By the most holy and ecumenical Patriarch, Lord Gregory of Cyprus, who was attacked by certain individuals, and for whom this vigorous reply was given. The disturbance and storm, which occurred in the Church a short while ago, had, as it were, for its father and leader, the Adversary himself, who is forever stricken with envy of man’s salvation, and who is always seeking to do that which would prevent it. Even so, he also had individuals who, although they were, at first, not the major leaders at fault, but only worked as so many servants and instruments, by preference, did for the disturbance whatever he wanted done. But, since from the beginning, the union [of 1274[, the certain harmless accommodation, and the alleged benefit to us were not, in reality, what they claimed, their actual intention was made clear by their actions. And this was proposed as a bait, drawing men’s souls to that which was hidden; it was, further, proposed with promises, with the most terrible imprecations, and with solemn oaths, to the effect that they had nothing else in mind other than that which these very things signified—harmlessness, safety, that is, irreproachability. Shortly afterward, however, these imprecations and oaths were forgotten, as if they had been made for some purpose other than that for which they were intended. And the union and accommodation, and their hitherto seemingly important undertaking, are, as it were, cast down, while the words and the deeds of evil are raised up. And someone dares to declare in our midst that the Spirit also Proceeds from the Son, just as He does, indeed, from the Father, and that the Only-Begotten Son—like the Father Who Begets the Son—is His Cause. This, then, is how the disturbance begins, how the great struggle against the Church is rekindled.
Almost everyone knows (there is no need to explain it again) that this alien doctrine, which disturbed us lately, was not a recent development, but had its genesis with others, not with us. All the same, it was brought here like a foreign plague, and flourish for quite some time. And it was John Beccus who gave it the strength to grow so much and he accepted it and became the suitable ground, as it were, for its growth; and he nourished it, in mine opinion, from the rivers of evil and lawlessness, or, as he falsely said, from Holy Scriptures, interpreting it wrongly, spreading babble from there, and committing sacrilege, while, at the same time robbing the meaning of Scripture, and the sense of those who listened superficially or of those who had an eye on his wealth. Yet, this evil man was almost in his eighty year of office and residence in this city; for this is how long he had been established on the patriarchal throne, the prize of a bad crop. And all this time God allowed the Church to suffer and endure the worst because of the multitude of the sins of everyone, by which we alone provoke the anger of Him Who is without passion.
Eventually, however, God pitied us, His servants, and looked upon us with mercy and raised up an emperor—who seems to live only for the purpose of doing his bidding—and the Church, just as, in the past, He had raised David’s fallen and ruined tabernacle through him. (Acts 15:16) And the man who had accepted and nourished the evil and discord was removed from our midst, and the True Doctrine concerning the Spirit is expressed with confidence, and those who wish to change the life dearest to God are, in the future, free to build on the foundation of faith. It is, likewise, commendable, and truly salutary, and the work of superior planning to attend to the future safety of the Church and, in every way, to secure its stability so that if someone hateful to God should again attempt to disturb it he will be shown to be acting in vain, because he will be repelled by the unshakable words of our faith. This could be accomplished satisfactorily if we do two things. We should first define our belief clearly, that is, the Orthodox Faith, and raise it as a permanent monument to our Sublime Faith; seen, thus, from a distance—being visible to all—it will attract to itself the spiritual eyes of everyone. Secondly we must make this evil, destructive and alien teaching known, so that when this has been exposed we will all turn away from it and despise it and quickly escape from its danger.
Accordingly, the Faith which we acknowledge and believe in our heart is as follows. We believe as we have been taught from the beginning and from the Fathers. We have been taught and we believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, Who, being without principle (anarchos), Unbegotten, and without cause, is the Natural Principle and Cause of the Son and of the Spirit. We also believe in His Only-Begotten Son, Who, being Consubstantial with Him, was Begotten Eternally and without change from Him, through Whom all things were made. We believe in the All-Holy Spirit, Who Proceeds from the Same Father, Who, with the Father and the Son Together, is worshipped as Co-Eternal, Co-Equal, Co-Essential, Co-Equal in Glory, and as Joint-Creator of the world. We believe that the Only-Begotten Word of the Supersubstantial and Life-Giving Trinity came down from Heaven for us men and for our salvation, was Incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man; that is, He became Perfect Man while remaining God and in no way altered or transformed the Divine Nature by His contact with the Flesh, but Assumed Humanity without change. And He, Who is passionless according to His Divine Nature, Suffered the Passion and the Cross and, on the Third Day, Rose from the dead and Ascended into Heaven and Sat at the Right Hand of God the Father. We believe in accordance with God, Holy Tradition and Teaching in One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge One Baptism for the remission of sins, we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.
