Sunday, August 09, 2009

Leonine or Cyrillian Primacy at Chalcedon?

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Editor: In his winter 1964-1965 journal article, "St. Cyril's 'One Physis or Hypostasis of God the Logos Incarnate' and Chalcedon," the Eastern Orthodox Fr. John S. Romanides († 2001) wrongly infers Cyrillian primacy at the Council of Chalcedon, when the truth is Leonine primacy; i.e., Fr. John wrongly declared that the Tome of Leo was subordinate to the Cyrillian writings, i.e., was of lesser authority. The bishops intended to stress, against the Eutychians, that their acceptance of the Leonine definition did not put them at odds with the Christology of the most holy Cyril, and they would not have thought it possible that Leo could err in his ex cathedra definition and contradict the earlier ecumenically-approved writings (which derived their authority from the sanction of the Pope in the first place) of that soldier of Christ, St. Cyril the Great [Rivington 411]. The Council did not judge as a superior the two pillars of orthodoxy when it said that the two saints agree Christologically, just as I do not act superior to the great-martyrs Sts. James and Paul the Apostles when I truthfully proclaim that they agree soteriologically [411]. The Council did not, by mentioning the Roman and Alexandrian bulwarks together, put them on the same official level, just as no one puts St. Paul the Apostle and a Greek poet on the same level when he says that they are in accord [411]. Just because someone notices my agreement with my master St. Thomas Aquinas and says that we believe alike, that does not mean that he puts me on the same level as that great wonderworking doctor, for it is manifest that I am but a shadow while he is brilliant light invincibly defending, better than anyone else, the truths our Lord handed down through the Apostles. The bishops assumed from the outset the agreement between Leo and Cyril [414]. It was not that they could dissent from the Leonine definition and modify it, but that they wanted to see the agreement between the two illustrious Doctors and adhere to the definition with an enlightened faith, and not a blind faith [416].

Works Cited
Rivington, Rev. Luke, M.A. The Primitive Church and the See of Peter. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1894. 25 Mar. 2009 <http://books.google.com/books?id=uiqOs8cftDcC>.

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