"The History of
the Council of Florence"
By Ivan N. Ostroumov.
Translated from the Russian by Boris Popoff.
(Please get the full version of this book at your bookstore)
Introduction. Sources for the history of the Council of Florence.
1. The State of the Eastern Empire and the Church of Rome Preceding the Florentine Council.
2. Negotiations Between the Emperors with the Popes of Rome and the Council of Basle.
3. Departure of the Greeks for the Council and their Arrival in Ferrara.
4. Opening of the Council in Ferrara. Private Disputes on Purgatory.
5. The Solemn Sessions of the Council. Disputes on the Latin Addition to the Creed.
6. Removal of the Council to Florence. Disputes on the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son.
7. Secret means for Reconciling the Geeeks to the Latin Doctrine on the Filioque clause.
8. Disputes on Other Latin Doctrines. Death of The Patriarch. Proclamation of the Union of Churches.
9. Return of the Greeks Home. Rejection of the Florentine Union by the Orthodox Eastern Church.
10. A Few Words about the Council.
Sources for the history of the Council of Florence.
It was at an early period that the spirit of supremacy began to show itself in the Pontiffs of Rome. As soon as their unceasing and strenuous efforts to spread their spiritual monarchy over the whole of the West were crowned with success, they, not content with this, sought also the submission to their pontifical throne of their own equals — the Eastern Patriarchs, and thus occasioned that great division of the West and East, which, commencing under Photius, and ended in the final schism of the Church of Rome from the Orthodox Church of the East. It was not love of power alone that caused this division; but also an obstinacy in adhering to many material regressions from the ancient doctrine and discipline of the Church. Time, instead of abating this love of power and eradicating errors, only promoted their development and strength. Thus it was, that the division of the Churches became more and more permanent, while the Eastern Christians, true to their ancient Orthodoxy, were strengthened in their aversion to the Latin Church.
The calamitous state of the Eastern Empire, bereft of strength, and at the same time open to the ravages of barbarous and rude nations from the north and east, also suffered from the encroachments of its own brethren from the West. The East on more then one occasion engendered a wish in its rulers to restore the former spirit of love and peace between the Churches, hoping by these means to find effectual aid from the head of Western Christianity against enemies who threatening the Empire with ruin and desolation. The Popes, with the goal of attaining supremacy and dominion over the Four Eastern Patriarchates, were happy to receive such demonstrations from the East. Nevertheless, it was very evident, that as long as the Popes retained such an object in view, and refused to return to the pure ancient doctrine and practice of the Church, no such efforts of reconciliation would prove successful.
The fruit of these efforts on the part of the Eastern Empire, was a Council initially convened at Ferrara, but later moved and concluded in Florence.. The Council was twenty years in preparation, and was attended by the Eastern Emperor, the Patriarch of Constantinople with other Patriarchal Vicars and Bishops, on the one side, and that of the Pope, with his numerous suite of Cardinals and Bishops on the other; then, again, the long duration of the conferences on the principal causes of the division; lastly, the very minuteness with which the points in dispute were brought under the notice of the Synod — all this together enhances the special value of a history of the Council. Whereas, again, its close, so contrary to the hopes and expectations nourished at its opening by those who came from the far east, contrary to, the evident superiority of the last named in truth and justice, gives rise to a very laudable curiosity as to how affairs were really carried on in this assembly. A son of the Orthodox Graeco-Russian Church has besides this a more special inducement to acquaint himself with the history of this Council, not only because it included among its members a Russian Metropolitan, who took no little interest in the acts, though himself no great defender of the ancient Orthodoxy of his Church; but also because the decrees of Florence served as a foundation for the so-called "Unia" organized in the southeastern provinces of our country, thanks to the Jesuits of the sixteenth century. An impartial history will show how unjustly the canons of the Council of Florence were, and even are, counted as the production of Greeks, ever the true sons of their Orthodox Church.
The contemporary description of this Council by Syropulus, known by the name of a Truthful History of an unjust union," is the first and principal source for the History of this Council.. Sylvester Syropulus, a Greek by birth, was the son of a Church-teacher, by whom he was educated, and soon formed an intimate acquaintance with many pious and learned men of his time. Ordained deacon of the Constantinopolitan Church, with the title of Ecclesiarch and Dikeophylax, he accompanied the Patriarch to the Council of Florence, was present at it in the capacity of a member, and thus saw and heard all things transacted there, even taking part in many of the minor meetings of the Bishops; lastly, he was more than once sent by the other members of the Council to the Pope. His steadfastness in the Orthodox doctrine and aversion from the union drew on him the Emperor’s anger, and was the cause of much indignation on the part of the Latins and the Greek apostates from Orthodoxy. At the urgent demands of the Emperor’s officers, he signed the Council’s decrees; but shortly afterwards sincerely repented of what he had done; and, withdrawing himself from the union and his Church office, wrote his history of the Synod.
The history of Syropulus closes with the events of the years 1444 and 1445; we can, with great likelihood, suppose that it was written just about this time; and, consequently, during the lifetime of the Emperor, John Palaeologus, and many other members of the Council. This circumstance attests the truth of his history. He himself affirms in many places, that there is nothing but truth in his history, that he even wished to omit many things, but could not do so, as the witnesses of these events were still alive. Without going into the details of the public disputes, written down during the very sittings of the Council, he relates the private conferences of the Greek Bishops, generally using their own expressions. When describing the preliminary intercourse of the Emperor and Patriarch with the Popes, he makes use of the "γραμμάτα" entered into the Church codex; he also finds place in his history for some of the genuine acts of the Council, e.g., the opinions of the Patriarch and the Emperor on the Procession of the Holy Ghost; also for the objections of the Latins against the exposition of the same doctrine made by the Greek Bishops. With rare honesty he refuses witnessing to subjects more or less unknown to him, but narrates what he himself had heard. Speaking of the principal authors of the union, he is far from concealing their good qualities, remarking that it is unjust to pass them over in silence; neither is he silent upon many injudicious acts of the defenders of Orthodoxy; he then relates, with great frankness and sincerity, how he was obliged to sign his name to the Council decree, and tries to exculpate himself, by saying, that it was not done for money. Lastly, we must say that the memoirs of Syropulus correspond in the principal points with other Greek and Latin narratives of the Council. All these circumstances attest the sincerity of the writer and the truth of his history.
We have already mentioned,, that Syropulus does not give place in his history to any of the public disputes at the Council; but to make up for this he endeavours to disclose the object held in view by the Emperor, the Pope and their party, and the motives from which they acted at the Council. His description of the private, secret intercourse between the Latins and Greeks after the public sittings of the Council, brings to light many of their dark doings, which, were it not for Syropulus, would have remained until now unknown to us. Generally speaking, were it not for his memoirs, the description of this Council by other authors would hardly have proved satisfactory.
Out of all the annals of this Council, published by the Church of Rome, the best is very rightly reckoned to be, — the History of the Council of Florence, written in Greek by one of its members, Dorotheus, Metropolitan of Mitylene. It principally consists in an exposition of the Council disputes, very likely composed with the help of notes, made at the very Council, and to which the historian now and then refers. On finishing the Acts of the Council, the author commences his own diary of the chief occupations of the Greek Bishops until the close of the Synod. The diary is short, because the writer, who was one of the most active partisans of the Church union, only finds place for such subjects as seemed most important for his object in view, and looks upon them besides in his own light. In the course of our history of the Florentine Council, we can, under the guidance of Syropulus, also avail ourselves of the memoirs of Dorotheus, endeavoring as far as possible to clear the truth from falsehood, and to amplify one narrative by the other.
The Russian annals and memoirs, on the voyage of the Metropolitan Isidore to the Council, may also be of use in showing several circumstances, touching the Russian Metropolitan, of which there is no mention made in Syropulus, or in the Latin descriptions of the Council.
A complete history of the Council of Florence must not only show the progress of the Council and its results; but also give an introductory sketch of the contemporary state of the Eastern Empire and the Church of Rome. By doing this it will serve to explain the reason of the strenuous efforts made by the Emperor and Pope to convene a Council and accomplish the union of Churches.
1. The State of the Eastern Empire and the Church of Rome Preceding
the Florentine Council.
Pitiable was the state of the Empire of Constantinople, when Manuel II (1391) began those negotiations with the Pope, which resulted in the Council of Florence. At that time everything was in the hands of the Turks. Manuel himself, during the very lifetime of his father, was forced by Bajazet II to join him in his expeditions. Μanuel’s father, by the Sultanas order, was compelled to raze to the ground the city fortifications then only in course of erection. Then came the demands from Bajazet, that a mosque should be erected, and a cadi appointed in the town for the Turks, demands coupled with threats of shutting up the inhabitants within the city walls, in case of a refusal. True to his threat, Bajazet commenced ravaging towns and villages in the suburbs of Constantinople, forcing the poor inhabitants to migrate into other places; at the same time his armies devastated the Peloponnesus and demolished towns on the coast of the Euxine. The armies of Islam stationed close to the town cut off the import of corn; hunger drove the inhabitants to despair. Such was the beginning of Manuels reign! Six years afterwards, Manuel at the demand of Bajazet was obliged to divide his nearly powerless authority between himself and his nephew Andronicus, who proclaimed himself the Sultan’s tributary – and personally to seek the aid of the monarchs of Western Europe. During his absence Constantinople nearly fell a prey to the ambitious views of Bajazet. Luckily for the town the Sultan met with a dreadful rival in the person of Timour. His victories over the Sultan sustained for a time the Empire's existence and made Manuel once more master of his own throne. Mahomet I, son and successor of Bajazet, kept the peace with the Greek Emperor.
But what remained now to the Emperor from out of his at one time vast possessions? In Asia he was no longer master of a single province, of a solitary town. True, Mahomet did restore the ruins on the coast of the Black Sea, the Propontis and in Thessaly, but then these ruins alone, with Constantinople, were all that remained to him of the once great Empire. Even of this he was master only at the Sultan’s grace. Such a state of affairs could not continue long. In the reign of Manuel’s successor, John VIII Palaeologus, the limits of the Empire were still less; the Emperor paid the Sultan Murad II 100,000 aspres. In reality it was the latter who was unlimited master of the Empire, having the power even of levying troops from among the Greeks. The Turks pillaged towns, devastated whole provinces, and expelled the inhabitants. The Emperor could only witness the calamities of his subjects, but help them he could not. His army for the most part consisted of mercenaries, his fleet was insignificant, the finances of the Empire were in the greatest disorder, so that at last John was brought to the necessity of selling Thessalonica to the Venetians, in order to pay the expenses of his court.
The Empire was evidently on the brink of ruin, and well aware of this were the poor owners of Constantinople. They knew besides, that as long as the town remained in Greek hands, they might still find some help on the part of the Western Monarchs, and hope for some success over the Turks. But it was just as evident to them, that as long as the division of the Churches continued, the Western Christians would sooner stand by, and allow the Turks to annihilate all the East, than offer a helping hand in its defense. This then was the reason why Manuel, in hopes of saving his Empire, determined on entering into negotiations with the Pope, which were carried on by John with the view of attaining an union of Churches by means of an Ecumenical Council. They were in hopes, that such a Council could, on the authority of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, solve all the points of dissension between the Churches; the East and West would make peace with each other on the subject of faith, and that then all Christian nations, the cause of their religious enmity being done away with, would give their hands and hearts to the defense of the faithful against the infidels. It was no secret, that the hope of receiving help for the Empire by means of a Council, was the real motive both the Emperors had in proposing this union to the Pope. Even the Turks guessed the designs of the Emperors and dreaded the alliance. The Emperor, John Palaeologus, himself more than once told his spiritual and civil nobles, at Constantinople, then at Ferrara, and Florence, that this was the very object of assembling the Council.
We will now turn our attention to the contemporary state of ecclesiastical affairs in the West. It will then be plain, why the Pope evinced so sincere a readiness to take on himself the assembling of the Council, for the union of Churches.
Since the removal of the Papal seat to Avignon (1308), the Western Church was disturbed by many violent commotions, which led to the so-called "great schism" (1378-1428). During half a century the Church of the West was divided between two Popes, of whom one remained in Italy, and the other resided in France. The Popes and anti-Popes by leveling anathemas at each other caused great disturbances among the clergy and laity: the people arid their rulers were quite at a loss, whom to receive as the lawful rulers of the Church; the party of one Pope persecuted the party of the other, and both used the most unlawful means for augmenting their incomes. It was during these universal commotions, that the monarchs and the clergy of the West became persuaded in the necessity of a reform in this Church, beginning with her head and ending in her members, fully conscious at the same time, that this reform must be made by means of an Ecumenical Council, and not by the Popes themselves. Thus, the Western Church by a series of calamities returned to the old persuasion, however opposed it might have been to that of the Popes, that the only visible, universal authority, must be, without exception, that of the Ecumenical Councils. So that at the beginnings of the fifteenth century Councils were convened in the West, which claiming to themselves the title of Ecumenical also claimed the right of judging the Popes, and with unequal success set about reforming the many abuses caused in the Church by Papal avarice and ambition.
The refusal (contrary to their own promise, and the requests of the Emperors and Bishops) of Gregory XII chosen Pope by the Italian Cardinals, and of Pope Benedict XII then at Avignon, to surrender their claims to the Papal chair, was followed by the Council of Pisa, which being convened against them, transferred the Papal tiara to Alexander V, branding them with the name of schismatics, heretics, and perjurers. But this election, far from quieting the disturbances in the Church, only served to augment her calamities by the addition of a new Pope. On the death of Alexander, John XXIII continued anathematizing his rivals — Gregory and Benedict. At last the Council of Constance wishing (1414) to put an end to all disturbances, solemnly proclaimed that "this Ecumenical Council has received immediate authority from our Lord Jesus Christ; and every member of the Church, not excepting the Pope, must obey the Council in all matters pertaining to faith, the putting down of schism and ecclesiastical reform. If, contrary to this canon, the Pope or any one else refuses to receive this, or any other Ecumenical Council, he shall be sentenced to penance, and when necessary be even visited with legal punishment." This decree was enforced on John XXIII; he was sentenced to be deprived of the Papal chair. He was succeeded by Otho Colonna, who took the name of Martin V ( Nov. 11, 1417 ). The Council next betook itself to the reform of the Church, though in reality it limited itself to a very few changes, as the Pope would not allow any serious alteration to be made, managing to postpone the settling of the general demands from one Council to another. Thus in the lifetime of the same Pope Martin, the Council of Constance was successively followed by that of Pavia, (1423), Sienna, (1424), with no better success, and lastly, by that of Basle (1431), which was so much dreaded by Martin’s successor, Eugenius IV.
It was at this very period of time, when the Papal authority had received so severe a check from the schism, when the former conviction of the infallibility and absolute power of the Pope had lost its force and made way for the opinion, that the authority of Ecumenical Councils was greater than that of the Pope; then it was, that the Popes, fearful of entirely losing their power over the Church, and unable to contend with the prevalent spirit of reform, joyfully acceded to the Emperor’s proposal of the union of Churches, the more readily as this union seemed very likely to be of service in sustaining their now tottering power. They might well expect to become the Supreme rulers of the whole Christian world, and then to be able to destroy with ease all the reformers of the West, as soon as the union of Churches should be attained at an Ecumenical Council.
Thus the Council, at which it was purposed to bring about the union of Churches, offered great advantages both to the Emperor and the Pope.
2. Negotiations Between the Emperors with the Popes of Rome and the
Council of Basle.
The negotiations between Constantinople and Rome concerning the union of Churches began in the lifetime of the Emperor, Manuel Palaeologus. Pope Martin V, influenced by the Greek legate Eudaemon, had most graciously accepted the Emperor’s proposal, and sent letters to him and the patriarch Joseph, elected patriarch from Metropolitan of Ephesus (1416). The Constantinopolitans found tokens of the Pope’s disposition to peace in the fact that he styled the Patriarch brother; that he gave his consent to the marriage of two princesses of the Roman faith, with John and Theodore the Emperor’s sons; and lastly, that he sent indulgences for those about to defend the newly erected fortifications in Morea. The Emperor and the Patriarch returned thanks to the Pope for his interest in the proposed union of Churches, noticing at the same time, that in their opinion an Ecumenical Council offered the only means of restoring peace to the Church. This Council, said they, free from external influence, and avoiding unnecessary disputes, could well investigate the causes of disagreement between the Churches, and as soon as its decision, founded on the doctrine taught by the ancient Fathers of the Church, should be sincerely and unanimously received, then could the union take place. To this the Emperor subjoined a petition for aid against the Turks. Martin published a bull, inviting all European monarchs to join in the extirpation of the Turks, at the same time ordering his Bishops to preach a crusade against them (July 10,1420); appointed the Cardinal of S. Angelohis legate in Constantinople, with instructions to treat about the peace, and then in order to meet the expenses of the proposed Council demanded pecuniary aid from the Archbishops of Cologne, Mayence, and Treves.
On receiving from Constantinople the sudden news, that the Turks had made several movements hindering the convocation of a Council, the Pope delayed his projected plans, and sent his nuncio, Antonio Massana, to make some preliminary arrangements as to the place and time of the Council, and the conditions under which the union might take place. The Emperor received the nuncio very graciously (Sept. 16, 1422), and had already named the day for treating on the conditions, when all of a sudden he was taken to his bed, struck by a fit of apoplexy, and was thus obliged to entrust all State affairs to his son John.
After much delay, Antonio managed at length to lay the Papal demands first before the Emperor, and then before the Patriarch, in the presence of the other Bishops. The nuncio declared, that the Pope heartily wished for the union, demanding only that the Emperor should, according to his promise, receive the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and obey it; that the Pope is agreeable to a convocation of a Council, but wishes to know when and where it will be convened. In answer to this unexpected demand, a letter was sent from Constantinople, stating, that the Emperor gave no unconditional consent to the union, but only promised to convene a Council like unto the seven Ecumenical Councils, and assent to all the decisions of the Fathers, made by them under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Emperor fixed upon Constantinople for the Council, but could not determine the time of its session, as the town was then threatened by the Turks. In the end of his letter, the Emperor on his part demanded that the Pope should oblige all the Christian monarchs of Europe to declare war against the unbelievers.
The Pope laid the Emperor’s answer before the Council convened first at Pavia, and then removed to Sienna, for settling the affairs of the Western Church. But as this same Council was soon after broken up by Martin, who feared its decision might prove unfavorable to him, the project of union remained without any results at all.
In the meantime, John, who looked upon the union as the only means for bettering the condition of his empire, made his way to Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, and tried his utmost to incline him to a war against the Turks. Sigismund, who was then himself warring with the Hussites, simply advised John to bring on the union as soon as possible.
Acting upon this advice, and true to the promise given to the Pope, through the nuncio, John, on his return from Hungary, renewed his negotiations with Rome concerning the Council; but this time the legates found their former proposition of assembling the Council at Constantinople strenuously opposed by the Pope. The Cardinals, with strange assurance, told them, that "the Church of Rome is the mother, the Eastern Church the daughter; it is not usual for the mother to go to the daughter, but the daughter to go to the mother -" and then demanded the convocation of the Council in Italy. To keep his part of the compact, the Pope promised to send ships and an army to defend the town of Constantinople, and pay the Greeks 100,000 florins to cover the expenses of their journey to the Council, and living during its session. The Greek legates refused to accede to such a proposal without the Emperor’s consent. To give more force to his demand, the Pope sent back with them his own legate Andrew, Archbishop of Colossus, who, born a Greek, had afterwards joined the Church of Rome. At first the Emperor apparently consented to go to Italy; but after asking the Patriarch’s advice, he retracted his words, and dismissed the Papal legate without any answer, at the same time sending his general, Jagaris, and Macarius, the Protosyncellus, with a note to the Pope, the contents of which, Syropulus writes, as well as the Pope’s answer to it, are unknown to us.
Day by day the relations of the empire to the Sultan were becoming more and more embarrassing. In April, 1430, he took Thessalonica by force of arms; in October Joannina was also his conquest. Harassed on all sides, the Emperor was brought to the necessity of acceding to the Papal demands. He forthwith sent an embassy to Rome, with his consent to Martin’s proposal.
The Patriarch, though in public he agreed to the Emperor’s wish, and obediently to his will asked the Pope’s consent and aid to the union of Churches, nevertheless, in private, when in company with the more intimate of his Clergy, told them that he would on no account go to the Council in Italy. "To be paid by the Pope," said he, "means, to recognize his authority over myself. And how shall a hireling slave refuse obedience to his master? Think, also, what state shall we be in, if, once in a strange land, we meet with a refusal to pay our expenses and give us the means of returning home And why not convoke a Council here in Constantinople? Those who come here from the West will be in no need of our help. If even 100,000 aspres were required, they might easily be collected from the Bishops. The Russian Metropolitan alone will bring as much to the Emperor, who can well spare 20,000 out of it; as much can be obtained from the Archbishops of Georgia and Servia; the Eastern Patriarchs can give 2,000, or at least 1,000 florins; our rich folk will readily give 1,000 each, some 600, others 300 and 100 aspres." So thought the Patriarch; but the Emperor had other plans.
The legates came to Rome only in time to be present at Martin’s death-bed, (Feb. 20, 1431). He was succeeded by Eugenius IV, (March 3,1431). In his letter to the Emperor and Patriarch, the new Pope agreed to assemble a Council in Italy, but evinced no great energy in its cause. The Greeks were very much offended with several of his expressions, and rather troubled with some demands not mentioned to them by Martin. Eugenius was also put into a very perplexing position, as the sums collected by Martin for the assembling of the Council had been embezzled by his relations, so that Eugenius was obliged to enter into open war with them
But very soon the Council of Basle made the Pope more attentive to the scheme of the union of Churches, and induced him to lay aside his pride and arrogance while in intercourse with the Emperors of the East.
Eugenius soon after the opening of the Council of Basle, (July 23, 1431) noticed that the Council intended to act in the same spirit of independence from the Pope, as its predecessor the Council of Constance. This determined him to close the Council, (Dec. 18, 1431) and fix upon another one at Bologna, to be held in a year and a half’s time, under plea that the Greeks had promised to come to Italy for the union. But the Council of Basle, backed by the Emperor Sigismund’s authority and the interest of all the German princes, and France, gave the Pope a very decisive answer, stating, that the Council does not intend changing its place of convocation, or finishing its business in hand, but rather means to set itself to the extirpation of heresies, the amelioration of morals, and restoration of peace; and hopes at the same time that Pope Eugenius will favour the Council opened under his own auspices and those of his predecessor. At the same time, the Council confirmed the Constance decree respecting the submission of every person, the Pope included, to the authority of the Council; demanded the Pope’s appearance at it; threatening, in case of his refusal, to judge him according to the laws of the Church. The Pope, at one time fearing decisive steps on the part of the Council, at another oppressed by his discontented subjects, who compelled him to fly from Rome, was obliged to accede to the demands of the Fathers of Basle (Dec. 15, 1433), and sent his plenipotentiaries to sit at the Council.
During these disputes the Council had, of its own accord, opened negotiations with the Greek Emperor; for Andrew, Archbishop of Colossus, sent by the Pope to negotiate with the Council had persuaded its members that the Greeks sincerely desired the union of the Churches.
Having sent Anthony, a Bishop, and Albertus, a Doctor, to Constantinople, the Council invited the Greeks to join, bringing forward, as an inducement to them, the superiority of the Council’s authority to that of the Pope, and its better ableness to bring about the union; showing also that many kings, and even the Emperor Sigismund, sided with it, and that therefore there were more hopes of aid for the Greeks from the Council than from the Pope, whose glory was fast ebbing away.
The Emperor John, notwithstanding he had already begun negotiating with Eugenius, assented to the advantageous proposals of the Council and sent his ambassadors to Basle with letters from himself and the Patriarch, authorizing them to agree to anything decided upon by the Council, with their consent, and conducive to the peace of the Churches. Among these ambassadors was Isidore, hegumen of the monastery of S. Demetrius, and afterwards Metropolitan of Russia.
Eugenius, on learning of the Emperor’s embassy to the Council, contrary to his former plan, informed the Emperor of his readiness to convene a Council in Constantinople. One. can explain such a change in Eugenius’s tactics by supposing that he could not part with his idea of breaking up the Council, notwithstanding he was then at peace with it. The present circumstances seemed very opportune for his plans Unaware what success his negotiations with the Council of Basle would meet with, the Emperor consented to the Pope’s proposal, informing the Council of such a step on his part.
In the meantime the Emperor’s ambassadors at Basle, after a long deliberation with the Council deputies, entered into a treaty with them (Sept. 17, 1434). They declared, that (1) if the Council for the union of Churches is to be convoked at Constantinople, all the expenses connected with it will be paid by the Emperor; in the contrary case, the Western Church must aid the Greeks (2). The Council may be convoked, besides Constantinople, in Calabria, in Milan, or Ancona, or in any other seaport town; in Bologna, or some other Italian town; out of Italy, in Vienna, Buda, or in Savoy. (3). The ambassadors promised that the Emperor, Patriarch, and other necessary persons would come to the Council. On hearing these conditions, the Council agreed to take upon itself the expenses necessary for the maintenance and journey to Constantinople and back of the Emperor and Bishops; promised to send a fleet and army to defend Constantinople in the absence of the Emperor; showed readiness to convene the Council in any of the above-mentioned places except Constantinople itself; and lastly, promised the Pope’s consent to all these conditions. To have this treaty ratified by the Emperor, three members of the Clergy were sent to Constantinople — John of Ragusa, Henry Manger, and Simon Freyron, who brought the Greeks 8,000 florins to prepare with for the journey.
Christopher, the Papal legate, arrived at the same time as the ambassadors of Basle; for the Council, on coming to know of the agreement made between the Pope and the Emperor, had represented to the Pope how contrary to the honour of the Emperor, Pope, and Council it was to break treaties solemnly made; how great a danger threatened Constantinople, surrounded as it was by the Turks. Eugenius, though in his epistle to the Council of Basle (Feb. 22, 1435) he insisted on the opening of the Council in Constantinople, had sent off his own plenipotentiary with the legates from Basle, who was ordered to confirm all the decisions made by the Council; but in reality secret instructions were given him by the Pope, to hinder the Council as much as possible, to disconcert its relations to the Greeks, and principally to work upon the aged Patriarch, who of all was most inclined for the assembling of the Council in Constantinople.
