ARTICLE II. – THE ERRORS OF THE GREEKS CONDEMNED IN THREE GENERAL COUNCILS. –

 

13, 14, 15.-The Eighth General Council against Photius, under Pope Adrian, and the Emperor Basil. 16.Photius gains over Basil, and in the meantime St. Ignatius dies. 17.- Photius again gets possession of the See. 18.-The Council held by Photius, rejected by the Pope; unhappy death of Photius. 19.-The Patriarch, Cerularius, revives and adds to the errors of Photius. 20.-TJnhappy death of Cerularius. 21, 22.-Gregory X. convokes the Council of Lyons, at the instance of the Emperor Michael; it is assembled. 23. -Profession of Faith written by Michael, and approved of by the Council. 24.- The Greeks confess and swear to the Decisions of the Council. 25. -They separate again. 26.-Council of Florence, under Eugenius IV.; the errors are again discussed and rejected; definition of the Procession of the Holy Ghost. 27-.Of the consecration in leavened bread. 28.-Of the Pains of Purgatory. 29.-Of the Glory of the Blessed. 30.-Of the Primacy of the Pope. 31 .-Instructions given to the Armenians, Jacobites, and Ethiopians; the Greeks relapse into schism.

 

  

 

13. Pope Adrian (1) made arrangements to celebrate a General Council in Constantinople, which was accomplished in the year 869, in the reign of the Emperor Basil; he sent three Legates to preside in his name : Donatus, Bishop of Ostia, Stephen of Nepi, and Marinus, one of the seven deacons of the Roman Church, who was afterwards Pope. The Legates proceeded to Constantinople, and were most honourably received by the Emperor; he sent all the officers of the palace to meet them at the gate of the city, and they were received there by the clergy in their robes, likewise. They were then presented to the Emperor in his palace, and he received them with all honour and reverence, kissed the Pope’s letters when presented to him, and told them that he, as well as all the Bishops of the East, were for two years waiting for the decision of the Roman Church, their mother, and he, therefore, most earnestly besought them to make every endeavour to re-establish union and peace. The day for the opening of the Council was then appointed.

 

(1) Nat. Alex. s. 11,& Graveson, t. 3, coll. 3, p. 153. 

 

14. The Legates presided in this Council in the name of the Pope; although in the eighth and tenth act, Basil and his two sons, Constantine and Leo, arc called Presidents, still, as Noel Alexander (2) remarks, the Emperor is called the President, not because of any authority he held in the Synod, but because hewas honoured as the protector of the Church, but not as the judge of Ecclesiastical affairs. The firstSession was held on the 5th of October, in the year 869, and eight others were held, the last in the February of 870. The Bishops and priests who had joined the schism, presented themselves in the fifth Session, and were mercifully received again. Photius also came forward, but when he was asked by the Legates whether he received the exposition of Pope Nicholas, and of his successor Pope Adrian, he refused to answer (3). He was pressed for a reply, but he only said : ” God understands what I mean, though I do not speak.” “But,” said the Legates, “your silence will not preserve you from condemnation; Jesus Christ said he was silent, likewise, and was condemned.” They told him that if he wished to be reconciled to the Church, he should confess his crimes, and all the wrongs he had inflicted on Ignatius, and promise to recognise him as his pastor for the future, still he continued silent; then the Patrician Baanes, addressed him, and said : ” My Lord Photius, your mind is now confused, so the Council gives you time to think on your salvation; go, you shall be again recalled.” He made his appearance again in the  seventh Session, with the crozier in his hand, but it was taken from him, for the Council said he was a wolf, and not a shepherd; he was again asked if he was willing to retract his errors, but he answered, that he did not recognize the Legates as his judges. Several other questions were put to him, but he answered them in a haughty manner, so he was anathematized in these words : “Anathema to Photius the invader, the schismatical tyrant, the new Judas, the inventor of perverse dogmas.” In these and such like terms was he condemned, and, together with him, Gregory of Syracuse, and all their followers, who persevered in their obstinacy (4).

 

(2)) Nat. Alex. t. 13; Diss. 4, s. 12. (3) Baron. Ann. 869, n. 28.  (4) Baron. Ann. 869, n. 37, & Fleury, t. 7, l. 51, n. 29, & seq.

