Honorius I: the controversial case of a heretic Pope
Roberto de Mattei
December 30, 2015
The case of Pope Honorius is one of the most controversial in the history of the Church. As the Church historian, Emile Amann, rightly notes in the large entry he dedicates to the Question d’Onorius in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique (vol. VII, coll. 96-132), the problem needs to be treated in an unbiased manner and with the serene impartiality which history owes to past events (col.96).
At the center of the pontificate of Pope Honorius who reigned from 625-638, was the question of Monothelitism, the last of the great Christological heresies. In order to please the Byzantine Emperor, Heraclius, desirous of guaranteeing religious peace inside his kingdom, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Sergius, sought to find a compromise between Catholic orthodoxy, according to which in Jesus Christ there are two natures in one person, and the Monophysite heresy, which attributed to Christ one person only and one nature only. The result of the compromise was a new heresy, Monothelitism, according to which, the double nature of Christ was moved in His action of one operation only and one will only. This is semi-Monophysitism, but truth is integral or it is not, and a moderate heresy, is always heresy. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, was among those who intervened with the greatest vigor in denouncing the new doctrine which rendered the humanity of Christ futile and led to Monophysitism , condemned by the Council of Chalcedon (451).