Severus of Antioch and the Oriental Catholic

I was reminded of Severus of Antioch recently in a recent parish email (in regards to St. Mary and the Dormition) He’s a big Saint in the Oriental Orthodox Churches and foundational for their theology.

How do Oriental Catholics (especially those that originated from the Oriental Orthodox Churches)handle him and his theological legacy. I can see two basic outcomes from previous discussions on this board.

  1. Some will say only the first 3 Ecumenical counsels are binding on such and such a sui juris Church. But I suspect most or many will say

  2. He is a heretic like this blogger.

thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/search?q=severus+of+antioch

So what is your Church’s view or what you might have heard from your priest? Or is there another option then these two polar extremes?

Besides this what about his theological legacy? One thing I’ve noted is that theology, besides liturgy and other Tradition is often directly lifted from the schismatic Church. So essentially you could anathematize the person yet his overall legacy remains intact (which I think is a peculiar if the person is truly a heretic).

A lot of misunderstanding has been cleared up on official levels between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches on this matter. Part of the misunderstanding has been due to the different theological language of each Tradition. It has become clear that the term “nature” and “person” were sometimes interchanged or confused during the debates between the Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians. This was the primary source of the many mutual recriminations of the past ages.

The distinctive theologies have become open to the spiritual fruit of understanding. The hard part is over. Can the lifting of the past anathemas on Sts. Dioscorus and Severus be far behind? History has demonstrated that Ecumenical Councils can err on their judgment of PERSONS (though certainly not on DOCTRINES) - e.g., the Fourth vs, the Fifth Ecumenical Councils. The Catholic Church recognizes this principle rather easily - the Orthodox Churches (Oriental and Eastern) not so easily.

If it was the theological language that was the basis for Severus’ excommunication/ anathematization, Severus can potentially be considered a saint among Oriental Orthodox who come into communion with Rome. IMO, private devotion is possible, though not in any large-scale fashion, in order to prevent scandal to those who may be ignorant of the advances between Catholic-Oriental Orthodox relations.

It should be noted that the Oriental Orthodox do in fact condemn monophysitism, which was the heresy of Eutyches. Pope St. Dioscorus and St. Severus were condemned along with Eutyches for monophysitism, but it was actually only Eutyches who was guilty of the charge.

Blessings,
Marduk

P.S. Apparently, the “Banana Republican” is not aware of these fruitful discussions between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

In 508, he journeyed with two hundred monks to Constantinople to defend the doctrine and remained there about three years until 511. A year and a few more months later, Flavian II, patriarch of Antioch, was deposed, and Severious was elected by the Holy Spirit to succeed him to the Apostolic See. He was consecrated a Patriarch in Antioch on the 6th of November, 512, after which he opened the treasures of his knowledge in preaching and explaining the realities of faith and morals. During his leadership as a patriarch he never deviated from the path of his asceticism and abstinence. So, he removed luxurious living from the patriarchal palace, while devoting his energy to reform and the dispensation of church affairs by visiting the neighboring dioceses and monasteries in person or by letter. When Justin I, the Chalcedonian, succeeded Anastasias in 518, he banished a group of our Orthodox bishops, antagonizing Severious who left for Egypt on the 25th of September and remained there for twenty-four years. In Egypt, Severious administered the church through his deputies or his letters. With indefatigable energy, he wrote book after book against heresies and deceivers, answered letters and gave personal opinions on legal matters. When he faced a difficult problem, he searched for light in the Holy Bible or turned to the resolutions of councils for assistance. In 535, he went to Constantinople in answer to the invitation of Justinian I, in pursuit of unity. At the capital, he won Anthimus, patriarch of Constantinople, to his side, but the gap between parties remained wide. Then he returned to Egypt where he died at the city of Sakha on the 8th of February, 538. He was crowned by the Church as the Great Doctor of the catholic Church. The Church also commemorates him on the day of his death. His life was written by four eloquent writers who are Zachariah Rhetor, John, abbot of the Monastery of Bar Aphtonya, Athanasius I, patriarch of Antioch, and an anonymous author.