 

15. Twenty-seven Canons were promulgated in this the Eighth General Council. Among the rest it was decreed, that all the orders conferred by Photius were invalid, and that the churches and altars he consecrated should be consecrated again. All Bishops and Clerks who continued to hold by his party were deposed, and all who held with him that man had two souls were anathematized. It was prohibited, under pain of deposition, to consecrate Bishops, at the command of the Sovereign (5). All the works of Photius were burned in the midst of the Assembly; the definitions of the other seven General Councils were received, and the Council was closed. It was afterwards confirmed by Pope Adrian, at the request of the Fathers (6), who besought him to confirm the Decrees of this General Synod as his own, that the words of truth and the decrees of justice should be received through the whole world confirmed by his authority. It is worthy of remembrance what Nicetas tells us of this Council (7), that the Fathers signed the Decree with a pen dipped in the Sacred Blood of Jesus Christ. The Emperor Basil did not look sufficiently to the safety of the Legates on their return to Rome; and the consequence was, that they were seized by the Sclavonians, and robbed of all they had, the Original Acts of the Council among the rest, with the autograph signatures of the Fathers. They were freed from captivity by the joint exertions of the Pope and the Emperor, and, on the 22nd of December, 870, arrived in Rome. The Pope received through another channel the authentic copy of the Synodical Acts, and confirmed the Council (8). The cause of the Emperor’s displeasure with the Legates was, because they refused to accede to the wishes of the Ambassadors of the King of Bulgaria, in Constantinople, who wished to be subjected, not to the Roman Church, but to the See of Constantinople, and the Legates of the other Oriental Patriarchates seconded this request (9).

 

16. Photius, in the meantime, never ceased to asperse the Council. He wrote several letters to that effect to his friends, and one, especially, to a Monk of the name of Theodosius (10), in which he says : ” Why do you wonder that those who have been themselves condemned presume to judge the innocent? Have you not examples? Caiphas and Pilate were judges; my God Jesus was the accused.” He then alludes to the examples of St. Stephen, St. James, St. Paul, and so many Martyrs, who had to appear before judges worthy of being put to death a thousand times. ” God,” said the impious Photius, ” disposes of everything for our advantage.” Noel Alexander and Fleury tell us, that, during the whole ten years of his exile, he never ceased plotting and scheming to injure the holy Patriarch, St. Ignatius, and to get back to the See himself, and he left no means untried to accomplish his purpose.

 

(5) N. Alex. sec. 22, & Fleury, l. 51, n. 55. (6) N. Alex. loc. cit.  (7) Nicep. ap. Fleury, loc. cit. 46.  (8) Hermant, t. 1, c. 374. (9) Fleury, t. 7, l. 31, n. 44, 49. (10) Fleury, loc. cit. n. 41.

 

He laid one plan, in particular, to ingratiate himself into the Emperor’s favour : He wrote a genealogy and prophecy on a piece of old parchment, and in the antique Alexandrian character. This was called “Beclas,” the name of Basil’s father. In this he pretended that Basil, though his father was but a man of low birth, was descended from Tiridates, King of Armenia, and that his reign would be longer and happier than that of any of his predecessors. He got this bound up in an old cover, and privately conveyed into the Imperial library. He then got one of his friends, as great a schemer as himself, to suggest to the Emperor, that there was not a man in the Empire who could interpret that but Photius. The Emperor took the bait, and recalled him, and he soon ingratiated himself into his good graces, and endeavoured to obtain permission from St. Ignatius, through the Sovereign’s influence, to exercise Episcopal functions; but the Saint never would permit him, for, as he was excommunicated by a Council, he said he could not be re-habilited, unless by another Council; but, notwithstanding, he administered Orders, and exercised other Episcopal duties (12). The Holy Patriarch, Ignatius, died in the year 878, the eightieth year of his age, and there are strong suspicions, according to Noel Alexander, and Van Ranst, that Photius was the author of his death. Fleury says (13), that Stilianus, the Metropolitan of Neocesarea, wrote to Pope Stephen, and openly charged Photius with employing some wretches to take away the Holy Patriarch’s life. Both the Greek and Latin Churches honour the memory of St. Ignatius, on the 23rd of October.   

 

(11) Nat. Alex. t. 7, diss. 4, sec. 25; Fleury, t. 8, l. 53, re. 1, ex Nicet. (12) Nat. Alex. sec. 25; Baron. Ann, 878, n. 53; Fleury, t. 8, 1. 53, w. 1, & seq.; Van Ranst, p. 154. (13) Fleury, cit. l. 53, n. 52.

