From The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor (Boston: Holy ransfiguration, 1982), pp. 60-62:


[More from his discussion with the Monothelites]



"To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium, of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all these churches, together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity. Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into communion with us at once, lest fashioning for yourself some new and strange pathway, you fall into that which you do not even expect!"


To this the righteous man wisely replied, "Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession.


However, I wish to know the contents of your confession, on the basis of which all churches, as you say, have entered into communion. If it is not opposed to the truth, then neither will I be separated from it."



[After hearing their confession of Faith, and after further discussion, he was asked]



"But what will you do," inquired the envoys, "when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch. "


The Saint replied, "Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching."


As history has demonstrated, Saint Maximus_who was only a simple monk and not even ordained -- and his two disciples were the ones who were Orthodox, and all those illustrious, famous and influential Patriarchs and Metropolitans whom the Saint had written against were the ones who were in heresy. When the Sixth Ecumenical Council was finally convened, among those condemned for heresy were four Patriarchs of Constantinople, one Pope of Rome, one Patriarch of Alexandria,

two Patriarchs of Antioch and a multitude of other Metropolitans, Archbishops and Bishops. During all those years, that one simple monk was right, and all those notable bishops were wrong.


[End quote]


Now I asked, if St. Maximos considered Rome infallible, why was he not moved when he was told that Rome had accepted the Monothelite Heretics? At this point, were he a papist, he should have accepted the decision of the Pope as binding -- right?



Response from a Greek scholar on the abuse of citations from St. Maximos:


A Roman Apologist wrote:


I made no such assumption. But, taking your interpretation, I simply can't make any sense of St. Maximus declaration. It is probably best to return to the original quotation and context, which can be found in Mansi, XI, 3, and PG 90:


On another day he is accused of anathematizing the Emperor by rejecting the typus. He replies that he has condemned no more than the document. ``Where was it anathematized by the Roman Synod?'' he is asked. ``In the Church of the Savior [the Lateran], and in that of the Mother of God,'' he answers. He is asked again: ``Why do you love the Romans and hate the Greeks?'' The servant of God said: ``We are commanded to hate no man. I love the Romans because they have one faith with me, and the Greeks because they speak the same tongue as I.''


We may debate the meaning of this--I believe it means that St. Maximus was united with the one Church that would be the sure guide to the faith and leader of the faithful. But your interpretation is clearly excluded.



This needs no textual analysis. The interpretation is preposterous. The excerpt has nothing to do with Rome and Constantinople as centers of authority. Nor, indeed, does it have anything to do with a condemnation of any Church. St. Maximos establishes, here, the catholicity of his Faith when he defines his affinity with his own people and with those living

in Rome-an affinity with Rome because its confesses the proper Faith of the Greeks and an affinity with his own Greek-speaking people. He was being interrogated in Constantinople in a brutal way, and his answers, which to this day are used in Greek as examples of very wise and diplomatic, as well as pious, discourse, were not dogmatic statements. To use them as such is dishonest. His reference to Rome here is not to a separate Church, but to the See of the Patriarch there, since his direct answer to the question (to quote this correctly), "Where was it condemned?" (referring to the heretical _Typos_), was, "At the synod in Rome, the Church of the Savior and the Mother of God." Let us note, too, that this is not the Lateran of the later Papist councils held from 1123-1518, but a Church which burned in 1308. Thus, we should not lend to the term "Lateran," as

Latins often do, the false weight of what the terms suggests about the Papacy and Roman Catholicism today.


St. Maximos' reply, then, is simply a statement about the Roman Church, which was not then in heresy, and his adherence to catholic belief. His Greek-speaking compatriots, who were advocating heresy, incidentally, he addressed in a very technical term. The actual quotation is: "Agapo tous Romaious hos homopistous; tous de Graikous hos homoglossous" (Patrologia Graeca, XC, 128C).He is not addressing a "Roman" Church and a "Greek" Church, but the See in Rome (tous Romaious, "those in Rome"), again, and Greek speakers (Graikoi), which is rather more clear in the Latin: "...Graecos ut eadem qua ego lingua loquentes." Otherwise, he would have used spoken of the "Hellenes," in referring to the Orthodox Greeks. The Church is never, under any circumstances, described as "He Ekklesia ton Graikon," but "ton Hellenon." The former term has nothing to do with the "Roman" or "Hellenic" hegemony of the ancient world, but refers to a language. In fact, as you know, the so-called "Greek [Hellenic] Church" usually called itself "Roman Catholic." In short, the Saint is comparing right-believing Christians in Rome to Greek-speaking heretics in Constantinople, whom he considered separated from the Church, not

because of the primacy of Rome, but because of their separation from a confession of the common faith (see below). It goes without saying--and it is comical that one has to note such--that St. Maximos upheld the integrity of Constantinople (his Church and the Mother Church of his monastery), when it believed correctly, not because it was in communion with Rome, but

because it was Orthodox.


