'Replies from Roman Catholics'

Matt Wykoff - 51

6th February, 2012

(Continued from page 312)

Pope Honorius declared a heretic by Councils and Popes!

You write:  What you mentioned in regard to Pope Honorius and Pope Liberius is protestant fantasy.  That is why you offer no evidence but just what some fuming fundamentalist bigot/s constructed from their bigotedly protestant fertile minds.

TCE:  regarding Honorius, his condemnation as a heretic by an ecumenical council is a matter of historical record and obviously inconsistent with Papal Rome's claims for 'papal infallibility' so that Romish historians have tried their utmost to dispute the fact, or attempted to weaken its force by appeals to supposed 'sophistical' reasoning.  The historical records reveal that Pope Honorius was condemned by the sixth ecumenical council for holding the Monothelite heresy - a heresy that held that Christ had only one will (a divine one), not two wills (a divine one and a human one) as all orthodox Christians hold.  The Council of Constantinople in 680 accepted the Biblical position:  Christ has two natures, and therefore two wills, divine and human.  The human is always subordinate to, and in total harmony with, the divine.  By its union with the divine will, the human did not cease to be human, but was so exalted as to be always in harmony with the divine.  Honorius specifically taught the Monothelite heresy in two letters to the patriarch of Constantinople [that is, that Christ had only one will, which by implication meant that he denied either His deity or His humanity]. The sixth ecumenical council (680) condemned and excommunicated Honorius by name (Honorio haeretico anathema, Session XVI).  The Roman breviary (a book of prayers recited daily by certain priests and members of religious orders) contained this anathema until the sixteenth century when Luther and the other 'Reformers' made such inroads into the position of Papal Rome that it was quietly dropped.  Honorius had clearly been declared a heretic according to the standards of Papal Rome and was condemned by your church councils and popes for 800 years!  These facts are not known or publicized by Papal Roman Catholics because they entirely disprove papal claims for infallibility and 'Apostolic Succession'.  This condemnation of Honorius as a heretic also clearly shows that the bishops of that time had no idea whatever of 'papal infallibility'. For how can a pope be infallible and at the same time be condemned as a heretic?  It is also a fact that Honorius held the papal chair for thirteen years.

But this was just one heresy among many that confounded the men who were supposedly upholding the Words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church' (cf. Matthew 16:18), and who argue that this must mean that His Church can never pass out of existence.  But, they argue, if the Church ever apostatized by teaching heresy, then it would cease to exist as Jesus' Church.  They then conclude that the Church cannot teach heresy - and anything it solemnly defines for the faithful to believe is true. The same reality is said to be reflected in the apostle Paul's statement that the Church is 'the pillar and bulwark of the truth' (1 Timothy. 3:15). If the Church is the foundation of religious truth in this world, then it is God's own spokesman and they appeal to the words of Jesus to His disciples:

'He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me' (Luke 10:16).

As usual, Papal Rome ignores many other verses of Scripture, e.g. Romans 16:16-18:

Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches (
ekklesía) of Christ salute you. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

And 1 Corinthians 11:18-19:

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.
For there must be also factions (Greek: haíresis - heresies!) among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.

Again we have proven from Scripture that those who teach heresy must be avoided so that those who follow the Word of God closely are approved!

But what do your popes say:

'Every cleric must obey the Pope,
even if he commands what is evil; for no one may judge the Pope.' - Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)

'The First See [Rome/papacy] is judged by no one. It is the right of the Roman Pontiff himself alone to judge...those who hold the highest civil office in a state. ...
There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff.'  - From Papal Rome's Code of Canon Law

How do Papal Rome's contemporary 'apologists' try to deflect this obvious problem for their false doctrine?  They claim that Honorius simply decided not to make a decision at all - and this makes it alright because no one has ever claimed that the pope is infallible by failing to define a doctrine.  Incredibly, they think that by not standing for the truth of God's Word and correcting one (or more) who are making heretical claims in the church the 'Infallible Pope' is doing the Will of God?  How different is the Word of God that exhorts true believers to follow the inspired words of Jude (3-4):

Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you
exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude 22-23: 
And on some have mercy, who are in doubt; and some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

To say nothing and allow even a single believer to fall into error is not the action of a true Christian!  And a supposedly 'Infallible Pope'?

More on Fallible Popes and their blatant heresies!

Your feeble 'apologists' think that (supposedly) having only a few 'failures of infallibility' somehow makes your 'popes' wonderful?  Thus they deceive themselves that the popes have gone through the centuries and, as a Papal Roman Catholic writer suggested,  there have only been a 'measly crop of two or three alleged failures!'  They try and argue that, in all human probability, the popes would have contradicted themselves, or one another, over and over again.  Thus they convince themselves that the historical argument against 'papal infallibility' is weak and 'Protestants' only reject this 'truth' because they do not think that Christ established a visible Church and so they do not believe in a hierarchy of bishops headed by the pope.

From this point your apologists make a 'knight jump exegesis' and claim it is simple to point out that the New Testament shows the apostles followed Jesus' instructions and set up a visible Church organization - and so they claim that every Christian writer in the early centuries and nearly all Christians until the Reformation  recognized that Christ set up an on-going organization.  They often quote Ignatius of Antioch:

'Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church' (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, 1 [A.D. 110])

as if this will support the formation of Papal Rome and its 'popes'.

Since we have pointed out the clear autonomous nature of the New Testament churches (which are really called
ekklesiae and led by bishops/overseers/pastors/elders assisted by deacons - as proven on many of our pages - see Search this Site) we can instantly reject Papal Rome's claims that an 'organisation' was to be formed.

