Libellus Hormisdae

In reading this article posted in another thread, I came across the following discussing the reconciliation of the East and West following the Acacian Schism (484-519) (emphasis mine):

The reconciliation was made in the reign of Pope Hormisdas (514-23) when the Eastern Bishops signed the so-called Libellus Hormisdae which contained a clear definition of the Roman primacy in matters of faith. It is an important document recalling the promise of the Lord given to Peter (Matt. 16:18 f.) and declaring that “in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept immaculate” and that in it "persists the total and true strength of the Christian religion."22 Some of the Eastern prelates may have signed the Libellus with mixed feelings, for never before had they read such a clear definition of Roman primacy, but even the Patriarch John signed it. They objected only to certain declarations of Gelasius which threatened the autonomous status of their Church. The Libellus dealt only with questions of dogma in which Rome had always proved to be a staunch defender of the Orthodox faith.

Interesting also in this respect is the declaration of John’s successor Epiphanius in his letter to Pope Hormisdas: “It is my greatest desire to be united with you and to embrace the divine doctrines which have been entrusted to your holy See by the blessed and holy disciples and God’s Apostles, especially by Peter, the head of the Apostles, and to esteem nothing more than them.”

My first question is does anyone know where I might find a good translation of the Libellus Hormisdae? The only one I have come across so far was from this site, and considering that it appears to be an athiest site, I’m not sure it is the best source from which to pull the translation. Assuming it is correct though, the Libellus reads as follows (emphasis mine):

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," (Matthew 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, **for in the Apostolic See * the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied. From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated*** and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus and also Peter of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter of Antioch with all his followers together together with the followers of all those mentioned above.

** Following**, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.

My second question is, with such clear language in support of the Primacy of Rome (the Apostolic See)–that is, actual primacy not just a primacy of honor–in a document that was signed by all of the Eastern Patriarchs some 500 years before the Great Schism, why is this event not pointed to more often in Catholic/Orthodox apologetics/discussions? The above linked article was the first I have ever heard of it in my year’s worth of apologetics studies. It just seems to be such a strong argument in favor of the Catholic understanding of papal primacy that I would think it would be used more often. Thoughts?

By the way,

You read all the works of the Pontiffs in Latin at this site:

Well, as a Catholic, I can only agree with you on the second question, but you have to remember that the East-West schism is not just a random event that occurred in 1054; it happened over a long period of time. Pope Gelasius I also asserted Papal supremacy.

Sorry I can’t help you much more; I’m too ultramontane to argue for the Greek Orthodox position :).

I can make a translation of the Libellus for you if you really want, since I speak Latin (as my username indicates),
Benedicat Deus,

Yeah, I realize that the schism developed over a long period of time. My point though is that the Orthodox that I have encountered act like papal primacy was unheard of in the first 700 years of the Church. This document that was used in healing the first east/west schism seems to directly contradict that claim. Not only did the pope assert actual primacy, but also the eastern patriarchs explicitly agreed with it. If papal primacy was the invention they now claim it was and contrary to the ancient traditions, then it seems that the eastern patriarchs would have refused to sign a document asserting exactly the opposite.

And thank you for the offer to translate, but it’s not a big deal, unless you’re just dying to translate some Latin.

Well, this why I’m a Catholic not a Greek Orthodox Christian :). Papal primacy is first challenged at the Council of Chalcedon; the Council itself explicitly recognized it when it read Leo the Great’s Tome, but the famous and controversial Canon XXVIII (not recognized by the Papal legates and most even Orthodox Christians) specifically gives Constantinople the same privileges as Rome, and that Rome was given its primacy by the Fathers, not by Christ, a teaching contradictory to Catholic doctrine (hence the refusal of its acceptance).

The problem that you’re seeing here though is that the Acacian schism is true schism without an admixture of heresy, whereas the Photian (870-880) and Cerularian (1054) schisms really are really schisms in which the Eastern Church was actually in heresy as well.

And thank you for the offer to translate, but it’s not a big deal, unless you’re just dying to translate some Latin.

I’m just :stretcher:

Benedicat Deus,

Did you read the article linked in my first post? It asserts that canon 28 was not so much about challenging Rome’s claim to primacy but rather about trying to keep the Alexandrian bishops in check because of their repeated attempts to usurp power. I’m not a big history buff though so :shrug:

One can find a good translation in , 43rd Edition, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010, pp. 131-2Denzinger: Enchiridion Symbolorum.

The title of the document sent to Constantinople for signing given in the book is Libellus fidei.

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