Among his homilies, there are one hundred and twenty-five holies called “Homiliae Cathedral’s,” preserved in three large volumes at the Vatican and at the British Museum. Three homilies are in the library of the Zafran monastery and at the library of the church at Homs. Fifty one of these homilies were translated into French and published in three volumes. There are also innumerable letters written by him, estimated at three thousand and eight hundred, a number no other church father is known to have written. These letters were collected in older times in thirty two volumes, of which four were written before his elevation to the patriarchate, then during his patriarchate (512-518) and nine during his exile (518-538). Of these, only two large volumes survived, one of which is entitled The Sixth Book of the Selected Letters of Mor Severious of Antioch, translated by the priest Athanasius of Nisbis in 669.A D. Among this, some were translated in to English in the 20th century. All of these letters are splendid and full of abundant theological, legal, historical and administrative information, which reflect the light of that great and noble soul. The works of this great dignitary and his comprehension of the principles and branches of sciences testify that he was not only unique in his generation, but also unequaled among the patriarchs of Antioch who preceded or succeeded him.

I think the definite answer is that Mar Severios is considered Saint by Oriental Catholics - and Rome, as well as the Byzantine Catholic Churches, accept this.

When Pope John Paul II visited India in Feb 1986, the Syro-Malankara Church published an official text of the Holy Qurbono, with both the Anaphoro of Mar James the Apostle and the Anaphoro of the Twelve Apostles. One of the “thubden” (Great Intercession) - #5 - the Canon of the Holy Doctors of the Church is as follows:

Deacon: Barekmor. Again we commemorate those who have fallen asleep in holiness and are at rest and have kept undefiled the Apostolic Faith and delivered it to us. We proclaim the venerable and holy ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon [the later addition of Chalcedon has been dropped recently, to conform to Malankara and Syriac Orthodox usage] and others and the illustrious and God-fearing Fathers and orthodox teachers present there. And we remember James the Holy Apostle and martyr, first Bishop of Jerusalem and the saints Ignatius, Clement, Dionysius, Athanasius, Julius, Baselios, Gregorios, Ivanios, and the illustrious St. Cyril, who expounded the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that God the Word became flesh; and we commemorate Mar Severios, who always preached that Mary is undoubtedly the Mother of God; and our righteous and holy Father Mar Ephraim, who maintained the orthodox faith, and Mar Jacob, Mar Isaac, and Mar Simon the Stylite and Mar Abahai, the chosen one and all those before them, with them, and after them. May their prayers be a stronghold for us. Let us beseech the Lord.

In all the syro malankara masses I heard, I found this part is omitted. Is it right Syro malankara?

Addai, are you a Nestorian ( adherent of the Assyrian Church of the East ) who converted to Coptic Church ?

If yes, what made you convert from Nestorianism (the heresy of Theodoros of Mopsuestia) to Apollinarianism (which is also called Miaphysitism or Monophysitism or the heresy of Apollinarius, Cyril, Dioscoros, and Severos) ?

Are you aware that the heretical Cyril of Alexandria used an Apollinarian forgery (ie. the term Mia Physis), which can only tell us he followed the faith of the heretical Apollinarius of Laodicea ? Thus, many Catholics call Cyril “an Apollinarian” as our venerable father Mar Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus (a Chalcedonian father) did in his Epistle 151.

:eek: :eek: :eek:
You’re the first Catholic I have ever known to claim that Pope St. Cyril of Alexandria was a heretic.:nope:

I am not the first to claim such. Actually, there are many other Catholics, such as Mar Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus and Mar Ibas, Bishop of Edessa who held that Cyril was a heretical Apollinarian. Have you read Saint Theodoret’s Epistle 151 ? If yes, you know he ex-communicated Cyril of Alexandria for Apollinarianism, which to him was the classical name for Monophysitism.

Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon 451 AD reversed Cyrillian Apollinarianism with Theodoretian Nestorianism (which was endorsed by Saint Leo, Arch Bishop of Great Rome). Saint Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus agreed to anathemise his friend Nestorios of Constantinople for rejecting the title Theotokos (Mother of God). Blessed Theodoret did so for the sake of peace in the Church, since he realised that the Catholic Church was more important that Nestorios. Besides, even if Nestorios was theologically Orthodox in the eyes of Chalcedon (as he taught Two Physis), yet his rejection of the title Mother of God was an insult to Our Lady Mary.