 

17. Three days had not elapsed since the death of St. Ignatius, and Photius managed to mount the Patriarchal throne once more, and at once began to banish, flog, and incarcerate the servants of his holy predecessor. He restored some of the deposed Bishops; and those who rejected his communion, and adhered to the Council, he delivered into the hands of his relative, Leo Catacalus, who gained over many of the weak by torments, and punished the constancy of many more with death (14). He was most desirous of having the sanction of Pontifical authority for his re-establishment, and tried number less schemes to accomplish it. Among the rest he sent a letter to the Pope then reigning, John VIII., telling him that he was forced to resume the See, and he surreptitiously obtained the signatures of the other Oriental Patriarchs to this, by pretending that it was a contract for a purchase to be secretly made. He sent another letter, forged in the name of St. Ignatius (then dead), and several other Bishops, begging of the Pope to receive Photius, and he sent along with those, letters from the Emperor, which he obtained in his favour (15). When the Pope received those letters, in Rome, in the year 879 desirous of not displeasing the Emperor, especially he answered, that, for the good of the Church, and for peace sake, he was willing to dispense with the Decrees of the Eighth Council, and of his predecessors, and receive Photius into his communion, but only on condition of giving public proofs of penance, in a Council, to be held in presence of his Legates, then in Constantinople, and he, accordingly, sent Peter, a Cardinal, as his Legate, to preside at a Council in his name. Cardinal Baronius, Noel Alexander, Fleury (16), and several others, severely censure this condescension of the Pope; but Peter de la Marca excuses him (17), for, solicited as he was by the Emperor, and having the authority of his predecessors, Leo, Gelasius, and Felix, and of the Council of Africa, all which teach that the rigour of the law must be dispensed with in time of necessity, he naturally considered that the good of the Church required he should yield the point, and thus, with the consent of the other Patriarchs, he consented that Photius should retain possession of the See.

 

(14) Nat. Alex. loc. cit. sec. 25. (15) Fleury, loc. cit. n. 3, 4; N. Alex. cod. sec. 25.  (16) Baron. Ann. 879, t. 10; N. Alex. t. 13, diss. 4, sec. 26; Fleury, t. 8, l. 53, n. 7. (17) De Marc, de Concordia, Sac. & Imp. l. 3, c. 14.

 

18. Photius put the finishing stroke to his plans on the arrival of the Legate in Constantinople; he deceived him, by asking for the Pope’s letter that he might translate it into Greek, and when he got it into his hands, he curtailed it, and interpolated it to suit his own purpose, as Cardinal Baronius shows, and on the strength of this deception, a Council was held, called the Eighth General Council, by the schismatic Greeks, though it was nothing more than a Cabal, for though it was attended by four hundred and eighty Bishops, they were all adherents of Photius, and he presided himself and carried everything just as he liked, in opposition to the sentiments of the Legate and the Pope. This Council was closed after five Acts, and the impious Photius was re-established in the Pope’s name, in the See of Constantinople. When Pope John learned what passed in Constantinople, as Noel Alexander (18) relates, he had sent anew his Legate, Maximus, to Constantinople to annul by Apostolical authority all that had been done in that wicked Council; and the Legate proceeded with courage, and confirmed, in the Pope’s name, the condemnation of Photius, decided by the General Council; this so displeased the Emperor, that he cast the Legate into prison, and kept him there for thirty days, but, withal, the Pope confirmed the decrees passed against Photius by his predecessors, Nicholas I. and Adrian II., and again solemnly excommunicated him. Cardinal Gotti (19) adds, that this sentence of John VIII. was, after the death of Basil, which took place in 886, put into execution by his son and successor, Leo VI., the philosopher. Fleury tell us (20) that the Emperor sent two of his principal officers to the church of Sancta Sophia, and they went into the gallery, and publicly read all the crimes of Photius, and then banished him from the Metropolitan See, and sent him to an Armenian Monastery, where he died, but we do not know how or when. Cedrenus (21 ), in his annals, however, says that the Emperor ordered his eyes to be put out, as suspected of rebellion; and Noel Alexander says he died obstinately in his schism, and separated from the communion of the Church.

 

(18) Nat. Alex., loc. cit. sec. 28. (19) Gotti, Ver. Belig. t. 2, c. 85, sec. 1.  (20) Fleury, t. 53, n. 51. (21) Apud. Gotti, loc. cit.

