Pontiff, one cannot merely look at what Fathers said (as important as this is)- we have to look at how the Church actually functioned. Compare the way the Church of the first millennium functioned with the way medieval Latin Christendom functioned. There is a very fundamental difference here, including in the way the Western Church of the first millennium conducted its internal affairs. As I look at how the Popes of Rome (including very ambitious popes such as Pope Nicholas) functioned before the eleventh century, I just don’t see the assertion of a universal and immediate (as opposed to appellate) jurisdiction over all the Churches. Pope Nicholas’ moves against St. Photios only came because Patriarch Ignatius had made an appeal to Rome.

4. “Peter has spoken through Leo/Agatho” is hardly clear as to which model is being advocated. In reality, the letters of Ss. Leo and Agatho were scrutinized by the Council Fathers and tested for orthodoxy. Can you imagine any medieval Catholic council (with the exception, perhaps, of the Council of Constance, which taught conciliarism) treating Papal texts this way?

5. So the real question has to do with the claims to indefectibility made by St. Agatho. At the very worst, I think, one can say that this was a local theologumenon held in Rome which became schismatic as the Popes of Rome insisted it be adopted by the Eastern Churches in the eleventh century and beyond. What the Council Fathers affirmed in the letter was St. Agatho’s confession of the two wills and two activities in Christ, which was, after all, the main point. Apparently they did not see the Church of Rome as indefectible, given the anathema pronounced against Pope Honorius, which was affirmed by Pope Leo II and recited in Rome until the eleventh century- note the pattern here. At the eleventh century, there is a real change, where teachings which were at best, marginal theologumena, began to be insisted upon and used to structure and restructure the order of Christendom and Christian theology. While Catholic apologists will still sometimes assert that Honorius was anathematized for not being vigilant enough in teaching the true faith rather than being a heretic, you won’t find Catholic scholars (including conservative ones) arguing this anymore, because it’s not what the Council says, because Honorius stated “We confess one will in our Lord Jesus Christ”, and because Honorius wrote what he did in a letter to Patriarch Sergius in order to express his agreement. Sergius, of course, was crucial to the origin of the monothelite teaching.

6. If one interprets St. Agatho’s claims in the strong sense, it still won’t fly to demonstrate that this was what was held by the Council Fathers and the Church at large. If the Papacy was functioning as described at Florence and Vatican I-II, why is the 649 Lateran Council not considered ecumenical? It was convoked by the Pope of Rome, it was meant to be ecumenical (Maximus thought it was), and it was confirmed by the Pope. Yet nobody, Catholic or Orthodox, considers it ecumenical, despite it fulfilling all of the criteria for ecumenicity according to contemporary Catholic teaching.

To sum up, the main point is really this: when one looks at the Orthodox teaching as articulated by those theologians who sought to be constructive (as opposed to merely reactionary), quotations like this just aren’t the slam dunk they are purported to be. The difference hinges on whether papal jurisdiction is immediate and whether the Church of Rome is indefectible. I don’t find the former claim pursued substantially, even in the West, until the eleventh century. The latter claim may be found in St. Agatho’s letter if it is interpreted strongly (on the other hand, we should read it in context with letters composed in this period, which were written poetically and routinely used exalted language- think of the way the Liturgy speaks of the Mother of God as the “only hope” of mankind), but there’s no evidence that it was widely held and was anything other than a harmless local theologumenon at Rome. Claims like this only become harmful when the Pope begins teaching heterodoxy. This is why his name is stricken from the diptychs when he circulates a letter professing the Filioque in 1009. Patriarch Peter III of Antioch, who strongly rebuked Michael Cerularius for his ridiculous attacks on the Latin Church, made one exception: he agreed the Filioque was a serious issue. Contemporary Catholic apologetics wants to reduce the Orthodox reaction against the Filioque to a cynical move made by Cerularius and St. Photios or a mere procedural beef about the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed being unchangeable. The historical evidence, like St. Maximus’ letter to Marinus and the letters of Peter III of Antioch, really undermine this reading of the history.