I consider Mar Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus as a great historian and theologian.

Your on the right track…

I was a member of a church that was a splinter of the AOE and later became Coptic. The Assyrian Church I was in was not ethnic and was heavily Protestantized (so much that it really was Protestant in theology) I left because the Coptic Church because of having a hunger for Apostolic Tradition and because the local Coptic Community was more fervent in its faith then other I have seen as well as being welcoming to outsiders (I was originally interested in the Armenian Church with its origon from Edessa etc. but there was a lot of phletyism there)

and like Mardukm I disagree with your characterization of the Coptic Church as Apollinarian.

If Cyril of Alexandria was a heretic then why does New Advent and other Catholic hagiographies I’ve seen online call him a saint? Are they in error and does this mean there is a problem with the Magisterium?

newadvent.org/cathen/04592b.htm

Wow. I’ve never seen anyone refer to Theodoret and Ibas as “Mar” and “Saint” before.

Assyrian, yeah?

St. Cyril of Alexandria is considered a Doctor of the Church by Latin Catholics. I believe Pope Leo XIII wrote a letter declaring him as such.

The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon 451 confirmed the condemnation of Nestorius at Ephesus. Also, while Nestorius’ Christology was dyophysite, his understanding of the relationship and union of the two natures was different from the dyophysitism adopted by Chalcedon. For starters, Nestorius held to the prosoponic union, while Chalcedon affirmed the hypostatic union of natures.

Apollinarius denied Christ a human soul (memory, will and intellect). St. Cyril, while perhaps borrowing from Apollinarius, did not adopt this aspect into his Christology. Borrowing terms from even heretical sources does not always mean infection of heresy. Nicaea used homoousios, a term I understand was used by the condemned Paul of Samosata, yet the Nicene use of the term is orthodox.

I don’t see how one can be in communion with Rome and consider St. Cyril of Alexandria in such a negative light. It makes no sense

Assalam Alaikum Addai.

Can you share with me, which Assyrian Church were you a member of ?
Is it one of these three ?

  1. New Calendar sect @ Assyrian Church of the East (HH Mar Dinkha IV)
  2. Old Calendar sect @ Ancient Church of the East (HH Mar Addai II)
  3. Protestant sect @ Nestorian Church of the East (a.k.a. Assembly of Jerusalem)

Let us agree to disagree, my brother :smiley: but do you happen to know how Coptic Pope Cyril persecuted Syrian Patriarch Nestorios? That was very anti Christian! I believe if Coptic Church is not Apollinarian, then can you tell us the purpose God rose up Islam and destroyed the Byzantine Empire? God was angered by the injust persecution of Blessed Nestorios of Constantinople, who like our Lord Jesus Christ did no wrong yet was crucified.

The New Advent is just an encyclopedia and so it is not infallible. Only His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is infallible and BTW, the Pope has praised his predecessor Mar Leo, Arch Bishop of Old Rome for ex-communicating Cyril’s successor, who was Dioscoros for teaching Mia Physis. The reason why Cyril was not directly ex-communicated at Chalcedon was mainly to preserve the unity of the Church. Besides, sainthood does not necessarily imply that a canonised person’s dogma is pious.

Mar Leo’s best friend Mar Flavian suffered martyrdom because of the actions of Cyril’s nephew, Dioscoros who murdered him on orders from the tyrant Cyril himself.

Are you actually suggesting that God allowed Islam to rise and spread because… Nestorius was deposed? Are you serious?

The New Advent is just an encyclopedia and so it is not infallible. Only His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is infallible and BTW, the Pope has praised his predecessor Mar Leo, Arch Bishop of Old Rome for ex-communicating Cyril’s successor, who was Dioscoros for teaching Mia Physis. The reason why Cyril was not directly ex-communicated at Chalcedon was mainly to preserve the unity of the Church. Besides, sainthood does not necessarily imply that a canonised person’s dogma is pious.