 

19. Noel Alexander (22) says that the schism was extinguished on the death of Photius, but that it broke   out again; but Danæus (23) says, that, on the contrary, his death left it as it was, and that it broke out with more violence in the time of Nicholas Chrisobergus, Patriarch, in 981, of Sisinnius, his successor, in 995, and, more than all, in the reign of Sergius, also Patriarch, who sent, in his own name, to the Bishop of the East, the Encyclical letter written by Photius against the Pope. It gained new strength in the eleventh century, under the Patriarch Michael Cerularius. This Prelate was of noble birth, but proud and intriguing; and he was imprisoned in a monastery, by the Emperor Michael Pophlaganius, and was not released till the reign of the Emperor Constantine Monomachus, in the year 1043; he uncanonically seized on the See of Constantinople, but naturally fearing the censures of the Pope for this act of violence, he laboured to bring to maturity the seeds of division, previously sown between the two Churches. He commenced the attack, by writing a letter to John, Bishop of Trani, in Apulia, charging the Roman See with holding erroneous doctrines regarding the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son; that the soul after leaving Purgatory, went directly to enjoy beatitude before the General Resurrection; that the Pope usurped the authority of Universal Pastor, without having any authority to do so, and more, that the Latins, by consecrating the Eucharist in unleavened bread, followed the Jewish practice of celebrating the Pasch in unleavened bread.

 

(22) Nat. Alex. s. 29.  (23) Danæus tem. net. p. 271

 

In making a charge of this sort against the Roman Church, he was most surely astray, for our Lord celebrated the Pasch on the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread; and then, according to the precept of God himself, in Exodus, it was unlawful to have even in the house, leavened bread : ” Seven days there shall not be found any leaven in your houses” (Exod. xii.); and, besides, there was a most ancient tradition handed down direct from St. Peter himself, as Christian Lupus (24) says, that Christ offered up the Sacrifice in unleavened bread, and such was indubitably the universal practice, during the first centuries in the West, unless, for a short time, when the discipline was changed, lest the Christians should be scandalized, as if they were Judaizing. It is true, the Greeks have always made use of leavened bread; and by doing so, never offended against Faith, for one Church has never reprobated the custom of another; but Certilarius was altogether astray in accusing the Latin Church of heresy, for using unleavened bread.

 

20. Pope Leo, to extinguish the fire of schism which was every day spreading more widely, sent as his Legates to the East, Umbert, Bishop of Silva Candida, the Cardinal Archdeacon of Rome, and Peter, Archbishop of Amalphi; they brought letters from the Pope to the Emperor Constantine, threatening to excommunicate Cerularius, unless he desisted from censuring the Roman Church, on account of the custom of celebrating with unleavened bread. The question then was discussed in Constantinople itself, and the Latin practice was justified; but Cerularius refused all along to meet the Legates, and continued to give them every opposition in his power. The Legates, despairing of any change in him, after celebrating Mass one day in St. Sophia, publicly laid the letter of excommunication on the altar. This only exasperated him more, and he removed the Pope’s name from the Diptychs, and following the Legates example, he excommunicated them, and sent letters through all Asia and Italy, filled with calumnies and abuse of the Roman Church. He lived and died obstinately in schism : he was banished to Proconesus by the Emperor, Isaac Comnemus, who deposed him from the Patriarchate, and he there ended his days (25). 

 

 (24) Chris. Lupus, p. 3, Conc. Diss. de Act. St. Leo VII. (25) Bernin. t. 3, sec. xi, c. 6; Van Ranst, sec. 10, p. 171; Bask. t. 2, sec. 11, c. 3.

 

21. The schism was not extinguished at his death, but spread more widely; and though several Greek Churches in the eleventh and following centuries continued in communion with the Roman Church, still the breach was every day becoming wider, till Constantinople was conquered by the Latins. Union was again restored under the Frankish Monarchy, from the reign of Baldwin, the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople, in 1204, till 1261; but when Constantinople was re-taken by Michael Paleologus, the Greeks renewed the schism, which to all appearance they had eternally forsaken, and for the four subsequent centuries the Churches were disunited, till the chastisement of God bore heavily on the sinful Empire. Michael Paleologus (26) sent a Franciscan Doctor to Gregory X., the bearer of letters requesting an union between the Greek and Roman Churches once more, and he wrote to St. Louis, King of France, also, to induce him to co-operate to the same end. The Pope was most desirous to accede to his wishes, and he sent four Friars of the Order of St. Francis (or according to others, two of the Franciscan and two of the Dominican Order,) as his Legates, to conclude a peace. This happened in 1272, and he convoked a General Council at the same time to meet in two years after in Lyons, to concert with the Christian Sovereigns for the conquest of the Holy Land; to reform some matters of discipline; but principally to reunite the Greek and Latin Churches; and to facilitate this object, so dear to his heart, he sent a formula of Faith to the Emperor by the four religious delegates, which the Greek Bishops were called on to sanction. He prayed the Emperor to come to the Council himself, or, at all events, to send his Legates, and he also invited the Patriarch of Constantinople and the other Greek Bishops to the Council.

