"...for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."

-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical "Mortalium Animos"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Abrikosov Sons Chocolate Company

This chocolate company in Russia is owned by the descendants of Anna (1882-1936) and Vladimir (1880-1966) Abrikosov, eminent converts to Catholicism of the Russian Byzantine Tradition.


Anna (1882-1936) and Vladimir (1880-1966) Abrikosov.

By Mrs. Gail A. Waterman, T.O.P. Mother of God Chapter West Springfield, Massachusetts U.S.A., and Published in Torch-lites Newsletter beg. Apr-May-June 1995 Dominican Laity St. Joseph Province Newsletter


The Dominican Russian Apostolate actually began over 700 years ago. It was inspired by the exhortation St. Dominic (1170-1221) gave to his friars, "We must sow the seed, not hoard it" (Jarret 70). And then he sent them out, two by two, from their safe havens, to all parts of the known world, to become "champions of the faith and the true lights of the world." So you see, it's not hard for me to understand why some Dominicans are both traveler and planter of seeds as they travel the highways and byways.

Like our Lord, Dominic's field of apostolic work, to the very end of his life, was the entire world. Nostalgia for his mission to the pagans found Dominic at the chapter meeting of 1221 organizing "regions that will be bases for undefined missions"--Scandinavia, which opened on to the great North, Poland, becoming to Russia, and Hungary, the gateway to Asia. Dominic's concept of universality defines the reason and need for a direct connection to the papacy, which was the source of all missions, and it gives Dominic's ecclesiastical vision a definitive direction" (Bedouelle 46).

St. Dominic longed to reach Tartary (Russia) but never reached his apostolic goal. "Dominic schemed and toiled to get into Tartary; again and again his blood was shed in the effort to Christianize a nation that had demonstrated time after time that it did not want Christianity" (Dorcy 155-156).

The people of our time know, very well, that over the past 700 years, the seeds of faith have, indeed, been planted in Russia. And Mary, the Mother of God, continues to call her Dominican children to work in her beloved vineyard.

Early 20th century witnessed a revolution that sent Holy Mother Church in Russia reeling back in time to almost 2000 years when the early Christians were murdered, persecuted, and sent to prison rather than deny their faith and belief in the existence of God. The Communist revolution was a total uprising against God. Like the early Christians, the Church in Russia was forced to go underground into the catacombs. "The Communists turned the great Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in St. Petersburg into a museum of atheism. It then became the center of world militant atheism, and the Communist Party's official publications were produced on the printing presses which they installed in the crypt.

“Following the 1917 Revolution, the Communists seized all the Church's treasures and stored them in warehouses, and the use or possession of any article of religious significance was outlawed. In 1936, the Communist destroyed the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in Moscow" (Tindal-Robertson 71) which housed the original Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. While churches burned, Lenin could be heard shouting, "Where is your God now?" And from the rubble and smoke of these smoldering ashes OUR LADY RESPONDED to Lenin's ridicule by appearing on the other side of Europe, at Fatima, and spoke specifically of Russia, promising that "in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph... Russia will be converted!" Six times she called Western Christendom to prayer, conversion, penance and consecration to her Immaculate Heart, so that Russia would be converted instead of becoming Satan's henchman and the ruin of countless souls. For Our Lady added to her appeal, 'If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted; if not it will spread its errors throughout the whole world, unleashing wars and religious persecutions. Many good people will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and entire peoples will be destroyed'. God confirmed these words with the miracle of the sun" (Tindal-Robertson 80).

Somehow, the original Icon of Our Lady of Kazan was smuggled out of Russia, and in 1950, the year Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption, it was found in Farleigh castle in England. It was recognized as authentic by the Grand Duchess Zenia, and through the tests of experts its true identity was firmly established. In 1963 the Blue Army constructed a large Byzantine chapel in Fatima, Portugal, and duly "redeemed" the priceless Icon enshrined therein, to await its return to "Holy Mother Russia"
Fatima Russia & Pope John Paul II, Timothy Tindal-Robertson 1992).

Living in Moscow at the time of the 1917 revolution was a most outstanding couple, Anna (1882-1936) and Vladimir (1880-1966) Abrikosov.

After reading St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue and works of Henri Lacordaire, O.P., they wished to learn more about the faith. "After a year in Rome studying theology they were received into the Catholic communion at the Church of the Magdalene in Paris in 1909" (Nichols 165).

Upon their return to Russia, the Abrikosovs found a group of Dominican tertiaries which had been established earlier by a certain Natalie Rozanova. They were received into the Third Order, circa 1911, by Albert Libercier, O.P. of the Muscovite Church of St. Louis.

During the winter of 1910, the Abrikosovs entertained a young seminarian named, Leonid Fedorov (1879-1935) from St. Petersburg. Leonid's widowed mother ran a restaurant much frequented by another convert to Catholicism, Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900). It was through many conversations and discussions that Leonid was inspired to take his faith more seriously, and after high school he entered the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy. Leonid later became 'Exarch of the Greek Catholic Church of Russia. His "overall objective was the corporate reconciliation of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches via that of their respective hierarchies" (Nichols 167). It's not hard to see and compare Soloviev's influence in Leonid's thinking. "Soloviev's apocalyptic ecclesiological speculations included dreams of co-operation between the Tsar, as Christ's representative in his kingly office, and the Pope, his representative in the priestly office" (Nichols 165).

Pope John Paul II writes about Soloviev, "The theology of the Fathers, especially in the East, broke away more and more from Plato and from philosophers in general. Philosophy itself, in the Fathers, ends up in theology (as in the case, for example, in modern times, of Vladimir Soloviev (John Paul II 29)." He was perhaps Russia's greatest philosopher, as well as, poet, and mystic.

In retrospect, Professor J. Joseph Lake (currently teaching Russian Language and Literature, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst) makes the following remarks, "Soloviev's entire work, and his faith were the outcome of three visions of what he called the Eternal Lady, Friend. They were clearly visions of the Mother of God. What she wants for the world, and which might come from the conversion first of Russia, with its long history of deep devotion to the Mother of God. This wish is for unity in One Faith, a unity that Soloviev names "Vseedinstvo" - "All-unity" in Russian. It is this union in the body of Christ which we can all seek to further in our Russian Apostolate."

After a year's novitiate, circa 1913, the Abrikosovs went to Rome to make religious professions. There Pope Pius X bestowed a special blessing on their apostolate to their fellow Russians. "Though they wished to join the Latin rite....Canon Law allowed them to worship in that rite but they would belong to that of the Byzantine-Slavs" (Nichols 164).

Anna clandestinely taught catechism classes, and worked in kindergartens. She established her home in Moscow as a haven for worshippers, and became known as Moscow's Sister Catherine of Siena. On the feast of St. Dominic, 1917, the lady of the house became Mother Ekaterina Sienkaya, with her erstwhile fellow-tertiaries now her religious subjects. She would have a fully-fledged conventual priory of Dominican women, devoted to the intellectual apostolate, in the setting of a Byzantine liturgical life in the Russian tradition" (Nichols 167)

Vladimir was ordained to the Eastern Rite priesthood by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, the Uniate Metropolitan of Lvov, on May 29, 1917. Though Eastern Rite priests can marry, the Abrikosov couple had vowed to live in celibacy.

"Catherine's letters to Vladimir in future years, however, reveal that much true love endured in their relationship to the end. And so far as we know, Mother Ekaterina Sienskaya is the last Dominican sister of the Third Order Regular in Russia. However, we do know that she wore the Dominican habit and carried in a darkening land the torch of truth. In March 1936, Mother Ekaterina died of cancer in a prison camp. Her body was cremated on July 27, 1936" (Swift 29-30).

"It is a Christian truth of wide application that out of suffering, born in an evangelical spirit, does the desert bloom. The suffering which both purified and warmed Mother Ekaterina's heart may also provide a valuable education of feeling for those involved in the ecumenical task today" (Nichols 171).

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Nec Plus, Nec Minus, Nec Aliter: A Brief History of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church and the Russian Catholics"

The following article was excerpted from the website of the The Society of St. John Chrysostom of Ayatriada Rum Katoliki Kilise: http://rumkatkilise.org/necplus.htm
By Reader Methodios Stadnik

Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 All Rights Reserved.
(This is an abridged version of a more detailed work in progress)

The following is a brief summary of the history of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church. For more detailed information, please consult the works listed in the Select Bibliography at the end of this history.

(An introductory note on terminology-- We tend to describe ourselves using a shorthand reference as Russian Catholics and we refer to our church as the Russian Catholic Church. Properly speaking, we should refer to ourselves as Russian Orthodox who are in communion with the Church of Rome, because we are Orthodox in our entire liturgical and spiritual practice according to Holy Tradition of the Byzantine Church and the spiritual traditions of Russian Orthodox Church. The liturgical and spiritual practices of the Russian Orthodox Church and of some of its sister churches may be referred to more generally as the Byzantine-Slavonic Rite, i.e., the Byzantine liturgical and spiritual tradition as received by and adapted to the needs and use of the Slavic peoples. For purposes of the following essay on the history of our church we shall refer to it as the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church and to the members thereof as Russian Catholics.)

The Russian Byzantine Catholic Church traces its institutional origin back to the second half of the nineteenth century in Russia where the philosophy of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900)had fostered an active debate and interest among various circles of intellectuals in the notions of the universality of the church and Church unity.

It should be noted that when Christianity came to Kievan Rus in 988 A.D., the new Russian Church, following the Byzantine tradition brought from Constantinople, was in full communion with the Holy See of Rome. The events of 1054 did not cause any immediate rupture between the See of Rome and the Russian Church; rather there was a gradual drift apart. Indeed, contact between Rome and Moscow continued. The Russian Church was represented at the Council of Florence in 1439 by Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev and several other Russian clergy. The Russian bishops signed the Act of Union at the Council and they declared the union, which was warmly received by their people, throughout their territories as they returned to Moscow.

Metropolitan Isidore and his retinue arrived in Moscow on March 19, 1441, and on that same day celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Ascension in Moscow and promulgated the Union before Tsar Basil II and his court. Four days later, Tsar Basil, motivated by a somewhat xenophobic and nationalistic desire to control the Church and to exclude foreign influences from his domain, had Metropolitan Isidore arrested. However, Isidore managed to escape to the west, apparently with the collusion of Tsar Basil himself. Although the Union was not formally upheld by Tsar Basil or Metropolitan Jonah, whom Tsar Basil appointed as Metropolitan Isidore's successor, it continued to live in the hearts and souls of several Russians and other subjects of the Tsars.

After this time, there were always some Russians who were in communion with the Holy See, albeit small in number and hardly organized. Among these, there were the isolated instances of Russians who chose to become Roman Catholics (Princess Elizabeth Golitsin, Fr. Dmitri Golitsin, S.J.--the "Apostle of Western Pennsylvania"--and Fr. Ivan Martiniov, S.J.,) or those who, retaining their Russian Orthodox tradition, suffered for their belief publicly (Blessed Deacon Peter Artemiev).

However, the more enduring presence was that of the "Starokatoliki," who derived in large part from the supporters of the Servant of God Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev and who were augmented from time to time by the descendants of Greek Catholics from the western parts of Russia, who had been sent into internal exile in the Urals, North Caucausus, or Siberia. Surviving for long periods without benefit of Byzantine Catholic clergy, these believers preserved and nourished as family traditions both their Russianness and their communion with the Holy See. In some respects, these families provided one of the several diverse sources of fertile soil upon which the seeds of Soloviev's thought would flower and bring forth fruit.

According to Soloviev's reasoning, the Russian Orthodox Church is separated from the Holy See only de facto (there was no direct formal breach between the Sees of Rome and Moscow), so that one can profess the totality of Catholic doctrine and be in communion with the Holy See while continuing to be Russian Orthodox. Soloviev was received into communion with the Holy See as a Russian Byzantine Catholic on February 18, 1896 by Fr.Nicholas Tolstoy, the first Russian Byzantine Catholic priest (see below). Soloviev's thought had a profound impact on several generations of Russian society and inspired such later thinkers as Fr. S. Bulgakov, Fr. P. Florensky, Fr. G. Florovsky, N. Berdyaev, L. Karsavin, the poet V. Ivanov, and one could even include Fr. A. Men, among others.

As a result of Soloviev's thought a movement began among various intellectual circles, spanning the aristocracy, the intelligentsia, the growing middle class and later spreading as well amongst farmers and workers, that led various Russians to seek to be in communion with the See of Rome. At first they did this by being received into the Roman Catholic Church, but this solution left all but a few of them thirsting for the spiritual richness of the Byzantine Slavonic tradition.

