The Byzantine Fathers Of the Sixth to Eighth Century icon

The Byzantine Fathers Of the Sixth to Eighth Century

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Negotiations Between Pope Hormisdas
and Emperor Anastasius.

Letters with Pope Hormisdas were actually exchanged. The date for the council was set for the first of July in 515. It did not take place. Emperor Anastasius met an inflexible negotiator in Pope Hormisdas. A papal delegation was sent to Constantinople — Ennodius of Pavia was one of the delegates — with precise instructions from Pope Hormisdas on how to deal with the emperor’s proposal for a council, so precisely that Pope Hormisdas wrote the entire script from which they were not to deviate. The previous experience of sending papal legates, as with the case of Misenus, was not to be repeated. Although the terms would be unacceptable to the emperor, the Acacian Schism would be resolved four years later precisely on the grounds laid down by Pope Hormisdas in 515. The council must recognize un­equivocally the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Pope Leo as the norm of orthodoxy; the emperor’s letter requesting the signatures of the bishops must state this condition without qualification; all bishops must make a formal profession of orthodoxy in their churches and must also condemn by name the leaders of Monophysitism; the bishops must, in the presence of witnesses, sign a formula containing a definition of faith drawn up by papal notaries; the cases of exiled bishops must be examined anew by the Roman see; and those bishops accused of persecuting the orthodox would be judged by the Pope.

Pope Hormisdas was ready to come to Constantinople if his presence was deemed necessary. But the emperor began to temporize and attempted to stir up the Roman senate against Pope Hormisdas. The legates returned with nothing accomplished. Pope Hormisdas put the matter on hold but, meanwhile, pro-Chalcedonians were contacting the Roman see — forty Illyrian bishops appealed to Rome for reconciliation. Two years later another resolution was attempted. This time Pope Hormisdas made his terms more difficult for Constantinople. In his Letter 11 Pope Hormisdas wrote that, in addition to the terms previously laid down, the new terms were that everything ever written by Pope Leo on the faith must be accepted as authoritative, that not only the name of Acacius but also the names of Euphemius, Macedonius, and “all those vho had died out of Catholic communion” must be anathematzed. Emperor Anastasius rejected the proposed solution. During ths time the Monophysite factions, still having the support of the enperor, were able to inflict some suffering on the pro-Chalcedonims, especially in the more eastern areas. At this point, however, Emperor Anastasius died. The next emperor was to be the orthodo: Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Justin I.


The Accession to the Throne of Justin I and Justinian I.

Emperor Anastasius died inearly July in 518 with no children. Justin, the Macedonian peasait who rose to his high military position, was chosen Emperor Justin I (518-527) and im­mediately brought his nephew, Justinian (518-565), into the imperial government — it was Justinian who was responsible for most of the policy even during he reign of his uncle exclusive of the military policy. An abrupt change in ecclesiastical policy was about to take place. Only a few weeks after the accession of Justin and Justinian a scene took place at Hagia Sophia, the details of which are related in Mansi 8, 1057 ff.


The Chalcedonian Reaction in Constantinople.

The church was packed for a Saturday evening service, packed with zealots from the Qalcedonian party, both monks and laity. The patriarch, John of Cappadocia, was met with shouts from the congregation. “Recogrize the four councils! Long live the Emperor! Expel Severus the Nanichee! Long live the Patriarch! Cast out the new Judas! St. Wary is Theotokos! He who denies this is a Manichee!” The patriach asked for silence so the service could be performed but the shoits continued. “You shall not leave until you have anathematized Severus and recognized the councils!” Patriarch John, who had signed the Henotikon, was finally forced to proclaim the four councils from the ambo. But this did not satisfy the congregition. “Anathematize Severus! You shall not come down until you have anathematized that heretic! Unless we have an answer, we will stay here all night!” The patriarch, in a state of panic ai the source relates, consulted with the other bishops who were present at the service. The patriarch finally proclaimed that “everyone knows that Severus has separated himself from the Church and, therefore, since he is condemned by the canons, of course he is anathema.”

