The Libellus of Hormisdas and the Failure of Policy

The following letter is a translation of Pope St. Hormisdas’s Epistle 80 and was written to Patriarch Epiphanius of Constantinople. The letter, which was written in 521, is essentially Pope Hormisdas accepting that even with imperial force (detailed in other letters), only Constantinople and its suffragan bishops were willing to sign the Libellus of Hormisdas. In reaction, Pope St. Hormisdas asks that Epiphanius of Constantinople accept in libelli from sees which would not sign the original libellus and he gives stipulations on what these libelli must contain never once mentioning the Petrine claims but rather focusing entirely on proper christology and trinitarian theology,

Now, it should be noted that the language in the original libellus only lends itself to a pro-Vatican I understanding of papal prerogatives if one starts from that viewpoint and it has not, traditionally, been seen as proof of papal infallibility. Case in point, when Bishop Vincent Gasser wrote his Relatio, which is the official interpretation of Pastor Aeternus, he did not include the original Libellus in his three examples a belief in papal infallibility (oddly, though, he included the 869 version of the libellus, which was also signed by hardly anyone, as well as the Councils of Lyon II and Florence)


“Hormisdas to Epiphanios, Archbishop of Constantinople

“I am filled with much joy since, in respect to the peace of the Church, of the Most Holy Emperor, and of your love, by the testimony of my ambassadors, I have come to recognize such zeal as you indicated in your letters. For from these, clear proofs of heavenly mercy are produced when both human rulers join the cause of faith with the administration of the government and Church leaders, mindful of their duty, accomplish what pertains to their stewardship. After storms of discord the Christian faith was in need of such rulers who, when the gales were suppressed by a provident dispensation, with the storm dispelled, brought back a peace long straying and, extending the examples of their plan into future ages, showed indubitably that they must approve whatever thing pleasing to God their successors may do.

“Let us thank God, dearest brother, that this was granted in our days, and let us strive with all the strength of prayer and care that what has been rightly corrected through the help of our God be fully accomplished with his assistance. For it must be hoped that the remaining members which are still divided may hasten to the unity of their body, and that the lesser [members] not disagree with the greater. Seeing that your disposition with the zeal of Christian charity persuades me, you ought to achieve what it urges and embrace what it suggests must be loved. For we, already exercising a like concern for the faith, through religious patience hope for an equal reward from the accomplishment of a good work; for one must not yield to difficulties. Faith is not worn out by hardships, nor are the heights of heaven achieved by going downhill, nor does anyone merit a reward without the practice of hard work. Whence, lest we fail in doing good works, let us be especially warned: Blessed, says the psalmist, are those who preserve judgment and who do justice in every time (Ps 105). One is not accustomed to find the reward at the beginning but at the end of work.

“Therefore just as we, to whom there is a oneness in communion and belief, rejoice in the Lord with the Church at Constantinople reunited with the Apostolic See, so in regards to the reintegration of the rest (as you lovingly advise) let us see to it first that we keep the faith and our integrity unstained by any contagion. For you know, most holy brother, what bonds preserve ecclesiastical concord, what bonds protect us from the ambushes of the heretics, and through what bonds the authority of the canons is protected. When these are preserved in their strength with all foresight, remedies are granted to those who trust. For both the authority of ecclesiastical rules and the form of justice itself have it that reasonable medicine is not denied to those who trust in kindness and faith. Nor is there anyone so devoid of humanity that an innocent simplicity does not bend him away from sternness of judgment. But in order that this can carefully be expedited without any complaint or blemish of error, most beloved brother, it is fitting that in this matter you assume my persona, knowing in cases of this type, as has been said, what must be done and what avoided. Everything must be so foreseen that you not doubt that an account of this settlement must be rendered to God. Do this in such a way, nonetheless, that your writings make clear to us those who were associated in communion with you or through you to the Apostolic See. Also, let the contents of the books [“libellorum” – pl. gen of “libellus”] which they have presented be included in your report. For in this way we will absolve the errors of Severus, his associates and those like him, and we will not allow the punishment of those who can be healed. This therefore in particular we believe must be imposed on you, transferring our burdens to your attention, since you, in resisting the heretics, have already published not perverse documents, nor should there be any doubt about him whom it is fitting to investigate. Simultaneously take the cures of medicine, be girded with the authority of justice, and towards the suppliant be so softened by your humanity while you distinguish those perduring in the disease of heresy or those who feign innocence and with one voice agree with our (people) from those to whom the reintegration of the Church is a concern and a purpose. For in these matters it is not expedient to soften the Church’s censure. For the blessings of mercy will not have been gathered for the needs of those for whom they ought to be reserved if they are shared equally with the evil and the good.

