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Proof of the Papacy: Rome During the Years of the Rising East (A.D. 501-700)

A helpful tool for diving into this project:

Part 1: in the Ante-Nicene Church (A.D. 00-300)

Part 2: from Nicaea to Constantinople I (A.D. 300-400)

Part 3: from St. Augustine to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 400-420)

Part 4: from Ephesus to Chalcedon (A.D. 420-500)

Part 5: Rome During the Years of the Rising East (A.D. 501-700)

Part 6: The Schism of the Universal Church (A.D. 700-1053)


The Roman Synod of 499

“the person [St. Pope Symmachus] who was attacked ought himself to have called the Council, knowing that to his See in the first place the rank or chiefship of the Apostle Peter, and then the authority of venerable councils following out the Lord’s command, had committed a power without its like in the churches; nor would a precedent be easily found to show, that in a similar matter the prelate of the aforementioned See had been subject to the judgment of his inferiors.” (Letter from the Synod [which was called by the King of the Ostrogoths on March 1, 499 during an antipope crisis] to King Theodoric the Great. Mansi, viii, 248).

St. Ennodius

“God perchance has willed to terminate the causes of other men by means of men; but the prelate of that [Roman] See He has reserved, without question, to His own judgment. It is His will that the successors of the blessed Apostle Peter should owe their innocence to Heaven alone, and should manifest a pure conscience to the inquisition of the most severe Judge [God]. Do you answer; such will be the condition of all souls in that scrutiny? I retort, that to one was said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church’, and again, that by the voice of holy pontiffs, the dignity of his See has been made venerable in the whole world, since all the faithful everywhere are submitted to it, and it is marked out as the head of the whole body” (St. Ennodius, Bishop of Pavia (c. A.D. 473-521). Mansi, viii. 284, taken from Eric Ybarra’s article, “The First See is Judged by No One: Historical & Critical Review of Bishop +Athanasius Schneider’s Op-Ed for Rorate Caeli”).

St. Avitus of Vienne

“We were in a state of anxiety and alarm about the cause of the Roman church, inasmuch as we felt that our order [the episcopate of Gaul] was endangered by an attack upon its head…What license for accusation against the headship of the universal church ought to be allowed?…As a Roman senator and a Christian bishop, I conjure you that the state of the Church be not less precious to you than that of the commonwealth. If you judge the matter with your profound consideration, not merely is that cause which was examined at Rome to be contemplated, but as, if in the case of other Bishops any danger be incurred, it can be repaired, so if the Pope of the city be put into question, not a single bishop, but the episcopate itself, will appear to be in danger. He who rules the Lord’s fold will render an account how he administers the care of the lambs he entrusted to him; but it belongs not to the flock to alarm its own shepherd , but to the judge [God]. Wherefore restore to us, if it be not yet restored, concord in our chief.” (St. Avitus, Bishop of Vienne in Gaul. Mansi, viii. 293. Ibid.).

Greek Bishops

“…but for the precious salvation not only of the East, but of three parts almost of the inhabited world, redeemed, not with corruptible gold or silver, but with the precious blood of the Lamb of God, according to the doctrine of the blessed prince of the glorious Apostles, whose See Christ, the Good Shepherd, has entrusted to your blessedness….You have not only received the power of binding, but also that of loosing, in accordance with the example of the Master, those who long have been in bonds, nor only the power of uprooting and of destroying, but also that of planting and rebuilding, as Jeremias, or rather, as Jesus Christ, of whom Jeremias was the type….You are not ignorant of this malice, you whom Peter, your blessed Doctor, teaches always to shepherd, not by violence but by an authority fully accepted, the sheep of Christ which are entrusted to you in all the habitable world.” (During the Monophysite crisis, Eastern Bishops wrote this letter of appeal to Rome, hoping to remain in communion. The Pope at the time was St. Symmachus. Mansi viii. 221).

St. Pope Symmachus

“For those who believed they could disregard the admonition of the Apostolic See have deservedly suffered what is bound to befall those who forsake their duty [to be in communion with the Apostolic See].” (Letter written to the Illyricum episcopate concerning the Eastern churches in the Acacian schism [c. A.D. 511-515]).

Monks of Syria Secunda

“To Hormisdas, the most holy and blessed patriarch of the whole world, the holder of the See of Peter, the leader of the apostles, the earnest petition and humble prayer of the least (important) archimandrites and of other monks of your province Syria Secunda:

“The grace of Christ, the Redeemer of us all, has instigated us to take refuge to your blessedness as if from the winter storm to the stillness of an harbor and we are admonished to and indeed believe that even though disasters encompass us on all sides we are in no way caught in. For even if we suffer, we endure it with rejoicing, knowing that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy of the future glory, which will be revealed in us [Rom 8:18]. Since, however, Christ, our God, has appointed a leading shepherd, teacher, and physician of souls, it is right that we should lay open to your holy angel the sufferings which affect us, and make known the merciless wolves, which scatter the flock of Christ, so that through the scepter of his authority he may drive them out from the midst of the sheep, and through the word of his teaching he may heal the soul and appease it through the relief of his speech. But who those are and who he is who has armed them against us, you, most blessed one, you have certainly heard: That Severus and Peter, who have never been counted among the number of Christians, who on each single day have attacked and publicly anathematized the holy synod at Chalcedon and our most holy and blessed father Leo, who think nothing of God's judgment and trample under foot the venerable canons of the holy Fathers, bringing it about that bishops, indeed, are shown as holding the prime authority and forcing us to ridicule the aforementioned holy synod and humiliating us by worthless public prayers.

“Therefore also certain ones of those, who in no way endure the blows brought upon them have gone over because of this and our not so small number of people has in fact almost completely vanished. For when we were going to the pen of the Lord Simeon for the cause of the Church, they were lying in wait for us on the way as it had been announced, defiling us, and when they came upon us by surprise, they killed three hundred and fifty men from among us, certain ones they wounded; but others, who could take refuge to the venerable altars, they slayed there and set the monasteries on fire, inciting throughout the night a multitude of unsettled people and contractors and they were wasting all the poverty of the Church through destructive trouble makers of this kind. About the details, however, the writings may instruct your blessedness, which were brought over by the venerable brothers, John and Sergius, whom we had sent to Constantinople, because we believed that revenge might take place for those things which had been committed. Yet he did not think them worth a word, but rather he expelled them with great mistreatment and he violently threatened those, who would present these (things). Therefore it is from here that we, perhaps (too) late, know that all the depravity and recklessness of such evil people, which is committed against the churches, is arranged through his incitation.

“We pray, therefore, most blessed one, we go on our knees and ask, that you stand up with fervor and zeal and rightly have pity for the body that is torn to pieces (for you are the head of all) and that you avenge the faith that has been despised, the canons that have been trodden under foot, the fathers who have been blasphemed and such a great synod that has been attacked with anathema.

