23 September 2017

Pope Honorius I

Surprising, isn't it, how many people seem to be interested in the case of our late beloved Holy Father Pope Honorius I, just now ...

But I would like to be frank about something I don't understand.

Here it is: the claim of the subsequent Magisterium to have expelled Honorius I from the Church. I do not see how it is possible to do this to someone who is dead. Ecclesiastical authorities, as far as I am aware, only claim and have jurisdiction over or within the Church Militant (indulgences, for example, can only be applied to the Departed per modum suffragii). Or does the phrase mean something like deleting his name from the diptychs of the Dead ... a sort of ecclesiastical version of the secular damnatio memoriae? Can any Conciliar or Patristics expert explain?

I feel much happier with the way our Holy Father Pope Leo II wrote to the Spanish Bishops: " ... Honorio, qui flammam haeretici dogmatis non, ut decuit apostolicam dignitatem, incipientem extinxit, sed negligendo confovit".

I like two things in particular about this:
(1) it exemplifies Newman's highly important point that the job of the Roman Church is to be a remora, a barrier against innovation ... the duty of its bishop, because of his apostolic, Petrine, dignity, is to 'extinguish the fire of heretical doctrine as soon as it first begins'; and
(2) it makes clear that Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously.

Comments which try to get headway out of this distressing situation by advocating sedevacantist nonsense will, for reasons I have explained often enough in the past, not be enabled. Nor will mindless abuse of the current pope.


Unknown said...

Father, unluckily I cannot give exact answer to your question, but I will just say this:
We all, should be judged, and we should believe, very accurate by God, for all our neglecting. Neglecting of even some simple charitable deeds, let alone how accurate and righteously we will be judged by the Righteous Judge, our Lord for neglecting of deeds and words which are the necessity for the salvation of the souls of others.
Our Lord has warned his people many times about the necessity of doing things, which are of such importance so they should NEVER BE neglected. As in book of Deutronomy 8,11;- "Take heed, and beware lest at any time thou forget the Lord thy God, and neglect his commandments and judgments and ceremonies, which I command thee this day:.."
And just a few verses before God speaks clearly in verse 6 of the same chapter:"That thou shouldst keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and fear him."

Where more can we find word 'neglect' is in the book of Maccabees 4,14;- "Insomuch that the priests were not now occupied about the offices of the altar, but despising the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to be partakers of the games, and of the unlawful allowance thereof, and of the exercise of the discus."
Is it not terrifying to see how this reminds us of our time.

And remarkable, for a careful reader, are the words of st. Paul in the Acts 20.26-27;-"Wherefore I take you to witness this day, that I am clear from the blood of all men; For I have not spared to declare unto you all the counsel of God."
Which means: I did not neglect to do what I as an apostle am obliged to do before God and for the good of souls entrusted to me.


DeHereticoComburendo said...

Perhaps the retroactive abasement of Pope H is the spiritual equivalent of the exhumation/public hanging of the corpses of the Regicides – an essentially impotent gesture, but jolly good fun all the same. God forbid that when our Holy Father’s one remaining lung (a lung which, when all’s said and done, he’s made very good use of) shall give out, he might be subjected to such treatment!

Christopher Boegel said...

When I hear that the "current pontiff" has publicly corrected the errors and omissions of his "spokesman" the Rev. James Martin, and has publicly endorsed the members and leaders of COURAGE for their faithfulness to the truth, then I will have trust in the intentions of the "current pontiff."

Until then, I pray that the teaching of his predecessors, and those that live those teachings out, prevail in all things.

Nathaniel said...

It is easy for Pope Leo to minimize Honorius' actions when there was not active conflict raging in this territory. It is quite another when the monothelites are using Honorius against the current Church, including the current pope, in the East. Besides, Leo's explanation doesn't accurately summarize the council record itself, which makes it clear that they evaluated Honorius' writings and found them to contain false teaching.

That is, there is an interpretive mismatch between the council record, itself accepted by Rome, and the later letter of Leo II. Is the council normed by Leo or vice versa?

