Friday, March 20, 2009

Florentine Reductio of Eastern Orthodoxy

Bypassing Dead-End Debates
1. All Gill citations in the main body of the post are from the source in note 3. The history of the Council of Florence proves that Eastern Orthodoxy cannot possibly be true. To conclusively demonstrate the falsehood of Eastern Orthodoxy, I here do not even have to prove, e.g., that Filioque is correct, although elsewhere I show that Filioque is true.{1} I only have to point out that by saying that Catholicism is false, the Eastern Orthodox are forced to admit that the Gates of Hell have prevailed against the Eastern Orthodox Church.

2. This follows easily, granted that (1) the unanimous consent of the four Patriarchs of the East at an ecumenical council trumps the dissension of a single metropolitan opposed to that consensus, and that, to borrow the terminology of the brilliant Catholic apologist Mark J. Bonocore, (2) an ecumenical council does not have to be "ratified" by the laity.{2} Other authors clearly show that (1) the Council of Florence satisfies all the criteria for ecumenicity and that (2) the Eastern clergy freely agreed to the terms of the union, so demonstrating these points is not my concern in this brief post.

The Short-Lived Union of the East and West
3. On 6/8/1439, the agreement (Latin cedula) on the procession of the Holy Spirit was freely signed by all the Eastern bishops except the lone dissenter Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus, including, most importantly, Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople († 6/10/1439) and the patriarchal legates, with the permission of Patriarchs Philotheos of Alexandria († 1459), Dorotheos II of Antioch († 1454), and Joachim of Jerusalem († 1450?).{3} Therefore, the Eastern Orthodox Church dogmatically agreed at an Ecumenical Council that the Catholic doctrine on the procession of the Holy Spirit, hitherto dogmatically rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church, is true. On 7/6/1439, the Eastern Orthodox Church dogmatically agreed at an Ecumenical Council that Catholicism is true, and so the Eastern Orthodox Church was, at the time, united to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Ardent unionist Joseph II reposed in the Lord on June 10, and the unionist Metrophanes II († 8/1/1443) succeeded him in May of 1440 (Gill 350). The unionist Gregory III Mammas († 1450) was elected Patriarch of Constantinople after the repose of Patriarch Metrophanes.

No Way Out
4. All five Patriarchates were Catholic{4} before the after-the-fact nonsensical repudiation instigated by the schismatic Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus,{5} who tragically anathematized the Latins even on his deathbed.{6} (A) For an Eastern Orthodox Christian to say that Catholicism is false would mean that he has to admit that the Gates of Hell have prevailed against the Eastern Orthodox Church, contrary to the promise of our Lord in Mt 16:18, and that therefore Eastern Orthodoxy is false. (B) For an Eastern Orthodox Christian to say that Catholicism is true would mean that he has to admit that Eastern Orthodoxy is false, since Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have mutually exclusive dogmas.{7}

5. The ineluctable historical data of the Council of Florence shows that Eastern Orthodoxy cannot possibly be true. Therefore the after-the-fact repudiation of the union--as Fr. Joseph Gill aptly chronicles in his 1964 Personalities of the Council of Florence which, together with his magnum opus The Council of Florence, I have been blessed by God to be able read in one of the Fordham libraries--is self-defeating. Q.E.D.