Additionally, we acknowledge a Single Hypostasis of the Incarnate Word, and we believe the Same Christ to be One, and we proclaim and know Him after the Incarnation, as redeeming with Two Natures, from Which, and in Which, and Which He is. Consequently, we believe in Two Energies [Operations] and Two Wills of the Same Christ, Each Nature having Its Own Will and Its Own Saving Action. We venerate, but not absolutely and without adoration, the Holy and Sacred Images of Christ, of the Immaculate Mother of God, and of all the Saints, because the honour we show them passes over to the original. We reject the recently established union [of Lyons] which provoked God’s hostility toward us. (cf. Rom. 8:7) For this union divided and ravaged the Church, under the pretense of harmless accommodation, persuading it, by their stupidity and deception, to establish their glory, but not God’s (Rom. 10:3), and to turn from Orthodoxy and the sound teaching of the Fathers, and to fall down the precipice of heresy and blasphemy. We also render void their dangerous doctrine concerning the Procession of the Holy Spirit. We have been taught from God, the Word Himself, that the All-Holy Spirit Proceeds from the Father; and we confess that He has His Existence from the Father, and that He prides Himself—exactly as the Son Himself does—in the fact that the Same [Father] is Essentially the Cause of His Being. And we know and believe that the Son is from the Father, being enriched in having the Father as His Cause and Natural Principle, and in being Consubstantial and of One Nature with the Spirit, Who is from the Father. Even so, He is not, either separately or with the Father, the Cause of the Spirit; for the All-Holy Spirit’s Existence is not “through the Son” and “from the Son” as they who hasten toward their destruction and separation from God understand and teaching. (Ps. 73:27) We shun and cut off from our communion those who do not correctly uphold the Sound Faith but blaspheme blatantly, and think and speak perversely (Acts 20:30) and perpetuate what is most alarming and unbearable to hear.
They were originally members of our nation and of our doctrine and belonged to the Church, and yet they rebelled against it and put it aside—the Church which had spiritually given them birth and had nourished them. And they placed the Church in ultimate danger and showed themselves blameworthy children, estranged sons, who had veered from their paths. You did not repay well—evil and perverse generation (Mat. 1717)—either the Lord God or Mother Church. One should be willing to endure every danger—even death itself should not be rejected—on behalf of the Church and its doctrines. And yet, their behaviour toward the Church was worse than that of natural enemies, for they were openly emotionally disturbed and had altogether lost the ability of distinguishing between friend and foe. The first among them, as we said, was John Beccus who (because Christ had visited his own Church, and moved against him and his evil associates, and proceeded clearly forward with the result that he hwas going to be justly punished for his endless chatter), after appearing to repent for the mischief he had caused when he went raving mad, and, after composing a pious statement and giving it to the synod handling his case, had hardly tasted leniency and escaped condemnation, when he turned back to his own vomit of blasphemy. (2 Peter. 2:22)
This statement should be made known so that all who hear it may judge if he was justly condemned. The verbatim text was as follows:
Because of my attempts to promote the precarious accommodation of the supposed, ecclesiastical union, and to bring everyone around to agree to it, it happened that I spoke and wrote on the Church doctrine; certain things which I had said, however, were found to be of a dubious nature and at variance with Sacred and Holy Doctrine and this being so, the Synod had them condemned. I said, for example, that the Holy Spirit has, as the Cause of His Personal Existence, the Father and the Son, and that this doctrine was in harmony with the formula which declares that the ‘Spirit Proceeds from the Father through the Son.’ In the final analysis, this means that the Spirit has two causes, and that both the direct and the remote principles of causation were implied. That is, the Son is as much the Cause of the Existence of the Spirit as the meaning of the preposition “through” allows. And since all these doctrines are found in mine own writings and speeches, they are mine, for no one else had thought, and written these. Additionally, I said that the Father and the Son [Together] constitute a Single Cause of the Spirit from Whom, as from One Principle and Source, the Spirit has His Being. All this and anything else that may lead to such dogmatic absurdity-before God, His Awesome Angels, and before the Holy and Sacred Synod–from the bottom of mine heart, without deceit, without hiding one thing and saying another, I turn away from, I reject, and I cast out because they lead to the ultimate destruction of the soul. I confess with heart and tongue and I believe as does the Holy Catholic Church from the beginning in the Holy Trinity, the One God, thus: that the Father does not have His Being either from Another or from Himself, but is without beginning and without Cause that the Only-Begotten Son of God has His Existence by Generation from the Father and has the Father as His Cause; I confess and believe that the Holy Spirit has–by Procession–His Existence from God the Father; and that the Father, according to the voices of the holy teachers, is the Cause of the Son and of the Spirit; that the formula ‘the Spirit Proceeds through the Son’ in now way renders the Son, either separately or with the Father, the Cause of the Spirit because, according to the dubious and absurd views of certain individuals, the Son and the Father constitute the one cause and unique principle of the Spirit. These, then, are the doctrines that I confess. I hope it will be these and all the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church of God, according to this written confession, that I shall be found confessing unto my last breath. Everyone who, now or in the future, does not confess thus I dissociate myself from, and I cast out far from the Orthodox Faith of Christians. This is the statement of my confession and faith, by which I acknowledge and witness to everyone, and by which I indicate clearly that I hold to the Faith concerning God, and that I am entirely devoted to the Evangelical, Apostolic, and Patristic Doctrine and Teaching. Because of my boldness, by which I precariously attempted to delve into certain of the above-mentioned doctrines, I was deposed from the episcopate by the Most Holy [Joseph], lord and ecumenical patriarch, and by his holy and sacred synod, in which the Most Holy [Athanasius] Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria was also present. As such, I approve this lawfully and canonically rendered sentence of deposition, and I accept this resolution as justifiable and lawful. I shall never try to regain the priesthood.
