Roman Catholicism: An Orthodox Response

Excerpts from the Office for the Reception of Roman Catholic Converts

Bishop/Priest: Wilt thou renounce the errors and false doctrines of the Roman-Latin confession?

And he shall reply: I Will.

Bishop/Priest: Dost thou renounce the false doctrine that, for the expression of the dogma touching the Procession of the Holy Spirit, the declaration of our Saviour Christ himself: “who proceedeth from the Father”: doth not suffice; and that the addition, of man’s invention: “and from the Son”: is required?

Answer: I do.

Bishop/Priest: Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that the holy Apostles did not receive from our Lord equal spiritual power, but that the holy Apostle Peter was their Prince: And that the Bishop of Rome alone is his successor: And that the Bishops of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and others are not, equally with the Bishop of Rome, successors of the Apostles?

Answer: I do.

Bishop/Priest: Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief of those who think that the Pope of Rome is superior to the Ecumenical Councils, and infallible in faith, notwithstanding the fact that several of the Popes have been heretics, and condemned as such by the Councils?

Answer: I do.

Bishop/Priest: Dost thou renounce all the other doctrines of the Western Confession, both old and new, which are contrary to the Word of God, and to the true tradition of the Church, and to the decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils?

Answer: I do.

Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (1848)

A Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, “To the Easterns”
5. The new doctrine, that “the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son,” is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD, emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv. 26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils, uttering “which proceedeth from the Father.” (Symbol of Faith).

i. This novel opinion destroys the oneness from the One cause, and the diverse origin of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, both of which are witnessed to in the Gospel.

ii. Even into the divine Hypostases or Persons of the Trinity, of equal power and equally to be adored, it introduces diverse and unequal relations, with a confusion or commingling of them.

iii. It reproaches as imperfect, dark, and difficult to be understood, the previous Confession of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

iv. It censures the holy Fathers of the first Ecumenical Synod of Nice and of the second Ecumenical Synod at Constantinople, as imperfectly expressing what relates to the Son and Holy Ghost, as if they had been silent respecting the peculiar property of each Person of the Godhead, when it was necessary that all their divine properties should be expressed against the Arians and Macedonians.

v. It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Ecumenical Councils, which had published over the world a divine Creed, perfect and complete, and interdicted under dread anathemas and penalties not removed, all addition, or diminution, or alteration, or variation in the smallest particular of it, by themselves or any whomsoever. Yet was this quickly to be corrected and augmented, and consequently the whole theological doctrine of the Catholic Fathers was to be subjected to change, as if, forsooth, a new property even in regard to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity had been revealed.

vi. It clandestinely found an entrance at first in the Churches of the West, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” that is, under the signification not of procession, according to the Greek meaning in the Gospel and the Creed, but under the signification of mission, as Pope Martin explained it to the Confessor Maximus, and as Anastasius the Librarian explained it to John VIII.

vii. It exhibits incomparable boldness, acting without authority, and forcibly puts a false stamp upon the Creed, which is the common inheritance of Christianity.

viii. It has introduced huge disturbances into the peaceful Church of God, and divided the nations.

ix. It was publicly proscribed, at its first promulgation, by two ever-to-be-remembered Popes, Leo III and John VIII, the latter of whom, in his epistle to the blessed Photius, classes with Judas those who first brought the interpolation into the Creed.

x. It has been condemned by many Holy Councils of the four Patriarchs of the East.

xi. It was subjected to anathema, as a novelty and augmentation of the Creed, by the eighth Ecumenical Council, congregated at Constantinople for the pacification of the Eastern and Western Churches.

xii. As soon as it was introduced into the Churches of the West it brought forth disgraceful fruits, bringing with it, little by little, other novelties, for the most part contrary to the express commands of our Savior in the Gospel—commands which till its entrance into the Churches were closely observed. Among these novelties may be numbered sprinkling instead of baptism, denial of the divine Cup to the Laity, elevation of one and the same bread broken, the use of wafers, unleavened instead of real bread, the disuse of the Benediction in the Liturgies, even of the sacred Invocation of the All-holy and Consecrating Spirit, the abandonment of the old Apostolic Mysteries of the Church, such as not anointing baptized infants, or their not receiving the Eucharist, the exclusion of married men from the Priesthood, the infallibility of the Pope and his claim as Vicar of Christ, and the like. Thus it was that the interpolation led to the setting aside of the old Apostolic pattern of well nigh all the Mysteries and all doctrine, a pattern which the ancient, holy, and orthodox Church of Rome kept, when she was the most honored part of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

xiii. It drove the theologians of the West, as its defenders, since they had no ground either in Scripture or the Fathers to countenance heretical teachings, not only into misrepresentations of the Scriptures, such as are seen in none of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, but also into adulterations of the sacred and pure writings of the Fathers alike of the East and West.

