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Monothelitism(both: mənŏth`ə lĭtĭz'əm) [Gr.,=one will], 7th-century opinion condemned as heretical by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680 (see Constantinople, Third Council ofConstantinople, Third Council of,
680, regarded by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern churches as the sixth ecumenical council. It was convoked by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV to deal with Monotheletism.
..... Click the link for more information. ). This doctrine, by declaring that Christ operated with but one will, although he had two natures, opposed the intent of the Council of Chalcedon. Monotheletism was first proposed in 622 and was immediately adopted by Byzantine Emperor HeracliusHeraclius
, c.575–641, Byzantine emperor (610–41). The son of a governor of Africa, he succeeded the tyrant Phocas, whom he deposed and had executed. In the early years of his reign Avars and Bulgars threatened, attacking even Constantinople, and the Persians
..... Click the link for more information. , for political reasons, as a compromise between MonophysitismMonophysitism
[Gr.,=belief in a single nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon
..... Click the link for more information. and orthodoxy. The Eastern hierarchy, while doubtful of the dogma, tended to support Heraclius. In 631, Cyrus of Phasis, patriarch of Alexandria, promulgated a Monothelite thesis, which was opposed by Sophronius, a Palestinian monk (later patriarch of Jerusalem). At Sophronius' behest, Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, wrote to Pope Honorius IHonorius I
, pope (625–38), an Italian; successor of Boniface V. He showed great interest in the church in Spain and the British Isles, and he did a great deal to reform the education of the clergy.
..... Click the link for more information. for advice. The pope replied with a letter that apparently supported the doctrine of one will but forbade further discussion of the question. Soon afterward (638) Heraclius published the Ecthesis, which defined Monotheletism as the official imperial form of Christianity. When the Ecthesis arrived in Rome, Pope Severinus, Honorius' successor, immediately condemned it, ex cathedra. Heraclius, before he died, disclaimed the Ecthesis and attributed it to Sergius. Heraclius' successors, Constantine III and Constans II, however, continued to enforce the heresy. Popes John IV and Theodore I anathematized Monotheletism, but they could do little in face of imperial support of it. Constans II withdrew the Ecthesis and promulgated instead the Typus, a decree flatly forbidding the mention of one will or two wills or one energy or two energies in the Second Person. The Typus was favorable to the Monophysitism established in the empire but would have silenced the orthodox. Intended to make peace, it brought the controversy to a crisis. In 649, Pope St. Martin IMartin I, Saint,
d. 655?, pope (649–55?), an Italian, b. Todi; successor of Theodore I. On his accession he summoned a great council at the Lateran, as St. Maximus had urged, to deal with Monotheletism, discussion of which had been forbidden by Byzantine Emperor Constans
..... Click the link for more information. convened a Lateran Council to condemn Monotheletism and was subsequently seized by the emperor, imprisoned, and exiled. St. MaximusMaximus, Saint,
c.580–662, Greek theologian. He was secretary to Emperor Heraclius and subsequently abbot at the monastery of Chrysopolis. To curb Monotheletism he went to Rome and persuaded Pope St.
..... Click the link for more information. was the most vigorous opponent of Monotheletism. The accession of Constantine IV to the imperial throne brought toleration for the Catholics. After the Council at Constantinople in 680, Monotheletism died out except among the Maronites in Syria. There was a brief revival of imperial Monotheletism from 711 to 713. The last of the Christological controversies, the Monotheletism question enhanced the prestige of the papacy, which took the lead in opposing official imperial heresy.