Weaponizing Catholic Scholars against Catholicism (Vatican 1)?

When ๐‘…๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘› & ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘ฆ hosted the Rev. Dr. Richard Price (Heythrop) on the subject of the Papacy in Greek and Latin sides of the 1st millennium, there were commentators who were quick to turn Price into an anti-Catholic weapon by which to falsify the 1st Vatican Council. That was not a surprise, as many Protestants and Eastern Orthodox students of history have noticed a handy help in Roman Catholic scholars themselves against Catholic doctrine. However, I think that this is a tad bit one-sided, quite often. While it is true that one can run through a good number of Roman Catholic scholars and find all sorts of concessions that seem to score points for someone who is against the Papacy, if it is equally observed what these same scholars say about foundational claims of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly the latter, then it gets manifested that weaponizing these scholars as anti-Catholic weapons, and not anti-Orthodox weapons, is a result of being short-sighted in the study of their material.

We see this, for ex, with Fr. Price when it comes to iconology and iconodulia since he admits that while the bishops of Nicaea (787) were theologically correct, the iconoclasts were historically correct in saying icons were not produced and venerated by the Apostles and their immediate successors. That’s a massive blow under the floor of Eastern Orthodoxy, though we may contest it (and rightly so!). Nevertheless, the point is clear. Just when you’ve thought you got yourself a nice weapon, it has too much kick-back.

I wish here to draw attention to some statements by another Catholic scholar who has the potential to be used, similar to Fr. Price, as a weapon against Catholicism, but which ends up being a two-edge sword that cuts into the weaponizers. I’ll bring it all into a nice wrap in the end but challenge yourself by trying to find it on your own as I work up to the conclusion.

The late Fr. Francis A Sullivan SJ (1922-2019) was a prominent Catholic theologian in the area of the magisterium and ecclesiology. He was extremely well educated. Besides getting his PhD, he achieved the status of both ๐‘†๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘’ ๐ฟ๐‘–๐‘๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘ข๐‘  (STL) and ๐‘†๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘’ ๐ท๐‘œ๐‘๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ (STD), which is a Licentiate of Sacred Theology and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. He seems to have been a center-left (?) theologian, seeing as he pitched in thoughts doubting the infallibility of ๐‘‚๐‘Ÿ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ ๐‘†๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘–๐‘  (regarding woman’s ordination) and the Church’s stance against contraception. One might say he wasn’t so much, even in the slightest, pro female ordination or pro contraception, but was enamored with something that we intuitively expect would be easy to grasp but is not, namely, the complexity of what makes an infallible teaching via the universal ordinary magisterium (and being able to recognize it as such!).

And that brings me to what I want to speak about regarding his work. I think Sullivan is another instance, similar to most contemporary Catholic theologians, of someone who was caught up in a very risky understanding of doctrinal development and with the dynamics of divine revelation. That is, he made some concessions which would be quite obviously seem to go against the credibility of Catholic doctrine, but he cleverly ends up regaining traction just before falling into the ditch by a complex set of nuanced thinking, all which seem unhelpful at first. Consider what he says below concerning the existence of the “Roman Papacy” in the New Testament:

“๐—ช๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜†, ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ. ๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—บ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜… ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ณ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜, ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต’๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ฒ, ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐˜๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ธ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜†. ๐—œ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ผ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐˜๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐˜† ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ง๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—น๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฎ ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€-๐—น๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜, ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜†-๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ผ, ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐˜† ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ง๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ท๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ณ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐˜๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜†, ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—น๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜-๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ง๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜, ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜’๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต… ๐—”๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ, ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—น๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐˜‚๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐˜… ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต. ๐—œ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—น๐˜† ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—›๐—ผ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฆ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜. ๐—ฆ๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—น๐˜†, ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ณ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ป ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐—พ๐˜‚๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ. ๐—œ๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐˜‚๐˜€, ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป, ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐˜๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜‚๐—บ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ณ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ. ” (๐‘ด๐’‚๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’Š๐’–๐’Ž: ๐‘ป๐’†๐’‚๐’„๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐‘จ๐’–๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘ช๐’‚๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’๐’Š๐’„ ๐‘ช๐’‰๐’–๐’“๐’„๐’‰ (๐‘ท๐’‚๐’–๐’๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐‘ท๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”, 1983), 83-84).

Sullivan thinks that whatever God revealed in Christ with the Apostles, it was not such that a “Roman papacy” existed during that time. One can find similar statements in the scholarship of Fr. Klaus Schatz, for example. That sounds like a nice little golden nugget to bring up to the next Catholic apologist next time a debate on the subject comes up. The Papacy not existing during the times of the New Testament. Yeah, that sounds bad.