On coming to the Emperor’s presence, the ambassadors of Basle endeavoured to persuade him to convene the Council in Basle instead of any of the other places mentioned. The Emperor inclined to their proposal. But before giving his full consent, he formed a committee of clergy and laymen to look over the treaty, or rather the decree of the Council of Basle.
In the very beginning of the decree, amongst many other strange expressions, there was one as follows: "The Fathers are assembled at the Ecumenical Council (of Basle) to extirpate the newly risen heresy of the Bohemians (Hussites) and the ancient heresy of the Greeks" Great was the astonishment of the Orthodox on reading these words, insulting to all the Church, and instantly it was demanded, that these words should either be omitted or corrected. The ambassadors pleaded as an excuse, that the words so offensive to the Greeks were owing to the fault of the writer of the decree, and even tried to put all the blame on the Greeks themselves, as they had heard the decree read at the Council, and might then have demanded the correction of expressions unpleasant to them. At last it was decided to make a new preface to the decree, and send it over to Basle to receive the Council seal. The other parts of the treaty were received without a word. As to the place for the Council, that was to be fixed upon as soon as the Greeks should be ready to start.
The ratification of all these things by the Pope’s legate was the next thing demanded. After many vain efforts to avoid a decisive answer, the legate told the Greeks, that he had the Pope’s authority to ratify, and did ratify all arrangements made until that time, and as a proof of his words showed the Council the Papal decree, which indeed authorized him to act as he did.
Thus the decree was copied and sent to Basle with the letters from the Emperor, his brother Constantine, and the Patriarch (Nov. 1435), containing besides the former conditions, a new demand of the Pope’s personal appearance at the Council, as the Head of the Latin Church and the West
The following year the revised decree was sent from Basle with the Council seal. The Emperor began to assemble the Bishops. Legates with letters and presents were sent into different provinces of the Eastern Church. The holy Fathers began to assemble in Constantinople. Georgia sent two Bishops and a royal minister; Trebizond sent a Metropolitan and a legate; the Metropolitan of Moldovlachia also arrived with his suite. Isidore, a short time before this ordained Metropolitan of Russia, was ordered on his departure for Moscow to arrange affairs, so as for Russia also to take part in the union of Churches, and to bring Russian legates and Bishops back with him to Constantinople. An embassy was also sent to the despot of Servia, but neither letter, nor legate was ever received from him. The envoys sent to the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, brought back letters from them, in which the Patriarchs, though refusing to appear personally at the Council, at the same time named their representatives. The Alexandrian Patriarch chose Antony Metropolitan of Heraclea, and Marcus Eugenicus, then as yet a plain monk; the Patriarch of Antioch chose Joasaph of Ephesus, and the Emperor’s confessor, Gregory; the Patriarch of Jerusalem named Dionysius of Sardis, and the Russian Metropolitan Isidore. All these appointments were made under the direction of the envoy, conformably with the Emperor’s wish, and even without any preliminary consent of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
In the γράμματα given to the Patriarchal vicars (επiτροποι) the Patriarchs authorized them to give their consent only to such things as were conformable with the rules of the Councils and the writings of the fathers. Such conditions were anything but agreeable to John the envoy from Basle, and the Emperor; they were found to be too mean for the patriarchal vicars, as limiting too much their liberty of action. The Emperor demanded that the Patriarch should send new instructions writing them in a form already sent to them. The demand was complied with, and besides this, the Patriarchs changed some of the appointments.
Having dismissed the envoys to the Eastern Fathers, the Emperor informed the Pope of his readiness to start for the Council with the Patriarch and clergy. Another envoy was dispatched to the Fathers of Basle with a demand, that the promised galleys should be sent to Constantinople by the autumn.
In the mean time the Emperor assembled a council of the most illustrious nobles out of the clergy and laity, well known for their learning, and bade them enter into some preliminary discussions about the approaching dispute with the Latins. Cantacuzene, one of the highest nobles in the empire, and a strict upholder of Orthodoxy, said, that the first subject for the Council ought to be the addition to the symbol of faith, as one of the principal points in dispute between the Churches. Georgius Scholarius, the most learned man of his time, gave his advice, remarking, that, in order to reconcile the Churches, the Council must carefully investigate the disputed doctrine, and confirm it with the clear and incontrovertible words of the Church Teachers. Should the Emperor seek the union from political views, then there is no need of troubling many persons; two or three envoys alone could very well end the affair. The Emperor himself was far from wishing the Greeks to give way to the Latins without any dispute. For this reason it was determined to look over the works of the former defenders of Orthodoxy, written during their disputes with the Latins, and especially the works of Nilus Cavasilas. It was also intended to send to Mount Athos for some of the old books, but these were never received. Lastly, came the discussion as to the persons fit to be sent to the Council, among whom was one Nilus Tarchaniotes; but the Emperor fearing that Nilus, being a monk, would be too firm in his opinions, and thus spoil the whole affair, would not agree to send him.
In the meantime great disturbances were going on at Basle between the members of the Council, who could not agree as to where the Synod should be assembled, and found the proposed sum insufficient for paying the Greeks the expenses of their voyage and stay. A final rupture between them and the Pope was the result. The greater part of the Council resolved to hold a Council at Basle, and in case of the Greeks disagreeing to this, — at Avignon or some city in Savoy; to cover expenses, — indulgences were liberally promised to those who would materially aid the holy cause of the union, and a tithe was to be collected from the Western Clergy. Nevertheless the ambassador who arrived from Constantinople with the news of the Greeks’ readiness to start for the Council (Feb. 7,1437) opposed the plan of assembling the Council either at Basle or at Avignon, as these towns were not named in the Emperor’s treaty with the Council; he would not even agree to any town in Savoy for the Council, though that was named in the treaty, under the plea, that the Greeks applied this name not to the province itself, but to the towns belonging to the Duke of Savoy in Italy. The Pope also, ever aiming at the dissolution of the Council of Basle, sent his Legate there announcing his disapproval both of the places named for the Council session, and of the means for collecting money for the Greeks. On the 7th of May, 1437, ballot was resorted to, in order to put an end to all dissension, two-thirds of the members voting for the former towns, and the rest for Florence or Udino. Both parties wrote down their votes, which were read in the Cathedral, and the Council seal was then affixed to the decision carried by the majority of votes. It was then that the weaker party had recourse to a very uncreditable action: in the night the Council seal was carried off and affixed to their own decision. The Pope, availing himself of all these disturbances, ratified the decision of the weaker party, favourable to his own views (29th June), though afterwards he changed his mind and fixed upon Ferrara for the Council. Meanwhile the discontented members leaving Basle sided with the Pope. Among them was Julian Caesarini, who, in after time, played a prominent part in the acts of the Ferraro-Florentine Council.
In order to anticipate the arraignments of the Council of Basle, the Pope sent off some galleys with a legate to Constantinople, and three Bishops inviting the Emperor and Greek Bishops to a Council in Italy. The Emperor’s arrival in Italy was an event of great importance to the Pope. As the Council of Basle had promised that the Pope should, as a matter of course, take part in the union of Churches, and Eugenius himself would have nothing to do with the Council, it became very evident that the Council would soon pass its judgment against him, and elect another Pope.
The legate declared that the Pope had made peace with the fathers of the Council; that the Council was dissolved, and another was to be convened in Italy. At the same time, a learned Greek, George of Trebizond, who then lived in the West and was a son of the Latin Church, wrote to the Emperor, and assured him that during the distorted condition of the Western Church — during the contests between the Pope and the Council — the appearance of the Emperor in Italy on the Pope’s side would of itself alone terminate all disputes.
The Emperor had already. given orders for all appointed to attend the Council — to get ready for the voyage. But twenty days had scarcely elapsed since the arrival of the Papal ships, when suddenly the galleys promised by the Council of Basle entered the Bosphorus. The rivals would have engaged each other in a naval fight, if the Emperor had not restrained them. The Papal legates and those of Basle spared neither efforts nor money to press the Greeks to their separate views. But soon the real state of Western affairs became evident to the Greeks, and made them still more puzzled which party to join. The Legates of Basle declared that peace had been, and was at the time impossible between the Council and the Pope. One of them, a long resident in Constantinople, advised the Patriarch, as a friend, not to go either to Basle or to Italy. Many of the Bishops inclined the Emperor to the same step. Even Sigismund sent a courier to Constantinople, persuading the Emperor to delay the union of Churches for a time, until the internal dissentions in the Western Church came to an end. Lastly, Sultan Murad counseled the Emperor to rely more on the stability of an alliance with him than with the Latins. But, notwithstanding all these counsels and advises, the Emperor, rejecting the proposals of the Council of Basle, determined to sail for Italy in the galleys of Rome.
3. Departure of the Greeks for the Council and their Arrival in Ferrara.
As soon as the voyage to Italy was decided upon, the Patriarch chose the Bishops who were to accompany him to the Council. They were twenty-two in number, including those sent from Trebizond, Georgia, and Moldavia, viz.: — Mark, Metropolitan of Ephesus; Dorotheus of Trebizond; Antony of Heraclea; Metrophanes of Cyzicus, Bessarion of Sardis, Macarius of Nicomedia, Dionysius of Sardis; and the Metropolitans of Ternovo, Monemvasia, Lacedaemon, Amasia, Mitylene, Stauropolis, Moldovlachia, Rhodes, Melenicus, Drama Joannina, Silistria, Anchialus, and Georgia, with one Bishop. At the same time the Patriarchal γράμματα were given to the Vicars, in whose election some changes were made. The Metropolitan of Heraclea was appointed Vicar of the Patriarchate of Alexandria; the Emperor’s Chaplain, Gregory, with the Russian Metropolitan, of the Patriarchate of Antioch; the Metropolitan of Ephesus and Sardis of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
First in learning, firmness of character, and orthodoxy among the Greek Bishops, was Mark, Metropolitan of Ephesus. A native of Constantinople, he, in his youth, received an education suitable to his age, and especially gave himself up to theological studies and the practice of eloquence. He was Principal of the Constantinopolitan school, and acquired so great a reputation for his sermons, that many persons from other provinces often asked him to write a sermon for such and such a festival. Belonging to the κλήρος of the great Constantinopolitan Church, he chose to seclude himself from the world and entered the Monastery of Mangana. Here, in a lonely cell, invisible even to his relations, he made the study of the Holy Scriptures and the Works of the Fathers the exclusive and favourite study of his mind and heart. This was how Mark came to acquire a thorough knowledge of the principles of the Orthodox Faith. His clear, disciplined mind quickly saw the errors of the enemies of Orthodoxy, and found a ready apology for the truth; his deep religious feeling sustained him in the contest, and he would sooner die than turn traitor to the truth.
Bessarion, like Mark, was also one of the most learned men of his time. Well versed in theological science, he at the same time evinced such facilities of speech, that even the Greeks avowed his superiority in this respect over their favourite, Mark. Besides these qualities, he had acquired renown among his contemporaries for being a subtle philosopher and warm defender of Plato. He was the favourite of the Emperor John Palaeologus, who sought his advice on nearly everything, when about to depart for the Council. But failings he had also: that firmness of character, that pure and incorruptible love of the truth, that soundness in the development of ideas, — traits so characteristic in Mark, — were not to be found in Bessarion. His egotism was likely to make him very soon break his friendship with one who was evidently becoming his rival. This is why Bessarion could never be a trusty coadjutor of Mark, in a cause to join which he was called upon by the Emperor.
Joseph, the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose high rank made him an influential person in the Council, proved by his administration that he was hardly equal to his office in the Church and the circumstances of the time. Old, weak, and undecided, he allowed himself to be influenced by the laity in nearly every step he took, and, as a matter of course, could not successfully defend the Orthodox party of the Council against the attacks of a strong opposition. At times, it is true, he showed a sincere desire of guarding Orthodoxy from her enemies; but sound faculties and firmness of character were wanting in him, to enable him to enter into an open contest with these enemies. While nourishing hopes of success and glory among his posterity, he had always a ready answer in case of unsuccess: "If even," he used to say, "the Latins force us to something, we will always keep to the sound doctrine of the Fathers. Let them threaten us with tortures; we will sooner suffer any pain than turn traitors to anything received by us from the Ecumenical Councils and the holy teachers of the Church: we will either be martyrs in deed, or martyrs in will." But time proved Joseph false to his own words.
Six spiritual lords of the great Constantinopolitan Church were to accompany the Patriarch to the Council, in the capacity of his councilors. Among them was the great Ecclesiarch, Syropulus, author of the history of this Council; also three hegumens, the Emperor’s lower chaplain, three monks (hieromonachs), and several members of the clergy. Gregory the emperors chaplain, called Mammas, possessing particular rights as vicar, first of the Patriarch of Antioch, and then of Alexandria, closely attached to the Emperor, was nevertheless incapable of using his rights to advantage in the cause of the Church. His character — mean, irritable, without any set rules of conduct, and at the same time egotistical — repelled every one who came into contact with him, and made him an object of universal hate. It really is astonishing how such a man could creep into the confidence of the Emperor, a man always so cautious and prudent.
Many laymen also accompanied the Emperor to Italy. Besides the Emperor’s brother, Demetrius, the despot, several court officers and learned men also joined the Imperial suite. High in the list of these persons, on account of his great knowledge of theology and philosophy, stood George Scholarius. Enjoying the confidence and good-will of John, he was at the same time on friendly terms with Mark of Ephesus, his teacher. The celebrated though aged philosopher, Gemistes Pletho, was also taken to the Council. His advice was sought by the Emperor at the beginning of negotiations with the Church of Rome. In the Council he was a warm defender of orthodoxy, and at the same time revived in the Florentines a love for Plato’s philosophy, by his animated lectures on that subject while in Florence.
November 27th, 1437, the Emperor, Patriarch, and other members of the clergy and laity, after many Te Deums in the great Church of Constantinople and the monastery of the Hodigetria, set out of their voyage..
In the meantime Pope Eugenius, on the 18th of October in the same year, published a bull, in which it was said, that for the more advantageous union of the Churches and the bettering of Church affairs, brought by the Council of Basle into a condition worse than their former one, a Council was about to be convened in Ferrara, and that all the cardinals, bishops, and abbots are to remove immediately from Basle to Ferrara, to discuss ecclesiastical affairs. Nicholas Albergati, Cardinal of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, at the Pope’s commission came to Ferrara with several bishops (Jan. 8,1438), and opened the Council. When Eugenius himself arrived with his cardinals to the second sitting of the Council (Feb. 14), there were already more than seventy bishops present. Then was read the Papal bull, excommunicating all present at the Council of Basle, degrading all the members of the clergy and laity from their respective ranks, and bidding the city magistrates expel all the Fathers of the Council from Basle, and that too in the course of a month, under pain of excommunication.
The Council of Basle for its own part (in the sittings of October 12, 1437, and January 24, and March 24, in 1438) declared the Council of Ferrara and all its acts illegal; and after many invitations to Eugenius to come to Basle, excommunicated him, and finally demanded that all the bishops assembled in Ferrara should, in the course of a month, come to Basle, under pain of ecclesiastical punishment for disobedience. Thus arose a new dissension in the Western Church; and what was still worse, it was caused by those very persons who took upon themselves the duty of reconciling the Church of the East with their own.
On the arrival of the Greeks at Venice, the Pope first sent Nicholas Albergati and then Julian Caesarini, inviting the Emperor and Patriarch to Ferrara. Here, again, the Greeks questioned themselves, whether to go to Basle or to Ferrara. The Doge of Venice advised them to wait for the arrival of a new embassy from Basle. On the other hand, the Legate Christopher did his utmost to prevail upon the Emperor and Patriarch to join the Pope, more than once betaking himself to presents and the most eloquent persuasions. At last the Greeks fell into his snares. The three weeks spent in Venice acted so beneficially on most of the Greeks, and even on some of the bishops, that they called it the promised land. Here was another dangerous rock for the future defenders of orthodoxy! Comparing the miserable state of their own empire, then nearly overpowered by the Turks, with the luxury, liberty, and comforts of Western life, the weaker Greeks were easily tempted to a peace, promising much for their earthly welfare.
At Francolino, a village situated at about an hour and a half s ride from Ferrara, the Emperor was met by the Papal legate, the city governor, and other town officials. The next day (March 4) the Emperor, accompanied by his suite, the Pope’s bishops and the officials of Ferrara, made his solemn entry into the town. The Pope, with the cardinals, bishops, and abbots, awaited him in the palace. On the Emperor’s entrance the Pope arose, embraced him, and giving him his hand, which the Emperor kissed, seated him beside himself. After a private conversation, the Emperor retreated to the palace prepared for him.
The Patriarch arrived at Ferrara later than the Emperor. As soon as Joseph neared Francolino, a magnificent galley was sent out for him, and brought him to land with the bishops and the rest of the clergy. The next day the Emperor informed the Patriarch that the Pope expected him to bend his knees before him, and kiss his shoe. This was a sad blow for the Patriarch, who little expected such a welcome from his brother in Christ. While at Venice, he said to one in the Pope’s confidence: "If the Pope is older than I am, I will respect him as a father; if my equal in age, I shall look upon him as my brother; if younger, he shall be as a son to me." In the afternoon six bishops were sent to congratulate Joseph on his arrival, and demand the usual obeisance to the Pope. The Patriarch told the bishops straightforwardly that he could only consent to a brotherly embrace; and, assembling his bishops, indignantly told them of the papal demand. The Metropolitan of Trebizond reminded him that he was advised, while in Venice, to think upon the subject carefully; but then his answer was, that the Pope would receive all with honour and respect. The Metropolitan of Heraclea declared, that he and the Metropolitan of Monemvasia, when presented to the Pope, did not kiss his shoes, and cared very little for his anger. Meanwhile, the Emperor sent another messenger, saying, that he was still disputing with the Pope as to the means of preserving the Patriarch’s dignity. Joseph made the following answer to the bishops sent a second time to him by the Pope: "Tell me, why does the Pope appropriate such privileges to himself? What Council, what Church canon has confirmed this custom? If the Pope is the successor of the Apostle Peter, we are the successors of the other Apostles. And did the other Apostles kiss Peter’s feet? Who has ever heard of this?" The legates answered that the custom was of ancient date, and that bishops, kings, the Emperor of Germany, and even the Cardinals, who are higher than the Emperor, remain true to it. But the Patriarch with great decision kept to his former demand of a brotherly welcome from the Pope, promising, in case of refusal, not to land, or let any of his bishops do so either. At last the Pope acquiesced to Joseph’s demand, pretending a sincere desire for peace.
On the 8th of March, four cardinals, about twenty-five bishops, the city governor, with many court officers, came to the Patriarch, and early in the morning accompanied his with his clergy to the papal palace. The Pope, to conceal his forced humility from the people, would not give the Eastern fathers a solemn audience, but received them in his cell. On the entrance of the Patriarch, with six Metropolitans, Eugenius arose, and gave him a brotherly kiss. The rest of the bishops next came up, six at a time, and kissed the Pope’s hand and right cheek. During the presentation of the Greeks, the Patriarch alone sat on a low stool, to the left of the Pope, behind the legate Christopher, who acted as an interpreter: the other bishops remained standing. The same day the Patriarch asked the Pope’s permission to officiate in the liturgy according to the rites of the Greek Church.
4. Opening of the Council in Ferrara. Private Disputes on Purgatory.
The arrangement of seats for the members of the Council in the cathedral of S. George was also the subject of many disputes. The Latins wished the Papal throne to be erected in the center of the church, and the Latin and Greek Bishops to take their places at the right and left side of the throne. On meeting with a refusal in this from the Greeks, the Latins determined to move the Papal throne to the right aisle, and there construct places for the Latin Bishops, leaving the opposite side for the Emperor, Patriarch, and the other Greeks. Next to the Papel seat, and throne was created for the Emperor of Germany; then followed the seats for the Cardinals and Bishops. On the left hand side a similar throne was constructed for the Greek Emperor; next to him a throne for the Patriarch and seats for the Eastern Bishops. In the center of the church a separate place was left for the speakers, or those, who were to enter into dispute with each other. But even then the Greeks experienced much that was unpleasant. The Papal throne differed a good deal, not only from the Patriarch’s, but even the Emperor’s throne, by being more elevated and of richer material. The Patriarch complained. The Emperor simply remarked, that there was nothing but worldly vanity in the arrangement of the Council, contrary to the rules of the Church.
Desiring to put in order the affairs of the Empire with the aid of the Western monarchs, John expressed his wish to the Pope, that not only the Western Bishops should preside at the Council, but also the sovereigns of Europe, or at least their representatives. The Pope at first refused to comply with the Emperor’s wish, seeing an impediment for it in the different wars and dissensions between the different kingdoms of Europe; but at the Emperor’s urgent request, he promised to send his legate to the Kings and Princes of Europe with invitations to the Council. On this account the discussions on doctrinal subjects were put off for the space of four months. But in order not to lose time, the Pope, with the Emperor’s consent, determined on opening the Council to entice a few Bishops from Basle by letting them know of the opening of the Council, gain over the general opinion and thus strengthen the worker party. According to the Popes arraignment, delegates from both sides were to occupy themselves during these four months with private discussions on subjects of disagreement between the Greeks and Latins.
At the same time, the Emperor with great difficulty persuaded the Pope to allow the Greeks money for their maintenance, instead of the daily rations of food they were receiving like beggars, quite contrary to the agreements made in the treaty. Generally speaking, the Greeks made constant complaints about this during the whole time of the Council session in Ferrara and Florence. The Pope found this the best way of making the Greeks obedient. For whenever the Greeks refused to comply with any of his wishes, he immediately stopped their pay, so that many of the Bishops were obliged to sell their clothes. But as soon as the Greeks agreed to his proposals, their wages were immediately given out as a sort of reward for their obedience. So it was at this very time. As long as the Greeks disputed about the Council seats, no money was given them. But when the disputes were ended, their monthly allowance was paid out.
A short time before the opening of the Council, new changes took place in the appointments of the vicars of Patriarchs. Gregory the chaplain was appointed second vicar of the Patriarch of Alexandria, together with the Metropolitan of Heraclea, and Mark of Ephesus, Vicar of Antioch with the Russian Isidore. It seems very evident, that the Emperor wished by means of these changes, to find in case of need among these representatives of the Patriarch at least one on his own side. With this object in view he appointed Gregory and Isidore, persons both very weak in character, together with the firm defenders of Orthodoxy — Antony of Heraclea and Mark of Ephesus. Dionysius the vicar of the Patriarch of Jerusalem was then ill and died soon after the opening of the Council. Ash Wednesday, the 9th of April, was fixed upon by the Pope for the opening of the Council, The Patriarch refused to be present under plea of illness, but gave his consent to the opening.
The Pope was the first to enter the cathedral, and immediately sat down on his throne in the northern aisle. After him came the Emperor, with his brother, the patriarchal vicars, and the Bishops, with the lower orders of the clergy, and sat down opposite to the Pope. The Latin Church was represented by eight Cardinals, a great number of Bishops and lower clergy. On a desk in the center of the church before the altar, the gospel was placed, and on its sides the statues of S. Peter and S. Paul.1 As soon as silence was enforced, the Pope exclaimed: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!" Some psalms were then sung, and prayers said, after which the Greek Archdeacon read the patriarchal decree inviting all to take part in the Council. "All the higher orders of the clergy, kings, and princes," the decree said, "are to send their vicars and ambassadors, if not able to come themselves. Whosoever will not come to the appointed time, and afterwards will not receive the decrees of this Council, shall be excommunicated from the Church." The Papal decree was then read, relative to the opening of an Ecumenical Council in Ferrara, and then this first short sitting was closed by hymns.
The Pope sent copies of this decree to the Western monarchs, urging them to dispatch their envoys to the Council. But all the expectations of the Pope proved fruitless. The Council of Basle continued to threaten the Papal throne, and threatened to excommunicate any one who should only dare to go to the Council convoked by the Pope. It is true, that the imperial court on Sigismund’s death, declared that they would neither receive any Council decrees against the Pope, nor those of the Pope against the Council, but that they receive both the Council and the Pope. But not one of the western monarchs either approved of the Council convened by the Pope, or wished to oppose the Council of Basle, and sent no envoys to the Council convoked in Italy. It was only towards the end of the Council sittings at Ferrara, that the envoys of the Duke of Burgundy arrived; on entering the Council they kissed the Pope’s slipper, but showed no marks of respect to the Emperor, behaving just as if he had never been present.
After Easter (April 13) the Pope required the Greeks to commence the private discussions. The Greeks delayed, waiting for the envoys of Basle. But at last, after the Pope had repeated his demands three times, ten persons were chosen from both sides, who were to assemble three times a week in the church of a monastery, to discuss upon the different points of dispute. The Greeks chose from their side — the Metropolitans of Ephesus, Monemvasia, Nicaea, Lacedaemon, Anchialus, and five other members of the Council. The imperial officer Manuel Jagaris, was also ordered to be present. Strict orders were given by the Emperor that only Mark and Bessarion should enter into disputes with the Latins, who were, nevertheless, in case of necessity, to seek counsel from the rest; that nothing was to be said on the more serious points of dispute, and that a report should be made to him at the end of every sitting. Generally speaking, the Emperor wished that the impossibility of reconciling Orthodoxy with the Latin doctrine should not become too evident before he had attained the object in view.
Soon after his arrival in Ferrara, Mark of Ephesus, at the instigation of Cardinal Julian, determined to write a letter of thanks to the Pope for the assembling of the Council; and noticed in it, that if the Church of Rome wishes to finish as well as she has begun, then she must retract her doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost, and not perform the Liturgy in azymes. The Emperor on learning this nearly gave Mark over to the judgment of the Greek Council for daring to express such thoughts to the Latins. And even now, when authorizing the chosen persons to dispute with the Latins, he bade them not reject the Latin opinions simply on account of their disagreeing with the Greek doctrine, but to look upon every question as not yet decided, and then by universal efforts attain its solution, looking upon the opinion of all as final and decisive. The Latins chose for carrying on disputes two cardinals, Julian Caesarini and Nicholas Albergati; Andrew, the Bishop of Colossus or Rhodes; John de Turrecremata; and several other abbots.