Reading around the quote above from Ignatius' letter, we see no mention of a bishop being a 'pope', and that 'a proper Eucharist ... is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it'.  Chapter 7 reveals that Ignatius had a heterodox view of the Eucharist ('... they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ') and Chapter 9 reveals another equally false view:

'He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God;
he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil.'

He also reveals another false view of the bishop:

And say I, Honour thou God indeed, as the Author and Lord of all things, but
the bishop as the high-priest, who bears the image of God ...'

So appealing to Ignatius is sheer folly and reveals the kind of severe errors the 'Church Fathers' slipped into so readily.

Papal Rome argues that, if Christ did set up such a 'church organization', He must have provided for its continuation and its easy identification (that is, it had to be visible so it could be found) and, since He would be gone from earth, for some method by which it could preserve his teachings intact.  Thus they argue that this was all accomplished through the 'apostolic succession of bishops' - despite the obvious example of Peter's error (in Galatians 2) and the apostle Paul's warnings of the deception that would come in - even from among the flock!:

Acts 20:28-31 (NASB) - 28  "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29  "
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30  and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31  "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears."

Papal Rome argues that the preservation of the Christian message, in its fullness, was supposedly guaranteed through the gift of infallibility of the Church as a whole but mainly through its Christ-appointed leaders: the bishops (as a whole) and the pope (as an individual).  By trying to argue that the Holy Spirit prevents the pope from officially teaching error, and this charism follows necessarily from the existence of the Church itself, they forget that 'Pope Peter' was proven to be fallible when the apostle Paul exposed him in Galatians 2:11-14!

Yet still your feeble apologists argue that if, as Christ promised, the Church will be shielded from the gates of hell, then it must be protected from fundamentally falling into error and thus away from Christ and must prove itself to be a perfect, stable guide in all matters pertaining to salvation.

Again, they hope that the ignorant and unstable will not know, or ask, why so many popes fought with each other (so that were occasions when two or three existed at the same time), bought the position, tortured and murdered millions who would not bow the knee to them, and taught false doctrine proving that they were all heretics!

Slyly your apologists claim that infallibility does not include a guarantee that any particular pope won't 'neglect' to teach the truth, or that he will be sinless, or that mere disciplinary decisions will be intelligently made.  To try and cover for the existing mistakes, of which they are fully aware, they dissemble and concede that 'popes' are not 'omniscient' or 'impeccable' - although 'Protestants' and all orthodox Christians have never claimed that any Christian could ever be these things!  Neither have we ever claimed that Christ's words (Matthew 16:18ff.) did not mean exactly what He said:

' ...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it'.

But your apologists try and insist the 'pope' - no matter how far astray he might have gone (and the record reveals severe errors through every century) - would always be able to teach correctly 'for the sake of salvation' and because men 'must know what is to be believed'.  They also insist that the 'pope' must be 'a perfectly steady rock' and be a trustworthy source of 'Christian teaching'.  Then they insist '
that's why papal infallibility exists'.

'Popes' insist that they should be followed - even when they teach heresy and evil!

And do not forget that we have proven, from their own quotes, that the 'popes' insisted that they should be followed even when they teach heresy and evil!

Monothelitism was not the only heresy thriving in 'pope' Honorius' day.  In fact so many heresies raged around the church of Papal Rome that it is clear that the attempted defence of Honorius can never be taken seriously!

The triumph of Dyotheletism (teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures and two wills) was the outcome of a bitter conflict of nearly fifty years (AD 633 to 680). The first act reaches to the issue of the Ekthesis (
another attempt by the Byzantine emperors to heal the divisions in the Christian Church over the disputes regarding the nature of Jesus Christ - revealing that the emperors and not the 'popes' were the driving force in 638), the second to the issue of the Type (AD 648) when Emperor Constans II (642-668) issued an Imperial edict, drafted by Paul, patriarch of Constantinople (in 647 or 648), which superseded the Ekthesis.  It condemned both Monothelite and Dyothelite beliefs and declared in favour of neutrality so as to arrest the controversies brought about by the continued Christological 'developments'.  Those who refused to accept the Type were threatened with deposition, i.e. removal from office if clergymen, with excommunication if monks, with the loss of dignity and office and, if military or civil officers, with the loss of rank - as a result, the refusal of 'infallible' Pope Martin I to accept it led to his deposition!  So much for 'Papal infallibility' protecting the church.

The theological leaders of Monophysitism were Theodore, bishop of Pharan in Arabia (known to us only from a few fragments of his writings), Sergius and his successors Pyrrhus and Paul in the patriarchal see of Constantinople, and Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria; the political leaders were the Emperors Heraclius and Constans II. 
The champions of the Dyotheletic doctrine were Sophronius of Palestine, Maximus of Constantinople, and the popes Martin and Agatho of Rome, while the political supporter was the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus (668-685).