xiv. It seemed strange, unheard of, and blasphemous, even to those reputed Christian communions, which, before its origin, had been for other just causes for ages cut off from the Catholic fold.

xv. It has not yet been even plausibly defended out of the Scriptures, or with the least reason out of the Fathers, from the accusations brought against it, notwithstanding all the zeal and efforts of its supporters. The doctrine bears all the marks of error arising out of its nature and peculiarities. All erroneous doctrine touching the Catholic truth of the Blessed Trinity, and the origin of the divine Persons, and the subsistence of the Holy Ghost, is and is called heresy, and they who so hold are deemed heretics, according to the sentence of St. Damasus, Pope of Rome, who says: “If any one rightly holds concerning the Father and the Son, yet holds not rightly of the Holy Ghost, he is an heretic” (Cath. Conf. of Faith which Pope Damasus sent to Paulinus, Bishop of Thessalonica). Wherefore the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, following in the steps of the holy Fathers, both Eastern and Western, proclaimed of old to our progenitors and again teaches today synodically, that the said novel doctrine of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son is essentially heresy, and its maintainers, whoever they be, are heretics, according to the sentence of Pope St. Damasus, and that the congregations of such are also heretical, and that all spiritual communion in worship of the orthodox sons of the Catholic Church with such is unlawful. Such is the force of the seventh Canon of the third Ecumenical Council.

15. But, finally, his Holiness says (p. ix. l.12) that the fourth Ecumenical Council (which by mistake he quite transfers from Chalcedon to Carthage), when it read the epistle of Pope Leo I, cried out, “Peter has thus spoken by Leo.” It was so indeed. But his Holiness ought not to overlook how, and after what examination, our fathers cried out, as they did, in praise of Leo. Since however his Holiness, consulting brevity, appears to have omitted this most necessary point, and the manifest proof that an Ecumenical Council is not only above the Pope but above any Council of his, we will explain to the public the matter as it really happened. Of more than six hundred fathers assembled in the Counci1 of Chalcedon, about two hundred of the wisest were appointed by the Council to examine both as to language and sense the said epistle of Leo; nor only so, but to give in writing and with their signatures their own judgment upon it, whether it were orthodox or not. These, about two hundred judgments and resolution on the epistle, as chiefly found in the Fourth Session of the said holy Council in such terms as the following:—”Maximus of Antioch in Syria said: ‘The epistle of the holy Leo, Archbishop of Imperial Rome, agrees with the decisions of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers at Nice, and the hundred and fifty at Constantinople, which is new Rome, and with the faith expounded at Ephesus by the most holy Bishop Cyril: and I have subscribed it.”

And again:

“Theodoret, the most religious Bishop of Cyrus: ‘The epistle of the most holy Archbishop, the lord Leo, agrees with the faith established at Nice by the holy and blessed fathers, and with the symbol of faith expounded at Constantinople by the hundred and fifty, and with the epistles of the blessed Cyril. And accepting it, I have subscribed the said epistle.”‘

And thus all in succession: “The epistle corresponds,” “the epistle is consonant, “the epistle agrees in sense,” and the like. After such great and very severe scrutiny in comparing it with former holy Councils, and a full conviction of the correctness of the meaning, and not merely because it was the epistle of the Pope, they cried aloud, ungrudgingly, the exclamation on which his Holiness now vaunts himself: But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils, instead of boasting of the piety of his predecessors lauded by our predecessors and fathers in an Ecumenical Council, he might justly have gloried in his own orthodoxy, declaring his own goodness instead of that of his fathers. Therefore let his Holiness be assured, that if, even now, he will write us such things as two hundred fathers on investigation and inquiry shall find consonant and agreeing with the said former Councils, then, we say, he shall hear from us sinners today, not only, “Peter has so spoken,” or anything of like honor, but this also, “Let the holy hand be kissed which has wiped away the tears of the Catholic Church.”

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For Those Roman Catholics Who Think that the Patriarch of Constantinople has Reconciled With Rome

“Together with His All Holiness Pope John Paul II, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has supported progress toward the reconciliation of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian Churches.”

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