“And since in your letter Your Love made mention of the Jerusalemites whose certain [= recent?] profession was reported to us, we considered it necessary either to review what was written or to indicate what is agreeable. If they preserve the decrees of the holy Fathers, if they honor those foundations of the Faith over against those which were decreed, though the Holy Spirit was aggrieved, they will not stray. For either they are perfect as they are and need no addition or they are valid enough and must not be changed when through the [constitutions] all the poison of the heretics has been crushed. Nor did the Synod at Chalcedon omit anything of use, such was its diligence. The teachings of preceding Synods it either documented more clearly or it strengthened by repetition, undertaking, in particular the struggle against Nestorius and Eutyches, the one separating the divinity of our God Jesus Christ from the flesh and thereby avoiding acknowledging Holy Mary as Mother of God, the other rejecting the genuineness of the flesh in the Lord. Since our Lord Jesus Christ is both Son of God and Son of Man—one person in two natures of divinity and humanity of the flesh—with the natures not mixed by the union—not like a fourth person added to the Trinity but the very Son of God “emptying himself and taking the form of a slave” (Phil 1), we, therefore, profess the one, indivisible essence of the Trinity.

“And we know, moreover, that its peculiarity is in these persons—one of the Son of God with flesh assumed, one of the Holy Spirit. And we distinguish the persons by their peculiarities and we confirm in the unity of their essence the inseparable mystery of the Trinity. For it cannot be denied that the Son of God within the viscera of His Mother assumed a human nature in the flesh nor afterward was the union of the natures within the womb divided by him. Just as His humanity was not born apart from God, so also on the cross was a divinity unable to suffer pain not separated from the suffering of the flesh. This the virgin birth, her spotless fertility, the unique Resurrection from the dead, and the Ascension to heaven all declare. If they preserve these things just as they were decreed by the Fathers, let them believe and let them not go beyond what has been defined. Those who depart from this pathway themselves pour out a cloud of doubt on themselves. However, it is necessary for us to offer this apostolic response to the rebellious: “We do not have this custom nor does the Church of God” (1 Cor.11:16. These things therefore in brief since it is not appropriate that there be any doubt about matters close to the faith which have been defined rather often. The rescript which is attached to the instructions is almost superfluous, although I have added in brief not a few things on this matter to the most clement ruler our son. And since we have responded concerning the statement of the Jerusalemites, this also we have determined must be added fittingly for the sake of their salvation: if they desire union with the apostolic communion, let them direct their profession, given in writing, which they offered when our legates were stationed in Constantinople, either through their own people to us or let them hand it over to your brotherhood, written nonetheless, as we have said, in the same tenor as was reported in every way to us under your decree.

“By another hand: May God keep you safe, venerable brother. Dated 26 March when the most distinguished Valerius was consul (in the year of Christ 521).

“The Most Holy Archbishop [Epiphanios of Constantinople] said, “Now let the most venerable scribes of our most holy Church, if there are any documents concerning this case in their hands, make them known to us. And when the documents were disclosed by the venerable Cosmas, deacon, scribe, and archivist, Macarius the venerable deacon and scribe read the notebook from the body of the clergy of Theopolis and each report of the synod that met there in that royal city to John the Archbishop among the holy ones. And Callonymus , venerable deacon and scribe, has read from the codex the letter to John of holy memory, Archbishop of the Jerusalemites, and the letter to Epiphanios of pious memory, the bishop of the Tyrians. In addition, he read the letter sent by that very bishop John of the Jerusalemites and his synod to holy John. And Stephen, venerable scribe and deacon, has read the report sent by Epiphanios of Tyre and the synod which met under him. And Paul, venerable deacon and scribe, the report along with the acts determined by the bishops of second Syria to most holy John archbishop of the royal city. All these things have been included.”