The strife began in a political motive, but soon assumed a theological and religious aspect because the safety of the Byzantine empire was seriously threatened, first by the Persians, and then by the Arabs, and the danger was increased by the division among Christians. The Emperor Heraclius (610-640), after his return from the Persian campaign, desired to conciliate the Monophysites, who were more numerous than the orthodox in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt.  He hoped, by a union of the parties, to protect these countries more effectually against the Muslim invaders.  The Monophysites took offence at the Catholic inference of two 'energies' in the person of Christ.  The emperor consulted Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople (since 610), who was of Syrian (perhaps Jacobite) descent and they agreed upon the compromise-formula of 'one divine-human energy'. 
Sergius secured the consent of Pope Honorius (625-638) and this resulted in his subsequent condemnation for heresy.   Cyrus, the orthodox patriarch of Alexandria, published 'the formula' (633) and converted thousands of Monophysites.  But Sophronius, a wiser and venerable monk in Palestine, who happened to be in Alexandria at that time, apparently recognised it as a cunning device of the Monophysites and objected to the compromise-formula.  When he became patriarch of Jerusalem (in 633 or 634), he openly confessed, in a synodical letter to the patriarchs, the doctrine of Dyotheletism as a necessary part of the Chalcedonian Christology and this remains one of the most important documents in this controversy.  A few years afterwards the Saracens besieged and conquered Jerusalem (637) and Sophronius died and was succeeded by a Monotheletic bishop.  In 638 the Emperor issued, as an answer to the manifesto of Sophronius, an edict titled Exposition of the Faith which was written by Sergius and commanded silence on the subject in dispute while clearly deciding in favour of Monotheletism. It first professed the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and incarnation in the Chalcedonian sense, and then forbade the use of the terms 'one' or 'two energies' since both are heretically interpreted, and asserted one will in Christ.  Two synods of Constantinople (638 and 639) adopted the Ekthesis, but in the remote provinces it met with powerful resistance.  Maximus Confessor became the champion of Dyotheletism in the Orient and North Africa, and Pope Martinus I in the West.

'Papal infallibility' stands or falls by a single official error and the principle: Is falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

The connection of Pope Honorius I (Oct. 27, 625, to Oct. 12, 638) with the Monotheletic heresy has a special interest in its bearing upon the dogma of papal infallibility,
which stands or falls with a single official error, according to the principle: Is falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. It was fully discussed by Catholic scholars on both sides before and during the Vatican Council of 1870, which proclaimed that dogma, but could not alter the facts of history. The following points are established by the best documentary evidence:

Honorius taught and favoured the one-will heresy in several official letters, which are clear evidence of
ex-cathedra, to Sergius, Cyrus, and Sophronius.  He fully agreed with Sergius, the Monotheletic patriarch of Constantinople.  In answer to his first letter (634), he wrote:  'Therefore we confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ.'  He viewed the will as an attribute of person, not of nature, and reasoned: One willer, therefore only one will. In a second letter to Sergius, he rejected both the orthodox phrase: 'two energies,' and the heterodox phrase: 'one energy', and affirmed that the Bible clearly teaches two natures, but that it is quite vain to ascribe to the Mediator between God and man one or two energies; for Christ by virtue of his one theandric (relating to, or existing by, the union of divine and human operation in Christ, or the joint agency of the divine and human nature) will showed many modes of operation and activity. The first letter was decidedly heretical, the second was certainly not orthodox, and both occasioned and favoured the imperial Ekthesis (638) and Type (648), in their vain attempt to reconcile the Monophysites by suppressing the Dyotheletic doctrine.

Inevitably, some try and excuse Honorius by claiming that this was a new question and not yet properly understood and so they claim he was 'an innocent heretic' who made his mistake before the church had pronounced a decision. 
Claiming that the orthodox dogma of two natures obviously required the doctrine of two wills, for Christ could not be a full man without a human will, and meant that later popes changed the position, as Honorius would probably have done had he lived a few years longer, does not deal with the problem of 'Papal infallibility' let alone the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would lead believers 'into all truth' (John 14:26; 16:7ff. etc.)!

Papal historians have endeavoured to save the orthodoxy of Honorius in order to save the dogma of papal infallibility by using a variety of specious explanations.  Some claim his letters are a later Greek forgery, while others admit their genuineness but distort them into an orthodox sense by contrived, un-natural exegesis.  Still others insist that, at the expense of his knowledge and logic, orthodox Honorius was accidentally heretical, or at least very unguarded in his written expressions.  However, we can only judge Honorius by his written testimony - which is unmistakably Monotheletic.  This is the verdict, not only of 'Protestants', but also of Gallican and other liberal Papal Roman Catholic historians. 
It remains a fact that Honorius was condemned by the sixth ecumenical Council as 'the former pope of Old Rome,' who, with the help of the old serpent, had scattered deadly error.  This anathema was repeated by the seventh ecumenical Council, 787, and by the eighth, 869.  The Greeks, who were used to heretical patriarchs of New Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, revealed little surprise, and perhaps some secret satisfaction at the heresy of a pope of 'Old Rome'!

Here again ultramontane (Papal Roman Catholics who advocate supreme papal authority in matters of faith and discipline) historians have resorted to the impossible denial either of the genuineness of the act of condemnation in the sixth ecumenical Council, or of the true meaning of that act. The only consistent way for papal infallibilists to attempt a rescue of Honorius is to deny the infallibility of the ecumenical Council as regards the dogmatic fact but, in this case, it would involve at the same time a charge of gross injustice to Honorius. 
However, this last theory is refuted by the popes themselves, who condemned Honorius as a heretic, and thus bore testimony for papal fallibility.  Honorius' first successor, Severinus, had a brief pontificate of only three months, while second successor, John IV, apologized for him by putting a forced construction on his language, and we have no evidence of any comment on Honorius by Pope Agatho who, perhaps, thought it prudent to ignore his embarrassing predecessor!

But his successor, Leo II, who translated the acts of the sixth Council from Greek into Latin, saw that he could not save Honorius without contradicting the verdict of the council in which the papal delegates had taken part, and therefore expressly condemned him in the strongest language, both in a letter to the Greek emperor and in a letter to the bishops of Spain, as a traitor to the church of Rome for trying to subvert her 'immaculate fate'.  Further, the condemnation of fallible Honorius was inserted in the confession of faith which every newly-elected pope had to sign down to the eleventh century, and which is embodied in the Liber Diurnus (the official book of formulas of Papal Rome for the use of their papal curia). In the editions of the Roman Breviary down to the sixteenth century his name appears, yet without title and without explanation, along with the others who had been condemned by the sixth Council.  But the precise facts were gradually, conveniently, forgotten while Papal Rome's chroniclers (and her lists of popes!) chose to ignore themAfter the middle of the sixteenth century the case of Honorius again attracted attention, and was urged as an irrefutable argument against the 'ultramontane theory' (from Medieval Latin ultramontanus - 'beyond the mountains' - meaning a strong emphasis on papal authority identified by those ignorant northern European members of 'the church' who regularly looked southward beyond the Alps and to the popes of Rome for guidance).