“To you God has given the power and authority to bind and to loosen [Matt 16:19]. Not the healthy ones have need of the physician but the sick [Matt 9:12]. Arise, holy Fathers, come to save us! Be imitators of the Lord Christ, who has come down from the heavens onto the earth to seek the sheep that is going astray, Peter, that leader of the apostles, whose seat you adorn, and Paul, who is the vessel of election, the ones who are going around and have illuminated the world. Great wounds, namely, are in need of greater remedies. For the hired shepherds, when they see the wolves come against the sheep, abandon them so that they are scattered by them [cf. John 10:12], but to you, the true shepherds and teachers, to whom the care for the well-being of the sheep has been committed, the flock come who know their shepherd when they have been freed from the pitiless wild animals and they are following the voice of the shepherd, as the Lord says: "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me." [John 10:3] Therefore, do not despise us, most holy one, since daily we are being wounded by wild beasts.

“But so that your holy angel may have complete knowledge, we courageously anathematize with our very petition both all the ones who have been put forth in the libellus and the ones who have been excommunicated by your Apostolic See: We speak, however, of Nestorius, who was bishop of Constantinople, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and Peter of Alexandria, who also has the name Balbus, and Peter, who was named "the Fuller," of Antioch, and last not least Acacius, who was bishop of Constantinople, the one in communion with them and all, who defend any one of those heretics.” (The Correspondence Between the Monks of Syria Secunda and Pope Hormisdas [A.D. 517/518]).

St. Pope Hormisdas

“The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.

“For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” [Matthew 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.

“From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus [“the Cat”] and also Peter [Mongos] of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter [“the Fuller”] of Antioch with all his followers together together with the followers of all those mentioned above.

“Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.”

(The Formula Hormisdae [Formula of Hormisas] which settled the first schism [the Acacian schism] between East and West, signed by over 2500, including around 1000 Eastern bishops, and ratified by the Church of Constantinople in A.D. 519. Pope St Hormisdas [A.D. 514–523]).

The Emperor Justinian

“Yielding honor to the Apostolic See and to Your Holiness, and honoring your Holiness, as one ought to honor a father, we have hastened to subject all the priests of the whole Eastern district, and to unite them to the See of your Holiness, for we do not allow of any point, however manifest and indisputable it be, which relates to the state of the Churches, not being brought to the cognizance of your Holiness, since you are the Head of all the holy Churches.” (Written to Pope Hormisdas, Justinian Epist. ad. Pap. Joan. ii. Cod. Justin. lib. I. tit. 1 [c. A.D. 520–533]).

A different translation of the above quote with expanded context:

“With honor to the Apostolic See, and to your Holiness, which is, and always has been remembered in Our prayers, both now and formerly, and honoring your happiness, as is proper in the case of one who is considered as a father, We hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness everything relating to the condition of the Church, as We have always had the greatest desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic See, and the condition of the Holy Churches of God, as they exist at the present time, that they may remain without disturbance or opposition. Therefore, We have exerted Ourselves to unite all the priests of the East and subject them to the See of Your Holiness, and hence the questions which have at present arisen, although they are manifest and free from doubt, and according to the doctrines of your Apostolic See, are constantly firmly observed and preached by all priests, We have still considered it necessary that they should be brought to the attention of Your Holiness. For we do not suffer anything which has reference to the state of the Church, even though what causes difficulty may be clear and free from doubt, to be discussed without being brought to the notice of Your Holiness, because you are the head of all the Holy Churches, for We shall exert Ourselves in every way (as has already been stated), to increase the honor and authority of your See.” (Written to Pope Hormisdas, Justinian Epist. ad. Pap. Joan. ii. Cod. Justin. lib. I. tit. 1 [c. A.D. 520–533])

“Let your Apostleship show that you have worthily succeeded to the Apostle Peter, since the Lord will work through you, as Surpreme Pastor, the salvation of all.” (Coll. Avell. Ep. 196, July 9th, 520, Justinian to Pope Hormisdas).“Now do we allow that any of these things, concerning ecclesiastical institution, should fail to be brought before his Holiness, as being the head of all the holy Priests of God, and because as often as heretics have arisen in these parts, Justinian have been repressed by the sentence and judgment of that holy See.” ( Justinian, Epistles, Ad Epiphan. Cod. Justinian, lin. I. ton. I. n. 7).

“[Rome is] the source of the priesthood…the venerable See of the most high Apostolic Peter.” (Epistle to Pope Agapetus).

“The ancient city of Rome has the honor of being the mother of our laws, and no one can doubt that in it the summit of the supreme pontificate lies. This is why we have also found it necessary to honor this cradle of the law, this source of the priesthood, by a special decree of our sacred will.” (Justinian Code, Novel 9 [c. A.D. 535]).

Bishop of Patara

“Reminding Justinian of God’s judgement for the exile of Pope Silverius, ‘in this world there are many kings, not one, like that Pope who is over the church of the whole world.” (Letter to Justinian, Brevarium C. 22).

St. Pope John I

“Among the conspicuous reasons for praising your wisdom and gentleness, Most Christian of Emperors, and one which radiates light as a star, is the fact that through love of the Faith, and actuated by zeal for charity, you, learned in ecclesiastical discipline, have preserved reverence for the See of Rome, and have subjected all things to its authority, and have given it unity. The following precept was communicated to its founder, that is to say, the first of the Apostles, by the mouth of the Lord, namely: "Feed my lambs." [John 21:15] This See is indeed the Head of all the churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of the Emperors assert.”

“This See is indeed the head of all churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of the Emperors assert, and the words of your most reverend piety testify. It is therefore claimed that what the Scriptures state, namely, "By Me Kings reign, and the Powers dispense justice;" will be accomplished in you. For there is nothing which shines with a more brilliant lustre than genuine faith when displayed by a prince, since there is nothing which prevents destruction as true religion does, for as both of them have reference to the Author of Life and Light, they disperse darkness and prevent apostasy. Wherefore, Most Glorious of Princes, the Divine Power is implored by the prayers of all to preserve your piety in this ardor for the Faith, in this devotion of your mind, and in this zeal for true religion, without failure, during your entire existence.” (St. Pope John I to Emperor Justinian before the Council of Constantinople II, notably included in Justinian’s Law Code, which shows that he approved of the claims made here to some extent.)

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe

“That which the Roman Church—which is the summit of the world enlightened with resplendent rays by the words of he great luminaries, namely Peter and Paul, and decorated with their bodies—holds and teaches, the entire Christian world unhesitatingly believes and professes with her, unto righteousness and salvation.” (Epistle 18 [A.D. 523]).

Council of Jerusalem, 536

“Anthimus has made himself guilty of many transgressions: In uncanonical manner he seized the patriarchal see of Constantinople and endeavoured to secure the agreement of the clergy and people. Secretly, however, he subscribed to the teaching of Eutyches, although he still made a profession of the four synods and also pretended to accept Leo's Tome. This was, however, to deceive the Emperor, the apostolic see of Rome and the patriarchs. But Pope Agapetus I discovered that he denied ecclesial dogmas, in particular the teaching of the two natures which the Synod of Chalcedon defined against Eutyches.Thus he is a supporter of Dioscorus and Eutyches. Because he has evaded the canonical process and has missed the acceptable moment for repentance, he must now be separated, as an unsuitable member, from the body of the holy Churches, deposed as bishop of Trebizond and, according to the judgement of the holy Pope [Agapetus], be declared to have forfeited every holy office and authority” (From the Council).