The following letter was written to Pope St. Hormisdas by the monks of Syria Secunda. It is an example of one of the libelli, or statements of faith, that were written to Pope St. Hormisdas requesting he accept their communion. It should be noted that compared to the oft toted Libellus of Hormisdas, this letter has hardly any Petrine language. The following two letters (139 and 140), have been retrieved from here.

Letter 139 (c. 517)

“To Hormisdas, the most holy and blessed patriarch of the whole world, the holder of the See of Peter, the leader of the apostles, the earnest petition and humble prayer of the least (important) archimandrites and of other monks of your province Syria Secunda:

“The grace of Christ, the Redeemer of us all, has instigated us to take refuge to your blessedness as if from the winter storm to the stillness of an harbor and we are admonished to and indeed believe that even though disasters encompass us on all sides we are in no way caught in. For even if we suffer, we endure it with rejoicing, knowing that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy of the future glory, which will be revealed in us [Rom 8:18]. Since, however, Christ, our God, has appointed a leading shepherd, teacher, and physician of souls, it is right that we should lay open to your holy angel the sufferings which affect us, and make known the merciless wolves, which scatter the flock of Christ, so that through the scepter of his authority he may drive them out from the midst of the sheep, and through the word of his teaching he may heal the soul and appease it through the relief of his speech. But who those are and who he is who has armed them against us, you, most blessed one, you have certainly heard: That Severus and Peter, who have never been counted among the number of Christians, who on each single day have attacked and publicly anathematized the holy synod at Chalcedon and our most holy and blessed father Leo, who think nothing of God’s judgment and trample under foot the venerable canons of the holy Fathers, bringing it about that bishops, indeed, are shown as holding the prime authority and forcing us to ridicule the aforementioned holy synod and humiliating us by worthless public prayers.

“Therefore also certain ones of those, who in no way endure the blows brought upon them have gone over because of this and our not so small number of people has in fact almost completely vanished. For when we were going to the pen of the Lord Simeon for the cause of the Church, they were lying in wait for us on the way as it had been announced, defiling us, and when they came upon us by surprise, they killed three hundred and fifty men from among us, certain ones they wounded; but others, who could take refuge to the venerable altars, they slayed there and set the monasteries on fire, inciting throughout the night a multitude of unsettled people and contractors and they were wasting all the poverty of the Church through destructive trouble makers of this kind. About the details, however, the writings may instruct your blessedness, which were brought over by the venerable brothers, John and Sergius, whom we had sent to Constantinople, because we believed that revenge might take place for those things which had been committed. Yet he did not think them worth a word, but rather he expelled them with great mistreatment and he violently threatened those, who would present these (things). Therefore it is from here that we, perhaps (too) late, know that all the depravity and recklessness of such evil people, which is committed against the churches, is arranged through his incitation.

“We pray, therefore, most blessed one, we go on our knees and ask, that you stand up with fervor and zeal and rightly have pity for the body that is torn to pieces (for you are the head of all) and that you avenge the faith that has been despised, the canons that have been trodden under foot, the fathers who have been blasphemed and such a great synod that has been attacked with anathema.

“To you, God has given the power and authority to bind and to loosen [Matt 16:19]. Not the healthy ones have need of the physician but the sick [Matt 9:12]. Arise, holy Fathers, come to save us! Be imitators of the Lord Christ, who has come down from the heavens onto the earth to seek the sheep that is going astray, Peter, that leader of the apostles, whose seat you adorn, and Paul, who is the vessel of election, the ones who are going around and have illuminated the world. Great wounds, namely, are in need of greater remedies. For the hired shepherds, when they see the wolves come against the sheep, abandon them so that they are scattered by them [cf. John 10:12], but to you, the true shepherds and teachers, to whom the care for the well-being of the sheep has been committed, the flock come who know their shepherd when they have been freed from the pitiless wild animals and they are following the voice of the shepherd, as the Lord says: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” [John 10:3] Therefore, do not despise us, most holy one, since daily we are being wounded by wild beasts.