In the third sitting of the Council, Julian, after mutual congratulations, showed that the principal points of dispute between the Greeks and Latins were in the doctrine (a) on the procession of the Holy Ghost, (3) on azymes in the Eucharist, (γ) on purgatory, and (δ) on the Papal supremacy; and then asked them which of these subjects was to be discussed first. The Greeks delayed discussing the first point till the opening of the Ecumenical Council, and promised to give a speedy answer about the others as soon as the Emperor’s advice should be heard. The Emperor fixed upon one of the two last subjects to commence discussions upon. The Latins agreed to discuss upon purgatory.
In the fifth sitting (June 4) Cardinal Julian gave the following definition of the Latin doctrine on purgatory: — " From the time of the Apostles," he said, "the Church of Rome has taught, that the souls departed from this world, pure and free from every taint, — namely, the souls of saints, — immediately enter the regions of bliss. The souls of those who after their baptism have sinned, but have afterwards sincerely repented and confessed their sins, though unable to perform the epitimia laid upon them by their spiritual father, or bring forth fruits of repentance sufficient to atone for their sins, these souls are purified by the fire of purgatory, some sooner, others slower, according to their sins; and then, after their purification, depart for the land of eternal bless. The prayers of the priest, liturgies, and deeds of charity conduce much for their purification. The souls of those dead in mortal sin, or in original sin, go straight to punishment.
The Greeks demanded a written exposition of this doctrine. When they received it, Mark of Ephesus and Bessarion of Nice each wrote their remarks on it, which afterwards served as a general answer to the doctrine of the Latins.
When giving in this answer (June 14th), Bessarion explained the difference of the Greek and Latin doctrine on this subject. The Latins, he said, allow that now, and until the day of the last judgment, departed souls are purified by fire, and are thus liberated from their sins; so that, he who has sinned the most will be a longer time undergoing purification, whereas he whose sins are less will be absolved the sooner, with the aid of the Church; but in the future life they allow the eternal, and not the purgatorial fire. Thus the Latins receive both the temporal and the eternal fire, and call the first the purgatorial fire. On the other hand, the Greeks teach of one eternal fire alone, understanding that the temporal punishment of sinful souls consists in that they for a time depart into a place of darkness and sorrow, are punished by being deprived of the Divine light, and are purified — that is, liberated from this place of darkness and woe — by means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, and deeds of charity, and not by fire. The Greeks also believe, that until the union of the souls to the bodies, as the souls of sinners do not suffer full punishment, so also those of the saints do not enjoy entire bliss. But the Latins, agreeing with the Greeks in the first point, do not allow the last one, affirming that the souls of saints have already received their full heavenly reward.
In the following sitting the Latins presented a defense of their doctrine on purgatory. As much as can be concluded from the answer given by the Greeks to it, they tried to prove their doctrine by the words of 2 Mac. 12:42-46, where it is said that Judas Maccabaeus "sent to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering," remarking at the same time "that it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin." They also quoted the words of Jesus Christ, "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (S. Matt. 12:32). But their especial defense was founded on the words of the Apostle S. Paul (1 Cor. 3:11-15): "For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be manifest: for the day shall declare it, for it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." Different extracts were also made by the Latins from, the works of the Eastern Fathers — Basil the Great, Epiphanius of Cyprus, John Damascene, Dionysius the Areopagite, Theodoret, Gregory of Nyssa; and the Western — Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great. They did not also forget to quote the authority of the Church of Rome in defense of their doctrine, and to make use of their usual sophistries.
To all this the Orthodox party gave a clear and satisfactory answer. They remarked, that the words quoted from the book of Maccabees, and our Saviour’s words, can only prove that some sins will be forgiven after death; but whether by means of punishment by fire, or by other means, nothing was known for certain. Besides, what has forgiveness of sins to do with punishment by fire and tortures? Only one of these two things can happen: either punishment or forgiveness, and not both at once.
In explanation of the Apostle’s words, they quoted the commentary of S. John Chrysostom, who, using the word fire, gives it the meaning of an eternal, and not temporary, purgatorial fire; explains the words wood, hay, stubble, in the sense of bad deeds, as food for the eternal fire; the word day, as meaning the day of the last judgment; and the words saved yet so as by fire, as meaning the preservation and continuance of the sinner’s existence while suffering punishment. Keeping to this explanation, they reject the other explanation given by S. Augustine, founded on the words shall be saved, which he understood in the sense of bliss, and consequently gave quite another meaning to all this quotation. "It is very right to suppose, wrote the Orthodox teachers, "that the Greeks should understand Greek words better than foreigners. Consequently, if we cannot prove that any one of those saints, who spoke the Greek language, explains the Apostle’s words, written in Greek, in a sense different to that given by the blessed John, then surely we must agree with the majority of these Church celebrities" The expressions σωθηναι, σωζεσθε, and σωτηρια used by heathen writers, mean in our language continuance, existence (διαμενειν, ειναι). The very idea of the Apostle’s words shows this. As fire naturally destroys, whereas those who are doomed to eternal fire are not destroyed, the Apostle says that they continue in fire, preserving and continuing their existence, though at the same time they are being burned by fire. To prove the truth of such an explanation of these words by the Apostle, (ver. 11, 15) they make the following remarks. The Apostle divides all that is built upon the proposed foundation into two parts, never even hinting of any third, middle part. By gold, silver, and stones, he means virtues by hay, wood, stubble that which is contrary to virtue, i.e., bad works. Your doctrine they continue to tell the Latins, "would perhaps have had some foundation if he ( the Apostle) had divided bad works into two kinds, and had said that one kind is purified by God, and the other worthy of eternal punishment. But he made no such division; simply naming the works entitling man to eternal bliss, i.e., virtues, and those meriting eternal punishment, i.e., sins. After which he says, (Every man’s work shall be made manifest, and shows when this will happen, pointing to that last day, when God will render unto all according to their merits: ‘For the day, he says, ‘shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire. Evidently, this is the day of the second coming of Christ, the coming age, the day so called in a particular sense, or as opposed to the present life, which is but night. This is the day when He will come in glory, and a fiery stream shall precede Him (Dan. 7:10; Ps. 1:3; 97:3; 2 Pet. 3:12,15). All this shows us that S. Paul speaks here of the last day, and of the eternal fire prepared for sinners. ‘This fire, says he, ‘shall try every man’s work of what sort it is, enlightening some works, and burning others with the workers. But when the evil deed will be destroyed by fire, the evil doers will not be destroyed also, but will continue their existence in the fire, and suffer eternally. Whereas then the Apostle does not divide sins here into mortal and venial, but deeds in general into good and bad; whereas the time of this event is referred by him to the final day, as by the Apostle Peter also; whereas, again, he attributes to the fire the power of destroying all evil actions, but not the doors; it becomes evident that the Apostle does not speak of purgatorial fire, which even in your opinion, extends over not all evil actions, but over some of the minor sins. But these words also, ‘If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss,’ (ζημιωθησεται, i.e. shall lose) shows that the Apostle speaks of the eternal tortures; they are deprived of the Divine light: whereas this cannot be spoken of those purified, as you say; for they not only do not lose anything, but even acquire a great deal, by being freed from evil, and clothed in purity and candour."
In answer to the words quoted by the Latins from Basil the Great (in his prayer for Pentecost), Epiphanius, John Damascene, and Dionysius the Areopagite, — the defenders of the orthodox doctrine remarked, that these quotations did not prove anything to the advantage of the Church of Rome. They could not even find the testimony of Theodoret adduced by the Latins. "Only one Father remains, they continued, "Gregory the blessed priest of Nyssa, who, apparently, speaks more to your advantage than any of the other Fathers. Preserving all the respect due to this Father, we cannot refrain from noticing, that he was but a mortal man, and man, however great a degree of holiness he may attain, is very apt to err, especially on such subjects, which have not been examined before or determined upon in a general Council by the Fathers." The orthodox teachers, when speaking of Gregory, more than once restrict their words by the expression: "if such was his idea," and conclude their discussion upon Gregory with the following words: "we must view the general doctrine of the Church, and take the Holy Scripture as a rule for ourselves not paying attention to what each has written in his private capacity (iδια)."
The Eastern teachers said, concerning the testimonies of the Western Fathers, that they were rather ignorant of them, not having any translation in Greek, and tried to excuse them by the circumstances under which they wrote, their misunderstanding the Apostle’s words (1 Cor. 3:11,15), the difficulty of drawing a general conclusion from many circumstances (founded on visions).
As regards the weight of the opinion of the Church of Rome pointed to by the Latins, it was found by the Greeks to be inconsistent with the subject then in hand.
Lastly, to the Latin sophistries, they opposed the more valid conclusions from the principles of the doctrine of Christ, from many works of the Fathers, from the parable of Lazarus, where mention is made of Abraham’ s bosom, — the place of bliss, — and of hell the place of punishment; and nothing is said of any intermediate place for temporal punishments.
The Greek answer was evidently intended to show the Latins the unsoundness of their newly-invented doctrine on the one side, and the steadfastness of the orthodox party in the faith handed down to them by the Apostles and the holy Fathers, on the other. In the course of the disputes the principal question branched off into so many light and abstract questions, that as a matter of course the solution of the chief one became still more difficult. The Latins for instance asked — where and how the angels fly? what was the substance of hell fire? The last question met with the following answer from Jasaris, the imperial officer: "the querist will get a satisfactory solution to his question, when he experiences the nature of the fire himself."
The question of purgatory not being agreed upon, another one was proposed — that about the blissful state of the righteous, alluded to by Bessarion in his treatise on the difference of the doctrines of both Churches on the condition of the departed souls. It was asked: whether the saints, departed from this life, attained entire bliss or not? Before discussing this question, the Greeks found it necessary to have a private conference with the other members of the Council. With this intention all the members assembled in the Patriarch’s cell (July 15) and read over different testimonies of the Fathers; the Emperor bade them collect their votes. Some gave a negative answer to the question, founding it on the Apostle’s words, (Heb. 11:39) others gave a positive answer. The next day, after a few disputes, the whole Council of Greek Bishops unanimously agreed, that though the souls of the saints, as souls, are already in the enjoyment of bliss, still when, at the general resurrection they will join their bodies, then their bliss will be greater; that then they will be enlightened like the sun. This was their last answer to the Latin doctrine on the state of souls after death.
What then were the fruits of these tedious discussions? Did they conduce in any manner to the solution of the principal question concerning the union of Churches? No! The Latin theologians could neither find firm proofs for their opinions, nor would they give them up. The Greeks again would not receive a doctrine not founded on any good proofs, nor could they incline the Latins to receive the orthodox doctrine.
To the misfortune of the Greeks, their own party also became divided, a circumstance which prognosticated nothing good. Bessarion, generally speaking, was not very earnest in the defense of the orthodox cause, and if he did dispute with the Latins now and then, it was only to show off his powers of speech. But meeting with a rival in Mark of Ephesus, he became still more passive in the cause of orthodoxy, and began to nourish a feeling of hatred towards Mark. Obliged to answer the Latins together with him, he usually left Mark to refute their various objections alone. It was in vain, that many prudent persons tried to reconcile Bessarion to Mark at the very commencement of the formers enmity to the latter, even calling to their aid the authority of the Patriarch, who by his meek reproofs might have ended the quarrel. The invalid Joseph would on no account meddle in this affair. Then again the cunning Gregory, offended that Mark did not find him worthy of being the vicar of the Patriarch of Alexandria, did his utmost to set Bessarion against Mark. Apparently he esteemed Mark, sat down lower than he did in the Council, voted after him, notwithstanding the privileges of a higher patriarchal throne were on his side; when his opinion was the same as Mark’s, he never spoke of himself, but always said: "I am of the same opinion as the holy Metropolitan of Ephesus." But this was sheer hypocrisy. In the presence of Bessarion and the Emperor, he placed Mark lower than the Archbishop of Nicsea, and found fault with everything he said, not caring about this self-contradiction. Thus it was, that as soon as the Greeks commenced discussions, there arose men who, separating from the true members of the Eastern Church, sacrificed the advantages of the Church to their own passions and advantages.
The disputes ended. More than three months had already elapsed since the opening of the Council. The Greeks remaining inactive, and suffering want in everything, began to feel dull and sorry that they had left their homes.
The Emperor, fearing that the discontented would prematurely leave the Council, ordered the city governor not to let any of the Greeks leave the town, nor to give any one passports without his permission and signature. He himself, having shut up the Greeks in Ferrara, settled in a monastery not far from the town, and spent his time in the field, hunting, as if he were even loth to remind himself of a business which had called him away from his Empire.
As soon as the time fixed upon for the opening of the solemn sessions of the Council had arrived, the Greeks asked the Emperor to return to town and make some arrangements about the Council. The Emperor answered, that he would not even think of opening a Council, which was to be an Ecumenical one, without the ambassadors of the Western monarchs, and a more numerous assembly of Bishops than the present one. But the members of the Council instead of increasing only diminished in number. Many fell victims to a frightful epidemic; others, from fear, retired to their homes; so that at the commencement of the solemn session, out of eleven Cardinals only five remained, and out of one hundred and fifty Bishops only fifty were present. It was at this time that the Greeks received a proof of Divine protection. None of them suffered from the epidemic.
One addition only was made to the Council in the person of Isidore, Metropolitan of Russia, who arrived on the 18th of August. He had returned to Russia after the conclusion of the treaty between the Emperor and the Council of Basle (in the end of 1436). With him was to have returned Jonah, Bishop of Riazan, sent to Greece to be ordained Metropolitan. Arriving at Moscow, Isidore was received by the Grand Duke Vasili Vasilievitch with all due honour. But soon after his arrival, he began telling the Grand Duke that the Greek Church intended to unite with the Church of Rome, that a Council had been convened by the Emperor and the Pope with this object in view,--to be followed by a solemn union of the East and West--and that it was very necessary that a representative of the Russian Church should take part in the Council. The Grand Duke answered, "Our fathers and grandfathers would not even listen to an union of the Greek and Roman laws; I myself do not wish it." Isidore urged him to consent, pleading his oath given to the Patriarch of coming to the Council. "We do not command thee to join the Council in the Latin land,’ said the Grand Duke at last, "but thou listest not, and wilt go. Remember then the purity of our faith, and bring it back with thee." Isidore swore to remain true to Orthodoxy, and (on Sep. 8, 1437) left Moscow with Abram, Bishop of Suzdal, Vassian the Archimandrite, the Priest Simeon, and other members of the clergy and laity, in all a hundred. On quitting Russia, Isidore very soon evinced a violent inclination to side with the Latins. Received in Livonia by the Bishop of Dorpat, and the Orthodox Clergy, he first saluted the Latin cross and only afterwards kissed the holy Russian icons. The companions of Isidore were horror-struck, and from that very moment lost all their confidence in him.
5. The Solemn Sessions of the Council. Disputes on the Latin Addition to the Creed.
Eugenius was still expecting the arrival of his legate from France. And when he did arrive, the news was anything but favourable. France had secured herself from the Pope’s influence by means of the pragmatic sanction (July 7, 1438) founded on the decrees of the Council of Basle; at the same time Charles VII, King of France, prohibited his Bishops from going to Ferrara. At this juncture the Pope commenced pressing the Greeks to begin the formal discussions on the peace of the Churches. "You have been already seven months in Italy/’ he said to them, "and during that time you have signed but one paper — that announcing the opening of the Council." At length the Emperor returned to town, and after several private interviews with the Pope determined on opening the State Session of the Council on the 8th of October.
In the preliminary discussions between the Greeks it was determined to settle all disputes not by the majority of votes, which could always be more numerous in the Latin party than in the Greek one, but by the general assent of one or the other side. Otherwise — said the Greeks — the Latins will have more than two hundred votes against our thirty. It is necessary that the votes of one party, irrespectively of their number, should, when taken altogether, have as much force as the force of the opposite party’s votes. Those who shall leave the Greeks and join the Latins, and vice versa, are to be strictly punished.
Then, on calling together the six eldest Metropolitans, the Chartophylax, and Ecclesiarch, two hegumens, with a hieromonarch, and three learned Greeks — Scholarius Gemistes, and Amirutius, — the Emperor demanded their opinion as to what subject should open the discussions on the Procession of the Holy Ghost? Was it better to begin by discussing whether the doctrine of the Western Church on the procession of the Holy Ghost is Orthodox? Or, whether she had the right of making any addition to the Symbol, even if it had been a correct one? These two questions gave rise to two different opinions of the members present. Mark of Ephesus, arid Gemistes, the philosopher, chose the latter question, and most of the others joined them. Bessarion of Nicsea, Scholarius and Amirutius, demanded that the dogma itself should be discussed upon before anything else. The Emperor, joining the majority, settled that the disputes with the Latins should commence with the addition to the Symbol.
Lastly, the Emperor gave notice that, on consulting with the Cardinals, he had arranged that there should always be three Council sittings in the week; and that in case of the Emperor, Patriarch, or any of those appointed to attend the sitting, being absent, the sitting itself should not be put off to another day. The place of the absent member was to be occupied by the next one in order. Every sitting was to commence an hour and a half after sunrise, and continue till the sixth hour of the day. The Greeks gave their consent to these arrangements, signing their names to them, and demanded the right of proposing questions to the Latins. The Greek party appointed the following persons to take part:--the Metropolitans of Ephesius and Russia, the Archbishop of Nicaea, and with them Gemistes the philosopher, the Chartophylax and Skeuophylax. But in reality all the discussions with the Latins were entrusted by the Emperor to the Metropolitan of Ephesus, and the Archbishop of Nicsea, — the civil officers were forbidden to take any part in the Council affairs. The Latins, for their part, chose the Cardinals Julian Caesarini and Nicholas Albergati; the Bishops — Andrew of Rhodes, John of Forli, and two Doctors of Divinity — monks; one of whom, John, a provincial of the Dominican Order, took a special part in the Council discussions. The Cardinals announced the Pope’s will, that all the Council sittings should take place in his palace chapel, under the plea that it was not proper for the Pope and a few Bishops to make their way to the Cathedral Church through a crowd of people.
In all, fifteen sittings were held in Ferrara. Two months passed away in disputes, ending just like the former ones, in nothing at all. Both sides retained their respective opinions. The only advantage of the Greeks was, that they defended the truth.
On the appointed day the Emperor and all of the bishops assembled in the Papal palace, which was already surrounded by crowds of people. The Pope also soon made his appearance. The seats for the members of the Council were arranged just as they were before in the Church of S. George. In the center of the Chapel, between the Emperor and Pope, two benches were occupied by the twelve Greek and Latin speakers, who sat opposite to each other. By the side of the speakers stood the Greek and Latin reporters and translators.
Bessarion opened the meeting with a speech on the importance of peace between the Churches. In this speech he urged the Council not to spare any means for bringing the great enterprise to a successful end, at the same time supplicating the aid of the Holy Trinity for those assembled to investigate the truth, and for peace between the two separated parts of Christ’s one fold. He praised the Pope, Emperor, Patriarch and all present at the Council, for their sincere wish and firm resolution of reinstating peace in the Church, and begged the Pope and the Emperor to honour the Council with their constant aid and furtherance of its views. A similar speech was also made by the Latin Bishop Andrew of Rhodes.
After these preliminary speeches, Mark of Ephesus broached the chief subject of the Council discussions. "Love was bequeathed by our Lord Jesus Christ," he said, "to His disciples, and His peace He left them: but the Church of Rome began to neglect the commandment of love, and broke the peace at the present the same Church by assembling this Council, evinces a desire of reinstating the peace but this she can only accomplish by rejecting the opinion which has been and is the cause of disagreement between the Churches; and the present Council will then meet with success, when it agrees with the Canons of the former Ecumenical Councils. With this object in view, Mark then demanded, that the Canons of those Councils touching the subjects of the present disputes should be read in the Council before anything else.
This demand was just; but the Latins of course could not accede to it, as such a step would more certainly have exposed the Church of Rome. This was the very reason why they contradicted Mark then, and afterwards in a private meeting did their utmost to prevent the Greeks furthering Mark’s demand. Two Cardinals, Julian and Nicholas, with several Bishops, came to the Patriarch’s cell, and there in the presence of the Emperor and many Greek Bishops, urged the Greeks to delay the reading of the Canons, or at least to change the solemn reading of the Canons in the Council into a private investigation of them. But neither of their propositions received the consent of the Greeks. The Latins were obliged to give in, though at the same time they solemnly declared, that this reading would be for the Greeks alone, and that it had not received the general consent of the members. Everything was done to lessen the solemnity of that sitting, in which the reading was to take place. The people were not allowed to enter the Cathedral in so great a number as before. The Gospel on the desk was closed, the statues of the Apostles were placed with their faces downwards, and no candles were lit before them.
On the appointed day (16th of October) the books containing the acts of the Ecumenical Councils were brought into the Council. The referendarius under Mark’s guidance read one by one the definitions of the Councils and Fathers on the Symbol of Faith. Nicholas Secundini translated them into Latin. Mark of Ephesus now and then interrupted the readings by his remarks.
"Let us begin," said Mark, "with the acts of the Third Ecumenical Council, so famed for its symbol of the Nicene Fathers, and by the Canon of the Ephesians Fathers themselves on the preservation of the Symbol in its original condition." Thus, the seventh Canon of the Council of Ephesus and the exposition of faith drawn up at the First Ecumenical Council were read, showing that the Church strictly prohibited the use of any other creeds, after the Nicene, threatening in case of disobedience — Bishops with being deposed, and the laity with excommunication. When these Canons were read, Mark said: "The Fathers of the Council having passed this Canon, have by their own example shown a great respect for the Nicene Creed, for they would not allow the addition of Theotocos, a name so necessary in the economy of our salvation. In the Canon of the Council of Ephesus, plane reference is made to the Nicene, and now the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, in which the dogma of the procession of the Holy Ghost is more developed. To explain this, Mark said, that the Fathers of Ephesus receive both Creeds as one, and call it the Nicene Creed from respect to the Council which gave rise to it, just in the same manner as the following Councils also called it the Nicene Creed. Lastly, to explain the Ephesine Canon, and confirm all in the conviction, that this Canon prohibits not only the drawing up of any other Creeds, but also any explanation whatever of the Nicene Creed by means of any addition, Mark quoted the words of S. Cyril of Alexandria, who presided over the Council of Ephesus, contained in his epistle to John of Antioch. In this epistle S. Cyril forbids any change whatsoever in the Symbol, be it even in a word, or syllable. This epistle, Mark continued, was read with many other epistles at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which received and confirmed it.
Then was read the decree of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (in the 5th act), commanding all to receive the Nicene Creed and Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creeds as one. "For the Fathers of this Council," added Mark, "on reading both these Creeds, said: This holy Creed is sufficient for the full knowledge of the truth, for it contains in itself the full doctrine on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
Then followed the reading of the exhortation of John, Patriarch of Constantinople, to the people, contained in the acts of the Council of Constantinople (518), in which the Patriarch exhorts all to keep to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed steadfastly and unerringly. The epistle of Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople to Pope Vigilius, taken from the acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, was also read. In this epistle the Patriarch testifies, that he receives all the definitions made by the four Ecumenical Councils, and truly preserves that faith which the holy Fathers explained and confirmed at those Councils.
The Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council was also read confirming the Creed drawn up by the two first Councils, and received as a rule of faith by the three following ones. After that extracts were made from the two epistles of Pope Agatho to the Greek Emperor, contained in the same acts of the Sixth Council. In these epistles the Pope says, that the Church of Rome upholds the faith bequeathed by the five Ecumenical Councils, and takes great care, that all defined by the Canons should remain unchanged, nothing added or taken away, and be kept inviolate both in words and thoughts.
In conclusion, the definition of the Seventh Ecumenical Council was read, in which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is repeated. On reading the acts of this Council it was remarked, that all present at the Second Ecumenical Council of Nice exclaimed, after listening to this Creed: We all believe this; we all think alike. This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the Orthodox faith. . . . Let him who receives not this faith be excommunicated.
When this passage from the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, containing the Symbol of faith, was read, the Latins presented a parchment, in their opinion, very old Greek copy of the acts of this Council, where in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed it is said, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the exception of the addition to the Creed, this copy, on being compared with another copy then in the hands of the Greeks, was found to correspond to it exactly. The Latins concluded from this copy, that the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council read the Symbol of Faith with the Filioque addition. Cardinal Julian also quoted some old historian, who as it were certifies, that the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council read the Symbol of Faith with the addition, but Julian did not mention this historian’s name.
It was then, that Gemistes in short and plain terms showed the Latins the erroneousness of their conclusion. "If the testimonies of your copy and your historian were just, or at least had been long ago known in the Church of Rome" said Gemistes, "then no doubt your Thomas Aquinases and the Divines preceding would not have made use of so many arguments to prove the validity of the addition. Instead of this, they might have simply referred to the addition made to the Creed by the Seventh Ecumenical Council. But your divines are silent about this." Evidently the copy produced by the Latins at the Council, was forged at the time of the controversy between the Orthodox and Latin Churches on the procession of the Holy Ghost.
On finishing the reading, Mark of Ephesus concluded by saying: "Thus, the Greeks, obeying the decrees of the Councils and the exhortations of the Fathers, and mindful of their oath, cannot admit the addition to the Creed to be a right and lawful one. Nevertheless they are ready to listen to the proofs brought forward by the Latins to attest the justness of their addition."
At the end of the sitting, many of the Latins themselves, especially the monks present at the Council, after having heard the Council decrees, and Mark’s explanation of them, avowed that they had never heard anything of the sort before, and that the Greeks teach more correctly than the Latin theologians.
