Honorius I, Pope

Honorius I, Pope Was a native of the Campania, and succeeded Boniface V in 625. His general administration of Church affairs has been favorably commented upon by historians, and his name is very prominent in the history of the paschal controversy in Ireland, and in that of the early Anglo-Saxon Church. The feast of the elevation of the cross was organized during his time (about 628), and he was very active in converting the heathen. He died in 638. Some of his letters are preserved in Labbe's Collect. Conciliorum, vol. 3. Honorius is especially distinguished for the part he took in the Monotheistic controversies of that period. While the controversy was gaining ground in the West, Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to Honorius, explaining the Monotheistic doctrines in the most favorable light, and suggested that Honorius should impose silence on both parties in a dispute, which really did not affect the substance of the Catholic doctrine. Misled, it is alleged, by this statement of Sergius, Honorius consented, and even expressed himself in language, which would appear to condense the doctrine of two wills in Christ. After his death, attempts were made at Rome to exculpate his memory from all accusation of heresy, yet he was condemned and anathematized by the (Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 680, and this sentence was confirmed at different times, as, for instance, by Leo II, who anathematized him as heretic for having attempted apostolicam ecclesiam — profi ana proditione immaculatam subvertere (Mansi, 10, 731). Modern Roman Catholic historians have tried in various ways to exonerate Honorius. Baronius says that the acts of the Council of Constantinople were falsified; Bellarmine says that this was the case with Honorius's letter to Sergius; while Garier and Ballerini claim that he was not anathematized for heresy, but propter negigentiam. Some Roman Catholic historians, however, maintain that even in disclaiming the belief of two wills in Christ, Honorius merely denied the existence in Christ of two discordant or conflicting wills, that is, of a corrupt and sinful human will opposed to the divine will, and that he did not put forth any dogmatic declarations irreconcilable with the strict ultramontane doctrine of infallibility. Orsi went even so far as to maintain that Honorius composed this letter to Sergius as "a private teacher;" but the expression doctor privatus, when used of a pope, is like talking of wooden iron (comp. Janus, The Council and the Pope, p. 405). In modern times, the agitation of the question of papal infallibility has given a special interest to the letters of Honorius. The champions of infallibility, following the lead of the above-mentioned writers, tried all kinds of arguments to explain away the assent of Honorius to the heretical doctrines of Sergius, without being able to adduce any new argument. The Jesuit Damberger even attempted a full justification of the course of Honorius. Most of the Roman Catholic writers, however, admitted that the words, though they may bear an orthodox construction, must have appeared as favoring the heretics, and that Honorius probably fell into a trap, which the shrewd patriarch of Constantinople had set for him. The Galileans, and the opponents of papal infallibility, have in general endeavored to show that Honorius was really a favorer of Monotheism. The ablest treatment of the subject from this school in the Roman Catholic Church may be found in the work on The Pope and the Council by Janus; two works by P. Le Page Renouf (The Condemnation of Pope Honorius, London, 1868); and [in reply to the-ultramontane reviews of the first work by Dr. Ward, the editor of the Dublin Review, and the Jesuit Bottalla] The Case of Pope Honorius reconsidered (London, 1869); in two letters, by the distinguished French Oratorian and member of the French Academy, P. Gratry (L'eveque d'Orleans et l'archeveque de Malines, Paris, 1870); and in an essay by bishop Hefele, published in Naples, 1870. Renouf, whose thoroughness and keenness is admitted by all his opponents, in his works, undertakes to prove three assertions:

1. Honorius, in his letters to Sergius, really gave his sanction to the Monotheistic heresy;

2. Honorius was, on account of heresy, condemned by general councils and popes;

3. Honorius taught a heresy ex cathedra. The fact that Honorius was condemned by general councils and popes as a heretic is admitted by many of those Catholic writers who insist that his words may be indeed, though they are obscure, explained in an orthodox sense. Since the convocation of the Vatican Council in 1869, many Roman Catholic theologians (among them Döllinger and Gratry), who were formerly regarded as personally favorable to the doctrine of papal infallibility, now, after a new investigation of the question, strongly urge the case of Honorius as an irrefutable argument against it. The literature on the Honorius question is so voluminous that, according to the opinion of the learned Döllinger, during the last 130 years more has been written on it than on any other point of Church History within 1500 years. Recent monographs on the subject, besides the works already mentioned, have been written by Schneemann (Studien iber die Honoriusfrage, 1864) and Reinerding (Beitrage zur Honoriusund Liberiusfrage, 1865). It is also extensively discussed in a number of articles in the theological reviews, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church, in the larger works on Church History, and in particular, since 1869, in a vast number of works treating of the question of papal infallibility. SEE INFALLIBILITY. See Richer, Historiae Concil. Géneralé. 1, 296; Du Pin, De antiqua eccles. disciplina, p. 349; M. Havelange, Ecclesie infallibilitas infactis dogmaticis (Journ. hist. — et litt. April 1, 1790); F. Marchesius, Clypeus fortium (1680); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, 25, 88; Chambers, Cyclopedia, 5, 407; Ceillier, Hist. des aut. sac. 17, 522 sq.; Llorente, Die Papste, 1, 196-200; Schröckh Kirchengesch. 19, 492 sq.; Bower, History of the Popes, 3, 11 sq.; Fuhrmann, Handwörterb. d. Kirchengesch. 2, 340 sq.; Neander, Ch. History, 3, 179, 195; Dogmas, 2, 439; Milman, Latin Christianity, 2, 169; Riddle, History of the Papacy, 1, 195; Hardwick, Church Hist. (Middle Ages), p. 70 and n. 3, p. 75 and n. 8; Hagenbach, fist. of Doctrines, vol. 2; West. Review, Oct. 1868, p. 239; Edinb. Rev. Oct. 1869, p. 160; Aschbach, Kirchen-Lexikon, 3, 322 sq.; Lefevre, in Revue Cathol. de Louvaiz, February, 1870; Hefele, Honorius u. d. sechste allgem. Concil. (Tüb. 1870, 8vo). SEE MONOTHEISM. (J. H. W.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.