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De Ecclesia => General Catholic Discussion => Topic started by: Joe Cupertino on January 21, 2018, 12:09:00 AM

Title: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on January 21, 2018, 12:09:00 AM
How prevalent was Catholicism during the Arian Crisis?  It's commonly said these days that the majority of Catholics, even 90% or more, became Arians during that crisis.  A friend of mine just recently mentioned that this was an unsubstantiated myth, and that the majority of Catholics did not fall into Arianism.  I did a little researching and found the quote below in the "The Church of Christ" by E. Sylvester Berry (I also posted it in the resource section):

The Church of Christ
E. Sylvester Berry, D.D. (1927)
pp.169-170

Quote
Objection II.  During the Arian heresy in the fourth century the Catholic Church ceased to be Catholic or universal, for, as St. Jerome said on one occasion: "The whole world groaned and was surprised to find itself Arian." ("Contra Luciferianos"; P.L., 23, 172.)

Answer. - These words of St. Jerome are not to be taken literally, as is evident from the circumstances.  At the councils of Rimini and Selucia, in 359, the Arians gained a victory by having a creed adopted in which their errors were not directly condemned.  This aided them in the spread of their doctrines, because they could make it appear that the councils had approved them.  When hearing of this, St. Jerome used the words quoted in the objection. It is true that the Arians made rapid strides, even many priests and bishops fell into their errors, but the Church never ceased to be truly universal, and most probably continued at all times more wide-spread than the Arian sect, despite the fact that the emperors did all in their power to spread the heresy.  St. Athanasius and the bishops of his patriarchate wrote to the Emperor in this matter: "The churches of every nation agree with the Nicene Faith, - those in Spain, Britain, and Gaul; in Italy, Dalmatia, and Mysia; in Macedonia, in all Greece and the whole of Africa; in Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Pamphylia, Isauria, and Lycia, and in all Egypt and Lybia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and adjacent districts, and in all the eastern churches, except a few who believe with Arius.  We have certain knowledge regarding the above-mentioned  churches, because we have letters from them, and we know most religious Emperor, how few they are who contradict this faith." (St. Athanasius, "Ad Jovianum," quoted in Theordoret's Church History, IV, 3; P.G., 82, 1126.)

Even granting that these words contain some rhetorical exaggeration, they still show that the Church had not ceased to be truly Catholic by her diffusion through the then known world.
--Berry, E. Sylvester, D.D.  The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co. 1927.

I find this quote really interesting, considering I've heard my whole life that the vast majority in the Church fell to Ariansim during that era. 

Are there any Catholic authors that disagree with Berry?  Are there others that say the same as Berry?
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Rubecorks on January 21, 2018, 02:14:19 AM
I have always believed that it was about 80% of the clergy in the EAST that fell into that heresy. St. Jerome was part of the east, and thus his hyperbole about the situation.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: 2Vermont on January 21, 2018, 07:22:48 AM
This quote is interesting because this is not what we see post-Vatican II.  I find this portion of the quote most interesting: 

"...We have certain knowledge regarding the above-mentioned churches, because we have letters from them, and we know most religious Emperor, how few they are who contradict this faith."

Unlike nowadays where there are no such letters from any church associated with the Novus Ordo Church (West or East) making it clear that they profess and teach the Catholic Faith (versus the Novus Ordo, Vatican II Religion).
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: EricH on January 21, 2018, 07:46:39 AM
I find this quote really interesting, considering I've heard my whole life that the vast majority in the Church fell to Arianism during that era. 

Are there any Catholic authors that disagree with Berry?  Are there others that say the same as Berry?

Fr. Sylvester Hunter, S.J. (Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, vol. 1, p. 303, LINK (https://archive.org/stream/outlinesofdogmat01hunt#page/303/mode/1up)) says the same as Berry:
Quote
…Others again say that the Church has in fact failed, for errors have arisen, as if the power of a perverse will did not remain with man; and some urge that the whole Church has failed, quoting the expression of St. Jerome that, after the Council of Rimini in 359, the whole world found with surprise that it had fallen into the Arian heresy (Dial. adv. Luciferianos, n. 19; P.L. 23, 172), but not seeing that this phrase is merely a rhetorical or perhaps humorous exaggeration (see similar instances in Scripture, St. John xii. 19; xxi. 25), and whatever was the spirit of the remark, it certainly was not true, as may be seen by reference to the histories of the period. (See particularly Jungmann, Diss, in Hist. Eccles. vii.)

