Request for Further Prayer and Support for Little Dryden

A couple weeks ago I shared the news of my good friend’s son Dryden who is fighting cancer. There is good news, but much more work is still to be done. On a spectrum of 1 to 30 (with 30 being the worst), little Dryden went from 19 to 12. That means he is responding to treatment. However, there is still a road ahead. Please continue to pray for the Stuart family, and IF YOU CAN, please consider giving helping the family begin chipping away at the enormous bill the hospital is landing upon them. Please see link below

Dr. Feser on Pope Honorius (part 2)

Dr. Ed Feser makes a 2nd article on Pope Honorius answering some of his critics.

As a result, I think I have some time to expand on my original thoughts that I shared in the comments section of Feser’s 1st article.

(1) When you read the 2 letters of Honorius to Sergius, it seems plain that he was not speaking about the kind of Monotheletism that Sergius, Pyrrhus, and Theodore were meaning, nor that which was condemned @ the Council of C’ple 681. In a famous “Apology”, Honorius’s successor Pope John IV (640-42) explicitly wrote in defense of his predecessor stating that what Honorius meant by “one will” is that there aren’t two conflicting wills within the human operation of Christ as St. Paul speaks of in Romans 7 (it is no longer I but the sin that is in me), since Christ did not partake of the fall of Adam. This is precisely the way in which St. Maximus defends Honorius’s 2 letters, as well. Thus, there is material to look at in the actual letters of Honorius that should not be ignored.

(2) Despite (1), which includes the authority of Pope John IV, we have the weightier judgment of Pope St. Leo II (in confirming C’ple 681) and Pope John VIII (in confirming Nicaea 787, Trullo 692, and C’ple 869-70) which clearly accepts that Honorius was executed with anathema for heresy. Not many realize that Nicaea 787 was not ratified and accepted by Rome until 869 (and possibly 879) due to the failure of the Byzantine Emperors returning Papal Patriarchal jurisdiction in Sicily, Calabria, and especially the classical prefecture of Illyricum (then especially Bulgaria), at once confiscated by the Iconoclast Emperor Leo III (Isaurian).

(3) Nevertheless, there is a distinction that I’m not sure you are taking notice of and which plays a massive role in the canonical/theological assessment of heresy in the 2nd millennium (something not developed in the East). That distinction is between an error (note, I say error) which, if held formally (that is, with both form and matter), is still not a “grave sin” nor capable of constituting the “crime of heresy” due to its lack of magisterially definitive judgments. For example, the outward (form + matter) denial of the immaculate conception doctrine, that is those who stood out in defense of the idea that Mary was conceived in original sin was not, according to Pope Sixtus IV, capable of being a grave (mortal) sin nor a heretical crime because hitherto the doctrinal debate had not yet been resolved by the Apostolic See. Up to that point, the censures were still at the level where it was simply not allowed to accuse one or the other a heretic (the fransiscans versus the dominicans). Thus, during this time, even a Pope could have made an erroneous teaching in his magisterium on Mary’s conception (that she was conceived in original sin) and it would not be an error which could be considered a mortal sin nor a heretical crime. Now, there are instances where being in error could be a mortal sin or a heretical crime, if held in both form and material, and that is when a doctrine that MUST BE HELD as DEFINITIVE is denied. For example, if a Pope were to teach that Christ is not consubstantial with the Father in any year after 325, that would be a bold face denial of definitive doctrine as judged by the supreme magisterium of the Church.

(4) Honorius’s supposed teaching of “one will” in Christ (let’s just presume he did intend to teach what was condemned @ C’ple 681) was not a contradiction to definitive doctrine. The matter could hardly be found in the universal ordinary magisterium up to that point (though St. Maximus and Popes Martin/Theodore thought they were) and had to await the council of C’ple 681 for a definitive judgment.

(5) Therefore, Honorius’s error is not the kind of error that would have constituted the crime of heresy that today is understood by the development of canonical law in the Latin West (and which is binding on the Eastern Catholic Churches, too).

(6) Lest this seems to be irrelevant (for Dr. Feser had already acknowledged this difference in this 2nd article), let me draw attention to the fact that Pope Francis today is being accused of a bold face heresy that is in contradiction to definitive doctrine by the magisterium. Those who perceive that he teaches that the death penalty is intrinsically evil (in itself, contrary to divine revelation) say he is contradicting de fide doctrine that is definitive by the universal ordinary magisterium. Those who perceive that he teaches it is OK to consciously be in adultery and receive communion think he goes against the Council of Trent explicitly. The list can go on. But the point I’m making here is that the Honorius-event only goes so far in terms of being a precedent for Papal error, and that is not far enough to make for a precedent that is now being considered of the current Roman Pontiff, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. This is significant because the evil consequences that would have accrued (according to contemporary Catholic canon law and theology on heresy) to those who picked up Honorius’s letters and believed them could not render one guilty of mortal sin or of the crime of heresy (and thus destroy the soul), whereas the evil consequences that are being purported today about the “heresies” of Pope Francis are that IF A CATHOLIC WERE TO HOLD THEM (revision on death penalty or Amoris Laetitia), HE WOULD INCUR MORTAL SIN OR THE CRIME OF HERESY (I apologize for the caps, they are there for emphasis).

Post-script: I am not sure the Maximus example helps in this whole context. Maximus showed no awareness in any of his writings of a distinction between various kinds of Papal magisteria. For Maximus, if a Patriarch held to a heresy in a private homily or in a solemn decree, it was precisely the same exact thing. Therefore, the illustration from Maximus’s trial where he insinuates that he would recognize even a Pope to be condemned for heresy is not helpful to the contemporary Catholic who is trying to find leverage for the possibility of Papal heresy in the non ex cathedra teaching more. In fact, in that very trial, Maximus goes so far as to say he would break communion with all the Patriarchs, including Rome, were any one of them to prove to have held to Monotheletism even by way of a simple homily. Maximus, in other words, was willing to suffer the loss of communion with the “whole world” (as he said it) for the sake of keeping his soul safe from heresy. Now that kind of extremity is quite damning, if followed through, to Catholic ecclesiology since there is never a justification for a lay man, such as Maximus was, to break communion with the Roman Pontiff. However, that he was willing to go there seems explicit, at least in that trial wherein he gave answers.