“But so that your holy angel may have complete knowledge, we courageously anathematize with our very petition both all the ones who have been put forth in the libellus and the ones who have been excommunicated by your Apostolic See: We speak, however, of Nestorius, who was bishop of Constantinople, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and Peter of Alexandria, who also has the name Balbus, and Peter, who was named “the Fuller,” of Antioch, and last not least Acacius, who was bishop of Constantinople, the one in communion with them and all, who defend any one of those heretics.

The signatures: I, Alexander, through the mercy of God priest and archimandrite of St. Maron, have prayed. Symeon, through the mercy of God priest and archimandrite, as above. John, through the mercy of God deacon and treasurer, as above. Procopius, through the mercy of God priest and archimandrite, as above. Peter, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Eugenius, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Geladius, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Bassus, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Romulus, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Eusebius, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Malchus, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Leontius, through the mercy of God deacon, as above. Stephen, through the mercy of God priest, as above. Carufas, the deacon, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Samuel, the deacon, as above. Theodore, the priest, as above. John, through the mercy of God priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Thomas, the deacon, as above. John, the deacon, as above. Symeon, the deacon, as above. Saulinus, the archimandrite, as above. Eusebius, the priest, as above. Mucimus, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. James, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Paul, the priest, as above. Priscus, the priest, as above. Antoninus, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Julian, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Zaccheus, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Eusebius, the priest, as above. Paul, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Sergius, the deacon, as above. Likewise, Sergius, the deacon, as above. Julian, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. Ammonius, the deacon, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Luke, the priest, as above. Thomas, the deacon, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Flavian, the archimandrite, as above. Monimus, the deacon, as above. John, the deacon, as above. John, the priest, as above. Anthony, the deacon, as above. Thomas, the deacon, as above. Eliseus, the priest, as above. Sergius, the deacon, as above. Isacius, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. Thomas, the deacon, as above. John, the priest, as above. Philip, the deacon, as above. James, the priest, as above. Zenobius, the priest, as above. Maras, the deacon, as above. Isacius, the priest, as above. Ananias, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Symeon, the priest, as above. Davidthos, the deacon, as above. Thomas, the deacon, as above. John, the deacon, as above. Lemneos, the priest, as above. Daniel, the archimandrite, as above. Symeon, the archimandrite, as above. Abram, the priest, as above. David, the priest, as above. Dorotheus, the priest, as above. Antoninus, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Barsumas, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. Eusebius, the priest, as above. Symeonius, the priest, as above. Marcellus, the priest, as above. Priscus, the priest, as above. Maras, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, as above. James, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Likewise, Thomas, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest as above. Saulinus, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Uarasaldas, the priest, as above. John, the deacon, as above. Marcellus, the deacon, as above. Symeonius, the priest, as above. Gennadius, the priest, as above. Thomas, the priest, as above. Symeonius, the priest, as above. Habramius, the priest, as above. Symeonius, the priest, as above. James, the priest, as above. John, the priest, as above. Isidor, the archimandrite, as above. Julian, the priest, as above. John(, the priest?,) and Romanus, the priest, and Thomas, the priest, as above. Antoninus, the deacon, and Habraam, the priest, as above. Maras, the deacon, and Habraam, the priest, as above. Zenobius and Stephen, the priests, as above. Symeonius and Demetrius, the priests, as above. Thomas and Domnus, the priests, as above. Symeonius and Helias, the priests, as above. Habramius and Pelagius, the priests, as above. Romanus and Abraam, the priests, as above. Symeonius, the priest, and Carufas, the deacon, as above. Symeonius and John, the priests, as above. Symeonius and Julian, the priests, as above. Eutychianus and John, the deacons, as above. Thomas and, likewise, Thomas, the priests, as above. Romanus, the deacon, and John, the priest, as above. Eusebius, the archimandrite, and Eustasius, the priest, as above. James and Eusebius, the priests, as above. Sergius and Maras, the priests, as above. John and Julian, the priests, as above. Paul and Isacius, the priests, as above. Thomas and Dasianus, the priests, as above. John and Daniel, the priests, as above. Zeuenas, the priest, and Azizos, the deacon and archimandrite, as above. Antoninus, the deacon and archimandrite, and Cyril, the priest, as above. Job, the priest, and Stephen, the deacon and archimandrite, as above. Bassus, the deacon, and Basilius, the priest, as above. Symeonius and John, the priests, as above. James, the priest, and Julian, the deacon and archimandrite, as above. Symeonius and Alfeus, the priests, as above. John, the priest, and Peter, the deacon, as above. Daniel, the deacon, and Nonnus, the deacon and archimandrite, as above. Alexander and Epiphanius, the priests, as above. Zoilus and Habramius, the priests, as above. Julian, the priest, and John, the deacon and archimandrite, as above. Carufas and Symeonius, the priests, as above. Timotheus, the deacon, and Peter, the priest, as above. Macedonius[, the deacon] and archimandrite, as above. Domnus, the archimandrite, as above. John, the archimandrite, as above. Symeonius[, the deacon] and archimandrite, as above. Menas, the deacon and archimandrite, and Barabsabas, the priest, as above. Sergius, the priest, and Theodorus, the archimandrite, as above. Benjamin, the archimandrite, and Isacius, the priest, as above. Daniel, the priest and archimandrite, and Abraam, the archimandrite, as above. Symeonius, the archimandrite, as above.