Jungmann's history of the Arian crisis (in Latin) is here: LINK (https://books.google.com/books?id=wV9IgF5ewSsC&pg=PA395#v=onepage&q&f=false)
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on January 21, 2018, 10:54:00 PM
As Fr. Berry stated, St. Jerome's comment about the world awaking to find itself Arian was in reference to the Council of Rimini.  St. Alphonsus provides a short history of The Council of Rimini in The History of Heresies.  In it he shows how the roughly 320 Catholic bishops at that council were fooled and induced by the other 80 Arian bishops into signing a creed that favored the Arians.  St. Alphonsus shows that those 320 Catholic bishops at the council were staunchly against Arianism from start to end, and that the formula they signed contained nothing obviously heretical.  So, they didn't all become Arians.  In fact, it seems that none of the Catholic bishops there became Arian.  But by their blunder, they unwittingly allowed the Arians to claim a huge victory.  With this context in mind, it makes the sarcasm and hyperbole in St. Jerome's comment much clearer.


Quote
44. We now come back once more to the Arians. When Osius and Liberius fell, they were already split up into a great many sects: some who followed the party of Acasius, Eudoxius, Eunomius, and Aesius, were called Anomeans—those were pure Arians, and they not alone rejected consubstantiality, but even the likeness of the Son to the Father; but the followers of Ursacius and Valens, though called Arians, did not follow' the opinions of Arius in everything. Finally, those who followed the opinions of Basil of Ancyra, and Eustatius of Sebaste, were called Semi-Arians; these condemned the blasphemies of Arius, but did not admit the consubstantiality of the divine persons (12).

45. We have now to relate the events of the Council of Rimini, of sorrowful celebrity, in which, as St. Jerome says, the Nicene faith was condemned, and the whole world groaned, finding itself Arian. When the whole Church was in confusion about the articles of the faith, it was considered that the best way of arranging everything quietly, would be to hold two councils, one in Rimini in Italy, the other at Seleucia in the East. The Council of Rimini was held in 359, and was attended by more than four hundred bishops from Illyria, Italy, Africa, Spain, Gaul, and Britain, and among those there were eighty Arians, but the rest were Catholic. When they came to treat of matters of faith, Ursacius, Valens, and other heads of the Arian party produced a writing, and proposed that all should be satisfied with signing that, in which was laid down the last formula of Sirmium of the same year, in which, it is true, the word substance was rejected, but it was allowed that the Son was like unto the Father in all things. But the Catholic bishops unanimously answered that there was no necessity for any other formula, but that of the Council of Nice, and decreed that there should be no addition to or subtraction from that formula; that the word substance should be retained, and they again condemned the doctrine of Arius, and published ten anathemas against the errors of Arius, Sabellius, and Photinus. All the Catholics subscribed to this, but Ursacius. Valens and the Arians refused, so they themselves were judged heretics, and Ursacius, Valens, Caius, and Germinius were condemned and deposed by a formal act (13).

46. Ten bishops were now sent as legates from the council to the Emperor, bearers of the letters of the council, giving him notice that the fathers had decided that there should be nothing added to or taken from the Council of Nice, and that they regretted to find that Ursacius and Valens wished to establish another formula of faith, according to the document they presented to the council. The ten legates accordingly went, but the Arians sent ten likewise, along with Ursacius and Valens, and these arrived first and prejudiced the Emperor against the council, and presented him with the formula of Sirmium, which was rejected by the Council of Rimini. When the legates sent by the council arrived, they could not obtain an audience from the Emperor, and it was only after a long delay, that he sent an answer to the council, that he was about to proceed against the barbarians, and that he had given orders to the legates to wait for him in Adrianople, where he would see them on his return, and give them his final answer. The fathers of the council wrote again to Constantius, telling him that nothing would ever change them, and begging therefore that he would give an audience to the legates and let them depart. When the Emperor came to Adrianople, the legates followed him, and were taken to the small town of Nice, in the neighbourhood; and there they began to treat with the Arians against the express orders of the council, which particularly restricted them on this point. Partly by deception, and partly by threats, they were induced to sign a formula, worse even than the third formula of Sirmium; for not only was the word substance omitted, but the Son was said to be like unto the Father, but leaving out in all things, which was admitted in the Sirmium formula. They were, likewise, induced to revoke the deposition of Ursacius, and his companions, condemned by the council; and they signed the formula with their own hands (14).

