Pope Honorius and Monothelitism

These are some resources to help show that Pope Honorius and Pope Vitalian did not support monotheletism.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has good articles these popes that explain these issues pretty helpfully: Pope Honorius and on Pope Vitalian. Regarding Pope Honorius, one thing I note is how his contemporaries defended his orthodoxy and denied that he had taught monothelitism:

"St. Maximus of Constantinople['s]...defense of Honorius is based upon the statements of a certain abbot, John Symponus, the composer of the letter of Honorius, to the effect that the pope only meant to deny that Christ had not two contrary human wills, such as are found in our fallen nature." source: the Catholic Encyclopedia

And: "[Pope John IV] explains quite truly that both Sergius and Honorius asserted one Will only because they would not admit contrary wills; yet he shows by his argument that they were wrong in using so misleading an expression." source: the Catholic Encyclopedia

I would also note an important point that Philip Hughes makes in his History of the Church Volume 1 Chapter 10. This excerpt starts after the patriarch of Jerusalem, who was named Sophronius, sent the pope a letter condemning monothelitism:
The pope thereupon wrote to Constantinople, to Alexandria and to Sophronius. The first two letters are lost, and of the third only fragments survive. We do, however, possess an earlier letter to Sophronius, written before the latter's synodal letter had been received. Three things definitely emerge from the pope's letter and the fragments. The pope deprecates all discussion as to whether there are one or two "energies, " for, whichever expression is used, misunderstanding is certain. We must, however, hold that Jesus Christ, one in person, wrought works both human and divine by means of the two natures. The same Jesus Christ acted in His two natures divinely and humanly. Finally...we must acknowledge the unity of will, for in Jesus Christ there is necessarily harmony between what is divinely willed and what is humanly willed. source
From this it appears to me that Pope Honorius did not advance monothelitism in his doctrinal letters, but rather taught the opposite. Perhaps he did not stand up against the heresy as strongly as he should have, but from these sources it appears that the pope was definitely not a monothelite.

The Church History by J.E. Darras furnishes this quote illustrating the same point: "We acknowledge that the two natures in Jesus Christ act and operate each with the other’s participation; the divine nature operates what is of God, the human what is of man, without division, without confusion, without a change of the divine nature into man, or of the human nature into God, but the differences of nature remaining wholly distinct." (Encyclical Letter of Pope Honorius, at it appears in Darras, A General History of the Catholic Church Volume 2 Chapter 6 Section 2 Paragraph 12)

Regarding Pope Vitalian, the Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Pope Vitalian...[took] a more decided stand against Monothelitism and...[t]he Monothelite Patriarch Theodore of Constantinople (from 678) even removed Vitalian's name from the diptychs." source

That indicates that he was definitely *not* an advancer of monothelitism. But that article does not appear to cite any historical documents that back up this point, which is unfortunate. Neither does the Hughes History of the Church or the Darras General History of the Catholic Church, at least not that I can find. Horace K. Mann's History of the Popes, however, refers the reader to "the acts of the thirteenth session of the Sixth General Council" to prove that Pope Vitalian wrote to the monothelite patriarch Peter "to exhort him to return to the orthodox faith." (source) The extract of that session published in NPNF doesn't appear to include that portion (source), but that is strong evidence that Vitalian was not a monothelite but was strongly orthodox.

No comments:

Post a Comment