Rejoinder to Erick Ybarra's First Reply to Ubi Petrus | Part 2 | When Plagiarism Goes Wrong

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In our previous article, we discussed Mr. Ybarra’s attempt to deny he had been arguing the Tome was an Ex Cathedra decree as well as his attempt at explaining word usage in Latin, a language he does not understand, to all of us. In this article, we will address the following three points Mr. Ybarra insists on in the second half of his article:

  1. The bishops did not ratify the Tome but the Tome ratified them.
  2. That despite the Acts themselves indicating roughly 370 voting bodies (bishops or their representatives) were present, we should trust the contradictory and ambiguous information which we receive from a variety of other authors in the following two-and-a-half centuries.
  3. That he actually does not know of where he plagiarized or used mistranslations (which is just amusing).

As in the first part, this will be done without utilizing Mr. Ybarra’s tactic of resorting to Star Wars analogies.

(3) UP moves on to insist that St. Leo did not intend for his Tome to be the final judgement on the matter of the doctrine being disputed, namely, whether Christ has two natures joined hypostatically in one person. Nor did anyone, he insists, believe that Leo’s tome was of any binding authority until it was accepted by the vote of bishops who met in Council. Well, let’s note first what Price has to say about this question. In his Acts of the Council of Constantinople (553), Price comments on Chalcedon and St. Leo saying: “Before the council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo had claimed that an ecumenical council to discuss the faith was uncalled for since his own Tome had settled the question at issue” (Price, 56)

In Volume I of Price’s Acts of Chalcedon, he writes: “In all, Pope Leo regarded the doctrinal controversy as having been settled by his Tome; if there had to be a council, he held that, apart from settling the status of persons, it should simply acknowledge and confirm the teaching of the Tome, as the definitive ruling on the points at issue; the last thing he wanted was a reopening of the debate, as if the teaching of the heir and successor of St. Peter were simply one among a plethora of competing voices” (Price; Chalcedon I.91)

In Volume III of the same, he writes:“It will be remembered  that Pope Leo had originally opposed the convocation of a council, since he considered that the doctrinal issue had already been resolved by his Tome and that the disciplinary matters arising from Ephesus II could be dealt with by his own representatives, acting in concert with Anatolius of Constantinople.” (III.108)

Two issues here. The first is Mr. Ybarra is misunderstanding Fr. Price to mean that simply by issuing the Tome, St. Leo had “solved” or “settled” the issue by papal fiat (Fr. Price never says or indicates a “final judgement”). What Fr. Price is referring to, though is that by the vast majority of the bishops signing the Tome prior to the council and repenting of their acts committed at Ephesus II, the issue had been “resolved” and “settled.” St. Leo says as much to the Empress Pulcheria in July, months before the council opened:

“This, as your piety knows, is not a mere verbal promise but is also exhibited in our actions, inasmuch as nearly all who had been either seduced or compelled into assent with those presiding, by rescinding what they decreed and condemning what they signed, have obtained permanent remission of guilt and the favour of apostolic peace.” Ep. 95 (Price Vol. 1, p. 105)

Further, Fr. Price states:

“Marcian’s letter was accompanied by one from Pulcheria (Document 3), which added the significant details that Archbishop Anatolius of Constantinople had signed Leo’s Tome […] In fact, the emperor’s agents were active in securing subscriptions to the Tome from as many bishops as possible in the regions dependent on Constantinople and Antioch, as is mentioned in a letter of Leo’s (Document 9); already on 21 October Anatolius had held a synod at Constantinople at which he and his bishops signed the Tome and were formally restored to communion with the Roman see.” Acts of Chalcedon, Vol. I, p. 88

“On the accession of Marcian and Pulcheria, Pope Leo demanded adhesion to the Tome by each of the eastern bishops as a condition for restoration of communion with him, broken as a result of the Council of Ephesus of 449. Anatolius of Constantinople and Maximus of Antioch, in accordance with the policy of the new government, were active and thorough in collecting signatures from the bishops under their authority (see Documents before the Council 9).” Price Vol II, p. 10, Ftn 19

Bishops were signing the Tome en masse and repenting of their actions at Ephesus II, those deposed were largely[1] being readmitted to their sees. As far as St. Leo could see, the issue was settled not by issuing the Tome, but by the signing of the Tome and therefore, calling of a council was going overboard.

Second issue: I specifically defined “final judgement” as something not open to review and ratification. My exact words were: “Pope St. Leo shows no indication that he thought of his Tome as the final judgement on the matter and therefore closed to review and ratification.” By definition, a “final judgement,” like an Ex Cathedra decree, allows only for submission to it. Even according to St. Leo himself, review and ratification[2] (not simply “confirmation”) were part of the process and Fr. Price never denies Leo accepted this so no, though Fr. Price states St. Leo thought the Tome had “settled” and “resolved” the issue, he is not supporting the idea this is an Ex Cathedra decree.

Now, while Price is a Roman Catholic, he can’t be accused of not being able to reliably translate Greek or Latin. While I try my best, I never leave myself as the final word on translation. If UP wishes to question my knowledge of Greek or Latin once again, I would just announce to the readers now that the English translations of the Greek and Latin are taken from reputable scholars, and in many instances non-Catholic. I would also add that I’ve compiled the scholarly assessment of St. Leo’s view of the Papacy in the universal Church from 15+ non-Catholic historical theologians, and they all understood him to be promoting a high view of Papal Office, in terms of jurisdiction and divine right. That UP would come forward to deny this should already inform his readers that he is in the minority view on the pontificate of St. Leo.

After reading said “scholarly assessment” of “15+ non-Catholic historical theologians,” only one of the fifteen, Kidd, considered Leo as being anywhere near Vatican I (later on, Mr. Ybarra admits this when he states The fact that St. Leo comes anywhere close to the Papalism of Vatican I, which was admitted to be the case by the late famous Russian Orthodox historian Basil Bolotov, and he is accompanied in that conviction by Anglican historian Dr. Beresford Kidd , is already enough to render sufficient astonishment.”). The rest saw him as having a high petrine view that is, as far as I can tell, part and parcel with Orthodoxy (we generally do not consider the See of Rome gone, just vacant). A couple saw the seeds of Vatican I in his thought, but many of the authors Mr. Ybarra quoted actually saw Leo as holding the belief that bishops “receive their power” from the Pope, which goes completely against Roman Catholic ecclesiology where bishops receive their power at consecration but the authorization to use said power comes from their communion with Rome.[3] One can believe Rome held its position by divine right but that is a long shot from Pastor Aeternus.

With regard to the letters available to us, the preparatory and confirmatory letters  indicate that the Pope would be the judge over the Council. In his first letter of request for Papal intervention, Emperor St. Marcian writes to St. Leo as follows: “Therefore, on behalf of the venerable and catholic religion of the Christian faith, by the help of which we trust that the strength of our power will be directed, we believe it to be proper that your holiness, possessing primacy in the episcopate of the divine faith, be first addressed by our sacred letters….so that….by the removal of every impious error through holding a council on your authority (te auctore), perfect peace should be established among all the bishops of the catholic faith…” (Leo, Ep. 73; Price I.92-93)

The Emperor understood the Council to be under the Pope’s authority. Since we’ve established that auctor/auctoritas can carry far more stronger implications than mere “urging” or “influence”, this opening letter of the Emperor for the Pope’s auctoritas to head the Council retains the same significance I called for it in my original article, effectively making UP’s critique, i.e. auctoritas means merely “respectable opinion” or “prestigious initiative”, insufficient.

