Catholic-Orthodox Timeline: Bonocore Responds

In another thread, I posted a link to a timeline of events that occurred in the Catholic-Orthodox Schism. That timeline may be found

The timeline was produced by Catholic Apologist Mark Bonocore, and needless to say, quite a few people took exception to much of Mr. Bonocore’s work. As a result, I contacted the site’s owner as follows:


I spend a lot of time doing apologetics at the Catholic Answers forum, and in the course of one “discussion”, I referred some Orthodox to your timeline (by Mark Bonocore). Mark is as sharp as they come, but several of the Orthodox objected to something that I thought I would bring to your attention – here is one exact quote:

[INDENT]I will say, however, that it lost credibility with me when it failed to make any distinction between the christology of the Oriental Orthodox and that of Eutyches. I cannot take seriously any source that fails to recognize this distinction. The miaphysitism of the Oriental Orthodox is essentially the christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria, while the monophysitism of Eutyches is clearly heretical.

[A bunch of folks] all agreed that this caused the timeline to lose credibility in their view.

Maybe Bonocore can address this with an update?

Randy Carson

David did forward this to Mr. Bonocore who has graciously responded at length (see next post).

Here is the full text of Mr. Bonocore’s response to the objection made to his timeline [all emphases original]:

Hi, David and Randy. The reason that my timeline makes no distinction between the Monophysites and the so-called “Miaphysites” is because modern-day “Miaphysism” is a creation of historical revisionism. No such distinction was made by the so-called Non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East prior to relatively modern times. But, just to give you some very rough context:

The arch-heretic Eutyches (in about A.D. 440 or so) clearly and unquestionably taught that Jesus’ Divine nature “so absorbed” His human nature ***that His human nature "ceased to be.*" And this doctrine that Christ only possessed one (Divine) nature, which Eurtyches claimed (wrongly) was in accord with the theology of St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431), was called Monophysism or, more specifically, Eutychian Monophysism. Now, the modern-day Non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East (i.e., the Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, etc.) claim (today) that they do not follow this doctrine. Rather, they claim to be Miaphysites (not Monophysites), and that they hold to the authentic theology of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who spoke of “one Divine-human nature in Christ” --a reference to the Hypostatic Union, not to His Divine nature supposedly “completely absorbing” His human nature. And this would be fine, and it would happily eliminate the division that exists between Catholics/Eastern Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East. For, Miaphysism (unlike Monophysism) can be understood as orthodox doctrine. HOWEVER, there is a little problem with this: :slight_smile: For, the SAME Non-Chalcedonian churches that claim not to support the error of Eutyches also accept the authority of the A.D. 449 Robber Council of Ephesus, headed by the heretical Patriarch Dioscoros of Alexandria, who they revere as a saint! :slight_smile: ** And what cannot be questioned is that this Robber Council of Ephesus declared the doctrine of Eutyches (not modern-day Miaphysism) to be orthodox doctrine and “the Apostolic Faith,” and that “Saint” Dioscoros went to his grave as a staunch defender of Eutychian Monophsism …as did many other ancient and medieval “saints” of these Non-Chalcedonian churches (e.g. Jacob of Sarug, etc.). So, the idea that these Non-Chalcedonian Churches were “never Monophysite,” but always “merely Miaphysite,” is a historical fiction. …A fiction that even many well-meaning, ecumenically-minded Eastern Orthodox (Greeks, Russians, etc.) have ignorantly bought into. Indeed, while even we Catholics are happy that most modern Non-Chalcedonians hold to an essentially orthodox understanding of the Hypostatic Union of Christ, this doesn’t excuse the fact that their heritage is clearly not orthodox, and that they remain in open rebellion against the binding authority of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

If the modern-day Non-Chalcedonians (aka, the so-called “Oriental Orthodox”) wish to claim that they were “always” orthodox in their Christology, then they need to explain why they hold to the decisions of the 449 Robber Council of Ephesus (which directly declared Eutychian Monophysism to be “orthodox”), and why they venerate avowed Eutychians like Dioscoros of Alexandria as “saints.” :slight_smile: This alone illustrates that their rejection of Chalcedonian theology is not merely a matter of misunderstanding or unfortunate semantics, but came into being because their forefathers directly supported the error of Eutyches! Only later, when the focus turned back to the theology of St. Cyril himself (and not Eutyches’ distortion of St. Cyril’s theology) did these Non-Chalcedonians become what today is referred to as “Miaphysites.” And, if they are truly merely “Miaphysites,” then they should have no problem accepting the orthodoxy of Chalcedon, which confesses the same truth (of the Hypostatic Union) using different theological language.

Also, Randy, it is important to realize that the Non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East, while they call themselves “Orthodox,” are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Greeks, Russians, etc.) who are faithful to Chalcedon. So, as a Catholic, it is technically erroneous to refer to them as “Orthodox.” The Greeks, Russians, etc. (albeit schismatics from the Catholic Church) are “Orthodox” in our (Catholic) eyes, because they are faithful to the first seven Ecumenical Councils. But, the Non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East (Syrians, Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians, Syro-Malankars, and Malabars) are not technically “Orthodox” (no matter what they call themselves), because they are in violation of the Councils of Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553) and Constantinople III (680).