47. The legates having put things in this state returned to Rimini, and Constantius then gave orders to his Prefect Taurus, not to permit the council to be dissolved, till the bishops had signed the last formula of Nice, and to send into banishment any bishops refusing their signature, if their number did not exceed fifteen. He likewise wrote a letter to the fathers of the council, prohibiting them from using the words substantial and consubstantial. Ursacius and Valens now returned to Rimini, and as their party was now in the ascendant, they seized on the church, and wrote to the Emperor that he was obeyed, arid that the expressions he objected to were not allowed to be used any more. The Catholics, at first, made a show of constancy, and refused to communicate with the legates, who excused their error by alleging all they suffered at the Court of the Emperor; but by degrees they were tired out, their constancy failed, and they subscribed the same formula as the legates (15).

48. We cannot deny but that the bishops of Rimini committed a great error, but they are not so much to be blamed for bad faith, as for not being more guarded against the wiles of the Arians. This was the snare that was laid for them:—They were wavering as to whether they should sign the formula or not, and when they were all assembled in the church, and the errors attributed to Valens, who drew up the formula, were read out, he protested that he was not an Arian. "Let him be excommunicated," he exclaimed, " who asserts that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. Let him be excommunicated who says that he is not like unto the Father, according to the Scriptures; or, he who says he is a creature like all other creatures —(how he conceals the poison, for he taught that Christ was a creature, but more perfect than all the others);—or that he is from nothing, and not from the Father; or that there was a time when he was not; or that anything was before him;—he who teaches any of those things let him be excommunicated." And all answered:—"Let him be excommunicated." These denunciations of anathema, so fraudulently put forward, threw the Catholics off their guard. They persuaded themselves that Valens was not an Arian, and were induced to sign the formula; and thus the Council of Rimini, which opened so gloriously, was ignominiously terminated, and the bishops got leave to return to their homes. They were not long, St. Jerome tells us, till they discovered their error; for the Arians, immediately on the dissolution of the council, began to boast of their victory. The word substantial, said they, is now abolished, and along with it the Nicene faith; and when it was said, that the Son was not a creature, the meaning was, that he was not like the other created beings, but of a higher order, and then it was that the world, St. Jerome says, groaning, found itself Arian. Noel Alexander proves, from St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and others, and with very convincing arguments, too, that the bishops of Rimini, in subscribing that formula, did not violate the faith; for, taken in its obvious sense, it contained nothing heretical. While the Council of Rimini was in progress, there was another council held in Seleucia, at which many Arian bishops were present; but it was soon dismissed, for the bishops were so divided, that they could not agree to any formula (16).

49. After the Council of Rimini was dissolved, the Arians of Antioch, in the year 361, not satisfied with the formula adopted at the council, drew up another in which they said, that the Son was in everything unlike the Father, not alone in substance, but also in will, and that he was formed out of nothing, as Arius had already taught. Fleury counts sixteen formulas published by the Arians. Liberius, however, after his first error in subscribing the formula of Sirmium, as we have already related (No. 41), constantly refused, after his liberation in 360, to sign the formula of Rimini, and, as Baronius relates in his Acts of Pope Liberius, he was obliged to leave Rome and hide himself in the catacombs, where Damasus and the rest of his clergy went to see him, and he remained there until the death of Constantius in 361. St. Gregory of Nazianzen says that Constantius, just before his death, repented, but in vain, of three things:—Of the murder of his relatives; of having made Julian, Caesar; and of causing such confusion in the Church. He died, however, in the arms of the Arians, whom he protected with such zeal, and Euzoius, whom he had made Bishop of Antioch, administered him baptism just before his death. His death put an end to the synods, and for a time restored peace to the Church; as St. Jerome says, "The beast dies and the calm returns" (17).