Those orchestrating the demonstration were not content to let the matter rest here. The service was completed but the next day the liturgy was interrupted by similar shouts. “Bring back those exiled! Destroy the bones of Nestorius and Eutyches! Cast out the Manichees! Cast out both Stephens! Expel Severus, the Judas! St. Mary is Theotokos! Anathema to all who deny it!” Once again the patriarch proclaimed adherence to the Council of Chalcedon but the congregation would not permit the service to continue until the diptychs were altered, until the name of Severus was removed. The patriarch finally scratched out the name of Severus from the diptychs and announced this to the congregation. For more than an hour commotion continued in the church. Finally, during a pause from the congregation, ostensibly from exhaustion, one of the clerics began to sing the Trisagion and the choir joined in. The remainder of the service then continued in an orderly manner. The patriarch explained the event to the other patriarchs by writing that the action of the congregation was obviously “divinely inspired.” John of Jerusalem replied that he rejoiced in the anathema of Severus.


The Chalcedonian Reaction in Antioch.

The Chalcedonians in Antioch were also active. They wrote to the patriarch of Constantinople to petition the emperor to remove Severus. “He is a wolf, not a shepherd, a heretic and murderer, who turns Jews loose on the faithful and massacres them. Did we not see their bodies lying on the roads?” Some monks accused Severus of every imaginable crime and sin. Severus was aware of what was taking place. He was not overly surprised by the volte-face of John of Jerusalem, for whom he never had much respect. In one of his letters Severus writes that the only reason John was made patriarch of Jerusalem was because of his “unstable” character.


Justinian’s Negotiations with Pope Hormisdas.

The Chalcedonian zealots had to wait, for Justinian’s priority was to resolve the schism with Rome. Justinian had already exchanged letters with Pope Hormisdas, clearly indicating to the Pope what his intentions were. Pope Hormisdas replied (Letter 28) that Justinian knew what the terms were. “Reconciliation is desired, of course, but — on terms. What my terms are, you know, for they were written down a year ago and will not change.” In his letter Justinian, who also sought a reconciliation with the non-Chalcedonians, wrote: “We accept Chalcedon. We honor the memory of Leo. We read your name in the diptychs. Is that not enough?” Pope Hormisdas was inflexible. Either Acacius was to be condemned or there would be no reunion. Justinian was not in a position to negotiate because his goal was the reconquest of Italy, a goal that would be sorely difficult to realize without the support of the Bishop of Rome. Hormisdas, on the other hand, had nothing to lose because Theodoric’s rule was tolerant and his position was stable as pope. Moreover, there was always the possibility that a reunion with the emperor could bring at some future date more theological heresy into the Church, a fact of which Hormisdas was well aware. At this juncture the tolerant and stable rule under the Germanic Arians seemed preferable to union with the patriarchal sees under imperial rule precisely because of the theological turmoil in the East and because of the unpredictability of the orthodoxy of the emperors. A new emperor could mean a change in theological perspective.

Justinian wrote Hormisdas again, assuring him he would do everything in his power to meet the demands of the pope. He invited Hormisdas to Constantinople. Hormisdas declined but sent a delegation of five — the bishops Germanus and John; the priest Blandus; and two deacons, Felix and Dioscorus. The power of the delegation seems to have rested with the deacon Dioscorus, for it is he who corresponds with Hormisdas. The instructions given to these five state that they were not to negotiate. Rather, they were there to present the terms. Hormisdas was only willing to concede on one issue and that was not to condemn openly Macedonius and Euphemius if their names were removed from the diptychs. Pope Hormisdas’ letter to John, patriarch of Constantinople, was direct. “Do not attempt to defend condemned men like Acacius. Rather, remove yourself from all contact with heresy by anathematizing both him and his successors.”

The Roman delegation arrived in Constantinople in March of 519 to a bountiful reception. Justinian, his generals, and the senate met the delegates ten miles from the city and escorted them into the city. The patriarch John accepted the Roman demands but, only after some discussion, signed the Libellus Hormisdae in the presence of the emperor, the senate, and the papal legates. It should be mentioned that Patriarch John was the first bishop of Constantinople to use the title of “Ecumenical Patriarch,” a fact which Rome ignored at this time.

