Page 2, 13th January 1961

13th January 1961
Page 2
Page 2, 13th January 1961 — PAPAL VISITS TO CONSTANTINOPLE

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From Dr. T. G. falland, D.D., MA.

In your issue of December 16, Fr. Crehan S.J., in his article "Rome to Constantinople—When the Pope went visiting". has done me the honour of discussing my letter to "The Times" of December 12 and of quoting my "Church and Papacy", p. 341 (Bampton Lectures of 1942). with reference to the relations of the eastern churches with the Roman See in the sixth century. May I be permitted to ask for the courtesy of your columns to make a brief comment'?

In so short a letter as mine, or indeed in a three-quarter column such as Fr. Crehan had at his disposal, it was inevitable that some omissions of relevant facts should have occurfed. If, as a result, rather less than justice was done to some of the characters mentioned, it could hardly have been otherwise, hut, so far as blame is assignable. may I hope that Fr. Crehan will he generous enough to share it with me?

Thus. in the case of Pope Vigilius, unless I am mistaken, he has hardly made sufficient allowance for the degree of adulatory homage with which the Pope was actually received on his arrival in the eastern capital. Indeed , F. Caspar in his Geschichte des Papstrums (vol. ii. 1933, p. 252) writes of einen glanzenden Empfang, fiir welchen sich nun hereits eine Tradition des Zeretnon jells ausgebildet bane.

The incident of his taking sanctuary in the church of St. Peter in Hormisda. described by Fr. Crehan, certainly took place, but only after he had been honourably housed in the Palace of Placidia from the time of his arrival in December 546 to August 14, 551— nearly five years.

Clearly Vigilius could hardly complain of a lack of hospitality on the part of the Byzantmes to himself, his entourage, and his fellow western bishops, which continued so long as he was content to support the Emperor's religious policy. It was only otherwise after Vigiltus had made his sudden and somewhat surprising voile face on a point of orthodoxy. Pope Constantine I, pace Fr. Crehan, had really no reason to expect a less cordial reception at Constantinople (nearly two hundred years later). A letter of welcome from the Emperor Justinian II (not Tiberius H, as wrote) greeted him on his arrival at Otranto, whence he made the rest of the journey by sea in the imperial galleys. At the seventh milestone from the city an escort of the highest dignity. including the Emperor's son Tiberius, the Patriarch Cyrus, and the most distinguished citizens, was waiting to meet him, with provisions for his solemn entry ivorthy of the sovereign himself.

To imagine that in these circumstances the Emperor ran any risk of rebuff, in presenting himself for Holy Communion in St. Sophia, where the Pope presided at the Eucharist, is hardly possible. Yet Fr. Crehan seems to suggest as much: in fact he appears to scent a state of schism, where actually none existed.

After all, the crucial acknowledgment of the monothelete error of Pope Honorius I had already been made by Pope Leo II in 682. (and would continue to be made by each one of his successors down to the time of Pope Gregory VII), Hence there was no longer any doctrinal divergence between the two great Sees.

The Council of 692 (known as the Quini-Sext) was concerned solely with matters of ecclesiastical discipline, and was regarded (as its name suggests) as a kind of appendix to the Oecumenical Councils of the two previous centuries. Hence It is not found separately enumerated in any Oecumenical list of either East or West. To include it, as Fr. Crehan suggests it might have been, in the memorial set up by Constantine I on his return to Rome would really have been far more a cause for surprise than its omission.

Thus it is hard to see why its

absence should be regarded as having any significance whatever, nor why it should be described as "disputed", when in fact no more than five out of its collection of some one hundred canons (Canons 36, 38, 13. 30. 55: the last insisting on the duty of Rome to conform in the matter of fasting with the practice of Constantinople) might be said to be in more or less direct conflict with western Canon Law of the time.

As to the visit to the West of Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople (the only one of its kind) in 1438, an invitation such as Fr. Crehan presupposes. to meet the "rebel" council of Basel, if received, could hardly have been acceptable to the aged prelate. who must by that time already have had more than enough of foreign travel, and in any event may well have felt reason to doubt the council's credentials, since, according to Creighton. he "hoped . . to free his church from the tyranny of the Emperor. and could not subject it to the Pope".

It was on the latter ground that he declined, as it is said, to pay to Pope Eugenius IV the customary proskynesis,and consented only to greet him with the "kiss of peace". It is much to Eugenjus' credit that he agreed to be satisfied with this Tess exacting token of respect and charity. A man of inferior calibre might well have insisted on conformity at the expense of the reunion of the two churches.

T. G. Jalland Department of Theology, University of Exeter, Fr. Crehan writes: Of course I agree with Dr. Jalland that my letter, no less than his, was too brief to deal with the deeds and misdeeds of Pope Vigilius. I think there are three points to be made which he has overlooked.

(I) For a Pope to refuse Communion to the Emperor at Mass would not have been any more than what Ambrose and Basil had done to the Emperor of their day. It would be a practical way of expressing the theory, put into words by Pope Gelasius, that the Pope was master in his own house. i.e. in church. Anglo-Saxon kings had the same thing said to them by the archbishop who crowned them.

(2) The Council of 692, which Pope Constantine refused to accept, was not entirely taken up with matters of discipline. It equated Constantinople with Rome and it forbade pictures in church that showed Our Lord in symbolic guise (e.g. as the Lamb of God). When one recalls that St. Benet Biscop had his abbey-church decorated on its north wall with representations drawn from the visions of the Apocalypse, it can be seen that the rejection of such a ban by the Pope was important. (3) Both parties, papal and conciliar, sent a fleet to Constantinople to offer transport to Patriarch and Emperor, should they wish to go to Florence or to Basle. It cannot be said that the choice of the papal rendez-vous Was governed by the ease of getting Mere. It was just as if the Patriarch had two taxis waiting at the door and chose the papal one. The Editor regrets that this learned controversy cannot be pursued in our far less learned columns.

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