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MONOTHELITISM


504


MONOTHELITISM


juriis" (Ep. 28, 4). These words were quoted by, Cyrus, Serfiius, Sophronius, Honorius, Maximus, ete., and playcil a larpce part in the eoiitrovrrsy. This in- liTi-cmminMicatiDii of the two operations follows from t lie I "at hohc doctrine of the ir</)ixu/ni<ris, eirr»mwse.s.st(), of the t wo uneonfusett and inseparable natures, as again St. Leo: "Exprimit quideni sub distinctis aetionibus veritatem suain utraque natura, sed neutra se ab alterius connexione disjungit" (Serm. liv, 1). St. Sophronius (.Mansi, XI, ISO sqq.) and St. Maximus (Kp. I'.t) expressed this truth at the very outset of the controver.sy as well as later; and it is insisted upon by St. John Damaseene. St. Thomas (III, (^.xix.a. 1) well explains it: "Motum partieiiial operalionem moven- tis, et movens utitur operalione moti, et .sic utrumque agit cum comnuuiicatione alteri\is". Kriigcr and others have doubted whether it could be said that the question of two operations wa,s alreadj' flecided (as Loofs held), in Justinian's time. But it seems that St. Leo's words, yet earlier, were clear enough. The writings of Severus of Antioch assumed that his Catholic opponents would uphold two operations, and an ob.scure monk in the sixth century, Eustathius (De duabus naturis, P. G., LXXXVI, 909) accepts the expression. Many of the numerous citations from the (ireek and Latin Fathers adduced at the Lateran Council and on other occasions are inconclusive, but some of them are clear enough. Really learned theo- logians like Sophronius and Maximus were not at a loss, though Cyrus and Honorius were puzzled. The Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria (580-607) had writ- ten against those who taught one will, but his work was unknown to Cyrus and .Sergius.

History. — The origin of the Monothelite contro- versy is thus related by Sergius in his letter to Pope Honorius. \A'hen the Emperor Heraclius in the course of the war which he began about 619, came to Theo- dosiopolis (Erzeroum) in Armenia (about 622), a Monojihysite named Paul, a leader of the Acephali, made a speech before him in favour of his heresy. The emperor refuted him with theological arguments, and incidentally made use of the ex-pression "one 0[)eration" of Christ. Later on (about 626) he in- quired of Cyrus. Bishop of Phasis and metropolitan of the Lazi, whether his words were correct. Cyrus was uncertain, and by the emperor's order wrote to Sergius the Patriarch of Constantinople, whom Heraclius greatly trusted, for advice. Sergius in reply sent him a letter said to have been written by Mennas of Con- stantinople to Pope Vigilius and approved by the latter, in which several authorities were cited for one operation and one will. This letter was afterwards dci'lared to be a forgery and was admitted to be such at theSLxth General Council. Nothing more occurred, a<-cording to Sergius, until in June, 6.31, Cyrus was [jromoted by the emperor to the See of Alexandria. The whole of Egypt was then Monophysite, and it was constantly threatened by the Saracens. Heraclius was doubtless verj- anxious to unite all to the Catholic Church, for the country wa-s greatly weakened by the dissensions of the heretics among themselves, and by their bitterness against the official religion. Former emperors had made efforts for reunion, but in the fifth centurj' the Henoticon of Zeno had been condemned by the popes yet had not .siitisfied all the heretics, and in the sixth century the condemnation of the three Chapters had nearly caused a schism between East and West without in the least placating the Mono- phy sites. Cyrus was for the moment more s-uccessful. Imagining, no doubt, as all Catholics imagined, that Moiiophysitism involved the a.ssertion that the hu- man nature of Christ was a nonentity after the Union, he was delighted at the acceptance by the Monophy- sites of a series of nine Capitula, in which the Chal- cedonian "in two natures" is asserted, the "one composite hypostasis", and ipuaiKri nal Kaff' vir6<iTa(ri.v {vuKTii, together with the adverbs iavyx^'^'^^, drp^TTTus,


draXXoiuTois. St. Cyril, the great doctor of the Mono- physites, is cited; and all is satisfactory until in the s(!venth proposition our Lord is spoken of as "working His Divine and His human works by one theandric operation, according to the divine Dionysius". This famous expression of the Pseudo-Diony.sius the ;\reo- pagite is taken by modern critics to show that he wrote under Monophysite influences. Hut Cyrus believed it to be an orthodox expression, used by Mennas, and approved by Pope Vigilius. He was triumphant therefore at the reunion to the Church of a large num- ber of Theodosian Monophysites, so that, as Sergius phrases it, all the people of Alexandria and nearly all Egypt, the Thebaid, and Libya had become of one voice, and whereas formerly they would not hear even the name of St. Leo and of the Council of Chalcedon, now they acclaimed them with a loud voice in the holy mysteries. But the M(mophysites s.iw more clearly, and Anastasius of Mount ."^inai tells us that they boasted "they had not conunuiiicati'd with Chalce- don, but Chalcedon with them, by acknowledging one nature of Christ through one operation".

St. Sophronius, a much venerated monk of Pales- tine, soon to become Patriarch of Jerusalem, was in Alexandria at this time. He strongly objected to the expression "one operation", and unconvinced by Cyrus's defence of it, he went to Constantinople, and urged on Sergius, upon whose advice the expression had been used, that the seventh capitulum must be withdrawn. Sergius thought this too hard, as it would destroy the union so gloriously effected ; but he was so far impressed that he wrote to Cyrus that it would be well for the future to drop both expressions "one operation" and "two operations", and he thought it necessary to refer the whole question to the pope. (So far his own story.) This last proceeding must warn us not to judge Sergius too harshly. It may be invention that he was born of Monophysite parents (so Anastasius of Sinai); at all events he was an op- ponent of the Monophysites, and he based his defence of "one operation" on the citations of Fathers in the spurious letter of his orthodox predecessor Mennas, which he believed to have had the approval of Pope Vigilius. He was a politician who evidently knew little theology. But he had more to answer for than he admits. Cyrus had not really been doubtful at first. His letter to Sergius with great politeness ex- plains that he had said the emperor was wrong, and had quoted the famous words of St. Leo's Tome to Flavian: "Agit utraque natura cum alterius com- munione quod proprium est" as plainly defining two distinct but inseparable operations; Sergius was re- sponsible for leading him into error by sending him the letter of Mennas. Further, St. Maximus tells us that Sergius had written to Theodore of Pharan asking his opinion; Theodore agreed. (It is probable that Stephen of Dora was mistaken in making Theodore a Monothelite before Sergius.) He also worked upon the Severian Paul the one-eyed, the same with whom Heraclius had disputed. He had requested George Arsas, a Monophysite follower of Paul the Black of Antioch, to fumi.sh him with authorities for the "one operation", saying in his letter that he was ready to make a union on this basis. The Alexandrian St. John the Almsgiver (609 or 619) had taken this letter from Arsas with his own hand, and was only prevented by the irruption of the Saracens (619) from using it to obtain the deposition of Sergius.

In the letter to Honorius, Sergius unwittingly de- velops another heresy. He admits that "one opera- tion", though used by a few Fathers, is a strange expression, and might suggest a denial of the uncon- fused union of two natures. But the "two operations" are also dangerous, by suggesting "two contrary wills, as though when the Word of God wished to fulfil His saving Passion, His humanity resisted and contra- dicted His will, and thus two contrary wills would be