Andrew of Rhodes answered to the arguments made use of by Mark against the addition to the Creed. In his lengthened speech during two or more sittings, he tried to prove, 1. That the words "and the Son "are no addition, but simply an explanation of the words, "Who proceedeth from the Father," contained in the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Creed: 2. That such explanations are in no way prohibited by the Canons of the Councils: and 3. That the Church of Rome had a right of making such an explanation and inserting it in the Creed.
To prove that the Latin addition is not an addition, but only an explanation, — the Bishop of Rhodes entered into a preliminary discussion on the sense of the words "addition" and "explanation," and then applied the results of his disquisition to the subject in hand. "An addition," said he, "is the adding of something extra to a subject; an explanation is the exposition of what is within (intra) the subject only." "The addition of the ‘Filioque’ clause to the Creed," he continued, "is only an explanation of what is said in the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Creed, viz., ‘Who proceedeth from’ the Father." In proof, Andrew quoted the words of S. Cyril of Alexandria, which, in his opinion, admitted the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son likewise as from the Father. But even if such an admission were actually contained in S. Cyril’s words, still it could not prove that the words: "and from the Son" are only an explanation of the words — Who proceedeth .... As little proof of this idea is contained in S. Basil the Grate's words, quoted by Andrew in favour of the Latin doctrine, for Andrew concluded from them, that it was impossible to represent the Father without implying the Son and the Holy Ghost.
No better arguments could the Latinized Greek find.
In defense of his assertion, that the addition of explanatory expressions to the Creed is no where prohibited, Andrew made use of many arguments, which had no reference to the subject discussed; for instance, he referred to S. Pauls words: "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). "And, notwithstanding this" said Andrew, "many additions were afterwards made to the doctrine of S. Paul and other parts of Scripture’ The Fathers of the Nicene Council also added a good deal to the Creed of the Apostles; the Fathers of the second Ecumenical Council, to the Nicene Creed; the Ephesine Fathers again, taught many things not to be found in the Creed of the Second Ecumenical Council. Andrew concluded from all this, that the Council’s prohibition only regarded the addition of false opinions to the already definite doctrine of the Church, but did not extend over the addition of explanatory words and expressions. But all this affords very little or rather no proof of the truth of Andrew’s assertion. Apparently his subsequent arguments have more weight, (a) The Apostle Paul says: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph. 4:5-6); the Church is one, and consequently her authority is (always) one. But if the Church at different times, in cases of necessity, allowed herself to make additions (to the Creed); then in after times also, she must retain this right. Our Saviour said: ‘‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Mat. 28:20). (b) The Church must necessarily oppose all heresies, whenever they arise, by means of her doctrine, and consequently she must add at times different explanations to the Creed, which might help to secure her members from these false doctrines.
Referring to the Canons, and the testimonies of the Fathers, adduced by Mark of Ephesus, Andrew endeavoured to prove, that the Canon of the Council of Ephesus only prohibits the exposition of any other faith or doctrine, but those contained in the Nicseo- Constantinopolitan Creed; whereas the doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, Andrew repeated, is only an explanation of the words contained in the Creed itself. In answer to Mark’s remark, that the very Council of Ephesus would not add the word "Theotocos," to the Creed; Andrew said, that there was no necessity for such an addition, for the Creed, since it speaks of the Son of God, as the true God, and of His incarnation from the Virgin Mary, implies at the same time the word "Theotocos." All the decrees of the Councils and Fathers Andrew explained in the same manner as the Canon of the Ephesine Council, though many of those decrees strictly prohibited any change whatever in the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Creed, either in word or syllable (S. Cyril of Alexandria), or else plainly command the preservation of the Creed in the very words in which it was originally composed. (Pope Agatho).
The right of the Church of Rome to make the addition to the Creed, Andrew founded: (a) on the testimonies of the Fathers, who, as he would have it, taught that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son; (b) on the circumstances which obliged that Church to make the addition, and (c) on the supreme authority and (c) on the supreme authority and power of the Papal throne.
To prove his first argument, Andrew referred to S. Augustine, S. Ambrose, S. Gregory the Great, and S. Hilary; but, thinking that the testimonies of the Greek Fathers would have more weight with the Greeks, he made some short extracts from Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Anastasius the Sinaite, and Simeon Metaphrastes. All these quotations, when explained in their true sense say nothing in fact for the Latin doctrine. They either refer to the consubstantiality of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, or else to the temporary mission of the Spirit by the Son of God.
Explaining the circumstances under which the Church of Rome was obliged to make this addition to the Creed, Andrew said, that the Pope and a Council of Western Fathers had determined to include this addition in the Creed, as a refutation of the false opinions circulated by the Nestorians that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from eternity. This happened, Andrew said, before the sixth Ecumenical Council. But history makes no mention of any such Council or Council decree. On the contrary, it is well known that even in the ninth century Pope Leo III forbade any such addition to the Creed, and even had the Nieseo-Constaiitinopolitan Creed engraved on two silver tablets in Greek and Latin and without any addition.
Lastly, to prove the right of the Latin Church or of her head, the Pope, to make this addition of explanatory expressions, as the Latins called them, Andrew referred to S. Cyril of Alexandria, in whose works he purposed to find very plain allusions to the Pope’s authority for doing so; but at the same time Andrew took good care not to quote S. Cyril's own expressions. Cardinal Julian in his turn referred to Pope Agatho’s epistle read in the sixth Ecumenical Council, in which the Pope says, that all orthodox Councils and Church teachers always followed the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and that he fears being condemned by his Lord Jesus Christ, were he to keep silence on a truth, which he was commanded to preach to all Christian nations. It would not have been amiss to have remembered that there were many cases when the Church did not conform to the doctrine of the Latin Popes, and that the same Council condemned Pope Honorius.
In the following sittings the Greeks gave an answer to the objections raised by Andrew of Rhodes and Cardinal Julian. The learned Scholarius wrote a refutation of them and presented it to the Emperor, who handed it over to Bessarion of Nicaea, ordering him to place it before the Council. Bessarion first of all showed that the addition to the Creed must be looked upon not as an explanation contained in the Creed, but as an actual addition to it, for the Latins found it on another extraneous principle, such as, e.g., "all which the Father hath, the Son hath also."
All such additions to the Creed, even if they were really explanations, were strictly forbidden after the Council of Ephesus. It is not forbidden to explain the doctrine of faith. Before the Council of Ephesus the Church Ecumenical could insert such explanations into the Creed. But since the time of the third Ecumenical Council any additions whatever to the Creed were strictly forbidden. And this Canon was evidently not meant against those additions to the Creed, which disagreed with it, for those additions were always, even in former times, prohibited by the Church. In S. Cyril’s epistle to Acacius of Mitylene, Bessarion continued, it is said, "The holy Ecumenical Council assembled at Ephesus has prohibited the introduction into God’s Church of any confession of faith, but the one existing, which was handed down to us by the blessed Fathers, through whom the Holy Ghost did speak."
Thus, the Council prohibits any other composition of the confession of faith, and not the exposition of another faith; prohibits this not only as regards private individuals, but the whole Church, and even puts itself under this very prohibition. The Fathers did not add "Theotocos" to the Creed, though the notion expressed by this word is nothing more than a short explanation of the doctrine contained in the Creed, and the addition itself was useful and necessary as a refutation of the Nestorians. The Councils following also did not insert in the Creed those dogmatical definitions, which had been drawn up by them, though they also served to develop the doctrine contained in the Creed, and though the doctrine of the Council on the Two Natures and Two Wills in Christ would have served as a firm bulwark for the orthodox doctrine against the Monophysites and Monothelites. On the contrary we see as far as we can judge from the acts of the Ecumenical Councils, beginning with those of Ephesus, that the holy Fathers of these Councils had received and confirmed the Creed in the same form, in which it was left to the Church by the two first Ecumenical Councils, nor did they make any change in it.
At the same time the holy Fathers found means of ministering to the wants of the Church, without breaking the decrees of the Council of Ephesus. The Church stood in need of new expositions of doctrine in the Creed; the Fathers made these expositions in their definitions (οροι) which were not inserted in the Creed, but published apart.
This method of acting does not prove that the authority of the Church has in any way been lessened since the Council of Ephesus, but rather testifies to her unity. Remaining true to the former decrees, the Church shows that she had always one and the same will. By these means she preserves herself, otherwise she would have proved false to her own decrees. Thus, the Church of Rome cannot excuse the addition she has made to the Creed by any circumstances or authority which she has appropriated to herself; for the Council forbids any addition to the Creed even in case of necessity. And as to the authority of the Church of Rome, Bessarion added, much could be said about it, but this was not the time, nor the place for such discussions; we know well enough what rights and privileges the Church of Rome has; we are aware of her power as well as the limits of her power. How can an individual Church arrogate to herself the power of making an addition to the Creed when the same right is refused from the Councils even to the Church Catholic?
The Latin disputants, on hearing this answer, sought the advice of the Cardinals and Bishops, which resulted in a tedious speech made by Andrew of Rhodes, and one quite irrelevant to the subject discussed.
In the following sitting (Nov. 8), in answer to Bessarion’s speech, — John, Bishop of Forli, repeated the arguments already made use of at the Council, backing them by his Latin Divines; he said, that the "Filioque" clause is not an addition of a new article of faith, but a simple explanation contained in the expression, "ex Patre," as the Old Testament contains the New, &c.
The Latins at last perceived that the whole weight of the Greek arguments consisted in the definition of the third Ecumenical Council. This is why Cardinal Julian, who entered into a dispute with the Greeks after John, made use of all possible means to explain the prohibition made by that Council favourably for his own Church. It was made, said Julian, under particular circumstances shown in the acts of the Ephesian Council, and was in fact directed against the unorthodox creeds. It was thus. A certain Charisius, Priest of Philadelphia, came to the Council of Ephesus with a complaint against the Lydian Bishops, who had excommunicated him for not agreeing to receive the Nestorian Creed alone. At the same time, Charisius, to prove his orthodoxy, presented his own confession of faith, (which, though orthodox, did not correspond exactly to the Nicene Creed) and also the Nestorian Creed.
The Fathers, after having read both these creeds, found the Nestorian Creed full of false doctrines, and decreed that no one should dare to draw up another confession of faith, but the one received by all. Consequently, said Julian, if the Fathers did not reject Charisius’ creed, as an orthodox one, though differing from the Nicene Creed, and condemned the Nestorian Creed, then the prohibition regarded only unorthodox creeds.
In answer to Julian, Mark noticed that Charisius’ confession of faith, though not condemned by the Council by reason of its orthodoxy, was neither received as a creed of the Ecumenical Church, on account of its differing from the Nicene Creed, in many expressions. The Fathers found that Charisius’ Creed was only an orthodox confession of a private individual’s faith. And the Church, continued Mark, never forbade any one to confess his faith in different expressions, as long as his confession was orthodox, and not given out as a confession of faith for the whole Church. It is well known that, at many of the subsequent Councils, many of the members couched their confession of faith in whatever expressions they chose. Thus, the Pope Agatho, and Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, expressed their confession of faith in the Epistles read and approved by the sixth Ecumenical Council. The same is to be seen from those Synodal Epistles which every newly-ordained Bishop sends to the Church representatives in the East as a proof of his orthodoxy. This, then is the reason why the Council did not condemn Charisius’ creed notwithstanding it’s slight difference from the Nivene Creed. But every newly composed creed even though orthodox, would have been condemned by the Council if it had been used instead of the Nicene Creed for the teaching of catechumens at their Baptism, or, generally speaking, during Church service. And this is easily seen from the circumstance, that the holy Council of Ephesus, after condemning the Nestorian Creed, plainly and decisively prohibited the introduction of any creed, however orthodox, different to that of Nicsea; and this was done to preserve the Nicene Creed from any interpolations or changes. In saying this, added Mark, I do not judge for myself. S. Cyril explains the meaning of the Canon, and he was personally present at the Council. In his Epistles to John of Antioch, and Acacius of Mitylene, he explains this decree of the Council in the same way as it is understood by the Eastern Church, and as we ourselves have just shown.
Julian, objecting to such an explanation of the Church Canon, said, that the Council of Ephesus makes no difference between the private and general Church use of newly-composed creeds; but generally prohibits every Christian, whether belonging to the laity or clergy, to draw up any other confession of faith: hence Julian concluded again, that the Canon has force only as regards heterodox creeds. In answer to this objection, Mark showed that the Nestorian Creed, as was proved by Charisius, and could be seen from the signatures to it, was used not as a private confession of faith but offered to certain heretic’s who were to sign it as a condition of there being received into the Church. It was with this object in view that the Council prohibited the drawing up of any new creed — especially for general use in the Church. For this reason it did not condemn Charisius’ confession, which was in fact a private one, though it did not agree in many expressions with the Nicene Creed.
The Latins, however, obstinately repeated their former arguments in defense of the addition to the Creed. The indefatigable Cardinal tired his auditors with his long speeches; thinking his arguments invincible, he said to Mark, "If you adduce ten arguments, I for my part am ready to oppose ten thousand of them in defense of my opinion." And when he noticed that the Greeks continued to refute his arguments and proofs, he tried to incline them to change the subject of discussion. "Let us, holy Father," said he to Mark, "examine the very dogma itself, and if the addition to the Creed proves to be contrary to the Orthodox doctrine, why, then we will drop the subject and erase it from the Creed. If, on the contrary, it shall be proved that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, then we must conclude that the addition is a correct one, and must retain it in the Creed."
6. Removal of the Council to Florence. Disputes on the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son.
These two months’ discussions were also without any real results (from Oct. 8th till Dec. 8th): for each party stood firm in its own persuasions. The Greeks finding all their efforts to incline the opposite party to their cause unavailable, wished to return home. The Latins however kept repeating, that it was necessary to examine the very dogma itself, and managed first of all to gain the Emperor over to their opinion, who readily yielded to their persuasions, hoping to ensure the Latin aid in the cause of the Empire.
But when the Emperor told the Bishops, that he also wished for an alteration of the discussions, he received the following answer: "The very reason why the Latins try to make us terminate the discussions on the addition is, that they find no suitable and sufficient answer to our arguments. It would then be very imprudent to forsake so impregnable a fortress." Gregory the Almoner was the only one who joined the Emperor, and was soon promoted by him to the rank of protopresbyter.
The Patriarch sided with the Bishops in this matter. Twice did the Bishops assemble in his apartments to take advice of each other, and at last determined to tell the Pope that the addition to the Creed inserted contrary to the Canons and the testimonies of the Fathers must be withdrawn; that it was on this condition only, that the Greeks would agree to begin the investigation of the dogma itself, and that in case of the Latins disagreeing to this, the Greeks would have nothing to do with them. At this juncture Bessarion of Nicsea declared himself to be quite of a contrary opinion. "Why should we not," he said, "discuss with the Latins on the very dogma? We can tell them many good things." But his voice was unheard by the rest of the Bishops.
The Greek Council coming to this decision, sent legates to the Emperor, who told him: "The Latins reject all our most forcible arguments on the question of the addition, and most dishonestly affirm that the decrees which anathematize every addition to the Creed have nothing to do with them. If then we pass on to the investigation of a dogma, in which the Latins found their arguments on the testimonies of teachers unknown to us, how shall we defend the truth? Leaning back on the Pope’s authority, they will say whatever they like, and will then declare that they have proved their opinion as plainly as the sun’s light: for they, contrary to all truth, are not ashamed to say that they have already made good the correctness of the addition to the Creed, though in reality they have proved nothing."
The Emperor reckoning only on the aid promised to him by the Pope, would not pay any attention to what the Greeks said. Concealing his real motives, he said: "The very reason for our coming to Italy was to make a strict examination of the doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost, which has been the principal cause of the division between the Churches. If we leave the question undecided, we shall show that we have no strong proofs in defense of the orthodox doctrine, and that we either agree with the Latins in some respects, or else avow their doctrine to be true. In my opinion, we ought most certainly to enter into a discussion on the procession of the Holy Ghost." After the remarks made by the Emperor, another Bishop, Dorotheus of Mitylene, also voted for a change of the subject then discussed.
Reckoning on several similar votes, the Emperor appointed another meeting in his palace to talk upon this subject. The Patriarch came, ill as he then was; after him came the Bishops. The Emperor pleaded the wants of the empire, and his own efforts to better its condition. "I have no children," he said, "no heirs; I seek not glory, but only the welfare of my Greek subjects." Isidore and Bessarion took his part very warmly. It was determined to decide the matter by votes. The Patriarch kept to his own opinion. The Bishops, persuaded by the Emperor’s words, inclined to his opinion also. Mark of Ephesus simply said: "As you find it good to pass on to the discussion of the dogma itself, I can but consent if the others wish it." The Chartophylax, the Protecdicus, and Syropulus, were the only persons among the Patriarch’s nearer officials who divided his opinion. But, notwithstanding this, the majority of votes carried the opinion that a decussion on the very doctrine contained in the addition to the Creed should be entered upon.
One obstacle alone remained to be done away with. The Pope refused to pay the expenses incurred by the Greeks during their stay in Ferrara, under the plea that he had been deceived by the town’s people, and could not receive the income due to him from his own towns, on account of their distance from Ferrara and the different circumstances of war. He then proposed to move the Council to another place, the more so as it was generally expected that the plague would again break out in Ferrara. He pointed to Florence, whose rich citizens had promised to lend him 40,000 gold pieces, if only the Council was held in their town. When making this proposition, the Pope on his part promised the Greeks 12,000 gold pieces besides their usual pay, and two galleys to succour Constantinople, and at the same time expressed his hopes of finishing all the affairs in the course of three or four months.
The Emperor was long ago aware of the Pope’s intention to transfer the Council to Florence, and had twice sent several persons thither to arrange the matter; but hid his intentions from the Bishops. But when his last agent returned, he then opened the Pope’s plan to the Greek Council, noticing that, if the Greeks consented to go over to Florence, they would be sure to receive the salary due to them for the last five months. At first, the Greeks were quite against this journey, fearing that the Pope would behave still more independently with them in Florence, than he had done before.
"We will not quit Ferrara," they said; "and why should we? Why can matters be arranged better in Florence than here? If the Florentines wish to help the Pope, then let them send out their promised help to this town." "But the Florentines do not agree to this, was the Emperor’s answer: "they ask the Pope to transfer the Council to their town, and promise to lend him a good sum of money if he does. There you will be paid not by the Pope, but by the bank, and that too, at any time you like. You are aware," the Emperor continued, "that now we must choose one of the two: we must either go to Florence, or else to Constantinople; for the Pope cannot and will not continue the Council here. You would rather return home? But will it be prudent to leave affairs undone? Think only, how and on whose account we are to return to Constantinople. Where are our means for the journey? And who will aid our poor empire if we anger the Pope by our obstinacy?"
The want of means for the homeward journey, and the Pope’s refusal to pay the salary due for the last four months, did more than all the Emperor’s arguments to persuade the Greeks to obey the Pope and consent to go to Florence. They only demanded that the Pope should fulfil the promises made to them. The Emperor stood surety that the Pope would not deceive them.
Another circumstance also troubled the Greeks a good deal. The Patriarch, when ordering the Bishops to get ready for the journey, told one of them to send on all extra luggage to Venice, and only take what was necessary, i.e., the vestments, as the union of Churches would take place in Florence. This so troubled the Bishops, who could see nothing in the past to ensure a good peace in the future, that the Emperor found it necessary to assemble them in the Patriarch’s cell and quiet their suspicions. "I do not know," he said to them, ‘‘whether or not the union will take place; but, to say the truth, I expect it, and advise all to wish for it. Only I cannot make out, what reason the Patriarch has for affirming this so unconditionally. No Greek or Latin could have told him this, because no one knows anything of the future results of the Council of Florence. Was it revealed by God to him? At all events, let not his words trouble you: nothing is known as yet." After such an explanation, Mark began asking the Emperor to collect the opinions of the Bishops on the dogma, which was about to be investigated in Florence. "If all will agree, I am ready to begin the struggle in defense of orthodoxy. If not, I shall sit down with those who always keep silence in the Council." But this straightforward declaration of the most energetic defender of orthodoxy, so angered those whose consciences were not so very clear, that one of them, Gregory the almoner, turning to the Emperor said: "Your Majesty did you appoint him head of the Council? If so, tell us, so that we might all obey him." Bessarion of Nicea was as discontented with Mark’s words. The Emperor himself covered the poor old man with reproaches. The very first setting of the Council in Florence showed, that the Emperor had already promised the Pope to find out some secret means of coming to an agreement. This serves to explain the Patriarch’s words, and the reason of the Emperor’s discontent with Mark’s proposal.
On the 10th of January, 1439, the Papal bull proclaiming the removal of the Council to Florence, was read in the Cathedral of Ferrara. The plague was mentioned as the cause of its removal; — the plague, which notwithstanding the winter time was then so violent in the town, and promised to be still worse towards the spring. But, in reality, two months had passed since the plague ceased.
The Greeks were paid the money due to them for the last four months, and two florins each besides to pay the expenses of their journey. Nineteen thousand florins were sent to Constantinople. The Pope left the town with great pomp; but afterwards, fearing an attack from his ill-wishers, continued his journey with a very small retinue, and in the dress of a plain monk. Measures were taken by the Emperor, that none of the Greeks should slip away and return beforehand to Constantinople. On the 7th of February, the Pope, Bishops, and the rest of the clergy made a triumphal entry into Florence: soon after (15th February) the Emperor arrived.
After a short rest, the sessions recommenced (26th February). In the first sitting Cardinal Julian reminded the Emperor of his promise to appoint a committee out of several members on both sides, to inquire into the means of making peace between the Churches, and asked him whether he had any such means in view, and if he had, to make them the subject of a public discussion. The Emperor answered him very ill-humouredly, that it was of no use talking about this; that there was no need of the Greeks alone discussing this subject; that they had decided to do so together with the Latins. At the same time he reminded Cardinal Julian, that the disputes on the addition to the Creed had not yet been finished; that all the Latin arguments had not persuaded the Greeks on the justice of the addition, and that the Greeks retained the right of re-commencing those discussions whenever they liked. The Emperor, however, at last consented to think about the means for a reconciliation. At the end of the sitting, he assembled all the Bishops in the Patriarch’s cell, and proposed that they should discuss upon the means of reconciling the Churches. None made any answer to his proposal, and the only thing determined upon was, that eight persons from among the Council members should be appointed to enter into a private conference with the Latins on this subject. But this decision was not acted upon, for the Pope expecting greater concessions on the part of the Greeks, demanded that a public discussion on this subject should take place.
In the following sitting (March 2) the Latin doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son was examined. The right of proposing questions, what at Ferrara belonged to the Greeks, was here conceded by the Emperor to the Latins. Mark of Ephesus was nearly the only person to keep up the discussions on the part of the Greeks; Bessarion spoke later, when the means of reconciliation were being discussed. Mark met a skilful opponent in John de Monte Nigro, a Dominican provincial, famed for his dialectical skill.
John commenced by saying that all his arguments and reasonings would be founded on the authority of the Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers; but in reality made use not of the Holy Scripture, but of different doubtful and spurious quotations from the Fathers, with which he had acquainted himself by means of very inferior translations; besides this, his very speeches were nothing but a display of scholastical reasoning. Instead of explaining the words of the Holy Fathers conformably to their own writings, he made use of various scholastical arguments to define the sense of the words contained in the different quotations from the Fathers.
Having stated his opinion, that the verb to proceed means to receive existence (λαμβάνειν το είναι), John quoted two places from the works of S. Epiphanius, in which he tried to find a proof of the procession of the Holy Ghost not only from the Father, but also from the Son. Both places are quoted, as they are to be found in the Latin version of Ambrosius Traversari, whose translations in general were not famed for anything like correctness. The first place read as follows: "The Father names Him — the Son. Who is from Him and the Holy Ghost — Him, Who is from both (ο μόνον εξ άμφοϊν εστιν). The other quotations read as follows: As no one has seen the Father (εώρακεν) except the Son, nor the Son except the Father; so, also, I dare to say, no one has seen the Holy Ghost except the Father and Son, from Whom He proceedeth, and from Whom He receiveth; — nor the Son and the Father, except the Holy Ghost, Who of a truth glorifies and teaches all things; Who is of the Father and the Son (oπερ εστί παρά του Πατρός και Υιου). Finding, in the first place, is from Both; and in the second, is from the Son, John concluded that according to the doctrine of S. Epiphanius, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son also.
Mark of Ephesus, without referring to the Greek text of Epiphanius, exposed the erroneousness of John’s conclusion. He said that the words quoted do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son. The expression, to be from any one (το εκ τινοσ είναι), does not necessarily imply, proceeds from any one; it is used in different senses. S. Epiphanius does not say, receives existence; but only receives, and says this on the authority of the Lord’s words; he shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you (John 14:14). If S. Epiphanius meant that the Holy Ghost receives His being from the Son, he would have said, No one knoweth the Father and the Son save the Holy Ghost, from Whom (plural n.) He proceeds and from Whom (plural) He receives; and then the words proceeds and receives would be of equal weight. But Epiphanius, by repeating the pronoun from Whom (singular) and placing the conjunction and between the two words, shows that he gives one meaning to the word proceeds, and another to receives. The verb, proceeds, is intended by him to show that the Holy Ghost receives His being from the Father; and the verb, receives, to signify that the Holy Ghost, being of one essence and substance with the Son, propounds to the faithful a doctrine agreeable to that of Christ Himself. This explanation of our Lord’s words. "He shall receive of Mine," Mark confirmed by quoting the words of S. John Chrysostom (on S. Johns hom. 78) and that of S. Cyril of Alexandia (Thesaurus, c. 14)
The book of S. Epiphanius was next brought under notice. Mark showed at the very beginning that this book had been long since interpolated, and that the first passage must be read, is known of Both (παρ αμφοιν νοείται), but without the verb "is." It is not known what reading was found in the copy employed by the Council; but it is certain that in both cases the verb is was not to be found, a verb on which John founded his principal argument.