This tendency began to change as the nineteenth century began to draw to a close. In 1893, Fr. Nicholas Tolstoy, a Russian Orthodox priest, was received into communion with the See of Rome and was incardinated in the Melkite Catholic church. He returned to Moscow and a small community began to form around him. A few years later, it was he who received Vladimir Soloviev into communion with the Holy See. Larger numbers of like-minded individuals began to form circles and communities in St. Petersburg and Moscow and among them were a number of Russian Orthodox clergy, as well as some Russian Old Ritualist or Old Believer priests.

Decisions by these groups of people were taken to enter into communion with the See of Rome and to form themselves into more formal communities and this,was undertaken under the moral protection in part of Prince Peter and Princess Elizabeth Volkonsky and Mlle. Natalia Ushakova, who had influential connections with the authorities. In St. Petersburg, an upper floor room was rented at ul. Polozovaia 12 and outfitted as a chapel and the first priests of the St. Petersburg community, Fr. Ivan Deubner, Fr. Alexander Zerchaninov, and Fr. Eustachios Susalev (the third, a Russian Old Ritualist priest received into communion with Rome) began to hold regular services. The Divine Services were celebrated either according to Russian synodal form or to the Old Ritual, depending on which priest was officiating. In Moscow, Fr. Tolstoy's community began to form around the family of Vladimir and Anna Abrikosov and a chapel was set up in their home.

On May 22, 1908 Fr. Zerchaninov was appointed the Administrator of the Mission to the Russian Catholics. The decree from the Vatican Secretariat of State appointing him specifically states: "Therefore His Holiness commands the aforementioned priest Zerchaninov to observe the laws of the Greek-Slavonic Rite faithfully and in all their integrity, without any admixture from the Latin Rite or any other Rite; he must also see that his subjects, clergy and all other Catholics, do the same."

Subsequently, this command to observe strictly the Russian Orthodox Church's rituals and spirituality was confirmed during an audience with Pope Pius X attended by Mlle. Ushakova.

In response to Mlle. Ushakova's inquiry whether the Russian Catholics should hold firmly to their Russian synodal and Old Ritualist practices, or adapt these to the more "latinized" Galician liturgical forms, Pope Pius replied that the Russian Catholics should adhere to the synodal and Old Rite practices with the now famous response in Latin: "nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter" (no more, no less, no different). This principle continues to be observed by the Russian Catholic communities today.

The first public Divine Liturgy was celebrated, in St. Petersburg, on 29 April 1909 (Pascha, or Easter, on the Julian Calendar) by these three priests. The choir was made up of amateurs. After the Liturgy, they agreed with Fr. Susalev's idea to send the following telegram of Paschal greetings to the Czar:

"On this radiant day of Pascha, the Russian Old Ritualists in communion with the Holy See address their prayers to God for the prosperity of Your Imperial Majesty and His Highness the Grand Duke and Heir."

A cordial response was soon thereafter received from Baron Vladimir Fredericks, Minister of the Court; this response was prominently displayed in the chapel and for some time police harassment abated. In April 1911 Minister Stolypin sent a legal authorization, thanks to the intervention of Mlle. Ushakova. In 1912, the St. Petersburg chapel was moved to ul. Barmaleieva 2 because more space was needed for the growing community.

It should be noted that at this time it was illegal to be Russian and Catholic of the Byzantine rite in Russia, and this remained the case technically after the 1905 Decree on Religious Toleration. The presence amongst the early Russian Catholics of a number of Old Ritualists, whose tradition was recognized by the 1905 Decree, enabled the communities to begin to organize and function. Nonetheless, these communities were often hounded by the police and the priests and members occasionally arrested.

In spite of these difficulties, the Russian Catholics firmly believed in their faith and their goals of achieving church unity among the separated Catholic and Orthodox sister churches, keeping in mind Soloviev's view that the separation of the Russian Orthodox Church from the Church of Rome was only a de facto separation and therefore it was possible to be Russian Orthodox in spiritual practice and be in communion with the Church of Rome. Government harassment abated for a few years, but the communities continued to be monitored and occasionally harassed.

As one would expect in a thriving spiritual community, and the Russian Byzantine Catholic communities were indeed thriving even under the difficult conditions under which they functioned, persons were drawn to the religious life. To meet the needs of the Moscow community, Vladimir Abrikosov was ordained a priest on May 19, 1917 in order to serve them. He and his wife had taken vows of chastity in preparation for entering the monastic life. Anna Abrikosov, who had organized a religious community for young women under simple vows along the lines of a Dominican Third Order, became its leader as Mother Catherine.

A young man named Leonid Feodorov, who grew up in the midst of intellectual ferment of Soloviev's circles in St. Petersburg, made his way to L'viv and later to the West in order to study for the priesthood. Early on, the movement in Russia, inspired by Soloviev, had attracted the attention of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky (1865-1944), the leader of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church and he took a special interest in fostering and aiding the Russian Catholic movement and in the training of young Leonid. Upon completion of his studies abroad, his ordination, and his monastic tonsure (all punctuated by visits back to his mother and the community in St. Petersburg), Fr. Leonid returned permanently to St. Petersburg in 1913 whereupon he was promptly arrested for his association with Metropolitan Andrew and was sent into internal exile in Tobolsk until March, 1917.

In Saratov, a small community of Russian Catholics developed from the ministry of Fr. Alexander Sipiagin who had been working as a professor of natural sciences there after his reception into communion and ordination. Later, under the guidance of Bishop Pie Neveu, Fr. Alexi Anisimov and his entire parish in, Saratov were received into communion.

In June 1918, Fr. Patapios Emilianov and his entire Old Ritualist parish with nearly 1,000 members (828 adults!) at Nizhnaja Bogdanovka (200 kms. from Makieievka in the Don region) declared themsleves to be in communion with Rome. They had approached and been received by Metropolitan Andrew.

A movement toward union with the Holy See had also arisen amongst the Georgians. Many of the Georgian Byzantine Catholic priests and laity were to suffer side by side with the Russian Catholics in the maelstrom that was about to descend upon them all.

The First World War and the ensuing Russian Revolutions of March and October, 1917 followed by the Civil War brought upheaval for all in Russia, and the by now several thousands of Russian Catholics were no exception. The fall of the Czarist government in the March Revolution and subsequent grant by the Provisional Government of religious rights to all enabled the Russian Catholics to establish themselves and organize more formally. Metropolitan Andrew, due to the vicissitudes of the war, happened to have been a prisoner under house arrest in Russia at the time. The Provisional Government freed him and he was able to make his way to St. Petersburg to join the community for its first public Paschal celebrations. He convened the first sobor or council of the Russian Catholic Church during Bright Week 29-31 May, 1917 (the week after Pascha or Easter) which met for several days and adopted a set of 68 canons to govern and administer the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church. Fr. Leonid Feodorov was appointed officially as this Church's first Exarch.

St Petersburg, May 30, 1918--Feast of Corpus Christi--Photo shows Exarch Leonid and his clergy who were gueests at the celebration of their Roman Catholic brethren. This was the last public procession which the Soviet regime permitted in St. Petersburg (from Osipove, I, "Se il mondo vi odia..." Milan, 1997)

For a few months the new Church experienced some measure of relative peace and growth amid the chaos that was developing around it. At first, after the October Revolution little changed, but soon the full brunt of the Communist oppression was visited upon the all of the Churches in Russia and the Russian Catholics were no exception.

In January 1923, Exarch Leonid (photo above) was arrested and tried along with several of his clergy and several Roman Catholic priests. He served out his prison term of ten years under the extremely harsh conditions of the Solovky prison camp, a former monastery on the White Sea in Northern Russia, together with many of his clergy and with several bishops and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. Reports from some survivors of Solovky prison in those days reported that Exarch Leonid was, even under those harsh conditions, active in the cause of church unity. With Exarch Leonid in Solovky were some of his clergy, several Roman Catholic priests, and the Georgian Byzantine Catholic exarch, Fr. Shio Batmanishvili.

The clergy imprisoned at Solovki contrived to set up a chapel and to celebrate the Divine Liturgy whenever possible under the strained conditions of the camp. For a period they were even allowed by the camp authorities the use of the chapel of St Germanus on Sundays.

Their zeal and ingenuity in doing so was truly remarkable and is underlined dramatically by an event which took place in the camp in 1928. Roman Catholic Bishop Boleslaw Sloskans was sent to the camp and soon after his arrival he ordained a young man, Serge Kasipinski, to the diaconate and later to the priesthood for the Russian Byzantine rite. A second Russian Byzantine Catholic, Donat Novitski, was soon thereafter also ordained a Russian Byzantine Catholic priest in similiar fashion. Exarch Leonid in the exercise of the special authority granted him, had already ordained both young Serge and young Donat to the subdiaconate in the camp.

Prayer and vocations flourished in the camp and were an inspiration to, and in some instances a source of conversion for, the other prisoners. Most of the reports concerning the Russian Catholic clergy and laity in the gulags reveal the same zeal and fortitude, with the clergy ministering to any other prisoners who sought their help and arranging secret liturgies when possible. It is also reported that several of the Orthodox clergy fellow prisoners with whom Exarch Leonid discussed church unity in the prison acknowledged that they could accept communion with the See of Rome upon the terms and under the understanding as explained by Exarch Leonid.

Ironically, while this systematic persecution was being carried out, the Moscow City Archives reveal that a Russian Byzantine Catholic parish--not that of the Abrikosovs--was legally registered by the Moscow Soviet in 1927. This community appears to have been different from the parish organized by Fr. Serge Soloviev, a relative of the celebrated philosopher, who was appointed Vice-Exarch for the Russian Byzantine Catholics in 1923. These parishes managed to function for several years under extreme conditions of harassment and surveillance. Vice-Exarch Serge was arrested on February 15, 1931.

An "illegal" monastery dedicated to Saint Peter was also organized in Moscow during the early thirties and functioned in the catacombs under the direction of Archbishop Bartholomew Remov, a former member of the Holy Synod who had secretly entered into communion with the Holy See. In the course of 1935 the NKVD "uncovered" the monastery and Archbishop Bartholomew and its members were arrested and tried; Archbishop Bartholomew was sentenced to death, his monastics sentenced to prison terms.

Upon completing his prison term, Exarch Leonid, as a convicted felon under Soviet law, was subject to internal exile and hence could not return to St. Petersburg, Moscow or other major cities. He spent his final years in failing health in the little hamlet of Viatka and fell asleep in the Lord on March 7, 1935, a true confessor of the faith.

Several of the other Russian Catholic clergy perished in prison, were executed, or died under mysterious circumstances. Some were able to flee to the West. On August 17, 1922 Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov was arrested, tried and sentenced to death, which sentence was commuted to perpetual external exile. He was expelled from Russia and, after some months in Rome, he settled in Paris. A year later, Mother Catherine and several of the sisters of her community, along with Fr. Nicholas Alexandrov, who had been serving the Moscow community after Fr. Vladimir's expulsion, were likewise arrested.

While imprisoned, Mother Catherine contracted cancer and under the harsh conditions of prison life, her health soon deteriorated and she succumbed to the disease. Some of the Abrikosov children were able to flee to the West to join their father. The few sisters who had not been arrested, together with the sisters who survived their prison ordeals, upon their release, remained behind and organized a Russian Catholic catacomb community in Moscow that has survived to this day.

The other communities in Saratov and Bogdanovka experienced similar fates. In October and November 1937, the greater part of the Russian Catholic clergy and faithful, together with the Georgian Byzantine Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Roman Catholic clergy and faithful still being held in Solovki (photo above of Solovki monastery prison), were executed together with thousands of Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish clergy and faithful in one of the largest mass executions carried out in the gulags at Sandormoch and Leningrad.

The Russian Catholics who left Russia did so alongside their Orthodox brethren and along the same routes east, west and south. Hence, they were to be found in all the centers of the Russian diaspora: Harbin and Shanghai, Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Rome, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, London, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal.

Gradually, parishes were organized in the diaspora. In Harbin, a Russian Catholic catechism was published in 1935 by Fr. S. Tyshkiewich, one of the pastors of the Harbin community. The communities in Harbin and Shanghai soon faced new threats with the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese and later the rise of the Chinese Communists. Some moved to Hong Kong and Australia, some moved to Argentina; one large group moved to the Los Angeles area and established St. Andrew's Russian Catholic Church in El Segundo, CA.

In 1927 the Russicum, the Pontifical Russian College, was established to train clergy for the Russian Catholics in the diaspora and in order to have priests to work in Russia for those who remained in Russia at such time as priests would be allowed in to serve those communities. The emigre Russian Catholics continued to be active in the intellectual circles of the Russian emigre communities as well as in those of their new homelands.

Prince and Princess Volkonsky and Julia Danzas, activists in the St Petersburg community, were active in the Paris Russian emigre community. In Brussels, Mlle. Irina Posnova founded the "Zhizn s Bogom" press of Foyer Oriental Chretien. Viacheslav Ivanov, one of the leading poets in modern Russian literature, was a disciple of Soloviov's and was received into communion with the Holy See by Fr. Zerchaninov. A friend of Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov, Ivanov was active in Paris and in Rome, where he taught at the Russicum.

