Issue: Whether Jesus Christ – the Word Incarnate – has two wills and two acts of will, one for each will?
Dogmatic Answer: Yes.
Pope Honorius (d. AD 638) failed to have that answer. In words, at least, he professed “not two wills” and “not two operations”. He was reluctant to answer the question. There were factions and battles. The empire was being ripped asunder. The Church, torn here and there. Infidels threatened from the East and South to wipe out large swaths of Christianity. It seemed best to compromise, not to lead, not to defend the truth. Thus the woeful weakness of that Pope.
But the Church survived his inaction that effectively constituted objective treachery (or, worse, as it seems some thought: his complicit treachery). The Holy Church survived and in her teaching members came to her senses: Under the reigns of Honorius’s successors, she condemned the heresy that denies two wills and two acts of will; she also condemned Pope Honorius.
Ecumenical Council Constantinople III: “After having investigated the teachings by Sergius … and the letter written in reply by … Honorius, and after having discovered that these are entirely alien to the apostolic teachings and to the decisions of the holy councils and to all the eminent holy Fathers but instead follow the false teachings of the heretics, these we entirely reject and loathe as soul-destroying” (DS 550). “… We have seen fit to banish from the holy Church of God and to anathematize also Honorius, the former pope of the elder Rome because we have discovered in the letters written by him to Sergius that he followed in everything the opinion of that one and confirmed his impious teaching” (DS 552).
Pope Agatho (NPNF II):
“Woe is me, if I cover over with silence the truth which I am bidden to give…. What shall I say in the future examination by Christ himself, if I blush (God forbid!) to preach here the truth of his words? What satisfaction shall I be able to give for myself, what for the souls committed to me, when he demands a strict account of the office I have received?”
Again, “Who, then, my most clement and most pious lords and sons, (I speak trembling and prostrate in spirit) would not be stirred by that admirable promise, which is made to the faithful: “Whoever shall confess me before men, him also will I confess before my Father, who is in heaven”? And which one even of the infidels shall not be terrified by that most severe threat, in which he protests that he will be full of wrath, and declares that “Whoever shall deny me before men, him also will I deny before my Father, who is in heaven”? Whence also blessed Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, gives warning and says: “But though we, or an angel from the heaven should preach to you any other Gospel from what we have evangelized to you, let him be anathema.” Since, therefore, such an extremity of punishment overhangs the corruptors, or suppressors of truth by silence, would not any one flee from an attempt at curtailing the truth of the Lord’s faith?“
Pope Leo II, in the year 682, a little under 50 years after the death of the notorious Honorius: “We in like manner anathematize … [list of heretics] and also Honorius, who did not purify this apostolic Church by the doctrine of the apostolic tradition, but rather attempted to subvert the immaculate faith by profane treason.” DS 563.
Profession of Faith in Rome: “The council Fathers have restrained under the bond of perpetual anathema the following authors of a truly novel doctrine: Sergius, … along with Honorius, who extended favor to their distorted assertions” (see Ignatius Press Denzinger, p. 681).
BUT YOU WILL OBJECT: THE POPE IS INFALLIBLE.
I RESPOND: STOP BEING AN ULTRA-MONTANE. The pope’s very action is itself formally infallible when and only when he is defining a matter of faith and morals. I say defining. Everyone who has any sense of fundamental theology knows that such events are rare. (Not as rare as some minimalists maintain, but rare nonetheless.)
Example to illustrate this point: John Paul II used very strong and final language in his declaration that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women. Let’s listen to the wording. He writes with the thunder of truth:
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
This declaration comes millimeters away from being in itself formally infallible. Still, in itself it is not infallible. Rather, it gives well nigh infallible witness to the already infallible and hence irreversible teaching of the Church. The content taught is infallible, but this declaration is itself not infallible.
“Says who?” pokes the doubting Thomas. “Says Ratzinger himself as Prefect of the CDF!” That’s who.
“On what grounds?” On the grounds that the Canon Law on the books at this time stipulated that such definitions must explicitly state that they are irreformable. But JPII did not do that. Ergo.
Now for an aside: JPII was a pope that followed canon law. If he wanted not to follow it, or to make it stricter, he changed the law before acting out of turn.
On that note, we close with a few relevant though seemingly scattered (but once again relevant and linked) lines of thought.
Sure, the pope can “act out of turn” since no one can authoritatively judge him. There is no tribunal by which he can be prosecuted – except by a successor pope, of course. But Truth judges him. Truth and Genuine Love judge him. Genuine Love wills the good for the sinner. But sin is evil for the sinner. Ergo, genuine love wills the separation of sin from the sinner. Now, when mortal sin clings to a sinner (i.e. a sinner does not repent by a determinate free act of repentance, which includes firm purpose of amendment, which entails willing no longer to sin and willing to take the needed action) then such a sinner cannot receive the Eucharist happily. Only miserably. Truth shepherds the sinner towards repentance, towards a cleansing, before it invites him to dine in celebration. If a man commits adultery, God forbid, he must repent and seek God’s forgiveness, the Church’s, and his wife’s. Perhaps she forgives him. If so, perhaps in time he can come to her as in the days of his youth. But if he is still shacking up with his concubine, then his wife would retain her dignity only by refusing him. And the on-going adulterer (e.g. “divorced” and “remarried”) retains his sobriety only be abstaining from communion. Even if an Angel were to tell him to receive, or that it would be OK to receive, he should shun such advice as contrary to all faith and reason and good sense and decency. After all, if he still has faith (isn’t that still a requisite for receiving???) then he knows that to receive in a state of sin is sacrilege that merits greater punishment after death. But hey – no one thinks about punishment anymore. None about sacrilege.
God is become in the minds of many a Lawless Sugar Daddy.