Offline Sharbel

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 01:38:36 PM »
4. “Peter has spoken through Leo/Agatho” is hardly clear as to which model is being advocated.
Methinks that how "Peter" is read by both Catholics and Orthodox is the question.  Did the emperor mean to affirm the Catholic understanding on the pope as supreme ruler?  I find it hard to think that this was the case, otherwise he might as well close the council after that.  Rather, he likely meant it in the Orthodox understanding, that the position held by the greatest patriarchal see had to be the orthodox one.
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Offline Antonis

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 01:50:17 PM »
4. “Peter has spoken through Leo/Agatho” is hardly clear as to which model is being advocated.
Methinks that how "Peter" is read by both Catholics and Orthodox is the question.  Did the emperor mean to affirm the Catholic understanding on the pope as supreme ruler?  I find it hard to think that this was the case, otherwise he might as well close the council after that.  Rather, he likely meant it in the Orthodox understanding, that the position held by the greatest patriarchal see had to be the orthodox one.
Not quite sure that's the "Orthodox understanding." :P

Rather, that the Pope was channeling his Petrine inheritance by his orthodox confession. Similarly, if the Metropolitan of Beroia, for instance, were to confess for Orthodoxy, one might say "Paul has spoken through Panteleimon!" Or if the Patriarch of Antioch did similarly, one might say "Peter has spoken through John!"

It reminds me of one of Chrysostom's epithets, "the mouth of Paul."
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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 01:53:39 PM »
Not quite sure that's the "Orthodox understanding." :P
Appellate jurisdiction?  ???
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 01:53:52 PM by Sharbel »
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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 02:12:32 PM »
I think you can say ~ In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and post with charitable and prayerful intentions.

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 03:22:52 PM »
kabane52, I like a lot of things in your post.  You've obviously considered this question very carefully and given the issue a lot of thought, and by sharing your thoughts with us, you've given us a lot to think about too.   but there are some points that I take issue with.  Such as:

Even after the schism, medieval Byzantine theologians, including and especially St. Symeon of Thessaloniki and St. Mark of Ephesus, did not reject the idea that the Bishop of Rome was given by Christ a particular office in the Church in virtue of its unique succession from the Apostle Peter.

It's not unique.  Antioch is a Petrine see and Alexandria has a good claim to being the same through St. Mark.  Of course, Rome is also the place where both St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred.

Quote
So if one begins by stating that the only reason Rome has primacy is because of its status as the imperial city, it’s a non-starter. There’s no way to justify that from the first millennium.

It's not the only reason....but for the Orthodox it is a very important reason.

Quote
So we can say that the Bishop of Rome, in view of his identity as the Successor of Peter, possesses a universal primacy...

I don't think so.  Orthodox ecclesiology is clear in insisting that all bishops are successors of Peter, notwithstanding your point about Rome having a special prestige because of St. Peter's presence there.  And again, the view of Rome as having primacy in the first millennium Church because of it being the seat of the Empire is not the only reason for its primacy, but it is one preeminent reason as far as the Orthodox are concerned.  And once again, one could call attention to the fact that Rome is not the only Petrine see.

I wish I had more time to discuss these things further with you.  Anyway, thank for considering what I have to say.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 03:25:31 PM by Pravoslavbob »
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Offline kabane52

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 04:28:32 PM »
Prav,

Thanks for your comments- here are some thoughts:

1. Concerning the uniqueness of the Petrine office belonging to the Bishop of Rome, there are two senses in which it is meant. The first is that the entire episcopal hierarchy is signified by the person of St. Peter. The archbishop fulfills the Petrine office on his synod. The patriarch fulfills the Petrine office in his patriarchate. And the pope, the universal primate, fulfills the Petrine office with respect to all the Churches. The other sense in which it can be meant is that Rome possesses an absolutely unique relationship with the Apostle. This is more difficult. You’re quite right that Antioch and Alexandria are also Petrine sees- and many popes said the same. Pope St. Gregory the Great even said that the See of Peter was the “See of One in three places” and that in it, “Three bishops now preside.” That’s pretty remarkable- and not widely known. St. Leo the Great and St. Damasus also attribute Petrine prerogatives to these two Churches. Generally, in the West, Rome was set apart from these two because St. Paul also belonged in a special way to the Roman Church. As Pope St. Damasus stated, Paul “equally made Rome special in Christ the Lord.” My concern is to find a way to integrate and synthesize the Latin and Greek traditions which coexisted before the schism, because I think the same Holy Spirit animated both. I may have not done this successfully, but that’s what’s driving comments such as these.

2. Concerning Rome’s role as the imperial city, while it is mentioned by a number of Fathers and ecclesiastical writers (and the West Roman Emperor Valentinian II in the fifth century), it seems to me one of the less important reasons, mentioned less frequently. Rome’s apostolic (Petrine and Pauline) pedigree was more often discussed.

