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canonically deposed predecessor, by violence; and secured himself in it by putting Silverius to death ; impartial persons will agree in thinking that the See of Rome must be considered to have been at this time vacant. The account is given in the Breviarium Literati Diaconi, in Labbé and Cossart, v. 775.


The sixth synod to which the name and authority of a General Council has been ascribed by the Catholic Church, is that composed of 289 bishops, assembled under the command of the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, in the year 680. They met to condemn a new heresy-a branch of the Eutychian; by which it was asserted that after the union of the two natures of Christ, there remained but one will; hence those who advocated this doctrine were called Monothelites. In this council Honorius, the deceased Bishop of Rome, was condemned of heresy, and his books ordered to be burned (N).- Labbé and Cossart, vi. 587 et seq.

Constantinople, A. D. 692.

The two last councils having edited no canons, the Emperor Justinian, at the request of the bishops, ordered another General Council to be assembled at Constantinople, in the year 692; for the purpose of supplying the deficiencies of the former. The assembly, as far as its constitution went, had more claim to the character of a General Council than many to which both the title and authority has been ascribed. It consisted of upwards of 200 bishops, among whom were representatives of the Bishop of Rome, the other great patriarchs being all present in person; and the decrees were signed by all, not omitting the emperor, whose name appears first on the list. The council assumed the style of “the Holy and Universal Synod.” But its decrees were not received at Rome, because many of them were contrary to the Roman customs (o).” Thus another proof is afforded that the claim of a synod to the estimation of a General Council (P), depends entirely upon the general or universal reception of its decrees by the Catholic Church; and that no council is to be accounted general or universal, whose decrees are not generally or universally received by the Catholic Church. -Labbé and Cossart, vi. 1123–31–85, 1317.







Note (A), PAGE 7.

Prior to this there had been many councils, but none that claimed to be, or was considered a council of the whole Church. These different councils had, however, put forth canons which were collected and formed into a code, sometimes called apostolical, sometimes primitive or ante-Nicene. To some of the canons in this code reference is made in the council of Nice and those subsequent to it, as well as by individual writers. See Beveridge's Codex Primitivæ Ecclesiæ Vindicatus.


The number of bishops is variously stated; by some 270, by others 318. The general opinion inclines to the latter number. (See Beveridge's Notes on the Council in the second volume of his Pandect.) The Emperor Constantine was present in person. The bishop of Rome, by reason of infirmity, was absent, but sent two presbyters to subscribe in his stead. The Roman writers do not hesitate to assert that these presbyters, together with Hosius, bishop of Cordova, presided in the council (Labbé and Cossart, ii. 3.); an assertion destitute of all foundation, not one of the Greek historians making the slightest mention of it. The individual who opened the proceedings, is said by Sozomen, to have been Eusebius the historian ; by Theodoret, to have been Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch; and others have ascribed it to Alexander, the patriarch of Alexandria. (See varior. annott. in Reading's edition, Cantab. 1720 ; Sozomen's Hist. p. 38.) Hosius had been employed on a mission to Alexandria, previously to the council, with a view to make peace between Arius and the patriarch, but he was sent on that mission not by the Pope, but by the Emperor, whose letter he conveyed, and who deeply loved and reverenced him. See Eusebius, Socrates, and Sozomen.

Note (c), PAGE 10.

There is a curious circumstance connected with these canons. When the bishop of Rome, Boniface, tried to usurp over the African churches, by hearing appeals from them, he pleaded these canons as his authority, asserting them to be Nicene. The African bishops, having made inquiries concerning them, returned for answer, that no such canons were passed at Nice, and peremptorily rejected his claim of hearing appeals, alleging that they knew no canon of the Fathers authorizing such a course. Now as the African churches had no less than thirty-six representatives at the council of Sardica, the fair inference from all this is, that these canons are spurious. At any rate they were held of no authority. But, even admitting them to be genuine, the utmost they amount to is this, that, in certain cases, Julius, the then bishop of Rome, might order a cause to be re-heard by a greater synod; and this power was given, not as of right, but for convenience, out of respect to the memory of St. Peter, with an ei ĉokaī, if it seemed good to the council to permit it. The disputed canons are as follow :

Canon III.-Osius episcopus dixit: .... Quod si aliquis episcoporum judicatus fuerit in aliqua causa, et putat se bonam causam habere ut iterum concilium renovetur ; si vobis placet, sancti Petri Apostoli memoriam honoremus, ut scribatur ab his qui causam examinarunt, Julio Romano episcopo ; et si judicaverit renovandum esse judicium, renovetur, et det judices. Si autem probaverit talem causam esse, ut non refricentur ea quæ acta sunt; quæ decreverit, confirmata erunt. Si hoc omnibus placet ? Synodus respondit, Placet.

Canon IV.-Gaudentius episcopus dixit: Addendum, si placet huic sententiæ, quam plenam sanctitate protulisti; ut cum aliquis episcopus depositus fuerit eorum episcoporum judicio qui in vicinis locis commorantur, et proclamaverit agendum sibi negotium in urbe Roma ; alter episcopus in ejus cathedra, post appellationem ejus qui videtur esse depositus, omnino non ordinetur; nisi causa fuerit in judicio episcopi Romani determinata.

Canon VII (or V. according to some.)—Osius episcopus dixit : Placuit autem, ut si episcopus accusatus fuerit, et judicaverint congregati episcopi regionis ipsius, et de gradu suo eum dejecerint: si appellaverit qui dejectus est, et confugerit ad Episcopum Romanæ Ecclesiæ, et voluerit se audiri : si justum putaverit, ut renovetur judicium, vel discussionis examen, scribere his episcopis dignetur, qui in finitima et propinqua provincia sunt, ut ipsi diligenter omnia requirant, et juxta fidem veritatis definiant. Quod si is qui rogat causam suam iterum audiri deprecatione sua moverit episcopum Romanum, ut de latere suo presbyterum mittat : erit in potestate episcopi quid velit, et quid æstimet. Et si decreverit mittendos esse, qui præsentes cum episcopis judicent, babentes ejus auctoritatem, a quo destinati sunt; erit in suo arbitrio, &c.

The texture of the canons (especially of the last) has the stamp of corruption : and when compared with the twelfth canon of Antioch, which was confirmed by the authority of the fourth general council, and upon the strength of which St. John Chrysostom was condemned, it will be seen that they give no more authority to the bishop of Rome, than the Emperor had been acknowledged to have six years before, namely, not of deciding causes in his own person, but of ordering them to be re-heard. The civil magistrate may more reasonably claim from the genuine canon

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