At first Papal Rome tried to bluff and insist that the letter of Leo II was a forgery, as well as those of Honorius; but this was made impossible when the
Liber Diurnus came to light (Liber Diurnus was the name given to a miscellaneous collection of ecclesiastical formulae used in the Papal chancery until about the 11th century, but which then fell into disuse and was then conveniently forgotten and 'lost')!?

The verdict of history, after the most thorough investigation from all sides and by all parties remains unshaken. 
The whole crumbling edifice of the church of the East and West, as represented by the official acts of ecumenical Councils and Popes, believed for several hundred years that a Roman bishop may err ex-cathedra in a question of faith, and that one of them at least had so erred in fact. The Vatican Council of 1870 decreed papal infallibility in the face of this fact, thus overruling history by dogmatic authority - and also ensuring that anyone with respect for historical facts and the Word of God will forever hold Papal Rome up as the 'Whore of Babylon'.

Bishop Hefele, one of the most learned and impartial historians of Papal Rome, stated, after a lengthy discussion, his revised view on the case of Honorius (
Conciliengesch., vol. III. 175, revised ed. 1877), which differed considerably from the one he had published before the Vatican decree of papal infallibility (in the first ed. of his Conciliengesch., vol. III. 1858, p145 sqq., and in a large pamphlet on Honorius, 1870).  Reading the history of 1870 we find the whole charade of 'Vatican I' should be remembered by those who love God's Truth and recognise that Bishop Hefele, like all his 'anti-infallibilist' colleagues, submitted to the decree of the Vatican Council for the sake of unity and peace after concerted pressure that resulted in many leading Romanists fleeing from the debacle in disgust.

Anyone reading the history of 'the Councils' overseen by Papal Rome will find the accounts of difficult struggles against heresies, from Nicaea (and the condemnation of Apollinarianism) to the conflict with the Monophysites (who had opposed the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon), the infiltration of Nestorianism and then (under the influence of Empress Theodora) the move towards Monophysitism, but also the increase of Rome's own special heresy, Mariolatry [the council added
aeiparthenos (perpetual virgin) to the earlier title of Theotokos (God-bearer)], which they were saddled with as a result of attempting to placate their 'goddess worshippers', followed by this error of Monothelitism and the resultant anathematizing of Pope Honorius and Macarius (the patriarch of Antioch) as Monothelites.

Even Roman Catholic expert Ludwig Ott admitted that 'Pope Leo II (682-683) confirmed Honorius' anathematization'  (
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p150).  As already shown, Papal Roman Catholics  are instructed to accept a situation in which an 'infallible pope' teaches a fallible, thoroughly heretical, doctrine.  If the papal teaching office is infallible, that is, if it cannot mislead on doctrine and ethics, then how could a papal teaching be heretical?  This was not a trifling matter, but a serious heresy relating to the very nature of Christ.  To claim that the pope was not infallible on this occasion only further undermines the doctrine of infallibility, for how can one know when his doctrinal pronouncements are infallible and when they are not? There is no infallibility test and, without such a test, how can Papal Rome provide infallible guidance on doctrine and morals? If the pope can be fallible on one doctrine then, clearly, he can be fallible on others!

Unsurprisingly, Papal apologists claim that there are objective tests which can 'explain away' these 'fallible' statements and which depend on whether the pope was speaking:

(1) to all believers, (2) on faith and morals, and (3) in his official capacity as pope.

However, this is still not definite as to which pronouncements are infallible because, first, there is no infallible statement on just what are the criteria, second, there is no universal agreement on the criteria and, third, there is no universal agreement on how to apply these or any criteria to all cases!

How does a Papal Roman Catholic authority deal with this problem?  If you go to this page:


you can read the complete article supposedly dealing with Honorius' heresy but, in fact, revealing the dissembling explained above.  We refer you to these sections:

... it is plain that the pope simply followed Sergius, without going more deeply into the question. The letter cannot be called a private one, for it is an official reply to a formal consultation. It had, however, less publicity than a modern Encyclical. As the letter does not define or condemn, and does not bind the Church to accept its teaching, it is of course impossible to regard it as an ex cathedra utterance.  But before, and even just after, the Vatican Council such a view was sometimes urged, though almost solely by the opponents of the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Part of a second letter of Honorius to Sergius was read at the eighth council. It disapproves rather more strongly of the mention of either one operation or two; but it has the merit of referring to the words of St. Leo which Sergius had cited.'

Honorius was ... dead, and had no opportunity of approving or disapproving the imperial document which had been based upon his letter.'

It is true that the words of Honorius are inconclusively though not necessarily, heretical. ... No doubt Honorius did not really intend to deny that there is in Christ a human will, the higher faculty; but he used words which could be interpreted in the sense of that heresy'

St. Martin condemns Sergius and Cyrus, and not a word is said in favour of Honorius. It was evidently felt that he could not be defended, if the Type was to be condemned as heretical because it forbade the orthodox expressions 'two operations' and 'two Wills', since in this it was simply following Honorius.'

No doubt it was still held at Rome that Honorius had not intended to teach 'one Will', and was, therefore, not a positive heretic.  But no one would deny that he recommended the negative course which the Type enforced under savage penalties, and that he objectively deserved the same condemnation.'