Now, before we get too excited, one will notice a few things. He doesn’t just say the Roman papacy didn’t exist. He says they did not exist “as such”, which means they existed in another form perhaps. In fact, he does say that the Roman papacy is the product of “seminal factors already present in the New Testament” but not explicitly unfolded. One might make some sense of this, though I think this kind of language tends to be less helpful. One might also refer to Sullivan’s work on the monoepiscopate, which he thinks did not exist directly after Peter and Paul in the Roman ekklesia, something which I can’t imagine is reasonably consistent with the 1st Vatican Council (though again, there is no end of supply of arguments from people who try to say that it is). At best, Sullivan is aiming for substantial continuity even if his theory has no material for it.

Moreover, the Papacy and Papal infallibility, he writes, were at the other end of centuries long development. This sounds like the early Church simply didn’t believe in it, not so much because she protested against the idea, but because it wasn’t even a consideration of mind to be dealt with to begin with! Problematic, yes.

But notice also how Sullivan thinks that Conciliar infallibility and Ecumenical Councils, too, were not concepts in existence during the New Testament. And here he doesn’t simply mean the imperial stature of those Councils, but the concept of an infallible synod altogether. Sullivan also thinks this was not present during New Testament times, nor directly after it. Rather, it also took centuries. This is quite clear in that he references the work of the Jesuit theologian Herman Josef Sieben whose work ๐˜‹๐˜ช๐˜ฆ ๐˜’๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ป๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ญ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜’๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ (1979) “showed” how the Fathers in the Councils did not show a sense of recognition that their decisions were *a priori* infallible (p. 85). I happen to think this is factually wrong, but I am not going to venture in that direction. Sieben held that the only true criterion for the ecumenicity of Councils is when its decrees were received by the whole Church, as consonant with Scripture and Tradition. This, too, is also problematic and requires some further defining, but I’m staying on another point for now (if you’d like to discuss, bring it up in the comments).

Sullivan also thinks that it was understood within the 7 era of Ecumenical Councils that infallible teaching required the unique participation of the successor of St. Peter (p. 76), and not just as another Patriarch in a series of Patriarchs, or even the lead Patriarch, but because of a special investment given to St. Peter, the original primate of the Roman diocese. The idea is that a divinely instituted leadership was bestowed on Peter individually and which gets passed, by way of lineal succession, to the successors to his stationary cathedra fixed in Rome. This is a theory which is unacceptable to Eastern Orthodoxy ecclesiology, but which Sullivan thinks is present in the 1st millennium history.

Thus, we have Sullivan’s scholarship giving us what seems to be a problematic point on the lack of existence of the Papacy (as it would exist later) in the New Testament times as well as in post-Apostolic Christian antiquity, but also a heavy dose, albeit smaller, of ๐‘Žโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘š to Orthodoxy’s doctrine of conciliar infallibility and her more recent ecclesiology which excludes any notion of a divinely instituted Petrine government fixed from Rome as a sine qua non for producing infallible doctrine in Councils. Now, Sullivan indeed thinks these things were organic developments, but Eastern Orthodox thinkers can often be found denigrating the idea that her doctrines developed in this fashion and find it rather troublesome to Catholicism that the latter’s dogmatic formula arising in such a fashion. All in all, I think what we have here is another instance of a Catholic scholar who can be cited against Catholicism, but who also has a blow to swing in other unwanted directions. Lastly, the Orthodox might retort with, “Bah, Erick. The Orthodox ecclesiology is far more loose and capable of withstanding more damage because of its lack of centralization and that is doesn’t focus so much of its truth criterion to the sensitivity of one man or one bishop” (etc. etc.). But realize, the ๐‘Žโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘š that Sullivan would be pointing out here still cuts across the whole of what conservative Orthodox theologians would want to be something that the Apostles and their immediate successors were conscious of. Kind of like iconodulia. Err… that is, what is claimed by scholars regarding iconodulia.

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22 thoughts on “Weaponizing Catholic Scholars against Catholicism (Vatican 1)?

  1. As a historian, Price relies on existing evidence. Clearly there are gaps in Pre-nicene history. If we just rely on the written evidence like the Apologists we might be misled to think all pictorial art was rejected by the Church (like many of the Reformers). Luckily over the last two centuries archaeology has discovered the catacombs and the Dura Europos Church. Who would have imagined 100 years ago that something like a pre-nicene Church existed? I’ve recently read the archaeological report on the Megido Church that suggests the walls were covered in frescoes as pigment was found in the plaster layer found on the floor (the walls don’t survive)

    Icon veneration was a ‘folk practice’ that gradually spread to the liturgical realm. There is a clear Tradition on this. Price is just being ‘secular’ when he makes his statement that the iconoclasts were right about no icon veneration in Pre-nicene times. However his admission that a theology of art/saint veneration/appreciation of the material world is conclusive for Orthodox practice.