3. I agree with you that all bishops are successors of Peter.


Offline kabane52

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 04:29:21 PM »
Not quite sure that's the "Orthodox understanding." :P
Appellate jurisdiction?  ???

Appellate refers to the function of a primate in being the court of appeals.

Offline Rohzek

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2018, 08:41:42 PM »
3. In order to understand how the ancient Church thought of the Roman Pontiff, one cannot merely look at what Fathers said (as important as this is)- we have to look at how the Church actually functioned. Compare the way the Church of the first millennium functioned with the way medieval Latin Christendom functioned. There is a very fundamental difference here, including in the way the Western Church of the first millennium conducted its internal affairs. As I look at how the Popes of Rome (including very ambitious popes such as Pope Nicholas) functioned before the eleventh century, I just don’t see the assertion of a universal and immediate (as opposed to appellate) jurisdiction over all the Churches. Pope Nicholas’ moves against St. Photios only came because Patriarch Ignatius had made an appeal to Rome.

Just out of curiousity, do you have a take on the controversy between Pope Nicholas I and Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims? If so, what is it?
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Offline Antonis

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2018, 10:18:37 PM »
Not quite sure that's the "Orthodox understanding." :P
Appellate jurisdiction?  ???
In canonical decisions, yes, and even then in synod. In doctrinal ones, no. There are many instances of primates falling to heresy and being judged by synods. It is very Roman to assert:

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the position held by the greatest patriarchal see had to be the orthodox one.

And that is indeed their position to this day.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 10:19:26 PM by Antonis »
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Offline Xavier

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2018, 10:37:59 AM »
It seems some do not distinguish between the Roman Pontiff as a private person and the Roman Church in Her solemn judgments. E.g. a supreme court justice as a private person may err but his judgments themselves are the proximate norm of the law. Thus, Fathers right from the Apostolic age like St. Ignatius and St. Irenaeus speak of the Roman Church as the one which has presidency over the brotherhood in love and the greatest Church, with which on account of Her superior authority, all the faithful everywhere must agree. Pope St. Agatho faithfully hands down and expounds the same Tradition.

"the true confession thereof for which Peter was pronounced blessed by the Lord of all things, was revealed by the Father of heaven, for he received from the Redeemer of all himself, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church; under whose protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error, whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church, and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced, and followed in all things; and all the venerable Fathers have embraced its Apostolic doctrine, through which they as the most approved luminaries of the Church of Christ have shone; and the holy orthodox doctors have venerated and followed it, while the heretics have pursued it with false criminations and with derogatory hatred ...

For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy; which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God, has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations, but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the Apostles of Christ, and remains undefiled unto the end, according to the divine promise of the Lord and Saviour himself, which he uttered in the holy Gospels to the Prince of his disciples"
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Offline Remnkemi

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2018, 11:59:12 AM »
Thus, Fathers right from the Apostolic age like St. Ignatius and St. Irenaeus speak of the Roman Church as the one which has presidency over the brotherhood in love and the greatest Church,
I assume you are quoting from St Ignatius' letter to the Romans. The text given here says the Roman Church "presides over love". The Roman church has a position of authority over love, not over "the brotherhood". Neither does St Ignatius' letter say the Roman Church is "the greatest Church". All St Ignatius is saying is Rome presides over love and Christ is the one who names her. This cannot be used as justification for primacy over other bishops or the brotherhood.

A presidency over love allows for first among equals. It does not substantiate supremacy over other bishops, nor does it substantiate infallibility.

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with which on account of Her superior authority, all the faithful everywhere must agree. Pope St. Agatho faithfully hands down and expounds the same Tradition.
Without proving a superior authority (which is not found anywhere), one cannot proceed to assume all the faithful everywhere must agree. Pope Agatho's letter hinges on priori assumption that has not been proven and attempts to extend primacy to infallibility without any support other than a claim that all the fathers have always done so.

If anything Pope Celestine's letter in Ephesus I is more convincing since Pope Cyril of Alexandria recognized it in the Acts of the council. But even this doesn't prove anything more than primacy in honor.

Offline knish

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2018, 09:47:22 AM »
Kabane, you take a very interesting position. One which is nuanced and sober, but I'm not sure entirely accurate. I surmise, in rejection of some of the weak contemporary apologetics you've encountered, you've gone too far to the "other side," if you will.