Hope that helps.

God bless

Mark Bonocore

It would take pages and several hours to correct all the errors in this timeline. It shows a definite Roman Catholic bias, that does not correspond to the historical facts. As the Pastor of an active parish, I do not have the time. All that I can say is that it contains many historical mistakes. I remind you that I am professional historian with a PhD in history and former university history instructor. I have taught Church History on the university level and have written books on Church History including a 600+ page survey of Christian history. I even once taught Church History for the adult education program of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shreveport. So I am not responding as an Orthodox Priest, but as a professional historian.

Fr. John

Wow, very impressive resume. And the fact that you are a priest too. You make us all very small and there is no way we can measure up to your stature. So, yes, Father.

Just a little niggling thought though I have to harness all my strength to say this. Would it be possible that your personal belief may taint all that knowledge which may contribute to yet a bias?

Reuben, I think Fr. Morris would be the first to admit, being a professional historian, that history is anything but an objective science. We can hardly describe what we experience first-hand with any accuracy. How can we objectively describe what happened thousands of years ago based on the scant data that has survived? Even what data we have cannot be taken uncritically. If we are used to reading history books which teach history through narratives that fill in all the holes and gloss over controversial questions, it is easy to forget this. Narratives can be scrutinized according to their conformity with objective reality, as far ad we think we can know it, but reality and history are very different things. We cannot establish the details of the factual reality with objective certainty and we cannot peer into the minds of those long dead.

To return to the actual topic of the thread, I hope some Oriental Christians (or others who are knowledgeable) will address Bonocore’s assertions for everyone.

Thanks for posting that, Randy. After reading that, I think there’s just one question that you need to ask yourself: do you want to stand with the magisterium (including, but not limiting to, the three recent popes), or do you want to adopt the approach of

For me, it’s an easy choice.


P.S. That’s not to say that websites can’t be a good thing. For example, this one provides some good reading material:

4th Century - Unleavened bread is used in the Western Eucharist; leaven bread is used in the East.
I only got this far before realising it is without historical merit. The West didn’t use unleavened bread until the 8th to 9th centuries.

I have heard many Orthodox (claiming to be historically knowledgeable) make several statements about the Catholic Church regarding the first couple of centuries of Christian history. I found those statements horribly inaccurate. The more I heard and the more I researched, the more I realized there is indeed a very strong bias from an Orthodox perspective. If it were not so, I would not be here, especially since I sincerely love the Orthodox Church. But most people will believe what they want to believe rather than what is actually true.

Mark Bonocore sent the following reply:

Thank you, Randy. I glanced at the [thread] and at a subsequent post by someone named Fr. John. I don’t really have the Time to get into an ongoing message board discussion; but, I would like to reply to Fr. John’s criticism of my Timeline. Could you please post my response below to him:

[INDENT]:slight_smile: Well, like Fr. John, I also (unfortunately) do not have the time to get involved in an ongoing debate on these boards; however, I would like to express my great amusement at Fr. John’s comments above. :slight_smile: Yes, of course my Timeline has a “Roman Catholic bias.” That’s because we Catholics are correct, and we happen to have historical reality on our side. :slight_smile: I also find it amusing how Fr. John cites no examples of my so-called “errors,” but merely boasts of his “university level” credentials. :slight_smile: For, as we all know, “NO” university professors “EVER” distort history, or bend facts to fit their religious or political agendas! This “NEVER” happens in “ANY” universities! :slight_smile: Yes, I am of course being sarcastic. And, as for Eastern Orthodox historians in particular, most especially those in the English-speaking world, their work typically leaves much to be desired. I, for example, could cite the work of someone like Kallistos Ware, who wrote an entire tome on Orthodox history (i.e., “The Orthodox Church”) in which he expresses perfect certitude of the erroneous nature of the Filioque. But then, twenty years later, he (to his great credit) admitted that he had lacked a complete understanding of the Latin-based doctrine and its history, and conceded that the East-West controversy on the matter is more in the area of semantics, than in any true doctrinal substance. I can only urge Fr. John to perhaps likewise re-visit and reconsider the historical events listed on my Timeline which he perceives as “erroneous”; and maybe he too will see things a little differently. One can always hope, anyway. :slight_smile:

Mark Bonocore[/INDENT]


Unlike Fr. John and Mark Bonocore, I do not have any credentials or familiarity with this subject. However, because someone (several people, actually) raised objections to Mr. Bonocore’s timeline, I asked the website owner if Mr. Bonocore would like to respond to the criticisms. He did and those two responses are now posted.