Nevertheless, once this confession which he wrote and signed with his own hand was published, he annulled it immediately as soon as the ecclesiastical court had given him a reprieve. And he again composes books and blasphemies, and he again adds spurious doctrines and the opinions of others which our fathers did not know. And he obstinately tries to prove himself superior to these “errors” of this evil, whereas, of course, he should have done this solely by repentance and by the suppression of all that he had written. By ignoring the way (2 Pet. 2:15), he veered from the straight path and was given to a mind even more reprobate than before. (Rom. 1:28) We imagine that the spirit of error left him for a while, but attacked him against with greater force, having brought along not seven, but an whole legion of spirit, and that it took possession of his soul and filled it. (cf. Mat. 12:43-45) Therefore, he is again summoned and asked to account for this change from good to evil. And who summons him but the Emperor [Andronicus] who is jealous of God, the God of hosts (1 Kings 19:10), and who has become as the hand of the Most High Himself in the restoration of the Church and the Faith, whom I happily call a new Moses, God’s excellent servant (Heb. 3:5), who rescued the present-day people of Israel not from that ancient material bondage of Egypt, but from another one that is far worse. Because of this service, the Emperor has been drawn by the Hand of God, whose books contain his name. (cf. Phil. 4:3; Apoc. 17:8) We, therefore, need not write a great deal bout him.
And Beccus was asked by the Emperor and by the Holy Synod to state the reasons for which he turned back (after he had obtained the grace of a commendable repentance, and had put—to speak Scripturally—his hand to the plow, [Lk. 9:62] and had agreed to follow the Church’s order), and lost all ability to gain the Kingdom of Heaven, preferring blasphemy to truth. However, it became clear from his words (he did not say anything that is true), and from his actions (he made no attempt to hide his wickedness), that he is so closely united with heterodoxy that no words would convince him to renounce his position. Accordingly, the entire assembly of the faithful, inspired by the righteous zeal against him and those who share his views, render this decision like the ancient priests pronouncing against their own kin, the sons of Israel, who had broken the law.
Certainly, the doctrines of the above-listed and already expelled individuals are filled with blasphemy, malice, and fall short of all ecclesiastical prudence. Even if Beccus, the father of these doctrines—or someone among his zealous supporters—confidently affirms that these teachings are the thoughts of the saints, in reality, we must suppose him a slanderer and blasphemer of the saints. For where have the God-bearing Fathers said that God the Father is, through the Son, the Cause of the Spirit? Where do they say that the Paraclete has His Existence from the Son and through the Son? Again, where do they say that the Same Paraclete has His Existence from the Father and from the Son? In what text do they teach that the One Essence and Divinity of the Father and the Son is the Cause of the Holy Spirit’s Existence? Who, and in which of His works, ever prohibited anyone from saying that the Hypostasis of the Father is the Unique Cause of Being of the Son and the Spirit? Who among those who believe that the Father is the Cause of the Spirit hast taught that this is by virtue of the Nature, not by virtue of the Hypostasis? And who has failed to maintain this as the characteristic that distinguishes the Father from the other Two Hypostases? Finally, who says that those other teachings, about which he has lied by insulting the Fathers, belong to the Fathers? He abstains from neither evil. For at some place he alters their own words, and, even when he uses the words without distortion, he does not adhere to their true meaning. Neither does he look at the aim that the author had in mind, but arrogantly passes over the purpose and the desire, and even the express intent of the author’s statement, and adheres to the word and, having obtained the shadow instead of the body, composes books. And this is like saying that he twists ropes of sand and builds houses therefrom to make I do not know what, unless it is a monument and a memorial—the former, an advertisement of his folly the latter, a declaration of the struggle he undertook against his own salvation. This being so, we condemn the doctrines themselves together with their authors, and judge that their memory, like the expelled, be eliminated from the Church with a resounding noise.
