Sometimes, in place of a careful and measured response to historical claims, a response is made with an emotional, rhetorical sort of flailing with enough sources and careful considerations mixed in where it merits a response, but not without mention of its rhetorical excesses. Sadly, Erick Ybarra’s reply to my article Pope Adrian’s Greek and Latin Letters in Nicea II (JE 2448 and JE 2449) is one of these.

In all sincerity, due to the monstrous size of my own blog post, I am grateful that someone has given it some thought. And to do something of a worthy endeavor, that is, considering a position other than one’s own, is still worthy. However, it is where Ybarra’s analysis falls short, often in its polemical tact and lawyering, which is most disappointing and a disservice to Christians. For those who want to know if there is a reply, here it is, but due to Ybarra’s sophistic methodology I cannot avoid pointing this out without putting myself at a severe disadvantage when discussing the issue. And so, with honest regret, I must point out the difference between lawyering, sophistry, and actual historical points made in his reply and weed through these in a transparent manner. In summation, there is not too much of substance in Ybarra’s reply, which is not much of a surprise, as those with substance will not resort to such methods.

Due to his method of replying, I will not wed myself to multiple rebuttals if they do in fact come. Ybarra never quoted my largely dispassionate body of work in any sort of detail and so is not really cautiously expounding a counter-argument. He is, as I said, flailing back at me with his keyboard likely for something he perceived as embarrassing to himself (when it was really more directed at Erich Lamberz’s arguments specifically, and quotes him at length).

Without further ado, here is my reply. Ybarra will be presented in Italics and quotations. He begins his article literally as follows:

“One of the most common mistakes made in pursuit to test the evidence of the Papacy in the early Church throughout the 1st millennium is when the researcher has an unreasonable criterion for what amounts to evidence…”

We already know that the response is not going to be that compelling when its first words concern itself with lowering its own bar for evidence. It appears to be an attempt at a “God of the gaps” sort of argument.

“[W]e understand that the Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on Papal authority is an elaborate argument that builds through an organic development of the idea of the primacy of St. Peter.”

It is good that Ybarra defines his own position, so that way it is not strawmanned or portrayed as something else. However, what he is ignoring is that the primacy of the first see, which is a redundant expression, of course exists in Orthodoxy because canonical order exists between the churches to this day.

So, what is the difference between him and I? The difference between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Catholic view of history is epistemic, as while the Orthodox are looking to preserve the ecclesiology of the Church from its pre-schism consensus (standard Roman Catholic traditionalists, which are apparently rare these days, would affirm the same). However, Roman Catholic Post-Traditionalists, who Ybarra represents, demand that one understands the undenied existence of historical primacy as a necessary precedent in the development of Roman Catholic ecclesiology today.

And so, the traditionalist Roman Catholics are incorrect inasmuch they boldly believe that the developed notion of the Papacy is not anachronistic and the Orthodox, for that matter, are incorrect inasmuch that they refuse to accept something because it was not fully developed. According to Ybarra, discerning the truth of the Papacy’s merits is no longer a question of good history, but of arbitrary subjectivity, though he likely has not come to grips with this himself. 

After all, what is a development? The Communists would have viewed their societal views as “scientific” and “developed.” They had a whole epistemology that literally delineated it as such. But, clearly what they represented was a societal retrogression. Once the argument over the merits of the Papacy no longer demand scrutiny over its actual historical existence, but rather its alleged development, this demands some claim as to what is in fact a development.

For most of world history, governance has been developing towards an increasingly radical direct-democracy model. Now, they even mail the ballots to people’s houses that do not even want to vote. So, if this is how governance develops, wouldn’t the more hyper-conciliar system be more developed over and against the backward, monarchic, Vatican-I conception of the Papacy? Shouldn’t things be developing in the opposite direction that Ybarra posits according to the gods of logic and the discipline of history? The fact that the preceding is possible according to theory reveals how impractical Ybarra’s criteria here for the evaluation the Papacy’s merits really are.

“(1) Christ divinely singled out Peter and (2) gave him a unique power to govern the universal Church, and that (3) this pastoral commission and (4) prerogative of power is (5) inherited by Peter’s successors in the Roman bishopric until the consummation of all things.” 

In the preceding short statement, I numbered the different claims being made by Ybarra. There are varying levels of truth and falsehood in them. (1) is indeed true and (2) partially so, as Peter played the role of ordaining the other Apostles to their Bishoprics (cf Matt 16:18; Optatus Against the Donatists Book 1 Chap 10; Eusebius Ecclesiastical History Book 2, Chap 1, Par 2-3; John of Thessalonica Dormition Homily Chap 13). However, what precisely this “unique power” of Peter was is not mysterious or something obscure that exists in seed form and must be allowed to grow over time in order to perceive it clearly. Rather, it is revealed in the Church’s canons which are Her universally affirmed “rules” for these matters.

Not surprisingly, especially considering the fact the Post-Traditionalists do not even affirm the historicity of a Vatican I Papacy, Papal Supremacy is missing from the canons. In fact, even the word “primacy” in regards to Rome, used in a forged Roman copy of Canon 6 of Nicea I, was objected to by the Council of Chalcedon in its 16th session. And so, what Ybarra is demanding in his short, claim-laden statement, is something radically inconsistent with the explicitly forged consensus of the Church in its own councils and canons. One can already tell Ybarra is selling a “bill of goods” that the pre-schism Church herself never bought.