“Te auctore” does not actually appear in Fr. Price’s translation, Mr. Ybarra added that in based on the Latin text I provided him in my previous article. Fr. Price’s translation has “on your authority” because he is possibly translating from the Greek of the Emperor Marcian while I was making note of how telling the Latin translation done by St. Leo’s translators is in that is shows how they understood the role Rome would play. Even if he is translating from the Latin (which Fr. Price oddly believes is probably the primary language of the letters to St. Leo from the Greek speaking Emperor Marcian), this adds no more to Mr. Ybarra’s point as “authority” encompasses a wide range of meanings, not the least of which is “influence,” “sway,” “clout,” etc. He did not translate it “incorrectly,” just with a broader term.

Further, as pointed out in the previous article, “auctor” is a different word than “auctoritas” and while Mr. Ybarra says he ‘tries his best’ at translation, confusing these two words is analogous to confusing the terms “auto” and “automation” – they are from the same root but are different words with different meanings. What Mr. Ybarra does not understand as he is not at all familiar with Latin is “me/te/eo auctore” is an established and common phrase in Latin distinct in meaning from the term “auctor” and there is no debate about what it means among Latinists.

UP also pointed out how St. Leo did not want a Council to be called, and how the Emperor convened one anyway. I assume this was an attempt to show that the Emperor thought he was the boss of the Pope, and could dictate decisions himself over the universal Church.

It was simply demonstrating the Emperor was not hanging on every word of the Pope as Mr. Ybarra had tried to infer.

However, this notation is dimmed when we see what happened after the Council dissolved. The Emperor St. Marcian ran into a bit of a back and forth with the Pope on the confirmation of the Council […] In a letter from St. Marian to St. Leo, we see this very clearly:“We are extremely surprised that after the Council of Chalcedon and the letter of the venerable bishops sent to your God-belovedness, in which they related all the proceedings at this council, in no way at all have letters been sent back by your clemency of the kind that ought to come to the knowledge of all, evidently through being read in the most holy churches. In the minds of some who even now follow the heresy and perversity of Eutyches this has created much uncertainty as to whether your beatitude has confirmed the decrees of the holy Council. For this reason your devoutness will deign to send a letter that will make it clear to all the churches and congregations that the proceedings at the holy council have been confirmed by your beatitude” (Price III.150)

My, my! One would think that if the Emperor is the boss of the Pope, that he wouldn’t be needing letters from Rome confirming the Council. If the Emperor calls, convenes, and dictates the terms of Councils, even over the Pope, then what in the world happened in the interim of the Council and the composition of this letter which shows deference to Papal authority over the Council’s decrees? The obvious answer is that the Emperor did submit himself to the Pope, but that the calling of Chalcedon and the place where it will convene was popularly thought to be in the hands of the Emperor who is responsible, by God, for the realm. But as for what content goes into it and is judged acceptable, this is not in the hands of the Emperor.

Who said or indicated anything along the lines of ‘the contents are in the hands of the Emperor’?  That is a bona fide straw man. Mr. Ybarra had initially attempted to indicate the Emperor was pandering to the Pope, which is why it was pointed out St. Leo pleaded and begged the Emperor not to call a council yet the Emperor dictated one would take place as well as where it would be ordering the Pope to send delegates. Further, and this was not included in the previous article, far from feeling he needed the Pope’s confirmation for him (the Emperor St. Marcian) to do his part in securing Chalcedon, he had published four edicts confirming Chalcedon as imperial law[4] prior to even writing this to St. Leo requesting he confirm the Acts. Fr. Price comments:

“That Marcian sought papal confirmation of the decrees of Chalcedon (Documents after the Council 7, 11) does not mean that he regarded their authority as incomplete without it.[5]

What stands out most, though is based on his argument, Mr. Ybarra does not seem to realize the Emperor demanded all bishops, especially those of major sees, ratify the council, not just the Pope. A famous example of this is the Emperor Theodosius II repeatedly sending representatives, both lay and clegy, to bring about the confirmation of Ephesus 431 by John of Antioch and the majority of the Antiochian party. Granted, the Pope had far more auctoritas than other bishops and his confirmation would be sought after more than others as he was the head of the synod and was therefore, under normal circumstances, an essential component, but he was not the only bishop whom emperors made requests of for this as he was not the only essential component.

What further did St. Leo say in regards to his authority in the matter? In St. Leo’s first letter to Chalcedon, he writes that the Tome sent previously to St. Flavian was “in accordance with gospel authority, the prophetic sayings, and the apostolic teaching, [the letter which we sent to Bishop Flavian of blessed memory] declaredmost fully and most lucidly what is the pious and pure confession of the mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Leo, Ep. 93; Price I.104). It would appear that Leo thought his Tome to be the last word.

I do not know of a letter, orthodox or heterodox, where the author actually thought they were writing out of accordance with the gospel, the prophets, and the apostles. Further, the “most fully” (“plenissime”) and “most lucidly” (“lucidissime”) reflect standard Latin composition in which superlatives (“most…”) are usually synonymous with “very” such as in “the most glorious Emperor…”, “the most religious Bishop….”, ”the most pious Empress…”, “the most beloved…”)[6]

Why then a Council? In the same letter, Leo answers: “But because we are not ignorant that through vicious factionalism the condition of many churches was disrupted and that a great number of bishops were expelled from their sees and sent into exile because they would not accept heresy…the remedy of justice should first be applied to these wrongs…those who have laboured on behalf of the faith should have their rights restored together with all their privileges”.

Thus, Leo’s aim at a Conciliar examination of the question has more to do with fixing the mess created by Ephesus (449) where many orthodox bishops lost their place in the episcopate, and other egregious matters related. In other words, UP is operating under the assumption that if the Pope were truly what the Catholic Church has defined him at the Councils of Lyons (1274), Florence (1439), and Vatican I (1870), then all Councils would be rendered superfluous. But this is a non-sequitur. There are a variety of reasons to hold a Council. When further business than merely the correct doctrine is in proximity, for example, the restoring of right bishops to their proper jobs, then face-to-face meetings are more appropriate.

After the Emperor forced him to send legates, that is what St. Leo said. But initially Pope St. Leo obviously did not think so because he claimed to have restored Bl. Theodoret to his position and Roman communion via a letter.[7] Further, one would assume Mr. Ybarra would actually remember what he had quoted from Fr. Price moments earlier:

It will be remembered that Pope Leo had originally opposed the convocation of a council, since he considered that the doctrinal issue had already been resolved by his Tome and that the disciplinary matters arising from Ephesus II could be dealt with by his own representatives, acting in concert with Anatolius of Constantinople.” (Acts of Chalcedon Vol. III, 108)

“…while the disciplinary questions relating to the standing of various bishops could be settled without calling a council. In subsequent letters he [St. Leo] added the objection that bishops in provinces threatened by war could not properly absent themselves from their dioceses.” Acts of Chalcedon, Vol I, p. 89

Mr. Ybarra continues…

Also, by having a Council of bishops, the subscriptions to the decrees puts an extra layer of accountability on those who might forsake their first commitment, furnishing greater proof of pertinacious rebellion. These things cannot be ascertained nor accomplished in a mere letter from the Pope.