Mar Leo’s best friend Mar Flavian suffered martyrdom because of the actions of Cyril’s nephew, Dioscoros who murdered him on orders from the tyrant Cyril himself.

I want to see the sources for this allegation.

Hey, Rome fell because Arius was excommunicated, so why not? :rolleyes:

Assalam Alaikum to all.

I suggest rather than the Agnosticism, yuu try the Catholic Church, as salvation is only in the Church. Arius’ heresy became extinct as he did not have a viable Church and sound political alliance with some government, and besides nobody persecuted him. Constantine the Great was an Arian.

You’re not a Catholic if you’re anathemizing St. Cyril of Alexandria, I’m afraid. What Church do you actually belong to?

Peace and God bless!

I am baptised into the Chaldean Catholic Church from Jaafari Islam, so I am a Catholic forever as the sacrament of baptism cannot be revoked. What is your authority to declare other Catholics as not true Catholics? You are not my Bishop who is the only person who can ex-communicate me. Besides Chaldeans are Nestorians in communion with Rome, and we have got to be faithful to our traditions by venerate Mar Nestorios, Mar Theodoros of Mopsuestia, and above them all, Mar Babai the Great.

My patriarch Mar Emmanuel Deli deeply venerates Mar Nestorios of Constantinople and Mar Babai the Great but he also anathemised Cyril of Alexandria in one recent sermon calling him “Apollinarian”, which is the classical name for Monophysitism / Miaphysitism.

There are many other Eastern Catholic Bishops who anathemise Cyril. Among those in the past are Mar Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus and Mar Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, both who are honoured by the Chaldean Catholic Church. More recently is Mar Ashur Bawai Soro who has issued his own three chapters against Cyril of Alexandria, which were modeled after Mar Theodoret’s Three Chapters. Thus, there is uniamous consensus among Chaldean scholars that Cyri of Alexandria is the real father of the Apollinarian heresy, which was approved by “Ecumenical” Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, which tragically reversed the dogmas of the Second Ecumenical Council.

I believe he is just as shocked as everyone else here about your statements. As a Copt, I am especially taken aback, but I’ll hold off judgment until more information comes.

[quote=]There are many other Eastern Catholic Bishops who anathemise Cyril. Among those in the past are Mar Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus and Mar Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, both who are honoured by the Chaldean Catholic Church. More recently is Mar Ashur Bawai Soro who has issued his own three chapters against Cyril of Alexandria, which were modeled after Mar Theodoret’s Three Chapters. Thus, there is uniamous consensus among Chaldean scholars that Cyri of Alexandria is the real father of the Apollinarian heresy, which was approved by “Ecumenical” Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, which tragically reversed the dogmas of the Second Ecumenical Council.
[/quote]

Can you give a link (if there is one) to this book by Mar Bawai Soro? When did he write it? Did he write it before or after he entered into Catholic communion? I would be utterly surprised if he wrote it after he came into Catholic communion.

I think what we have here is a simple case of a Chaldean Catholic who entered the Catholic Church under the aegis of Mar Bawai Soro’s entrance into the Catholic Church, without the benefit of catechesis of what it means to be Catholic.

Murtad (I often preface people’s name with “brother” or “sister,” but I’m not sure you would consider me a brother since I am a Copt), I have appreciated the fact that I as a Coptic Catholic can commune with the Chaldeans. I thought I left all these recriminations and aspersions that you have presented here behind when I entered the Catholic Communion (as you have demonstrated, outside of the Catholic communion, the Coptic Orthodox and the ACOE are not very friendly towards each other). It is impossible for me to believe that ACOE Christians have been permitted to come into the Catholic Church while bringing in their bitterness and hatred of the Alexandrians with them.

There are several others here of the COE Tradition (Chaldeans and Syro-malabar Catholics). I hope they join this thread to verify or repudiate your statements, or at least explain them.

Blessings,
Marduk

There are several others here of the COE Tradition (Chaldeans and Syro-malabar Catholics). I hope they join this thread to verify or repudiate your statements, or at least explain them.

