Saint Felix III, the Forty-Eighth Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 48)

Saint Felix III, the Forty-Eighth Pope (Successors of Peter – Part 48)

Saint Felix III was elected the forty-eighth Pope of the Holy Church on the 13th of March AD 483. He was a widower and the father of two children at the time of his election as the priest's pope. Pope Felix III was the ancestor of Pope Gregory the Great. In the early centuries of the church, there was a practice in the church that allowed those who received minor titles to marry before receiving major titles.

Immediately after his election, Pope Felix demanded the removal of the bishop of Alexandria from his position for supporting the heresy of Monophysitism. He also insisted on the acceptance and practice of the teachings of the Chalcedonian Synod regarding the human and divine nature of Christ. The Pope strongly rebuked Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, because the Bishop of Alexandria had his support. Furthermore, Chalcedon attempted to adopt the teachings of the Synod while rejecting the Monophysite teachings and the Henotikon, a joint statement issued by Emperor Zeno and Patriarch Acacius in AD 482.

Acacius was summoned to Rome to explain his involvement in the accusations against the bishop of Alexandria, who had been exonerated by the Monophysites. However, the papal representatives sent to Constantinople failed to effectively carry out their mission. They did not oppose the inclusion of Monophysitism in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This led to the impression in the Eastern Church that Rome had accepted the Henotikon.

When the papal representatives returned to Rome, they and Acacius were found to have embraced the Henotikon. Pope Felix was excommunicated by a synod in 484, and Acacius, the Patriarch, was excommunicated by the Pope as his special envoy. Moreover, some Orthodox monks sewed the papal order to the back of Patriarch Acacius's vestments while he was celebrating Holy Communion. Acacius's deposition by Acisaeus caused a new schism in the church, and his name was removed from all Eucharistic prayers in Constantinople. Pope Felix's punitive action had far-reaching effects on the Church. This marked the beginning of the Acacian schism, which lasted for twenty-five years until 519 AD.

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In AD 489, when Acacius, the Patriarch, died and a new emperor ascended the throne in Constantinople, attempts were made to resolve the schisms that had arisen in the Church and achieve peace. However, Pope Felix rejected such efforts. The Pope took a firm stance that Monophysitism could not be recognized in Alexandria as long as a bishop who supported it remained in power, and the practice of commemorating Acacius's name in the Holy Eucharist had to cease. After the death of the bishop of Alexandria and the consecration of a canonical and orthodox bishop, Pope Felix III named Acacius. He was unwilling to be reconciled and reunited with Constantinople until Acacius's name was removed from the prayers of the Eucharist. In one of his letters to the emperor, the Pope explicitly warned him to learn divine things from those to whom they were entrusted and never to be interested in teaching them.

When addressing pastoral problems in the Western Church, Pope Felix took strict and unwavering measures. In the case of North African Catholics who received Arian baptism under the influence of Arian heresy and pressure, Pope Felix stated that those who received Arian baptism should only be allowed to reconcile with the Church at the time of their death. Other believers should undergo a rigorous penance for many years before being readmitted into the Church, according to an ordinance in AD 487.

The body of Pope Felix III, who died on March 1, AD 492. His mortal remains were laid to rest in his family tomb in St. Paul's Basilica next to his father, wife, and children.
-edit&transl. SM

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