The Second Council of Constantinople (The Fifth Ecumenical Council)

“We venerate and receive as orthodox whatever was said there by common consent with the legates and vicars of the orthodox Apostolic See. Whatever they anathematized or condemned we also anathematize and condemn; and whatever things are read to have been judged, or defined, or constituted or disposed, we preserve irreversibly and unchangeably as they were [so done] by the same synods by common consent with the vicars of the Apostolic See…” (Letter from the bishops to the Pope [A.D. 553]).

Though Pope Vigilius was excommunicated by this Council, reverence is still paid to the Apostolic See:

“as for unity with the Apostolic See, we both keep it and it is certain that you shall keep it… Let us therefore keep unity with the apostolic see of Old Rome, carrying out everything according to the content of the letters read…” (Sessions of the Council).

John, Patriarch of Jerusalem

“As for us, that is to say, the Holy Church, we have the word of the Lord, who said to Peter, chief of the Apostles, when giving him the primacy of the faith for the strengthening of the churches, “You are Peter, etc….”. To this same Peter he has given the keys of heaven and earth; it is in following his faith that to this day his disciples and the doctors of the Catholic Church bind and loose; they bind the wicked and loose from their chaints those who do penance. Such is, above all, the privilege of those who, on the first most holy and venerable see, are the successors of Peter, sound in the faith, and according to the word of the Lord, infallible’ (Letter from John, Patriarch of Jerusalem (A.D.575-593) to the Catholicos of the Gregorian monks) (“The Eastern Churches and the Papacy", S. Herbert Scott, London: Sheed & Ward, 1928. Pg. 359).

St. Eulogius of Alexandria

“Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, ‘I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ but only to Peter. (Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, Lib. ii. Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280 [A.D. 581 A.D]).

St. Pope Pelagius II

“For you know how the Lord in the Gospel declares: ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired you that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed to the Father for thee, that thy faith fail not, and thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren.’ See, beloved, the truth cannot be falsified, nor can the faith of Peter ever be shaken or changed.”

“For although the devil desired to sift all the disciples, the Lord testifies that He Himself asked for PEter alone and wished the others to be confirmed by him; and to him also, in consideration of a greater love which he showed the Lord before the rest, was committed the care of feeding the sheep [cf. John 21:15 ff.]; and to him also He handed over the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and upon him He promised to build his Church, and He testified that the gates of hell would not prevail against it [cf. Matt. 16:16 ff.]. But, because the enemy of the human race even until the end of the world does not abstain from sowing cockle [Matt. 13:25] over the good seed in the Church of the Lord, and therefore, lest perchance anyone with malignant zeal should by the instigation of the devil presume to make some alterations in and to draw conclusions regarding the integrity of the faith; and (lest) by reason of this your minds perhaps may seem to be disturbed, we have judged it necessary through our present epistle to exhort with tears that you should return to the heart of your mother the Church, and to send you satisfaction with regard to the integrity of faith.…” (Pope Pelagius II, Epistle 1, Quod ad dilectionem, writing to the Bishops of Istria, quoted in: Cardinal Manning, The Vatican Council and Its Definitions; p. 88 [A.D. 590])

St. Pope Gregory the Great

“If, however it is stated in opposition to this, that he has neither metropolitan nor patriarch, it must also be said that the case must then be heard and settled by the Apostolic See, which is the head of all the churches.” (Book 13, Epistle 50 [A.D. 590–604]).

“[Speaking of a Byzacene primate] as to his saying that he is subject to the Apostolic See, if any fault is found in bishops, I know not what bishop is not subject to it.” (Book 9, Letter 59, to John of Syracuse,).

“For as to what they say about the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See, as both the most pious lord the emperor and our brother the bishop of that city continually acknowledge?” (Epistle 12).

“Hence Peter, when he saw some affrighted by consideration of their evil deeds, admonished them, saying, Repent, and be baptized every one of you (Acts ii. 38). For, being about to speak of baptism, he spoke first of the lamentations of penitence; that they should first bathe themselves in the water of their own affliction, and afterwards wash themselves in the sacrament of baptism. With what conscience, then, can those who neglect to weep for their past misdeeds live secure of pardon, when the chief pastor of the Church himself believed that penitence must be added even to this Sacrament which chiefly extinguishes sins?” (Pope Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, Book 3, ch 50).

“Hence the first Pastor of the Church well admonishes all other pastors saying, Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you (1 Pet. iii. 15):” (Pope Gregory the Great, Pastoral Care, Book 2, ch 7).

“But, if they say that a short season of penitence may suffice against sin, so that one may be allowed to return again to sin, rightly does the sentence of the first pastor hit them, when he says, It is happended unto them according to the true proverb; The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the saw that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. ii. 22).” (Pope Gregory the Great, Letters, Book 11, ch 45).

“Certainly Peter, the first of the apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John,-what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head.” (Pope Gregory the Great, Letters, Book 5, ch 18).

“For to all who know the Gospel it is apparent that by the Lord’s voice the care of the whole Church was committed to the holy Apostle and Prince of all the Apostles, Peter. For to him it is said, Peter, lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep (John xxi. 17). To him it is said, Behold Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat; and I have prayed for thee, Peter, that they faith fail not. And thou, when thou art converted,strengthen thy brethren (Luke xxii. 31). To him it is said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I willgive unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind an earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven (Matth. xvi. 18).” (Pope Gregory the Great, Letters, Book 5, ch 20).

“Moreover you tell us that you wish to keep the anniversary of Peter, Prince of the apostles, in the city of Rome. And we pray Almighty God to protect you with His mercy, and grant you a fulfilment of your desires.” (Pope Gregory the Great, Letters, Book 9, ch 9).

“Who does not know that the whole Church was strengthened in the firmness of the Prince of the Apostles, to whom it was said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church … and thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren?’ [Mt 16:18; Lk 22:32]”

“Furthermore, it has come to our knowledge that your Fraternity has been convened to Constantinople. And although our most pious Emperor allows nothing unlawful to be done there, yet, lest perverse men, taking occasion of your assembly, should seek opportunity of cajoling you in favouring this name of superstition, or should think of holding a synod about some other matter, with the view of introducing it therein by cunning contrivances — though without the authority and consent of the Apostolic See nothing that might be passed would have any force.” (Registrum Epistolarum, Book IX, Letter 68).

“Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to principality itself, the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority.”

“To all who know the Gospel [presumably, the account of Sts. John & Matthew] it is obvious that by the voice of the Lord [divine institution] the care of the universal church was committed to the holy apostle and prince of all the apostles, Peter…Behold, he received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power to bind and loose was given to him, and the care and principality of the entire Church was committed to him, and yet he is never called the Universal Apostle. But that most holy man, my fellow-bishop John, wishes to be called the Universal Bishop. I am compelled to exclaim, O tempora! O mores!“” (Book 5, Epistle 37).