    • The issue here is that there isn’t just an absence of evidence (early dated art can only go so far an indication of Nicaea 787 since many of the opponents of its teaching, as well as the Studites & the Damascene, were just fine with Christian art), but also a positive denial of its practice. For example, Eusebius and Epiphanius stand as positive evidence against its accepted-ness universally. I understand some question authenticity, but what’s the good reason? I’ve not seen any.

  2. Erick,
    if the iconoclastic texts from Epiphanius are authentic then there is no problem as they accidently support the Orthodox position. Lots of people don’t bother to read the fragments, which is a pity as they are readily available in English translation by Stephen Bigham in his book Epiphanius of Salamis: Doctor of Iconoclasm?
    In his Letter to the Emperor Theodosius Epiphanius complains that everyone is ‘worshiping idols’ and that when he (Epiphanius) tried to complain they all laughed at him. Epiphanius wants Theodosius to intervene and stop the practice. (see pages 17-20 for the translation). Epiphanius presents himself as the lone defender an aniconism.
    Orthodox understanding of the Fathers has no problem with individual dissent from the consensus.

    If the fragments are forgeries then they simply provide evidence of of the universal practice of icon veneration at the outbreak of the iconoclastic controversy.

    As for Eusebius of Caesarea, he pretty much admits (begrudgingly) that Christians are venerating icons of Christ, Peter and Paul even though he describers it in unflattering terms as a ‘gentile’ practice. No one disputes the authenticity of Ecclesiastical History 7:18.

    I have every confidence that more archaeological discoveries will occur that will support the Orthodox position. The discoveries of art, buildings, manuscripts and inscriptions over the last 200 years have done that so far.

    • Stefano,

      Thanks for your interaction. Price does do the secular history thing, and that limits him. I’ve written extensive articles on the difference of method in this regard.

      Well, at the very least, Epiphanius does not “present himself” as a lone wolf. He states, “Who among the holy fathers ever prostrated himself in front of a representation made by men’s hands or allowed his own disciples to prostrate themselves in front of it? Who among the saints, having abandoned the inexhaustible treasure — that is, the hope in the knowledge of God – – ever had his portrait painted and ordered people to prostrate themselves in front of it?” (Bigham, 14-15). And so, while you have those who cite Epiphanius without realizing the points you bring, there are also those who simply ignore that Epiphanius is also saying that he himself, throughout his entire life and catechesis, has never experienced what he describes. That means his upbringing in Israel/Palestine, life in Egypt, his wide travels as bishop/Metropolitan of Cyprus as far as Antioch (367) and Rome (382), together with his linguistic learning (Jerome calls him Pentaglossos), never gave him the showing of iconodulia, except for where he lays his accusations. Epiphanius was no small voice. He was the “hammer of heretics” who produced the Panarion.

      If his writings are authentic, they do far more than show that image veneration was around during his time. The presence of X doesn’t validate X. At least, not automatically. Otherwise, we’d have to say the presence of schisms in early Christianity prove that schismaticism is valid. Spiritualists (Cathari) existed, therefore Spiritualism. This isn’t the best way to make a defense.

      If they are not authentic, then it means that someone crafted it for a specific reason.

      As for Eusebius, here is another man who gives us the chronicle of early Christian history, who was a close contact with Emperor Constantine, and who , despite his mistakes, did his best to give a reliable account of the early origins of Christianity up to his time. For this man to say regarding images of Christ, “Have you ever heard this in Church or from someone else? Is this not something that throughout the world is banned and banished from the churches? Do not all proclaim that we alone are not allowed to do such a thing?” is extremely significant. Elsewhere he makes note of the practice of images of Christ and the Saints, though he takes care to postulate where it came from, namely, from Paganism. If iconodulia towards images of Christ/saints were Apostolic in origin, universal praxis, and heralded as “Christian tradition”, then Eusebius’s words simply can’t be understood.

      Lastly, your comments on archaeology still seem to suggest you are equating Christian art with the iconology of the Damascene, the Studites, and the Council of Nicaea 787. I can connect the dots through a process of development which is organic and continuous, but not something that was manifestly Christian practice in all places going back to Jerusalem 33 AD.