Pope St. Hormisdas obviously did not think so because he turned down repeated offers to attend councils and said the entire issue could be solved simply by bishops signing his libellus or sending him independent libelli.[8] Further, Pope St. Celestine and St. Cyril had sent their ten day ultimatum to Nestorius in a letter, the calling of the council being an imperial decision urged by Nestorius himself. Likewise, Pope Vigilius had attempted to solve the issue of the Three Chapters (both in in favor and against) via his “Constitutions” and refused to attend the council, which ultimately suspended him. The list goes on.

In fact, just a moment ago, Mr. Ybarra acknowledged the fact St. Leo initially did not want a council called at all as he believed the signing of his Tome had “settled” and “resolved” the issue but he was strong armed into it by the Emperor. Mr. Ybarra even quoted Fr. Price stating as much even earlier with these two quotations:

“Before the council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo had claimed that an ecumenical council to discuss the faith was uncalled for since his own Tome had settled the question at issue” (Price, Acts of Constantinople, 56)

“It will be remembered that Pope Leo had originally opposed the convocation of a council, since he considered that the doctrinal issue had already been resolved by his Tome” (Acts of Chalcedon III.108)

Inadvertently, Mr. Ybarra has just claimed that none of the Popes just mentioned knew what they were doing.

Is it anyhow possible that, however much correct it was, St. Leo still understood his Tome to be simply a vote of one amidst the “fuller judgment” of the Council of bishops? UP appeals to letter 33 in the Leonine epistolary, which is his letter to the Council of Ephesus (449)  which has St. Leo saying: “But because the healing even of such men must not be neglected, and the most Christian Emperor has piously and devoutly desired a council of bishops to be held, that all error may be destroyed by a fuller judgment…and settle in common with you what is in accordance with the Lord’s will” (Letter 33) UP cites this portion of letter 33, but seems to ignore the first part of the letter which precedes the “But” in the above citation. This is actually how letter 33 opens up:

“Leo, bishop, to the holy Synod which is assembled at Ephesus. The devout faith of our most clement prince, knowing that it especially concerns his glory to prevent any seed of error from springing up within the Catholic Church, has paid such deference to the Divine institutions as to apply to the authority of the Apostolic See for a proper settlement: as if he wished it to be declared by the most blessed Peter himself…”

Right off the bat, St. Leo recognizes that the “proper settlement” of the doctrinal controversy lies with the “authority of the Apostolic See” which is resting on the “Divine institutions”. Indeed, the judgment of the Apostolic See is equivalent to the judgment of “the most blessed Peter himself”. The ideology behind this is only consistent with modern Catholic ecclesiology, and not Eastern Orthodox, let alone Protestant.

What about this is inappropriate to the synodality held by the first millennium Church and still held by the Orthodox Church: bishops gather together and decide with their primate, who gives the final and most important ratification to the decision of his fellow bishops? I see nothing wrong with it. Is Peter no longer a leader among the apostles but a tyrant above them? The bishops at Chalcedon acknowledge this in their letter to St. Leo when they say:

“…must He [God] not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him to their country and their ease? Of whom you were chief, as the head to the members, showing your goodwill in the person of those who represented you…” (Letter 98)

As one reads through Mr. Ybarra’s articles, they are continually struck by how ingrained in his thought is the absolutist model of the papacy and how severe his “Peter syndrome” really is. When you scratch just below the surface of what he is saying, the common thread is what can only be understood as “papal autocracy.”

St. Leo continues to describe what is entailed by the confession of St. Peter: [what was praised in his confession, when the Lord said, whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am ? and the disciples mentioned various people’s opinion: but, when He asked what they themselves believed, the chief of the apostles, embracing the fullness of the Faith in one short sentence, said, You are the Christ, the son of the living God : that is, You who truly is Son of man is also truly Son of the living God: You, I say, true in Godhead, true in flesh and one altogether , the properties of the two natures being kept intact. And if Eutyches had believed this intelligently and thoroughly, he would never have retreated from the path of this Faith.]For Peter received this answer from the Lord for his confession. ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church: and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it’ . But he who both rejects the blessed Peter’s confession, and gainsays Christ’s Gospel, is far removed from union with this building; for he shows himself never to have had any zeal for understanding the Truth, and to have only the empty appearance of high esteem, who did not adorn the hoary hairs of old age with any ripe judgment of the heart.” Having already equated the judgement of the Apostolic See with that of St. Peter, St. Leo unpacks what is entailed in the judgment or “confession” of St. Peter. And what we read is that the Lord made St. Peter the rock of His Church (as seen in the metaphor of a foundation and a building atop) for which the gates of hell should never prevail. Moreover, since Rome’s confession is St. Peter’s confession, and since those who reject the blessed Peter’s confession are “far removed from union with this building“, it is clear St. Leo was implying the irreformable nature of his Tome.

In green, is re-inserted the section between the two quotations Mr. Ybarra is posting and, as you can see, St. Leo is talking about St. Peter’s actual confession as containing the answer to Eutyches’ confusion, not the Tome per se.

This is the first of several instances in his reply in which Mr. Ybarra describes the Tome as “irreformable.” In the Catholic Church, “doctrine” is used to describe teachings in general while those doctrines set forth as irrevocable and irreformable are dogmas, so while all dogmas are doctrines, not all doctrines are dogmas. Those doctrines (teachings) that are not dogmas (irreformable teachings) are, by the necessity of exclusion, reformable as they have no made the ‘irreformable cut,’ though they still demand the assent of the believer, albeit a secondary level of assent. When a pope issues a decree on his own but is not making an Ex Cathedra decree, he is speaking through the Ordinary Magisterium and this constitutes doctrine but not that subset of doctrine known as dogma (irreformable teachings). This all changes when the Pope has the consent (i.e. ratification) of the College of Bishops, in which case the decrees can take on a dogmatic status and therefore can be elevated to the Extraordinary Magisterium. But in order to bind the Church without the prior consent of the College of Bishops in matters of dogma only by an Ex Cathedra declaration, something Mr. Ybarra is now denying he sees the Tome as. So Mr. Ybarra is stuck in a conundrum from a Roman Catholic standpoint because either:

  1. The Tome was dogmatic and required assent but not ratification because it was Ex Cathedra.
  2. The Tome was not an Ex Cathedra decree and therefore not irreformable (dogmatic) but a reformable decree that could be changed in the future and required only a secondary level of assent.
  3. The Tome was not Ex Cathedra but could only become irreformable via the ratification of the council’s bishops.

UP tried to equate St. Leo’s confidence in the rightness of his Tome with that of any ordinary Bishop. Well, these comments here make it clear St. Leo has something much stronger and far more exclusive to the See of Peter in mind.

This is another bonafide strawman. It was specifically stated that it would contain far more gravitas and auctoritas than that of another bishop.