The following, Letter 140. is the reply of Pope St. Hormisdas to the Monks of Syria

Letter 140 (10 February 518)

“Hormisdas, to the priests, deacons, and archimandrites of Syria Secunda.

“I have read your highly esteemed letters, by which the insanity of the enemies of God has been laid open and the obstinate fury of the unbelievers, who with revived spirit hate the Lord and thereby wickedly persecute his members, has painfully been exposed: To the extent that it pertains to the recognition of your perseverance, I praise God that he preserves the faith of his soldiers in the midst of adversities. Yet again with regard to the shaking of the churches and the troubles and toils of the servants of God, I meditated upon my sighs with the help of the prophet and cried out: “Arise, O Lord; judge your cause; think of the acts of injustice against your people, of these things which all day long are done by the fool!” [Ps 73.22 (LXX)] Freely, also, I am adding the words which follow: “Do not forget the voice of the ones who seek you; the arrogance of those, who hate you, always rises up to you.” [Ps 73.23 (LXX)] For we guard the steadfastness of the faith, as it is right, (and) so it is not proper to despair of the justice of God’s judgment. This toil of the Church, brothers, is nothing new, yet nevertheless, while she is humiliated, she is set up straight and through these crimes, by which they believe they can weaken her, she is enriched. It is of advantage for the faithful of God, that through the deaths of their bodies they should gain the lives of their souls: they lose, indeed, what is vain, but they acquire what is eternal, and, while persecution prepares the way for testing, testing becomes the cause of merit. The foolish ones and the ones who are furious in their blindness are ignorant, because they do not believe that some can withdraw themselves from the social interaction with men (and) lead people to the kingdom of God. Hence the joys and periods of sufferings are in dangers themselves: For he, who repays their great services, also expects their combats. For who would not be broken to pieces by the evil ones, unless the opposite would console him with rewards? That is hope which does not fall into despair; since in fact it excludes the bitterness of tribulations through the sweet taste of virtues. For who, knowing the present, has such a greatness to estimate the things to come? Who disapproves of the costs of life, if he thinks that some can be regained? Persevere, my most dearly beloved, while you keep the faith unchanged through the immovable virtue of your mind, anticipate the praise for perseverance, in which are the prosperity and prize of good deeds. Great are the things to which we unworthy ones are called: May weakness not slow us down, because he who calls is the faithful repayer and mighty helper. Let us not be deceived by the hope for fortunes or pleasures, nor let us set easy things before our eyes: Our Lord has not promised us delightful things, nor smooth ones; he has promised rewards, not leisure. Praise and rest do not go together. What place will there be for reward, if there is no concern for virtue? Narrow is the gate, but the kingdom is wide, access is for a few, but (only) for the tested ones. Are not these the first words to the ones whom he taught: “They will persecute you and whip you in the synagogues” [Matt 10.17]? Through patience, as it has been written, let us be owners of our souls, so that we do not grieve their loss through impatience. [cf. Lk 21.19] First, our Lord and teacher of patience itself ascends onto the Cross and will be teaching the ones whom he supported with his help by his own example. He himself holds in check the balance between virtues and toils, while he is standing up against the destructions of the ones who are raging, so that according to the furies of the persecution he himself may give the crowns of eternal rule. Read again, how the old story of the Maccabees describes with praise their steadfast deaths, where Judas and that deadly phalanx of faithful brothers is reckoned with honor, how much it is talked about that the persistent people are worn out on the mountain. And all these virtues for guarding the law, forms and