      Most of all, the article I wrote here is in response to Eastern Orthodox scholars who often try to use Catholic scholars to show that the Papacy was a late innovation might be also missing the fact that these same historians would use their same message to undercut the historicity of Orthodox doctrines, thereby making them “unreliable” in some respect. Or at least strongly disagreeable. In my own thinking, we have far more evidence for the Papacy than we do icons in the 1st millennium, and I think if the Orthodox were to give the very same confidence of the Patristic nature of iconodulia that they do the plethora of evidence for the divinely perpetual institution of the Petro-Roman primacy, they would have to admit the contemporary exclusion of it from their ecclesiology is un-Patristic.

  3. Erick,
    you are right that my comments are off on a tangent from your main point. Let me make a few remarks on that. You are right that scholarship can be a double edged sword. But then, that is the nature of scholarship. Some points are better or more persuasive than others. However, I don’t think anyone expects the wholesale adoption of a particular scholars’ findings.

    For example one of the reasons I am Orthodox are the writings of Francis Dvornik, Yves Congar, Aidan Nichols and Robert Taft. They all remained Roman Catholic (which I am not) but they make lots of great points about the development of the papacy. Even the facts they use are helpful and their bibliographies were a great launching point for further research). I should say when I was growing up there weren’t an awful lot of books in English by Orthodox writers.

    If you don’t mind indulging me I would like a say a few more comments on Epiphanius and Icons.

    When I said Epiphanius of Salamis was a lone voice I meant when he is supposedly writing (at the end of the 4th century). He argues that he is in keeping with previous practice (that is the part you quote but as I said I was referring to the Letter to Theodosius) and that he is the only one who does. The evidence of the fragments claim ‘idol worship’ = icon veneration has taken over completely and subverted the earlier practice (even though there is no contemporary evidence to support this)
    Yes, Epiphanius did have a great reputation but he is still a single voice. If the fragments are authentic then I wouldn’t miss a beat. St. Cyprian of Carthage wanted blanked rebaptism, St. Gregory of Nyssa favoured apocatastasis, St Augustine has weird notions on original sin, grace and advocated coercion of heretics, St. Nikephoros of Constantinople supported the execution of heretics and the ninth century popes were happy to assume secular power as ‘kings’ of the papal states.

    As for Eusebius his honesty has held up well when his evidence is tested but he still has an agenda. For example, his focus in his Church History is very much intellectual, hence his focus on authors and writings. He is selective when treating Constantine as he wants to present him in the most favourable light so he doesn’t mention the execution of Crispus. His Origenist leanings clearly colour his comments when speaking about icons.

    As for all the art discoveries supporting the Orthodox position that is exactly what I believe. To create religious art is to show veneration of what is being depicted. This is obvious to us who come from the cultural environment that created the art. That others who are centuries removed and culturally distinct argue that the art has no devotional purpose strikes me as unlikely.

    • Thank you again.

      I think the first commentary you give on Epiphanius is fair, even if I think it is ultimately unpersuasive. If image veneration was Christian tradition, his being an “opponent” of it would manifest itself far differently than his comments on it demonstrate. An opponent of something would lose credibility if he knew there was historical precedent while denying said precedence. It would have been far more likely for Epiphanius to admit that Christians do such things from Apostolic mandate rather than from assimilation to pagan practices or was ultimately forbidden by divine law. Epiphanius thought tradition was on his side, and unless we are prepared to say he didn’t have access to the public practice of Christians in the 4th century we should take his comments seriously. At the very least, it shows the matter was not universally accepted. Epiphanius was both a saint and a metropolitan who thought his opposition to icons *was* faithfulness to divine revelation. Assuming he was intelligent and sincere, the only thing that can account for that is that many, and I mean many, Christians *did not* produce physical pictures of God for veneration, nor of the Saints for the same.

      On Eusebius, I would say pretty much the same.

      About Dvornik, Congar, Nichols, and Taft, I could only imagine the latter being a reason to remain Eastern Orthodox. It seems to me that only by making “inferences” which the preliminary 3 did not make on their own could only utilize them as a basis. Just consider how the Eastern fathers considered what gets put into the text of Ecumenical Councils are God-breathed so much that the Three Chapters controversy required a 10+ year investigation on how to figure out what letter “of Ibas” was in reference in Chalcedon’s 14th session, so as to save it from absolute dissolution. Now take that and see Dvornik’s statements on the Papal language incorporated into the Council of Constantinople (879-80), a Council which the Catholic Church could only benefit from being accepted as ecumenical.