 

22. At the appointed time the Council assembled in Lyons, and besides the Latin Prelates, two of the Greek Patriarchs, Pantaleon, of Constantinople, and Opizio, of Antioch, and several other Greek Bishops, attended. Five hundred Bishops altogether, seventy Abbots, and about one thousand inferior Prelates, were assembled. St. Bonaventure was also present, and took the first place after the Pope, and to him was committed, by his Holiness, the whole arrangement of the Council. The Pope had summoned St. Thomas of Aquin, likewise, but he died on his way thither, in the Convent of Fossa Nova.

 

(26) Nat. Alex. t. 17, diss. 7, de Con. Lug. 11, o. 1.; Graveson, t. 4, coll. 4, p. 116.

 

The Ambassadors of the Kings of France, England, and Sicily, were also in attendance. Several authors, among others Trithemius and Platina, assert, that the Emperor Michael was present; but Noel Alexander proves (27) indubitably, that he was not, but only his Ambassadors, and, it is on that account, that his letter was read in the Council, and approved of, because the Ambassadors, in his name, took an oath assenting to the union, and, besides, Pope Gregory, immediately on the conclusion of the Council, wrote to him an account of all that had taken place there, which he assuredly would not have done, had he been present in person.

 

25. In the fourth Session, the letter of the Emperor Michael Paleologus, was read, professing the Faith taught by the Roman Church, as laid down in the formula, sent to him by the Pope. In this, he professes that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, the existence of Purgatory, the validity of Consecration with unleavened bread, and finally, the primacy of the Pope. Noel Alexander (28), and Raynaldus (29), quote his words : ” That the Holy Roman Church has full and plenary primacy, and principality over the whole Catholic Church, and that it received the plentitude of power in the Apostle St. Peter, whose successor, the Roman Pontiff is, through Christ himself; and, as it is bound, above all others, to defend the truth of the Faith, so its judgment should be definitive, in all controversies  regarding Faith. That all persons having any Ecclesiastical business, can appeal to it, and that it can examine and judge all Ecclesiastical cases, and all other Churches owe it reverential obedience.” The plentitude of power consist in this, that it admits the other Church to a part of its solicitudes, and it honours others, but above all the Patriarchal Churches, with divers privileges, never, however, giving up its prerogatives, both in General Councils and elsewhere, but always keeping the purity of the Faith, as faithfully explained ;” and then he adds : ” We, of our own free will, confess and receive the Primacy of the Holy Roman Church.” He then begs of the Pope, to allow the Symbol or Creed to be sung in the Greek Church, as it was before the schism, and to permit the Greeks to observe the same rites as before, when not opposed to Faith, to the Divine Commandments, to the Old or New Testament, to the Doctrines laid down by General Councils or Holy Fathers, and received by the Councils, celebrated under the spiritual power of the Roman Church.

 

 (27) Nat. Alex. cit. a. 2, n. 1. (28) Nat. Alex. cit. n. 2. (29) Kaynal. Ann. 1274, n. 14. 

 

The letters of the several Greek Bishops were then read, submitting themselves to the power of the Roman Church, and professing in all things the same Episcopal obedience, to the Apostolic See as their fathers did before the schism.