Helena lzwolsky (photo above), the daughter of a former Czarist diplomat and Sorbonne graduate, was widely known in the intellectual circles of Paris and New York; a member of St Michael's, she served on the faculty of Fordham University, was the author of several books and articles and was an editor of the journal "The Third Hour". Helena was a friend of both Dorothy Day and Catherine de Hueck Dougherty, both of whom frequented the Russian Byzantine liturgy at St. Michael's in New York.

Exarch Leonid was succeeded as exarch by Fr. Kliment Sheptitsky, brother of Metropolitan Andrew. Exarch Kliment, who has been posthumously honored by the State of Israel for his aid to Jews during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine (photo below), died in a Soviet prison in 1951.

To meet the needs of the Russian Catholics throughout the world, an ordaining bishop has been appointed, beginning in 1936 with the consecration of Bishop Alexander Evreinov. He was succeeded in 1958 by Bishop Andrei Katkov. Bishop Andrei served for several decades in this postion. Perhaps the high point of his career was his invitation as an official guest of the Moscow Patriarchate to visit Russia in August and September 1969, during which trip he was accorded all the respect and honor due a bishop by his Russian Orthodox episcopal hosts.

Patriarch Alexei I himself personally presented a "Panaghia"(symbol of the Episcopate) to Bishop Andrei. Shortly thereafter, on December 16, 1969 the then Metropolitan Alexei of Tallinn, now Patriarch Alexei II, acting as Director of Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, announced the Sacred Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church's decision to admit Catholics to receive communion in Russian Orthodox churches (this decision was subsequently rescinded several years later). Bishop Andrei reposed in the Lord in September, 1996. At the time of writing, the Russian Catholic faithful around the world are anxiously awaiting the consecration of Bishop Andrei's successor.

Bishop Andrei Katkov at St Michael's in New York

Fr. Andrew Rogosh, a Russicum graduate, was sent to New York City in 1935 to minister to the Russian Catholics there. In 1936, St Michael's Russian Catholic Church opened its doors and has been serving the Russian community in New York and their supporters for over sixty years.

One of the many confessors of the faith with which the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church is especially blessed was Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.. Fr. Walter was born in 1904 in Shenandoah, Pa, where he grew up. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1928. He experienced what he described as "almost a direct call from God" to volunteer for the Russian mission in response to Pope Pius XI's appeal. He was the first American Jesuit to be ordained in the Russian Byzantine rite in June 1937. He was assigned to the Byzantine mission parish in Albertyn in eastern Poland (now in Belarus) under Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Fr. Walter found himself within the Soviet zone of occupation.

On March 19, 1940 Fr. Walter (photo on right) entered Russia proper with a group of Polish refugees, together with two of his Russian Byzantine Jesuit priest colleagues, hoping to be able to minister to their needs and those of any Russians who might request his aid. A year later he was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to fifteen years hard labor. After an initial five years of solitary confinement in Lubianka prison in Moscow, he was sent to the Siberian slave-labor camps above the Arctic Circle, part of the infamous Gulag Archipelago.

In 1947 Fr. Walter was declared "legally dead" back in the US. In 1955 he was released from prison and was given restricted freedom in the USSR. He functioned as a priest while working in factories and as an auto mechanic in various Siberian cities. In 1963 together with another American citizen, he was exchanged for a Russian couple being held for espionage in the US.

Upon returning to the US, Fr Walter served as a member of the John XXIII Center for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University in New York. He wrote two books about his experiences, "With God in Russia" and "He Leadeth Me". He became an internationally known director of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. During the last eight years of his life he was afflicted by a severe heart condition and arthritis, but still served as spiritual advisor to many persons, including a community of Byzantine Carmelite nuns in Sugarloaf, PA. He died at the John XXIII Center on December 8, 1984. Fr. Walter was a friend and spiritual father to many at St. Michael's and our community is honored to have had Fr. Walter celebrate the Divine Liturgy with us on several occasions.

The late Fr. Pietro Leoni who served the Russian Catholic parish in Montreal until his death had a similar experience to that of Fr. Walter. Assigned as a chaplain to an Italian military hospital that was sent into the occupied southern zone of the former USSR, he first was able to work in the Catholic parish in Dnepropetrovsk. Upon his release from military service in 1943, he went to serve a Catholic parish in Odessa. He was arrested in 1945 and held in Soviet prisons and labor camps, were he continued his apostolate as best he could, until his release in 1955.

The catacomb communities that formed in Leningrad, Moscow, and other places throughout the former USSR around the survivors of the original Russian Catholic communities, and those spiritually minded persons who were inspired by the obdurate faith of the Russian Catholics, survived as best they could. Clandestine priests of either rite would serve them when possible. Many priests were ordained in the catacombs and gulags by Ukrainian Catholic and Russian Catholic bishops also being held prisoner and would circulate and serve the communities whenever they could. As a result of this catacomb existence and the restrictions on internal movement of former gulag inmates, several new communities arose throughout the former USSR, particularly in Siberia and Kazakhstan in the smaller cities (e.g., Tobolsk, Obdursk, Krasnodar, Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk, Karaganda) where former gulag inmates (both clergy and lay people) were sent to live in internal exile.

Under the circumstances the catacomb clergy often attend to the spiritual needs of not only Russian and Ukrainian Byzantine Catholics but of Roman Catholics as well. These new communities, and our parish in Moscow as well as the "Spiritual Dialogue Club" (the continuation of the tradition of the Abrikosov's circle maintained by Sr. Nora Robashova) in Moscow, our parish in St. Petersburg and those in what is now Belarus (e.g., Minsk, Mohiliov, Homel, Brest) are a tribute to the faith and zeal of the Russian Catholics and should be an inspiration to all those who believe in Jesus Christ.

The fruits of their labors have led to a rebirth of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church in the Russian Federation, despite many obstacles and continuing repressive efforts by outside parties in both nations. Parishes have arisen in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Omsk, and several towns and cities in Asian Russia, and a new spirit can be seen in the communities of the diaspora, where an upsurge of membership has been seen in many communities and new parishes have been established. The first two exarchs of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, Exarch Leonid and Exarch Kliment, were beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ukraine, and the causes of many of our other witnesses to the faith are progressing. If the blood of martyrs be the seed of the Church, we look to more flowering in the years to come.

Some Russian Byzantine Catholic Witnesses to Christ's Love Throughout History (date of repose in the Lord indicated where known; most listed here are martyrs and/or confessors of the faith):


Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev - 1385- 1463

Deacon Peter Artemiev - 30 March 1700 (an early Russian Catholic martyr)


Fr. Fabian Abramtowicz - 2 January 1946

Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov - 22 July 1966

Mother Catherine Abrikosova - 23 July 1936

Hieromonk Fr. Igor Akulov - 27 August 1937

Fr. Nicholai Aleksandrov - 29 May 1937

Fr. Alexei Anisimov - February 1931

Vladimir Balashiev - sentenced 19 May 1924, fate unknown

Sr. Catherine (Aleksandra) Balashieva - sentenced 12 September 1927, fate unknown

Sr. Eupraxia (Catherine) Bashkova - arrested 3 January 1927, fate unknown

Fr. Alexander Bilianewicz - arrested 20 August 1935, fate unknown

Anna Brilliantova - 3 November 1937

Viktoria Burvasser - 20 May 1931

Natalia Cherep-Spiridovicz - arrested 8 July 1919, fate unknown

Fr. Paul Chaleil - 22 September 1983

Catherine Cicurina - arrested 2 February 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Walter Ciszek - 8 December 1984 and his companions, Frs. Makar and Nestrov - fates unknown

Sr. Justina (Julia) Danzas - arrested 17 November 1923, released to exile, died in Rome 13 April 1942

Fr. Ivan Deubner - 12 November 1936

Fr. Patapios Emilianov - 14 August 1936

Exarch Leonid Feodorov - 7 March 1935

Fr. Vendelin Javorka - 24 March 1956

Fr. Leonid Jurkewicz - arrested 26 May 1929, fate unknown

Fr. Serge Karpinski - arrested 19 May 1924, ordained in Solovki prison, fate unknown

Fr. Jan Kellner Brinsko - 7 July 1941

Nina Kenarskaya - arrested 26 April 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Vladimir Klepfer - 4 May 1936

Fr. Boleslaw Lash - arrested I December 1937, fate unknown

Fr. Pietro Leoni - 26 July 1995

Fr. Jerzy Moskwa - 7 July 1941

Fr. Donat Novitski - arrested 16 November 1923, ordained in Solovki prison, died in Poland 17 August 1971

Fr. Victor Novikov, Exarch for Siberia, arrested 23 June 1941, died 1979 in Belebej

Fr. Deacon Anton Pastushenko - arrested 31 January 1933, died 1941

Archbishop Bartholomew Remov - condemned to death 17 June 1935 and shot in Butyrki prison

Fr. Joseph Romanjuk - last arrested 21 September 1935, fate unknown

Sr. Nora Rubashiova - arrested twice, spent 23 years in gulags

Fr. Andronikos Rudenko - arrested 20 August 1935, died in prison 12 May 1951

Alexander Rumjanchov - arrested 28 October 1929, fate unknown

Fr. Stefan Sabudzinski - arrested in 1929 and again in 1937, thereafter probably shot, fate otherwise unknown

Fr. Nicholai Schepaniuk - 27 February 1937

Exarch Kliment Sheptitsky - 1 May 1951, died in prison

Vice-Exarch Serge Soloviev - 2 March 1942

Liubov Shorcheva - arrested 21 February 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Vladimir Shtepa - 15 May 1938

Leonid Titov - arrested 30 January 1934, fate unknown

Fr. Nicholas Tolstoy - 4 February 1938

Fr. Alexander Vasiliev - arrested 15 February 193 1, died by 1944

Fr. Alexander Zerchaninov - 1933

Sr. Hyacintha (Anna) Zolkina - arrested 1941, fate unknown

Archbishop Alexander Evreinov - 1959

Bishop Paul Meletiev - 19 May 1962

Bishop Andrei Katkov - 18 September 1995

Fr. Deacon Victor Boldireff - 1996

Fr. Michael Ott - 1997

Fr. Anton Ilc - 1 August 1998

Irina Posnoff, December 1997

Georgian Byzantine Catholics who suffered and died in the gulags:

Exarch Shio Batmanishvili - 1 November 1937

Fr. Emmanuel Vardidze - 25 March 1936

Fr. Konstantin Separishvili - 13 Sept 1937

Fr. Makar - Jesuit priest, companion of Fr Walter Chiszek, S.J., arrested 1941, fate unknown

Armenian Catholics who suffered and died in the gulags:

Fr. Akop Bakaratjian - February 1936

Fr. Stepan Erojan - 3 November 1937

Fr. Ter-Assen Ter Karapetian - 8 December 1937

There are countless other Russian Byzantine Catholics, lay and clergy, who have suffered for their belief in Jesus Christ from 1893 to the present, especially the martyrs at Sandormoch and Leningrad in 1937.

There are also many brethren in Christ who have given us respect and comfort in the spirit of Christ's Love, among whom we remember in prayer and with love:

Popes Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XIV, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and His Holiness, John Paul II

Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky - 1 November 1944

Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky - 2 April 1959

Patriarch Joseph Slipyi - 7 September 1984

Bishop Boleslaw Sloskans - 18 April 1981

Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad - 1979

Bishop Michel d'Herbigny - 23 December 1957

Bishop Pie Neveu - 17 October 1946

Fr. Alexander Men - 9 September 1990

Select Bibliography:

Andrews, C. & Mitrokhin, V., The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, New York, 1999

Diaconus Basilius, O.S.B., Leonidas Fiodoroff, De Vita et Operibus Enarratio, Publicationes Scientificae et Litterarae "Studion" Monasteriorum Studitarum, No. III-V, Roma, 1966

Ciszek, W., With God in Russia, Image Books, New York, 1966

Materials of the Fr. Walter Ciszek Prayer League, R.D. #I, Box 245, Sugarloaf, PA, 18249

Fennell, J., A History of the Russian Church to 1448, Longman, London and
New York, 1995.