(12) N. Alex. t. 9; Hermant. t. 1, c.102. 

(13) S. Hieron., Dialog., ad Lncifer. Fleury, t. 2. Orsi, cit. S. Athan. tie Synod. Sozymen, I. 2.

(14) Theod. 1. 2, c. 19; Soz. l. 4; Soc . /. 2. 

(15) St Hila. Fragmen. p. 453, Sulp. Ser. I . 2. 

(16) S. Hieron. ad. Ludf. n. 17; Nat., Fleury, & Orsi, loc . con.; N. Alex. Die. 33, I . 9.

(17) Baron. An. 359; St. Athan. de Synod.; Fleury, I. 14, n. 33; St. Greg. Naz. Oral. 21; Soc . I . 2, c. 47.


-- Liguori, St. Alphonsus.  The History of Heresies and Their Refutation.  1772.  Translated by Rev. John T. Mullock, Dublin: James Duffy, 1847.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: 2Vermont on January 22, 2018, 06:29:36 AM
So, how does this relate to our current Crisis?  Or doesn't it?
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on January 22, 2018, 09:25:33 PM
So, how does this relate to our current Crisis?  Or doesn't it?
I'm not sure if there's any major relevance to the current crisis.  I didn't have that in mind when digging into it.  I suppose it makes our current crisis all the more unprecedented.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Anonimus on January 22, 2018, 11:14:23 PM
So, how does this relate to our current Crisis?  Or doesn't it?

Absolutely, there is relevance (whether you are sede or R&R):

Cardinal Newman once got into hot water for his contention in the Rambler (the articles of which later became a book called "On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine") that during the Arian crisis, the  ecclesia docens (i.e., teaching Church; hierarchy) had largely fallen into Arianism, while the ecclesia discens (i.e., the learning church; laity) remained largely faithful.

This view, which was vindicated by Rome, corroborates the contention of Fr. Berry, et al.

The relevance is this:

In the days of Arianism, as in our times, the majority (all?) of the hierarchy possessing authority are swept away by modernism.

The distinction is that, unlike the days of Arianism, the vast majority of faithful are also swept away by modernism.

The obvious conclusion is that things are much worse today than they were in the days of St. Athanasius.

It stands to reason, therefore, that whatever extra-canonical and/or juridical acts were undertaken by the few remaining faithful bishops in those times (who usually, or at least at various times, did not possess canonical office, but functioned according as necessity required nevertheless) are even more justified in our own times.

As an aside, I note that one result of the modernist crisis has been the rediscovery and application of the doctrine of necessity, which is as diametrically opposed to legalism ("if he is the Pope, you must obey"), as Athanasius was to Liberius.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on January 23, 2018, 08:22:08 AM
In the days of Arianism, as in our times, the majority (all?) of the hierarchy possessing authority are swept away by modernism.

…the few remaining faithful bishops in those times...

What from the quotes in this thread supports the idea that the majority, or all, the hierarchy in the days of Arianism are swept away by Arianism?  That’s the very idea these authors are countering.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Anonimus on January 28, 2018, 10:51:03 PM
In the days of Arianism, as in our times, the majority (all?) of the hierarchy possessing authority are swept away by modernism.

…the few remaining faithful bishops in those times...

What from the quotes in this thread supports the idea that the majority, or all, the hierarchy in the days of Arianism are swept away by Arianism?  That’s the very idea these authors are countering.

Why does it have to be from the quotes in this thread?

I would cite Newman, Phillips, and several others.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on January 29, 2018, 09:32:04 AM
In the days of Arianism, as in our times, the majority (all?) of the hierarchy possessing authority are swept away by modernism.

…the few remaining faithful bishops in those times...

What from the quotes in this thread supports the idea that the majority, or all, the hierarchy in the days of Arianism are swept away by Arianism?  That’s the very idea these authors are countering.

Why does it have to be from the quotes in this thread?