  4. Hi Erick,
    Regarding your last comment, I’m not aware of the Holy Spirit having a time limit to lead the Church to an infallible consensus. It’s fairly common knowledge that it took the Second Ecumenical Council a generation to be recognised as such.

    It doesn’t matter if it took decades to resolve the issue of the Three Chapters or if there were disputes over specific texts as Chalcedon.

    If I’m not mistaken it took a century to resolve the schism in Italy when the popes accepted the condemnation. Why did it take a century for the authority of the popes over the Archbishops of Aquileia to work?Does the long duration invalidate papal authority?

    As for Dvornik, please give me a reference.

    • I agree iconography underwent development prior to its dogmatization. Typically, Eastern Orthodox aren’t happy to concede to that. Fr. Andrew Louth, a prominent Orthodox scholar of Byzantine theology & history, at once concedes icon veneration is probably not to be found as a universal practice in the 4th century, is still not happy to use the word “development” but rather “doctrinal realization.” Not much different, if you ask me.

      As for the intra-Italia schism following C’ple 553, these churches came back into communion on the grounds “they were in schism”, rather than legitimate protesters. So the terms of reunion give retroactive explanation, i.e. the sees (yes, plural) of Peter were *a priori* correct for the sake of the Apostolic See of Rome.

      For Dvornik, see his Byzantium and the Roman Primacy on the Photian Synods. Also, his commentary on the Photian synods in his small volume “Ecumenical Councils.” Both can be found free to read on Archive.org

  5. If you’re okay to let someone relatively uneducated make a quick comment, I found Suan Sonna’s comments, though he meant them as a sort of corollary to Trent Horn and Jimmy Akin’s, more persuasive than the former’s response. He acknowledges the changing view of icons in Church history but points out that this alone doesn’t prove much either way.

  6. Hi There Erick,
    I have a few remarks.
    No Orthodox claims the Apostles had specifically built churches. Or that they had a fully developed liturgical cycle. The need for art was limited by the circumstances of a persecuted church . This was probably the case for the next few generations. No Orthodox believes that churches (the buildings) like we have today with icons in the narthex existed in Apostolic Times. The veneration of martyrs and saints was limited as most hadn’t been born. You can’t have an icon of St. Nicholas if there isn’t a St. Nicholas. Can you point out to me an Orthodox writer who claims there were no changes in the material culture from the Apostolic times to today?
    I suspect either Orthodox apologists are referring to the mindset (the phronema) of the early Christians or that icon veneration in the generations prior to the outbreak of Iconoclasm in 730 is substantially the same as after 843.
    I have read Father Louth’s article. It isn’t particularly long. Even in the 4th century there is so little written about art I can see why he might make his claim. As for Palamism, Father Louth seems to be in minority. Norman Russell (the leading expert on Palamas and a convert to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism) and Father John Meyendorff (and many others) see clear links between the thought of Gregory Palamas and 4th/5th/6th century theology.

    Can I ask a question? Are tacky plaster statues of Jesus, Mary and the saints a doctrinal development?

    I forgot to mention another Roman Catholic author who has helped me stay Orthodox – Lorenzo Valla. He exposed the forgery that was the Donation of Constantine. My investigations made me realise how much of the Papal claims are based on fake texts (Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, the Symmachian forgeries, Decretum Gelasianum, Dictatus Papae, the early sections of the Liber Pontificalis).

    Here are some quotes from ‘Byzantium and the Roman Primary’ that you might find interesting.

    As to the conception of the Church, the Byzantines were quite content with what they found in Holy Scripture and that which the Eastern Fathers had passed on to them. (p. 16)

    The idea of the Pentarchy has often been considered as being dangerous for the Roman Primacy and in direct opposition to it, but this opinion is surely exaggerated. (p. 103)

    โ€ฆthe [Roman] legates who were convinced that the case of Photius, his โ€œusurpationโ€ (he had been canonically elected), his deposition (the great majority of the clergy considered this deposition as unjust and had remained faithful to him), and his other activities had been portrayed by his enemies in Rome in an altogether false light. (p. 110)

    During the pontificate of the Germanic Popes who had been installed by the Ottos and by Henry II, some innovations that were strange to the Byzantines were introduced in Rome. (pp. 126-7)

    One other circumstance was destined to bear an even greater responsibility for the separation which grew between the two Churches. This was the profound transformation which took place in Western Christendom as a result of the introduction of certain Germanic customs into ecclesiastical organizations. (p. 128)

    Some of these decrees were directed against Greek liturgical usages which had been established in Italy. The reforming clergy, thereupon, launched into an active campaign in all of the provinces, including Apulia, which was a Byzantine area. (p. 131) This quote provides testimony that an aggressive Rome triggered the events of 1054 by attacking Byzantine (=Apostolic) customs like the bread of the Eucharist first.