John, though he avowed that his mistake arose from an incorrect version of Traversari,1 still continued to affirm that the verb is must be implied in the texts quoted, and on this supposition repeated that S. Epiphanius had an idea of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son also. But even if we were to imply the wanting verb here, we still should have no reason to conclude that S. Epiphanius speaks of the Holy Ghost’s procession from the Father and the Son. His words may express the unity of substance in the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Thus, several teachers say that the Holy Ghost is from the Father and Son, and from Their Substance, for He is consubstantial with the Father and Son.
To ward off his opponent’s attack, Mark, on his part, quoted the words of S. Basil the Great, in which he plainly says that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, and not elsewhere. This is what S. Basil writes in his fifth book against Eunomius: "God gives birth not like man, but truly gives birth; He from Himself manifests a birth — the Word, not a human word, but shows this Word to be truly from Himself. He produces the Spirit by His mouth not like man, for God’s mouth is not corporeal, but the Spirit is from Him and not from aught else. "Receiving John’s assent, that the birth of the Son as well as the procession of the Holy Ghost belong to the Person of the Father, and not to His Substance which is one and the same with the Substance of the Son and Holy Ghost, Mark made the following conclusion from S. Basil’s words: "If the Spirit proceeds from the Person of the Father, then the expression, not elsewhere, shows that He does not proceed from another Person." But, in the subsequent disputes on this passage, the opponents passed over to the most minute questions on the relation of the Son and Holy Ghost to the Person and Substance of the Father, as also on the relation of the Person to the Substance in the Divine Godhead — questions which, far from shedding new light on the disputed subject, only afforded new motives for discussion. Mark of Ephesus kept strictly to the expressions and definitions of the Greek theologians: John found his defense in the subtle reasonings of his scholastic teachers.
The third sitting (March 5) proved to be as unfruitful as the former ones. Not a single fresh passage from the works of the Fathers or the Holy Scriptures was taken into consideration.
In the three following sittings (7th, 10th, and 14th of March) one passage from the third book of S. Basil the Great against Eunomius was principally discussed, a passage more than once alluded to by John in his dispute with the Greeks. In the copy presented by John this place read as follows: "If the Holy Spirit is third in dignity and order, then why must He be necessarily third in Substance also? That He is second after the Son in dignity, of Him receiveth and announceth to us, this is told us by the doctrine of faith; but that He is third in Substance is not told us by Scripture, and cannot be strictly concluded from what was mentioned above."
"This passage is taken from S. Basil," said Mark, "and is also spoilt in our MSS. as well as in yours; in Constantinople there are four or five codices in which it is read in the same manner; but a thousand of such copies can be found in which neither the meaning nor the words of the Holy Fathers are changed. Very likely this passage was purposely spoiled," continued Mark, "by some defender of your doctrine." But John tried to prove this copy to be a genuine one, by saying that it bore no symptoms of being corrupted, that it was lately brought from Constantinople, written on parchment, very likely six hundred years old; and, consequently, before the division of Churches took place. This however was only a supposition. Mark’s copy was also a very old one. The disputed passage read in it as follows: "If the Holy Ghost is third in dignity and order, then why must He be necessarily third also in Substance? That the Spirit in dignity occupies the second place after the Son, this, may be, is taught by the doctrine of faith; but, that He is also third in Substance, is not taught by the Holy Scriptures, and cannot be well concluded from what is mentioned above.
Mark, coupling this passage with the above-mentioned doctrine of S. Basil, proved very clearly that the reading defended by the Latins was not the genuine reading of that passage. He pointed to the preceding words of S. Basil, which stood alike in both copies. S. Basil, refuting Eunomius, notices: "Eunomius says, that he has been told by the Saints, that the Holy Ghost is third in order and dignity, and himself believes that he is third in Substance also. But he cannot say what Saints propounded this doctrine, and in what words. Has there ever been so bold a man as he to introduce such novelties into the Divine dogmas?" One sees from these words, continued Mark, that S. Basil does not admit that the Fathers call the Holy Ghost third in dignity, and plainly refuses to admit of His being third in Substance. Since, then, S. Basil does not admit that the Holy Ghost is second in dignity after the Son, why should he affirm a notion he himself refuses to admit; that is, why should he quote words which form the addition in the Latin reading?
John, admitting, together with Eunomius, that the Holy Ghost is second in dignity after the Son, affirmed that this was S. Basil’s opinion also, and defended his own reading by saying — (a) that the Fourth Ecumenical Council calls the doctrine of S. Basil firm and positive, whereas the reading, "may be, is told us by the doctrine of faith," admits of some uncertainty; (b) that, further on, S. Basil, to confirm his notion, that one must not argue from the difference in dignity to a difference in nature, points to the example of the angels. If we are to admit what is here said about the angels unconditionally, then in the same way must we admit S. Basil’s words on the Holy Ghost; ie., that he, not consenting to admit a difference between His substance and that of God’s Son, at the same time admits a difference in their dignity. To this Mark very justly replied, that to admit a contrary idea on a supposition, only to refute it on its being admitted, does not show any signs of uncertainty. In this sense S. Basil says, "That the Holy Ghost in dignity occupies the second place after the Son, this, may be, is told us by the doctrine of faith." Farther on, the reference to the example of the angels only confirms an idea admitted by S. Basil on a supposition; and thus the force of his argument is in no way weakened.
To prove that the idea included in the supplementary Latin reading on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son is quite strange to S. Basil, Mark referred to the Father’s own words in his epistle to his brother Gregory of Nyssa "Everything good given to us by God’s power, we call an act of the all-acting grace; as the Apostle says, ‘But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will (1 Cor. 12:11). But we will ask, Is it from the Holy Ghost alone that the distribution of gifts to those worthy of them takes its origin? The Scriptures teach us to believe that the original Author of the distribution of gifts, which act in us by the Holy Ghost, is the Only-begotten God; for the Scripture tells us that’ all things were made by Him (John 1:3) and ‘by Him all things consist’ (Col. 1:17)." A little lower S. Basil continues, "Thus, whereas the Holy Ghost, from Whom all good gifts are distributed among created beings, depends upon the Son, with Whom He is inseparably received, and has His existence from the Father, as from the Cause from which He proceeds, then in this He has a distinguishing attribute of His difference in Person, namely, that He is known by the Son and with Him, and is from the Father."
Notwithstanding the plainness with which these words proved the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost from God the Father, and His dependence on the Son only as regards the distribution of gifts to His creatures, still John, purposely playing on the word depends, gave it a sense of procession by existence; and coupling to these words of S. Basil what was also said by him to Eunomius, made out the following syllogism: — The Son is the Principle, as He is God from God; in what relation the Son stands to the Father, and depends on Him, in the same relation stands the Holy Ghost to the Son, and depends on Him. This is why the Son is called second in order and dignity, and the Holy Ghost third. This order is the order of their procession." All this reasoning has no foundation whatever in the real words of S. Basil. "The sense of the verb depends" said Mark to his opponent, "is defined by the nearest words, is inseparably received with Him. And with regard to the expressions, third in order and dignity, they are not affirmed by S. Basil, who only says that Eunomius maintains such an opinion. It is necessary, however," continued Mark, "that the Persons of the Trinity exist in some order between themselves. The only Son, Who shines forth after the fashion of the Only-Begotten, from the uncreated Light, must be placed after that very Light; and therefore the Holy Ghost must be reckoned third, in order that He should not be taken for the Son, when not distinguished from Him in order." Such also is S. Basil’s opinion; otherwise, if he had placed the Spirit in the same relation to the Son as the Son is to the Father, then he would not have accused Eunomius as a bold innovator for having called the Spirit third in order and dignity.
Wishing to prove that S. Basil could not have refuted the idea of the Holy Ghost’s procession from the Son as a new idea, John quoted the words of S. Athanasius the Great in his dialogue with Arius at the Nicene Council, and in his epistle to Serapion. In the first place, according to John’s reading, it is said, "If the Holy Ghost is not from the Substance of the Father and the Son, then how is it that the Son places His Name in the tradition of sanctification (i.e., in the commandment of sanctification or baptism), where He says, Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" In the last mentioned place, it is said, "The Spirit receives of the Son, according to the Lord’s words, "He shall receive of Mine, and shall give it unto you, "Of the Son it is said, "I am come in My Father’s Name’ (John 5:43); and of the Spirit, "The Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name" (14:16).
If then the Spirit, compared with the Son, has the same order and nature (τάξιν και φύσιν) as the Son has, compared with the Father, he who calls the Spirit a creature will of necessity think the same of the Son. But Mark very justly remarked, in answer to the first premiss, that "we also confess that the Holy Ghost is third in order in the Divine Trinity; but for Him to be third in dignity also — it is really astonishing how you make out that things have been said which have never been mentioned anywhere " With regard to the second place, Mark said, "S. Athanasius wrote this against the Pneumatomachi, who placed the Holy Ghost lower than the Son, and called Him a creature. Wishing to prove that the Holy Ghost is of equal honour and consubstantial with the Father and Son, S. Athanasius shows that the Holy Ghost in Scripture is placed in equal order with the Father and Son, and has the same will and action. The teachers of the Church always used this argument to prove the unity of nature of one Person with the other. If S. Athanasius had reasoned as you do, then why did he not say, The Son has existence from the Father, and the Holy Ghost from the Son, or, the Father gives birth to the Son, and the Son brings forth the Spirit? But he only compares their works in the economy of man’s salvation." To conclude, Mark mentioned the very words of S. Athanasius, in which he calls God the Father the only source of Divinity.
John tried to defend his opinion by the words of S. Basil, taken from his homily on the Holy Baptism: "We must confess one Father, one Son, one Spirit: not two Fathers, nor two Sons, for the Spirit is not the Son, neither is He called so; and from the Spirit we do not receive any one, as we do (receive) the Spirit from the Son." This is the real sense of these words, received by Mark of Ephesus. But John translated and explained the last words quite in a different manner. This dispute is remarkable for having given the Latin scholastics an opportunity of introducing a question on spiritual gifts, viz., whether they were to be looked upon as created or not?
This question, besides having very little to do with the principal subject of the dispute, and the explanation of the passage taken from the homily attributed to S. Basil, afforded very little advantage to Mark in its decision, and rather lengthened the controversy than otherwise. Mark knew very well how many disputes originated from this question in the middle of the fourteenth century in the Church of Constantinople, during the discussions on the Divine Substance and actions, on the creation or non-creation of spiritual gifts. Even towards the end of the private sessions in Ferrara, when the bliss of the righteous was the subject of discussion, this question was also proposed. Mark at that time even declined to give any answer; for, says Syropulus, the Emperor had settled and ordered beforehand that no one should dare to answer these questions. And now Mark again, notwithstanding his opponent thrice asked him for an answer, kept silence. And this silence of his, for an impartial judge, was better than the thousand fine speeches which he could have made if he liked, on a subject not new to him, and one which of course he had well studied from the works of his divines. He could foresee what explanation would be given to his resolution; but, not wishing to give occasion for new disputes, kept silent. The Emperor, understanding what a sacrifice Mark was making for the general peace, took his part, and twice noticed to the interrogator that his question did not pertain to the subject discussed, and that the Greeks had not come to answer such questions.
The disputes then continued with regard to other passages taken from the Fathers. But this sitting of the assembly, the sixth in Florence, was the last of those in which both sides took part in the controversy. By the time of the following sitting, the Emperor, weary with the tediousness with which affairs were carried on, commissioned Mark to prepare an exposition of the principal foundations of the Orthodox doctrine on the disputed subject.
Thus, in the following sitting, (March 17) Mark spoke before the Council; and, adducing one by one the passages of the Gospel and Apostles, the decrees of the Councils, and the testimonies of the Fathers till the Third Ecumenical Council, showed how the authority of Scripture and the doctrine of the ancient Church confirm the dogma confessed in all its purity by the Orthodox Eastern Church, and refute the newly invented doctrine of the Church of Rome. Here is an extract from his speech: —
"First of all, God the Word Himself, the First Divine and Teacher of Divines, in His last discourse with His disciples, told them, when imparting to them the secrets of theology, ‘When the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me. Here, by three expressions, our Saviour has placed the three Divine Persons in their relation to each other. Of the Spirit He says, ‘When He is come;’ of Himself with the Father, ‘Whom I will send unto you from the Father, then of the Father alone, ‘Which proceedeth from the Father. See you not a strict exactness in this Divine doctrine? The words when . . . come show the freedom and superior dignity of the Spirit. When He says, ‘Whom I will send unto you from the Father, then He shows His own and His Father’s will of sending the Holy Ghost. But when He says, ‘Which proceedeth from the Father, He shows the Cause of the Spirit, from Which He takes His existence. . . Why, then, did not the Lord say, after mentioning Himself, and attributing to Himself and the Father the mission of the Holy Ghost, why did He not say of His procession, ‘Which proceedeth from Us?’ He would have undoubtedly have said so, if He had avowed the procession of the Holy Ghost from Himself also. And that the procession from the Father forms a personal attribute of the Holy Spirit, and that consequently no ‘Filioque’ can be implied here, is testified by S. Gregory. Representing the personal attributes of the Divine Persons, he says, ‘Keeping within the limits given us, we introduce the Unborn, Born, and Proceeding One from the Father. Thus, when the personal attribute of the Holy Ghost is His procession from the Father, and not merely a procession, — and the personal attribute must fully coincide with the person to whom it belongs, as a person, including nothing more or less in itself, — then, if there is a Holy Ghost, He proceeds from the Father; and if some one proceeds from the Father, then it is the Holy Ghost.
"Christ’s disciple Paul writes in his Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God (1 Cor. 2:12). Let no one suppose that in this text one can imply the Son under the name of God. S. John explaining this theology in his revelation to Gregory the Wonderworker, at the mediation of the Virgin Mary, says: One is the Holy Spirit, receiving His being from God, and appearing to men through the Son. It is evident, that here one must not imply the Son in the words ‘receiving His being from God, for otherwise it would not have been said, and appearing to men through the Son….
"After the Divine Apostle Paul, let his disciple blessed Dionysius come forth .... Showing the difference of the Divine persons, he says: ‘there is one source of the pre-essential Godhead — God the Father." Thus, if the Father is the only source of Divinity, and in this differs from the Son and Holy Ghost, then neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost can be the source of Divinity together with the Father. The same is said by S. Athanasius the Great in his sermon on the eternal existence of the Son and Holy Ghost. We differ, he says, both from the Jews and from those who offend Christianity, who, denying God from God, say as the Jews do, that there is one God, not meaning that there is one unborn and one source of Divinity — the Father, — but implying that He has no Son or Living Word.
"But let us show you also the definitions of the Ecumenical Councils; they confirm our doctrine. The first holy Ecumenical Council by the mouth of Leontius, Bishop of Caesarea, speaks thus to the doubting philosopher: ‘Receive the one Divinity of the Father, Who hath produced the Son, and of the Son born of Him, and of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the very Father and proper to the Son, as the Divine Apostle says: If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His (Rom. 8:9). The Fathers signify by the words ‘proper to the Son, that though the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son, He is not strange to Him, is His own by essence, consubstantial with Him. Basil the Great teaches the same: ‘The Spirit is called Christ, as essentially united to Christ.’ If S. Basil had admitted the existence of the Spirit from the Son, as the interpolated book says, then he would not have said: ‘as united essentially to Christ, but ‘as proceeding and receiving existence from Him.
"The second Ecumenical Council wishing to explain the words of the Nicene Creed: ‘and in the Holy Ghost, and to show more clearly against heretics, how it is that the Holy Ghost is reckoned together with the Father and the Son, speaks thus in its symbol: "we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified’ Here attention must be paid to the objects the Fathers had in view when writing these words. The Council wished to represent the manner of the Holy Ghost’s union with the Father and the Son, and see now how distinctly the Council marks the affinity of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son. The Fathers did not say that the Spirit is reckoned with the Father and Son, but that He proceeds from the Father, and is together worshipped and together glorified with the Father and Son, that is, He is of equal honour, and consubstantial with Them. If the Council had admitted the Spirit’s procession from the Father and the Son, why then did it not in speaking of the Father and Son say: ‘Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified?’ This is what should have been said if the Council had adhered to such a doctrine. But whereas, in the first case, the Fathers did not mention the Son when they were showing the cause of this procession, and did mention Him in the second place when showing His equality of honour and consubstantiality, then it is plain, that they did net admit of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son also. That this explanation is a perfect one, and riot half-perfect, as you say, is evident from this, that none of the subsequent Councils gave any new version to the explanation and did not add, that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. On the contrary, all the Councils have prohibited and reproved this addition by their decrees, as if prophetically foreseeing what would happen among you.
"Gregory the Theologian says quite conformably with himself and the other Fathers: ‘Everything the Father has belongs to the Son, with the exception of causality.’
"The third Ecumenical Council having listened to the Nestorian Creed (presented by the presbyter Charisius), which, among other things, contained the following: ‘The Holy Ghost is not the Son, neither does He take His existence through the Son/ — received and approved of this theology, as being that of the Fathers and conformable with the Divine Scripture — without making any objection against it. But in its decree on the Creed, the Council remarked: ‘if any, whether Bishops, or priests, or laymen, shall be discovered either holding or teaching the things contained in the exposition, which was exhibited by the presbyter Charisius concerning the incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God, or the impious and profane doctrine of Nestorius, they shall be subjected to the sentence of this holy and Ecumenical Synod.’ See, my Fathers, what doctrine in this Creed the Council calls impious and profane? The doctrine on the incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God. Thus, we see, that the dogmas relating to theology were found by the Council to be sound, religious, and meriting no reproof. This also is no small argument in favour of the universal doctrine of the Church, that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son.
"And when Cyril the blessed, disputing with Nestorius on the procession of the Holy Ghost, gave some reason to think that he admitted the Spirit’s procession from the Son, then Theodoret, rebuking him in the name of the Eastern Bishops, wrote: ‘If he (Cyril of Alexandria) calls the Spirit proper to the Son, in the sense that He is consubstantial with the Son and proceeds from the Father; then we agree with him and call his words orthodox. But if in the sense, that the Spirit receives His existence from the Son, or through the Son, then we reject his words as evil and blasphemous. For we believe the Lord, Who said: The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father. Answering this accusation in a letter to a certain Bishop — Eutropius, Cyril complains of being slandered by him on account of his enmity towards himself and his friendship with Nestorius. He also wrote in his apology, that ‘though the Spirit proceeds from the Father, still He is no alien to the Son, for the Son has everything jointly with the Father. See, how he agrees with that part of the doctrine in which Thodoret agrees with him. Lastly, on the conclusion of peace with the Easterns, Cyril the blessed wrote on the same subject to John of Antioch. Here he again speaks of the procession of the Holy Ghost and of the Creed: ‘We do not allow ourselves or others to change a single expression in the Symbol of Faith, to omit one syllable, ever mindful of him who said: Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set, (Prov. 22:28) for it was not they who spoke, but the Spirit of God and Father, which proceedeth from Him, but is not alien to the Son, as regards His essence. You can see from this also, to what part of Theodoret’s division Cyril agrees to. On the receipt of this epistle by the Easterns, Theodoret finding this theology conformable with his own doctrine and that of Scripture, wrote to John of Antioch as follows: ‘The last epistle (of Cyril) is adorned with Gospel honesty; for in it, our Lord Jesus Christ is received as perfect God and perfect man, and the Holy Ghost not receiving His existence from or through the Son, but as proceeding from the Father’’ and proper to the Son. Finding this epistle correct we have given praise to Him, Who has healed the stammerers and changed discordant sounds into a perfect harmony.
"We see from all this," concluded Mark, "that we teach conformably with Holy Scripture, and the holy Fathers, and Teachers, nothing changing or misrepresenting in the dogmas handed down to us, nothing adding to them, or taking from them, and adding nothing" new."
John several time interrupted Mark’s speech with his remarks, that he had diverged from the fixed order of the dispute. But the defender of orthodoxy answered: "All the proceeding sittings passed in the examination of two or three passages from the Fathers. This way of conducting the dispute must not last for ever, and we have therefore agreed to offer our arguments concretely, extracting them not from any spurious or little known sources, not from doubtful and corrupted places, but from the Holy Scriptures, and by all received passages from the Fathers. If we continue to dwell upon one and the same subject, there will be no end of our refutations of your words and answers."
After this, John also found it expedient to make a solemn proclamation, that "the Church of Rome does not admit of two principles or causes in the Trinity, but only one cause and one principle, anathematizing all who think to the contrary." Here John intentionally avoided a full explanation of what he meant, for he never refused to admit the Son as a cause of the Holy Ghost, but said, that the Father is the original cause of the Spirit, and that the Son derives power from the Father to educe the Spirit not from Himself, but from the Father. John’s words were not without their influence.
The Emperor deeming everything done on his own part to sustain orthodoxy, appointed a separate assembly of Greeks at the Patriarch’s residence. There, he showed the Bishops, that the time was passing by very quickly, whereas the disputes had advanced matters a very little farther. It is time, said he, to terminate the disputes and seek other means for our reconciliation with the Latin Church. These means are in your hands, my fathers! Brother John has said before the whole of the Council, that the Latins admit one cause of the Son and the Holy Ghost — the Father. The Emperor then showed a written exposition of the doctrine, given to him by John.
But the Bishops, knowing well what double meaning lurked under the expressions used by John in the written exposition of the Latin doctrine, sought another, firmer foundation for peace. The attention of all was turned to the epistle of Maximus the Confessor, (seventh century) who in his time wrote in the following manner about the Roman Christians: — "Adducing the testimony of the Roman Fathers and of Cyril of Alexandria (from .his exposition on the Gospel of John), the Romans do not affirm that the Son is the Cause of the Spirit, for they know that the Cause of the Son and of the Spirit is the Father of One by birth, and of the Other by procession; but only show that the Spirit is sent through the Son, and thereby express the affinity and the indifference of their essence." The Greeks received this testimony of Maximus about the ancient Romans with great pleasure. ("If the Latins teach on the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost conformably with the testimony of Maximus," said the Greek bishops, "then no further discussions are necessary, and the former union of Churches can take place."
The Latins however would not agree with this. They wanted to have the last word, and demanded a continuation of the Council sittings. It was very reluctantly that the Emperor again appeared at the Council. In order not to recommence the disputes, he prohibited the re-appearance of the two combatants for orthodoxy, — Mark of Ephesus and Anthony of Heraclea.
In the course of the last two solemn sittings (March 21 and 24), when John the Provincial, noticing the absence of his energetic opponent, obstinately demanded Mark’s re-appearance, the Emperor answered this boastful scholastic, "We do not wish to renew the disputes at present; this is why Mark is absent. We have come here only to satisfy your demands. Say what you will, we will give no answer."
Thus, during both the last sittings, John was the only orator at the Council. In the first sitting he quoted the testimonies of the Eastern Fathers and Teachers, which, in his opinion, confirmed the doctrine of the Church of Rome. In the last sitting, he, not so much refuting as changing Mark’s words, adduced the words of the Eastern Fathers, apparently agreeable to this doctrine. None of the Greeks said a word in return; such was the Emperor’s will. Only, towards the end of the sitting, Isidore of Russia observed to John, that he who remains alone on the course vainly thinks himself conqueror, when there are no rivals to compete with him.
The solemn session ended. The Pope sent to the Patriarch saying that the Greeks had refused to continue the disputes, they must either express their consent to the doctrine of the Church of Rome, or return home by Easter (April 5).
7. Secret means for Reconciling the Geeeks to the Latin Doctrine on the Filioque clause.
From about this time commences a tedious and heavy struggle between the Emperor’s conscience and the demands of the Latins; between views of aiding his empire and fears of falling under the general accusation of treason to Orthodoxy. All hope of a true Christian peace for the Church was lost. It was to be bought at a bargain. How, then, could he give this bargain a more honest appearance? How could he give the least account of it before his own Church, before his own people? Such were the principal questions forming an uneasy theme for the on all sides oppressed Emperor!
In the private sittings of the Greeks he said, "I am the defender of the Church. The duty of a defender in this case consists, firstly, in preserving and defending the doctrine of the Church, in giving liberty to any one wishing to defend it, and in keeping back persons inclined to dispute and contradict; secondly, to keep all our people in unity of spirit ." At another time when the tired Greeks asked him to end the disputes as soon as possible he answered, "This depends not on me, but on the Church. If I act firmly, and any harm happens, the general displeasure will fall upon me. This is a Church affair, and requires great circumspection and a Church Council." When the Pope and Cardinals hurried him on to conclude peace, he again answered, "I am no lord over the Council; I desire no forced union."
Thus spoke and thus apparently acted the Emperor, deciding upon nothing without the Bishops’ advice, and in the meantime using different means to attain the object he had in view. He became very intimate with the members most devoted to the union — Bessarion of Nice, Isidore of Russia, and Gregory the Syncellus. With these he took counsel, and by means of them he inclined the minds of the other members to his wished-for aim.
In order to understand the matter better, it is worth noticing why these persons were so eager for a union with the Church of Rome. Bessarion assured his friends that he inclined to the Latin side, because he was persuaded by the number of testimonies which seemed to confirm the Latin doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost. But we have seen how signal a victory was gained over these false arguments by Mark of Ephesus. The learned Bessarion could not but feel this also, for he did not contradict Mark, neither did he ask him to solve his misunderstandings. If he had been sincerely attached to his old faith, then surely it would not have been so easy a matter for him to change it. No, it was no love of truth, but other objects in view, that prevailed upon him to side with the Latins; and most likely a wish to afford John pleasure, and a hope of honours from the Roman court. Very curious is his opinion of one of the former defenders of the Latin doctrine, Nicetas of Thessalonica, who nevertheless deemed the addition to the Creed an unjust one. He avowed, wrote Bessarion, the conclusion a just one, (i.e., that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son) but disputed, we may say, about an ass’s shadow, asserting that even what is true ought not to be added to the Creed. A proof of deep religious feeling and wisdom! Does the irony of his words testify to his love of truth? But this is exactly what he wrote in his letter to Alexis Lascaris, in which he explains his motives for agreeing with the Latins. Isidore himself remarked to John the Provincial, during the last sitting, that his arguments, to which no answer was given, do not give him the right of claiming a victory over the Greeks; and notwithstanding, immediately after the close of the session, was the first to vote for the Latins. Plainly enough, in this case also, it was not persuasion in the truth that impelled Isidore to act as he did, but wishes and hopes similar to those nourished by Bessarion. As to Gregory, who afterwards ascended the throne of the miserable Patriarch Joseph, this is what he says of himself in moments of sincerity: "I know that, if we join the Latin Church, we shall be cursed, yes, even before we get to Venice; if even we do not join, we shall still be cursed. At all events, it is better to join, and then bear the curse. Such were the person surrounding John!