I would cite Newman, Phillips, and several others.
It doesn’t have to be from the quotes in the thread.  2Vermont’s question seemed to be in reference to what had been posted in this thread, which was mostly the quotes and the conclusions drawn from them.  So, your reply to her question was confusing, since on one hand you seemed to be replying to what the conclusions drawn from the quotes mean for the present crisis, but on the other hand you were arguing for a different conclusion.  But, maybe 2Vermont’s question wasn’t in reference to what had been posted.

Either way, I would be interested in seeing what those other authors have said, if you find time to post quotes from them.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Anonimus on January 30, 2018, 08:46:56 AM
This article is 17 pages.

It is directly relevant. 

After a few days time to read and absorb the argument being made, I will offer some corroborative citations and commentary:

http://www.newmanfriendsinternational.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/on-consulting-english1.pdf

You will have to overlook a couple instances where the author purports to find in Newman a justification for certain false doctrines unleashed at Vatican II (another conversation for another time).

If you want to get right to the meat and potatoes, skip ahead to p. 5 and start there (the preceding just explains the temporal context within which Newman's thesis occurred).

And the section which begins the content directly relevant to this thread begins at the bottom of p. 8.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on February 06, 2018, 10:47:13 PM
This article is 17 pages.

It is directly relevant. 

After a few days time to read and absorb the argument being made, I will offer some corroborative citations and commentary:

http://www.newmanfriendsinternational.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/on-consulting-english1.pdf

You will have to overlook a couple instances where the author purports to find in Newman a justification for certain false doctrines unleashed at Vatican II (another conversation for another time).

If you want to get right to the meat and potatoes, skip ahead to p. 5 and start there (the preceding just explains the temporal context within which Newman's thesis occurred).

And the section which begins the content directly relevant to this thread begins at the bottom of p. 8.
From reading some of the article, Newman, at least while an Anglican, contended that the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was retained and handed down in the fourth century far more by the faithful than by the bishops (the footnote in the article says this is disputed among historians).  In arguing for this, though, Newman affirms that the majority of bishops remained Catholic.  Despite not becoming Arians, Newman says they neglected their duty and failed to give a firm, unvarying, consistent testimony for 60 years after Nicea.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Anonimus on February 08, 2018, 10:23:58 PM
This article is 17 pages.

It is directly relevant. 

After a few days time to read and absorb the argument being made, I will offer some corroborative citations and commentary:

http://www.newmanfriendsinternational.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/on-consulting-english1.pdf

You will have to overlook a couple instances where the author purports to find in Newman a justification for certain false doctrines unleashed at Vatican II (another conversation for another time).

If you want to get right to the meat and potatoes, skip ahead to p. 5 and start there (the preceding just explains the temporal context within which Newman's thesis occurred).

And the section which begins the content directly relevant to this thread begins at the bottom of p. 8.
From reading some of the article, Newman, at least while an Anglican, contended that the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was retained and handed down in the fourth century far more by the faithful than by the bishops (the footnote in the article says this is disputed among historians).  In arguing for this, though, Newman affirms that the majority of bishops remained Catholic.  Despite not becoming Arians, Newman says they neglected their duty and failed to give a firm, unvarying, consistent testimony for 60 years after Nicea.

Monsignor Phillip Hughes ("A Popular History of the Catholic Church," Image Books, 1954, p. 28) says:

"The heresy was not new.  When it has previously shown itself its fate had been that of all the first revolts against the tradition.  The bishops, as guardians of the tradition, had condemned it, had warned the believers that this was not Christianity, and ultimately the innovators, expelled from the Church, had formed a dissident body outside it.  Never had they succeeded, after their condemnation, in maintaining both their place in the Church and their heretical opinions.  The reappearance of the heresy was to be the occasion of a revolutionary change in this matter.  The heretics would again be condemned, but they would now resist expulsion, and backed by the Christian emperor, more concerned to avoid riots than to preserve the purity of faith, they would continue to maintain their places, and their offices, in the Church.  They would even, for a moment, hold almost all the key positions, and a day would come of which St. Jerome could say, 'The whole world groaned to find itself Arian.'"

This bolded portion certainly makes it sound as though the Arian bishops were in the majority.