What then of St. Leo’s idea in the next paragraph which says that the Council can give a “fuller judgment”?  Well, we know it cannot mean that St. Leo is nullifying everything he wrote in the opening paragraph concerning the irreformable nature of St. Peter’s confession, i.e. Rome’s confession. However, as Price noted, when St. Leo takes aim at the goal of healing the dissidents of their errors, St. Leo is willing to go with a Council where things are discussed and settled in common. I am not sure what the problem with this is? In fact, this is perfectly compatible with Catholic doctrine. Sure, as St. Leo implies, the judgment of Rome is final and irrevocable, but for the sake of ensuring that men are led more fully to the truth, it is better to have them both learn and be convinced of that truth inwardly rather than to impose some outward mandate with a threat of excommunication. And this is precisely what St. Leo says – “But because the healing even of such men must not be neglected…”.

Which leads to what was mentioned in the previous article: if the Tome was binding on all Christians due to its source, why were its opponents not automatically excommunicated latae sententiae? He passed over this point in silence preferring to ignore it rather than to engage it.

In a different letter to Empress Pulcheria,  wife of Emperor St. Marcian, St. Leo makes it clear he isn’t inviting feedback from the Council, but rather set the norm. He writes: “…I have nevertheless accepted with such lack of disdain as to appoint two of my fellow-bishops and two fellow-presbyters who may suffice to represent me. There have been sent to the venerable council appropriate letters, to inform the convoked brotherhood what forms should be observed in this adjudication, lest any rashness should thwart the rules of the faith, the decrees of the canons, or the remedies of benevolence” (Leo, Ep. 95; Price I.105). It is obvious here that so far as the faith is concerned, St. Leo is completely settled on his Tome, but there also appears to be instructions for handling the disciplinary crisis in the East on account of the Ephesus 449.

Ironically, his Tome is so poorly worded at points that he has to take feedback and therefore subtly and silently corrects himself, which is manifested most clearly in his letter to the monks in Palestine.[9]

What of Letter 120? Is it the case that this letter, as UP understands, shows that St. Leo did not ratify the Tome, but rather the Council both reviewed it and ratified it. The implication being that the Pope cannot judge ahead the Council the truth or falsity of a doctrine in question.

Yet another strawman. If we are using Roman Catholic terminology, this would be a matter of dogma, not just doctrine. Second, the Pope, just like any bishop, is free to judge the truth of or falsity of a dogma but he could not make it binding on the Church through the Ordinary Magisterium without the approval of the bishops. If, though he wished to circumvent the bishops in making a dogma binding, his only option is to speak Ex Cathedra (one of two exercises of the Extraordinary Magisterium). Other than those, the Pope’s option is an ecumenical council in which he still requires the consent of the bishops. So Mr. Ybarra is still left with the same three options as above, none of which fit into his schema:

  1. The Tome was dogmatic and required assent but not ratification because it was Ex Cathedra.
  2. The Tome was not an Ex Cathedra decree and therefore not irreformable (dogmatic) but a reformable decree that could be changed in the future and required only a secondary level of assent.
  3. The Tome was not Ex Cathedra but could only become irreformable via the ratification of the council’s bishops.

Mr. Ybarra continues…

But Letter 120 says something more compataible with Catholic ecclesiology. This letter is from the Pope to Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Wherefore we make our boast in the Lord, singing with the prophet: our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth : who has suffered us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren, but has corroborated by the irrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood what He had already laid down through our ministry: to show that, what had been first formulated by the foremost See of Christendom, and then received by the judgment of the whole Christian world, had truly proceeded from Himself: that in this, too, the members may be at one with the Head. (Letter 120) It would be irresponsible to read these words in a way that would make St. Leo’s other statements either contradictory or meaningless.

The term translated as “ratify” is firmare and it means: “to make strong, make firm, establish, fix, keep.” It is the term used in Ecclesiastical Latin to refer to ratification due to its connotations with “establishing” or “fixing” in place. Another term, from the same root, confirmare means: “strengthen, confirm, uphold” and like the English “confirm,” is much broader. Likewise, the term “judicium” means “”judgement, trial, investigation, sentence, ecclesiastical trial.”[10] Before discussing how these three terms were used in letter 120, we will look at how they are used by St. Leo’s translators when they translated letter 98, which was written by the Council of Chalcedon to Pope St. Leo:

“This prophecy grace has fitly appropriated to us for whom the security of religion is ensured (confirmata). […] as a fact we took pains to carry out (confirmare) this merciful policy towards him [Eutyches], and called him in brotherly fashion to judgment (judicium), not as if trying to cut him off but affording him room for defense and healing In consequence of which, we ratified (firmavimus) with such moderation as we could the vote which he had passed against himself by his blunders, stripping the wolf of his shepherd’s skin, which he had long been convicted of wearing for a pretense.

“And we further inform you that we have decided on other things also for the good management and stability of church matters, being persuaded that your holiness will accept and ratify (confirmatura) them, when you are told. The long prevailing custom, which the holy Church of God at Constantinople had of ordaining metropolitans for the provinces of Asia, Pontus and Thrace, we have now ratified  (firmavimus) by the votes of the Synod […] We have ratified (confirmavimus) also the canon of the 150 holy Fathers who met at Constantinople in the time of the great Theodosius of holy memory, which ordains that after your most holy and Apostolic See, the See of Constantinople shall take precedence, being placed second […] Accordingly vouchsafe most holy and blessed father to accept as your own wish, and as conducing to good government the things which we have resolved on for the removal of all confusion and the confirmation  (confirmationem) of church order.[…] For we duly regarding our most devout and Christ loving Emperors, who delight therein, and the illustrious senate and, so to say, the whole imperial city, considered it opportune to use the meeting of this ecumenical Synod for the ratification (confirmationem) of your honour, and confidently corroborated this decision as if it were initiated by you with your customary fostering zeal, knowing that every success of the children rebounds to the parent’s glory. Accordingly, we entreat you, honour our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded to the head our agreement on things honourable, so may the head also fulfill for the children what is fitting. For thus will our pious Emperors be treated with due regard, who have ratified (firmaverunt) your holiness’ judgment (judicium) as law, and the See of Constantinople will receive its recompense for having always displayed such loyalty on matters of religion towards you, and for having so zealously linked itself to you in full agreement. But that you may know that we have done nothing for favour or in hatred, but as being guided by the Divine Will, we have made known to you the whole scope of our proceedings to strengthen our position and to ratify (firmitatem) and establish what we have done.” (Letter 98, PL 54.951-959).[11]

Notice the actions of Pope St. Leo towards the council are twice expressed with the verb “firmare.” Emperor St. Marcian’s act of making the decrees imperial law is also described with “firmare.” “Confirmare” is broader and is used to mean to ratify, to uphold, to reaffirm (concerning the canons of Constantinople I), etc. Also, notice the use of “judicium” as it will show up again in letter 120.

Now, back to letter 120 of St. Leo to Bl. Theodoret (PL 54.1046-1055).

