Wednesday, June 4, 2014


  (Continued) Excerpts from:


By Archpriest Basil M. Kherbawi
St, Nicholas Greek-Orthodox Cathedral
Brooklyn, NY
Published 1930



  The Roman historians are in discreet silence as to Pope Constantine who succeeded Pope Paul I, lest the opposition for the Popes, all infallible, should become too apparent. By the swords of the Lombards Pope Constantine was forcibly deposed, and having been cruelly deprived of his sight was shut up in a convent. He was succeeded by Pope Stephen IV.  This Pope summoned a council of provisional bishops to assemble in the Lateran Church, which abrogated all the decrees of Constantine, deposed all the bishops whom he had ordained, annulled all the baptisms and chrismations, and, according to some historians, actually sentenced him to be ignominiously scourged, and then be put to death – a decree which was executed by burning him in the nave of the church.

   The emperor Charlemagne owes much of his success to the Roman Pontiffs, whose emissaries sometimes prepared the way for his victories, but more frequently followed in his track and instilled the principles of obedience and fidelity. It was said that, “God has given two swords wherewith to govern the world, the one to the Pope, and the other to the Emperor”.  Charlemagne was not ungrateful for the support thus afforded him, nor slow to recompense the service. It was he who first set the example of compelling the payment of tithes to the clergy, which had before been a voluntary offering. He also decided to be crowned by the Pope himself. At the Mass the Pope anointed Charlemagne and placed a golden crown on his head, as the people declared: “ Long life and victory to Charles, most pious Augustus, crowned by God, the great pacifier of the Romans.”

     As to Pope Joan, we will say nothing, because of Christian love, and for Christian charity we will omit the names and evil doings of Pope Leo V and Sergius III and his love story .  The Papacy has crimes enough to answer for without our swelling the catalogue unnecessarily.

    Pope Formosus was succeeded by Pope Stephen VII who immediately began to manifest the most implacable hostility to the very memory of his predecessor. It was not unusual for contentions
to exist between the connections of a deceased and those of a reigning Pope.  It generally happened, that when a Pope took possession of the Vatican, he found the palace plundered of all its valuable ornaments and furniture. But the rancorous an revengeful spirit of Pope Stephen VII cannot be accounted for on any such ordinary grounds, nor is it possible to discover the cause, though he tried to justify himself by the pretense that the late Pontiff was an usurper, who had been excommunicated by Pope John VII. This Pope was not content with reviling the memory of his predecessor, bu he cause the body of the late Pope Formosus to be dragged from its tomb, that it might formally receive a sentence of deposition. The body was carried into the presence of a Council of Italian bishops convened for the occasion, and by these inhuman prelates the inanimate form was mockingly arrayed in the rich vesture and ornaments which it had worn when imbued with life.  They them placed it in a horrible state upon the Papal throne.  Stephen, the living Pontiff now advanced and demanded of his lifeless brother: “Wherefore, O Bishop of Porto, have you carried out your ambition so far as to usurp the see of Rome?”  On receiving no reply, this grave assembly passed sentence of deposition, and the condemned corpse was brutally beheaded and deprived of three fingers and then ordered to be cast into the Tiber River. Pope Stephen published an edict in which Formosus was pronounced an usurper, and all the acts and decrees of his pontificate were unconditionally annulled. Thus the much-vaunted chain of regular succession was broken again.

To be continued

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