A couple pages later, Monsignor confirms that interpretation:

"The peak of the imperial success was the joint council held in 359, at Rimini for the west, and Selucia for the east, where, under pressure, practically the whole episcopate consented to sign an ambiguous definition of the faith that could be interpreted in an heretical sense [semi-Arian]." (pp. 31-31)
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: ubipetrus on February 12, 2018, 04:04:20 PM
Given all of this (and I also saw this in Berry, the same quote, which struck me as rather exceptional as I read it at the time), I have to wonder why the phrase "Athanasius against the world"?  If more of the world was already with him rather than against him it would probably have been "Athanasius and a majority of bishops against a minority."  Doesn't sound as inspiring, but if that's the real history then the original phrase was altogether uncalled for.

As I recall, this was a time when even the general run of society (the laity) considered this a matter of common discussion, e.g.:  "He:  I would like to buy a loaf of bread, please.  She:  If you think the Son is equal to the Father then you are full of it!"  So it is far from clear that even the laity could have been all that helpful.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Anonimus on February 12, 2018, 05:31:03 PM
Given all of this (and I also saw this in Berry, the same quote, which struck me as rather exceptional as I read it at the time), I have to wonder why the phrase "Athanasius against the world"?  If more of the world was already with him rather than against him it would probably have been "Athanasius and a majority of bishops against a minority."  Doesn't sound as inspiring, but if that's the real history then the original phrase was altogether uncalled for.

As I recall, this was a time when even the general run of society (the laity) considered this a matter of common discussion, e.g.:  "He:  I would like to buy a loaf of bread, please.  She:  If you think the Son is equal to the Father then you are full of it!"  So it is far from clear that even the laity could have been all that helpful.

Actually Athanasius was one of the only faithful bishops (along with Hilary, Eusebius of Samasota, and a handful of others): It was the majority of the faithful who were with him. 

But the overwhelming majority of the hierarchy had apostatized.

Hence "Athanasius contra mundum."
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: TKGS on February 12, 2018, 05:54:18 PM
Actually Athanasius was one of the only faithful bishops (along with Hilary, Eusebius of Samasota, and a handful of others): It was the majority of the faithful who were with him. 

But the overwhelming majority of the hierarchy had apostatized.

Hence "Athanasius contra mundum."

This is what I've read in the histories written for the common man.  In fact, this is the only version of events I've ever heard until this topic.

As I recall, this was a time when even the general run of society (the laity) considered this a matter of common discussion...

I have to admit, you're a lot older than I thought!   ;D
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on February 12, 2018, 09:43:57 PM
Monsignor Phillip Hughes ("A Popular History of the Catholic Church," Image Books, 1954, p. 28) says:

"The heresy was not new.  When it has previously shown itself its fate had been that of all the first revolts against the tradition.  The bishops, as guardians of the tradition, had condemned it, had warned the believers that this was not Christianity, and ultimately the innovators, expelled from the Church, had formed a dissident body outside it.  Never had they succeeded, after their condemnation, in maintaining both their place in the Church and their heretical opinions.  The reappearance of the heresy was to be the occasion of a revolutionary change in this matter.  The heretics would again be condemned, but they would now resist expulsion, and backed by the Christian emperor, more concerned to avoid riots than to preserve the purity of faith, they would continue to maintain their places, and their offices, in the Church.  They would even, for a moment, hold almost all the key positions, and a day would come of which St. Jerome could say, 'The whole world groaned to find itself Arian.'"

This bolded portion certainly makes it sound as though the Arian bishops were in the majority.

A couple pages later, Monsignor confirms that interpretation:

"The peak of the imperial success was the joint council held in 359, at Rimini for the west, and Selucia for the east, where, under pressure, practically the whole episcopate consented to sign an ambiguous definition of the faith that could be interpreted in an heretical sense [semi-Arian]." (pp. 31-31)
It's interesting that St. Jerome's "whole world groaned" comment and the Council of Rimini form the underpinnings of Msgr. Hughes conclusions here.  These are the same things Fr. Berry, Fr. Hunter, and St. Alphonsus addressed in the quotes posted earlier in the thread.  As they all noted, St. Jerome's comment was in reference to the Council of Rimini, so it's really just the events around the Council of Rimini that Msgr. Hughes cites for his opinion. 