"Your most sweet Holiness has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, Prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors. And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy, not only in the dignity of such as preside, but even in the number of such as stand. But I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to me about Peter's chair who occupies Peter's chair.

“And, though special honour to myself in no wise delights me, yet I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me. For who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the Prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Petrus from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of the Truth, To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven Matthew 16:19. And again it is said to him, And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren (xxii. 32). And once more, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me? Feed my sheep.

“Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself.” (Epistle 40, Letter to Bishop Eulogius of Alexandria).

“To all who know the Gospel it is clear that by the words of our Lord the care of the whole Church was committed to Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles…. Behold, he received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power to bind and loose was given to him, and the care and principality of the entire church was committed to him…. Yet he was not the universal Apostle. But … John would be called universal Bishop…. [Popes had never assumed this ‘universal’ title, though it had been ascribed to them by other bishops], lest all the Bishops be deprived of their due meed of honor whilst some special honor be conceded to one.” (Epistle 5, to Emperor Maurice).

"Was it not the case, as your Fraternity knows, that the prelates of this Apostolic See, which by the providence of God I serve, had the honour offered them of being called Universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of pontificate, he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren." (Condemning Bishop John the Faster, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who proclaimed himself Universal Bishop at the Synod of Constantinople in 588). [In the condemned sense the title "universal bishop" is taken to mean that in the Church there is only one true bishop, with all others who claim the title merely acting as the true bishop’s delegates or deputies.

In its approved sense, the title “universal bishop” suggests that the Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction and authority extend to the whole Church, something with which Gregory was in hearty agreement.]


St. Columbanus

“For all we Irish, inhabitants of the world’s edge, are disciples of Saints Peter and Paul and of all the disciples who wrote the sacred canon by the Holy Ghost, and we accept nothing outside the evangelical and apostolic teaching; none has been a heretic, none a Judaizer, none a schismatic; but the Catholic Faith, as it was delivered by you first, who are the successors of the holy apostles, is maintained unbroken.” (Epistle 5, to Pope Boniface IV).

The Lateran Council of 649

"the holy and apostolic synod, which occured in the most celebrated Old Rome, according to the sacred command and canonical procurement of the most holy and thrice blessed Pope Martin, presided over the entire hierarchy under the sun, for the establishment and defense of the dogmas of the fathers and synods of the Catholic and apostolic church according to the gospel." (A note at the opening of the Acts of the Council, Mansi X, 863-64).

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem

“Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his (the pope’s) letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul … I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church.” (Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mansi, xi. 461 [c. A.D. 638]).

“Transverse quickly all the world from one end to the other until you come to the Apostolic See (Rome), where are the foundations of the orthodox doctrine. Make clearly known to the most holy personages of that throne the questions agitated among us. Cease not to pray and to beg them until their apostolic and Divine wisdom shall have pronounced the victorious judgement and destroyed from the foundation …the new heresy.” (Sophronius, [quoted by Bishop Stephen of Dora to Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council], Mansi, 893).

Stephen of Dora

Eric Ybarra writes in his article “Church Fathers & Papal Infallibility” that “Stephen, Bishop of Dora, was commissioned by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem to appeal to the Roman see for the condemnation of the Monothelites [Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch]. When Rome assembled in the Council of Lateran 649, this Stephen read aloud at the council in the presence of Pope St. Martin and St. Maximus the Confessor:

“Who shall give us the wings of a dove, that we may fly and report this to your supreme See, which rules and is set over all, that the wound [Monothelitism] may be entirely healed? For this great Peter, the Head of the Apostles, has been wont to do with power from of old, by his Apostolical or canonical authority; since manifestly not only was he alone beside all thought worthy to be entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to open and to shut these, worthily to the believing, but justly to those unbelieving the gospel of grace. Not to say that he first was set in charge to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for He says, ‘Peter, lovest thou me? Feed My Sheep’. And again, in a manner special and peculiar to himself, having a stronger faith than all in our Lord, and unchangeable, to convert and confirm his spiritual partners and brethren, when tossed by doubt, having had power and sacerdotal authority providentially committed to him by very God for our sakes Incarnate. Which, knowing Sophronius, of blessed memory, Patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God , — places me on Holy Calvary — and there bound me with indissoluble bonds, saying, ‘Thou shalt give account to our God who on this sacred spot was willingly sacrificed in the flesh for us, at His glorious and dreadful appearing, when He shall judge the living and the dead, if thou delay and neglect His faith endangered: though I, as thou know, cannot do this personally, for the inroad of the Saracens, which has burst on us for our sins. Go then with all speed from one and of the earth to the other, till thou come to the Apostolic See, where the foundations of the truth faith are laid. Not once, not twice, but many times accurately made known to the holy men there what has been stirred up among us, and cease not earnestly entreating and requesting, till out of their Apostolic wisdom they bring judgment to victory’ ” (Mansi, X. 894)

“And for this cause, sometimes we ask for water to our head and to our eyes a fountain of tears, sometimes the wings of a dove, according to holy David, that we might fly away and announce these things to the Chair (the Chair of Peter at Rome) which rules and presides over all, I mean to yours, the head and highest, for the healing of the whole wound. For this it has been accustomed to do from old and from the beginning with power by its canonical or apostolic authority, because the truly great Peter, head of the Apostles, was clearly thought worthy not only to be trusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to those who disbelieve the Gospel of grace, but because he was also commissioned to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for ‘Peter,’ saith He, ‘lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep.’ And again, because he had in a manner peculiar and special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having been adorned by God Himself incarnate for us with power and sacerdotal authority …..And Sophronius of blessed memory, who was Patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God, and under whom I was bishop, conferring not with flesh and blood, but caring only for the things of Christ with respect to your Holiness, hastened to send my nothingness without delay about this matter alone to this Apostolic see, where are the foundations of holy doctrine.” (Stephen, Bishop of Dora in Palestine, disciple of Patriarch Sophronius, to Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council, Mansi, x., 893 [A.D. 645]).

Full text from Stephan of Dor:

“To the holy and apostolic synod convened in this renowned and elder Rome according to the grace of God and the authoritative bidding of Martin the thrice-blessed pope, who is religiously presiding over it for the sacred confirmation and vindication of the definitions and decrees of the fathers and councils of the catholic church, I, Stephen by the mercy of God bishop and first man in the jurisdiction subject to the archiepiscopal see of Jerusalem, present what follows. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who, by the blessed and episcopal convening of your most holy selves, has consoled us in all our affliction, namely that which we feel for his holy catholic church because of those who oppose the word of faith. For like ‘wild waves’ they assailed and troubled her with their heresy, when, honoured by God, she was enjoying peace and calm, first of all Theodore bishop of Pharan, then Cyrus of Alexandria, and subsequently Sergius of Constantinople and his successors Pyrrhus and Paul. For these men revived the doctrines of the heretics Apollinarius and Severus, by which they held and defined one will and one operation of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; there is testimony to this in their writings, which they disseminated throughout the world for the deception of the more simple-minded. For they contrived not only to expound and record these doctrines but also to publish them openly, in opposition to all the doctrines of the fathers and councils of the church, by means both of chapters read out from the pulpit and written anathemas against those whose beliefs differed from theirs, and of decrees, subscriptions, and records of proceedings.