Let us be a bit more honest, here, and emphasize that Rome, too, fell from the Catholic Church and was in heresy under the reign of Pope Honorios, at which time, of course, St. Maximos was on communion with Constantinople. Honorios, as you know, was condemned as a heretic at the sixth Ecumenical Synod, a fact conveniently forgotten by the Latins. Though various Roman Catholic scholars have, through the years, argued that Honorios was simply guilty of using "imprudent language," more honest scholars today admit that he was correctly condemned for his acceptance of the "one will." When Constantinople fell to heresy, St. Maximos then adhered to the correct confession of Rome, having, in fact, played a pivotal role--though he was a

simple monk!--in the convocation of the council to which he refers above, in which the Monothelite Typos was condemned.


More to the point, St. Maximos came from the Church at a time when Rome has not separated from the ancient Patriarchates. Upholding its correct teaching, when it adhered to the Catholic Faith, is not an endorsement of Papal primacy. This view is naive, at best. St. Theodore the Studite, too, appealed to Rome during the Iconoclastic Controversy, and his praise of Rome's correct beliefs is likewise misrepresented as support for a notion of Papal primacy that had only, in his time, even begun to make an appearance.


As for St. Maximos' theology, which is centered on the concept of theosis through Divine love, Father Florovsky points out that he is _par excellence_ the product of the Greek Fathers. For Latins to use him in support of their fabricated ideas about the Pope is rather curious. In his most famous answer to his detractors, when asked whether he belonged to Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, etc.," he made no reference to Papal primacy, but rather contradicted its modern justification. He pointed out that he belonged to the Catholic Church--that Church which is found wherever correct confession abounds, the same confession for which Christ "called Peter blessed" and upon "whose confession He would found his Church." In another famous passage, which is often mistranslated in "popular" Latin texts and which occurs just before the passage about which you wrote me, he defines the Church in Constantinople as having fallen to heresy because "she has rejected the rulings of the Orthodox Synods." To the Synods he attributed the source of correct belief, not to a single See. And, indeed, he is famous for his definition of the Catholic Church as an expression of the common Faith of the Synods, not as something defined by

the See of Rome. As well, when asked what he would do if Rome joined with Constantinople in heresy, he made no defense of Papal primacy. Rather, he said: "Even if the entire universe holds communion with the {Monothelite] Patriarch [of Constantinople], I will not commune with them." He was no Papist and it is simply a flight of fantasy to imagine so.


In response to the following citation, allegedly of St. Maximos:


It is not at all clear that that is the case. One reads St. Maximus' Letter to Peter (c. 648) and one sees clearly that Maximus acknowledged "the blessed Pope of the most holy Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which . . . has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy Churches of God which are in the whole world." See Mansi, x, 692.


The "Letter to Peter," in fact, survives only in extracts and only in Latin. It is, therefore, imprudent to use it as evidence for the

Supposed pro-papist (i.e. pro-Latin) sympathies of St. Maximos. If we had the original Greek, we could at least subject it to stylistic analysis in order to determine whether it belongs with the genuine works of the Saint. Whatever the case, he never attributed such authority to Rome. If one wants to believe such a thing, he can do so only by ignoring the theology and

ecclesiology of the Saint and embracing the same old bogus texts that the Latins endlessly parade before us. Needless to say, as quickly as the Latins use this text, equally quickly we Orthodox reject it as false. The "Donation of Constantine" has always led us to distrust such things.


In fact, St. Maximus sided with those who say that Pope Honorius used imprecise theological language. Indeed, in his Letter to Marinus, he recounts that he heard from St. Anastasius that Abbot John Symponus, the scribe of Pope Honorius, had affirmed that the pope had no unorthodox intention. St. Maximus also calls him "divine Honorius" and the "great Honorius."


It is true that in this letter Honorios is called "magnus" and "divinus". But this does not entail that St. Maximos considered him a Father of the Church, only that he had respect for Honorios as a man. St. Photios the Great calls the Blessed Augustine "hieros," that is, "holy" or "sacred," but at the same time is able to point out deficiencies in his exposition of certain dogmas. Moreover, these terms in Greek are not always more than titles of honor, having nothing whatsoever to do with an assessment of one's theological correctness. Even today, we refer to Greek Bishops as "Hagios".


In the passage cited from Maximos to Marinos--actually, to be more precise, from his "Dogmatic Tome" to Marinos--there is no specific reference to Honorios; and, incidentally, "Symponus" is simply an adjective in Greek, "symponos," meaning "collaborator." St. Maximos does indeed attempt to vindicate Honorios of intending to preach heresy. He suggests that the

misunderstanding arose from the Greek translation of the Latin original of Honorios's letter to Sergios.


However, from an Orthodox standpoint this attempted exculpation of Honorios did not become part of the _consensus Patrum_, which was expressed decisively at the Sixth Ecumenical Synod. This Synod, which is accepted also by Roman Catholics, condemned Honorios as a heretic. The authority of a Synod, in expressing the mind of the Fathers, is higher than that of an individual Father, no matter how holy he was. The consensus if the Fathers is not the sum of their opinions, but the sum of what they held in common and expressed synodally. One cannot imagine St. Maximos, who contributed to this very formulation in his theology, arguing with such an observation. Papists would, however.