When those who were displeased at the turn of affairs had taken asked the Emperor’s leave to return home, he would not allow any one to go out of the town, accused them of pusillanimity, of indifference towards the general good; threatened them with his anger. In the private meetings he pointed out to the Greeks the advantage of concluding peace, referred to his own labours, the example of former times; at one time asking civil officials to the council and demanding their opinions, at other times prohibiting them to vote.
In the meantime the Pope, instead of all the comforts promised by him to the Greeks, kept them longer than he did at Ferrara waiting for the promised help. Ever since their arrival at Florence, (Feb. 8) they had not received a penny till the 22nd of May, and then only two months’ allowance was paid them. The rest of the money was paid down after the last decree on the union was signed. Christopher, the distributor of the Papal largesse, even had the impudence to order that nothing should be given to Mark of Ephesus. "He eats the Pope’s bread,’ said Christopher, "and opposes the Pope."
Such was the condition of the Greeks, when the means of bringing about an union with the Church of Rome were being discussed. The notice given by the Pope was very short. On Monday in Holy Week (March 30), the Emperor summoned a council in the apartments of the invalid Patriarch. Before it took place, the Greeks looked over the books referred to by the Latins. As soon as the discussion about the union commenced, Isidore of Russia was the first to give in his vote. "It is better,’ said he, "to join the Latins heart and soul, than to return without having finished the work in hand. Of course we can return, but how to return — whither — when?" Bessarion defended Isidore’s opinion. But Dositheus of Monemvasia, Vicar of the throne of Jerusalem, replied with warmth, "What is it you want to do? To return home at the Pope’s expense, and turn false to our doctrine? I would sooner consent to die, than receive the Latin faith." Isidore tried to persuade him, that not only the Western but the Eastern Fathers admit the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son. Anthony of Heraclea, Vicar of the Alexandrian throne, objected, that the Councils and all the Greek Fathers teach that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone. But Mark, daring more than the rest, proclaimed that the Latins were" not only schismatics, but heretics. "Our Church," said Mark, "has kept silence on this, because the Latins are more powerful and numerous than we are; but we, in fact, have broken all ties with them, for the very reason that they are heretics. Peace with them can be renewed only on their rejecting the addition to the Creed, and receiving our doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost." "How, then, wilt thou answer the testimonies of the Latin Fathers adduced by the Latins?" asked the Emperor. Mark answered, "I am not certain whether they really are the words of holy Fathers. We have none of their writings.’ Afterwards, while speaking on the same subject, Mark added, "that the Latin testimonies of the Fathers must be compared with the testimony of Maximus the Confessor on the belief of the Church of Rome, and also with the testimonies of the Ecumenical Councils."
Thus, even at the very commencement of discussions on the union, a division took place between the parties discussing! Three Vicars of three Eastern Patriarchates stood firmly for Orthodoxy. They were joined by other bishops, though not all, and even by some of the civil officials surrounding the Emperor.
During Holy Week and Easter the Greeks had three more assemblies on the same subject, and with the same success. Some sided with Bessarion and Isidore, as, for instance, Dorotheus of Mitylene, who from this time became a strenuous upholder of the union. But the Orthodox side was stronger than the opposition. This is why the Emperor, on Friday in Easter Week, (April 10) sent to tell the Pope that the Greeks would no longer continue the disputes, and could find no means for a reconciliation: "If you can think of any means, tell us; but we have said, and say, that the doctrine taught by us is the tradition of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils."
The Pope requested the Greeks to state their misunderstandings on the doctrine Of the Church of Rome, and to hear an answer to them by the Latin divines; "or else if you wish," said the Pope, "let every one before the Gospel, or before the Blood and Body of Christ frankly divulge his opinions: and then, what shall be found just by the majority, shall be universally received." But to agree to the first proposition was the same thing as recommencing the disputes. The last part of the proposal seemed to be something out of the common, as it was never heard of at the former Councils. Thus on the same day, the Emperor and the Council of the Greeks, having refused the first proposition renewed their demands for other means to bring about the union.
The Pope promised to send his Cardinals to speak on this subject with the Greeks. In expectation of these counselors, Bessarion of Nicsea and George Scholarius presented to the Greek assembly their own opinions upon the subject of dispute between the Greeks and Latins, and on the present position of Greek affairs. Bessarion began his long speech by saying, that Eastern and Western Bishops being led by one and the same Spirit cannot contradict each other, and concluded from this, that when contradictions are to be met with in their writings, they must be reconciled, by determining the sense of obscure passages by those more clear. But, among the Western Fathers, continued Bessarion, we find many plain allusions made of the Spirit’s procession from the Son. The Eastern Fathers sometimes say, that the Holy Ghost appears, emanates, proceeds from the Father through the Son, is the Spirit of Both, is from the Son. All these expressions, concluded Bessarion, must be understood as agreeable to the doctrine, contained, as he thought, in the writings of the Latin Fathers and Church Teachers. Their very words he did not quote, deeming, as he affirmed, what was said at the Council satisfactory; though referring to the arguments made use of by Mark of Ephesus, he did not examine or refute them, and used a very strange method of reconciling the contradictions between the Easterns and Westerns. For if no one doubts, that the Fathers of the Eastern Church were the teachers of the Western Fathers, if the former are superior both in age and learning, and on account of their labours in the developments of the doctrine of faith, then evidently it is not the Eastern Fathers are to be explained by the Latin ones, but vice versa. Bessarion even blamed Mark for not answering some of the Latin questions at the Council. Scholarius’ speeches, even if they have not come down to us in their original form, as the Latins themselves avow, contained exhortations for peace to be founded not on any interested motives, but on truth universally acknowledged; they also pointed out the means of doing away with the objections against the truth’s open confession, and to some of the means of defining it. On the 15th of April three Cardinals, with several Bishops and Abbots came to the Council from the Pope. Cardinal Julian spent two hours in trying to prove to the Emperor the necessity of recommencing the discussions. The Emperor would not comply. After several disputes on this subject, it was agreed to appoint a committee of twenty members, ten .from each side, to lay down the .doctrine of the Holy Ghost’s procession in such a form, as might be received both by the Latins and the Greeks. The members of the committee were to assemble in the Papal palace, and each of them in turn was to give his opinion in the course of eight sittings.
On receiving the Pope’s assent to this discussion, the Emperor appointed Anthony of Heraclea, Mark, Isidore, Dositheus of Monemvasia, Bessarion, and others, as members of the committee; and himself was present also during its sittings. It was hard to suppose that the committee would agree in the choice of the means for a reconciliation, after disagreeing with each other on dogmatical principles. Bessarion proposed, that the same expressions should be used which ‘had been formerly used by Maximus the Confessor, in his epistle to Marinus, to explain the Latin doctrine on the procession. But the Latins found that these words contained a meaning directly contrary to the doctrine of the Eastern Church. Others adduced as an example the epistle of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, where it was said that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father through the Son. But the Latins on getting to know that the Greeks distinguish διά from εκ, objected to these expressions. Mark, always true to his persuasion, said on this occasion: "Let the Latins do away with the addition made by them to the Creed, and then the union of Churches can take place."
But the Latins would not even listen to this proposition. Thus, the sittings of the committee were spent in vain disputes, so that the Greeks after two meetings refused to come any more to the Papal palace. The Latins however obliged them to attend three more meetings, which as usual were without any result.
Soon after, the Latins sent their own formula or exposition of the subject disputed to the Greeks. They proposed, that both parties should explain their doctrine in the following form: "We Greeks do proclaim that, though we admit the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father, still we do not deny that the Holy Ghost proceeds and receives from the Son, as from the Father; but forasmuch as we have heard that the Latins avow the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, as from two principles, for this very reason have we avoided this expression. But we Latins do affirm that, though we avow the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, still we do not deny that the Father is the source and origin of all Divinity, i.e., the Son and the Holy Ghost; in like manner, avowing the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, we do not deny that the Son has this from the Father, and do not admit two principles or two proceedings of the Holy Ghost, but one origin and one procession." Two days later the Latins sent in their exposition of the dogma also.
When this exposition was read before the Council of Greek Bishops, it was indignantly rejected by nearly all of them, excepting the real apostates of orthodoxy, such as Isidore, Bessarion, Dorotheus of Mitylene, Gregory the almoner: "How are we to receive," said the orthodox, "this exposition directly contrary to the doctrine of our Church?" The Latin partisan Bessarion again took up his favourite theme, and endeavoured to prove that the expressions found in the works of the Greek Fathers, such as — through the Son, are quite identical with the Latin from the Son, i.e., that the Son is the cause of the procession of the Holy Ghost as well as the Father, though the Latins themselves, as we have seen above, did not look upon these expressions as identical. Mark of Ephesus opposed to Bessarion the words of S. John Damescene, who, admitting the procession of the Spirit through the Son, at the same time denies His procession from the Son, and for this reason does not admit, that the Son is the cause of the Holy Ghost.
This is what S. John says: Πνεύμα του Πατρός, ως εκ Πατρός εκπορευόμενον, και Υιού δε Πνεύμα, ουκ ως εξ αυτού, αλλ’ ως δι’ αυτού εκ του Πατρός εκπορευομενον. Μονός γαρ αίτιος ο Πατήρ.
More than one sitting was spent in unnecessary discussions on the εκ and διά. At last the Emperor reminded the assembly that an answer must be given to the Latins. Isidore proposed that the treatise on the Greek doctrine contained in the exposition sent by the Latins, should be filled up with expressions found in the writings of the Greek Fathers, and more agreeable to the Latin doctrine. With this in view, he read several passages from the work of one Latinizing Patriarch, John Veccus, passages interpolated and wrongly explained by an upholder of the Church of Rome. Two such passages were chosen: one from the acts of the first Ecumenical Council, compiled by Gelasius of Cyzicum; the other from the works of S. Cyril of Alexandria. The first, if read in the form given to it by Veccus, stands thus: "The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, but is as His own to the Son, and overflows (αναβλύζον) from Him." The second passage reads as follows: "The Spirit essentially flows from Both, that is, from the Father through the Son." When rightly understood, with the words άναβλύζον and εκπορευομενον taken in the sense of temporal mission, these passages can be received by the Orthodox: thus, when the Emperor demanded the general opinion on these passages, many declared their assent to the doctrine contained in them. But all these expressions lacked dogmatical accuracy, and this was why the defenders of orthodoxy were little content with them. Notwithstanding this, the Emperor ordered that the Greek doctrine on the Holy Ghost should be expounded, and drawn up in expressions received by the majority. His orders were executed by Scholarius.
In the exposition presented, the passage about the Latin doctrine remained as before; but the Greek doctrine was expressed in the very words of the above mentioned expressions,: "We Greeks do believe and confess, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, but is as His own to the Son and flows out (άναβλυζον) from Him; we also affirm and believe that He essentially flows from both, that is, from the Father and through the Son." Thus, in this formula, the Latin and the Greek party each retained its own doctrine, without rejecting the contrary opinion. On the formula being read before the Greek’ Council, the Emperor again demanded to know the general opinion on it, and also sent to know the Patriarch’s opinion, who was then absent on account of his illness. Many approved this exposition of faith, and the Patriarch also, at least as the messengers said, gave in his vote for it. But the three Vicars of the Eastern Patriarchates, Anthony, Mark, and Dositheus, and with them several Bishops, and Syropulus, rejected it. Anthony of Heraclea reminded the Emperor, that he himself at the commencement of the Florentine session had left the Greeks the right of recommencing the discussions on the addition to the Creed, whereas now he had given up everything to the Latins. Dositheus implored the Emperor to be more careful in what he did regarding the faith, and pointed out the miserable example of Michael Palaeologus. But John would listen to nothing, and in order to increase the number of votes favourable to the formula, ordered votes to be taken from the reporters present at the Council, at the proposal of the Metropolitan of Lacedsemon and contrary to all rules. Thus a majority of twenty-one against twelve passed the exposition of faith, compiled to please the Latins, and given over to the Cardinals in the beginning of May.
The Latin party present at the Council deemed this victory a very valuable one. But the Latins were not content with this twofold exposition of faith, and a short time afterwards sent in twelve remarks on the Greek confession of faith. One of these remarks was that expressions εκπορευομενον and αναβλυζον used by the Greeks have a double meaning, and can be referred to the temporal mission of the Holy Ghost from the Son, and consequently demanded, that the Greeks should either receive the Latin formula of confession or correct their own exposition of faith, changing the obscure and indefinite expressions in it. The Emperor did not show these remarks to the Bishops, but only mentioned, that the Latins demanded some explanations to several of the expressions in the Greek confession of faith.
For a long time afterwards, it seemed, that all efforts for a reconciliation with the Latins would remain fruitless. The Bishops who had consented to the exposition sent in by the Latins, now showed evident signs of discontentment. "What else do the Latins require from us?" said they. "We wrote and presented our confession of faith in expressions used by the Fathers. We can do nothing more." Dull from inactivity, and pressed by want, the Greeks began asking the Emperor’s leave to return home; but he kept them. The meetings following were spent in the former discussions on the εκ and δια, on the authenticity or not of the Latin testimonies. But all these discussions were ever without any results, but those of mutual anger. Anthony of Heraclea, an old man, who had not received a learned education, but was notwithstanding a warm defender of Orthodoxy, arid Mark of Ephesus were continually affronted by their Latinizing brethren. Once even Bessarion publicly declared, that Mark was held by an evil spirit, while Dorotheus. With Methodius of Lacedaemon threatened to tell the Pope that Mark looks upon the Roman Pontiff as a heretic Anthony and Mark approved the objections of Nilus Cavasilas against the Latin subtleties; but Gregory the Confessor, and Isidore of Russia, called Nilus a schismatic, and bade Mark first curse him and then adduce his testimonies.
In the mean time the Latins were still expecting an answer to their remarks. But the Emperor would not answer. During an interview with the Pope he said: "If you receive our confession of faith, then let the union come to pass. If not, we will return to Constantinople." At another time, in reply to some reproofs made by the Pope on his inactivity, he said: "Of course we ought to have given an explanation of our confession of faith; but the most part of our Bishops are in doubt of what is demanded of them, some through ignorance, others because they cannot reject the doctrine received from the Fathers." At last the Pope persuaded the Emperor to send the Greek Bishops to his palace, intending to have a personal interview with them.
On the 27th of May the Bishops came. Receiving them in the presence of nine Cardinals, the Pope reminded them of his efforts and earnest desire for the union of Churches, at the same time turning their attention to their slowness in performing his wishes both at Ferrara and Florence; he threatened to leave them helpless if they did not bestir themselves to join the Church of Rome, and bade them hope for aid from the Christian monarchs in case of the union taking place. Who knows, that other more private and pleasant promises were made by this principal upholder of the union?
At all events, soon after this Papal exhortation Isidore and Bessarion, together with the Metropolitans of Lacedsemon and Mitylene, came to the Emperor, and positively told him, that, "if he does not wish for the union, they will unite without him.’ This declaration made a very strong impression on the Emperor, so much so, that he ordered the Bishops to assemble for a discussion. On the 28th of May the Emperor opened the meeting with a speech, in which he represented the necessity of peace for the Churches, advising his hearers at the same time to be very circumspect in an alliance with the Church of Rome. The Bishops then anathematized all averse to the union. Then, at the demand of the Patriarch, were read those passages from S. Epiphanius and S. Cyril of Alexandria, in which the Latinizing party thought they could see the consent of these Fathers to the doctrine of Rome; these passages were easily found in the same works of Veccus, from which they had been before extracted. Repeating one passage after the other, without the beginning or end, without even connecting them, Bessarion concluded: "so say the saints in many places!" Dorotheus then read the testimonies of the Latin Fathers.
On the next day, the reading of the Fathers of the Eastern Church was continued, namely, S. Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Anastasius the Sinaite, John Damascene, and the conclusion made was, that all these Fathers admit the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son.
On the third day (May 30) votes were collected in favour of the Latin doctrine. The Bishops asked the Patriarch to vote, at first. Joseph was loth to consent. At last he gave in his vote, but his very vote was so capable of two meanings, that many thought that he rejected the Latin doctrine. Then followed the votes of the Bishops and Hegumens. Out of twenty-seven present, ten voted for the union: seventeen against it. Among those who would not consent to it, were the three Patriarchal Vicars, Mark of Ephesus, Anthony of Heraclea, and Dositheus of Monemvasia; the Metropolitans of Trebizond, Cyzicum, Tornovo, Moldovlachia, Amasea, Melenicus, Drama, Drystra, and Anchialus. Thus it seems that most of the Bishops were not persuaded by the lengthened readings of Bessarion and his party. The Chartophylax, Ecclesiarch, and other persons in the Patriarch’s service (among whom were many strenuous opponents of the union) were not even asked for their opinions, and were also prohibited voting in the Council, under the plea of their being a degree lower than the Hegumens. The Emperor even wished to hear the opinion of the civil officials in his suite, but was opposed in this by the Patriarch.
The Latinizing party, seeing how few were the votes for the union, betook themselves to other means. The Patriarch was persuaded to invite some of the opposing Bishops to his palace and there to entice them to the union. Isidore of Russia even proposed to cut off the disobedient from the Church; but the Patriarch rejected his plan as one which would be of no good to the union. Instead of this, Joseph invited the Metropolitans of Moldovlachia, Tornovo, and Amasea to his palace, and there reproved them gently on their ingratitude and disobedience. "Why do you not listen to me?" said Joseph. "Was it not from my cell that you came out? Was it not I who raised you to the rank of Bishops? Why then do you betray me? Why did you not second my opinion? Think you, then, you can judge better than others about dogmas? I know, as well as anybody else, what the Fathers taught." The Bishops replied that, disagreeing with the Latins in the disputed doctrine, they thought of expressing the opinion of the Patriarch himself, understanding his words in the sense of a refusal to admit the Latin doctrine. But the Patriarch, in his turn, noticed that they had better have entered into the real meaning of his words, and expressed more clearly what they had heard rather obscurely. When dismissing them, Joseph advised them to follow his opinion, which he promised to explain more fully in the following sitting. The Patriarch also had an interview with Mark, and intreated him in the name of all the Saints and for the sake of his father’s memory, to agree to the union with the Church of Rome. But this venerable man remained firm against all entreaties. He had already been asked to agree to union, even if it were apparently for the sake of others. His answer was: "In deeds of faith there must be no concessions, no waverings." And when the difference between the two confessions was shown as insignificant, Mark answered: "You speak just like the prefect, who intreated Theodorus to receive heretics into communion only once, and then to act as he liked." The saint answered: "Thy request is like, as if a person said, Allow me to cut your head off, and then you may go wherever you like." Following up this example, Mark remained firm to the end.
At the same time, the Emperor by means of various promises had managed to gain over to his cause several of the Bishops, and the envoys from Trebizond and Moldovlachia, and even made the Metropolitan of Cyzicum waver, by making him a present of some land he had been longing for. Isidore, in the meantime, prepared a splendid repast for the Metropolitans of Melenicus, Drystra, Drama, and some others, and at table obtained their consent to the union.
While guaranteeing his success in reconciling the Greeks to an union with the Church of Rome, the Emperor wished also to make himself certain of the Pope’s aid, should the union take place. Isidore, sent by him to the Pope on this business, returned with three Cardinals, who, in the Pope’s name, assured him that the Pope (a) agrees to pay the return voyage of the Greeks; (b) promises to keep three hundred soldiers at Constantinople, and two galleys in the Bosphorus, at his own expense; (c) agree to enforce it as a duty that all pilgrims to the East should call on Constantinople; (d) in case of great necessity is ready to send the Emperor twenty galleys for half a year’s time, or ten galleys for a year; (e) and lastly, if need be, will try to invite the European monarchs to give their aid to the Greek Empire by means of their land forces.
After these preliminaries, the Emperor convoked a second meeting (2nd of June) to make a final decision as to the admission of the Latin dogma and the union with the Church of Rome. In this meeting the Patriarch was the first to give his opinion, which, if it has come down to us rightly, was as follows: "I will not change, and never will I reject our doctrine handed down by the Fathers, but will sustain it till my last breath. But, whereas the Latins do avow the Procession of the Most Holy Spirit from the Son, not of their own accord, but on the foundation of Holy Scripture, therefore do I also agree with them, expressing by the preposition διά, that the Son is the Cause, and therefore also do I join and enter into union with them."
The Patriarch afterwards made a written declaration of his opinion, viz.: "Whereas we have heard the words of the Holy Eastern and Western Fathers, of whom some say, that the Son proceeds from the Father and the Son; and others, from the Father through the Son; therefore, as the expression, ‘through the Son, is equivalent to ‘from the Son, and vice versa, — we, omitting the expression, from the Son. Say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father through the Son ever and essentially. As from One Principle and cause, using δια, through, to express the cause of the Holy Ghost’s Procession." Having explained his opinion, the Patriarch made another remark, that the Latins should not demand the insertion of the Filioque clause into the Greek Creed. After the Patriarch, the Vicars of the Eastern Patriarchates, and the other Metropolitans and Hegumens, gave in their opinions. The union party rapidly increased. Only three Patriarchal Vicars — Mark of Ephesus, Anthony of Heraclea, and Dorotheus of Monemvasia, together with Sophronius, Metropolitan of Anchialus, remained steadfastly true to the Orthodox doctrine. Dositheus of Trebizond, who was not present at the Council on account of illness, gave no opinion at all, notwithstanding his opinion was very much demanded. The Emperor’s brother, Demetrius, also refused to give in his vote, under the plea, that he was not well informed on this affair, and was loth to meddle in it. Ten days afterwards he left the Council. The Emperor refusing to allow the Clergy occupying different offices round the Patriarch to give their votes, nevertheless demanded the opinions of his own civil officers, not excepting the Lord of the bedchamber. All of them agreed to the union; so did also the envoys of Moldovlachia, Trebizond, and Peloponnesus. The Georgian envoys, both Bishop and civilian, had already left Florence, as soon as they guessed the Emperor’s plan of union with the Church of Rome.
At last, the Emperor himself gave his opinion to the Council. He said, that looking upon this Council as Ecumenical, he would abide by its decision, and that of the majority of its members, and is ready to defend its decision. Thus, the first foundation for the union with the Church of Rome was confirmed by the decree of the Council.
Before closing the assembly, the Emperor declared, that as the Council approves the doctrine of the Latin Church, and wishes for an union with it, all contradiction of the Council decree is prohibited, as well as every renewal of the controversy, under pain of severe punishment; and immediately gave orders to his guards to look after the peace of the members of the Council. The opinions of the Bishops were written down. An extract was made from all these opinions, in which it was said: "We believe that the Holy Ghost is ever and essentially from the Father and the Son, ever and essentially proceeds from the Father through the Son." This definition was written down in three copies, one of which was taken by the Emperor, another by the Patriarch, and the third was presented to the Pope. But even the new confession drawn up by the Greeks was not entirely approved by the Latins. The Cardinals demanded that the words, "through the Son" should be omitted in the confession. The Greeks disputed a long while about this; but, at the desire of the Latins, were at last obliged to change these expressions. The confession was re-written, presented to the Pope, and approved by him. On the 8th of June, the confession was read in the presence of the Pope, in Greek and in Latin. As a sign of the approach of the times of peace, between the Churches, the Latins gave the Greeks the kiss of love.
8. Disputes on Other Latin Doctrines. Death of The Patriarch. Proclamation of the Union of Churches.
The kiss given by the Latins was not a brotherly, sincere kiss of reconciled Christians. The Pope having forced the Greeks into a consent to the Latin doctrine on the Holy Ghost, wished moreover, that they should admit the other new doctrines of the Church of Rome, until then ever rejected by the Easterns. He said to Isidore, Bessarion, and the Metropolitans of Trebizond and Mitylene, who had been sent to him by the Emperor (June 9): "We have now by God’s grace, come to an agreement on the disputed dogma. It still remains for us to define the doctrine on Purgatory, on the authority of the Papal throne, on the bread in the Eucharist, and on the consecration of the Host. Then every reason for disagreement will be done away with. Let us then finish our business, which can bear no procrastination."
The Bishops immediately gave their explanation to the Pope’s proposal. With regard to the bread in the Eucharist, they prevailed on the Pope to admit of the validity of the Eucharist, whether performed in leavened or unleavened bread. In answer to the question on Purgatory, they said: "We confess, that the souls of good men receive the full reward, and those of sinners full punishment, whereas those in a middle condition are subjected to agonies in prison; but what is the exact cause of their agonies, whether it be fire, or darkness, or anything else, we cannot positively affirm." With respect to the Pope’s authority, they answered, that the Pontiff of ancient Rome ought to retain the rights he had before the division of Churches. As to the consecration of the Host in the Eucharist, the Greeks admitted, contrary to the doctrine of old, that at the pronunciation of our Saviour’s words: "Take, . eat," &c., the bread and wine are immediately transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, and said, that the prayer following this, in the Greek Liturgiarion has reference only to the communicants. In this prayer — said the apostates from Orthodoxy, quite contrary to its real meaning — we beseech, that the Holy Ghost should descend upon the communicants, and should in them make the bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ, so that the consecrated Host in the Sacrament might cleanse their souls, to the forgiveness of their sins, and not to judgment or condemnation. The Greeks were also required to give an explanation περί θείας ουσίας και ενεργειας, a doctrine upon which Mark would not say a word at the Council. Even now the Bishops would not give the desired explanation.