And in addition to these we decide that Honorius also, who was pope of elder Rome, be with them cast out of the holy Church of God, and be anathematized with them, because we have found by his letter to Sergius that he followed his opinion in all things, and confirmed his wicked dogmas'. These last words are true enough, and if Sergius was to be condemned Honorius could not be rescued. The legates made no objection to his condemnation. The question had indeed arisen unexpectedly out of the reading of Macarius's packet; but the legates must have had instructions from the pope how to act under the circumstances.'

Some other writings of the condemned heretics were further read, including part of a second letter of Honorius, and these were all condemned to be burnt. On 9 Aug., in the last session, George of Constantinople petitioned 'that the persons be not anathematized by name', that is, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, and Peter.  He only mentions his own predecessors; but Theodore of Pharan, Cyrus, and Honorius would evidently have been spared also, had the legates supported the suggestion. But there was no attempt to save the reputation of Honorius, and the petition of George was negatived by the synod.  In the final acclamations, anathema to Honorius, among the other heretics, was shouted. The solemn dogmatic decree, signed by the legates, all the bishops, and the emperor, condemns the heretics mentioned by St. Agatho 'and also Honorius who was pope of elder Rome', while it enthusiastically accepts the letter of St. Agatho.'

They anathematize the heretics by name, Theodore, Sergius, Paul, Pyrrhus, Peter, Cyrus, 'and with them Honorius, who was Prelate of Rome, as having followed them in all things', and Macarius with his followers.  The letter to the pope, also signed by all, gives the same list of heretics, and congratulates Agatho on his letter 'which we recognize as pronounced by the chiefest head of the Apostles'.  The modern notion that the council was antagonistic to the pope receives no support form the Acts.'

It should be noted that he calls Honorius 'the confirmer of the heresy and contradictor of himself', again showing that Honorius was not condemned by the council as a Monothelite, but for approving Sergius's contradictory policy of placing orthodox and heretical expressions under the same ban. ... It is clear, then, that the council did not think that it stultified itself by asserting that Honorius was a heretic (in the above sense) ...The fault of Honorius lay precisely in the fact that he had not authoritatively published that unchanging faith of his Church, in modern language, that he had not issued a definition ex cathedra.

The words about Honorius in his letter of confirmation, by which the council gets its ecumenical rank, are necessarily more important than the decree of the council itself: 'We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius, ...and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.'  This appears to express exactly the mind of the council, only that the council avoided suggesting that Honorius disgraced the Roman Church. The last words of the quotation are given above as in the Greek of the letter, because great importance has been attached to them by a large number of Catholic apologists. Pennacchi, followed by Grisar, taught that by these words Leo II explicitly abrogated the condemnation for heresy by the council, and substituted a condemnation for negligenceNothing, however, could be less explicit. Hefele, with many others before and after him, held that Leo II by the same words explained the sense in which the sentence of Honorius was to be understood. Such a distinction between the pope's view and the council's view is not justified by close examination of the facts. At best such a system of defence was exceedingly precarious, for the milder reading of the Latin is just as likely to be original: 'but by profane treachery attempted to pollute its purity'.  In this form Honorius is certainly not exculpated, yet the pope declares that he did not actually succeed in polluting the immaculate Roman Church.  However, in his letter to the Spanish King Erwig, he has: 'And with them Honorius, who allowed the unspotted rule of Apostolic tradition, which he received from his predecessors, to be tarnished.'  To the Spanish bishops he explains his meaning: 'With Honorius, who did not, as became the Apostolic authority, extinguish the flame of heretical teaching in its first beginning, but fostered it by his negligence.'  That is, he did not insist on the 'two operations', but agreed with Sergius that the whole matter should be hushed up. Pope Honorius was subsequently included in the lists of heretics anathematized by the Trullan Synod, and by the seventh and eighth ecumenical councils without special remark; also in the oath taken by every new pope from the eighth century to the eleventh in the following words: 'Together with Honorius, who added fuel to their wicked assertions' (Liber diurnus, ii, 9). It is clear that no Catholic has the right to defend Pope Honorius. He was a heretic, not in intention, but in fact; and he is to be considered to have been condemned in the sense in which Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who died in Catholic communion, never having resisted the Church, have been condemned.  But he was not condemned as a Monothelite, nor was Sergius.  And it would be harsh to regard him as a 'private heretic', for he admittedly had excellent intentions.

The condemnation of Pope Honorius was retained in the lessons of the Breviary for 28 June (St. Leo II) until the eighteenth century.  Difficulties made themselves felt when, after the Great Western Schism, papal infallibility began to be doubted. Protestantism and Gallicanism made vigorous attacks on the unfortunate pope, and at the time of the Vatican Council Honorius figured in every pamphlet and every speech on ecclesiastical subjects.

Bellarmine and Baronius followed Pighius in
denying that Honorius was condemned at all.  Baronius argued that the Acts of the Council were falsified by Theodore, a Patriarch of Constantinople, who had been deposed by the emperor, but was restored at a later date; we are to presume that the council condemned him, but that he substituted 'Honorius' for 'Theodorus' in the Acts. This theory has frequently been shown to be untenable.

The more famous Gallicans, such as Bossuet, Dupin, Richer, and later ones as Cardinal de la Luzerne and (at the time of the Vatican Council) Maret, Gratry, and many others, usually held with all Protestant writers that Honorius had formally defined heresy, and was condemned for so doing. They added, of course, that such a failure on the part of an individual pope did not compromise the general and habitual orthodoxy of the Roman See.