The ^ Libellus Hormisdae contained statements that no bishop of the East had ever previously signed.The words are the words of the Bishop of Rome but he requires that the bishops of the East sign them. The “formula,” as it was signed by Patriarch John, was as follows in its most significant sections.

“The first point of salvation is that we should keep the rule of right faith and in no way deviate from the tradition of the Fathers. For it is not possible to bypass the determination of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, ‘Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.’ These words are proven by their effects, for in the apostolic see the Catholic religion is always kept inviolable. Desiring, therefore, not to fall from this faith, and following in all things the ordinances of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies, but especially the heretic Nestorius … and, together with him, we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscorus … who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we venerate and follow and embrace ... we anathematize Timothy the parricide, surnamed the Cat, and likewise condemning his disciple and follower in all things, Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria, we likewise anathematize Acacius, formerly Bishop of Constantinople, who became their accomplice and follower, and those, moreover, who persevere in their communion and fellowship, for if any one embraces the communion of these persons, he falls under a similar judgment of condemnation with them. In like manner we also condemn and anathematize Peter of Antioch with his followers and with all those who have been mentioned above [this is the clause modified by the papal legates so John would not have to anathematize Euphemius and Macedonius]. Wherefore we approve and embrace all the epistles of blessed Leo, Pope of the city of Rome, which he wrote concerning the right faith. On which account, as we have said before, following in all things the apostolic see, we preach all things which have been declared by her deceased. And consequently I hope that I shall be in one communion with you, the communion which the apostolic see preaches, in which is the whole and perfect solidarity of the Christian religion, promising for the future that at the celebration of the holy mysteries there shall be no mention made of the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church; that is, of those who do not agree in all things with the apostolic see…”

Before signing this John insisted on prefacing it, after the usual exchange of brotherly greetings, with: “When I received your letter, I rejoiced at the spiritual love of your holiness because you are seeking to unite the most holy churches of God according to the ancient tradition of the Fathers, and in the spirit of Christ you are hastening to drive away those who have been tearing the rational flock. Know, then, most holy one, that... I also, loving peace, renounce all the heretics repudiated by you, for I hold the most holy churches of your elder and of our new Rome to be one Church, and I define that see of the Apostle Peter and this of the imperial city to be one see.” John then expresses his complete agreement to everything that was done at the Four Ecumenical Councils and denounces all those who have disturbed these councils. It is then that he adopts and makes his own the words of the papal formula. In this preface John managed to modify somewhat the claims of the Roman see, for by identifying the old and new Rome he in essence allowed the see of Constantinople to share in the privileges which in the Libellus Hormisdae were reserved for die see of Rome.

In the ^ Libellus Hormisdae there was a condemnation of Acacius and his successors and also of emperors Zeno and Anastasius. It was, however, difficult for John to persuade the Pontic and Asian themes to accept all the demands — they were especially sensitive about condemning those who had died, an issue which will be raised again at the Fifth Ecumenical Council concerning the posthumous condemnation of Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. Justinian explained this situation to Hormisdas in a letter. “A considerable part of the Eastern bishops could not be compelled, even by the use of fire and sword, to condemn the names of the bishops who died after Acacius.” Epiphanius had succeeded John as patriarch of Constantinople and he also wrote about the same situation. “Very many of the holy bishops of Pontus and Asia and, above all, those referred to as of the Orient, found it to be difficult and even impossible to expunge the names of their former bishops … they were prepared to brave any danger rather than commit such a deed.” The Emperor Justin also wrote on the same subject and mentions “the threats and persuasions” employed to induce the clergy and laity of these dioceses to agree to the removal of the names. But they, he writes, “esteem life harder than death, if they should condemn those, when dead, whose life, when they were alive, was the glory of their people.” Justin then urges the Pope to soften his demands “in order to unite everywhere the venerable churches, and especially the Church of Jerusalem, on which church all bestow their good will, as being the mother of the Christian name, so that no one dares to separate himself from that church.” In his response to the emperor the pope urges the emperor to use force to compel union and uniformity. The pope also wrote to Patriarch Epiphanius and empowered him to act on his behalf in the East — whoever was admitted to communion with the Church of Constantinople was to be considered in communion with the Church of Rome. The pope inserted a brief declaration of faith in which there is no mention of the prerogatives of the see of Rome. What in actuality transpired was that in the end the pope did not press the claims for his see which he had previously made and left the matter in the hands of Epiphanius.

