Originally posted 3/19/2011.
Hail Joseph the just, Wisdom is with you; blessed are you among all men and blessed is Jesus, the fruit of Mary, your faithful spouse. Holy Joseph, worthy foster-father of Jesus Christ, pray for us sinners and obtain divine Wisdom for us from God, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Previously I answered with a resounding yes, and I hope this is the case. Yet I can’t really be enthusiastic about Photius anymore, in light of the following observations of Fr. Venance Grumel, A.A. of happy memory in “New Light on the Photian Schism,” Unitas 5 (1953), 147-148.
Did Photius die in communion with the Holy See?
The most striking result of this recent research on the Photian question is the disappearance of the presumed second Photian schism. For many people this conclusion takes the concrete form: Photius died in communion with the Holy See. Is the conclusion justified? To respond we must avoid hasty conclusions, and distinguish between the position in the eyes of the law and the conduct or personal conscience of the deposed patriarch.
We cannot pass over in silence the fact that the Council of 869 was omitted from official lists of ecumenical councils, even in the West, until the second half of the eleventh century. Dvornik has established this with great erudition, and concludes that this silence is equivalent to the annulment of the Council. But we claim that it is more reasonable to suppose that since the Council concerned itself only with a personal issue and not with any question of dogma there was no great reason for emphasizing its importance at the time, and that also it seemed diplomatic in the West to remain silent after the Photian affair was settled in 899.
If it is a question of the position of Photius in the eyes of the law, all that we can say is that Photius died in communion with the Church of Byzantium. If this was in communion with Rome at the time, the former patriarch died in communion with Rome; if it was in schism, he died in schism. We are faced with two uncertainties here—the date of Photius’s death and the situation of the two Churches from the time of Formosus until the reunion council held under John IX in 899. We cannot give a reply to the main question until we can answer these two.
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