Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos
Pope Pius I, who adopted the infallible
The bishop of Rome, known today as Pope (= father) always enjoyed special appreciation to the Church because he was bishop of the capital of the Roman Empire, but also because - according to tradition - there martyred the two top apostles, Peter and Paul. Indeed, was destined to acquire of great importance and value, since it was the sole support for the residents of the West, when the barbarian tribes of the Vandals, in 476 AD, catalyzed the Western Roman Empire, spreading the terror and panic...
So, because of these conditions, from very early on began to be cultivated in the Church of Rome the idea of the primacy of the bishop, for the entire Church. This idea was accentuated the theory for the special relationship of the Pope to the apostle Peter, and for an exceptional mastery of Peter in the circle of the apostles, called officium Petri. Subsequently, in the 4th century AD was cultivated the opinion that Peter founded the church of Rome, and that he was the first bishop, a fact which is totally untrue. Because the first bishop of this was Linos (67-79 AD), as evidenced by ancient catalog, written by the Bishop of Rome Savior (166-174 AD) and is mentioned by Irenaeus (2nd century AD) in "Against Heresies" 3,3,3 and by Eusebius of Caesarea: “In the church of the Romans, after the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, first appointed in the diocese Linos” Ecclesiastical History 3.2.
By claiming the primacy of the pope's power over the entire Church, it began cultivated and the idea of the infallibility thereof, which involved issues of faith and that only he could rule on the correctness or not of these.
Well, Vas. Stefanidis writes in the "Ecclesiastical History", page 289: «From the V centenary presented the first traces of papal infallibility, combined - as it was expected - with the claims of the pope as the supreme ecclesiastical authority. The Innocent I (401-407 AD) has claimed that the apostolic throne of him can take authentic decisions on issues of faith of the entire Church. This throne was, according to him, the source of the pure teaching for all countries throughout the world (Patrology Migne, Latin series, 20, 582. Cf and the libel of Hormisdas of Rome of the year 516, Migne, 63, 393). The Rome Zosimus (417-418 AD) first has ruled that the papal decisions are not susceptible of appeal (Patrology Migne, 20, 676. Cf and the reasons Rome Gelasius the A’ (492 - 496 AD), Migne , 59, 66 C, and their wider significance reasons: “prima sedes a nemine iudicatur”, who initially found in illegitimate documents Symmachus Rome 498-514 AD and this share and who have entered into the papal law, Codex iuris canonici, can. 1556). Presented the phrase that the pope is "head" of the Church. Boniface I (418-422 AD) featured the Roman Church as head of the entire Church (Patrology Migne, 200, 777 and ff.), and the presbyter Philip, representative of Rome Cailestinos A’, in the Third Ecumenical Council, featured the Bishop of Rome as head of the Church. That, i.e., after reading the papal letter, these present bishops welcomed this, and was joined as holy members with the holy head (Mansi, 4, 1289 and ff.). The Ankara Theodore retorted the observation that the Synod already - before the arrival of the papal envoys - had taken decisions. But the other day Philip repeated his characterization and has justified him by the following: “Peter, the exarch and head of the apostles ... the foundation of the Catholic Church ... until now and forever to his successors and lives and judge” (Mansi, 4, 1295 and ff.). Fr. Heiler, Altkirchliche Autonomie und papstlicher Zentralismus, 1941, p. 187 – 228».
In establishment of infallibility of the pope, firstly in the consciences of the faithful of the Western Church and then as a rule of faith from the First Vatican Council in 1870, also contributed the organization of this Church, which received a papal clearly form. The pope became the supreme ecclesiastical power as administrative, legislative and judicial squire thereof. He meddles in the elections of metropolitans and bishops. The bishops were required to take the homophorion (pallium) by the Pope. While in the East all the bishops brought homophorion in the West - in the beginning - homophorion only brought the pope, habit which was received from the East. So, when Symmachus of Rome in the sixth century, he wanted to make his representative in France the Arelatis Caisarios, gave him the right to bring homophorion, or even sent him a homophorion for this purpose. Than half of the ninth centenary became mandatory for all metropolitans, who were obliged to send envoy to Rome with a confession of faith to receive the homophorion. But because until the thirteenth century was applied the Caesar-papacy, i.e. the bishops were submissive to their king, in the XII Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215) by Innocent III made the acceptance of homophorion from the hands of the pope, as necessary condition of the metropolitan axiom. Even they were giving him and fealty, which while until that time was applied as habit, later it was adopted - on Gregory IX (1227 - 1241) - by law. At the Martin V (1417), changed to employees and the fealty oath changed in oath of service. The pope interfered in the jurisdiction of the metropolitans and bishops, initially with temporary envoys (legati) and then with regular and permanent emissaries (nuntii).