William Tighe said...

"That is, there is an interpretive mismatch between the council record, itself accepted by Rome, and the later letter of Leo II. Is the council normed by Leo or vice versa?"

Please explain "later." My understanding is, that when the proceedings of the council reached Rome, Pope Agatho had died and Leo II was already pope. Leo II ratified the council, including its anathematization of Pope Honorius, providing his own explanation of why he had done so, as regards the condemnation of Honorius. For Catholics, therefore, it seems necessarily to be the case that "the council is normed by Leo" (cf. Leo I and Canon 28 of Chalcedon, esp. the subsequent correspondence on that canon between Pope Leo, Patriarch Anatolius, and the Eastern Emperor Marcian).

Deacon Augustine said...

"This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I"

The beloved Honorius only had one reason to be termed an heretic by neglect. Surely Francis deserves to be loved many, many more times over?

Nathaniel said...

Dr Tighe, the problem in my mind is this:

In Leo's affirmation of the council, the East clearly saw the condemnation of Honorius for heresy. This is demonstrated in the later heresiological canons used in the East (of which I'm sure you are well aware). This is true even for the non-polemical (against Rome) canons.

The epistle, however, which interpreted Honorious as only neglectful, was only written to (if memory serves) modern day Spain. It did not, to my knowledge, serve as an official canonical act, but was merely explanitory.

It seems to me as if Leo communicated to the East that Honorius was condemned for heresy and to (at least part of) the West for negligence. This may have been intentional posteuring. But even if it was only accidental, it nonetheless serves as a crucial historical juncture for later eras.

We are left with an interpretive problem. I'm not arguing for one particular resolution to this problem. I am merely raising the problem as a question for theological method. Namely, if a pope affirms a council and then later writes a minor letter explaining the council and the two appear to conflict, what does the historian or canonist do? Is such a letter an offical, magisterial act? Or can a pope have latitude to give such an explanation, perhaps to avoid pastoral problems, while not officially binding the church to such an interpretation?

The practical matter is that due to this incident (which is perhaps simply a miscommunication issue), different local churches internalized this event as canonical precedent in markedly different ways. And the outcome of this is still an important issue today.

William Tighe said...

"The epistle, however, which interpreted Honorious as only neglectful, was only written to (if memory serves) modern day Spain. It did not, to my knowledge, serve as an official canonical act, but was merely explanitory."

There was also the letter which Leo II wrote to the Emperor Constantine IV, in which the Pope wrote of Honorius that (Honorius) profana proditione immaculam fidem subvertere conatus est as the reason for his assenting to the latter's condemnation (PL 96.408).

Nathaniel said...

For the non-Latin readers, and to confirm my own translation: "[Honorius] wickedly betrayed the pure faith by attempting to subvert it."

Dr Tighe, isn't that phrase precisely the ambiguity I'm pointing to? To Spain, only neglect is implied. But to Constantine, he gives a phrase that can reads as a declaration of heresy.

Perhaps there is something missing in my translation?

John R said...

My translation: "By unholy betrayal, he tried to subvert the pure faith." I'm trying to parse the difference in meaning. In either case, it is hard to distinguish the objective acts of Honorious from his subjective guilt in this condemnatory sentence by Leo II.

Nathaniel said...

Right. So the official council record examines his writings and declares them heretical. Leo, in his official acceptance of the council says that Honorius "tries to subvert the pure faith" - which is a traditional formula for declaring heresy. But then to Spain, Leo gives a reading which minimizes Honorius' involvement.

I suspect that the best way to read this discrepancy is that it highlights the different kind of relationship between Rome and Spain, on the one hand, and Rome and Constantinople/Council on the other. The former is a filial relationship where the later is a fraternal one. I do not mean this to imply a rejection of Rome's distinct place among the Patriarchates, ordained by God, for the strengthening of the Church. Nor do I intend to reduce this to a mere honorific. I only mean that we can infer that Leo thinks it inappropriate for Spain to be worried about the orthodoxy of Rome while he grants this reality to the Council and/or Constantinople.