Keleher, S., ed. & trans., Korolevsky, C., Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky, Stauropegion, L'viv, 1993

Keleher, S., Passion and Resurrection - The Greek Catholic Church in Soviet Ukraine 1939-1989, Stauropegion, L'viv, 1993 (contains important data and documents concerning the Russian Byzantine Catholics)

(Both of Fr. Keleher's books are available through Eastern Christian Publications)

Mailleux, P., Leonid Feodorov: Bridge Builder Between Rome and Moscow, P.J.Kenedy, New York, 1964

Martin, S., "Former KGB Men in Control as Heads Roll", Irish Times, December 8, 1998. http://www.cdi.org/russia/dec1198.html#2

Osipova, I., Se il mondo vi odia ... Martiri per la fede nel regime sovietico, R.C. Edizioni La Casa di Matriona, Milan, 1997

Perejda, G. trans., Bachtalowsky, S.J., C.Ss.R., Nicholas Charnetsky, C.Ss.R, Bishop-Confessor, Redemptorist Publications

Reznikova, I., Pravoslavie na Solovkach: Materiali po istorii Solovetskovo Lavria (Orthodox at Solovki: Materials for the History of Solovki Lavra), Saint Petersburg, 1994

Vicini, A., "Colossei del XX secolo ... La terra restituisce i suoi morti...." 7 La Nuova Europa 1, pp. 79-85, 1998

(The works by Ms. Osipova and Ms. Vicini are available from the Centro Studi Russia Cristiana in Milan, Italy; see address list on Links and Resources Page at this site.)

From the Catechism "MY CATHOLIC FAITH"


The essential acts of the Liturgy are three: the prayers of the priesthood in the Divine Office (represented by the first angel), the Mass (represented by the second angel), and the sacraments (represented by the third angel). The term "rite" is sometimes used to refer to the liturgy according to some definite custom and language. "Rite" may also designate in a narrow sense some particular liturgical ceremony; in this way we have the "rite of Baptism", etc.

55. The Catholic Eastern Church; Rites

What is the Catholic Eastern Church? --It is that part of the Church in the East which, although using liturgies and rites differing from those of the Latin (or Western) Church centered at Rome, subscribe to the same doctrines, and recognize the same Sovereign Pontiff, thus belonging to the same Universal and True Church.

The Catholic Eastern Church includes the following: Byzantines, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Malabarese, and Maronites.

1. At the beginning of the fourth century there was one Church, one in doctrine as well as in obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome. Even then, however, there was no uniformity in observances, ceremonies, rites.

Our Lord had sent the Apostles to different parts, and their followers had stuck to the doctrines, but had varied the observances and rites, in accordance with the particular inclinations of the people in the region. The languages used were naturally extremely varied; the Mass was the same Sacrifice instituted by Our Lord (in Aramaic), but it must have been said in quite a variety of languages.

2. Then political dissension within the Roman Empire led to its division into East and West. Religious organization, following political developments, led to the separation of first the Greek, then the Russian Orthodox Church. (See Chapter 71 on Schism and Heresy)

These schismatical churches denied the authority of the Pope, who lived in the West as Bishop of Rome. Otherwise they continued to practice the True Religion just as Christ and the Apostles had taught. They administered the sacraments, celebrated Mass, and followed other observances.

3. Within the Catholic Eastern Church, only the Maronite Church has never been in schism. With the passing of the centuries, those in schism divided and subdivided. Then, chiefly since the 16th and, 17th centuries, most of them returned to the unity of the True Church.

The Catholic Eastern Church continues to use different rites and observances, some of which even antedated those of Rome, as having been there, long before the schisms. Thus today the groups in the Eastern Church have their own discipline and customs, the most notable of which is that with them Mass (called "Holy Liturgy") is said in the language peculiar to the church in which it is being said: whether Slavonic, Rumanian, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, or Georgian.

Other differences of practice are: administration of the Holy Eucharist to the faithful in both forms of bread and wine, the use of leavened bread for Holy Mass, Baptism by immersion, bowing from the waist with a sweep of the arm instead of a genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament.

4. Groups in the Eastern Church are chiefly those under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. In the fifth century there were five patriarchates: these four composing the Eastern Church, and the Patriarchate of Rome alone in the West.

In those days there were clear-cut geographical divisions of patriarchates; an Eastern Catholic was born within the limits of his patriarchate. Today one belongs to his rite wherever he goes, and his children inherit his rite. In the United States there are two dioceses of Eastern Catholics: one of Philadelphia (Ukranian Greek) to which some 316,800 Catholics belong; and another of Pittsburgh (composed of Russians, Hungars, and Croats) , to which some 315,200 Catholics belong. If Canada is included, almost a million among us are of the Eastern Church.

5. The Catholic Eastern Church is a living proof of the universality of the Catholic Church. The matter (including the doctrines, faith and morals) is unchanging; but the manner (including rubrics and rites, custom and practice, the externals) may change. The Church organization is malleable; but the fundamentals and essentials, the doctrines, are unchanging anywhere.

Thus Catholics under the Patriarchate of Rome in the United States have only six holydays of obligation; the Ukranian Catholic here has to observe twenty holydays of obligation. His Christmas, though also December 25th, falls on our January 7th, because he uses a different calendar. In the Eastern Churches, the married clergy can be found as often as the celibate, because married men can be ordained and retain their wives. If the wife of a married priest dies, he cannot remarry; a bachelor who is ordained cannot marry later. Bishops are required to be either widowers or single.

Unity of religion does not mean uniformity of rite. Even in the Latin Church under the Patriarch of Rome, there are variations, all dating no later than the fourteenth century. As Pope Benedict XIV said: "Eastern Christians should be Catholics; they do not need to become Latins." Externals may vary; but the core is one.

What is liturgy, and what is rite? --Liturgy comprises a public act intended for the worship of God; rite is the manner of observing the act.

At present, however, the two terms are used indiscriminately and interchangeably. Strictly speaking, "liturgy" now refers to the rite of Holy Mass.

1. The Roman Rite is for all practical purposes the universal rite used in the Western Church. In it Latin is used.

During the period of persecutions, and on account of the difficulty of communication, variety in practices was the natural and common thing. When the Church became better organized, practices became more uniform. In the Latin Church rites practically became uniform in 1570 with the publication of the Roman Missal; even today a few variations remain.

2. The Byzantine Rite, after the Roman, is the most widely-used in the Church, being found in Russia, Greece, the Balkans, and south Italy. Greek is the language principally employed, but Georgian, Slavonic, and Roumanian are likewise used.

The Orthodox Eastern Church belongs to this rite. Originally, it was of Constantinople; it is based on the rite of St. James of Jerusalem, and was reformed by St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom. Modified for use in Russia, this Rite is termed Ruthenian.

3. Other Asian Rites are: the Antiochean, Chaldean, and Armenian; in their entirety or modified, they are employed in the East.

The Antiochean Rite is the source of many derived rites; it traces its origin to St. James of Jerusalem. The Syrians, Chaldeans, Malabarese, and Maronites use derivations. The Chaldean Rite is used by the Chaldeans and Malabarese. Syriac is the principal language used in both these rites. The Armenian Rite is in use among Armenians, found in the Levant, Italy, and Austria. The Armenian tongue is used. It is the Greek Liturgy of St. Basil.

4. In African Catholic churches, the principal rite used is the Alexandrian. This is called the "Liturgy of St. Mark"; but the original has been greatly modified. The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches use it.

The Catholic Copts are under the Patriarch of Alexandria, living in Cairo. Old Coptic and Arabic are the languages used in their liturgy: The Ethiopian Church uses a version of the Liturgy of St. Mark; it is as a whole the same as that of the Copts.

The ceremonies of these Rites may indeed seem strange to us of the Latin Rite. But the bishops and priests are real bishops and priests, though vested differently; the Mass and Sacraments are genuine, though performed with an unknown ritual. The Church in the East is the same Church in the West, the same founded by Jesus Christ, the One True Catholic Church.

Aquinas, a Light to the East?

Maybe Taft’s definition of Eastern Catholic Theology (ECT) is too broad and, thus, allows a big Latin fish like Aquinas to fit into net of ECT's extention (cf. previous post: Eastern Catholic Theology - Is There Any Such Thing?). Nevertheless, a “practioner” of ECT, like the Eastern Catholic and a Confessor of the Faith — Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, who Taft names as “one of the greatest Eastern Catholic leaders of modern times,” sees Aquinas as a Light to the East.

It was under Pius XI’s pontificate that Slipyj was nominated Rector of the Seminary and Theological Academy in L'viv. At that time he founded the Ukrainian Theological Society and its periodical Bohoslovia.

Before we look at the program of theological renewal in L’viv under¬taken by Slipyj, let us briefly examine two monographs that he wrote at the beginning of his theological career. They not only symbolise his entire theological endeavour, but they are representative of the tension that has long existed in Ukrainian theological centres of thought — namely the in¬terrelationship between St. Thomas and the East: “The tension represented by that complex interrelation between Thomism and the East was an undercurrent throughout his years as a student, and it was to recur throughout his career as a theologian and churchman.… Even at the end of his life, his young semi¬narians used to refer to Josyf Slipyj affectionately as ‘a Thomist in a klobuk,’ a reference to the distinctive headgear of a Ukrainian clergyman that he would often wear” (PELIKAN, Confessor between East and West, 103-104).

In 1924 the young theologian Josyf Slipyj wrote a series of dissertations that were to be given at the Congress for Church Unity held in Velehrad (located in the present-day Czech Republic). One of those dissertations was: De valore S. Thomæ Aquinatis pro Unione eiusque influxu in theologiam orientalem [Bohoslovia 3 (1925)]. There he argued that within the explicit teaching of the Magisterium — to follow the doctrine, method and principles of St. Thomas — there is also an implicit desire (desiderium implicite) of the Church that the philosophical and theological work for Church unity be founded upon the teachings of the Angelic Doctor: “Ecclesia catholica maximas laudes Aquinati tribuit et Summus Pontifex nupperime stu¬diorum ducem honorifice eum declaravit edicens ad theologiam philosophiamve S. Thomæ redeundum easdemque in spiritu et sec. mentem Doctoris Angelici evolvendum esse. In qua exhortatione etiam desiderium implicite contineri puto, ut labor scientificus unionisticæ actionis super Aquinatis fundetur” (ibid., 1-2).

He also accounted for the fittingness that St. Thomas be studied in the East — namely because scholasticism was born in the East and evolved from Greek philosophy and Greek Patristic theology, and because it was under the influence of St. Thomas and the Scholastics that philosophy and theology in Ukraine were revived and Church unity was promoted, especially by Metropolitan Peter Mohyla ) and the Kyivan-Mohylian Academy (founded in 1615): “Puto me non multum a veritate aberesse cum affirmem, quo profundius theologi Orientales opera S. Thomæ cognoverint, eo firmius Unioni ecclesiarum adhæsisse” (ibid., 18).

Following the erection of the Theological Academy (1929), in a monograph entitled De S. Thoma Aquinate atque Theologia et Philosophia scholastica, Slipyj continued his effort to correct the subjective evaluation of scholasticism that crept into the Ukrainian centres of philosophy: “We still are plagued by an out-dated notion of the Middle Ages and especially of scholastism… Therefore, since the doctrine of Thomas found a strong echo in our theology, I endeavoured as much as is possible to make this known, especially the interrelation between western scholastism and Ukraine. At the same time, I wanted to speak about the necessity of a revision of the notion of scholastism in Ukraine,” (Opera Omnia Kyr Josephi (Slipyj - Kobernyckyj - Dyckovskyj) Archiepiscopi Maioris et Cardinalis (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa, 1969), vol. 2, 9-10).

This monograph is divided into twelve chapters:
In the first chapter, "The Jubilee of St. Thomas (600th Anniversary of His Canonisation) and the Restoration of Scholasticism," Slipyj invited the whole Ukrainian nation to duly honour and praise St. Thomas because it was under his influence that education and theology were reborn in Ukraine (especially in the XVII century), and it was upon his doctrine that the idea of Church unity found its theological support.

Slipyj urged Ukrainian historians of philosophy, who at that time were heavily influenced by Protestant and liberal thought, to review the reasons for their opposition towards scholasticism. He demonstrated how their arguments were based upon an inherited prejudice rather than upon historical evidence. They were uninformed about the accomplishments of the golden age of scholasticism in the XIIIth century, and they identified scholasticism as a whole with its period of decadence in the XVI-XVIIth centuries. Moreover, the Ukrainian contribution to scholastic thought was a most neglected area of their research. He concluded that the restoration of scholasticism in Ukraine would cause a renewal in both philosophy and theology.

In the following chapter, "The Concept of Scholastic Theology and its First Fruits," he defined scholasticism and showed that its origin is in the Greek Fathers and theologians (St. John of Damascus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen).

In chapters 3 through 10, Slipyj briefly summarised the history of scholasticism in the West and of the life and work of St. Thomas. In chapter 11, St. Thomas and Eastern Theology, he showed that in the East there have always been theologians who have accepted and defended the doctrine of St. Thomas. After the fall of Constantinople, the centre of theological studies in the East moved to the Kyivan-Mohylian Academy, where Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Romanians, Croats, Bulgarians and Serbs all studied the doctrine of St. Thomas, revering his doctrine's intrinsic authority.