“As a result of their troubling the whole catholic church in this way – in the words of the blessed Jeremiah, ‘we have been put to shame, because we heard reproach against us; it has covered our face with reversal, because aliens have entered our sanctuary’ – for this reason we the pious, all of us, have been looking everywhere, sometimes for ‘water for the head and fountains of tears for the eyes’ for lamenting this pitiable catastrophe, and sometimes for ‘the wings of a dove’ (in the words of the divine David), so that we might ‘fly away’ and announce these things to the see that rules and presides over all others (I mean your sovereign and supreme see), in quest of healing for the wound inflicted. It has been accustomed to perform this authoritatively from the first and from of old, on the basis of its apostolic and canonical authority, for the reason, evidently, that the truly great Peter, the head of the apostles, was deemed worthy not only to be entrusted, alone out of all, with ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ for both opening them deservedly to those who believe and shutting them justly to those who do not believe in the gospel of grace, but also because he was the first to be entrusted with shepherding the sheep of the whole catholic church. As the text runs, ‘Peter, do you love me? Shepherd my sheep.’ And again, because he possessed more than all others, in an exceptional and unique way, firm and unshakeable faith in our Lord, [he was deemed worthy] to turn and strengthen his comrades and spiritual brethren when they were wavering, since providentially he had been adorned by the God who became incarnate for our sake with power and priestly authority over them all. Witnessing this, Sophronius of blessed memory, who was patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God and under whom I served as a priest, not conferring at all with flesh and blood but like your most holy self caring only for the things of Christ, hastened without delay to send my nothingness, solely over this matter, to this great and apostolic see with his own appeals, explaining both in writing and orally through me your suppliant the whole innovation of the said men, which they had committed in opposition to the orthodox faith. In addition, while still alive, he in person put up a noble resistance to those in the East, charging and adjuring them to cease from their heresy and return to the pious faith of the fathers, providing in two books six centuries of patristic citations to refute their impiety and confirm the truth; he did not, however, persuade them but excited them to calumny and wicked machinations against himself. Yet he was not at all alarmed on this account, nor did he ‘fear where there is no fear’, for (says the scripture) ‘the just man is confident like a lion’, but, filled with godly eagerness and zeal, he took and placed me, despite my unworthiness, on holy Calvary, where, voluntarily on our behalf, the one who as God transcends us in nature, our Lord Jesus Christ, deigned to be crucified in the flesh. And there he bound me with unloosable bonds, saying: ‘To the God who voluntarily on our behalf was crucified in this holy place you yourself will have to render an account at his glorious and dread coming, when he will judge the living and the dead, if you ignore and overlook the danger to faith in him, even though I myself, as you know, am bodily prevented from acting by the incursion of the Saracens as a result of our sins.

“Therefore proceed in haste from one end of the world to the other until you come to the apostolic see, where are the foundations of the pious doctrines, and acquaint the all-sacred men there, not once or twice but many times, with everything that has with precision been mooted here. You are not to desist from vigorous exhortation and entreaty, until with apostolic wisdom they bring their judgement to a victorious conclusion and issue canonically a total refutation of the outlandish doctrines, lest, as says the apostle, these any longer “spread like a cancer”, feeding on the souls of the more simple-minded.’ Wherefore, terrified and petrified at this because of the awesome judgement delivered by him on myself in this most awesome and venerable place, and then reflecting also on the episcopal dignity belonging to me by God’s leave, and on the petitions relating to the matter from almost all the God-loving bishops and Christ-loving congregations in the East, who in accord with the sainted Sophronius were urging me to go with this purpose as the first man in the jurisdiction of Jerusalem, I did not, to use scriptural language, ‘give sleep to my eyes and slumber to my eyelids and rest to my head’ in fulfilling this adorable command, but without any delay and solely for this purpose made the journey hither. Since then it is now the third time that I have arrived at your apostolic feet, entreating and beseeching what he and all of them have readily implored, namely, succour for the endangered faith of Christians.

“On discovering that I had acted in this way, my opponents piled no slight afflictions on me, sending instructions about me through places and regions that I should be apprehended and sent to them in irons, as is known to all. But the Lord came to my assistance and rescued my life from those in pursuit of it. Therefore, as I pursued the goal and aimed at the prize of your apostolic see, God did not overlook the petition of his servants presented with tears, but stirred up to no small degree the then apostolic high priests to warn and adjure the men aforesaid, even if in the event they had no success in pacifying them. He also stirred up the one who is now the sacred president, our master Martin, the thrice-blessed pope, whom he will guard for his churches safe and sound, with a long life, ‘expounding correctly the word of truth’, so as incomparably and surpassingly to be ‘zealous with zeal for God’, and to gather all of you most sacred high priests to himself for the rejection of outlandish doctrines and the preservation of those of the fathers of the church. I too exhort and beseech you to complete the work of grace for which God has summoned you through him, so that (as the scripture says) ‘you may remove the evil one from among you’; for the divine apostle, writing to you Romans, exhorts you ‘to observe those who create scandals and divisions in opposition to the teaching you learnt and to shun them, for such people do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ but their own bellies, and by specious and fair words deceive the hearts of the innocent.’ For as you know, most blessed one, the pious faith of the fathers cannot be blunted by innovation, but is accustomed, rather, to be strengthened by apostolic orthodoxy. Wherefore, rejecting every false belief, it ‘acknowledges one and the same our Lord and God Jesus Christ in two natures hypostatically united without confusion or separation, the difference between the natures being in no way removed by the union, but rather the distinctive character of each nature being preserved and coming together into one person and one hypostasis’; and accordingly it piously proclaims him complete God by nature and complete man by nature, apart from sin alone. If then it proclaims him to be truly complete God by nature and complete man by nature, it is clear that he was in no way incomplete in the essential will and operation of either his Godhead or his manhood, but that he possessed without diminution his natural wills and operations, equal in number to his natures; it was by willing and performing what is divine and what is human by means of these that he was known to be truly both God and man. For if, as our opponents hold, he was incomplete in his divine and human will and operation according to nature, he was neither complete God nor complete man but was rather neither God nor man at all, since one who lacks divine will and operation by nature is not God by nature and likewise one who lacks human will and operation by nature is not man by nature. But he is neither incomplete God nor incomplete man, since both of Christ’s natures, from which and in which he is composed without confusion or separation, are acknowledged in natural completeness; and because of this he was complete by nature in each of his natures. It is therefore incumbent on us to reject these innovations and strengthen inviolably the orthodox faith of the holy fathers in the completeness of the natures that are preserved in union in Christ God and of his natural wills and operations, so as to profess that the natures, as united, of the one and the same are two, and that this is also true of his natural wills and operations, divine and human, for a total demonstration of the true completeness of each of his natures, such that there is no diminution of the essential and natural character or will and operation in either nature. For will and operation according to nature are clearly a natural property of a nature, and it is by means of them that the definition of the holy council at Chalcedon stands confirmed and preserves without diminution the mystery of Christ God. But they, in their present attempt to confuse this mystery, have now devised another evil. For Paul, the primate of Constantinople, has induced our most pious emperor to issue a Typos about the faith, and in this Typos they have cast out the teachings of the holy fathers together with the evil doctrines of accursed heretics, decreeing that neither one nor two wills and operations are to be acknowledged in Christ God, making it easy to proclaim in his case now one and now not even one, and consequently to describe him as either God alone, since possessing only a divine nature, or a mere man alone, since possessing only a human nature, or to describe him as neither God nor man, since possessing neither divine nor human will and operation but being in their view totally devoid of both will and operation. This is something that the definition of the holy fathers and of the said holy council at Chalcedon totally prohibits, teaching that the natural property of each of the natures from which and in which is Christ is perfectly preserved after the union. Yet they, in their eagerness to reject both the council and all the holy fathers, have attempted to decree and record these things against the faith. I have also to inform your holinesses that by exploiting the turmoil of the times and through lust for power they have led many in the East astray. For Sergius bishop of Joppa, usurping the role of caretaker of the see of Jerusalem after the withdrawal of the Persians, in virtue not of ecclesiastical procedure but secular power, ordained several bishops there, in contravention of the canons, as suffragans of the see of Jerusalem; {although he himself was far from having been confirmed, he presumed to ordain others}. They, being well aware in consequence that their ordination was worthless, sent in their submission by letter, assenting to the innovation championed by Bishop Paul of Constantinople, so that indeed they might be irregularly confirmed by him, which was impossible. This fact I communicated earlier to the apostolic see, namely to the sainted pope Theodore; he by an apostolic letter appointed me his representative, despite my unworthiness, and by an all-sacred instruction bade me, apart from conducting other ecclesiastical business, to carry out a canonical deposition of the bishops ordained in this way, if they proved incorrigible. This indeed I did, particularly in view of the fact that of their own accord they had deserted the truth for error; in accordance with his injunction I only approved those who submitted a declaration of repentance and professed in writing that they had always held, embraced and preached the pious doctrines of the holy fathers and councils.