 

24. When these letters were read, George Acropolita, the great Logothete, or High Chancellor, the Emperor’s Ambassador, renounced the schism in his name, professed the Faith of the Roman Church, and recognized the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff; he also took an oath, promising that the Emperor never would depart from his Faith and obedience. The Legates of the Greek Bishops did the same, and now the Council having approved and accepted the profession of Faith, the Synodical Constitution was promulgated: “We confess, said the Fathers, with a faithful and devout profession, that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but, as from one principle, not from two spirations, but one spiration. The Holy Roman Church, the Father and Mistress of all Churches, has always professed, and firmly holds and teaches this Doctrine, and, this is also the true and unchangeable opinion of the orthodox Fathers and Doctors, both of the Latin and Greek Churches. But as some, on account of not knowing this undoubted truth, have fallen into various errors, we, wishing to  prevent any from going the same false way in future, with the approbation of the Sacred Council, condemn and hand over to reprobation, all who presume to deny, that the Holy Ghost eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son, or who dare to assert that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles, and not from one.” The Council closed at last, and Gregory sent back the Greeks to their own country, loaded with presents, and wrote to the Emperor Michael, and to his son, Andronicus, congratulating them on the completion of the Synod. The Emperor was so highly pleased that all was iso happily concluded, and, as Joseph, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was always opposed to the union, would not now give his consent to it, he obliged him to renounce his dignity, and retire to a Monastery, and had John Veccus elected in his place, and he imprisoned, banished, and even put to death, some Ecclesiastics and Nobles, who refused to receive the decrees of the Council (30).

 

25. Two Synods were held in Constantinople in the year 1276, under Pope John XXL, in which the Patriarch Veccus, and the other Greek Bishops, professed the Faith, according to the rule laid down by the Roman Church; and the Emperor Michael and his son Andronicus wrote to the Pope, that all that the Roman Church believes and teaches was confirmed by these Synods. The Emperor wrote another letter, in 1278, to Nicholas III., the successor of John, informing him that he used every means in his power to consolidate the union, but that so many outbreaks occurred, and so many plots were laid against him, that he feared he would be deposed if he tried any further, and he begged of his Holiness not to be angry if he appeared to yield a little in so delicate an affair. The end of the matter was, that the Greeks, with few exceptions, every day more and more separated themselves from the union they had sworn to, and at last Martin IV., the successor of Nicholas III., excommunicated the Emperor, Michael Paleologus, in 1281, as a supporter of the Greek schism and heresy, and forbade all Princes, Lords, and Universities, and the authorities of all cities and towns, under pain of personal excommunication and local interdict, from having any connexion with him, as long as he was under ban of excommunication. Noel Alexander, on the authority of two authors, says that the Pope excommunicated the Emperor at the instigation of Charles, King of Sicily, who hoped that when Michael was by this measure deprived of assistance, that  be could easily banish him from the throne, and place his son-in-law on it; but Roncaglia, in his notes on Alexander, shows that Martin having renewed the excommunication the following year, (as Raynaldus relates, Ann. 1281, N. 8), proves that the only reason he could have for doing it was, that the Emperor broke faith, and gave up the union he had sworn to maintain (31).

 

(30) Nat. Alex. loc. cit. a. 2, n. 6, ex Nicephor. l. 5, & aliis. (31) Nat. Alex. t. 17, digs. 7, a. 2, per totum.

 

26. This schism continued for about a hundred and twenty years longer, from the Council of Lyons, till the year 1439, when the Greeks were reduced almost to the last extremity, for the Almighty permitted the Turks to punish them, and, after conquering the greater part of their empire, now threatened their total destruction. In their distress, they now made overtures for a re-union with the Roman Church once more, and Pope Eugenius IV., who was extremely desirous of acceding to their wishes, convoked a Council, principally for this object, in Ferrara; and when the plague broke out in that city, afterwards in Florence, and invited the Emperor, the Patriarchs, and the other Greek Bishops to attend. The Emperor John Paleologus, accepted the invitation, and the Patriarch of Constantinople, the two chief Metropolitans, Basil Bessarion, Archbishop of Nice, and Mark, Archbishop of Ephesus, several other Greek Bishops, seven hundred other distinguished personages, and a hundred and sixty Latin Bishops, assembled in Florence. The points of disagreement, which were the same as those decided on in the Council of Lyons (32), were again examined. The word, Filioque, ” and from the Son,” which was added to the Creed by the Latin Church, to explain that the Holy Ghost proceeds both from the Father and the Son, as from one principle, was again debated. Mark, the Greek Archbishop of Ephesus, was the most strenuous oppose of this addition; it was unlawful, he said, to add anything to the ancient Symbols of the Church, but our Theologians replied, that the promise made by Jesus Christ to assist his Church, was not confined to any period, but lasts till the end of time : ” Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt, xxviii, 20). The word, Consubstantial, was not, said they, in the Creed at first; and for all that the Council of Nice thought it necessary to add it, to put an end to the subterfuges of the Arians, and explain that the Word was of the same substance as, and in all things equal to, the Father. The Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, also, made an addition to the Nicene Creed, to explain the two Natures of Christ, Divine and human, against Nestorius, who taught that He was a mere man; and against Eutyches, who asserted that the human was absorbed by the Divine Nature. Hence they argued that the words, “and from the Son,” were added to the Symbol; not to prove that the ancient Symbols were imperfect, but to declare more clearly the truth of the Faith, and that the declaration of the truth ought not to be called an addition, but rather an explanation.