shadows of the future events; they have merited such great examples: In the Fathers we have seen, we have touched, we have approved, whom we would follow. What may not be granted in an event? What has to be denied to the truth? What is not owed to the Redeemer? Gladly do we share with you these teachings; for the most wise Solomon says: “Blessed is he who preaches the word to the ear of the one who is obedient.” [Ecclesiasticus 25.12 (Vulgate)] It is a joy since, indeed, they want to address and encourage to a proper life the ones who do not resist. For we hold as a guaranty the firmness of your faith in its profession up to the individual letters, by which you hurry back from the separative infection through contact with the transgressors to the teachings and instructions of the Apostolic See: Late, indeed, that you enter on the way of truth, but blessed be God, who does not forget even toward the end, who seizes and heals and does not suffer that the sheep of his flock are continuously torn apart by the rapacity of the wolves which lie in wait; he, who through moderation in punishment neither neglects the right to punish his own nor their well-being. But is it a surprise if, after that one and true shepherd has been left behind, the shrewd, bloodthirsty and rapacious one throws the sheep that have been scattered about into confusion with his traps? These, who abandon his protection, expose themselves to the dangers, by which they are torn to pieces. Therefore, now, at least pursue closely with firm steps the way of the Fathers, to which you are returning. The compassion of God will be powerful, also the correction of others for your reward, if they, guided by you toward what is right, enroll. But in all pull yourselves away from the mud, where the heretics are held immersed, and shaking off the impurity of the dust that sticks to all in general who deviate from the apostolic teachings, speak out a condemnation by a pious curse. There is no communion between shadows and light nor do those, who walk on the right paths join their steps with the error of the ones who deviate. [2 Cor 6.14] The bond of faith has to be held and contact with a treacherous group of people has to be avoided, because, according to the Apostle, just as “he who joins himself to the Lord, is one spirit (with him),” [1 Cor 6.17] so also “he who clings to a prostitute is made one body (with her)” [1 Cor 6.16]. The virtues love their colleagues and cling to them; impiety submerges with itself into the depth. In view before the eyes, in the mouth, on the hands themselves are the teachings of the Fathers, about which we command that they have to be guarded: they fetter us daily to preserving their venerable councils. It would be loquacious to repeat all of them one by one: the synod of Chalcedon which has the respect of all; but also is it fitting that we both know and defend the advancements of the venerable Leo which have been set up from the hearts of the apostles themselves. In these the banner of faith, in these the ramparts of truth, in these Christ is recognized, in these the hope and cause of our redemption is preserved. This is the foundation, about which we read in the Apostle that he deceives himself, whoever has attempted to build upon something (else) because wood, hay, and stubbles have to be consumed by fire. Through these councils the poisons of Eutyches and Nestorius have been destroyed, who while they strive against the salvific mystery of the dispensation of the Lord in a conflicting dispute among themselves, agree with a certain sacrilegious smoothness, even though they are different in their statements and of one mind regarding their impiety: one of them does not want the virgin Mary to be the mother of God and therefore he divides in our Lord, what has been united; the other one, while he mingles together what is proper and certain of the appropriate natures, annuls the mystery of our redemption; one comes into contact with the sect of Photinus,(13) the other one touches at the madness of Mani with his impious association. Against these, most beloved brothers, defend with the strength of the spirit the provided remedies against which, as you see, the heretics fight in their impiety for their (own) destruction. May the declaration of truth not come reluctantly. With what zeal should well-being be valued when you see that deadly ruin is thus loved? It is shameful that one asserts the laws of truth sluggishly, when errors are so tenaciously defended. And the authors, indeed, of inventions of evil things which we have mentioned beforehand, are reproached by the synodical ordinances with just condemnations; but we, so that you may also avoid their followers, in like manner admonish the ones whom the Apostolic See both detected as equal to their authors and has connected with their bondsmen: Dioscorus and Timothy, the parricide, Peter of Alexandria, Acacius of Constantinople with his followers, also Peter of Antioch, like to the one mentioned beforehand as much in error as in name, but also Severus just the same of the same place and poison, Axenaias of Hierapolis, Cyrus of Edessa, and Peter of Apamea; they are no longer to be condemned only for their own but also for the destruction of others, these who, while they get continuously all wrapped up in the filth of their own opinions, also have defiled others by teaching things which it is evil to pursue. I advise you by the soundness of a general command: throw away whatever is against the rules of the Fathers, from no matter what commentaries it is brought forth. Nothing may move you by inharmonious assertions or by new practices: For if they are worldly, they cannot have control of the churches, because it is proper for them rather to learn than to teach. For it is a crime that they offer alien libations on sacred altars, because God has determined certain boundaries for his own worship by pious disciplines also among the sacred rites. He has divided the office between the Levites and his own people; one is the power of men, the other are the ministries of the priests. He has rather aroused the Lord than appeased him, who as violator of the sacred has brought fire from without into the sanctuaries of God. Who is the one who can take up for himself the authority of giving orders for alien practices, even though there is no ambiguity as to whether he is offering the due honor or has been punished only for anticipating the office? Uzziah would have remained in royal respect and government, if he, having been warned through the example of such a great punishment from pious practices would have been moderate by being full of fear rather than by taking up better things. But as long as the obstinate violator does not withdraw, even though the worshipers of the temple are hindering (him), he is killed by the abomination of a skin disease in between the altars and loses the very offices of the kingdom, while he invades the ministries of the priesthood. [2 Chronicles 26:16ff.] Let them know, therefore, that it has not been accepted by God, what is taken on by anticipators from his commands; when he has preserved one by punishment for showing the lively sentence of disgrace, the swift flame has consumed others. But if there are things which have been taken on by some color of religion, they cannot have strength, because they resist such great authorities. The Apostle Paul calls out: “Should it be us or an angel from heaven who would proclaim to you a gospel other than the Gospel which we have proclaimed to you, let him be anathema.” [Gal 1.8] And it is not enough that he has said this once; he repeats the beneficial command: “As I have said beforehand, and now I say it again: If anyone proclaims to you a gospel other than the one which you have accepted, let him be anathema.” [Gal 1.9] Let him therefore keep the widespread statement for preserving the faith, whoever follows the apostolic discipline. And indeed we did not fail in care, for we have granted to the office of the double mission whatever is humble through prayers, whatever is reasonable by missions, whatever is beneficial by commands. But does therefore the way of justice have to be neglected, because someone loves his own errors at the same time that he loves determinate perfidy ? One must not join the ones who have fallen with the ones who are falling: May they perish without infecting us, those who do not parry from their impieties nor the error after it has been reproved.