“These declarations I have now brought and presented to the thrice-blessed Pope Martin, who is presiding most sacredly over your holinesses, because some have been justly approved and others condemned, for the protection of the catholic church. I therefore exhort you not to overlook the numerous and urgent petitions on this head (brought with tears to your beatitude by me in my insignificance) from my lowly self, all the orthodox priests and congregations in the East, and my aforementioned master, the sainted Sophronius. But, ‘like luminaries in the world, keeping the word of life’, dispel the invading darkness of the heresy of the ill-named Apollinarius and Severus, which has been monstrously disseminated in our times by the men aforesaid, so that, once this is totally dispelled, there may rise upon us the daystar and the dogmatic definition (illuminating everyone everywhere through your most holy selves) which the illustrious fathers of the church and the holy and ecumenical five councils confirmed for us by their pious doctrines, for the sure attainment of eternal life. The subscription. I, Stephen, by God’s mercy bishop of Dora and the first man of the holy synod subject to the patriarchal see of Jerusalem, who composed the present plaint, have signed it with my own hand and presented it on Thursday, 8 October in the eighth indiction.” (Price, Acts of Lateran 649 Pg. 142-149).

Pope St. Martin I

“...correct things which are wanting, and appoint Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons in every city of those which are subject to the See both of Jerusalem and of Antioch; we charging you to do this in every way, in virtue of the Apostolic authority (auctoritate) which was given us by the Lord in the person of most blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles; on account of the necessities of our time, and the pressure of the nations” (Letter to Bishop John of Philadelphia. The Pope is exercising the power of higher jurisdiction over local affairs in Antioch and Jerusalem by acting through this Eastern bishop. The cause was the ordination of heretics in the East. Mansi X. 806).

Sergius of Cyprus

“O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed.” (Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus, writing to Pope Theodore [A.D. 649] (Sess. ii. Concil. Lat.).

“Christ our God founded your apostolic see, O sacred head, as a divinely fixed and immovable support and conspicuous inscription of the faith. For you, as the divine Word truly declared without deceit, are Peter, and on your foundation the pillars of the church are fixed; to you he committed the keys of the heavens and decreed that you are to bind and loose with authority on earth and in heaven. You have been made the destroyer of profane heresies, as the leader and teacher of the orthodox and unimpeachable faith.” (After his letter was approved by Pope St. Martin [A.D. 643]. Price, Acts of Lateran, p. 157-160).

St. Maximus the Confessor

“The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and [six] holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High.” (Maximus, a native of Constantinople, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90 [c. A.D. 650]).

[Ibid] “[After telling his monk-disciple Anastasios that the Byzantines had told him that Rome was not in communion with the Monothelites & is ordering the whole church to subscribe to that doctrine, he continues in this letter with instructions to inquire into whether this was true]…Anasatios [a different one than Maximos’ monk-disciple to whom he writes this letter] ordered me to transcribe these things and to make them known to you most holy people, in order that, when you have found out about the trial from these, you might all bring a common prayer to the Lord on behalf of our common mother, that is the Catholic church, and on behalf of us your unworthy servants, for strengthening everyone and us also, persevering with you in it, according to the orthodox faith rightly preached in it by the holy fathers. For there is great fear in the whole world because this [Church] endures persecution by everyone at the same time, unless He [God] offers aid by his customary grace, He who always comes to aid, leaving the seed of piety at least in older Rome, confirming His promise he made to the prince of the Apostles, which does not deceive us“(Letter of Maximos to Anastasius his disciple – CPG 7701, Clauis Patrum Graecorum, vols. 1-5, Corpus Christainorum. Gerhard, M.)

“How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter & Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate …..even as in all these things all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerodotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers (the Popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome.” (Maximus, in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10 [c. A.D. 650]).

“This Apostolic See [i.e. Rome], which, from the Incarnate Word of God Himself, as well as from the holy councils (according to the sacred canons and definitions) has received and possesses the sovereignty, authority and power of binding and loosing over all the churches of God in the entire world, in and through all things. With it the Word, set at the head of the Heavenly powers, binds and looses in Heaven.” (Opuscula theologica et polemica).

“Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession.” (quoted in Pope Anastasius (the Librarian) The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor (Boston: Holy Transfiguration, 1982), pp. 60-62).

“The Church united and established upon the rock of Peter’s confession we call according to the decree of the Savior the universal Church, wherein we must remain for the salvation of our souls and wherein loyal to his faith and confession we must obey him.” (Letter to the Orientals).

“For the very ends of the earth and those in every part of the world who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly to the most holy Church of the Romans and its confession and faith as though it were a sun of unfailing light, expecting from it the illuminating splendour of the Fathers and sacred dogmas…For ever since the Incarnate Word of God came down to us, all the churches of Christians everywhere have held that greatest Church there to be their sole base and foundation, since on the one hand, it is in no way overcome by the gates of Hades, according to the very promise of the Saviour , but holds the keys of the orthodox confession and faith in him and opens the only true and real religion to those who approach with godliness, and on the other hand, it shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks unrighteousness against the most High“. (Opuscula 11).