On the other hand the chief advocates of papal infallibility, for instance, such great men as Melchior Canus in the sixteenth century, Thomassinus in the seventeenth, Pietro Ballerini in the eighteenth, Cardinal Perrone in the nineteenth, have been
careful to point out that Honorius did not define anything ex cathedra.  But they were not content with this amply sufficient defence.  Some followed Baronius, but most, if not all, showed themselves anxious to prove that the letters of Honorius were entirely orthodox. There was indeed no difficulty in showing that Honorius was probably not a Monothelite. It would have been only just to extend the same kindly interpretation to the words of Sergius. The learned Jesuit Garnier saw clearly, however, that it was not as a Monothelite that Honorius was condemned. He was coupled with Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, the Ecthesis, and the Type. It is by no means clear that Sergius, Pyrrhus, and the Ecthesis are to be accounted as Monothelite, since they forbade the mention of 'one operation'; it is quite certain that Paul and the Type were anti-Monothelite, for they prohibited 'one Will' also.  Garnier pointed out that the council condemned Honorius for approving Sergius and for 'fomenting' the dogmas of Pyrrhus and Paul. This view was followed by many great writers, including Pagi.

A theory put forward by Pennacchi at the time of the Vatican Council attracted an unnecessary amount of attention.
He agreed with the Protestants and Gallicans in proclaiming that the letter of Honorius was a definition ex cathedra; that the pope was anathematized by the council as a heretic in the strict sense; but the council, not being infallible apart from papal confirmation, fell in this case into error about a dogmatic fact (in this point Pennacchi was preceded by Turrecremata, Bellarmine, Assemani, and many others), since the letter of Honorius was not worthy of censure.  Leo II, in confirming the council, expressly abrogated the censure, according to this view, and substituted a condemnation for negligence only (so also Grisar - see above). There is evidently no ground whatever for any of these assertions.

Bishop Hefele before 1870
took the view that Honorius's letter was not strictly heretical but was gravely incorrect, and that its condemnation by an ecumenical council was a serious difficulty against the 'personal' infallibility of the popes. After his hesitating acceptance of the Vatican decrees he modified his view; he now taught that Honorius's letter was a definition ex cathedra, that it was incorrectly worded, but that the thought of the writer was orthodox (true enough; but, in a definition of faith, surely the words are of primary importance); the council judged Honorius by his words, and condemned him simply as a Monothelite; Leo II accepted and confirmed the condemnation by the council, but, in doing so, he carefully defined in what sense the condemnation was to be understood. These views of Hefele's, which he put forth with edifying modesty and submission as the best explanation he could give of what had previously seemed to him a formidable difficulty, have had a surprisingly wide influence, and have been adopted by many Catholic writers, save only his mistaken notion that a letter like that of Honorius can be supposed to fulfil the conditions laid down by the Vatican Council for an ex cathedra judgment (so Jungmann and many controversialists).'

Pope Honorius was much respected and died with an untarnished reputation.

TCE:   the last line above is how the article begins its last section where it attempts to extol the virtues of Honorius.  Having made it clear by the admissions it was forced to make, that Honorius' reputation was seriously damaged because the charges against him are upheld by the facts of history ('The condemnation of Pope Honorius was retained in the lessons of the Breviary for 28 June (St. Leo II) until the eighteenth century') the website (www.newadvent.org) seriously believes it can still whitewash this 'pope'!

The contention that Pope Leo did not condemn Pope Honorius with heresy but with negligence in the suppression of error ('
a condemnation for negligence only') is ineffective as a defence and it still raises serious questions as to how Pope Honorius could be an infallible guide in faith and morals, since he taught heresy.  Similarly, the response that he was not speaking ex cathedra when he taught this heresy is desperate and inadequate.  It also cannot explain how the Sixth General Council could condemn Honorius as a heretic, as even Ott admits (q.v.).  Noteworthy is the point that, by disclaiming the infallibility of the pope on this and other situations, the number of occasions such pronouncements have actually been made is relatively rare, e.g., the pope has spoken ex cathedra only once in the last century - on the (totally imagined) bodily assumption of Mary!  If infallibility is exercised this rarely then its value for all practical purposes is practically zero!  This being the case, since the 'pope' speaks with only fallible authority on most occasions, the Catholic is bound to accept his authority on faith and morals when he may be (and oftentimes has been) wrong.  Logically, the alleged infallible guidance of the papacy is negligible at best and, on the vast majority of occasions, there is absolutely no infallible guidance at all but, rather, incredible inaccuracy and heretical doctrines!

Orthodox Christians have asked Papal Roman Catholics to answer why, if a supposedly infallible teaching magisterium is needed to overcome the conflicting interpretations of Scripture, why is it that even these supposedly infallibly decisive declarations of the magisterium are also subject to conflicting interpretations?  There are many hotly disputed differences among Catholic scholars on just what
ex cathedra statements mean, including those on Scripture, 'Tradition', Mary, justification, etc..  Even though there may be future clarifications on some of these, the problem remains for two reasons. It shows the indecisive nature of supposedly infallible pronouncements, and, judging by past experience, even these future declarations will not settle all matters completely.  Pronouncements on the inerrancy of Scripture are a case in point.  In spite of Papal Rome's 'infallible' statements on the nature and origin of Scripture, there is strong disagreement on whether the Bible is really infallible in all matters, or only on matters of salvation!

Finally, reading
101 Questions & Answers on Popes and the Papacy by Christopher M. Bellitto, p93-94, New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2008) we find Question 56:

Popes have made mistakes. Wasn't one even condemned as a heretic?