    It was only after the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins that the Byzantines fully understood the development that had taken place in the idea of the Roman Primacy. (p. 155)

    As I said, Dvornik’s scholarship has made me stay Orthodox.

    • Your points on the development of iconology are well accepted by me. I just find it hard to find Eastern Orthodox who are happy to concede. On Palamism, I’ve been waiting for the day when I can branch off to dig deeper into the Patristic roots of Palamism, as well as, perhaps, the Platonic/Proclus roots.

      The reason I am not Eastern Orthodox is because I believe the Filioque doctrine is far too embedded into the Patristic witness and the Papacy is likewise, with the addition that the text of ecumenical councils include the substance of Vatican 1. If I were ever to leave Catholicism because of her being at variance with the sources of revelation and the pillars of tradition, then I couldn’t become Eastern Orthodox for the simple reason I think the same items are at variance with it. Dvornik’s statements there all seem quite easy to affirm, imo.

      • Hey Erick,
        I’m not sure how the Filioque came up. I haven’t written a book on the subject but my look at the evidence is that the vast majority of filioquist proof texts simply don’t prove it. The Roman polemicists just piled on the extracts with no context in an effort to sledgehammer their case. Let’s face it – most proof texts are simply about the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world and not about the eternal procession. I don’t see a Patristic consensus even amongst the Latin Fathers. No wonder the best Greek proof text at the Council of Florence in favour of the Filioque was a fake/corrupt texts (by St. Basil).

        I haven’t written a book on the Papacy either but the innovations are evident. You might chalk it up to some kind of doctrinal innovation but I see it as an error as the once glorious (and Orthodox) popes were corrupted by power.

        Luckily the Popes have done some backflipping so I’m not even a heretic anymore and not being in communion with the pope-kings of Vatican City will not send me straight to hell. Thanks pope-kings! The current atmosphere in the Roman Church is to sideline the Filioque anyway. I don’t have to put it in my Creed and appatenty we’ve always believed it and it’s a great big misunderstanding. I haven’t been keeping track but are Orthodox still called heretics for denying the Filioque in any recent Vatican documents?

        I’m sure Pope Boniface VIII (a la Unam Sanctam) is spinning in his grave.

        You didn’t answer my question about plaster statues? Doctrinal Development?

      • I apologize for bringing up the Filioque, as I must have thought it played into the point. I did write a book on it, available @ Amazon. But we needn’t bother with that subject. Suffice it to say I disagree with your summation.

        As for the Papacy, I spend a good deal in the book showing its origins and emergence. I don’t think the characterization you’ve given here adequately deals with the facts. But you are free to carry your own opinions.

        There has been a change in posture towards non-Catholic Christians in light of the doing away with certain presuppositions that were usual to be had in former times, namely, the culpability of one’s rejection of divine revelation. Nevertheless, the 2nd Vatican Council, and all the post-Conciliar clarificatory documents from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, makes it clear that those who reject the will of Christ can be subject to damnation, and rejecting the divine institution of the Petrine government is just that. Therefore, one puts themselves in danger to a proximation towards damnation in their flaunting a rejection of Catholic doctrine.

        And yes, rejecting the Filioque is a heresy.

  7. Before
    Bull of Pope Boniface VIII promulgated November 18, 1302Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: โ€˜One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,โ€˜ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

    We venerate this Church as one, the Lord having said by the mouth of the prophet: โ€˜Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog.โ€™ [Ps 21:20] He has prayed for his soul, that is for himself, heart and body; and this body, that is to say, the Church, He has called one because of the unity of the Spouse, of the faith, of the sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is the tunic of the Lord, the seamless tunic, which was not rent but which was cast by lot [Jn 19:23- 24]. Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: โ€˜Feed my sheepโ€˜ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John โ€˜there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.โ€™ We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: โ€˜Behold, here are two swordsโ€˜ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: โ€˜Put up thy sword into thy scabbardโ€˜ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administeredย forย the Church but the latterย byย the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

    However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: โ€˜There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of Godโ€˜ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

    For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: โ€˜Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdomsโ€˜ and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: โ€˜The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no manโ€˜ [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, โ€˜Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heavenโ€˜ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

    After
    Unitas Redintegratio

    It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

    These Churches, although separated from us, possess true sacraments, above all by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy. Therefore some worship in common (communicatio in sacris), given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not only possible but to be encouraged.