It was asked of me whether I would choose to stand with the Catholic Church or with Mark Bonocore. In the mind of the person asking, there must be a substantive difference between these two positions. If so, I would, of course, choose to stand with the Church, and I’m confident that Mr. Bonocore would do the same* if it can be demonstrated that his position is at odds with the Church.* Who among us would not do the same when shown our mistake? However, it must be shown. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to evaluate claims on either side.

I don’t plan on interacting with this thread, since I am not really qualified to do so. There is a time when silence is the best course of action. However, I will follow the discussion with great interest, and I will continue to post any responses I receive from Mark Bonocore unless he chooses to interact with you directly.


Great. One person says, “You’re wrong because I know better but I don’t have time to tell you where or why,” and the other says, “I’m right because I said so and I’m Catholic.”

Great dialogue, guys. :rolleyes:

It would be interesting to know what the the so called “revisionist” account is in favour of the existence of the Miaphysites is. The we might be better able to judge what Marc is proposing.

God bless,

I wonder what Mr. Bonocore’s definition of “we Catholics” is … the SSPX perhaps? If so, then I think I ought to lower my opinion of the SSPX by a tiny notch.

But regardless, Randy, I can’t help feeling that you are wasting your time talking with this guy. As you said yourself, There is a time when silence is the best course of action.

What I read from the Catholic Encyclopedia are excerpts such as: “Certain it is that in the ninth century the use of unleavened bread had become universal and obligatory in the West” which at least means unleavened bread was normative by the 9th century. Elsewhere, entries say the matter is sketchy: *It is probable that Christ used unleavened bread at the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, because the Jews were not allowed to have leavened bread in their houses on the days of the Azymes. Some authors are of the opinion that down to the tenth century both the Eastern and Western Churches used leavened bread; others maintain that unleavened bread was used from the beginning in the Western Church; still others hold that unleavened or leavened bread was used indifferently. St. Thomas (IV, Dist. xi, qu. 3) holds that, in the beginning, both in the East and West unleavened bread was used; that when the sect of the Ebionites arose, who wished that the Mosaic Law should be obligatory on all converts, leavened bread was used, and when this heresy ceased the Latins used again unleavened bread, but the Greeks retained the use of leavened bread.*There’s also this from St. Gregory the Great. d.604
*This it is that rescues from the power of darkness and transfers us into the Kingdom of the Son of God. This it is that by newness of life exalts the desires of the mind and quenches the lusts of the flesh. **This it is whereby the Lord’s Passover is duly kept “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” **by the casting away of the old leaven of wickedness [1 Corinthians 5:8] and the inebriating and feeding of the new creature with the very Lord. For naught else is brought about by the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ than that we pass into that which we then take , and both in spirit and in body carry everywhere Him, in and with Whom we were dead, buried, and rose again, as the Apostle says, For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ, your life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory [Colossians 3:3-4].*Which, if read correctly, would indicate that even in the 6th century (or very early 7th), he is describing an existing custom of using unleavened bread.

As a member of the western church, I think we need to be very careful. For if we apply the same standards to the Orthodox in determining if they ever fell into heresy, we’d may have to come to some unsettling conclusions about our own church.

Frankly, the more interesting question is why we agree in so much given the slings and arrows of history.

Peter J-

I see that you are unfamiliar with Mark Bonocore, so I’d like to refer you to his website where you can read his work are judge his orthodoxy for yourself:

You can also do a simple Google on his name to get a pretty good listing of all the debates he has engaged in over the years with anti-Catholic evangelicals.


Oh, thanks a lot Randy, now everyone knows! :mad:

Just kidding. Actually its no great secret that there are about 6 or so billion people that I’m unfamiliar with, one of which is Bonocore.

He apparently got mentioned on (at least according to Google … although I couldn’t find his name on the actual webpage).

I developed my personal beliefs from my study of history. On this issue, I know of no credible historian including a Roman Catholic historian who does not agree that the papacy as it exists today did not exist during the first 1,000 years of Christian history. All credible historians agree that the modern papacy is the product of a long development in which the Popes acted like the princes they were over central Italy when discharging their duties as the Bishop of Rome. Personal beliefs play a major role about how one interprets these historical facts. A Roman Catholic would accept this evolution of the papacy as the will of God, while I consider the development of the papacy an unhealthy development for the Western Church. I do not believe that the king of adulation of the person of the Pope and clericalism found within modern Roman Catholicism is good for the Church. No one should not be answerable to higher authority. The decision of Vatican I which made the Pope subject to no other authority, is something that I cannot accept. There is no way that a corrupt, heretical or incompetent Pope can be removed.

Fr. John

It is not Catholic teaching that the Pope is not subject to a higher authority any more than the corporate Church unless one wishes to exclude the Holy Spirit from the equation. But I do think there is hope in Orthodox-Catholic reunion on this matter. I did an extensive post about this last month while reviewing the official relatio behind Vatican I as well as a lengthy talk given by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware who is likewise optimistic.
See: Could this lead to Orthodox-Catholic unity on the papacy and beyond? :o

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