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1. Even after the schism, medieval Byzantine theologians, including and especially St. Symeon of Thessaloniki and St. Mark of Ephesus, did not reject the idea that the Bishop of Rome was given by Christ a particular office in the Church in virtue of its unique succession from the Apostle Peter. St. Mark in particular was very conciliatory, conceding to Eugene IV the titles of “Vicar of Christ”, “head of the Church” (this one was also found in the first millennium), and “father and teacher of all Christians.”

I think we have to keep in mind that both lived during periods when the false decretals and the donation of Constantine were believed be to legitimate, or at least possibly legitimate. I think if one were to read and except both -- along with the history of the Church -- it would difficult to come away with a position other than the Pope has supremacy when he's Orthodox. With all that said, I'd like to see more on both of their positions. St Mark of Ephesus could have simply been showing humility and fostering good faith with someone he was about to engage in important dialogue with. St Symeon could have been using hyperbole to show the Orthodox Church was willing to make major concessions for Church unity if the Bishop of Rome would simply profess Orthodoxy. You don't actually think he thought they would kneel down and treat him as Christ, do you?

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So if one begins by stating that the only reason Rome has primacy is because of its status as the imperial city, it’s a non-starter. There’s no way to justify that from the first millennium. There’s too much from the Eastern Fathers alone to refute that, not to mention the Western Fathers.

The problem with your position is that's precisely what Canon 28 of Chalcedon says. This is the 5th century, not the 1st. Are we to believe eastern fathers of that period were unaware of this supposedly ancient teaching? It was also reiterated at Trullo. Where were the objections?

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2. The universal primacy enjoyed by the Apostolic See was not merely ceremonial, and indeed, “primacy of honor” has historically meant something more than a merely ceremonial primacy.
Agreed

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As the Synod of Chalcedon stated, St. Leo the Great was the “Archbishop of all the Churches.” An archbishop enjoys appellate jurisdiction of the Churches under him, but not immediate jurisdiction like that given to the Pope of Rome at Vatican I.
I think this is a bit anachronistic. Sure, Leo was called the "Archbishop of all the Churches," but that same synod also gave more authority in Church matters to Constantinople (see above an additional canons). This idea of a universal appellate recognized by the whole Church is not found in Church history.

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So we can say that the Bishop of Rome, in view of his identity as the Successor of Peter, possesses a universal primacy, being head of all the Churches of God, archbishop of all the Churches, and the court of appeal for disputes among the Churches. The way that this universal primacy is exercised is worked out synodically, as Maximus says- the Apostolic See receives its privilege from Christ AND from the Holy Synods and Canons.

Here I would disagree more strongly. The Pope deriving authority from St Peter, and this authority being of spiritual origin, is a late development, unknown to the Church of the first 4 centuries. You also have the issue of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. The former two being Petrine sees, the latter being the Mother Church of Jesus Christ. If Rome's authority was not due to its political significance, why wouldn't Antioch and Alexandria be given similar honor/privileges? Why wouldn't Jerusalem hold the first position, questioned by no one? Again, this is the Church founded by Christ himself. Additionally, I PERSONALLY think St Maximos's quote is spurious. Not only has it only survived in Latin while all of his works are in Greek, the question arises, what synods and canons? The only one I'm aware of is Sardica, and that was neither ecumenical nor universally accepted. Not even in the west.

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3. In order to understand how the ancient Church thought of the Roman Pontiff, one cannot merely look at what Fathers said (as important as this is)- we have to look at how the Church actually functioned.
I totally agree, which is why I find your position a bit odd. I don't see the Church of Rome has holding this universally appellate, of divine origin, in the first millenium of the Church.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2018, 11:52:34 AM »
Further the popes who succeeded Honorius said he was guilt of letting heresy spread, not of teaching it.
They were not there to make his case.  Nor could they reopen the case which the Church had closed.

Pope St. Agatho did not make the case for his predecessor Pope Honorius before he fell asleep in the Lord.  Nor did he make the case for Pope St. Martin speaking ex cathedra and closing the case at the Lateran Council of 649.  Instead, he acknowledged the Church had the last word.

