[St. Pachomius Library]

The Acacian Schism

VI Century
In 482, the Miaphysite patriarch of Alexandria, Peter the Stammerer, and his nominally Orthodox counterpart in Constantinople, Acacius, re-established communion on the basis of an Act of Union (Henoticon) promulgated under the authority of the Emperor Zeno. This act, a vaguely-worded call to return to the alleged simplicity of Nicæa, was meant to satisfy everyone, but it was quickly rejected by Pope Felix III of Rome. The resulting schism lasted 35 years, until the accession of Emperor Justin I in the time of Pope Hormisdas. The Henoticon seems never to have been popular, however; the Miaphysites treated it as covert imperial approval while ignoring its lukewarm language, and many Chalcedonians considered it a betrayal of the faith. (The Emperor Anastasius, a self-taught theologian who strongly supported the Henoticon, fired two patriarchs of Constantinople for their lack of enthusiasm, and in 512 was nearly overthrown in a Chalcedonian rebellion.) Secular historians emphasise that all ecclesiastical parties, even those reaping benefits, were alarmed by the explicit intrusions of Zeno and later Anastasius into theology; the Acacian schism is usually numbered among the milestones in the evolution of papal authority.

---Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


Return to St Pachomius Library.