According to St. Alphonsus, though, the roughly 320 Catholic bishops at that council were fooled and induced by the other 80 Arian bishops into signing a creed that favored the Arians; and far from becoming apostates, the 320 Catholic bishops at the council were staunchly against Arianism from start to end.  According to St. Alphonsus, the formula they signed contained nothing obviously heretical.  They didn't apostatize, but just unwittingly made a mistake that gave the Arians reason to claim a victory. 

Msgr. Hughes' commentary doesn't seem to necessarily contradict St. Alphonsus in this, nor is it very clear that Msgr. Hughes is saying the majority of the hierarchy apostatized.  The closest he gets to saying this is when he says, "They would even, for a moment, hold almost all the key positions."  But he says this in reference to the Council of Rimini, the council at which St. Alphonsus shows no Catholic bishop actually apostatized, but just made a blunder.  If Msgr. Hughes' did intend to convey that the majority apostatized at Rimini, then that's directly contrary to what St. Alphonsus has said.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: Joe Cupertino on February 12, 2018, 10:35:17 PM
Given all of this (and I also saw this in Berry, the same quote, which struck me as rather exceptional as I read it at the time), I have to wonder why the phrase "Athanasius against the world"?  If more of the world was already with him rather than against him it would probably have been "Athanasius and a majority of bishops against a minority."  Doesn't sound as inspiring, but if that's the real history then the original phrase was altogether uncalled for.

As I recall, this was a time when even the general run of society (the laity) considered this a matter of common discussion, e.g.:  "He:  I would like to buy a loaf of bread, please.  She:  If you think the Son is equal to the Father then you are full of it!"  So it is far from clear that even the laity could have been all that helpful.
It could just be that "Athanasius against the world" was a hyperbole simply meant to convey the extraordinary challenges and attacks he endured and courageously fought against, and wasn't meant to be used as a precise historical statement.

Interestingly, Emperor Constantius used the phrase while confronting Pope Liberius, saying to Liberius, "Who are you to stand up for Athanasius against the world?"  (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09217a.htm).  I doubt Constantius was intending to make a precise assessment of the state of the Church, rather than simply trying to intimidate Liberius into renouncing Athanasius.  Was this the origin of the phrase?  Did Catholics hear of Constantius' words, then turned that phrase around as a battle-cry against him and the Arians?
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: ubipetrus on February 13, 2018, 07:03:37 PM
Actually Athanasius was one of the only faithful bishops (along with Hilary, Eusebius of Samasota, and a handful of others): It was the majority of the faithful who were with him. 
But the overwhelming majority of the hierarchy had apostatized.
Hence "Athanasius contra mundum."
This is the conventional account I had encountered at every turn and in every place, with such constancy as to constitute sound and accurate historical information.  But in preparing my draft for Sede Vacante! Part One I adopted Fr. Sylvester Berry's work as my second most common source (next to Msgr. G. Van Noort), who explores some aspects not explored by Van Noort, and also offers some different perspectives (and terminology) that I saw as necessary to round out its findings.  It was in that reading that I first came across the exact quote that heads off this thread.  It was far and away the most truly unexpected statement I came across in all of the reading of these and several other works which I quote in that book.

At the time, it seemed to make sense to me that perhaps it was a bit of pious conjecture, since the actual prime source historical data must be rather fragmentary and inconsistent to allow for such disparate historical interpretations, and even accounts, of that whole event.  It was enough for me to back off from any references to the historical events of the Arian Crisis, as reports so varied, within any further works.  And as brought out in this thread, apparently Fr. Berry is not alone, either.  But I still have to wonder.  St. Bellarmine in writing of the same events differs in the one respect that he claims that the Council of Rimini had 600 bishops, as distinct from 450 bishops at the subsequent Council of Constantinople, as proof that the number of bishops is not what gives weight to one Council versus another.  The point remains valid even if the history be mistaken.  What makes a Council authoritative is that the Pope approves it.

But I still had (have?) reason to question this assertion.  At least in the case of Fr. Berry, he makes this claim in the context of claiming that the general run of the bishops cannot all (or even "nearly all") fall into the same error.  Obviously, if the Arian Crisis had been as the conventional wisdom about it reports, then obviously a majority of bishops CAN fall into error (but at least the Pope would still be true, and DOES have more doctrinal weight than even all the rest of the bishops taken together) which directly runs counter to the very point he was trying to make, so of course such an extraordinarily favorable interpretation of historical events (what little is actually known of them) is necessary.