The Roman see was, as it were, incapable of understanding a complexity of the theological controversy. There were many Chalcedonians in the East who also accepted the belief that “One of the Holy Trinity suffered in the flesh,” a belief that was in accordance with St. Cyril’s Twelfth Anathema that “God the Logos suffered in the flesh.” This theological position, known as the “Theopaschite Formula” was completely consistent with the essence of the definition of faith as given at the Council of Chalcedon. This formula did not contain the Monophysite “who was crucified for us.” This theological position revealed the incipient doctrine of ”enhypostasis” a theological perspective that seemed to baffle Rome. There was discussion about this in Constantinople even before the papal legates arrived, a fact we know from Dioscorus’ correspondence with Pope Hormisdas. The monks took an active role in this theological position, especially the Scythian monks. The acceptance of the Theopaschite Formula included a full acceptance of the humanity, of the human nature, of Christ, without in any way implying that the human nature had its own hypostasis, its own person. One person, the Divine Logos, who was the possessor of two natures — of the Divine nature from eternity; of the human nature from conception. This one Divine Person, the center of union and unity in Jesus Christ, experienced the life of Divine nature and the life of the human nature. The Eternal Divine Person who became man experienced man’s suffering. From June of 519 on Pope Hormisdas had been hearing troublesome things about the Scythian monks who held this view. In his correspondence with Pope Hormisdas Dioscorus referred to them as being “enflamed by the devil,” as opponents of the “prayers of all Christians,” and as being led by a “false abbot,” Maxentius. Dioscorus also related that they were anti-Roman, which seems to be accurate. Several discussions took place between these monks and the papal legates, discussions ordered to take place by Justinian. Nothing was resolved at these discussions. Finally Maxentius left with a group of his monks for Rome in the summer of 519, taking with them a letter that outlined the contemporary theological thought in Constantinople. In July of 519 Justinian warned Pope Hormisdas in a letter that union and peace would not occur without a quick and favorable response to the monks. It is significant that Pope Hormisdas at first received Maxentius’ Libellus and approved of it “before the witness of the bishops, laity, and senate of Rome.” He then had second thoughts and finally rejected it and the Theopaschite Formula — it seems not so much for theological reasons as for the simple reason that it seemed “new.” In Constantinople the papal legates were revealing their lack of familiarity with theological doctrine. They were also tactless and became quite unpopular. Moreover, and most importantly, they were perceived as representatives of a “foreign theology.” Here again one senses the influence of Pope Leo’s Tome and his inability to set forth a notion and definition of person. Here the tragedy of Chalcedon and its incompleteness is laid bare.

Pope Hormisdas received the letter of John and one from Justinian relatively late. By the time Hormisdas responded in July of 519 he wrote of an “abominable sedition” inspired by the bishop of Thessaloniki, Dorotheus It was clear to Hormisdas that even Constantinople’s acceptance of his terms did not mean that other cities within the empire would follow. He was primarily concerned about Alexandria and Antioch. Justin suggested that Antioch be handled first and urged the position of patriarch of Antioch on Dioscorus, the Roman deacon. Hormisdas was opposed to the idea because he had Dioscorus in mind for the see of Alexandria. “Antioch,” Hormisdas wrote, “would be a completely new area for you, but Alexandria you know from the past and you would be exactly the person to bring those people to order.” Nothing came of this situation with Alexandria, for Justin was not willing to risk an Egyptian rebellion. Antioch presented a different situation.

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