Over time the pope became the supreme legislator of the Church. The decisions of the popes had the power of ecclesiastical rules, so no need to be validated by synod. With the status of the Pope as the supreme legislator, emerged its right to suspend the application of ecclesiastical rule, and Innocent III had justified this by saying that the pope has full power (pletitudo potestatis).
But also in judicial matters, the pope became the supreme judge of the Church. Accepted appeals from any ecclesiastical court, and only he had the right to classify someone in the chorus of the saints, which occurred on Alexander the Third (1181). Entry under of the sanctification to the judicial power of the Pope is explained, because in the West the canonization takes the form of a kind of trial. Namely, in this “court”, there is someone who acts as public prosecutor, who is called “devil's advocate”, who mentions the shortcomings of the candidate for canonization trying to abort it. If, however, the lawyers succeeded to prove that the candidate is worthy, then it performed his canonization.
Natural consequence of all this was to arise the infallibility of the pope, since - as the supreme ecclesiastical authority - was surrounded by the infallibility of the Ecumenical Councils. As for the theological fortification, there was not any big problem or some big obstacle. Because, as you know, the Bible is full of passages in, which - by isolating them from the broader context - can anyone to use them as he wishes. The mere existence of thousands of sects in Christianity affirms this truth. First the great theologian of the West Thomas Aquinas (1274) formulated the relevant theory in his work Summa Theologiae, II, 2, 1 art 10. According to him, the pope decides after synodical decision, which with his ratification receives prestige and power. His opinion was based on the words that Jesus said to the Apostle Peter: “But I prayed for you not to abandon your faith, and you - when sometime come back - support your brothers” Luke 22:23 and in the exhortation of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “Saying all of you the same and that there are no divisions among you” 1 Corinthians 1:10.
So the pope was named «representative of Christ» (vicarius Christi) and became not only the highest ecclesiastical power, but also the overall maximum authority in the world, resulting in all of the following to come as a natural consequence. The political power depended on him. The States were considered papal timar (fiefdoms), the kings were considered overlords vassals to the Pope, which should have been pay tax, as indeed they did some of them such as of Hungary, England, Portugal, Leon and Aragon. Powerful weapons in the hands of each pope against the Kings were the aphorism, the solution of the oath of the citizens towards their king, the dethronement and the “ban” (interdictum). Where in were declared the “ban” ceased essentially the ecclesiastical life and some social events, once the bells was not ringing longer, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated quietly with closed doors, the confession and the Eucharist was given only to the moribund, ecclesiastically they buried only the priests, the children under two years, the beggars and strangers and they not made any marriage or baptism. The “ban” with the personal aphorism presented at the X century, but as an autonomous punishment appears in the XI. Great use of this became at the XII and XIII century.
Kings and emperors were required to kiss the foot of the pope and in certain official moments to perform tasks of his hostler. Were holding his horse by the bridle and they was leading at a distance of some measures. The popes were supporting this obligation in one forged document that was made in the second half of the century, which refers to the supposedly donation, that made Constantine in then Pope, known as the “Pseudo-Constantinian donation”. Well in this document is argued that Constantine the Great made the hostler to the bishop of Rome Silvester, leading his horse. The absolute power of the pope shows and the cover that he wears to the head in the official ceremonies, called “tiara”. The tiara is a triple crown, symbolizing his authority of on terrestrial (aphorisms), celestial (sanctification) and infernal (purifying fire, remittal).
And while it seemed that nothing could disturb this absolute power of the pope, came the 16th century with Luther and Protest, not only to challenge and relativise this power, but to eliminate it completely from the consciences of millions of believers. The entrance to the 18th century with the prevalence of independent thought, and generally religious indifference fomented tendencies and within the same Roman Catholic Church to limit the powers and the jurisdiction of the Pope. In Austria, the Emperor Joseph II made reforms, which were prepared by the work of Febronius, with which limited the powers of the pope in a simple primacy, which was nothing more than the ability to provide only advice and incitements to other bishops. Similar trends occurred elsewhere. So the German Catholic bishops at a session in Ems, in 1786, proposed to limit greatly the powers of the pope as the same happened in France, but stopped temporarily due to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, to revert but again strongly with the prevalence of peace.
Such then were the conditions when Pius IX went up to the papacy, which at the beginning showed a trend favoring the emergent liberal views. Views but which were mutated drastically, when he was forced to depart from Rome and take refuge in Gaeta. Seeing the unfavorable developments in the Roman Catholic Church he decides to respond dynamically to the dramatic political developments by convening the renowned first synod of the Vatican - twentieth ecumenical for Roman Catholics - after his return to Rome, with the assistance of French lances, and to enact the famous “infallibility”
Pope Pius IX enters in the Vatican Synod
The session begins its work on December 8, 1869 with the participation of 719 members, which was convened by the Circular of 29 June 1868, which determined as its purpose to combat contemporary fallacies by analogy with the session of Trent (1545 - 1563) which had combat the fallacies of Protestantism. Already, however, the pope had pre-proclaimed with the support of some bishops - followers of infallibility - that safe means to achieve this aim was to determine now classified as dogma of faith the papal infallibility. But apart from the papal infallibility, the session asked to express a view on the issue that was introduced by Pius IX for the "immaculate conception of the Virgin", namely that Mary was not brought - like other people - the original sin. Pope from his youth was an enthusiastic devotee of the Virgin Mary, in which attributed his rescue from many risks. Therefore, when he lived in Gaeta, in 1849, issued a circular to the bishops urging them to take a stand on this issue. Two thirds of these answered according to the desire of the pope, but the German and French bishops responded negatively. Thus, the Pius IX considered good to be discussed at the session and this issue.