“In this regard the wretches have not conformed to the sense of the Apostolic See, and, what is laughable, or rather lamentable, as proving their ignorance, they have not hesitated to lie against the Apostolic See itself; but as though they were in its counsel, and as if they had received a decree from it, in the acts they have composed in defence of the impious ecthesis, they have claimed the great Honorius on their side….. What did the divine Honorius do, and after him the aged [Pope] Severinus, and [Pope] John who followed him? Yet further, what supplication has the blessed Pope, who now sits, not made? Have not the whole East and West brought their tears, laments, obsecrations, deprecations, both before God in prayer and before men in their letters?…..

“If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus, anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God. I beseech you, therefore, blessed Lord, to order that no one should speak of Pyrrhus as sanctissimus or almificus, for the holy canon does not allow him to be so styled….

“….For he who has willfully separated from the Catholic Church has fallen from all holiness. For it is not right that one who has already been condemned and cast out by the Apostolic See of the city of Rome for his wrong opinions should be named with any king of honor , until he be received by her [Rome], having returned to her, nay, to our Lord, by a pious confession and orthodox faith, by which he can receives holiness and the name of holy. Therefore, if he wishes neither to be a heretic nor to be accounted one, let him not make satisfaction to this or that person, for this is superfluous and unreasonable. For just as all are scandalized at him when one is scandalized, so also, when satisfaction has been made to one, all without doubt are satisfied. Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to persuade or entrap persons like myself, and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which from the incarnate Son of God himself, and also by all holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God which are in the whole world. For with it the Word who is above the celestial powers binds and looses in heaven also. For if he thinks he must satisfy others, and fails to implore the most blessed Roman Pope, he is acting like a man who, when accused of murder or some other crime, does not hasten to prove his innocence to the judge appointed by law, but only uselessly and without profit does his best to demonstrate his innocence to private individuals, who have no power to acquit him from the accusation. Wherefore, my blessed Lord, extend yet further the precept which it is known that you have made well and according to God’s will, by which Pyrrhus is not allowed to speak or misspeak with regard to dogma. But discover clearly his intention by further inquiry , whether he will altogether agree to the truth. And if he is careful to do this, exhort him to make a becoming statement to the Roman Pope, so that by his command the matter concerning Pyrrhus may be canonically and suitably ordered for the glory of God and the praise of your sublimity…” (Epistle of Maximos to Peter the Illustrious, Opuscula 12 [Mansi x, 692]).

Monks of Gangres

"Supreme and Apostolic Pope, chief of all the priestly hierarchy under the sun, Sovereign and Ecumenical Pope, Apostolic Prince." (The two monks from Paphlagonia, Theodosius and Theodore, writing about St. Pope Martin I [A.D. 669]).

St. Pope Agatho

“Resting on Peter’s protection, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned aside from the way of truth to any part of error, and her authority has always been faithfully followed and embraced as that of the prince of the Apostles by the whole Catholic Church and all Councils, and by all the venerable Fathers who embraced her doctrine…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. (…)”

“Therefore, most Christian lords and sons, in accordance with the most pious jussio of your God-protected clemency, we have had a care to send, with the devotion of a prayerful heart… our fellow servants here present, Abundantius, John, and John, our most reverend brother bishops, Theodore and George our most beloved sons and presbyters, with our most beloved son John, a deacon, and with Constantine, a subdeacon of this holy spiritual mother the, Apostolic See (subdiacono sanctae hujus spiritualis matris apostolicae sedis), as well as Theodore, the presbyter legate of the holy Church of Ravenna and the religious servants of God the monks. (…)”

“To these same commissioners we also have given the witness of some of the holy Fathers, whom this Apostolic Church of Christ receives (quos haec apostolica Christi ecclesia suscipit), together with their books, so that, having obtained from the power of your most benign Christianity the privilege of suggesting, they might out of these endeavour to give satisfaction, (when your imperial Meekness shall have so commanded) as to what this Apostolic Church of Christ, their spiritual mother and the mother of your God-sprung empire (quid haec spiritualis mater eorum ac a Deo propagate imperii apostolica Christi ecclesia), believes and preaches, not in words of worldly eloquence… but that they set forth this tradition of the Apostolic See (sed traditionem hujus apostolicae sedis) in all sincerity as it has been taught by the apostolic pontiffs, who were our predecessors. (…)”

“And therefore I beseech you with a contrite heart and rivers of tears, with prostrated mind, deign to stretch forth your most clement right hand to the Apostolic doctrine which the co-worker of your pious labours, the blessed apostle Peter, has delivered, that it be not hidden under a bushel, but that it be preached in the whole earth more shrilly than a bugle: 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 (hec apostolica ejus ecclesia nunquam a via Veritatis in qualibet erroris parte deslexa est), whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church (omnis catholica … ecclesia), 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. (…)”

“Who does not hate, and rage against, and avoid such blind errors, if he have any desire to be saved and seek to offer to the Lord at his coming a right faith? Therefore the Holy Church of God, the mother of your most Christian power, should be delivered and liberated with all your might (through the help of God) from the errors of such teachers, and the evangelical and apostolic uprightness of the orthodox faith, which has been established upon the firm rock of this Church of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, which by his grace and guardianship remains free from all error, [that faith I say] the whole number of rulers and priests, of the clergy and of the people, unanimously should confess and preach with us as the true declaration of the Apostolic tradition, in order to please God and to save their own souls. (…)”

“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….”

(Dogmatic Epistle accepted by the Third Council of Constantinople. Selected quotes taken from Eric Ybarra’s article entitled “Did Pope Agatho Teach Papal Infallibility in His Dogmatic Epistle accepted by the 6th Ecumenical Council?” [A.D. 680–681]).

The Third Council of Constantinople (The Sixth Ecumenical Council)

“The chief Prince of the Apostles was fighting on our side: for we have had as our ally his follower and the successor to his see: and the paper and the ink were seen, and Peter spoke through Agatho.” (Actio xviii, Constantinople III, approving the Letter of Agatho). [Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, n. 13, citing the Third Council at Constantinople, A.D. 681].

At the end of the Council where Pope Honorius was condemned, Eastern fathers wrote the following letter to the Byzantine Emperor:

“…Therefore, in accordance with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and in agreement with one another, and assenting to the letter of our most blessed Father and most high Pope Agatho, addressed to your Majesty, and also to that of his holy Synod of 125 bishops, we glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. ….with us fought the Prince of the Apostles, for to assist us we had his imitator and successor to his chair, who exhibited to us the mystery of theology in his letter. The ancient city of Rome proffered to you a divinely written confession and caused the daylight of dogmas to rise by the Western parchment. And the ink shone, and by Agatho Peter spoke…”

The same Eastern Bishops wrote another letter to St. Pope Agatho:

“The greatest diseases require the greatest remedies, as you know, most blessed one. Wherefore, Christ, our true God, has revealed your holiness as a wise physician, mightily driving away the disease of heresy by the medicine of orthodoxy, and bestowing health on the members of the Church. We therefore leave to you what is to be done, since you occupy the first See of the universal Church, and stand upon the firm rock of the faith, after we have dwelt with pleasure upon the writings of the true confession from your paternal blessedness to the most pious king, which also we recognize as pronounced by the chiefest Head of the Apostles, and by which we have put to flight the dangerous opinions of the heresy which lately rose….Those who erred concerning the faith we have slain by our anathemas in the morning without the precincts of the courts of the Lord (to speak like David), according to the previous condemnation pronounced on them in your holy letters — we mean Theodore of Pharan, Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus….” (The following Mansi excerpts were provided in English by Eric Ybarra in his article, “Pope Honorius the Heretic! – Achilles Heel for Catholicism and the Papacy?”) (Mansi 11.683).