“Wherefore we make our boast in the Lord, singing with the prophet: ‘our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth’ who has suffered us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren, but has corroborated[12] (firmavit) by the irrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood what He had already laid down through our ministry: to show that, what had been first formulated by the foremost See of Christendom, and then received by the judgment (judicium) of the whole Christian world, had truly proceeded from Himself: that in this, too, the members may be at one with the Head. […] Moreover, the Truth itself shines more brightly, and is more bravely maintained when what the Faith had already taught is afterwards confirmed(confirmarit) by further inquiry. […] but with full authority laying down conclusions already arrived at; for in the letter which we issued from the Apostolic See, and which has been ratified (firmata) by the assent of the entire holy Synod, we know that so many divinely authorised witnesses are brought together, that no one can entertain any further doubt, […] For that God has dispelled all calumnious fallacies, we attribute to the blessed Peter’s wondrous care of us all, for after sanctioning (firmavit) the judgment (judicium) of his See in defining the Faith, he allowed no sinister imputation to rest on any of you, who have laboured with us for the Catholic Faith: because the Holy Spirit adjudged that no one could fail to come out conqueror of those whose Faith had now conquered.”

It is the same pattern. The term that previously referred to the Pope’s power in ratifying the decisions of the council (“firmare”) here refer to the councils power in ratifying the Tome. St. Leo even admits they put the Tome through a critical examination (“judicium,” lit. “trial,” “investigation,” “judgement”) to ensure its truth. Further, St. Leo considers the council’s acceptance of the Tome as proof of God’s ratification (“sanctioning”) the judgement of Rome.

Here in this letter, St. Leo understands that God has intervened into the situation so as to create no “no harm in the person” of the brother Bishops. What “harm”? The harm of disagreement, of course. The harm of schism. This is what St. Leo means when he says God, who is our Help, “has suffered us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren”. We already know that St. Leo understood the thieving Synod of Ephesus II (449) to have caused “harm” in the brethren, and it was for this reason that the Emperor called a new Synod. Therefore, the harmless convocation of Chalcedon is what the Pope is here referring to, i.e. it did not end up like the previous Synod.

“Harmless”…except for the two centuries of bloodbaths that followed the council, not to mention a nearly 16 century long schism that led to the downfall of the Byzantine Empire via the Islamic conquests, but yeah, “harmless.”

Secondly, notice how St. Leo says that God has “corroborated” what “He had already laid down through our ministry”. In other words, God was equally behind the production of the Tome as He was providing the grace of agreement in the “whole brotherhood”.

As pointed out, the Latin is “firmavit” and means “ratified.” What Mr. Ybarra is missing here is God shows the Tome is correct via the ratification of the council. St. Leo can say this because he sees himself at the head of a synod, as a leading member of it and not as a dictator doling out orders.

St. Leo is looking at this whole ordeal from a heavenly perspective. This is why he continues on saying that God did this in order to “show that, what had been first formulated by the foremost See of Christendom” had truly proceeded from Himself”, namely, that unanimity in the faith is a better manifestation of the Lord’s confirmation. Some might read this as if St. Leo completely flattens Papal authority with that of the Council. However, that is not necessarily what is going on. After all, when Ephesus II did not accept his Tome, St. Leo did not deduce from this that his Tome was thereby “not from the Lord” or lacking in authority.

It had already been accepted by a number of bishops, namely in Constantinople (after all, St. Flavian ask for its compositions) and Antioch (strongly dyophysite). Also, Ephesus II actually received it but did not read it aloud. In other words, there was no formal rejection of the Tome at Ephesus II.

In fact, he doubled down. Rather, St. Leo here is emphasizing a point which any Catholic Papalist today would gladly admit, namely that when there is no contest between the disciples, and all agree together in harmony, this is a better show of the Lord’s confirmation that what is being agreed upon is proceeding from Truth Himself. When and if there is a contest between the Apostolic See and other Sees, there is suffering, schism, and division. St. Leo is showing that God has come in to provide what He Himself wishes for the Church, and thereby makes even more manifest the divine origin of the Tome.

Behind Mr. Ybarra’s statements is a zero-sum reasoning for him, the Tome having a divine origin places it above the council, ‘which also has a divine origin, kinda…but not like that Tome!’ The Tome having a divine origin does not place it above the council any more than the Spirit’s divine origin places Him above the Son. It is not a zero sum game, though when it comes to divine inspiration as the Council itself was divinely inspired – that is why we can accept their dogmatic declaration. Even St. Cyril was divinely inspired when he composed his 12 anathemas as well as the compilers of the Creed attributed to Constantinople I.

It is therefore impossible to extract from this observation that St. Leo aligns himself with the conciliarist polities of the East…

Hold on. St. Leo aiming towards a conciliar reception of the Tome shows he was not a conciliarist? Sounds legit.

He goes on: For lest the assent of other Sees to that [See] which the Lord of all has appointed to take precedence of the rest might seem mere complaisance, or lest any other evil suspicion might creep in, some were found to dispute our decisions before they were finally accepted. And while some, instigated by the author of the disagreement, rush forward into a warfare of contradictions, a greater good results through his fall under the guiding hand of the Author of all goodness. For the gifts of God’s grace are sweeter to us when they are gained with mighty efforts: and uninterrupted peace is wont to seem a lesser good than one that is restored by labours. Moreover, the Truth itself shines more brightly, and is more bravely maintained when what the Faith had already taught is afterwards confirmed by further inquiry. And still further, the good name of the priestly office gains much in lustre where the authority of the highest is preserved without it being thought that the liberty of the lower ranks has been at all infringed. And the result of a discussion contributes to the greater glory of God when the debaters exert themselves with confidence in overcoming the gainsayers: that what of itself is shown wrong may not seem to be passed over in prejudicial silence. (ibid) Here we get further rationale behind the words of St. Leo. In order that that the agreement of the other Sees would appear as mere “complaisance”, i.e. being forced to agree.

No. “Complaisance” means agreeing for the sake of being nice/polite, there is no nuance of “force” about it. Mr. Ybarra tries to change the meaning of the word to indicate his understanding of the historic papacy: a dictatorship where the pope speaks and everyone just needs to submit automatically. But “complaisance” indicates something else: an atmosphere where no one is being forced at all, they are just following the standard etiquette. Because Rome had a tremendous amount of auctoritas, people were wont to just agree with them because of their prestige and good reputation (this seems to have occurred with the approval of Ibas’ letter to Mari. Price Vol II, p. 269). Leo is saying otherwise: ‘they did not agree because of our auctoritas (our prestige and reputation) but because of our arguments.’