 

(32) Spondan. ad. Ann. 1438, n. 28. 

 

The Council, therefore, defined : ” That this truth should be believed by all Christians; that the Holy Ghost is eternally from the Father and the Son, and that his essence and being is both from the Father and the Son, and that he proceeds eternally from both, as from one principle, and by one spiration; and that this is what the Holy Fathers mean by saying that he proceeds from the Father by the Son; and when the Greeks speak of the Son, as the cause, and the Latins the principle, together with the Father, of the subsistence of the Holy Ghost, they both mean the same thing.” Here are the words : ” Diffinimus, ut hæc fidei veritas ab omnibus Christianis credatur, quod Spiritus Sanctus ex Patre, et Filio æternaliter est; et essentiam suam, suumque esse subsistens habet ex Patre simul et Filio; et ex utroque æternaliter tanquam ab uno principio, et unica spiratione procedit, declarantes, quod id quod SS. Patres dicunt ex Patre per Filium procedente Spiritum Sanctum; ad hanc intelligentiam tendit, ut per hoc significetur, Filium quoque esse secunduni græcos quidem causam, secundum latinos vero principium subsistentiæ Spiritus Sancti, sicut et Patrem. Et quoniam omnia quad Patris sunt, Pater ipse unigenito Filio suo gignendo dedit, præter esse Patrem, hoc ipsum quod Spiritus Sanctus procedit ex Filio, ipse Filius a Patre æternaliter habet, a quo etiam æternalitur genitus est. Diffinimus insuper, explicationem verborum illorum Filioque, veritatis declarandæ gratia, et imminente tune necessitate, ac rationabiliter Symbolo fuisse appositam.”

 

27. The question of the validity of the consecration of the Eucharist in unleavened bread was then discussed, but the parties soon agreed on this, as there was no doubt that wheaten bread was the essential matter of the Sarcament, and it was but a matter of discipline whether it was leavened or unleavened; and it was then defined that each Priest should follow the custom of his own Church, whether of the East or the West.

 

28. Purgatory, and the state of beatitude the just enjoy, previous to the General Resurrection, was then discussed. Both parties soon agreed on these points, for as to Purgatory, the Greeks never denied its existence, but they taught that the stains of sin are there purged away by the penalty of sorrow, and not of fire; and they, accordingly, at once agreed to the definition of the Council, which decided that the souls are purged from the stain of sin, in the next life, by punishment, and that they are relieved by the suffrages of the faithful, and especially by the Sacrifice of the Mass, but does not specify either the penalty of sorrow or of fire; and the Council of Trent, in the Twenty-fifth Session, in the Decree on Purgatory, decided the same, though many of the Holy Fathers, as St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, Bede, and the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas, particularly mention the penalty of fire, as I have remarked in my Dogmatic Work on the Council of Trent, in opposition to the Innovators (33); and they found their opinion on the text of St. Paul (I. Cor. iii, 12). The following is the Decree of the Council : ” Item (definimus) si vere pœnitentes in Dei charitate decesserint, antequam dignis pœnitentiæ fructibus de commissis satis fecerint, et omissis, eorum animas poems purgatoriis post mortem purgari, et ut a poenis hujusmodi releventur, prodesse eis Fidelium vivorum suffragia, missarum scil. Sacri-ficia, orationes, et eleemosynas, et alia pietatis officia, secundum Ecclæsia instituta.” 