The Pope not quite satisfied with the explanations given by the Bishops, and wishing for a written answer from the Greek Council, set down his demands more clearly in writing (the next day, June 10). He wished the Greeks to admit all the privileges of the Pope as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and Supreme Pontiff, and that they should consequently admit the justice of the addition to the Creed, as one approved of by the Pope himself; that they should admit the doctrine on Purgatory, and generally speaking on the condition of souls after death, in the very same terms in which it was held by the Church of Rome; and lastly, that they should examine the doctrine on the Divine essence and action (περί θeιaς ουσίας και ενεργειας). The Pope on his part agreed to admit the validity of the Eucharist when performed in leavened bread. But the Bishops, afraid of fresh disputes, refused to bring a written exposition of the Papal demands, and only verbally informed the Emperor arid Patriarch of them. This was before noon.
In the evening of the same day, it became known, that the Patriarch Joseph was dead. According to Dorotheus’s History, it seems, that when all had assembled in the Patriarch’s apartments, they were told by the servants, that the Patriarch had retired to his bedroom, as he was wont to do after his evening meal, and had sat down to write there, but suddenly feeling a sudden agitation, died. The Greeks took the last will of the Patriarch, and found the following to be its contents: "Joseph, by God’s grace Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch. Whereas I have attained the limits of my life, and shall soon have to pay the universal tribute: I do now with God’s help announce my opinion to all my Children. I do myself confess and agree to everything held and taught be the Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the senior Rome. I avow the Pope of the elder Rome, to be the blessed Father of Fathers, the Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Christ. I certify this before all. I admit the Purgatory of souls. In assurance of which it is signed, June 9, indict the 2nd, 1439 year."
Such is the strange description left to us of the Patriarch’s death and his last will, in the history of Dorotheus. There are reasons however for doubting the truth of this narrative. It is evident from the history of Dorotheus, that the Patriarch died on the 10th of June. For, describing the events of the last week spent by the Greeks in Florence, day by day, he says plainly, that, (α) the Greek exposition of the doctrine on the Holy Ghost was received by the Pope on Monday, the 8th of June (τη δευτέρα, ιουνίου όγδοη); (β) that on the Tuesday, he, Dorotheus, himself visited the Pope, as did the other Bishops also; (γ) that, on Wednesday (τη τετάρτη) he was again with the Pope and heard his last demands, which were afterwards stated to the Emperor and the Patriarch (απαντά είπομεν αυτω, the Emperor, όμοιως και τω Πατριάρχη). Immediately after this Dorotheus adds: εσπέρας ούν αφνω μνηνυμα ηλβεν ημιν, τη αύτη τετάρτη, λεγον, ότι Πατριάρχης απέθανε, i.e., in the evening on the same Wednesday we received the report of the Patriarch’s death.
Thus, plainly enough, the Patriarch died on Wednesday, and this Wednesday was the 10th of June. Syropulus asserts the same. He writes: "The Patriarch died suddenly, during the evening meal, on the 10th of June in the 2nd indict." The Roman memoirs on the Council refer the Patriarch’s death to the 10th day of June. How then is Joseph’s will dated on the 9th of June? How then could Dorotheus say, that it was written by the Patriarch a very short while before his death (την προ μικρου γραφεισαν γνώμην)? How Can the following words dated the 11-th of June belong to the Patriarch: και λοίπον ό Πατριάρχης άπεθανεν εν Φλωρεντία μηνι ιουνίω, ενάτη, ίνδικτίώνος δευτέρας? Dorotheus himself mentions having seen the Patriarch alive before dinner on the 10th. It is very evident, that the Patriarch’s will and the incorrect date of his death have been introduced into Dorotheus’ narrative by a later hand, and most likely at the time, when Dorotheus’ history was republished: for in the Latin acts of the Council of Florence the Patriarch’s death is said to have taken place on the 9th, and not the 10th of June; whereas Dorotheus’ history in its original contained neither the Patriarch’s writing nor any false statements.
But, there are other reasons for doubting the authenticity of the Patriarch’s last will. No one present at the Council knew anything about it. Syropulus even, does not make any mention of it. He writes: "The Patriarch said, that he would not remain long in Florence after the signing of the definition (ορον), and would soon take his departure. Nothing of the sort however happened, for he died and was buried before the definition was signed." Gemistes Pletho and Amirutius, who were both present at the Council, say the same. Amirutius writes: "I affirm, that this Council is not Ecumenical, for how can it be called Ecumenical, when the Patriarch of Byzantium suddenly died before the signatures were made?" Gemistes says: "No one will call the Council held in Florence Ecumenical, for the Patriarch of Byzantium did not sign its decrees on account of his sudden death." If Syropulus had known about the above-mentioned will, he would not have passed it over in silence, as silent he was not about Joseph’s other weak actions. If again the Patriarch’s will was known to Gemistes Pletho and Amirutius, then they would not have rejected the dignity of the Council of Florence, on account of its decree given in the month of July not being signed by the Patriarch who died in June; the more so, if in the last testamentary act supposed to have been made by him, he had really affirmed more than that which was required by the definition of faith, namely, agreed to everything taught by the Church of Rome. And what reason again was there for Joseph to give his opinion, when he was not asked for it by the Emperor or Pope, and was himself so carefully slow in acquiescing to the Papal demands? Lastly, why, in the subsequent disputes between the Latins and Greeks at the Council, is the Patriarch’s last will never referred to, nor is it ever mentioned in the Council decree, that the Patriarch had, before his death, expressed his full consent to everything contained in the definition, whereas mention is made of the Patriarchal Vicars? For all these reasons an impartial history of the Council of Florence cannot look upon the Patriarch’s will in any other light but that of an unsuccessful forgery made by some Greek or Latin to allure the Orthodox.
On the next day the Patriarch was buried by the Greek Bishops in the presence of the Latin Cardinals and Bishops. His body was interred in the Church of the Holy Mother of God (S. Mariae Novelise), in the Dominican monastery where the Pope then resided.
The Patriarch’s death apparently made a deep impression upon the Emperor. Remaining now the only support of the Greek Council, he became still more obstinate in refusing the Papal demands, though not from having been influenced by the Patriarch during his lifetime to a more decisive mode of action, neither was it from losing just then a person, who by his persuasions had dispelled the many obstacles opposing the quiet reconciliation of the Greeks with the Latins. Such persons could always be found round the Emperor; so that he was sick of their readiness to agree unconditionally to all the Papal demands. No! While Joseph was alive, the Emperor looked upon him as the supreme Pastor of the Eastern Church, whose duty was to give an account to his Church of all the actions of the Greek Bishops at the Council. But now that Joseph was dead, the Emperor saw that he was himself answerable to the Church for all the intercourse held with the Pope.
On the very day of the Patriarch’s funeral, the Emperor sent to the Pope asking him to bring matters to a close as soon as possible. The Pope calling Bessarion, Isidore, and Dorotheus of Mitylene, repeated the demands, the fulfillment of which was, in his opinion indispensable, for the peace of the Churches. They, as before, gave their opinion. But the Emperor was dissatisfied with this, and invited the whole of the Greek Council to discuss the new demands of the Pope (June 13). Some of the demands he would not even pay attention to, such as on purgatory and the consecration of the Host in the Eucharist. The Council was asked to decide the questions — on the wafer, on the Pope’s authority, and on the addition to the Creed. The Cardinals were also invited to the Council, and they before anything else turned their attention to subjects which had been left out in the list of the subjects to be discussed in the Council, wishing to force the Greeks to their own opinions. The Emperor would not give in, so that two days passed in disputes about subjects, on which none of the Greeks wished to dispute.
At last the Pope invited the Emperor, with several Metropolitans, to his own residence, and there endeavoured to persuade them that the settling of the proposed questions must, most certainly, be introduced into the future Council decree on the union of Churches. At the same time he made them listen to long dissertations on subject which had not been as yet discussed in the Council. John, the provincial treated on the Pope’s authority, and Ambrose Traversari spoke about the consecrated wafer. "All is now settled," said the Pope at the end of the discussion; "we have only to write the exposition of faith;" and then gave the Emperor a list of the subjects to be introduced into the definition, expecting the Greeks to give an answer to them. The Emperor would not take the papers, and only continued saying, "It is no use our talking any more; the Cardinals have said all that was wanted; it is time for us to depart." Hurt by this answer, the Pope left the assembly in great dissatisfaction. The papers were, however, taken by the Greeks.
On looking over the Papal demands at home, the principal agents in the cause of the union told the Emperor that they found the demands just and quite conformable with their own ideas. But the Emperor, having before noticed the adulation paid by them to the Pope, lost all his confidence in them. In a private assembly of his Bishops he complained of the Pope and his own coadjutors. "See what obstinate persons they are," said he of the Latins; "they always choose to have their own way. I know, however, who favours their obstinacy. If some of our own people did not encourage the Latins to be as obstinate as possible in their demands, they would not have used such great efforts to obtain our consent to all their proposals." At another time the Emperor avowed before the Bishops, "that the Greeks had already conceded to the Latins more than what was right. The Latins ought to be contented, and accomplish the union of Churches. But they care very little about peace, and only increase the number of their demands. If the Pope will not rest contented with what we have agreed to, then we have only to hire ships of the Florentines and go home.
John, dissatisfied with the persons surrounding him, tried to win over Mark of Ephesus; commissioned him to make an exposition of the doctrine of the Eastern Church on the Eucharist; and assembling those Patriarchal vicars and Metropolitans who were more inclined to the union, endeavoured by means of them to persuade this firm man to consent to the general union. But Mark valued truth beyond all things, and ever remained faithful to it.
One question beyond the rest could not be settled agreeably to both parties, — the question on the authority of the Pope. The Pope once more assembled the Eastern Bishops to show them the foundation of the ecumenical rights of his throne, — rights and privileges never admitted by the East, and at that time even opposed by many in the West. While in the Pope’s apartments the Bishops seemed to be persuaded in the justice of his demands; at home, after comparing what they had heard with the canons of the Church, they again retracted their consent and were quite at a loss how to agree. After various disputes they, at last, admitted all the privileges of the Papal throne, excepting the right of convoking Ecumenical Councils without the Emperor’s consent, and that of judging the Patriarchs in case of complaint being lodged against them. The Pope however rejected these exceptions, declaring that he wished to retain all the privileges of his throne, such as that of receiving and examining complaints against the Patriarchs, of convoking Councils when he found them necessary, of exacting the Patriarchs’ full submission to his will; in a word the right of governing the whole Church. When the Cardinals announced the Pope’s decision to the Emperor instead of any answer he merely said, "Make all the arrangements necessary for our departure."
This happened on the eve of the Church anniversary of the birth of S. John the Baptist. "The festival," says Dorotheus of Mitylene, "celebrated with such pomp by the Florentines was fast approaching. But we were sad at heart, seeing no prospects of an union taking place. Nevertheless," coolly continues the same writer, "God the Provider of all did not forsake us; but raised the Russian, the Nicene, and the Mitylenian, with several others, to try what they could do." Some of these persons inclined the Pope, and others prevailed upon the Emperor to agree to this last step, viz., to appoint four persons from among the Greeks and the Latins to discuss again upon the disputed subject. And though not publicly in the assembly, still the Greeks at last agreed to write, that they admitted the Pope as Supreme Pontiff, Vicar of Christ Jesus, Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, who governs God’s Church, with the rights and privileges of the Eastern Patriarchs, so that the Patriarch of Constantinople is second to him; then comes the Patriarch of Alexandria; after him that of Antioch; and lastly, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In this form the point was admitted by the Pope. The object of all his wishes was at length attained on the 27th of June.
Agreeing on the principal conditions of peace, the Latins and Greeks hastened to publish a decree on the union of Churches. Deputies from both sides were chosen for this purpose. A dispute, however, arose at the very beginning of the work. The Latins wanted to place the Pope’s name first in the decree. Palaeologus for his part demanded his own name to be prefixed. At last it was decided to add, "with the Emperor’s consent/’ to the Pope’s words. Several expressions in the clause on the Papal authority also gave rise to some disputes. The Latins wrote: "The Pope is to retain his rights according to the doctrine of Scripture and the Holy Fathers." The Emperor insisted that this expression should be changed. "If one of the Fathers." he said, "gives the Pope an honourable title, does that mean, that he admits the special privileges of the Roman Bishop?" After many disputes, the Pope at last consented to have the expression changed, so that instead of the expression, "according to the words of the Fathers," another word was inserted, "according to the rules of the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers." The Latins also found out something in the decree which required correcting. The definition said: "retaining all the rights and privileges of the four Patriarchates." The Latins wanted the word "all" to be omitted. The Greeks would not consent to this, and the word "all" was retained. At last when both parties found nothing else in the decree wanting correction, it was finally transcribed into Greek and Latin. Isidore and Bessarion proposed that a list of anathemas should be in the decree against all opposing the union, very likely having Mark of Ephesus in view. But the Emperor would not allow this.
The day was fixed, when the signing of the decree should take place. Dorotheus of Mitylene proposed to the Pope beforehand, to bribe over some of those who had not as yet consented to the union, and bribes were in fact resorted to. On the 5th of July the whole Council of the Easterns assembled in the Emperor’s palace. The Emperor was the first to sign the decree. The Metropolitan of Heraclea was absent on account of his illness, but was even obliged to sign the decree in his bed. No one thought of disturbing Mark of Ephesus, being convinced of his firmness. Isidore, Bessarion, and the Protosyncellus, joyfully signed their names. Then followed the signatures of the Metropolitans of Monemvasia, Cyzicum, Trebizond, Nicomedia, Tornovo, Mitylene, Moldovlachia, Amasia, Rhodes, Drystra, Gana, Melenicus, Drama, Anchialus, and those of eleven persons from the lower grades of the Constantinopolitan clergy. The Greeks signed without reading the decree beforehand. Its contents were only known to those who had drawn it up. At all events, most of the Greek Bishops conceding to the Pope’s wish, and the Emperor’s will, gave a written, though reluctant, consent to the unjust union. Even those who were not allowed to vote at the Council, were now made to sign. Exceptions were only made for those who had either died, as the Patriarch Joseph, and the Metropolitan of Sardis, or those who had managed to get away from Florence, as was done by Isaiah of Stauropol and the Bishop of Tver.
When all the Greek Bishops, in the presence of the Cardinals, had affixed their signatures to the Council decree, then the Emperor sent ten of the eldest Bishops to witness the signing of the decree by the Pope. Eugenius, after carefully examining the signatures of the Greek Bishops, asked while himself signed the decree, whether the Ephesian had signed? He was told that he had not. "Then nothing have we done," involuntarily exclaimed the Pope. Eight Cardinals signed their names after the Pope, about sixty Bishops, and a good many Abbots.
The Pope had named the 6th of July for the solemn proclamation of the union. The Emperor, Pope, with the Greek and Latin Bishops, assembled in the Cathedral Church of Florence, followed by a numerous concourse of spectators. After the Te Deum, the Cardinal Julian and the Metropolitan of Nicaea read in a loud voice the Council decree on the union of Churches. Julian read in Latin, Bessarion in Greek. In the beginning of this decree, the Pope invited the whole of the Christian world to take part in this great festival, and to return grateful thanks to the Lord, Who, by His omnipotent grace, had thrown down the wall, which, until now, had separated the Churches, and had united them in the firm bonds of love and peace. Then followed the exposition of the doctrine on the Procession of the Holy Ghost, on the Wafer, Purgatory, and the Papal authority, in expressions admitted by the mutual consent of the Greeks and Latins.
After the reading of the act, Julian asked the Latins whether they agreed to the decree. The Latins unanimously answered, "We agree, we agree." When the same question was made to the Greeks by Bessarion, many answered in the same manner, but not all. The Archbishop of Nicsea and the Cardinal then embraced each other. The festival was concluded by a Liturgy officiated according to the Latin rite, in which, however, not one of the Greek Bishops would take part with the Latins, notwithstanding the Pope’s wish, that they should; and none of the Greeks communicated in the wafer.
Such was the conclusion of peace; but peace there was not. Peace was proclaimed between the Churches, and nothing peaceful was there in the spirit of the reconciled parties. Verbally, and in the decree, it was admitted, that the Holy Eucharist is alike valid whether performed on wafers or on leavened bread; but in fact the Greeks refused to receive the Sacrament from the hands of the Latins, and their kiss of peace was given to each other and not to the Latins; and the Latins in their turn, as we shall see afterwards, refused to be present during the Greek Liturgy. The conclusion of peace was a joyful event for one party only — the victors. On leaving Constantinople, the Greeks hoped to be able to persuade the Latins of their secession from the ancient doctrine of faith. Instead of this, they were now obliged to avow the Latins in the right, and admit themselves to be in the wrong, though in reality the truth was on their side. The Latins acceded to nothing; the Greeks were more or less obliged to accede to them in everything. The victorious party did not even try to soothe the sad feelings of their new brethren. The pride of the self-willed conqueror evinced itself in all his intercourse with the newly reconciled party.
The day after the proclamation of the decree, the Emperor sent the Metropolitans of Russia and Nicaea to invite the Pope to perform the Greek Liturgy, in order that the Latins might become acquainted with the rites and ceremonies of the Eastern Church. But the Pope refused to do so, pleading his ignorance of the order of the Greek Liturgy, and requested that the service should first be performed privately before two or three Cardinals. "We shall then be able to see," said the Pope, ‘‘whether we can approve of your service, and allow the solemn performance of the Liturgy to take place." This proud answer deeply offended the Emperor. "We had hoped," he said, "to correct the errors of the Latins. And now I see, that the Latins who have erred in many respects, wish to correct us, who have in no way changed the ancient rules." Since then, the Emperor never again expressed his wish to have the Liturgy performed by the Pope. Soon after this, the Pope proposed eleven questions to the Greeks, concerning the office of the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Chrism, divorces, and the election of the Patriarch. Regarded now as the head of the Church Ecumenical, he thought himself to have the right of demanding from the Greeks a strict observance of the rules of the Church of Rome. Dorotheus, Metropolitan of Mitylene, as he himself says, gave satisfactory answers to all the Latin questions, except two: — on divorces, and the election of the Patriarch. The Pope addressed these questions to the Emperor. He asked him why the Greeks allow divorces, quite contrary to the plain words of our Lord. He next demanded that the Greek Bishops should choose a Patriarch from out of the Bishops present at the Council, and that, too, before they left Florence. "We have," said the Pope, "the Patriarch of Constantinople chosen by us from the Latins, a man of noble birth, honest, rich, and very old. He has not long to live. If you choose him for your Patriarch, your Church will then inherit his riches. If you have already elected one from your own, I am ready to confirm your choice, and withdraw my own candidate." This demand was followed up by another, that Mark of Ephesus should be given up to be judged as an obstinate opponent of the union and the decree.
The Emperor answered the Pope through his Bishops that the Eastern Church has sufficient reasons for allowing divorces; he positively refused to name a Patriarch while in Florence, for, according to the custom of old, the Patriarch of Constantinople must be elected with the consent of all the dioceses under his jurisdiction, and ordained in the Cathedral Church of Constantinople. And as to Mark of Ephesus, the Emperor said, that he, being a Metropolitan of the Eastern Church, could be judged only by Eastern Bishops.
But, when the Pope persisted in demanding that the election of the Patriarch should take place in Florence, and asked the Emperor to send Mark to him, to receive at least a private reprimand, John, at Gregory’s advice (Gregory, the almoner, feared that Isidore would be elected Patriarch), sent off some of the eldest Metropolitans to Venice, and then told the Pope that, in the absence of some of the Bishops, the election to the Patriarchate could not take place. Mark of Ephesus came to the Pope, who met him with reproaches and threats, reminding him of the punishments appointed by the Ecumenical Councils for those who should dare to disobey their decrees. But the undaunted defender of Orthodoxy gave a decisive answer. "The Councils," said he, "sentenced those who would not obey the Church, and kept to opinions contrary to her doctrine. I express not my own opinions, I introduce nothing new into the Church, neither do I defend any errors. But I steadfastly preserve the doctrine which the Church having received from Christ our Saviour, has ever kept and keeps. This doctrine was also allowed to by the Church of Rome unanimously with that of .the East, until the beginning of the division. This doctrine you yourselves have ever approved of before, and have often praised, even in the time being of this Council. And who can slander, or put down this doctrine? If I stand steadfast in this doctrine, and do not wish to reject it, who dares to judge me as a heretic? You must first judge the doctrine I defend; but if that is received unanimously as being holy and orthodox, how is it, then, that I merit judgment?" The Pope was obliged to admit inwardly that there was no hope of dissuading Mark from his opinion, and bade him depart.
As the Papal demands were not attended to, so also those of the Emperor remained unanswered. This can serve as an evident proof how little there was of sincerity and real desire of reconciliation in both parties with regard to the union. Though the Emperor did avow the Pope head of the Church Ecumenical, and ordered his name to be mentioned in the Liturgy, still he did not forget to assert the rights of the Eastern Church to some lands unjustly appropriated by the Church of Rome. The Pope was told that as peace of old was restored to the Churches, so also ought the former boundaries of the dioceses of both the Churches to be restored just as they were before the division of Churches took place. For this reason the Churches on the Islands of Rhodes, Corfu, and others, unjustly appropriated by the Church of Rome, were to be returned to the Constantinopolitan throne. Besides this, the Emperor, at the petition of the Metropolitans of Monemvasia, Rhodes, Mitylene, and several others, showed the Pope the necessity of recalling the Latin Bishops from these dioceses. "The Church of Rome," said the Metropolitans, "must enforce the holy laws, which prohibit two Bishops to preside in one diocese, and also the ordination of any Bishop in a diocese not under the jurisdiction of the Bishop ordaining."
The Pope made no answer to this demand of the Emperor. With regard to the recalling of the Latin Bishops from the Greek dioceses, he answered: "Whereas now, after the restoration of peace in the Church, there is no more disagreement between the Latin and Greek Bishops, — it would be unjust to dismiss either the Greek or the Latin Bishops from dioceses now under their jurisdiction, but it were better to leave matters as they are. Let two Bishops sit on one throne, but when the Latin dies, then let the Greek Bishop alone rule the diocese, and his successors be chosen by the Eastern Church. In the same manner, if the Greek Bishop dies before the Latin, then let the survivor alone sit on the throne, which from that time will be reckoned as being under the jurisdiction of the Church of Rome." Such a decision of course could not satisfy the just demands of the Greek Bishops, and was besides a dangerous one for the Eastern Church. "The Popes decision, however," says Syropulus, "was only a verbal one, and was never followed out.
From all the events subsequent to the union of the Churches, one could well conclude as to the results it would have for the future. The Emperor sought and adhered to the union, simply in hopes of the aid promised for his unfortunate empire.
On the 6th of July Pope Eugenius was recognized by the Greeks at the Council of Florence as head of the Church: whereas ten days previous (June 25) the Council of Basle having repeated the ancient decree on the superiority of Ecumenical Councils over the Pope, had passed judgment upon Eugenius as a heretic for not agreeing to the truth of this decree, and had dethroned him. The Greeks left the Pope to manage as best he could with this Council and the other Pope elected at Basle. Isidore alone, with a few others, remained in Florence until (Sept. 4) Eugenius had publicly in the Cathedral hurled his anathemas and interdictions at the Council of Basle. On the 18th of December, the Pope elected Isidore and Bessarion to the rank of Cardinals, as a reward for their zeal in the cause of the union. Besides this honour Isidore was named Legate a latere in Poland, Livonia, and Russia.
The rest of the Greeks had already left the Council in the month of July. Those who had gone away the earliest, were obliged to wait for the Emperor in Venice, as he left Florence in the end of August (26th) . Mark of Ephesus accompanied him, and his comforts were attended to by the Emperor himself during the whole of his journey. The Pope blessed the Emperor, and promised to send out a fleet and army to Constantinople, if only the European monarchs would agree to help him. Three Cardinals and many prelates accompanied the Emperor as far as the frontiers of Tuscany. The Emperor arrived in Venice with his suite on the 6th of September.
Before the Emperor’s arrival, Metrophanes, Metropolitan of Cyzicum, while celebrating the Liturgy in one of the Venetian monasteries, dared to mention the Pope’s name in the service, but was then at the time reproved by the other Metropolitans and the Despot, who were present. The Emperor wishing to accede to the Doge’s wish of seeing the Greek service, could prevail on the Metropolitan of Heraclea alone to officiate in the Church of S. Mark, and that too after many entreaties. The Metropolitan consented at last, but performed the service on the Greek antimensia, and with the Greek communion plate; the Pope’s name was not mentioned and the Creed was read without the Filioque clause.
The Emperor left Venice on the 19th of October with his brother, the Bishops, and other Greeks, in two merchant vessels. The orthodox inhabitants of Corfu, Methone in the Peloponnesus, Euboea, places where there were both Latin and Greek Bishops, on hearing the results of the Council from the Greeks, made no ceremony in showing their discontent with the union. "Until now," said they to the Greeks, "we could defend our faith and customs against the Latins, but now we must silently obey them in everything." The poor travelers, who had been away two years from their homes, arrived in Constantinople on the 1st day of February 1440. As an addition to their sorrow, the Emperor and the Despot on returning to their respective homes and families, found themselves widowers.
9. Return of the Greeks Home. Rejection of the Florentine Union by the Orthodox Eastern Church.
As soon as the travelers stepped on shore, the inhabitants of Constantinople assailed the Bishops with questions: "How did the Council end? Have we gained the victory?" Those, who had been forced to the union, or had joined it from interested motives, but had not as yet lost all conscience of their crime, did not conceal the truth. Feeling themselves now at liberty in their native land, amidst their orthodox brethren, they answered with heartfelt sorrow: "We have sold our faith, we have exchanged Orthodoxy for heterodoxy, and losing our former pure faith have become azymites. May our hands, which signed the unjust decree be cut off! May our tongues which have spoken consent with the Latins be plucked out!" These were the first words of the good but weak Pastors — Anthony of Heraclea, the oldest members of the Council, and others. Such news made a terrible impression on the orthodox townspeople. Everyone avoided the new arrivers, and those who had anything to do with them. The clergy who had remained in Constantinople would not even agree to officiate with those, who repenting of their consent to the union, declared that they were forced to it!