So when started the work of the session and went the question of infallibility of the pope, was caused uprising of liberal Catholics such as Ignatius Dollinger, Friedrich and Huber of the University of Munich, of the bishop Ketteler of Mayence and of Maret provost of the Theological Faculty of Paris, but also by many others. In fact, when they submitted that for the papal infallibility there is no safe tradition of the Church, the Pope responded in Italian “the tradition am I” (La traditio sono io).
Despite the protests of the session was defined as a dogma plus, that the pope, when ruling officially ex cathedra, i.e. “as a shepherd and teacher of all Christians” is infallible. So the session of Vatican, “quasi killing her self” as so aptly notes the makaristos teacher Panagiotis Trempelas, catalyzed the prestige and authority of bishops when it they decide in session. Now, the decisions of this have not had the preamble which was in force in the session of Trent: “The sacred and holy, ecumenical and general synod teaches and decides ...”, but “we the Pius IX of holy Synod, which endorses, we teach and we decide ...” The notion however of the new doctrine was that the Pope - personally and privately acting or teaching – is not infallible, but only when hereby rules official and ex cathedra on matters concerning the doctrine and ethics, exercising his jurisdiction as a legislator and teacher is infallible. On 18 July 1870 the “Infallibility” of the Pope is a fact.
Furthermore, the Vatican Synod despite the reactions of many bishops upheld and the doctrine of the “immaculate conception of the Virgin”, which by Circular “ineffabilis Deus” of December 10, 1854 was proclaimed by Pius IX that “The Virgin Mary from the first moment of her conception, by a unique grace and privilege of almighty God, and by preventing (intuitu) of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was maintained uninvolved any nevus of original guilt.”
During the discussions on the infallibility of the pope stood out the form of the German Professor Ignatius Dollinger, who argued that any article of faith must not only be welcomed by bishops who are joined with the pope, but the ecumenicity of this be validated by all the church. Together with Friedrich and other forty-two professors of Munich have complained against the resolution on the infallibility of the pope. Thus began the movement of the Old Catholics of the Western Church, which was spread in Switzerland and elsewhere. The Old Catholics, in whom after his aphorism by the pope became head the Dollinger, in addition to non acceptance of infallibility, they introduced other reforms in their communities, such as the provision of the glass of Holy Communion and to the laymen, the catalysis of celibacy of the clergy and the use of the conversational language and not in Latin, which until then was in the worship.
The infallibility of the pope as dogma of faith (as dogma, namely necessary for the salvation of the faithful) strongly was booed not only from the Orthodox Church, but also by various Protestant denominations, while most widely is questioned and within the same the Roman Catholic theology.
Memorability is the fact that the Second Vatican Synod 1962 - 1965 revised the relations of the pope and the college of bishops, encouraging a form of episcopal assemblies to address purely pastoral issues.
The criticism of the Orthodox Church against the doctrine of papal infallibility was founded in the patristic tradition, according to which the infallible only connected with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and not with specific persons, while only expressed with the authority of the Ecumenical Synod.
The attitude of the Orthodox toward Pope expresses in wonderful way the author of the 12th century Nikitas, archbishop of Nicomedia:
“My dear brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy among the five fraternal patriarchates· and we recognize to her the right to the most honorable position in the Ecumenical Synod. But this Church was detached from us with her own projects when with hauteur assumed the monarchy, which not befits to her axiom … How can we accept her circulars, when we have not been consulted at all, or even we don't know anything? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on a high throne of his glory, wishes to sends thunderbolts on us, and in some way launch to us his orders “from on high” and if he wishes to judge us and commanding us and our churches, without consulting us, but only for his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood may be, or rather what kind of fatherhood? We would be then slaves and not the children of such a Church and the Roman headquarters will not be the pious mother of the children, but the hard and imperious lady of slaves.”
1. Vassilis Stefanidis:
2. Panagiotis Trempelas: Encyclopedia of Theology.
3. Encyclopedia “Larousse Papyrus”, word “Pope”.
4. Ioannis Anastasiou: Ecclesiastical History
5. Kallistos Ware: The Orthodox Church
6. Nikos Matsoukas: “Comment”, Magazine "En Route", issue 2, 1992.
7. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Volume 1.