14 October 2017

Pope S Agatho the Good ... and heretical popes

S Agatho's Synod was, when you think about it, quite a big one: 125 bishops. Larger, I think, than some 'Ecumenical Councils'. He was summoning it (Bede H.E. V 19) adversus eos qui ... dogmatizabant. This Synod was held against a doctrinal error that had just arisen: against those who dogmatized that there was but one Will and Working in the Lord our Saviour (i.e. Monothelites). But the Holy Father did not call his Council to find out what those 125 bishops thought, nor to discover whether they had some splendid new ideas.

Inevitably, there was an Englishman in Rome and inevitably that Englishman was S Wilfrid. This indefatigable missionary tended to find himself embroiled in rows, and his instinct on such occasions was invariably the same: go to Rome. (After all, if one got there fast enough, the Holy See only heard one side of the story!)

So S Agatho invited Wilfrid to join in his synod so as to benefit from his thinking and his erudition ... NO: not a bit of it; Wilfrid was invited to speak his Faith, in other words, to make formal confession of his orthodoxy; but not of his own merely personal Faith: that of the Province or Island from which he came. His adherence to Catholic orthodoxy was incorporated into the Acta Synodi: "Wilfrid, the God-beloved Bishop of the City of York ... was set in the seat of judgement in Synod with his 125 coepiscopi; and, in the name of (pro) the whole Northern part of Britain and Ireland, and the islands which are inhabited by the nations of the Angles and Britons, and also the Scots and the Picts, he confessed the true and Catholic Faith, et cum subscriptione sua corroboravit."

The confidence with which S Wilfrid spoke for so much of (what in Irish scholarship is now neatly called) the Atlantic Archipelago, and for the orthodoxy of thousands of Scottic monks who had never met him and, had they done so, might have had strong things to say about his Paschal Mathematics, may well take our breath away. But I want to point out what this Synod was for.

A heresy had arisen, and a previous pope (Honorius I) half a century before had actually promoted the error. Heresy is a very grave matter; but a Pope is there to condemn it. Just think of what a massive ecclesial disorder is involved if the pope himself actually favours the heresy and uses his office to spread it. 

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

That is why, on this blog, he is known as S Agatho the Good.

The next pope, S Leo II, confirmed the Conciliar condemnations.

When will there be a Pope Agatho II? Domine, exaudi et miserere!

10 comments:

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Fr. Kudos brave and admirable Priest.

One prays you are an example to all other priests.

Christopher Boegel said...

Amen.

John Hayes said...

The sad truth is that Papa Bergoglio has abdicated (or does not seem interested in) his primary function - to confirm his brethren in the faith - and is now seen by many Catholics (excepting Tablet readers and Papalatrists) as a complete irrelevance. We sigh, "How long, O Lord?" and look for leadership to Cardinals Burke and Sarah, and indeed to bloggers such as the good Father Hunwicke.

The Hapsburg Restorationist said...

Neither Pope ratified the anathematization of Pope Honorius, St. Agatho was dead at the time and Pope Leo II took pains to make it clear that it was Honorius' inaction that he was condemning and not Honors himself. Honorius' words in the allegedly heretical letter were ambiguous, but by no means heretical, as he merely said that Christ does not have "two wills in contradiction to each other." This is an important phrase because it may be taken as supporting Monothelitism,but the words are perfectly Orthodox in themselves. St. Robert Bellarmine in his defense of Pope Honorius even quotes St. Agatho's words to the council, "the Lord and Saviour of all, the very essence of our faith, has promised that Peter's orthodoxy could not fail and has commanded him to confirm the faith of his brothers; which every one of the Pontiffs that have preceded me, the minim among them, has always done carefully, as has been universally acknowledged.” So it is clear that he did not consider Honorius a heretic and would not have approved any condemnation of him as one.

Simon Reilly said...

Was Honorius a heresiarch? According to the Catholic historian Philip Hughes he simply didn't understand the question at hand, and this was apparent in his letter to Sophronius (I'm quoting Hughes): "That Honorius held and taught the faith of Chalcedon is clear enough, despite the muddle. it is equally clear that he failed to grasp that a new question had been raised and was under discussion; clear, also, that he assisted the innovators by thus imposing silence alike on them and on their orthodox critics; and clear, finally, that he definitely said, in so many words, that there is but one will in Christ. It was a patronage of heresy no less effective because it was unconscious." [A History of the Church; Ch. 10, part 3].

Tom A. said...

Another attempt to diminish the Papacy in order to justify the clear errors and heresy of Bergolio.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

So our Holy Father Pope Agatho held a synod; and his brother bishops were there to strengthen his hand by bearing (written, formal) witness to the orthodoxy which they had, each of them, received and to which their Particular Churches bore witness. Subsequently, he called an Ecumenical Council, at which Pope Honorius, together with his fellow heresiarchs, was condemned and anathematized in the strongest possible language.

It is funny, in a sad sort of way, how many men strive to deny the obvious. A Pope and an Ecumenical Council may have declared him anathema, but the private opinion of so and so says otherwise and, presto change, the decision is, in the minds of many, simply vacated.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-heretic-pope.html

John Andrews said...
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John Andrews said...
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