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The Third Council of Constantinople (The Sixth Ecumenical Council)

Rock of the Church, Chief of the Apostles, Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter

“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).

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