Then this admission is made by the author:

Yes, a pope was indeed condemned as a heretic. He was Pope Honorius I (625-38), who apparently believed that Jesus had only one will. After his death, this theological position was condemned as the heresy of monothelitism at a general council known as Constantinople III (680-81), which taught that Jesus had two wills, one divine and one human, to match his human and divine natures that are uniquely united into his one person. In sharp language, the council declared that Satan had been at work since the clarity achieved by the creeds of Nicaea I (325) and Constantinople I (381):

But since, from the first, the contriver of evil did not rest, finding an accomplice in the serpent and through him bringing upon human nature the poisoned dart of death, so too now he has found instruments suited to his own purpose - namely [several bishops are named here] and further Honorius, who was pope of elder Rome, [other bishops named here] - and has not been idle in raising through them obstacles of error against the full body of the church, …

Another general council, Constantinople IV (869-70) reiterated that Jesus has two separate wills and then
repeated the condemnation of Honorius by name.

As you can imagine, there have been attempts to discount or explain Honorious [
sic].  One position is that Honorius held this opinion as a private believer but that he never taught it publicly as pope: he did not seek to extend this belief to the body of the faithful or to make it an official church teaching. Some thought Honorius a benign though misguided leader. Others contended that while he did not hold this position at all, he did not fight hard enough to conquer it. The condemnation was not without its opponents at that time and at subsequent moments when the question of infallibility came up.  Meanwhile, Honorius remains on the roll of true popes'.
red highlights by TCE]

TCE:  Clearly, nothing that author Bellitto admits or argues overturns our accusation against Honorius and Papal Rome!  QED!

How did Pope Liberius (352 to 366) join Honorius in the list of fallible Papal heretics?

History of the Christian church (Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S., Vol. 7, p313, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910) we read:

The Roman Church itself must admit the fallibility of Councils if the Vatican decree of papal infallibility is to stand; for more than one ecumenical council has denounced Pope Honorius as a heretic, and even Popes have confirmed the condemnation of their predecessor. Two conflicting infallibilities neutralize each other'.

How did Pope Liberius (352 to 366) join Honorius in the list of fallible Papal heretics?

Emperor Constantius ordered Liberius to agree to the condemnation and anathematizing of Athanasius (the great Tri-unitarian defender of the Nicene Creed, who records him as an opponent) and, when Liberius refused, he was banished from Rome in 355
and only allowed to resume his see after agreeing under duress to the deposition and signing the Arian confession of faith passed at the Council of Sirmium.

How does Papal Rome try to deal with the acknowledged history of Liberius action? A typical defence is found in
A Manual of Catholic Theology: Based on Scheeben's 'Dogmatik' (Third Edition, Revised, Vol. II, p339) by Wilhelm, J., & Scannell, T. B. (1908) London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd.

As regards the Popes who are said to have erred, it may be answered generally that any such erroneous teaching is not ex cathedrâ; that is to say, it does not fulfil the conditions required by the Vatican definition (see § 31). Thus, the conduct of Liberius in purchasing his return from exile by condemning Athanasius and subscribing a semi-Arian creed, cannot be urged against infallibility.  He did not 'define any doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church:' what he did he did under compulsion, and as soon as he was free to speak he confirmed the orthodox Council of Alexandria.  As St. Athanasius himself says, 'Liberius, being exiled, later on, after a period of two years gave way ... and in fear of the death with which he was threatened, subscribed.  But even this shows their violence, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his decision for Athanasius when his will was free. For things done through torments contrary to the original judgment - these are not acts of will on the part of those who have been put to fear, but of those who inflict the torture' (Epist. ad Monach. et Hist. Arian., 41). See Card. Newman, Arians, pp. 314, 334; Catholic Dictionary, LIBERIUS; Palmieri, De Romans Pont., p. 637.1

In response to these claims we read (
History of the Christian Church by Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S., Vol. 6, p71-73, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910):

The pope is not infallible. Even a legitimate pope may hold to heresy. So it was with Peter, who was judaizing, and had to be rebuked by Paul, Liberius, who was an Arian, and Leo, who was arraigned for false doctrine by Hilary of Poictiers.  Sylvester II. made a compact with the devil. One or the other, Nicolas III. or John XXII., was a heretic, for the one contradicted the other.  A general council may err just as popes have erred.  So did the second Council of Lyons and the Council of Vienne, which condemned the true Minorites. The pope may be pronounced a heretic by a council or, if a council fails in its duty, the cardinals may pronounce the decision.  In case the cardinals fail, the right to do so belongs to the temporal prince.  Christ did not commit the faith to the pope and the hierarchy, but to the Church, and somewhere within the Church the truth is always held and preserved.  Temporal power did not originally belong to the pope.'

Again, how does a Papal Roman Catholic authority deal with this problem?  You can read the complete article by
newadvent.org supposedly dealing with Liberius' heresy but, in fact, revealing the same dissembling as before.  We refer you to:


where we read a long, rambling defence of Pope Liberius from which we highlight:

By the death of Constans (Jan., 350), Constantius had become master of the whole empire, and was bent on uniting all Christians in a modified form of Arianism.  Liberius, like his predecessor Julius, upheld the acquittal of Athanasius at Sardica, and made the decisions of Nicæa the test of orthodoxy. ... The pope's legates (of whom one was Vincent of Capua, who had been one of the papal legates at the Council of Nicæa) were so weak as to consent to renounce the cause of Athanasius, on condition that all would condemn Arianism.  The court party accepted the compact, but did not carry out their part; and the legates were forced by violence to condemn Athanasius, without gaining any concession for themselves.  Liberius, on receiving the news, wrote to Hosius of Cordova of his deep grief at the fall of Vincent; he himself desired to die, lest he should incur the imputation of having agreed to injustice and heterodoxy ... Constantius was not satisfied by the renewed condemnation of Athanasius by the Italian bishops who had lapsed at Milan under pressure.  He knew that the pope was the only ecclesiastical superior of the Bishop of Alexandria, and he 'strove with burning desire', says the pagan Ammianus, 'that the sentence should be confirmed by the higher authority of the bishop of the eternal city'.  St. Athanasius assures us that from the beginning the Arians did not spare Liberius, for they calculated that, if they could but persuade him, they would soon get hold of all the rest. ... It should be carefully noted that the question of the fall of Liberius is one that has been and can be freely debated among Catholics.  No one pretends that, if Liberius signed the most Arian formulæ in exile, he did it freely; so that no question of his infallibility is involved.  It is admitted on all sides that his noble attitude of resistance before his exile and during his exile was not belied by any act of his after his return, that he was in no way sullied when so many failed at the Council of Rimini, and that he acted vigorously for the healing of orthodoxy throughout the West from the grievous wound.  If he really consorted with heretics, condemned Athanasius, or even denied the Son of God, it was a momentary human weakness which no more compromises the papacy than does that of St. Peter.

