Monday, October 30, 2006

Was Pope Honorius a heretic?


Was Honorius a Monothelite? If so, what proof is there of this?
The evidence doesn't seem to support such a conclusion. Nonetheless, while it doesn't appear he was condemned for teaching monothelitism, he was indeed condemned for his negligence in allowing the heresy to grow and spread.

If you look at Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum, par. 251, an excerpt of Honorius' letter Scripta fraternitatis vestrae (AD 634) to Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople appears under the heading: "Two Wills and Operation in Christ." Honorius stated there were not two wills in Christ. Yet, in Denzinger's, par. 253, Pope John IV (640-642) explains that Honorius meant in his letter that there were not two contrary wills. Of course, the heretics used his letter to spread their error regardless of what was meant by Honorius, which is what his successor, Pope John IV had to contend with...

According to John IV:

So, my aformentioned predecessor [Honorius] said concerning the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, that there were not in Him, as in us sinners, contrary wills of mind and flesh, and certain ones converting this to their own meanings suspect that he taught one will of His divinity and humanity which is altogether contrary to the truth" (D 253)
Moreover, from the Catholic Encyclopedia article (see link below), the above defense of Honorius by Pope John IV is based upon "the witness of Abbot John Symponus, who wrote the letter for Honorius." (cf.

It was Pope Leo II who actually condemned Honorius, as no council had such authority.

From Warren Carroll, The History of Christendom, vol. 2: the Building of Christendom (Front Royal: Christendom College Press, 1987), p. 254:

Writing to the Emperor ... Pope Leo II wrote that Pope Honorius was condemned because "he permitted the immaculate Faith to be subverted." Writing in Latin to the Spanish bishops, he declared that Honorius was condemned for not at once extinguishing the flames of heresy, but rather gaining them by his negligence. To King Erwig he wrote that Honorius was condemned for negligence in not denouncing the heresy and for using an expression which the hertics were able to employ to advance their own cause ...

... Pope Honorius, therfore, was never condemned for heresy by the supreme Church authority, but only for negligence [in] allowing a heresy to spread and grow, when he should have denounced it.

Honorius was surely condemned. Why? For the reasons clearly stated by the actual pope who condemned him.

God bless,