Slipyj concluded this chapter in these powerful words: “It is indeed clear that those Eastern theologians, who more intensely studied Thomas — more firmly supported Church Unity… There is now no need to fear, that having fallen into the clutches of Aquinas's Summa, the East will lose its distinctive character in the development of theology. The Magnum opus of scholasticism contains within itself the quintessence of theological knowledge and, therefore, constitutes the indispensable foundation for further studies. It would be rash to ignore and not consider the Summas in contemporary eastern theology” [«De S. Thoma Aquinate atque theologia et philosophia scholastica,» Opera Omnia Kyr Josephi (Slipyj - Kobernyckyj - Dyckovskyj) Archiepiscopi Maioris et Cardinalis (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa, 1969), 91-92].

In the last chapter, "A Summary of St. Thomas's Creativity," he briefly outlined Aquinas's theory of knowledge, his natural theology and his political philosophy.

Slipyj’s early theological ideas found their authoritative support in Pius XI's Magisterium. In 1931, six years after his appointment as rec¬tor of the Greek-Catholic Major Seminary in L’viv, he began the UGCC's reform of higher education modeled upon Deus scientiarum Dominus: “Scholastic philosophy has in the East a well-founded tradition, which was prepared by the Greek Fathers, especially Damascenus… The development of theological studies must advance along the path which the Church Fathers have marked out. Obviously, it cannot limit itself to a historical repetition, rather it must adapt itself to modern tendencies and problems, using the accomplishments of western theology: the development of theories, a clarified terminology, the latest pedagogical studies and methods, which have elevated western theology to such a high standard” (SLIPYJ, Opera Omnia, vols. 3-4, 96) (my translation); and in the section on Curriculum studiorum et examina, we find the doctrine of St. Thomas explicitly mention in both the Studia Philosophia (ibid., 109) and Studia Theologia (ibid., 111).

Pius XI's Magisterium was obeyed to the letter. St. Thomas’s doctrine played a key role in the contemporary ecclesiastical context of the UGCC. This structure of theological education lasted in Ukraine until the UGCC was liquidated at the ‘L'viv Sobor’, 8-10 March 1946, by the Soviet authorities, the Moscow patriarchate, and the so called ‘Initiative Group of the Greek-Catholic Church for Reunion with the Orthodox Church’ set up by the People's Commissariat of State Security.

On 13 March 1969, N.B. just after Vatican II, at the Angelicum, as part of the celebrations for the feast of St. Thomas, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj gave a lecture on St. Thomas: Theology and Philosophy in the East [«San Tommaso e la scienza teologica e filosofica nell'Oriente,» Angelicum ), 3-15].

The theme of Slipyj's discourse was to examine what the Eastern theological tradition had to say about St. Thomas and western scholasticism, and what St. Thomas, on the other hand, had to say about the Eastern Tradition.

He noted that in the East many Greek and Russian theologians speak with indignation of scholasticism because having examined scholasticism only in its period of decadence, they fail to see in it the continuation of the teachings of Greek philosophy and of the Greek Church Fathers: “Infatti fondamentale per la scolastica è la filosofia aristotelica e la teologia dei Padri greci e di Sant'Agostino. È incredibile come San Tommaso, commentatore del greco Aristotele, versato nella patrologia greca, con la sua calma ed oggetività, con il suo carattere stabile ed inflessible, e con la sua santità — santissimus inter doctores et doctissimus inter sanctos, — non abbia potuto infrangere questo muro divisorio e penetrare nelle menti e nei cuori degli Orientali ed aprire gli occhi anche agli Occidentali. Veramente la scolastica si è svillupata dalla dottrina dei Padri greci, e San Tommaso — il più eccelente filosofo e teologo scolastico — ha preso come fondamento i Padri greci, ha esposto il loro pensiero e ha preparato così lo svillupo posteriore della teologia greca e della stessa missione delle Chiese” (ibid.)

Slipyj went on to demonstrate the influence of Greek thought in the works of the Scholastics, especially in those of St. Thomas and, in turn, the influence of St. Thomas's doctrine on the East. He emphasised the mediating role that St. Thomas's doctrine has played and continues to play in bringing both East and West together: “Concludendo si può affermare tranquillamente che le opere di S. Tommaso hanno contribuito molto all'avvicinamento delle due Chiese in Oriente ed Occidente. La sua argomentazione può essere presa come solido fondamento nelle discussione e polemiche, in tutte le questioni controverse fra le Chiese d'Occidente e d'Oriente, perché poggia su una salida base” (ibid.).

In the UGCC at that time, Slipyj was not alone in his heavy reliance on St. Thomas in his theological works. Both of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrij Sheptyskyj's major theological works, The Wisdom of God (Metropolita Andreas Szeptyckyj, Opera: ascetico-moralia (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa,1979), 1-126) and On Christian Righteousness (ibid., 127-413) are replete with references to St. Thomas. In The Wisdom of God, he includes as an essential part of his theological method a consultation of St. Thomas's doctrine: “Therefore, under the guidance of St. Thomas, a great teacher in the theological school, which is now approved by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, we will examine the virtues of Christian righteousness…” (ibid., 27).

The present rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary in L’viv, Fr. Sviatoslav Shevchuk, summed up the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Theology according to Slipij’s vision as: “the inheritance of Kyivan Christianity. Today many speak about the special characteristic of the Kyivan Church as a Church that feels the need of a dual communion: from one hand, with the Latin Church, and, from the other, with the Orthodox. Naturally, the theological tradition of this Church grew and ought to grow in a dual theological and intellectual communion that is essential to it. In the works of Josyf Slipij sounds a clear warning against ecclesial and theological separatism as regards the West. Such a separatism would lead to an ignorance of Western Theology and would lead to controversy and schism (“The Identity of Ukrainian Theological Studies in the Light of Patriarch Josyf’s Testament” Bohoslovia 66/), 137).

Could it be that, in the light of Josyf Card. Slipyj’s reflections on Eastern Catholic Theology, Aquinas indeed is a Light to the East, because his theology reflects the Lux ex Oriente? Maybe Taft’s definition of ECT is right and Aquinas does fall within its parameters!?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Schism in the East

(Pictured above: The tomb of St. Josaphat of Polotsk in St. Peter's Basilica)

If it please God that I should die for unity under the earthly headship of St. Peter’s successor, so be it. I am ready to die for truth. — St. Josaphat of Polotsk

Submit to our Holy Father, or you will never save your soul. — St. Andrew Bobola

In Hell, the souls of the damned are tormented most by the thought: "For such a superfluous thing I am damned forever in this pit!" In the case of those who die separated from the One True Church of Jesus Christ, it is the thought: "If only I had submitted to the Holy Father, the Roman Pontiff, I would not be burning in Hell-fire forever!"

So what do these thoughts have to do with the subject of which I am writing?

I will tell you.

Fr. Adrian Fortescue, PhD. DD., states: "[The Eastern Schism] is not only the greatest, it is also the most superfluous evil in Christendom."1 This twofold evil is first the greatest, because it is one of the main reasons that Christian souls go to Hell, and it is the most superfluous because only a small concession has to be made by the Orthodox Schismatics to once again become part of the One True Church, and put themselves back on the road to salvation.

One of the main reasons that Christian souls go to Hell? Yes, sadly, because the Orthodox Schismatics, who are Christian, have renounced obedience to the Supreme Head of the Church — the Roman Pontiff. As such, because of this, there is no hope of forgiveness of sins, or of sanctifying grace received through the illicit use of the Catholic Church’s sacraments while remaining in such a schismatic communion.

If the Orthodox only knew the precarious position in which they find themselves as regards their final end!

It is my hope that if they knew the reasons for their separation from the One True Church, they would return to her. (Of course, this will only be the case with those of good will.) For this, I embark on the task of laying out before them the facts of the Eastern Schism. And may God grant them the grace to see how superfluous it is to remain separated from Holy Mother Church while they are still in via — that is, in this life.

Sister Catherine Clarke, M.I.C.M., writes: "The story of the Church is the story for the hearts and the minds of men. It is the story of the struggle of Peter against Caesar, of the Spirituality against the encroachments of the Temporality. It is, above all, the story of the conflict of the Blessed Virgin Mary against Lucifer, the Father of Lies, for the souls of men."2 The story of the Eastern Schism is no different, as it illustrates all too well the truth of Sister Catherine’s words. We know that the Church will win out in her struggle against the Temporality, but we also know that she lost a great battle in the East to the Father of Lies some one thousand years ago. The eastern part of the Church, with few exceptions, chose to follow Caesar rather than Peter, and so has separated itself from the one path of salvation for its subjects.3

Caesar played a tremendous role in this tragedy, and in order for us to understand the roots of the Eastern Schism, we must understand how the Temporality in the guise of the Roman emperors effected this break. Let us start first with a discussion of how Caesar viewed himself in matters of religion.


Etymologically, Caesaro-Papism is the regime in which Caesar would be pope. "‘Before Christ’s coming there were some who were justly and rightly both kings and priests, such as Melchisedech, and Satan imitated this among unbelievers; therefore, pagan emperors were called pontifex maximus.’ Thus Pope St. Gelasius indicated the antecedents of Caesaro-Papism in the Roman Empire, once become Christian. On the one hand, Christians had never questioned even pagan imperial jurisdiction, citing St. Paul’s dictum that ‘all power is of God.’ They were prone to point out Old Testament customs of deference to kings, the anointed of God. On the other hand, the emperors were successors of such rulers as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, who claimed divine origins and united religious headship to secular. Even [as] Christian rulers [the Roman emperors] proved loathe to relinquish supreme arbitrament in the religious sphere…"4

"‘You are the bishops of the things inside the Church,’ [the Roman Emperor] Constantine once told a gathering of bishops, ‘while I, being appointed by God over the things without, am bishop there.’ And while he bore always toward the bishops the greatest reverence, and while his realization of the powers given to them by Jesus Christ, which were theirs alone, never waned; this indication that the Church had a political role which constituted an external bishopric to be held by the Emperor, would, when developed by rulers who had none of Constantine’s greatness, bring endless trial and suffering upon the Holy Roman Pontiffs."5

Constantinople — The New Rome

Of major significance in this story is the transferring of the temporal capital of the world from Rome to a small city in the eastern part of the Empire. It will set the stage for all the events that follow as regards the separation of the East from the Pope. We will see that the influence of Caesar in Church affairs will have a freer hand; his underling bishop will gain in prominence and influence throughout the whole of the Eastern empire; and the influence of the Vicar of Christ over his subjects in the East will decrease dramatically, and eventually cease altogether.

Constantine, Emperor of the Roman Empire, having issued the Edict of Milan in the year of our Lord 313, freed the Church of Jesus Christ from the catacombs. In doing so, he ended the general persecutions of the Bride of Christ. While yet a catechumen, and continuing to hold the title pontifex maximus, he removed the seat of the Empire from Rome to the old Greek city of Byzantium, on the Bosporus Sea. By doing so, he left the city which Saint Peter had chosen for the lasting site of the Holy See free from the domination of the Emperors and the stifling influences of the Imperial Court.6

The Emperor made sure that New Rome would be very much like the Old Rome albeit without the paganism that existed as part of the history of Old Rome.

Father Simeon Vailhe, professor of Church History, describes this New Rome: "[The New Rome] was soon filled with sumptuous edifices like those of [the Old] Rome; like the latter it was situated on seven hills and divided into fourteen regions; in the matter of privileges also it was similar to Rome. Among the new public buildings were a senate house, forums, a capitol, circuses, porticoes, many churches (particularly that of the Holy Apostles, destined to be the burial-place of the emperors). The most beautiful statues of antiquity were gathered from various parts of the empire to adorn its public places. In general, the other cities of the Roman world were stripped to embellish the ‘New Rome’, destined henceforth to surpass them all in greatness and magnificence."7

Also, to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople were brought the relics of St. Andrew, together with the bodies of the holy Evangelist St. Luke, and St. Paul’s disciple, St. Timothy. The significance of these translations of relics is found in the fact that since Old Rome had the relics of Saints Peter and Paul, the New Rome would have those of the elder brother of St. Peter and the disciple of St. Paul.8

Fathers Mourret and Thompson state for us the obvious outcome of this event: "The political and religious consequences of the founding of Constantinople were incalculable. The transfer of the capital to the East had the effects of better detaching the imperial administration from paganism and of letting the pope more freely and evidently occupy the first place in the city of Rome. But ‘it had another consequence. The city of the emperor’s residence would powerfully attract the attention of the whole Empire. The bishop of that place, living near the sovereign and having frequent and close relations with him, would thereby enjoy a privileged position. The Christians of the whole Empire, especially those in the regions near the capital, would regard this bishop as an intermediary with the ruler. If the bishop were to encourage this view, would he not seek to extend his power over a large portion of the Church? In short, by creating a capital other than Rome, was not Constantine, even unwittingly, aiding the formation of a second religious center?’"9

As regards this bishop in whose territory the Roman Emperor established his seat of power, what was his standing hierarchically in the Church? Was he the Patriarch of a large See or was he a bishop of a single diocese? Fr. Vailhe tells us that Christianity did not appear in Byzantium before the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. He goes on to inform us that "the first historically known Bishop of Byzantium was St. Metrophanes (306-314), though the see had perhaps been occupied during the third century. It was at first subject to the metropolitan authority of Heraclea, and remained so, at least canonically, until 381..."10 A simple bishopric then, and now with the presence of the Roman Emperor and the Royal Court in his diocese, a transformation in the local church will begin to take place. Let us next examine the events of this transformation and what it meant for the Catholic Church in the eastern part of Christendom.