The Emperor, who had never felt a real inclination to act in the cause of the Latins, and now dissatisfied with the Pope, grieving about the loss of his wife, and troubled by the public discontent with the union, would not for a long time occupy himself with Church affairs. Three months had elapsed since the return of the Greeks, and the Church of Constantinople had still no Patriarch. At last the Emperor ordered the proper persons to think about the election of the Patriarch, an election the more necessary, as the disorders among the clergy were every day getting more and more violent. Then arose the question, "whom to elect?" Was the Patriarch to be chosen from out of those, who had shown the most zeal in the cause of the union, or from out of the defenders of Orthodoxy? The election of the Patriarch was to settle the lot of the union proclaimed in Florence. The Emperor, though little inclined to favour the Latins, would not however break his alliance with Rome. This was the reason of his not choosing Bessarion or any other zealot in the cause of the union, but demanded at the same time that the person chosen should be an upholder of the union.
The proposal of the Patriarchal throne was first made to Mark Of Ephesus, the firm defender of Orthodoxy, and on his refusal of this dignity, as must have been expected, three candidates were then chosen from out of those, who had been at the Council and signed the act of union; namely, Anthony of Heraclea, Dorotheus of Trebizond, and Metrophanes of Cyzicus. But Anthony and Dorotheus, as they rejected the union, so also did they reject the proffered honour. Anthony addressing the Council, said: "I have come here not to be elected, but to disburden my conscience before the Council, a thing I stand in need of very much. I, as you yourselves know, did not agree with those, who approved of the union, but I did sign the decree, though involuntarily. And since then has my conscience constantly smitten me. Bowed down with remorse, I have been seeking an opportunity of throwing this weight off my soul. I thank God, that He has spared me to see you all together in the assembly, and that now I can free myself of my burden by telling you all I wished to say. I repeat therefore, that I reject the union, that I find the Florentine decree contrary to the ancient tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, and give myself over to be judged by the Church, as guilty of having signed that which ought not to have been signed."
After this, Metrophanes was chosen, who at the desire of the royal officers gave a written promise of upholding the Florentine union. He ascended the Patriarchal throne on the 4th of May 1440.
Though the promise given by Metrophanes was made in secret, — though even at that time there was no mention before the Pope; the unceremonious bearing towards him of the bishop present at his ordination as the Papal representative; then, again, the disappointment of the general expectation, that the new Patriarch would put affairs into their former order; all this together served to alienate most of the orthodox from the Patriarch. Many of the bishops would not officiate together with him; and when the Emperor tried to compel them to do so, Mark of Ephesus and Anthony of Heraclea secretly left Constantinople (May 14).
After this, the Emperor began to act with still greater care, especially when his brother Demetrius, who had not received the Florentine union, availing himself of the coolness of the people to the Emperor for favouring the Latin Church, openly opposed him; so that the Pope accused John of weakness and indifference to the cause of the union, and Metrophanes positively threatened to leave his throne.
At the Emperor’s persuasion, however, remaining where he was, he began to act in favour of the union, appointing his friends to the vacant dioceses; and when Demetrius again made friends with the Emperor, he urgently demanded a complete union with the Church of Rome, by right of the decree passed in Florence. But at the time when the Bishops were assembling in Constantinople, to discuss the means of bringing the plans to pass, Metrophanes died (Aug. 1, 1443). The Patriarch’s death seemed to justify the severe sentence which had been pronounced over his actions in Jerusalem by the other three Patriarchs.
The Eastern Patriarchs already knew of the different Latin plans for gaining over the Greeks, from a letter written by Joseph, the Patriarch of Constantinople, either in Florence or Ferrara. After being informed by the Pope of the termination of the various discussions, they soon received an invitation from him to join the union of Churches agreed to at Florence, in which he carefully concealed the conditions under which the union took place. The Patriarchs came to know of these conditions from those who had returned from Italy. Burning with zeal for Orthodoxy, notwithstanding its persecution by the Turks, one of these pastors of the East answered the Pope, saying, that he was ready to enter into union with the Church of Rome, if that Church receives all ancient decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, and the doctrines confirmed by them and the Holy Fathers. "On this condition," he wrote, "we receive the Council of Florence, and do not refuse to mention the Pope’s name in the service. In case of the contrary, we reject the Council; we sentence the bishops and clergy who receive it to be degraded from their rank, and the laymen to be excommunicated." Not satisfied with this, the same Eastern Patriarch wrote to the Emperor John 2 "If you have given way to the Latins for a time only, in hopes of receiving their aid for the empire, and do now reject their doctrine and return to the orthodox faith of your royal ancestors, then we will pray for the salvation of the empire, and especially for thy soul, that the Lord may pardon you all your sins. But if you will be obstinate, and defend a doctrine strange to our Church, then not only will we leave off remembering you in our prayers, but will sentence you to a strict epitimia, in order that the disease of the strange and dangerous doctrine should not circulate further in Christ’s Church. We cannot rule the Orthodox Church as hirelings; but for Christ’s and His Gospel’s sake we are ready to lay down our souls, bodies, blood, all that we have here on earth."
A few months afterwards all the three Eastern Patriarchs assembled in Jerusalem; and having been informed by Arsenius, Metropolitan of Caesarea, of the Metropolitans and Bishops ordained by Metrophanes from among the Latins, pronounced judgment over the unworthy pastors, and proclaimed them deprived of all Church dignities till a Council should have examined their orthodoxy. Giving full powers to Arsenius for acting conformably with their decision throughout the whole of the East, the Patriarchs — Philotheus of Alexandria, Dorotheus of Antioch, and Joachim of Jerusalem — wrote in their patriarchal letter: "The Metropolitan of Caesarea of Cappadocia has informed us of the disorders occasioned by the lawless Council of Florence in Constantinople; a Council in which the Greeks received the Latin dogmas contrary to the ancient canons of the Orthodox Church. The same Metropolitan informed us, that Metrophanes of Cyzicum, who hath unlawfully usurped the Constantinopolitan chair, doth distribute dioceses in the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate and in all the East to his associates, who corrupt their fold by their false doctrine, and sow temptations in Christ’s Church. Wherefore we, in the name of the vivifying and inseparable Trinity, do through this Council declare to all Metropolitans, Bishops, and others of the clergy ordained by Metrophanes, that they, for partaking of this heresy, are deprived of their right of officiating, of all their ecclesiastical degrees, until their faith shall be examined by the Ecumenical Council. Should they not obey our decree, and voluntarily leave their places, which they occupy unlawfully, let them then be excommunicated by the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity, both they, and those who think together with them." Giving the Metropolitan of Caesarea the right of carrying out this decree, the Patriarchs also gave him full powers to preach publicly against the unjust union, to expose and correct all the heterodox thinkers. The decree was published in April, 1443. Mark of Ephesus, the aged defender of Orthodoxy, weighed down by age and illness, but strong in spirit, was not silent also. In his circulars to all Christians, he conjured them to depart from the Florentine union, as one offensive to God; vividly representing the admixture of the old with the new, of the orthodox and patristical with what was newly invented by the Latinizing Greeks, and offered his own confession of faith on the pure doctrine of the Church. "These people," he wrote, "admit with the Latins that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, and derives His existence from Him; for so says their definition, and at the same time they say with us that the Spirit proceeds from the Father. With the Latins, they think the addition made to the Creed lawful and just; and with us will not pronounce it. With them they say that azymes are the Body of Christ, and with us dare not communicate on them. Is not this sufficient to show that they came to the Latin Council, not to investigate the truth, which they once possessed and then betrayed, but simply to earn some gold, and attain a false and not a true union? False: for they read two creeds, as they did before; perform two different liturgies, one on leavened, the other on unleavened bread; two baptisms, one by the trine immersion, and the other by aspersion — one with the holy chrism, the other without it. In like manner all other customs are different with them, e. g., fasts, church rites, &c. What sort of union is this, then, when it has no external sign? How could they join together, retaining each his own? Many were tempted by the idea." Mark continued, "that one can find a medium between two doctrines. True: one can find such expressions which, having a double meaning, could at the same time express something between the two doctrines. But a doctrine midway between two contrary doctrines on the same subject is impossible; for in this case it must be something between truth and falsehood, between an affirmation and a negation. Thus, if the Latin doctrine of the Spirit’s procession from the Son is just, then ours is false. What middle doctrine can there be here?" In the end of his epistle Mark wrote, "Avoid, brethren, such teachers, and all communion with them. They are false apostles, workers of evil transformed into Apostles of Christ. ... It is not the Lord Jesus they serve, but their own bellies, and seduce the hearts of the innocent by their sweet words and blessings. You know what the Apostles command us to do: ‘Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8). And Christ’s beloved disciple says, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds (2 John 10-11). Keep, then, to the traditions received by you, both those which are written and not written, so as not to lose your own security by giving way to evil doctrines." So George Scholarius, who for a time inclined towards the Latins, was now confirmed by Mark in the true faith, and afterwards became one of its most zealous defenders. Without Mark of Ephesus, none of those, who had rejected the union would enter into any disputes with their opponents. Following Mark’s example, his brother John Eugenicus wrote a refutation of the Florentine decree. Syropulus put all the actions of the Council in their true light; in like manner Amirutius represented, though briefly, the secret motives of the Greeks for inclining to the union with the Church of Rome. Another philosopher, Gemistes Pletho, who had defended the orthodox doctrine at the Council, also published a defense of the orthodox doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost.
Thus, we see, that from all sides voices were raised against the Florentine union. The Emperor however retained the same relations to the Orthodox and the Church of Rome. Brooding on his favourite idea of throwing off the Turkish yoke, he had already entered into negotiations with the Pope and Yladislaus, the King of Hungary, concerning the mutual concentration of forces against the Ottoman Empire. Their plans had been to cause a revolt against Amurath in Asia Minor, and by alluring him there with the best part of his forces, to cut off his return to Europe by means of a powerful fleet, and then retake all the towns in his European dominions. The Pope had already invited the European Monarchs to aid the unfortunate Greeks. Cardinal Caesarini persuaded Vladislaus to break a treaty of peace concluded by him a year ago with Amurath for the space of ten years. The fleet arrived in the Hellespont. But Amurath managed to return from Asia, and even to rout Vladislaus’ army under Varna (Nov. 10, 1444). Vladislaus himself and Cardinal Caesarini fell in this battle. So vanished all the hopes placed in the union, which God had not blessed!
But even after this, John still could not make up his mind to break all his relations with the Pope. For about three years the Church of Constantinople had no Patriarch after the death of Metrophanes, and the vacant see was given to Gregory Mamma, the Emperor’s confessor, and one of the most active causes of the Florentine union. He himself wrote objections to Mark’s writings, and began a dispute in Constantinople between the principal defenders of Orthodoxy and the Latin litterati. The Pope named him for his zeal in the Latin cause, Patriarch also of the Latin party then in Constantinople. But notwithstanding all his efforts, as the Pope himself writes, he could not proclaim and enact the decree passed in Florence. So strong was the aversion of the clergy and people to the Latin union, which was attained at the sacrifice of Orthodoxy! The Bishops and clergy of Constantinople demanded, that an Ecumenical Council should be held in Constantinople itself to terminate all the evil caused by the adherents of the union. But the Emperor John died (Oct. 31, 1448) before he had time to satisfy these de-mands; at all events before his death he rejected all union with the Church of Rome. At last the innermost wishes of the orthodox pastors and people were fulfilled. A year and a half after Constantine’s accession to the throne of Byzantium, three Eastern Patriarchs in whose name, though without their consent, the Florentine unorthodox "decree" was signed, viz., Philotheus of Alexandria, Dorotheus of Antioch and Theophanes of Jerusalem, assembled in Constantinople with many Metropolitans and Bishops to quiet the disturbed Church. Assembling a Council in the Church of S. Sophia in Constantinople, they deprived Gregory Mamma of his patriarchal throne and appointed the Orthodox Athanasius in his place, and then in the name of all the Eastern Church rejected the decree of the Council of Florence which they convicted as having acted contrary to the orthodox faith, and accused the Church of Rome of many digressions from the ancient rules and rites of he Church Ecumenical. Gregory soon after this left as a fugitive for Rome (August, 1451).
One could have hoped that now peace would have been quite reinstated in the Constantinopolitan Church. But Constantine wishing to save his throne, to defend which he had hardly five thousand soldiers of his own, again turned for aid to the Pope, and by this caused new disorder in the Church, which terminated with the fall of the very Empire. The new Commander of the Turks, — the harsh and ambitious Mahomet II, immediately on his accession to the throne, (Feb. 5th, 1451) — commenced planning the conquest of Constantinople. Constantine was struck with terror on hearing this, and sent off an embassy to Rome petitioning help, promising to fulfil the Florentine treaty, and even inviting Gregory to return to Constantinople.
When this became known, the defenders of Orthodoxy were sorely taken aback. George Scholarius then stood at their head (he was called Gennadius on receiving tonsure). Mark had already passed into eternity, and before his death had bequeathed to his friend the keeping of the ancient Orthodoxy. Gennadius, who then lived in the monastery of the All-possessing God, when preaching a sermon during the Emperor’s visit to the monastery, tried to dissuade him from an union with the Church of Rome, which in fact was hardly of any use to Constantine. Eugenius’ successor, Pope Nicholas V, sent to Constantinople, not an army and fleet, but only his Cardinal, Isidore, the ex-Metropolitan of Russia (Nov. 1452). A very short time passed in negotiations with him; but few consented to the union; only three Bishops and some of the Clergy received it; even the Emperor was not sincere in accepting it. The greater part of the Clergy, and especially the Monks, positively refused to take part in any negotiations with an apostate Greek.
Nevertheless, on the 12th of December, 1452, the spiritual and civil authorities assembled in the Church of S. Sophia. Cardinal Isidore read the act of union, (the first time after its proclamation in Florence) and in token of the reconciliation of Churches, solemnly officiated in the Liturgy together with the Greek and Latin Clergy, in which the names of Pope Nicholas and the ex-Patriarch Gregory were mentioned. But many persons present at the service would not even take the antidoron from the officiating clergy.
In the meantime, while this ceremony was going on in the Church of S. Sophia, crowds of the Orthodox made their way to the monastery in which Gennadius Scholarius was, asking him how they were to act. Gennadius shut himself up in his cell, on the doors of which were written the prophetical words: "Pitiable Greeks! why do you still err, and throwing away all hope in God, seek aid of the Franks? Why do you, with the whole of the town, which will soon fall, lose your Orthodoxy? Be merciful to me O God! I testify before Thee, that I am innocent of this crime. You see, miserable ones, what is doing around you, and at the time captivity is approaching you, — reject the faith of your fathers and receive unrighteousness! I shall never reject thee, beloved Orthodoxy; and will not conceal thee, Ο holy tradition, while my spirit dwells in this my body."
The inspired words of this monk roused the minds of the people. The clergy and laity cursed the union and all its present and future upholders. Everywhere cries resounded: "We want no aid from the Latins, we want no union, we will not receive the service of the azymites." The Orthodox Clergymen sentenced all who had communed with the Unionists to bear Church punishment. The great Church was quite empty, for the Orthodox would not visit it; Gennadius circulated pamphlets among the people full of enmity against the Latins, and exhortations to those of the union to cleanse their consciences from sin by strict penitence.
The mental disorder of the inhabitants conduced a good deal to the success of Mahomet’s arms. The besieged inhabitants, instead of concentrating their remaining forces in the defense of the town, continued their religious animosity to each other. The Orthodox and Latins were constantly anathematizing each other. At last Constantinople was taken by Mahomet (May 29th, 1453).
The Sultan left the Greek Faith untouched, and appointed as head of the captive Christians the same Gennadius, who had done so much for Orthodoxy even in the last disorderly times. He and his successors were good and strictly Orthodox Pastors of the overburdened, but as yet not fallen Greek Church. In the fallen Empire, the Church of the East presents to us a beautiful example of a nation steadfastly preserving the pure doctrine of its fathers, and of faith preserving the nation whole during the space of four heavy centuries. Like the Jews in the Babylonian captivity, the Greeks, on falling into the hands of the Turks, became still more strongly and firmly attached to their old faith; deprived of political liberty, and many worldly advantages inseparate from it, they found their sole consolation in their Orthodox Church. The Popes, by allowing the capital of Eastern Christianity to perish, only increased the animosity of the Greeks towards Romanism.
The Church of Russia showed herself a worthy daughter of the Orthodox Eastern Church, in her relations to the Florentine union.
With the title of Apostolic Legate to all northern countries, Isidore, at the close of the Council, returned from Italy to Russia, in hopes of alluring her to an union with the Church of Rome. From the capital of Hungary, he sent off circulars to the Dioceses of Lithuania, Russia, and Livonia, then under his jurisdiction; informing the Christians of the Latin and Greek Faith about the union that had taken place between the Western and Eastern Christians. Isidore wrote: "You good Christians of the Contantinopolitan Church, receive this union with spiritual joy and honour. I pray you not to dissent in anything from the Christians of Rome. And you Latin tribes, do not avoid the Greeks, avowed by Rome to be true Christians; pray in their churches, as they will also pray in yours. Confess your sins to Priests of both sides: from any one of them receive the Body of Christ alike holy in leavened or unleavened bread. So the Council, held in Florence, bids you do."
In the Russian territories, subjected to the influence of Latin heterodox power, Isidore could sooner meet with persons inclined to receive the union, than in autocratic Russia. But even in the former places his zeal met with an obstacle in the circumstance that Casimir, Grand Duke of Lithuania, had declared not for Pope Eugenius, but for the Council of Basle and Pope Felix elected by it. In Volhynia Isidore ordained Daniel as Bishop, who had agreed to the union, and then tried to defend the Latinizing Clergy from the hatred the Orthodox felt towards them, by means of his γάατα. In Kiev Duke Alexander gave a gramma to Isidore, as to "his father, the Metropolitan," over all his dukedom. The Kiev manuscripts affirm, nevertheless, that Isidore was expelled from Kiev.
In the spring of 1441, Isidore came to Moscow, bearing a very polite letter from the Pope to the Grand Duke. The clergy and laity impatiently awaited the Metropolitan in the Cathedral of the Assumption. Isidore came surrounded by a number of nobles, preceded by the Latin Cross. Relying on the simplicity and ignorance of his fold, he acted in a more decisive manner than his brethren in Constantinople. During the first Liturgy, the Pope’s name was mentioned, and at the end of the service Isidore’s Archdeacon read the Florentine decree from the ambo. All these news, as yet unheard of in the Russian Church, astonished both the clergy and laity very much. No one knew what to think of what was seen and heard. But the Grand Duke Basil Basilievitch, burning with zeal for the pure doctrine of the Church, solemnly, in the very Church, exposed the apostate Isidore, called him a false pastor, a corrupter of souls, a heretic, and at last ordered the unworthy Metropolitan to be led down from his throne; and, confining him in the Tchudoff Monastery, assembled a Council of Bishops and the higher grades of the Clergy to examine the decree of the Florentine Council. When it was found to be contrary to the ancient Orthodox doctrine, and when Arsenius, the companion of Isidore, had explained the way matters had been conducted in Florence, then the Grand Duke ordered efforts to be made to incline Isidore to repentance. But all was in vain. Remaining in confinement the whole of the summer, the pseudo-Metropolitan fled in the autumn from Moscow to Tver, very likely in hopes of receiving a better reception there, as the Duke of Tver had sent off one of his lawyers with him to the Council. But even in Tver he was received no better. The Grand Duke of Tver arrested him. Isidore managed however to escape, and fled to Novgorodok of Lithuania, and then to Rome, with the bad news of the frustration of the Papal plans. Thus, the Council of Florence, instead of reconciling the Church of Great Russia with Rome, or causing her to depart from Orthodoxy, only offered this Church an opportunity of showing her aversion from Romanism.
10. A Few Words about the Council.
After having shown from the report of the Eastern Bishops and the Council of Constantinople what view the Orthodox Church had of the lawless Council of Florence, it is now unnecessary to make any further remarks to justify this view. It will be quite sufficient to take a short view of what was done at the Council, and how it was done. From the Acts of this Council, and the circumstances preceding and following it, we see very plainly that the motives which impelled the principal agents in the Council did not breathe of God’s Spirit; that it was not those principles that served as a foundation for the union, which the Spirit of God requires; not those means were employed to strengthen the union of the Church which agree with religion and the fear of God. Consequently the enterprise was shattered, as an enterprise of man, not blessed by Jesus Christ the head of the Church, therein justifying the saying of old: "If this counsel, or this work, be of men, it will not come to naught" (Acts 5:38).
Looking over the circumstances which preceded the Florentine Council, and had paved the way to it, we see from the very first glance that it was no sincere, holy desire of the peace in the Church; but strange, worldly motives, which impelled the Emperor and Pope to undertake the reinstation of the ancient peace between the Latins arid Greeks. The Emperor had hoped by means of this union to obtain help from the head of the Christian West against the Turks, who had hardly left him anything but the walls of Constantinople. The Pope, on the other hand, proposing to the Emperor to assemble a Council in Italy, was far from wishing that the causes of disagreement between the Churches should undergo lawful investigation by a Council. This was only the wish of the Greeks, to which, as he says himself, he acceded from condescension.
But even when allowing the discussions and disputes on the dogmas of faith to take place in the Council, he did not at all mean to agree with the Greeks, should they even prove the justness of their doctrine. He negotiated with them, in hopes of getting the Eastern Church into his own hands. He convened a Council in Ferrara, simply with the object of opposing it to that of Basle. By inviting the Greeks he gave the Council an appearance of being an Ecumenical one, and thereby deprived the opposition Council of this title; for two Ecumenical Councils could not be held at one and the same time. And how much cunning was resorted to by both parties, in consequence of the different views nourished by them. The Pope, to execute his plans, avails himself of a consent forced from the weaker party in the Council of Basle. The Papal legate assures the Greeks that the Council of Basle is reconciled to the Pope. On the arrival of vessels from the Council of Basle, the Papal legate and the legate from Basle try to overreach one another in gaining over the Greeks by the most tempting promises. At the same time, among the Greeks also, means were taken to ensure success at the Council following, agreeably with the Emperor’s views. Wishing to give the Council the appearance of being an Ecumenical one, the Emperor takes with him to Italy the vicars of the Eastern Patriarchs, but himself tells them whom to choose, demands credentials not too strict for them, and then, conformably to his own views, more than once changes their appointments. Can a work, begun with such motives, and executed by such means, be blessed and sanctified by the grace of the Holy Ghost?
Then commence the acts of this Council, first transacted in private, and afterwards solemn sessions. The Greeks prove the error of the Latin doctrine on purgatory, the injustice of the addition to the Creed, and the doctrine contained in it. They adduce the plainest words from Holy Scripture, the testimonies of the Ecumenical Councils, and the Fathers of the Church, to prove their words. They refute the Latin arguments, expose the interpolations made in the testimonies of the Fathers adduced by the Latins; and all in vain. The Latins dispute against what is self-evident, and induce the Greeks to agree to what has been anathematized by the Ecumenical Councils. Does not this evince an endeavour to make the one, holy, Catholic Church to contradict her own self?
The public disputes are finished John Palaeologus gives in to his stubborn opponent; favourers of the union appear; and the opinion refuted by the Greeks is put as its corner-stone. What efforts must have been made, what cunning applied to found an unsure peace on so weak a foundation! The Greeks are pinched in their means of subsistence, which the Pope had taken on his own hands; the Emperor is loaded with promises, which no one thought of fulfilling or even could fulfil; various formulas are devised, so that the disputed doctrine might be satisfactorily expressed for both parties; forged testimonies of the Fathers are adduced; at one time votes are allowed to be given, and at another, the very same persons are deprived of this right; the Greeks opposing the union are persuaded by means of promises, rewards, or derision; the Latins do not begrudge their money. At last, by means of different falsehoods, the Latins apparently attain a superiority over the Greeks, with the help of three traitors to Orthodoxy! Is such a Council to have the right of calling itself Ecumenical? Were affairs ever so conducted and such decrees made in Ecumenical Councils? Can such a Council give its decrees the force of the words of the Holy Ghost, like true Ecumenical Councils? If the Ecumenical dignity of this Council is wished to be founded on the circumstance, that there were present at it the representatives of the five ancient patriarchal sees; we must not forget also, that during the Patriarch’s lifetime, three Vicars of the three Patriarchal sees did not agree to the union, and only two of the five gave their vote in its favour. After Joseph’s death no one was commissioned to vote in the name of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch; the apostate of Antioch met a firm opponent and witness of the truth in Mark of Ephesus. Thus, even in appearance, there was never any actual agreement of all the patriarchal sees to the union with the Church of Rome. But even Mark’s voice alone, is sufficient to prove that the Canons of the Florentine Council are not Ecumenical ones: for Mark spoke in defense not of his own private opinion, which might have been erroneous, but had on his side the testimonies of Ecumenical Councils.
The enterprise unlawfully begun nearly broke down in Florence. The obstinacy of both parties when disputing about the authority and rights of the Pope, nearly deprived Eugenius of the first success, which had cost him so dear. At the time of the very union the reconciled parties shunned each other; mutual coolness and distrust divided them as before. On returning to Constantinople the Bishops did not conceal their aversion from the supposed Church union. The Emperor John, during the remaining years of his reign, did not care to proclaim the act of the union to the people, notwithstanding that two Patriarchs of Constantinople favored the union. Electing such Patriarchs, he apparently kept up the union with the Church of Rome, having his political views for doing so, but at the same time he would not introduce the union into his own empire. The Orthodox would not even listen to it. Mark of Ephesus and his party exposed its unlawfulness. The Eastern Patriarchs pronounced judgment against the union first in Jerusalem, and then in Constantinople. The miserable effort of the last Emperor of Constantinople to proclaim the union in his city was no act of the Church, and was put down by God.
Thus, the union of Churches proclaimed in Florence was, (a) undertaken without the Greeks being persuaded of the justice of the Latin doctrine; (b) was unlawfully brought to pass; and (c) very lawfully rejected.