They are like thorns and thistles which, by Divine permission, have grown within the life-giving precincts of the Church, or like evil weeds which the enemy has sown among the authentic wheat of the Gospel [cf. Matt. 13:24-30]. For he found an opportunity for his wickedness in the forebearance of the avenging God. They are a death-bearing brood of vipers [Lk. 3:7] (if you prefer something that has a greater resemblance to evil) and, according to Scripture, descendants of serpents, bringing death to every soul that approaches them; and they are worthy preserving so long as they do not need to be born at all and men do not know of them. They should be destroyed with fire, and with iron, and with every possible means—a task the Church should undertake—and they should be given over to non-being and to non-being and to ultimate destruction. Indeed, we counsel all the sons of our Church to avoid them with great care, and not even to listen to them in a cursory manner.
But we cannot stop with admonition alone but must supplement this with both threat and fear for the sake of the security of the future. But what does this threat consist of? Is it because the act [of Lyons] which occurred a short while back—I know not why they called it “accommodation” and union, when it deserves a completely different name—confused the Church and finally ravaged it? Indeed, this act introduced precariously and very dangerously the aforementioned and unreasonable doctrines, which had John Beccus as their protector. Thus, we define our position very clearly for everyone, should any individual—living now or in the future—ever dare to revive that act which has been wisely abolished, or attempt to impose doctrines on our Church, which have been already profitably condemned, or suggest them either secretly and maliciously, or introduce a proposal in favor of believing or approving these doctrines, or strive for their free acceptance among us, and thus scorn the genuine doctrines of the early Church and its present decrees against the spurious and alien and, indeed, against the accommodation and act by which they crept into the Church to its detriment. This Beccus, and anyone who agrees ever to receive those members of the Roman Church who remain intransigent concerning those doctrines for which they were from the begging accused by our Church and for which the schism occurred, and who agree to receive them more openly than we were accustomed, that is, prior to this misleading accommodation and worthless union [of Lyons] hostile to the good—this man, besides expelling him from the Church, cutting him off, and removing him from the assembly and society of the faithful, we subject to the terrible penalty of anathema. For he should not even be forgiven by men, he who did not learn not to dare such things (after such an experience of the preceding evil, or after the recent condemnation), and who did not understand not to contrive against the accepted formulations of the Fathers, nor to remain forever a disciple and subject of the Church.
And we proclaim and do these things, as we said, for the sake of remaining spiritually unharmed, for the mutual benefit of everyone, for those who now belong to our devout Church, and for those who after this shall continue to do so. Remain steadfast, true [followers] of God, by avoiding and loathing those other doctrines that are opposed to the truth, and those fabrications of Beccus. Avoid not only him, but those individuals mentioned above by name who together with him spew out blasphemies which, till now, they have made their own, and which they accept unrepentantly. By so doing, the Paraclete will abide in you, and will preserve you not only from the plague of such error, but from the greater plague of the passions for the participation in the eternal benefits and the blessedness prepared for the just. And may you be and remain so.
The recorded resolution and decision has now been issued by the Church against those who have rebelled and repudiated the Church. In a short while it will be proclaimed by the Supreme Judge, unless, before the arrival of His Great and Manifest Day [Acts. 2:21], they set themselves, free by repentance, tears and mourning beyond endurance. For they repent and look again at the light of the Mother Church with the pure eyes of the soul, they will be like those who, in coming to Christ, will not be turned out. To the contrary, Christ will approach the returning one and will embrace him, even if he is a prodigal son who has wasted his inherited portion [Lk. 15:22-32], or a lost sheep which had abandoned its sheepfold, or an individual who has removed himself from grace. So it is with the Church which in like manner shall gather them together and reckon as its own and forthwith establish them among the ranks and company of its children, provided they lament one day and experience what we experience now. And although we excommunicate them, separate them from the Church of the devout, impose on them the awesome and great judgment of separation and estrangement from the Orthodox, we do not do it because we wish to exult over their misfortune or to rejoice over their rejection. On the contrary, we grieve and bear their isolation with loathing. But why do we need to act in this fashion? Mainly for two reasons: the first being that their unhappiness and bitterness will cause them, after they have realized their folly, to return repentant and save themselves in the Church. Secondly, others will henceforth be chastened and disciplined so as not to attempt anything similar, or attack that which is holy, or behave willfully against that which is sacred; lest, if they show such audacity, they receive the same rewards in accordance with the example that has been set.
Some manuscripts add:
[Whereas the Son is the Living and Enhypostatic Wisdom of God the Father, the Holy Spirit Who Proceeds Ineffably and Eternally from God the Father Alone as Scripture affirms, is likewise the Light and Self-Subsistent Life of the Inaccessible and Eternal Light. Whosoever is of a different mind we cut them off from the membership of the Orthodox, and we banish them from the Flock of the Church of God.]