The Pope sees a providence in that some of the Eastern bishops disputed the Tome. It is significant to see that St. Leo understood this disputation with his Tome as emanating from the Devil himself (possible Dioscorus or Eutyches, but most likely the Devil). From this evil, good came. It is important to see this logic here. By and through the evil disputing of the Tome, a greater good resulted because by the process or arguing and debating, it became even more ingrained into the hearts and minds of the Bishops that the Tome was reflecting the truth. It would be a misunderstanding of St. Leo to take from this that he was a conciliarist, because the logic here is quite plain, and shows evidence of the Papacy. The underlying principle here is when St. Leo says, “God’s grace is sweeter to us when it is gained with mighty efforts” and “the Truth shies more brightly when the faith already taught is confirmed by further inquiry”. This is not to say that the Tome was in a state of review, only to later arise to the level of authority. Rather, all the Pope is saying here is that when people actually have to work through the doctrinal problems and find the truth for themselves (i.e. Illyrians, Egyptians, etc,etc), they actually produce a better certainty and acknowledgement of the truth of what is at stake than if there were to just give outward obedience. In other words, there is “mere compliasance”, as St. Leo said above, in which case all the Bishops would just outwardly assent to the Tome without internalizing its contents, but then there is this permitted evil of debate, dispute, and contradiction, such that by working through the disputation with the Lord providing the grace of illumination, the bishops then come to have a better internalization of just why the Tome was from God. This is the sort of providential argument that St. Leo is making here. This is confirmed by the statement wherein he says, “…the good name of the priestly office gains much in lustre where the authority of the highest is preserved without it being thought that the liberty of the lower ranks has been at all infringed”. First thing to notice here is that St. Leo understood the Tome to be the “highest”, and the Council’s deliberation to be of the “lower ranks”. Full stop.

By the context, he is talking about reputations. In societies where freedom of speech and expression are not the norm and questioning is not smiled upon, to dispute the views of someone considered socially higher up than you causes both parties to lose face. The other issue is Mr. Ybarra is understanding “highest” to mean “one in control” and “lowest” to mean “those who need to obey.” That is not what they mean, but that is how he understands them and you see that in this next section:

The authority and decrees of the Apostolic See, like St. Leo said in many other places, is the confession of St. Peter which is the rock of the universal Church, outside of which there is no salvation. However, in the Church of God, it should not be the case that we need to see authority exercise itself in a war with others. Christ our Lord was supreme in authority, and yet He called Himself the “Least” and the “Servant” of all. In the same way, St. Leo here is saying that the authoritative decrees of the Pope are “highest” in authority, but that this authority should not, in the first instance, need to be preserved by a combat between the Pope and the bishops, but rather, when the Pope and the bishops can reach agreement out of free will. It is quite striking that some Protestant and Eastern Orthodox brothers, when looking for evidence of the Papacy, only sift through and try to find instances where the Pope has to contradict and fight with others, in order to see who wins the fight. This is fleshly.

Looking for evidence the Pope can do what Pastor Aeternus claims he can do is “fleshly.” Got it, note taken.

Even Emperors and Monarchs understand the diplomacy and mutual agreement is the first and most sought for mode of running an Empire or a Kingdom. We wouldn’t say that a King is not supreme if and when he allows a royal decision to first undergo counsel, review, or even a vote.

“Supreme” just means “highest” (Pope St. Gregory the Great uses it repeatedly to describe the role of a bishop in his “Pastoral Counsels). It really is not that lofty of a term but again, Mr. Ybarra is mistakenly thinking it indicates dictatorial powers by drawing a parallel between the ruling power of monarchs and emperors on the one hand, and that of the pope on the other.

That would be ridiculous. In the same way, there is ample evidence of the Papal theory (as St. Leo gives) while also recognizing that this government should be regulated according to the wisest and holiest principles of synodality and unanimity, if possible.

After stating Pope St. Leo could not be aligned with the “conciliarist polity of the East,” Mr. Ybarra is now admitting St. Leo is a champion synodality and unanimity. “Conciliarity” and “synodality” are synonyms, though.

But what about when St. Leo says that the Council “ratified” the Tome? We read: “…for in the letter which we issued from the Apostolic See, and which has been ratified by the assent of the entire holy Synod, we know that so many divinely authorised witnesses are brought together, that no one can entertain any further doubt, except one who prefers to enwrap himself in the clouds of error, and the proceedings of the Synod whether those in which we read the formulating of the definition of Faith, or those in which the aforesaid letter of the Apostolic See was zealously supported by you, brother, and especially the address of the whole Council to our most religious Princes, are corroborated by the testimonies of so many fathers in the past that they must persuade any one, however unwise and stubborn his heart, so long as he be not already joined with the devil in damnation for his wickedness.” UP takes note of this epistle, and feels as though the Tome was not, even in St. Leo’s mind, a binding document until the Council, which has supreme authority over the Pope, ratified it. Indeed, UP believes that when the Council ratified the Tome, it was only then that the Tome was ratified.

In Mr. Ybarra’s world view, either one believes in Vatican I or they are a crypto-congregationalist who believes nearly anything goes. Perhaps because of the “black or white” paradigm through which he views the history, he continually misses the nuances of other positions. Case in point, I never said or indicated the council was “supreme authority over the Pope.” In fact, I even said:

“Firstly, no one serious doubts Pope St. Leo was the head of the council. This point is a moot point unless one mistakenly thinks ‘head’ means ‘infallible autocrat’. A metropolitan is the head of his synod, the Patriarch of Serbia is the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch was the head of the Council of Crete in 2016. So there’s no issue here and his attempt to make one shows a woeful lack of knowledge concerning Orthodox ecclesiology.”

Mr. Ybarra continues…

UP states: “Far from signing on or simply accepting the Tome due to its source, it went through a ratification process, and the Council’s approval is what made the document binding. Had that not been the case, those who had not signed onto the Tome previously would have already been excommunicated if not openly, then by latae sententiae (this point becomes exceptionally important in the two trials of Dioscorus held at Chalcedon).”

Notice how Mr. Ybarra does not actually deal with the problem created by a latae sententiae excommunication or the two trials of Dioscorus at Chalcedon. Had the Tome been binding prior to the council, Dioscorus would not have been retried as his open rejection of the Tome post-Ephesus II would have automatically excommunicated him.

For UP, the word “declaro” and “confirmo” automatically signifies that the subject who confirms or ratifies is the subject giving the Tome the authority it enjoys. However, he might be proving too much, for in many examples do we see Ecumenical Councils saying they “confirm” Nicaea, Constantinople I, or something else the Church holds as already irreformable dogma.

“Irreformable” is a term the Roman Catholic Church uses to describe dogma. Here, Mr. Ybarra slips again revealing he considers the Tome to be an Ex Cathedra decree. In addition, “confirmo” can mean “confirm” but, as noted above, it has a broad range of meanings and “uphold” is one of them.

Therefore, the word itself doesn’t tell us what UP would wish to have it say. Secondly, we would only need to look at the documents which go back and forth from St. Leo and the East after Chalcedon dissolved. The Council fathers submitted the decrees of the Council to Pope St. Leo to confirm (c.f. Leonine Epistolary 98 & 101). No scholar denies that the Bishop of Constantinople, the Council of Chalcedon itself, and the Emperor all sought for St. Leo to ratify the 28th Canon. But even with this aside, when St. Leo didn’t give clear evidence that he approved the Council, many in the East believed it should not be obeyed because of that. As I have already cited atop, the Emperor wrote a letter almost two years after Chalcedon dissolved, in order to request a confirmation of the Council. If, as UP insinuates, the Council has the right to ratify the Tome of St. Leo, which is a doctrinal statement, then the Council would surely have the authority to ratify its own canons with or without the agreement of the Pope (a discipline of a lesser order than doctrine).