For my book, rather than try to get into the history (which I realized would only open a vast can of worms as to what actually "might" have happened), I balanced that with Van Noort who also discusses this idea with the claim that it is a "majority opinion" among the theologians, with an acknowledged "minority opinion," but even so I have stuck with a policy of not attempting to resolve any questions legitimately open among theologians before Vatican II.  Certainly, it would be easy to put the whole Vatican II morass down to the minority opinion (that such a massive defection is possible to much of the general run of Catholic bishops), as against the majority opinion (which Fr. Berry taught absolutely), and while that might have been a legitimate tack to take, I could not, other than to venture it as a possibility.  Especially not if the Arian Crisis may not be quite the conclusive evidence in favor of the minority opinion as I (and most of us) had previously supposed.

The more difficult course, the alternative (which I took as being something which must be addressed somehow) of going with Fr. Berry and the majority opinion as spoken of by Van Noort results in one of twenty-two dangling questions left at the end of Part One, which can only be dealt with using a theory, as discussed in Part Two.  As worded, that question was "If the teaching (as presented by Berry) and the majority theological opinion (as so described by Van Noort) were correct, then by what means or at what point did the vast majority of bishops first depart from the Church, such that their subsequent fall into error had no relevance to such scenario as such a significant proportion of Catholic bishops falling into error?"

If Fr. Berry is right, if Msgr. G. Van Noort's "majority opinion" is right, then the failure of nearly every formerly Catholic bishop at (and/or since) Vatican II requires an explanation, doctrinally speaking.  They cannot, per the doctrine, and as the general run of the bishops of the Church, have virtually all defected, yet we note that the Novus Ordo "bishops" really have defected.  This gets discussed in Section 15 of Sede Vacante! Part One, by which point it is already clear from the preceding doctrines already covered that the only way this could happen is that they departed from the Church first and then defected into their Novus Ordo errors.

The additional quotes from this thread do furnish us with some additional thoughts, however, and some parallels to today.  Going with the numbers given in the St. Alphonsus Liguori quote of 80 Arians and ~320 others who are not Arians (though I kind of have to wonder since Bellarmine has 600 bishops total) that might be like some (the 80 Arians or the "Fathers of the Rhine" as described by Fr. Wiltgen in The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber) at Vatican II who culpably wanted to change the Church, and then so very many others (like the 320) who signed on owing to having been deceived as to the actual content and meaning and implications of the documents they were signing, but who intended no departure from the previous Faith at the time.

As a result, I do not see their participation at Vatican II (or Rimini for the same reasons) to be a basis to conclude they had defected.  But after the council was over and the Modernists (and Arians) began to gloat over their success and to take things in a non-Catholic direction, there were some (maybe even many) who felt that having signed what they signed (though they had been tricked) they saw it as a fait accompli, permitted in God's Providence, and therefore that they had to stand by what they signed, tolerating the heresies or even gradually coming to accept them.  While many at the council (either one) meant no break with Catholic doctrine, many of those may have felt committed to the errors and heresies to which they had unwittingly signed up.  Certainly with Vatican II that was the case.  Perhaps that also happened with Rimini as well, making Arianism a much larger problem in the years following the council than it had ever been before or during it, and in that time perhaps St. Athanasius then found himself so very nearly alone and isolated.
Title: Re: Prevalence of Catholicism in the Arian Crisis
Post by: ubipetrus on February 13, 2018, 07:27:24 PM
Interestingly, Emperor Constantius used the phrase while confronting Pope Liberius, saying to Liberius, "Who are you to stand up for Athanasius against the world?"  (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09217a.htm).  I doubt Constantius was intending to make a precise assessment of the state of the Church, rather than simply trying to intimidate Liberius into renouncing Athanasius.  Was this the origin of the phrase?  Did Catholics hear of Constantius' words, then turned that phrase around as a battle-cry against him and the Arians?
Interesting thought.  I had wondered whether the phrase was even known back in that time or conjured up centuries later, and here this could be the very original source for it.