The Three Major Centers of Christianity

Some groundwork must be laid here in order that we may better understand how the Roman Emperor and the bishop of "New Rome" began to change the ecclesiastical map, so to speak, of the Church forever. Up to the time of the transferal of the seat of temporal power to Byzantium there were three major centers of ecclesiastical authority in the Church — Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, in the order of precedence.

Commenting on this threefold hierarchy, the Abbé Joseph-Epiphane Darras, Church historian, states: "We must remember that St. Peter himself founded the Church of Antioch, the capital of the East; the Church of Alexandria, capital of Egypt, by his disciple St. Mark; and lastly, by a residence of twenty-five years, the Church of Rome, the capital of the universe; here, by his death, he fixed the seat of his power."11

Pope St. Gregory the Great stated: "Though there were several Apostles, yet only one of them, whose place is in three different churches, could give to these a paramount influence over all other churches. St. Peter gave the first rank to the see in which he deigned to fix his authority, and to close his mortal career. It is he who illustrated the see to which he sent his disciple, the evangelist; it is he again who established the see of Antioch, in which he sat for seven years, so that they form but one and the same see."12

Pope St. Leo I, (the Great) in 451, added: "The three patriarchs occupy one and the same apostolic chair, because all three have succeeded to the see of Peter and to his Church, founded by Jesus Christ, in unity, and to which he gave one single head to preside over three principal sees in the three patriarchal cities, that the indissoluble union of the three sees might bind the other churches more closely to the divinely constituted head."13

Now, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, with his underling bishop in tow, will proceed to change this order of things, and within fifty years of the Emperor’s residency in Constantinople, the bishop there would claim second place amongst the rulers of the Church!

330 AD to 381 AD

In this period of time, Fr. Vailhe writes, the bishopric of Constantinople attracted ambitious and unscrupulous individuals, and through them the imperial will caused great upheaval: "In 339 Eusebius, and in 360 Eudoxius, quitted the great Sees of Nicomedia and Antioch for what was yet, canonically, a simple bishopric. Both the city and its inhabitants suffered much during the Arian controversies; the Arian heretics held possession of the Church for forty years."14

Occurring also in this fifty year period of time, were the banishments and exiles, by the Emperor, of Pope Liberius, St. Athanasius, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem. There was the installation of the anti-pope Felix in Rome for a short period. Several heretical councils were held at this time as well: the Arian councils of Caesarea, Antioch, Ancyra, and three councils of Sirmium; there was the Council of Rimini, the Council of Seleucia, and an Arian Council of Constantinople, all under the authority of the Arian Roman Emperor — Constantius — and all without the sanction of the Holy Roman Pontiffs.

It was "in the midst of this general conflagration of minds, whilst most of the legitimate bishops were lingering out a life of exile, and intruded heretics held their sees; when, to use the energetic expression of St. Jerome, ‘the whole world seemed to have waked up Arian,’ Constantius gave his whole attention to the multiplication of formulas of faith, to the assembling of councils [see above]; and spent his time in constructing Arian theology in the midst of his courtier bishops. God alone could now save His Church from the peril into which it had been precipitated by the Emperor and the Greek bishops, who seemed to look to the court of Constantinople for their dogmatic definitions."15

The First Council of Constantinople (381)

In 381, the Emperor convoked a General Council of the Catholic Church in Constantinople with the approval of Pope St. Damasus I. Under the presidency of the Emperor’s pliant prelate, Nectarius, this council passed some jurisdictional canons which pertained to the authority of the Church and Constantinople’s place in it.

"The most celebrated of all these canons is the third, which ascribed to the Patriarch of Constantinople the precedence, after the Roman pontiff, for the reason that Constantinople was the new Rome. It was on this ground that the patriarchs of Constantinople subsequently based their claim of jurisdiction over all the churches of Asia, and took to themselves the pompous title of ecumenical patriarchs of the East. This canon of the General Council of Constantinople never received the approbation of the See of Rome."16 However, Constantinople, under the Roman Emperor, had become, by that time, the de facto center of Church authority in the East, with or without the approbation of the Holy See. It had been accomplished by Imperial fiat.

The Council of Chalcedon (451)

Seventy years later, in a city near Constantinople, the 4th Ecumenical Council was held. The Patriarch of Constantinople again attempted to broach the subject of Constantinople’s claim to second place among the churches. Abbe Darras gives us the details:

"The only dissonance which affected the harmony existing between the Papal Legates and the Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, arose from an attempt of Anatolius [bishop of Constantinople]. The besetting ambition of the patriarchs of Constantinople had ever been to raise their see to the second place in the Church, and to make it first after that of Rome. Anatolius thought this a favorable moment to renew the attempt; the service he had done the Catholic cause, the zeal displayed by him against the Eutychian heresy, the letters of communion, so lately received from the Sovereign Pontiff, all inspired the most sanguine hope of success. The 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon was then drawn up to that effect; but the legates loudly protested against the innovation. ‘The holy and Apostolic Pontiff,’ said they, ‘gave us these amongst his other instructions: Should any prelate, looking too much to the splendor of his city, wish to arrogate to himself any prerogative whatever, oppose the attempt with all becoming firmness.’ The legates supported this noble sentiment, by reading the sixth canon of the Nicene Council, where the question had… already been decided. The close of the council was not delayed by the debate thus left pending. The bishops separated, with the hope that their harmony and pious efforts had secured long years of peace to the Church. They had sent the acts of the council, with a synodal letter, to the pope. They begged him especially to confirm ‘by his Apostolic authority’, the privilege they had deemed it right to grant to the See of Constantinople. Anatolius urged the same petition in private letters. St. Leo stood out firmly against this claim."17

Pope St. Leo I, in his letter to the Council of Chalcedon, declared that the 3rd canon of Constantinople had been, from the first, utterly nullified; and he also refused to confirm the 28th canon of Chalcedon. He then summed up the apostolic tradition touching the rank of the patriarchs in this invariable rule: "The See of Alexandria shall lose nothing of the dignity it derives from St. Mark, the disciple of St. Peter; the Church of Antioch, birth-place of the name of Christian, by the preaching of the same apostle, shall keep the rank assigned it by the regulation of our fathers; let it never lose its place as third in order."18

Undaunted by these strong words from the Vicar of Christ, the Eastern Emperors and their court bishops continued in an unceasing manner to arrogate to themselves more and more ecclesiastical prerogatives. Fr. Vailhe tallies up this gradual usurpation of power by the bishops of Constantinople: "From the council of 381 may be said to date the ecclesiastical fortunes of Constantinople. Its bishop began thenceforth to claim and to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the six provinces of Thrace, hitherto subject to Heraclea, and soon over the twenty-two provinces of Asia Minor and Pontus, originally subject to Ephesus and Cæsarea. These rights of supremacy, though usurped, were acknowledged by the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon (451), from which time the bishops of Constantinople ruled over about 420 dioceses. In 431 began an almost continuous conflict with the Roman Church, that was crowned with success in 733, when an Iconoclast emperor withdrew from the jurisdiction of Rome all ecclesiastical Illyricum, i.e., more than a hundred dioceses. About the end of the ninth century, when Photius broke with the Roman Church, his own patriarchate included 624 dioceses (51 metropolitan sees, 51 exempt archbishoprics, and 522 suffragan bishoprics). At that time the Roman Church certainly did not govern so great a number of sees. At this period, moreover, by its missionaries and its political influence, Constantinople attracted to Christianity the Slav nations, Serbs, Russians, Moravians, and Bulgars, and obtained in these northern lands a strong support against the Roman and Frankish West."19

This power struggle between the Roman Emperor and the Pope had its theological consequences as well. On several occasions, in the five hundred years following the reign of Constantine the Great, Constantinople left the Church due to schism and heresy. Fr. Vailhe again comments: "When Photius (d. 891) began the schism consummated by Michael Cærularius in 1054, the Byzantine Church had, since the death of Emperor Constantine in 337, been formally out of communion with the Roman Church during 248 years (55 years on account of Arianism, 11 on account of the condemnation of St. John Chrysostom, 35 on account of Zeno’s Henoticon, 41 on account of Monothelism, 90 on account of Iconoclasm, 16 on account of the adulterous marriage of Constantine VI). On the whole, therefore, Constantinople had been out of communion with the Apostolic See one out of every two years. During this period nineteen patriarchs of Constantinople were open heretics, some of them quite famous, e.g., Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eudoxius, Macedonius, Nestorius, Acacius, Sergius, Pyrrhus."20

Ill treatment towards the person of the Roman Pontiff became more audacious as time passed and relations between Rome and the Emperor deteriorated.

In 654, Pope St. Martin I, because he would not bend to the will of the Monothelite Emperor Constans II and his heresy, was captured by the Emperor, and taken to Constantinople where he was horribly tortured and eventually starved to death!21

In 692, the Emperor Justinian II, assembled a false council in Carthage, known as the council in Trullo, or council of the dome, as it was held in the hall of the dome at the imperial palace. The pretext under which the council met was that neither the fifth nor the sixth General Councils of the Church (Constantinople II and III) had published canons of discipline, so this "Quinisext" (literally, "fifth-sixth") council would supply what was wanting in these two ecumenical councils! The Abbe Darras picks up the narrative: "The bishops gathered together by the emperor’s order, showed a most disgraceful slavishness, leaving the spiritual authority utterly at the discretion of the temporal power. Priests were allowed to marry, in contempt of every canonical law, whether of the Eastern or Western Church…. The one hundred and two canons drawn up by this assembly, which pompously styled itself an ecumenical council, but was more properly called by Venerable Bede the erratic council, were sent to the Sovereign Pontiff — St. Sergius I — for his approval, which was refused."22

Whereby Justinian II ordered his armor-bearer Zachary to seize the Pope and bring him to Constantinople. This time however, Rome came to the defense of their pastor, and Zachary was forced to flee for his life.23

The Photian Schism

Catholic historian Abbe Darras introduces us to this final phase of the Eastern Schism: "It is worth observing that the Eastern schism, like most of the great heresies which have desolated the Church, had its root in the corrupt heart of an adulterous Caesar striving to stifle the rebuking voice of a worthy ambassador of Christ, and found a minister in the unprincipled infidelity of an ambitious courtier. The seeds of schism had been sown in Constantinople, in the second general council, in 381. But it was reserved to Photius to give the final expression to the separation, and to bring it forth with all its political and religious perils. He tore the branch from the trunk, and the branch withered away, because it had not the life-stream which could come but from the great heart in Rome. He established a Greek Church, whereas Jesus Christ founded but the one Catholic Church, whose see St. Peter fixed at Rome. In division is death; in union is life and power."24

In AD 857, for excommunicating Bardas (the uncle of Emperor Michael III) who had put aside his wife and married his daughter-in-law, St. Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople was banished to the island of Terebintha, and the see of Constantinople became "vacant". Emperor Michael and his uncle Bardas had just the man they wanted to place into power — the eunuch Photius. "Poet, mathematician, orator, grammarian, jurist, theologian, and statesman, Photius possessed at once the most refined intellect and the most perverse heart of his age; the most vast and cultivated, the boldest and most artful mind. His nobility of birth was heightened by alliance with the imperial family, and illustrated by his two distinguished offices of master of the horse and of chief secretary, and by a celebrated mission to Syria. His was the power of wealth, of credit, of facility in making partisans, of giving plausibility to his guilty projects, and of even deceiving men of true worth. Religion, which he always regarded as a jest, had every thing to fear from an enemy of such a character."25

And so, "in contempt of all canonical rule, and without even the form of an election, he was consecrated by the bishop of Syracuse, and on Christmas Day, AD 857, the future author of the great Eastern schism ascended the Patriarchal throne of Constantinople."26