Being that St. Leo is the head of the synod, why would his ratification not be necessary? Does Mr. Ybarra not understand how Apostolic Canon 34 works? Everyone works in concert: bishops develop a document, they vote on it, then submit it to the head who approves or rejects. The head has a document or motion, he submits it to the bishops who approve or reject.[13] When everyone, or at least nearly everyone, is in agreement, motions and documents pass. It is like a parliamentary system and it really is not that difficult to understand.[14]

But even Apostolic Canon 34 , which the Orthodox like to cite as a proof text against the Papacy, would indicate that the ratification of the Head is just as important as the ratification of the body, and yet UP would have it that the ratification of the Head was nothing until it was ratified and confirmed by the Council.

The council is “the body” as it is the synod to which the Pope is the head so yes, the ratification of the head would indeed be “nothing” if the synod refuses to add their ratification.

But, as we’ve indicates, St. Leo (Ep. 12) believes almighty God has already laid down the faith authoritatively by the Petrine ministry before the Council. All in all, the Council’s ratification or confirmation of the Tome was a real act of authority, as current Catholic teaching says on the authority of the Episcopal College, but it doesn’t follow from this that the Tome was in the queue for review prior to. Since UP would not say Nicaea, Constantinople 381, nor that Ephesus 431 was in queue for review until Chalcedon 451 and the Councils afterward on account of these latter including statements which say they “confirm” the previous Councils, it stands to reason this argument of UP emanates from sheer ignorance.

Here, you can see Mr. Ybarra tries to confuse the difference between “ratification” and “confirmation” for the sake of his argument. The latter is, as mentioned, a broad term, that can mean “ratification” in some cases, but when speaking of previous councils, it obviously means “upholding” or “reaffirming.”[15]

(4) Next, UP jumps on my article for a glaring mistake, one which he says is “embarrassing”. He says:

“Mr. Ybarra makes an embarrassingly glaring mistake here; there were not ‘600+’ bishops at the council, and had he actually read Fr. Richard Price’s translation and commentary of the Acts instead of resorting to quote mines, he would have seen the number was roughly around 370 actual bishops and representatives.”

I have to admit that this caught me off guard. I did take it as a given from several sources I’ve read (Price speaks of it at length in an Appendix, and not in the body of his translation of the Acts).

Fr. Price mentions it in the footnotes on various occasions and, not just for the number of attendees, but for other issues as well, he actually refers readers to the two appendices regularly through the body of the Acts so the fact Mr. Ybarra never thought to take that advice is another piece of evidence he simply did not read the Acts.

But this charge that UP throws out at me has more bark than bite, for Price himself states that most historians take the view that Chalcedon had anywhere from 520 to 630 bishops.

“Most historians” either could not or did not take the time to read the Acts, let alone the list of attendees the Acts provides us with so their opinions are not as worthy of consideration. Interestingly enough, in the “15+ scholars” article Mr. Ybarra compiled and cites above, one of the scholars even states Chalcedon had around “350 bishops.”

He [Price] writes: “Sources after the Council tend to give 600 or 630 as the number of bishops attending: the figure of 600 was already given by a bishop in the fourth session (IV.53)…A slightly lower figure of 500 comes in the letter of the Council fathers to Pope Leo, while Marcian’s Fourth Edict confirming the council’s decrees gives 520. Most historians still repeat these figures, but what support do they receive from the list of bishops in the conciliar Acts?”

What Price tries to argue is that while the contemporary voices at and around the Council of Chalcedon were claiming 600+ or 520+ bishops in attendance, they were mistaken on the basis of an incorrect numbering of valid names which count as real attendees. Price goes from the claim of 600+ bishops, down to 391, and then down even further to 370 bishops. I happen to not find his reasoning compelling. Why should I believe him over what the Bishops there said it was? Moreover, I laud the principle of lex orandi lex credendi, and I would trust the contemporaries and the Church’s hymnography over that of a overly skeptical scholar.

There is no hymnography stating 600+ “bishops” were present so appealing to “lex orandi lex credenda” is not just pointless but a redherring.[16]

At the Council of Chalcedon (IV.53, Price), Lucentius, the Bishop-Legate of Pope St. Leo the Great, spoke out and said:“If they are in error, let them learn from your magnificence that ten men cannot prejudice a council of six hundred bishops and the Catholic faith”

By that logic, we should take Bishop Cecropius seriously when, moments prior to Bishop Lucentius speaking, Cecropius states “The ecumenical council is greater than the Egyptian diocese, and more worthy of respect. It is not right that ten heretics should be heard and one thousand and two hundred bishops should be ignored.” (Acts Session IV.50)[17] Why not that number?

In the Council’s letter to Pope St. Leo, they say: “For if where two or three are gathered together in His name, He has said that there He is in the midst of them , must He not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him to their country and their ease? ” (Ep 98, Leo)

First, each bishop was allowed, if he so desired, to bring a small entourage of non-voting members (often times acting as advisors) and these non-voting members definitely played a role there, they just did not vote.

Second, Mr. Ybarra does not realize that while priests are not specifically bishops, bishops are indeed priests and this was addressed in the previous article when it was pointed out the Latin here is “sacerdotes,” meaning simply “priests.” The term was commonly used when they wanted to describe a group of priests and bishops but if one wanted to state specifically bishops, the two terms available in Latin are “pontifex” and the Greek derived “episcopus” (in the Latin version of the letter, they actually use “pontifex” when speaking specifically of bishops). Further, the Greek version speaks of 520 “iereas” (priests). So that still is not patristic evidence against the Acts themselves and Fr. Price’s numbering but allows for the numbering provided by the signature list in the Acts.

The Emperor himself in one of his letters confirming the Council says: “Therefore we have ordained and ordain that those things which were decreed…..are to be observed…because it is extremely appropriate to observe with the greatest veneration he decrees of 520 priests who worship God with a pure mind…” (III.134, Price)

Again, “priests” are not specifically “bishops.” In his initial article, Mr. Ybarra had argued for “600+ bishops” and though it has been a while since I finished second grade math – and I could be wrong here so bear with me but I believe 520 is less than “600+.” So even were all 520 of them actual bishops, Mr. Ybarra had not been paying attention to his own source material.

The Council of Trullo (692), in its 1st canon states: ” Moreover we confirm that faith which at Chalcedon, the Metropolis, was set forth in accordance with orthodoxy by the six hundred and thirty God-approved fathers in the time of Marcian, who was our Emperor, which handed down with a great and mighty voice, even unto the ends of0 the earth, that the one Christ, the son of God, is of two natures, and must be glorified in these two natures”   (Council of Trullo, Canon 1)

“Fathers” does not specify bishops either unless we want to start mistakenly calling the desert fathers such as Sts. Anthony and Pachomius “the desert bishops.” In addition, St. Maximus the Confessor is a “Church Father” but he was never ordained even to the deaconate, let alone consecrated a bishop.

I understand there are those who look to the sheer number of signatures, but it doesn’t adequately explain away how the contemporaries and the Catholic Church following would be so far off on this figure. As I have stated above, I don’t accept the numbering that Price gives of the bishops, and nor should UP if he respects his own canons and hymnography. The appeal to symbolism also doesn’t suffice in that regard.