    Moreover, in the East are found the riches of those spiritual traditions which are given expression especially in monastic life. There from the glorious times of the holy Fathers, monastic spirituality flourished which, then later flowed over into the Western world, and there provided the source from which Latin monastic life took its rise and has drawn fresh vigor ever since. Catholics therefore are earnestly recommended to avail themselves of the spiritual riches of the Eastern Fathers which lift up the whole man to the contemplation of the divine.

    No offence, but you’re just a blogger. Your opinion doesn’t for much. Kindly point out a Papal announcement or a statement by a Catholic hierarch in the last 50 years that a rejection of the Filioque is heresy.

    • Stefano,

      Yes, I’m just a blogger. However, I would just tell you that no ecclesiological changes exist from Boniface VIII and Vatican 2. What has changed is that the former presupposition, namely, that all those outside the communion of St. Peter are automatically culpable for their errors, has been revoked. St. Augustine, for example, said that it is the lack of charity that grounds the culpability of schism. But if you take away that supposition for material heretics, they may not be culpable for it, whatever else they are guilt of in the sight of God. As for the normative principles, what Boniface VIII says it still true. The Catholic Church still teaches that Christ divinely wills all to assemble in the unity of the Church, and that unity is found fully expressed in the Catholic Church. As Pope Benedict XVI said concerning the separated Eastern Churches: “… the Eastern churches are genuine particular churches, although they are not in communion with the Pope. In this sense, unity with the Pope is not constitutive for the particular church. Nevertheless, the lack of unity is also an intrinsic lack in the particular church. For the particular church is ordered to membership in a whole. In this respect, non-communion with the Pope is a defect in the living cell of the particular church, as it were. It remains a cell, it is legitimately called a church, but the cell is lacking something, namely, its connection with the organism as a whole.” (Light of the World, 89)

      And the recent statements of the theological commissions for dialogue which all say that the Filioque is harmonious with the Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, right reason, and the scholastic doctors, is all a testament implying that a rejection of it is erroneous, and potentially heretical if someone were to obstinately refuse to believe it. We don’t need an explicit statement on this since our dogmatic statements at the Council of Florence do not even call rejecting the Filioque a heresy, but anathema is given to those who reject it. Has the Council of Florence been revoked? Even if the Catholic Church were to revoke the disciplinary judgments, the dogmatic value of Florence’s teaching remains.

  8. As I said Erick, you are only a blogger. You seem out of touch with current Vatican policy. As much as you might wish it, the evidence of Roman Catholic reversals and changes over the centuries is fairly well documented.

    The fact you can’t name a single Pope or offical statement from a hierarch from the last 50 years who has labelled us heretics confirms the backflip to me. A comparison between the documents I quoted shows it. Don’t get me wrong the change is a good thing as it brings Roman Catholicism closer to Orthodox understanding of salvation. The post-schism Popes love to micromanage and repeat themselves so if being in communion with the Papacy was essential for salvation then Unitas Redintegratio would have said it.
    Go and ask your local bishop if I am a heretic and let me know what he says. Give him my email.

    On the subject of the Papacy, does your book have New Testament and Patristic evidence for the Popes assuming secular power over the Papal States, setting themselves up as kings, imposing their will over other kings, leading armies and executing enemies? I’d particularly be interested in what the Ecumenical Councils and the Greek Fathers have to say?

    • I would love to discuss this in an audio format. Would you be alright with a phone conversation? Or perhaps you would like to discuss these things on a YouTube show on my channel? I’m sure it would gain the interest of many of my readers.

      • Hi There Erick,
        thank you for considering that I would be worth an audio discussion. Unfortunately I haven’t read your books and that would put me at a disadvantage. However, you have inspired me to invest in Siecienski’s book on the papacy and his new book on Beards, Azymes and Purgatory. If I have any money to spare I might even invest in your books.

        1. I do have a nice quote from Richard Price that I’d like to weaponise. It is an extract from an article he wrote in a collection of essays on Sylvester Syropoulos.

        โ€˜The Latins were further advantaged by an imbalance in the debate, utterly crucial from the Greek point of view, over the witness of the Church Fathers. The Latins could just about hold their own in discussion of key Greek patristic texts, as is instanced by the lengthy discussion of a key passage in St. Basil. At the same time, they had an overwhelming advantage in any discussion of Latin texts where the Greeks could not detect false citations or dubious exegesis. For example, in the debate on the Filioque the Latins appeared to have a trump card in an explicit assertion of the double procession of the Holy Spirit in the Formula of Pope Hormisdas, a major document that had been formally accepted (in around 519) by all Chalcedonian bishops of the East; but in fact the relevant passage did not come in the Formula but in another letter by Hormisdas, and even there was an interpolation.โ€™ Richard Price, Precedence and Papal Primary, p. 46 in Sylvester Syropoulos on Politics and Culture in the Fifteenth-Century Mediterranean, Edited by Fotini Kondyli, Vera Andriopoulou, Eirini Panou and Mary B. Cunningham, (Ashgate, 2014).

