Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mark of Ephesus

1. The Eastern Orthodox venerate Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos (Μάρκος Ευγενικός = Mark the Courteous) of Ephesus [1392-6/3/1444] as one of the Three Pillars of Orthodoxy, together with Sts. Patriarch Photios (Φώτιος) the Great of Constantinople [820-2/6/891] and Archbishop Gregory Palamas the Wonderworker of Thessalonica [1296-11/14/1359]. Though the Eastern Orthodox cult of Mark of Ephesus had been celebrated from the time of his death, he was formally canonized in 1734 by Patriarch Seraphim I of Constantinople. The feast day of Mark of Ephesus is January 19.2. Although Photios the Great and Gregory Palamas are Catholic saints despite their controversies with the Apostolic See, Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus is not, according to the experts Fr. Aidan Nichols and Fr. Serge Keleher. At the Ecumenical Council of Ferrara-Florence, he was the only bishop to refuse to sign the Cedula proclaiming the union of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the Catholic Church.

3. Mark is commendable for his austere lifestyle, his zeal, and his learning. However, it is not appropriate to venerate him as a saint, just as it is not appropriate to venerate Nestorios, Dioscoros, and Tertullian. This is because Mark was shown the truth and he rejected it even on his deathbed when he was uttering his last address. This is the model of what not to do.
4. At the Ecumenical Council of Florence, everyone agreed that the teachings of the Eastern and Western Fathers are harmonious even where they might appear to contradict each other; the Fathers were guided by the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Mark resisted that Spirit of Truth. The Latin Fathers of the Council proved that the Western Fathers unanimously taught Filioque, and Mark avoided the unavoidable conclusion that Filioque is orthodox. In order to maintain his untenable position, he was forced to say that the passages of the Western Church Fathers teaching Filioque were corrupt and interpolated, and the Latin Council Fathers demonstrated the absurdity of Mark's hypothesis.

5. The Metropolitan Mark persisted in heresy and schism until his death, and he put voluminous amounts of energy into convincing uneducated laity and monks in Constantinople to disobey the decrees of an Ecumenical Council and to adopt his Patristically impossible position. Though Mark of Ephesus held some false eschatological doctrines, the definitive obstacle to his veneration is his repudiation of Filioque after having heard correct translations of the genuine proclamations of the Fathers of the Western Tradition, which, like the Eastern Tradition, is indispensable. Those people we know to be saints finish their lives with an act of charity, but on his deathbed, Mark's last words were an attack against the Church in which the Church of Christ subsists. There is nothing to mitigate, but plenty to aggravate, his grievous error.

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