 

29. The Greeks also accepted the definition of the Council, that the just enjoy the beatific vision previous to the General Resurrection. This is the Decree : ” Illas (Animas) etiam, quæ post contractam peccati maculam, vel in suis corporibus, vel eisdem exutæ corporibus (prout superius dictum est), sunt purgatæ, in Cælum mox recipi, et intueri clare ipsum Deum trinum, et unum sicuti est, pro meritorum tamen diversitate, alium alio perfectius; illorum autem animas, qui in actuali mortali peccato, vel solo original! decedunt mox in infernum descendere, pœnistamen disparibus puniendas.” Theologians commonly teach that the blessed will not have the fullness of beatitude, till after the General Judgment, when their souls will be united with their bodies. This, St. Bernard (34), speaking of the two stoles of the blessed, says : ” The first stole is the happiness itself, and the rest of the soul; but the second is immortality and the glory of the body.  

 

(33) Incit. Sogg. 25, n. 1, & 27. (34) S. Bernard, t. 1, q. 1033; Serm. 3, om. SS. n 1.

 

30. The greatest dispute was concerning the Primacy of the Pope, and Mark of Ephesus not only obstinately opposed this doctrine to the end of the Council, but after its conclusion, as we shall see, succeeded in again perverting the Greeks. The Greeks, indeed, admitted that the Pope was the head of  the Church, but would not allow that he could receive appeals from sentences passed by the Four Patriarchal Sees of the East, or convoke a General Council without their assent. They were so firm on this point, especially, that there would be no hope of agreement, had not Basil Bassarion, the Archbishop of Nice, suggested a mode of reconciling both parties, by putting in the clause: ” Saving the rights and privileges of the Greeks ;” and to this the Greeks at last consented, for they then maintained their privilege, and at the same time confessed their subjection to the Roman Church; for the very word privilege implies a concession from a superior power, and thus the power of the Pope over all Christian Churches is confirmed. “We define,” says the Council, ” that the Holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, has the primacy over the whole world, and that the Pope is the successor of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and our Father and Doctor; and that full power has been given him by our Lord Jesus Christ, in St. Peter, to feed, rule, and govern the Universal Church, as is contained in the Acts of the Universal Councils, and the Sacred Canons. We also renew the order laid down by the Sacred Canons, in regard to the other venerable Patriarchs, that the Patriarch of Constantinople should have the second place after the Holy Roman Pontiff; the Patriarch of Alexandria, the third; of Antioch, the fourth; and of Jerusalem, the fifth; saving all their rights and privileges.”

 

31. When all this was concluded, and before the Council was dismissed, the Armenians arrived in Florence, on the invitation of the Pope, as their provinces were infected with errors. The Armenian Patriarch sent four delegates, who were most kindly received by the Pope, and as they were extremely ignorant, his Holiness judged it proper to cause a compendium of the whole Christian doctrine to be drawn up, which they should swear to profess, and take with them as a rule for their countrymen. This Instruction or Decree was accepted and sworn to, by the Armenians, and is quoted at length by Cardinal Justinian and Berninus (35). The Jacobites, also, on the invitation of the Pope, were represented in the Council by the Abbot of St. Anthony, sent by the Armenian Patriarch. The Ambassadors of the Sovereign of Ethiopia, the Prester John, of that age, presented themselves at the Council, likewise, and promised obedience to the Roman Church, and a book of instructions were given them by the Pope, when he transferred the Council from Florence to Rome (36). This peace, however, was but of short duration, for the Greeks, on their return home, again fell back into their former errors, principally at the instigation ofthe wicked Mark of Ephesus. The chastisement of God soon overtook that fickle people; in 1453, Mahomet II. took Constantinople by assault, and gave it up to sack and slaughter; the infuriated soldiery slew all who came in their way, cast down the altars, profaned the monasteries, and despoiled the wretched inhabitants of all their property. Thus fell the empire of the East, after eleven centuries of a glorious existence. The Greeks continue, to the present day, obstinately attached to their errors; they are the slaves of the Turks in their ancient capital. That noble Church that gave to the world, Athanasius, Gregory, Basil, and so many other learned and holy Doctors, now lies trampled under foot, vice usurping the place of virtue, and ignorance seated in the chair of learning. The Greek Church, in a word, the Mother of many Saints and Doctors of the Church, has, on account of its separation from the Roman See, fallen into a state of deplorable barbarity and wretched slavery (37).

 

(35) Card. Justin, in Concil. Floren. par. 3, p. 263, & ap. Bernin. t . 4, s. 5, 6, p. 134 (36) Kainal. Ann. 1442, n. 1 &2.

 

(37) Hermant, t. 2, c. 201; Berti . H. t. 2, s. 16, c. 5. 

 

  

 

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