Two years later, in order to investigate the irregularity of such an event, Pope St. Nicholas I sent two bishops to Constantinople to make juridical inquiries. Upon their arrival, the papal legates were surprised to find a council in session with 318 bishops in attendance. The purpose of the council? To formally depose the holy Patriarch St. Ignatius! Abbe Darras describes the events: "Ignatius was brought into the assembly and stripped of his pontifical vestments. As each part of his dress was successively removed, the guilty legates [the papal legates had been blinded to the true state of the case by Photius upon their arrival] joined their voices to those of all the Greek bishops, to utter the Greek formula of degradation: Anaxioz [he is unworthy]! But even Photius, conscious of the glaring irregularity of this proceeding, sought to obtain a formal resignation from Ignatius. The Patriarch resolutely refused to give it, and was imprisoned in the empty tomb of Copronymus, whose ashes Michael III had scattered to the winds. Here he was subjected to the most frightful torture. Overcome by suffering and hunger, stretched almost lifeless upon the imperial sarcophagus, the Patriarch was visited by a man whose features were hidden behind a mask, and who overwhelmed him with blows; then guiding the victim’s nerveless hand, into which a pen had been forcibly thrust, he traced with it a cross upon a blank parchment, and took it to Photius, who wrote these words above the martyr’s sign: ‘I, Ignatius, unworthy Patriarch of Constantinople, confess that I assumed the episcopal dignity without regular election, and that I have tyrannically governed the Church entrusted to my care.’ Photius read the false instrument to the people, and then gave a copy of it to the legates, who were to present it to Pope St. Nicholas."27

The papal legates, along with an ambassador from Michael III returned to Rome bearing letters from the Emperor and his false Patriarch. Pope St. Nicholas saw through the deception of the reports he received from his legates, and he wrote at once to the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, and to all the Eastern metropolitans, forbidding them to hold communion with the intruder Photius. Pope Nicholas proceeded to depose the two bishops who had betrayed their trust and then they were excommunicated. The false council of Constantinople was solemnly annulled, and placed on a level with the robber council of Ephesus.28 Pope St. Nicholas then proceeded to depose and excommunicate Photius: "Photius has dared, during the lifetime of our venerable brother Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to usurp his see, and has entered the sheepfold like a robber; he has, in contempt of all law and justice, caused the condemnation and deposition of Ignatius by a cabal; he has violated the law of nations to corrupt the legates of the Holy See, obliging them not only to infringe, but even to oppose, our orders; he ceases not to persecute the Church, and to inflict barbarous outrages upon our brother Ignatius. Wherefore, by the authority of Almighty God, of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, Photius is hereby deprived of all priestly honor. As to our brother Ignatius, driven from his see by the violence of the emperor and the prevarication of our legates, we declare, in the name of Jesus Christ, that he has never incurred either deposition or anathema, and we maintain him in his episcopal dignity and functions."29

Unbending in the face of this act of apostolic vigor, Photius forged a letter by which the Pope approved [!!] fully of his ordination and of the false council of 859. However, the truth became known to the public and a great indignation arose among the people. Bardas [remember him?] instituted an inquiry and one of Photius’ minor accomplices in the affair, an unknown monk, was made the scapegoat and publicly scourged. Later, this monk was given an office in the magistracy of Constantinople by Photius himself!30

Photius continued in his insolence by summoning a new council in the church of St. Sophia and there in the year 866, he pronounced a sentence of deposition and excommunication against Pope St. Nicholas I and his adherents.

"The Emperor Michael III, all the senators of Constantinople, three legates in the East, magistrates, generals, and more than a thousand bishops and priests signed the act of deposition, which was then sent to the Pope himself, to all the Churches of Asia, and to the Bulgarians, whom Nicholas had lately received into the fold. Photius followed up this sacrilegious act by a circular declaring that the Greek Church is the first and only true Church; that it must thenceforth remain separated from the Church of Rome, ‘which has corrupted the primitive purity of the faith.’ He then spoke thus of the Latins: ‘Men have come forth from the darkness of the West to alter the sacred traditional heritage of our fathers. Wandering wide from the way of truth, and plunging into the impious errors of Manes, they take upon themselves to condemn the Divine institution of marriage, and make it a crime in their priests. Secret disorders and hidden immorality naturally follow such a measure. They have crowned their impiety by the addition of new words to the sacred symbol of our faith, declaring that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Father only, but likewise from the Son. They also admit two principles in the Trinity, and confound the properties of the Divine Persons.’"31

Photius then applied the name of "ministers of Antichrist" to Catholic priests. Because Pope St. Nicholas had excommunicated him, many of the faithful in Constantinople refused to communicate with him. Photius punished these Catholics with sentences typically imposed upon rebels and traitors. Catholic bishops who opposed him were deposed and banished to distant lands. Photius even attempted to have the Empress Ingelberga persuade her husband, the Holy Roman Emperor in the West, Louis I to drive Pope St. Nicholas from Rome since he had been "deposed" by an ecumenical council!32

Fortunes quickly changed for Photius however, when the character Basil the Macedonian came on the scene. During this time period, Basil had supplanted Caesar Bardas as Emperor Michael’s closest advisor; he eventually murdered Bardas (March 28, 866) and then murdered Emperor Michael (Sept. 24, 867), and finally seized the throne of the Empire.33
Two days after acceding to the throne, Basil removed Photius from the See of Constantinople (calling him a disturber of the peace) and reinstated St. Ignatius of Constantinople as bishop. This occurred on November 23, 867.

Directly after this event, Emperor Basil sent ambassadors to Rome to notify Pope St. Nicholas. However, by the time they reached the Holy See, Pope St. Nicholas had died and Pope Adrian II had been elected. The new pontiff was immensely pleased and he dispatched three legates to Constantinople — Donatus, bishop of Ostria; Stephen, bishop of Nepi; and Marinus, one of the seven deacons of the Roman Church. With them Pope Adrian sent the message to Basil: "Heartfelt and sincere is the joy of the West at the expulsion of Photius by an act of your impartial justice. For the measures to be taken concerning the other schismatics, our legates will confer with our venerable brother Ignatius. We are disposed to use the greatest possible indulgences toward them all save Photius, whose consecration must be wholly rejected. We approve the convocation of a general council, over which our legates will preside, for the final judgment of the guilty, the annulment of the false council of 866, which outraged the dignity of the Holy See, and to sign the decrees of the Council of Rome against Photius."34

Upon the arrival of the legates in Constantinople, Basil greeted them with the following: "The Church of Constantinople, rent by the ambition of Photius, has already experienced the unerring guidance and fatherly affection of Pope Nicholas. Since his death we have been awaiting, with all the Patriarchs of the East, the judgment of the Roman Church, our mother. We beg you to restore immediate order and harmony among us."35

Constantinople IV — The Eighth Ecumenical Council of the Church

The 8th general council of the Catholic Church opened on October 5, 869, and was attended by 109 council Fathers. The papal legates took the place of honor. Beside them sat St. Ignatius, newly reinstated bishop of Constantinople; and next to him sat the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, with a place held for the Patriarch of Alexandria.

Those bishops who had been exiled and tortured under the reign of Michael III were reinstated. Along with these, and after making the following abjuration: "We have had the weakness to yield to the violence and threats of the schismatics. With contrite and humble hearts we have recourse to your clemency, ready to perform whatever penance may be imposed upon us by the holy Patriarch," those bishops and clerics who had communicated with Photius in spite of the Holy See were also received back into the Church.

The council proceeded to excommunicate those rebellious prelates who would not renounce their schismatic positions. Photius himself was brought before the council. Abbe Darras narrates: "‘Is this the man,’ asked the legates, ‘who for seven years has unceasingly outraged the Roman Church; who has rent the Church of Constantinople, and filled the East with the fruits of his madness and revenge?’ Photius seemed another man. He was no longer the artful and eloquent sophist whose words were clothed with such alluring charms; he had assumed another character, and now played the part of injured innocence. To all the questions of the Roman legates he made but two replies: ‘The God who guards the innocent hears me without the help of words.’ When told that his silence would not save him from condemnation, he only answered: ‘The very silence of Jesus Christ was also condemned.’ A delay was granted him to prepare whatever defence he might wish to present. He was again brought before the council at its next session. Again he had changed his character and action. Feigning weakness, he leaned upon a long and curved staff, somewhat like the crosier used by Eastern bishops. He was made to lay aside the significant emblem, an insult to the august assemblage. He then began a crafty speech full of recriminations against the Holy See. ‘In what is contrary to reason and the canons,’ said he, ‘though the messenger come from Rome or Jerusalem, or were he even an angel from heaven, I obey not!’ ‘When schism or heresy,’ said the Fathers, ‘have rent the bosom of the Church, is not safety always sought in adherence to the Roman See and to the other Patriarchates? Today the united voices of Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria condemn you; what authority can you bring in your defence?’ ‘That of the canons,’ replied the schismatic; ‘they are my rule and my judges!’ In presence of such obstinacy, there was nothing left but to pronounce the sentence. The legates spoke: ‘We utter no new judgment; we but promulgate that which was long ago pronounced by the holy Pontiff Nicholas, since confirmed by Pope Adrian. We cannot deviate from their paternal decision. Tell us whether you approve this sentiment; for it is that of the holy Apostolic See which we represent. Should you not confirm it, we shall rise, as upon a lofty mountain, above the council, and publish with all our power the sentence already pronounced, with the grace of the Holy Ghost, by the voice of our holy Fathers Nicholas and Adrian.’ All the Fathers assented."36

Following upon this condemnation, 27 canons were promulgated in regard to Photius. It was declared that Photius was never really a bishop; that the ordinations conferred by him were null, as well as all the acts performed by him during his intrusion. He and his partisans were excommunicated. The primacy of the Roman See, the independence of the spiritual power, and the freedom of councils, were recognized and proclaimed. The acts of the false council of 866 were committed to the flames along with all the false and schismatical writings of Photius.37

While this council temporarily healed the relations between the East and Rome, the schismatic seed had been sown in the East, and it would be but a short time till it would blossom forth anew with the restoration of Photius to the episcopal see of Constantinople upon the death of St. Ignatius. Emperor Basil the Macedonian, fooled by the wiles of this man, reinstated Photius eight years later in AD 878!

Pope John VIII, now in the 6th year of his pontificate, was faced with a "cruel perplexity." The Saracens had mounted a great invasion and were devastating Italy with their attacks. Pope John appealed to the Western rulers for help but to no avail. He then sent delegates to Emperor Basil to plea for help in fighting back this latest threat from Mohammedanism. Basil responded with the bargain that the Pope approve of Photius’ nomination to the See of Constantinople.

Pope John VIII wrote the following to Basil: "You ask that, opening our heart to the call of mercy, we should, by our Apostolical authority, consent to the restoration of Photius to the honors and dignity of the Patriarchate. In order to conform to your petition, to heal the division and scandal existing in the Church, now so long harassed, and yielding to stern necessity, we consent to grant the pardon of Photius and his restoration to the Apostolic Constitutions, without annulling the regulations of the holy Fathers, and upon this principle alone, that there are occasions in which we must yield to the force of circumstances and act contrary to the ordinary traditions of the Church. We therefore absolve Photius from the ecclesiastical censures laid upon him; we allow him to resume the Patriarchal See, in virtue of the supreme authority granted us in the person of the Prince of the Apostles, by Jesus our Lord, Who said to St. Peter, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.’ Yet we give our consent under four conditions: 1st, That, on the death of Photius, his place shall not be filled by a layman. 2nd, That the Patriarch claim no jurisdiction whatever of the province of Bulgaria. 3rd, That the bishops and clerics ordained by Ignatius shall all hold their present rank and positions, and suffer no persecution. 4th, That Photius convoke a council to receive the disavowal of his past conduct."38

Condition #4 was too much for the pride of Photius to bear, and he would elude it in his usual way. "He took upon himself to translate the Pope’s letters into Greek; and in the translation purposely omitted the pontifical reservation concerning the acknowledgment of his faults, the relinquishment of all claims upon Bulgaria, and the plea of pressing necessity which alone could have relaxed the strictness of ecclesiastical discipline in his regard. He even inserted the expression, which the Pope had never used, that the general council of 869 had been guilty of injustice in deposing Photius, and that all its acts were annulled."39

Unfortunately, the papal legates, still in Constantinople, did not speak up as these lies were publicly made known. They neither complained of this dishonor nor protested against the shameful expressions ascribed to the Vicar of Jesus Christ! The legates returned to Rome and informed the Pope that "peace was at length restored and consolidated for ever in the Church of Constantinople."40

However, Pope John VIII had received a full report of the intrigues of Photius and the faithlessness of his legates. Acting against this situation, "he ascended the ambo of St. Peter’s church, and in the presence of the assembled clergy and faithful of Rome, and holding the book of Gospels, Pope John VIII renewed the anathemas uttered against Photius by Nicholas I, Adrian II, and the 8th general council; and afterwards fulminated a sentence of excommunication against the cowardly legates who had so basely betrayed their trust."41

Pope John VIII then sent the deacon Marinus, the future Roman Pontiff, to inform the Emperor Basil of the sentence just promulgated. Marinus publicly appeared in St. Sophia’s church in Constantinople and announced the annulment of all that had been done in favor of Photius. Basil had him thrown into a dungeon, but Marinus escaped and went back to Rome. In AD 882, Pope John VIII died, and Marinus was elected pope.