        Before this article I was unaware of the use of this forgery. As I said in an earlier post, the reliance on the post-schism papacy on so many forgeries sends alarm bells to me.

        The other interesting text is a short translation from Sylvester Syropoulos’s diary. He was a deacon at the Council of Florence. It recounts Patriarch Joseph’s resistance to the pope-kings requirement to kiss his foot. For the west it was normal as the pope-kings had pushed the image of them as the supreme leader for 600 years but the extract shows this was unknown to Joseph. Eventually the pope agreed to meet Joseph in private so his Catholic minions wouldn’t see Joseph not kiss his foot.

        2. From the Diary of Sylvester Syropoulos
        Chapter 33
        โ€ฆThen, towards late afternoon, the bishops came again from the pope and demanded the kissing of the foot. The patriarch replied, with appropriate resistance, โ€˜Where does the pope have this from or which of the councils gave it to him? Show where he has it from and where it is registered. Nevertheless, the pope says that he is the successor of St. Peter. If then he is the successor of Peter, we also are successors of the rest of the apostles. Did the apostles kiss the foot of St. Peter? Who has heard of that?โ€™ The bishops replied that it is an ancient custom of the pope and that everyone bestows this kiss on him, bishops and kings, the emperor of the Germans and the cardinals who are greater than the emperor and are also ordained. The patriarch said, โ€˜This is an innovation and I will never submit to doing it. But if the pope wishes me to kiss him like a brother, according to our ancestral and ecclesiastical customs, I shall go to him. If he does not accept this, I am renouncing everything and turning back.โ€™ So the bishops went off to tell these things to the pope and were away for a long time. Then they came again, saying the same things and, โ€˜How is it possible for the pope to be deprived of such an honour?โ€™ But the patriarch stuck to his earlier speeches and struggles. (pp.233-33)
        Sylvester Syropoulos on Politics and Culture in the Fifteenth-Century Mediterranean
        Edited by Fotini Kondyli, Vera Andriopoulou, Eirini Panou and Mary B. Cunningham
        (Ashgate, 2014)

        I’d love for you to point out some patristic evidence that kissing the pope’s foot was an ancient custom. I personally think that Patriarch Joseph was right.

        3. In Letter 91, Peter Damian says this about the Filioque
        (7) First of all, therefore, let me explain the source of this ignorance that allows almost all the Greeks and some Latins to maintain that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Son, but only from the Father. This they assert from the words of the Lord by which he says, โ€œFor it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.โ€ (Matt 10.20) And again, โ€œBehold, I send to you the promise of my Father.โ€ (Luke 24.49) And this statement, โ€œBut when the Advocate has come, whom I will send to you from the Father โ€“ the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father โ€“ he will bear witness about me.(John 15.26) โ€ Again the Lord says of him, โ€œI will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever โ€“ the Spirit of Truth.โ€ (John 14.16-17) And elsewhere he says, โ€œBut the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything.โ€ (John 14.26) And again, โ€œIf you, then, though you are bad, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give the good Spirit to those who ask him.โ€ (Matt 7.11; Luke 11.13)
        Owen J. Blum (trans.) The Letters of Peter Damian 91-120. The Fathers of the Church: Medieval Continuation. Catholic University of America Press, 1998. (p. 6).

        What I notice about this is that Peter Damian admits that the double procession is not even a universal belief amongst the Latins let alone the Greeks. The entire text is translated into English and I must say nearly all of the quotes actually support the Filioque. Not exactly good evidence of a universally held doctrine that decides your salvation!

  9. Clearly I need to check what I right.
    In my last statement on Peter Damian I meant to say ‘The entire text is translated into English and I must say nearly all of the quotes DON’T actually support the Filioque.’

    On of the tactics of the pro-Filioquists is to pile on the quotes even if they don’t prove their point to try and ‘show’ the Patristic consensus is on their side.

  10. Clearly I need to check what I write.
    In my last statement on Peter Damian I meant to say ‘The entire text is translated into English and I must say nearly all of the quotes DON’T actually support the Filioque.’

    On of the tactics of the pro-Filioquists is to pile on the quotes even if they don’t prove their point to try and ‘show’ the Patristic consensus is on their side.

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