My Chaldean brother Murtad, brother Marduk, and all the brethren reading this thread:

I’m in the process of finding a job, so I’m limited on the amount of time I can spend posting on the forum, but I found this thread sufficiently serious enough for me to drop what I’m doing and make a response:

We Chaldean and Assyrian Catholics are not “Nestorians in communion with Rome”. We are the Church of the East in communion with Rome, or Eastern Christians in communion with Rome, or Eastern Catholics. The term “Nestorian” is a pejorative term, and should not be used to identify us, nor even be used to identify the separated brethren in the Assyrian Church of the East. We did not originate from Nestorius, therefore, there is no justifiable reason for having our Church identity and/or tradition be named after him.

Nestorianism is a heresy rejected by both the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East, as well as, by the separated Assyrian Church of the East. The classic understanding of Nestorianism is that it is the confession of a divided and separated Christ, a confession that turns Christ into two Sons, and two Persons. We on the other hand, along with the ACE, confess Christ as being one Son, and one Person.

In the Common Christological Declaration, both the Pope and the Assyrian Patriarch confessed the following:

Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity, consubstantial with the Father and consubstantial with us in all things but sin. His divinity and his humanity are united in one person, without confusion or change, without division or separation. In him has been preserved the difference of the natures of divinity and humanity, with all their properties, faculties and operations. But far from constituting “one and another”, the divinity and humanity are united in the person of the same and unique Son of God and Lord Jesus Christ, who is the object of a single adoration.

Having said that, many of us, both in the CCCE and in the ACE, do think that Nestorius himself was not a Nestorian, meaning, what he really believed was not what has been the classic attribution to him. Therefore, we are working on having him (and especially Theodore the Interpreter) rehabilitated amongst the Apostolic Churches. Some of us have a personal devotion to these Greek Fathers. I personally venerate Theodore, especially when it comes to his great contribution to Biblical exegesis, but I don’t have that great of a devotion to Nestorius, and certainly not to the great extent that I do towards Theodore. However, my primary veneration goes to our Aramaic Fathers: Aphrahat, Ephrem, Narsai of Nisibis, Abba the Great, Babai the Great, Isaac of Nineveh, Abdisho of Soba, etc.

In venerating Theodore and Nestorius (and Diodore), not everything they said or wrote is worthy of veneration. I do not, for instance, venerate or find joy in Nestorius’ rejection of the phrase Theotokos. I believe this was a mistake on his behalf, and so, something that is not worthy of veneration. However, his preferred phrase of Christotokos is a non-heretical phrase in and of itself. While it might be explained in a heretical manner, like in classical Nestorianism, it can also be explained in an orthodox manner. For instance, to the Jews, it was much more effective to use the phrase Mother of Christ in evangelizing them, because the Christ or Messiah is who they were waiting for in the Old Testament. Christianity needed to tell them first and foremost that Jesus, born of Mary, was indeed the long awaited Christ, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Then, they could be taught on who the Messiah really was, that is, the Son of God.

In evangelizing the pagan Greeks, it was more effective to use the phrase Theotokos, because of their long history of mythological gods, and because they did not care much for a Jewish Messiah and his role in fulfilling the Mosaic Law and the Jewish Prophets. Christianity needed to tell them that the One born of Mary is God, through whom everything was made and in whom they move and have their being. This is what converts them. Now, the phrase Theotokos, while certainly an orthodox phrase in and of itself, it nevertheless might be explained in a heretical manner, such as the fact that someone can misunderstand the term God in the phrase to be a reference to the whole Trinity, thinking that the whole Trinity was born of Mary. So while it is a useful expression, a truthful expression, it still could be understood in a heretical way if not properly explained.

The ACE preference of using the phrase “Mother of Christ, our God and Savior” is more specific than the phrase “Mother of God” and “Mother of Christ”, and so brings about a greater clarity to the Christological truth, in my opinion. And since the ACE (and also us Chaldeans) come from the Jewish-Aramaic background, and not from the Greek background, then this traditional phrase is much more effective because it declares the Messianic identity and role of Jesus first, then gives us His eternal identity as our God, and finally His redemptive work for us as our Savior. Anyways, all three phrases: Mother of God, Mother of Christ, and Mother of Christ our God and Savior are allowed as orthodox expressions in the Common Christological Declaration.

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