The Mythical Fall of Pope St. Liberius

Originally posted 12/9/2009.

Pope Liberius signed the Semi-Arian formula of Sirmium while in exile

J.N.D. Kelly accuses Pope St. Liberius of capitulating under pressure, and says that he wrote four compromising letters,{1} when in fact these letters are hoaxes.{2} We can cut right through the conflicting testimony{3} as to whether Pope St. Liberius the Confessor of Rome (3/17/352-9/24/366) signed a heretical formula and acquit him on the following a priori grounds: (1) The Roman emperor Constantius II (the heretical son of Emperor St. Constantine I the Great) would have made known to everyone the pope’s fall such that no one could possibly doubt it.{4} (2) The pope would have been guilty of “laughable” hypocrisy if he did not publicly repent of signing the heretical creed before his post-Rimini decree that lapsed bishops were not to be reinstated if they did not sincerely prove their opposition to the Arians.{5} He definitely did not publicly confess and do penance for such a crime.{6}

Notes & References
{1} “Liberius.” The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. J. N. D. Kelly. with new material by Michael Walsh. Oxford University Press, 2006. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Fordham University. 10 December 2009 <>
{2} Chapman, John. “Pope Liberius.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 9 Dec. 2009 <>.
{3} a. St. Liberius was innocent according to: Bishop St. Ambrose the Great of Milan (Doctor), Pope St. Anastasius I of Rome (401), St. Sulpicius Severus (403), St. Prosper of Acquitane (432), and Bl. Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus.
b. Those who say St. Liberius was guilty: Archbishop St. Athanasius I the Great of Alexandria (Doctor) in 357 [History of the Arians 41], Hieromonk St. Jerome the Great of Strido (Doctor) [Chronicle; On the Lives of Illustrious Men 97], and St. Hilary of Poitiers (Doctor) [Against Constantius 11].
{4} Chapman, loc. cit.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.

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