“Given the fourth of the Ides of February, after the consulate of Agapitus.”

The following letter is the signed libellus of John of Constantinople, who was known for being a somewhat spineless character. In it, he makes the rather enigmatic claim that the Sees of Rome and Constantinople are the same See. This is translated from the Latin, not the Greek, and represents the version that would have been presented in Rome. It should be noted that despite promising that he would, the names of Acacius and his successors were not removed from the dypticha and several of them were actually canonized (among them St. Macedonius II of Constantinople) despite dying out of communion with Rome. 

“A copy of the libellus of John, Bishop of Constantinople. 

“To my lord, the most holy and most blessed brother and fellow minister Hormisdas, John greets you in the Lord.

“I have received the letters of your piety, most dear brother, through the most illustrious Count Gratus and now through the most reverend bishops Germanus and John, most holy deacons Felix and Dioscorus and the presbyter Blandus, I have been made joyful in Christ because of the spiritual charity of your holiness because you requested unity of the most holy churches of God according to the ancient tradition of the fathers and that you rush, with spirit, to repulse schismatics from the rational flock of Christ.  

“Therefore, your holiness, you may be certain that according to that which I have written to you in sincerity and loving peace and agreeing with you in everything, I reject all heretics rejected by you. For the most holy churches of God, that is your superior Rome and this New Rome, I accept to be one. I define to be one the Sea of the Apostle Peter and this holy City. I assent to all acts by these four holy Synods; that is Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, concerning the confirmation of the Faith and the position of the Church and nothing that has been judged well do I suffer to falter. In addition, those who attempt or strive to disturb even one jot or tittle I know to be apostates by the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of God. Your correctly spoken words I obviously use in this present statement because the first [rule of] salvation is to guard the correct rule of faith and to deviate in no way from the tradition of the Fathers because one cannot ignore the judgment of Christ saying “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

“Those words which were said are proven true because in the Apostolic See, the [Christian] religion has always been kept inviolable. Therefore, desiring not to fall from this Faith and following the Fathers in all things established, we anathematize all heresies, especially the heretic Nestorius, who was onetime bishop of the city of Constantinople, condemned in the Council of Ephesus by Blessed Celestine, Pope of the City of Rome at by the venerable man Cyril, bishop of the City of Alexandria. Together with him we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscorus, bishop of the City of Alexandria, condemned in the holy Synod of Chalcedon, which we venerate, follow, and embrace; it follows the holy Synod of Nicaea, and proclaimed the Apostolic Faith. 

“Adding to these, we anathematize Timothy the Parricide, surnamed “Aelurus” and we similarly condemn his disciple and follower in all things, Peter of Alexandria. Similarly, we anathematize Acacius, former bishop of the City of Constantinople, made an accomplice and follower of theirs neither persisting in their communion and fellowship for whosoever embraces their communion, a similar judgment unto condemnation as theirs will they receive. 

“In the same way, we condemn and anathematize Peter of Antioch with all of his followers and all those listed above. From whence we approve and embrace all epistles of Blessed Leo, Pope of the City of Rome, which were written concerning the correct Faith. Wherefore, as we declare, following the Apostolic See in all things, we proclaim all that has been decreed by it and therefore, I hope myself to soon be one in communion with you, as the Apostolic See preaches, in which is the wholeness of Christian religion and perfect stability, I promise from now on that those cut off from the communion of the catholic church, that is in all things not agreeing with the Apostolic See, their names will not be read during the sacred mysteries.  

“And if in any way I dare to deviate from my profession, I confess myself to be a colleague to the ones whom I have condemned through a specific condemnation. This true profession I have signed by my hand and have directed as instructed to you Hormisdas, o holy and most blessed brother, and Pope of Great Rome through the above signed venerable bishops Germanus and John, the deacons Felix and Dioscorus, and the presbyter Blandus. 

“By another hand: John, by the mercy of God, bishop of Constantinople, New Rome, by this, my profession, I consent to all things written above and have signed freely in the Lord. Pray for me, holy and blessed brother. Given on the 27th day of March in the 12th indiction of Constantinople by the lord Justin, perpetual Augustus and Eutharicus, the most distinguished man and consul.” 

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