He did testify of the Emperor convening the Sixth Ecumenical Council, which issued the last word and closed the case:
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But we believe that Almighty God has reserved for the happy days of your gentleness the amending of these things, that filling on earth the place and zeal of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who has vouchsafed to crown your rule, ye may judge just judgment for his Evangelical and Apostolical truth:  for although he be the Redeemer and Saviour of the human race yet he suffered injury, and bore it even until now, and inspired the empire of your fortitude, so that you should be worthy to follow the cause of his faith (as equity demanded, and as the determination of the Holy Fathers and of the Five General Synods decreed), and that you should avenge, through his guardianship, on the spurners of his faith, the injury done your Redeemer and Colleague in reigning, thus fulfilling magnanimously with imperial clemency that prophetic utterance with which David the King and Prophet, spake to God, saying, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”  Wherefore having been extolled for so God-pleasing a zeal, he was deemed fit to hear that blessed word spoken by the Creator of all men, “I have found David, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.”  And to him also it was promised in the Psalms, “I have found David, my servant, with my holy oil have I anointed him:  My hand shall aid him and my arm shall comfort him,” so that the most pious majesty of your Christian clemency may work to further the cause of Christ with burning zeal for the sake of remuneration, and may he make all the acts of your most powerful empire both happy and prosperous, who hath stored up his promise in the Holy Gospels, saying, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”  For all, to whom has come the knowledge of the sacred heads [i.e. Imperial Edicts], have been offering innumerable thanksgivings and unceasing praises to the defender of your most powerful dominion, being filled with admiration for the greatness of your clemency, in that you have so benignly set forth the kind intention of your august magnanimity; for in truth, as most pious and most just princes, you have deigned to treat divine things with the fear of God, having promised every immunity to those persons sent to you from our littleness.
And we are confident that what your pious clemency has promised, you are powerful to carry out, in order that what has been vowed and promised to God by the religious philanthropy beyond your Christian power, may nevertheless be fulfilled by the aid of His omnipotency.
Wherefore let praise by all Christian nations, and eternal memory, and frequent prayer be poured forth before the Lord Christ, whose is the cause, for your safety, and your triumphs, and your complete victory, that the nations of the Gentiles, being impressed by the terror of the supernal majesty, may lay down most humbly their necks beneath the sceptre of your most powerful rule, that the power of your most pious kingdom may continue until the ceaseless joy of the eternal kingdom succeeds to this temporal reign.  Nor could anything be found more likely to commend the clemency of your unconquerable fortitude to the divine majesty, than that those who err from the rule of truth should be repelled and the integrity of our Evangelical and Apostolic faith should be everywhere set forth and preached...And may your most august serenity, for the affection and reverence which you bear to the Catholic and Apostolic right faith, receive the perfect reward of your pious labours from our Lord Jesus Christ himself, the ruler with you of your Christian empire, whose true confession you desire to preserve undefiled, because nothing in any respect has been neglected or omitted by your God-crowned clemency, which could minister to the peace of the churches, provided always that the integrity of the true faith was maintained:  since God, the Judge of all, who disposes the ending of all matters as he deems most expedient, seeks out the intent of the heart, and will accept a zeal for piety.  Therefore I exhort you, O most pious and clement Emperor, and together with my littleness every Christian man exhorts you on bended knee with all humility, that to all the God-pleasing goodnesses and admirable imperial benefits which the heavenly condescension has vouchsafed to grant to the human race through your God-accepted care, this also you would order, for the redintegration of perfect piety, to offer an acceptable sacrifice to Christ the Lord your fellow-ruler, granting entire impunity, and free faculty of speech to each one wishing to speak, and to urge a word in defence of the faith which he believes and holds, so that it may most manifestly be recognized by all that by no terror, by no force, by no threat or aversion any one wishing to speak for the truth of the Catholic and Apostolic faith, has been prohibited or repulsed, and that all unanimously may glorify your imperial (divinam) majesty, throughout the whole space of their lives for so great and so inestimable a good, and may pour forth unceasing prayers to Christ the Lord that your most strong empire may be preserved untouched and exalted.  The Subscription.  May the grace from above keep your empire, most pious lords, and place beneath its feet the neck of all the nations.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xiii.v.html#fna_xiii.v-p27.1
The delegates from Old Rome still signed as delegates of Pope St. Agatho, although he had fallen asleep.

btw, the delegate of the Pope of Alexandria signed "Peter a presbyter and holding the place of the Apostolic See of the great city Alexandria."
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Offline theistgal

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Re: Letter of Pope Agatho?
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2018, 01:35:15 PM »
Pope St. Gregory the Great even said that the See of Peter was the “See of One in three places” and that in it, “Three bishops now preside.” That’s pretty remarkable- and not widely known.

Just wanted to say that's really fascinating, and not something I'd read before. I just looked it up and indeed, found it in one of Gregory's letters online. Thank you for pointing it out! :)
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