Pretending for a moment that “priests” and “fathers” indicated only bishops and therefore Mr. Ybarra had a point, what would be so ironic is the Acts of the council are as “contemporary” as it gets. Further, if we cannot trust that the list of signatures the Acts provides us with is relatively accurate and therefore provides us with a rough number of how many bishops were actually there, there is very little reason to trust that the doctrinal statements from such councils also came down to us intact.

(5) UP has no problem saying that Councils are infallible in their final decisions, but what happens when a portion of the Church disagrees with the Council such as in the case with Chalcedon? The Bishops of Egypt, and many others, believed Chalcedon was a “Synod of Thieves” (Miaphysites). Does this partial acceptance of Chalcedon injure the Council’s status of supreme and infallible authority? If not, then I don’t see why UP can’t accept that St. Leo’s Tome was treated as a document divinely binding on the Church, even if it had some resistance in the process.

It was accepted by all of the patriarchs, that is what makes it binding. That some later reneged on it is irrelevant. Further, Dioscrous was rightfully deposed for canonical infractions he committed at Ephesus II so his lack of acceptance of the doctrinal definition (which was really just a reaffirmation of the Reunion of 433) plays no part as he was no longer a bishop when that definition was promulgated.

The simple fact of the matter is this, it was the Law of the Empire and the Law of Councils that the Prelate of the Apostolic See was the head of the universal Church and that all decrees, canons, or formulas of Councils must require the authoritative seal of Peter’s successor before it obtains universal binding authority. We see this in the many policy statements of St. Marcian the Eastern Emperor, as well as Valentinian III the Western Emperor, and the confession of bishops both East and West.

Conciliarity/synodality requires the approval of the head in order to ratify the decisions of the other bishops (one would have thought that was clear in my previous article). Where Mr. Ybarra and Catholicism go wrong is they consider that not only is his ratification necessary but that he does not need the ratification of the bishops in his own proposals. Not only does this fly in the face of Apostolic Canon 34, but it creates an autocracy in which there actually is only one real bishop, the rest just being his lackeys.

The sort of authority claimed by St. Leo the Great and attributed to him by the Church could never be used today to describe the office of the Ecumenical Patriarch. If it were ever claimed so, it would at once be denounced by many Orthodox clergy as a unlawful Papal pretension. Therefore, whatever it is that went on in the 5th-century regarding Pope St. Leo, Chalcedon, and the Emperors, they were not operating off Eastern Orthodox polities, but far more closely to what exists today in Roman Catholicism. And while I’m not eager to advertise modern Catholicism with all its many faults and challenges, nor eager to downsize Eastern Orthodoxy, I’m certainly no thereby ready to re-write history and pretend like the Church of the 5th-century held to the ecclesiology of today’s 14 autocephalous Church bodies in the Eastern Orthodox communion.

For one, because the Ecumenical Patriarch is not a petrine see, so of course, petrine language is not attributed to him (although it was occasionally applied onto the city of Constantinople – but that is another article). In addition, in the pan-Orthodox councils following the Great Schism, the ratification of the Ecumenical Patriarch was considered crucial in passing councils.

In closing, considering it had taken Mr. Ybarra a full two months to reply, I would have expected an article that did not come across as being written in a weekend, citing materials he has not read and are not period appropriate, filled with spelling errors and repeat words, and then entire sections of another man’s work plagiarized. Despite that, Mr. Ybarra has still not shown the bishops did not ratify the Tome but the Tome ratified them nor has he found any sources to back up his claim of “600+ bishops” being present at Chalcedon. That he claims he is unaware of where he has plagiarized is either a desperate attempt to save face or demonstrates he actually does not understand what plagiarism is.

So am I ‘thankful I remained anonymous’? That depends. Is the other option owning an apologetics website whose address is my first and last name and adorning the top of each page with a large picture of myself? If so, then yes, I am very glad I remained anonymous as this is not about me, it is not a memorial to or promotion of my ego.

Instead, it is about apologetics, in which case, trying to brand ‘your’ apologetics is inappropriate. Were I were speaking on my own authority, then yes, I would need to state who I am, but I am no one of any importance or standing and I am not out for attention so staying anonymous and allowing the reader to take my articles on their own merit is more appropriate.


[1] There were a handful of bishops who were beyond repair and Chalcedon would not recommend their reinstatements (Price Vol. 1, p. 35)

[2] “not any longer (God forbid it) as if debating what is doubtful, but with full authority laying down conclusions already arrived at; for in the letter [the Tome] which we issued from the Apostolic See, and which has been ratified by the assent of the entire holy Synod, we know that so many divinely authorised witnesses are brought together, that no one can entertain any further doubt” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3604120.htm

[3] This is why, in Roman Catholic theology, Eastern Orthodox, Non-Chalcedonians, Assyrians, Sedvacantists, Old Catholics, etc. can have valid but illicit sacraments.

[4] Price Vol. III p. 128-138

[5] Vol. III, p. 203

[6] Translating the Latin use of the superlative as the English superlative seems have come back into vogue at the moment. Fr. Price comments on how he would have preferred to drop the superlatives at least for titles but decided otherwise. Acts of Chalcedon p. xi.

[7] In fact, the bishops at Chalcedon were willing to accept him until one really embarrassing fact came up: Theodoret still had no accepted the Council of Ephesus but still somehow had held his obscure see. In fact, Dioscorus deposed him for Nestorianism at Ephesus II (449) and St. Leo, ignoring the decrees of Ephesus I (431), which had been confirmed by his predecessors, did not think that a reason to keep Theodoret from his see. The bishops at Chalcedon, unfazed by St. Leo’s naivety, refused to accept him until he publically accepted Ephesus via a condemnation of Nestorius.

[8] Individual and self-composed libelli (plural of libellus) were actually the norm in restoring communion after the Acacian Schism. Of the eastern sees, only John of Constantinople and the clerics immediately around Constantinople itself signed it. Even John’s successor, Epiphanius, composed his own confession of faith for Pope St. Hormisdas.

[9] Letter 124

[10] “Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin” by Leo Fr. Stelton, “confirm,” “firmo,” and “judicium”

[11] For the sake of consistency, the translations of letters 98 and 120 are from the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers series.

[12] Even in choosing not to use the term “ratify,” the translator still choses a term (“corroborate”) that refers to authenticating and establishing a statement as true.

[13] Additional prerogatives of the synod head is to open, lead, and then close councils

[14] As a side note, in the future, we will be doing an article on why the 28th canon was indeed valid as Rome had affirmed its contents long before and was actually attempting to renege on its approval.

[15] The only instance I am aware of in which a council spoke of itself as “ratifying” a previous ecumenical council is in the case of the Robber Synod of 449 and I am unaware of why Fr. Price translated the Greek that way.

[16] I will gladly retract this if Mr. Ybarra can provide examples otherwise, but in none of those I have seen are the number of *bishops* specified.

[17] In the footnote immediately below, Fr. Price notes “1,200 bishops represents the total number of bishops in the Roman Empire” but Cecropius does not mention that, he simply throws out a figure just as Lucentius does. It should be noted that neither figure agrees with other contemporary sources.

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