Notes & References
{1} Huysman, Will R. "Filioque: Fathers, Popes, & Councils." Catholic Patristics. 4 Aug. 2009. 11 Dec. 2009 <>.
{2} Bonocore, Mark J. "Popes, Councils, and Orthodoxy." Evangelical Catholic Apologetics. 20 Mar. 2009 <>.
{3} Fr. Gill narrates the solemn event in Chapter VIII of his excellent The Council of Florence. See pp. 293-296 of Gill, Joseph, S.J. The Council of Florence. London: Cambridge University Press, 1959.
{4} Ivan Ostroumoff's 1861 The History of the Council of Florence, trans. Basil Popoff, relies (169-170) on the myth of a 1443 anti-union decree of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. This story is not reliable, according to Fr. Gill's The Council of Florence (Gill 354). This is evident from (1) the lack of "repercussion in anti-unionist circles," (2) the lack of certain references to it (that of John Eugenikos is likely much later than 1450 and might even refer to the the 1285 Synod of Blachernae which posthumously condemned Patriarch John XI Bekkos of Constantinople), and (3) Scholarios's "ignorance of it [even] at the end of 1448." Besides, the "Letter of George Amiroutzes to Demetrius of Nauplion" is "spurious" (354).
{5} Gill, Joseph, S.J. Personalities of the Council of Florence. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1964. The erudite and venerable Jesuit Fr. Joseph Gill describes how Mark Eugenikos stirred up anti-union sentiment in the uneducated monks and laymen of Constantinople, and how most of the bishops caved in to the mob mentality. Gill (62) says that the Greek prelates
did, however, recognize by their votes the cogency of the arguments of Bessarion and other Greek unionists, yet all the time Mark's rigid abstention was a permanent reproof that made them uneasy and left them with the feeling that they had betrayed the tradition of their Church. When to that was added the raucous condemnation of the monks and the mob of Constantinople after their return, they recanted one by one.
Towards the end of Chapter Five we read (64),
In the compositions he mingled deep reverence for tradition with scorn for the "innovators," ardent love of his Church and vulgar invective against the Latins and their Greek supporters (he never, however, wrote a disrespectful word about the Emperor), serious theological reasoning with the most blatant argumenta ad hominem. He was writing primarily, not for theologians, but for the mass of the Greeks, and he was clever enough to adapt his style and method to the educational level of the ignorant monks and the amorphous populace—very successfully. But his greatest triumph was that he finally persuaded George Scholarius, who for a time had stood aloof from the controversy, to take up his prophetic mantle after his death, and he could not have chosen a better successor for this purpose.
Also, in The Council of Florence we read (Gill 355-356) that Mark's ""Encyclical Letter to All Orthodox Christians on the Mainland and the Islands"
had little solid argument but much specious reasoning and no little scorn and even ribaldry against the "Greco-Latins." His longer productions contain much, clever disguised, repetition, harping on the same quotations from the Fathers. His argumentation was not very deep, as Scholarius had no difficulty in showing with regard to his "Syllogisms against the Latins about the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father only" [Schol. III, pp. 476-538], but that was probably part of his skill as a controversialist, for he was addressing, not the small cultured circle of Constantinople, but the mass of the parochial clergy, monks and people, unlearned in theology, on whom the intricacies of metaphysics would have been lost, but who could be deeply moved by argumenta ad hominem like ...
{6} On the day of his death the schismatic Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus said to his followers,
And lest my silence give occasion to those who do not know my views well and fully to suspect some kind of conciliation, I hereby state and testify before the many worthy men here present that I do not desire, in any manner and absolutely, and do not accept communion with him [Patriarch Gregory III of Constantinople] or with those who are with him, not in this life nor after my death, just as (I accept) neither the Union nor Latin dogmas, which he and his adherents have accepted, and for the enforcement of which he has occupies this presiding place, with the aim of overturning the true dogmas of the Church! I am absolutely convinced that the farther I stand from him and those like him, the nearer I am to God and all the saints; and to the degree that I separate myself from them am I in union with the Truth and with the Holy Fathers, the Theologians of the Church; and I am likewise convinced that those who count themselves with them stand far away from the Truth and from the blessed Teachers of the Church. And for this reason I say: just as in the course of my whole life I was separated from them, so at the time of my departure, yea and after my death, I turn away from intercourse and communion with them and vow and command that none (of them) shall approach either my burial or my grave, and likewise anyone else from our side, with the aim of attempting to join and concelebrate in our Divine services; for this would be to mix what cannot be mixed. But it befits them to be absolutely separated from us until such time as God shall grant correction and peace to His Church.
{7} The salient and most concrete dogmatic disagreement is over the orthodoxy of Filioque. While it seems, from my dabbling (I am no scholar and I have but a high school diploma, but I have spent many of my hours of each day in the past year researching it) in the history of the Filioque, that the controversy sprung from a misunderstanding of the respective nuances of the Greek and Latin tongues, it is clear that today the disagreement is real/substantial, since you can propose and explain an accurate formulation and understanding of the Filioque only to have your learned Eastern Orthodox interlocutor distinctly reject it.

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