Against the protestations of the Emperor Basil and his false Patriarch, Pope Marinus I was consecrated Pontiff of the Universal Church on December 23, 882. One of his first acts as Pope was to renew the excommunication of Photius. Also, he issued a decree declaring that henceforth, the orders of the Eastern emperors should not be awaited for the Pope’s consecration.

The next pontiff Adrian III confirmed his predecessor’s censures against Photius.

Photius then decided to take revenge upon the Roman Church by calumniating the faith of the Latins in respect to the Filioque and the procession of the Holy Ghost. He published a pamphlet which claimed to prove by texts of Holy Writ and quotations from the Fathers, that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son. This pamphlet was addressed to Adrian III and it was accompanied by an insulting letter from Basil. However, Adrian III had died after a pontificate of only 16 months. Pope Stephen VI received the dispatches and replied accordingly: "If God has bestowed upon you the government of the political and civil world, He has entrusted to Peter and his successors the government of the religious and moral world. You accuse the Apostolic See of breaking off all relations with the Church of Constantinople. Where is the head of that Church, that the Sovereign Pontiffs may communicate with him? You have no Patriarch. We cannot hold official communication with Photius, a mere layman."42

Photius’ career of intrigue and deceit came to an end when his protector, the Emperor Basil the Macedonian died in AD 886. Basil’s son, Leo VI immediately had two of his officers publish, in the ambo of the church of St. Sophia, a detailed account of the schismatical usurper’s intrigues, and the sentences of excommunication pronounced against him by the Roman Pontiffs. Photius was then banished from Constantinople never to return. The Eastern schism was crushed, again temporarily.

The Abbe Darras comments on the works of Photius: "Photius was, unquestionably, one of the best writers of his day. The chief works we have from him are: 1st, his Bibliotheca, an analysis of the various works read by him in the course of his Syrian embassy…. 2nd, The Nomocanon, or Harmony of the laws and canons, a collection of the acts of all the councils, from the apostolic days to the seventh general council, compared in their relation to the imperial decrees. 3rd, Syntagma Canonum, or classification of the canons under fourteen titles. The original of this work was first brought to light and published by H.E. Cardinal Mai, in the seventh volume of his Spicilegium Romanum. It is a remarkable feature of the last two works, that they contain not a single word in favor of the schism. Photius quotes, entire and without gloss, the canons establishing the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff and the right of appeal to the Pope. In this respect the writer and the private individual seem to have nothing in common. Impartiality and love of truth, banished from his heart, had made their seat in his intellect; his pen proclaims the uprightness and honesty which were wanting in his character and his deeds."43

Schism Consummated

One hundred and fifty years later, the See of Constantinople went into schism for the final time, never to be fully healed by a return of the hearts and minds of many in the East to the Church that Jesus Christ founded upon the Earth for the salvation of souls.

On March 25, 1043, Michael Cerularius was promoted to the Patriarchate of Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine Monomachus; Pope St. Leo IX was elected to the Holy See in 1049.

In 1052, Michael closed the Latin churches in Constantinople and ordered all clerics of the Latin rite to adopt the Greek liturgical observances. He encouraged attacks on the Latin practices by the Studite monks, and he seems to have condoned Chancellor Nicephorus who burst open Latin tabernacles and trampled on the hosts!44

In 1053, Michael Cerularius inspired the metropolitan of Achrida in Bulgaria to denounce Latin customs to "all the bishops of the Franks and the most reverend pope." The Bulgarian primate went on to criticize the use of unleavened bread, eating of meat from strangled animals, fasting on Saturdays, and omission of the alleluia during Lent; he also ranted: "Anyone who thus observes the sabbath and uses unleavened bread is neither Jew nor pagan; he resembles a leopard."45

Another Cerularian ghost writer, the Studite monk Niketas Stethatos denounced Latin clerical celibacy which Pope St. Leo IX was then trying his best to reinforce. Stethatos: "Whence do you derive the custom of forbidding and dissolving the marriage of priests? What doctor of the Church has taught you this abomination?"46

Pope St. Leo IX received the Bulgarian prelate’s blast against the West. Newman Eberhardt describes the Pope’s reaction: "Detecting a schismatic trend in the indictment, the pope in reply laid stress upon Petrine primacy. Addressing ‘those most dear to us and still to be accounted our brethren in Christ,’ St. Leo deplored that ‘some cockle-sowers’ had condemned the ‘Apostolic and Latin Church,’ as if ‘Our Father who is in heaven had hidden from Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the rite of the visible sacrifice.’ The pope contrasted the records of Rome and Constantinople in matters of faith. ‘Have not all false doctrines and heresies been combatted and condemned by the see of Rome,’ whereas among the ‘would-be ecumenical bishops’ of Constantinople were the Arians, Eusebius and Macedonius, Nestorius, Anthimius the Monophysite, Sergius, Pyrrhus and Paul, Monotheletes. While St. Leo made a passing reference to the Donation of Constantine in favor of Roman primacy, he added: ‘But we have on this matter testimony greater than that of Constantine…. We are filled with the witness of Him who came down from heaven and is above all, and who said: Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church.’ The pope closed with a warning that proved prophetic: ‘If you live not in the body which is Christ, you are none of His. Whose, then, are you? You have been cut off and will wither, and like the branch pruned from the vine, you will burn in the fire — an end which may God’s goodness keep far from you."47

Michael Cerularius responded in such a manner that Pope St. Leo IX sent three papal legates to Constantinople — Cardinal Humbert of Moyen-moutier, Cardinal Frederick of Lorraine, and Bishop Peter of Amalfi. They arrived in March, 1054. Through them, Pope St. Leo stated: "You write us that if we make your name honored in the one Church of Rome, you will make our name honored throughout the whole world. What montrous idea is this, my dear brother? So little does the Roman Church stand alone, as you think, that in the whole world any nation that in its pride dissents from her is in no way a church, but a council of heretics, a conventicle of schismatics, and a synogogue of Satan…. How lamentable is that sacrilegious usurpation by which you everywhere boast yourself to be the ‘Universal Patriarch.’ Let heresies and schisms cease. Let everyone who glories in the Christian name refrain from cursing and wounding the Holy Apostolic Roman Church."48

Cerularius received them without courtesy, denied them precedence, refused to restore the papal name to the diptychs, and obstinately insisted upon treating with the Roman Pontiff as an equal.

By July of 1054 the legates only succeeded in obtaining a recantation of excommunication from Niketas Stethatos. As such was the case, the papal legates had no choice but to prepare the bull of excommunication, Sancta Romana Prima, for those who refused to submit: "As far as the pillars of the empire are concerned and its wise and honored citizens, the city is most Christian and orthodox. But we, not enduring the unheard-of offense and injury done to the Holy Apostolic and First See, wishing to defend in every way the Catholic Faith, by the authority of the Holy and Undivided Trinity and of the Apostolic See, whose legates we are, declare that Michael, patriarch by abuse; … Leo called bishop of Achrida;… and all their followers in the aforesaid errors and presumption shall be: anathema, maranatha… with all the heretics and with the devil and his angels, unless they repent. Amen."

Fr. Adrian Fortescue relates the dramatic promulgation of the bull: "It was Saturday, July 16, 1054, at the third hour (9:00 AM). The Hagia Sophia was full of people, the priests and deacons are vested, the prothesis of the holy liturgy has just begun. Then the three Latin legates walk up the great church through the people, go in through the Royal Door of the Ikonostasis, and lay their bull of excommunication on the altar. As they turn back, they say: ‘May the Lord see and judge.’"49

And as we know, the Lord saw, and He judged. Constantinople, 400 hundred years later, was overrun by the Turks in 1453 and the great See of Constantinople faded from influence and power. Less than 500 years after that, Russia — the seat of the largest schismatic church in the East after the fall of Constantinople — was taken over by atheistic Communism in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.

And so this ends with the way it began, with a plea to the Eastern schismatics to return to the One True Church, outside of which there is neither holiness nor salvation. Follow the example of those Schismatics from Constantinople who came to the Council of Florence to be reconciled with Rome: "We have come to you our head," they said to the pope. "You are the foundation of the Church. Every member that has left you is sick, and wild beasts have devoured the flock that has separated itself from you.... You who have the power of the heavenly keys, open to us the gates of eternal life."50

1 "Eastern Schism", Fr. Adrian Fortescue, PhD, DD., Catholic Encyclopedia.

2 Our Glorious Popes, Sister Catherine, M.I.C.M., p. 1.

3 As was pointed out in From the Housetops #43, the Maronite Catholics of Lebanon were an exception to this rule. It is also said that some Syro-Malabar Catholics of India never went into schism. The Greek monks of St. Nilos monastery in Groteferrata, Italy are also conspicuous for their preservation of loyalty to the Holy See (as well as continued loyalty to the Greek liturgical rites and religious customs). There could be others to add to this list. Sadly, these exceptions are just that — exceptions.

4 A Summary of Catholic History, Newman C. Eberhardt, C.M., Vol. I., p.161.

5 Our Glorious Popes, p. 7.

6 Ibid., p. 6.

7 "Constantinople", Fr. Simeon Vailhe, A.A. Professor of Church History and Sacred Scripture, Assumptionist Convent, Kadi-Keui (Chalcedon), Constantinople; Catholic Encyclopedia.

8 The presence of St. Andrew’s relics in Constantinople will help to give rise to the idea that Constantinople was an apostolic see like Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, because St. Andrew established his see there. Fr. Vailhe gives us the origin of this rumor: "In the fifth century we meet with a spurious document attributed to a certain Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre at the end of the third century, according to which the Church of Byzantium was founded by the Apostle St. Andrew, its first bishop being his disciple Stachys (cf. Rom., xvi, 9). The intention of the forger is plain: in this way the Church of Rome is made inferior to that of Constantinople, St. Andrew having been chosen an Apostle by Jesus before his brother St. Peter, the founder of the Roman Church." ("Constantinople", Fr. Simeon Vailhe

9 History of the Catholic Church, Fathers Fernand Mourret, S.S. and Newton Thompson, S.T.D., Vol. II, p. 83. (Frs. Mourret and Thompson quote here from Bousquet, "The Unity of the Church and the Greek Schism", p.44)

10 "Constantinople," Fr. Vailhe.

11 A General History of the Catholic Church: From the commencement of the Christian era to the 20th Century M. L’Abbe J. E. Darras, p. 466.

12 St. Gregory the Great, Epistle Ad Eulog., Book 13, ep. 4.

13 Epistle of St. Leo the Great, No. 104, ad Anatolius.

14 "Constantinople", Fr. Simeon Vailhe.

15 Ibid., p. 464.

16 A General History of the Catholic Church: From the commencement of the Christian era to the 20th Century M. L’Abbe J. E. Darras, Vol. I, 1898, p. 521.

17 Ibid., p. 592

18 Ibid., p. 521.

19 "Constantinople", Fr. Simeon Vailhe.

20 Ibid.

21 Our Glorious Popes, pp. 57-58.

22 A General History of the Catholic Church: From the commencement of the Christian era to the 20th Century M. L’Abbe J. E. Darras, Vol. I, 1898, p. 291.


24 Ibid. p. 372.

25 Ibid., p. 489.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid. p. 493.

28 The circumstances of this council and its condemnation show us what the Faith of the early Church was regarding the papacy and the authority of ecumenical councils:

In 449, the defenders of Eutyches (the Monophysite heresiarch) summoned a council which was intended to be Ecumenical. A papal legate named Hilarus (later pope) was sent. At one point, through military force, bishops were forced to sign a decree deposing Saint Flavian, who had condemned Eutyches and his followers. With one word, the papal legate brought the council to a halt: Contradicitur, "it is contradicted." He quickly ran from the scene in fear for his life. The Council of Chalcedon, which was two years after the Robber Council, condemned its chief architect, Dioscorus because he "…had held an (ecumenical) council without the Apostolic See, which was never allowed." This was a reference to Dioscorus’ re-convening the council after the papal legate withdrew. St. Leo the Great excommunicated the perpetrators of the synod and wrote to the emperor that the acts of the council were null. No one in the East or West considers "Ephesus II" to be ecumenical, because the pope condemned it.

29 Ibid., pp. 495-496.

30 Ibid., pp. 496.

31 Ibid., pp. 496-497.

32 Ibid., pp. 497-498.

33 Ibid., p. 499.

34 Ibid., p. 516.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid., pp. 518-519.

37 Ibid., p. 519.

38 Ibid., p. 531.

39 Ibid., p. 532.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., p. 539.

43 Ibid., pp. 541-542.

44 Eberhardt, Catholic History, Vol. I, p. 492.

45 Ibid., p. 493.

46 Ibid., pp. 493-494.

47 Ibid., p. 494.

48 Ibid., pp. 494-495.

49 The Orthodox Eastern Church, Adrian Fortescue, London — Catholic Truth Society, 1907, p. 185.

50 The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils: 325-1870, Msgr. Phillip Hughes, Chapter 17.

Original source of article: http://catholicism.org/schism-in-the-east.html