Jimmy Akin’s Response to the Open Letter: Justification, Trent, & Arius of Alexandria


Arius (AD 250 or 256 – 336) was a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt.

Jimmy Akin’s argument here on the doctrine of Justification is right on the money, and it is why I wish the authors of the Open Letter did not write on this point. It is very clear Amoris dodges this accusation…..

My concern, however, with Akin’s article, and I would ask him to clarify for me, is that his argument on the “canonical crime of heresy” vis-a-vis the definition of dogma which requires both divine & catholic faith, would render the ancient presbyter Arius as free of the canonical crime of heresy. The Council of Nicaea (325) gives us the Creed with “homoousian” (one substance), but only anathematizes those who hold to it, and does not specify anywhere in clear enough terms that the matter is “divinely revealed”. If one were to go to the Synodal letter of the Council (addressed to Alexandria, but sent everywhere) which specifies the doctrinal intent, one could easily appeal to the introduction to Trent Session 6 where Canon 18 (on Justification) is contextually situated.
It would therefore seem to me that after all this argumentation proving how narrowly conditioned a true canonical crime of heresy is, Akin only brings Pope Francis to be qualified just as good as Arius, or Athanasius, for that matter. In other words, the hops, hurdles, and acrobatics which one has to do in order to be a truly heretical criminal are avoided by Arius just as much Pope Francis. Now, I don’t want to betray Akin’s intention, since nowhere does he set out to necessarily defend Pope Francis as an orthodox Catholic (though we should assume he thinks so), but I thought the implication of his logic brings this necessarily about.

5 thoughts on “Jimmy Akin’s Response to the Open Letter: Justification, Trent, & Arius of Alexandria

  1. How does the Professio Fidei not cover the question of the condemnation of Arius as a matter of irreformable doctrine?

    And how is the concern about “how narrowly conditioned a true canonical crime of heresy is” not already contained in canon law itself?

    Can. 18 Laws which establish a penalty, restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception from the law are subject to strict interpretation.

    • If it were a query on whether the Profession covers it or not, then I would have framed the question accordingly. But my query is with regard to how Akin is using the terminology. I am simply clarifying the implication – With all that is said and done in the article, Pope Francis could qualify as Arius or Athanasius. Since the modern conditions of “heresy” have grown so fine and astrophysical, it would seem as though so many in past generations were condemned as “heretics”, but only to men of old. In any case, as just and true as that is, this only means that Akin is not saving Pope Francis from being what everyone fears he is. He is simply proving that Pope Francis has dodged what Arius and Nestorius dodged by a lack of fine-tuned terminology.

      • But Jimmys understanding is in line with, and taken directly from canon law as modified in accommodation of the Professio— so the question still stands.

      • Steve,

        That is why I said “as just and true as that is”. The implications would be that someone like Arius or Nestorius could be Pope and pass the test of being free from the canonical crime of heresy. If that is the case, then that is the case.

        Now, how we feel about that is another story.

  2. As a theoretical question, if this resulted in schism, what would be the right side? And as a follow up question, where would an anti-francis Catholic go to mass and the such? Would we shack up with the sedes?

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