“ `We have directed persons from our humility to your valour protected of God, which shall offer to you the report of us all, that is, of all the Bishops in the Northern or Western Regions, in which too we have summed up the confession of our Apostolic Faith, yet not as those who wished to contend about these things as being uncertain, but, being certain and unchangeable to see them forth in a brief definition, [suppliantly beseeching you that, by the favour of your sacred majesty, you would command these same things to be preached to all, and to have force with all…

“Whichever of the bishops wishes to preach sincerely together with us what is contained in the profession of our lowliness regarding our apostolic faith, we receive them as of one mind with us, as fellow-priests, fellow-ministers, as having the same faith, and to speak clearly, as our spiritual brothers and fellow-bishops. But those who do not wish to make this profession of faith with us, we judge them, as enemies of the catholic and apostolic profession of faith, to be liable to eternal condemnation. Nor would we ever receive them ever in the college of our lowliness, unless they have amended. Nor should any of them suppose that we have transgressed against what we have received from those who have gone before us.” (St. Pope Agatho and the Western Bishops, writing to the Emperor after the Epistle of St. Agatho was accepted by the Council. Mansi 11.297 AB; Eng. Trans. Fr. Patrick O’Connell, S.J., The Ecclesiology of St. Nicephorus 758-828: Pentarchy and Primacy (Roma: Pont. Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1972), 187).

Emperor Constantine IV

“These are the teachings of the voices of the Gospels and Apostles, these the doctrines of the holy Synods, and of the elect and Patristic tongues; these have been preserved untainted by Peter, the rock of the faith, the head of the Apostles; in this faith we live and reign… “ (Emperor Constantine IV writing to the Council, giving his acceptance of the decrees [Mansi 11.698]).

“The letter of Pope Agatho, who is with the Saints, to our Majesty having been presented by his envoys…we ordered it to be read in the hearing of all, and we beheld in it as a mirror the image of sound and unsullied faith. We compared with the voice of the Gospels and Apostles , and set beside it the decisions of the holy ecumenical Synods, and compared the quotations it contained with the precepts of the Fathers, and finding nothing out of harmony, we perceived in it all the words of the true confession unaltered. And with the eyes of our understanding we saw it as it were the very ruler of the Apostolic choir, the chief Peter himself, declaring the mystery of the whole dispensation, and addressing Christ by this letter: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God…. We received it willingly and sincerely, and embraced it, as though it were Peter himself, with the arms of our soul. Macarius alone, who was prelate of Antioch, with those whom he dragged after him, divided from us, and drew back from the yoke of Christ, and leapt out of the sacerdotal circle [i.e. unity]; for he refused altogether to agree to the all -holy writings of Agatho, as though he were even raging against the Head Peter himself…

“And since he so hardened his heart and made his neck a cord of iron, and his forehead of brass, and his ears heavy that they should not hear, and set his heart unfaithful that is should not obey the law, for the law goeth forth from Zion , the teaching of the Apostolic height, for this cause the holy ecumenical Synod stripped him, Macarius, and his fellow heretics, of the sacerdotal office. In a written petition all of one accord begged our serenity to send them [i.e. the heretics] to your blessedness [for judgement]. This we have done…committing to your fatherly judgment all that concerns them….Glory be to God, who does wondrous things, who has kept safe the faith among you unharmed. For how should He not do so in that rock on which He founded His church, and prophesied that the gates of hell , all the ambushes of heretics, should not prevail against it? From it, as from the vault of heaven, the word of the true confession flashed forth, and enlightened the souls of the lovers of Christ, and brought warmth to frozen orthodoxy. This we have completed happily by God’s help, and have brought all the sheep of Christ into one fold, no longer deceived by false shepherds and the prey of wolves, but pastured by One good Shepherd, with whom you have been appointed to join in pasturing them, and to lay your life down for the sheep…” (Emperor Constantine IV to Pope St. Leo II, Mansi 11.713)

“You yourself were present with your ecumenical chief Pastor [Agatho], speaking with him in spirit and in writing. For we received, besides the letter from his blessedness [Agatho], also one from your sanctity. It was produced, it was read, and it detailed for us the word of truth and painted the likeness of orthodoxy…..We did not neglect to compare them with care. And therefore, in harmony of mind and tongue we believed with the one and confessed with the other, and we admired the writing of Agatho as the voice of divine Peter, for nobody disagreed, save one [Macarius]” (Emperor Constantine IV, letter to a Roman synod).

Pope Saint Leo II

"My predecessor, Pope Agatho, of apostolic memory, together with this honorable council, preached this norm of the right apostolic tradition. This he sent by your piety by his own legates...And now the holy and great council...has accepted it and embraced it in all things with us, as recognizing in it the pure teaching of blessed Peter the prince of the apostles...And because, as we have said, it has perfectly preached the definition of the true faith which the apostolic see of blessed Peter the apostle (whose office we unworthily hold), also reverently receives, therefore we...wholly and with full agreement do consent to the definitions made by it, and by the authority of blessed Peter, do confirm them..." (Mansi, v. 11, p. 721)

In the following three epistles, Pope St. Leo II changes the 6th Ecumenical Councils' charge against Pope Honorius I from heresy to negligence (that Honorius wasn’t a heretic is also the belief of many saints, most notably St. Maxiumus the Confessor). These are also the letters in which he approves the Council’s acts.

“Honorius, who did not immediately extinguish the flame of the heretical teaching, as would befit the apostolic authority, but supported it by his negligence.” (Pope Leo II to the Bishops of Spain [Pope from A.D. 682-83]).

“Honorius of Rome, who allowed the immaculate rule of apostolic tradition that he had received from his predecessors to be stained…” (Pope Leo II to the king of Spain).

“And, we in like manner, anathemized the inventors of the new error, namely, Theodore, Bishop of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius, Phyrrus … and also Honorius, who did not purify this apostolic Church by the doctrine of the apostolic tradition, but rather he allowed the immaculate [Church] to be stained by profane treason” (Pope Leo II to the Roman emperor).

Part 1: in the Ante-Nicene Church (A.D. 00-300)

Part 2: from Nicaea to Constantinople I (A.D. 300-400)

Part 3: from St. Augustine to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 400-420)

Part 4: from Ephesus to Chalcedon (A.D. 420-500)

Part 5: Rome During the Years of the Rising East (A.D. 501-700)

Part 6: The Schism of the Universal Church (A.D. 700-1053)


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