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How to Address Heretics

In these unfortunate times of ecumenism when heretics are wrongly considered our brothers, it seems useful to remind our readers how the great Catholics of the past dealt with them. A text by St. Cyril of Alexandria taken from his speech to the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus (431) about Nestorius, then Patriarch of Constantinople, follows. In it we can appreciate the strong language of the inspired saint, an example to be imitated.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Here I see gathered before me the masters of piety, the columns and lights of our faith … the avengers of the criminal blasphemy, the persecution that we suffer, and the outrages inflicted on our [Catholic] prestige.…

In his desire to divest the sole Son of God of His divinity, the blasphemous Nestorius, who bribes the imprudent, invented this blasphemy for the ruin of the souls. This [is a] malefic and blasphemous man… an execrable heresiarch…

Who has ever heard such horrible and awful things? Do not tell me about the audacity of those ungrateful and nefarious Jews for murdering Jesus Christ. Who does not see that even more criminal than that crime is the blasphemy of one who justifies them, saying: The One you crucified was a mere man?

All the errors of the Gentiles,… the abominable intentions and awful heresy of Arius, the most nefarious blasphemy of the Manicheans, the detestable inventions of Sabellius and Porphirius,… as well as that of the unworthy Photinus whose blasphemy the audacious [Nestorius] repeats… What can I say? All these [heresies] are surpassed in wickedness by Nestorius, reaching the apex of arrogance…

Your fall, O Nestorius, was greater than your presumption! You, wholly evil, born from an unclean family, have thrown yourself into the deepest abyss of blasphemy…

If you do not want to believe in the Prophets, the Apostles and the Archangel Gabriel, at least imitate your companions in evil, the devils, who cried out horrifed: What have we to do with thee, Jesus Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Matt 8:29).… A tremendous thing, which overwhelms us with astonishment! The devils with their father Satan call the One born of the Virgin Mary the Son of God, but Nestorius reduces the Son of God to a mere man…

You have glorified yourself and become proud of your own foolishness. Having become an innovator in the world, you have disrupted the peace in the four corners of the earth… God will deprive you of your priesthood and strip from you the support of the Fathers [of this Council], and you will be proscribed first from the Imperial City, and then from your see and patriarchate, which you unjustly obtained.

For this reason the just ones will see you and fear [God], and will laugh at you saying: There is the man who did not choose God as his defender, but trusted in his own wealth, and became arrogant in his egotism.

Sigfrid Huber, Los Santos Padres,
Buenos Aires: Desclée de Brouwer, vol. I, p. 553.

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 20, 2007

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