We have proven that the popes of Rome have erred seriously in doctrinal matters and, at the end of the day, no defence exists for the myth of 'Papal infallibility'.  Papal Roman Catholics do not like it but they should admit the clear Biblical evidence that Peter was fallible, just as the Lord Jesus Christ prophesied (Matthew 26v34 & 75; Mark 14v30 & 72) and was proven at Galatians 2v8-9 - even after the Holy Spirit was confirmed upon all believers!

(Continued on page 330)

Full Menu

Topics discussed on pages responding to Roman Catholics
Section 45-52

Is it extremely important to become a Traditional Catholic to be saved?

The Catholic Church is infallible in the person of the Pope?

Apostolicity is easily proved by the facts of history?

'Traditional Roman Catholic' Matt Wykoff makes the following THREE claims:

What most of the world considers to be the Roman Catholic Church, is not the Roman Catholic Church - but the Novus Ordo Sect?

Antipope John Paul II was The Final AntiChrist himself?

Benedict XVI is the great Beast 666 and False Prophet of the Apocalypse?

J.H. Ignaz von Döllinger and the Papal claim to infallibility!

The Church Fathers and Rome's claims for 'apostolic succession'!

Outside the Catholic Church there is absolutely no Salvation!

Salvation is not based on any organisation but in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone!

The inaccuracy of Jerome's 'Vulgate' and the sloppiness of Papal Rome's copyists!

James, Peter, and John - described as 'pillars' - but Paul had to oppose one 'pillar' - Peter! 

A myriad of Papal heresies!

What does 1 Corinthians 11:19 clearly mean?

In the time of the 'triple popes' who was to be believed?

Impossible to determine whether the claimants were popes or anti-popes!

Not even once did Augustine suggest that the Bishop of Rome should be consulted at all!

How many popes 'self ex-communicated' by becoming Freemasons?

Three 'popes' - but only Gregory XII is now an official pope - the other two are now 'anti-popes'!

Scripture warns not to 'lord it over others' while Popes have been 'lording it over' their sheep for centuries!

Find kissing the foot of the 'pope' in Scripture if you can!

Papal Rome insults Jesus, the Everlasting High-priest, by installing a fake priesthood!

Did Peter ever claim to be 'The Rock'?

Antipope John Paul II was The Final AntiChrist?!

Benedict XVI is the great Beast 666 and False Prophet of the Apocalypse?!

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church) originated in St. Cyprian

Papal Rome declared Döllinger 'a heretic' - after he exposed the heretic Pope Pius IX

newadvent.org can only use the ad hominem method of Papal Rome to try and smear Döllinger 

Early writings reveal no mention of a special role for the Bishop of Rome, or the title 'Pope'!

That Christ passed on to Peter such pomp and luxuries, which neither of them knew, is both ludicrous and blasphemous!

Genuine apostolic powers do not exist in Papal Rome!

What do the writings of the 'Church Fathers' and 'St. Augustine' prove?

What do 'The Letters of St Augustine' prove?

Opinions on 'Peter the rock' from flabby Protestants!

More Scriptural views on Jesus the Rock of Scripture!

Early councils were not called by the Bishop of Rome, but by the Emperor!

Early writings reveal no mention of a special role for the Bishop of Rome, or the title 'Pope'!

Why should anyone believe that Christ - the Servant King -  passed pomp and luxuries to Peter!

Questions on Matthew 16:16-18 that Rome never answers!

Genuine apostolic powers do not exist in Papal Rome!

What do 'The Letters of St Augustine' prove?

Opinions on 'Peter the rock' from flabby Protestants!

More Scriptural views on Jesus the Rock of Scripture!

More truth about the so-called 'Church Fathers'!

More false Papal views on 'Protestants'!

Origin of the claim of 'No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church'?

Why call them 'Church Fathers' in rebellion against Jesus?!

Serious flaws in the work of C.S. Lewis - an apologist for Papal Rome!

No early council of Papal Rome can be found to have ruled on what was canonical!

Jesus, Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, proves Rome's priesthood is blasphemous!

Circular reasoning chooses to abandon logic and is often all Papists have in their attempts to avoid the truth!

Indulgences and the myth of the 'vast reservoir of merit called the treasury of the Church'!

The Biblical truth of Salvation by the FREE gift of grace shows the clear Satanic source of Rome's doctrines!

Pope Honorius declared a heretic by Councils and Popes!

More on Fallible Popes and their blatant heresies!

'Popes' insist that they should be followed - even when they teach heresy and evil!

'Papal infallibility' stands or falls by a single official error and the principle: Is falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

'Protestants are idolaters that worship a book that is a counterfeit construct of the Bible'?

'At the commands of Mary all obey - even God'?!

What brought about the worshipful adoration of Mary?

Why do Papal Roman Catholics appeal to heretics rather than to the truth?

The Bible clearly reveals many autonomous ekklesia - and not 'one Church (of Rome!)'

Only fully Scriptural and irrefutable historical support for a doctrine can enable anyone to make a point!


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