(3) is true enough, as the preogratives given to any bishop is inherently pastoral, that’s why they have pastor’s staffs. (4) is also true, as tradition dictates that prerogatives are inherited. (5) is only partially true, because as before stated, all the Apostles received their bishoprics from Peter, and therefore the whole Church contains this succession. Any special prerogatives ascribed to Rome herself are always contingent upon the Church’s consent, not only strictly for soteriological consistency (as salvation is never top-down, but is experienced only via a free response from the recipient–though this too is by God’s grace), but also as a basic historical necessity. Rome’s bishopric was not always in the city of Rome. It spent considerable time in a whole other country. In fact, this has been true of all of the Pentarchy at some point or another (and for nearly seven centuries, Antioch has been permanently located outside the ruins of that now non-existent city). The only thing that can make this all work is that people consent to the change in venue, accepting that the new locale is sufficient to both represent and to assume the charism which rightly belongs to another locale, even if that honor is simply the maintaining of its name as the locale when invoking the See.

“[T]here are important forms of evidence for the Papal supremacy to be observed in the Acts of 2nd Nicaea, and it is to those observations that a Catholic should be bound to provide explanation for. None of these observed points can be thought to ‘prove’ Papal supremacy or infallibility, but when all the points are taken together, they form what St. John Henry Newman called a ‘cumulative argument’ that arises in favor of something akin to the Petrine primacy [sic, supremacy] that is taught by the [Roman] Catholic Church.”

As one can immediately identify, the low bar for evidence can be reduced to as follows: “As long as there are suggestive tidbits which, in my own arbitrary analysis, are consistent with an evolution of an idea I personal believe and want you to believe, then I think only the interpretation of these tidbits consistent with my preconceived conclusion concerning Petrine supremacy can possibly be correct.” One can see that this is the most crass sophistry, an utter waste of the natural talent given to man to understand ideas and communicate them, a great sin against the Creator who wants honesty and true ingenuity–not duckspeak.

“Can it be said that all the Byzantines at the time believed in the Roman view of Petrine supremacy? Probably not.”

Unlike traditionalist Roman Catholics who believe the Orthodox to be in the sin of schism because they are rejecting the ecclesiastical consensus of the Church (which they believe is Papalist), the Post-Traditionalists can amazingly presume upon the sinfulness of the Orthodox despite the Orthodox having, what they often concede to be, a historically and traditionally authentic position. This bears for all the reality that the Post-Traditionalists are also Post-Truth.

“…the late French Byzantine historian Charles Diehl…”

Ybarra, for some reason, quotes someone (probably out of context) in a sense which actually is inconsistent with what he just said. In fact, there has not been a single cogent point made yet and I am making this point not in jest or with a lack of charity, but as a matter of honest assessment.

Response to Objection 1

In short, Ybarra argues that the Latin minutes of JE 2448 of Nicea II (the passage he quotes is missing from the Greek, a detail he clears up later in the reply) do not contain what would have been understood as empty honorifics. Despite quoting something that was so objectionable it did not make it into the final cut of the council (that’s not my opinion, but that of Nicea II’s Latin translator, Anastasius the Librarian), it does not prove his point that Roman claims were not honorifics.

After all, a basic definition for honorific is “(of an office or position) given as a mark of respect, but having few or no duties.” So, while a definition of Rome being ascribed with honorifics with zero meaning would be too far (after all, Orthodox affirm Roman primacy in the canonical order), to interpret words expressing high status higher than what the canons and councils explicitly affirm, as I stated before, is too far. And so, while Ybarra’s binary presentation, like that of a defense attorney, attempts to lock the reader into conceding that such Roman claims would have not been understood as honorifics, this presentation requires not even understanding the meaning of the word “honorific.” Worse yet, for the historian, it requires understanding what was stated and accepted on different terms than how contemporaries, such as the Carolingians, would have. Being that Ybarra deals with this later in his screed, we will address that issue at that point.

As for those interested in how literally Rome understood the title “Ecumenical Patriarch,” ironically Anastasius the Librarian answers that for us, as he wrote the following to Pope John VIII: “But inasmuch as the Greeks very improperly in this Synod have frequently styled their Patriarch as Ecumenical let your apostleship pardon their flattery for they are accustomed thus reprehensibly to flatter their superiors.” (p. Xviii) Ybarra was posed with the preceding quote twice, once in an article addressed to himself that he responded to and a second time live during a debate. Somehow, a seemingly convenient amnesia has taken over. The idea (as expounded in Ybarra’s reply) that Rome did not understand the title of Ecumenical Patriarch as a mere honorific and so they respond with literal explanations of their own authority is patently ahistorical, as the preceding shows. 

“[I]f the Byzantines understood the Papal claims of Hadrian to have simply been ‘empty honorifics’, hyperbolic exaggeration ‘with no application in reality’, and merely unrealistic literary devices, then they would have had no motivation to remove those claims from the Latin original of the Pope’s letter to the Emperors.”

If Ybarra cared to read Anastasius on this topic, he would have never said this (or at least, would have been more careful in what he said). This is because Anastasius asserted that this whole section of the letter was omitted “out of consideration for Taurisius” seeing that criticizing the ecumenical Patriarch and degrading him would have hurt the integrity of the council itself and the possibility of affirming its conclusions.

So again, Ybarra’s binary thinking, which appears to be presented falsely to the reader that one must accept his conclusions as if there is no alternative, is exposed as a false choice–one that would never have to be made by someone who has any understanding of the actual history. But, perhaps Ybarra plays to those who do not understand the history and it appears to be his hope that one does not, because after all, the above quote from Anastasius and its context is treated in detail in the very article Erick is responding to. But, I’d agree with his instinct that most people will not read a 15,000 word blog post. He probably didn’t.

“[M]ost scholars do not take the view that Hadrian was producing hollow exaggerations for the sake of literary style…”

1. Ybarra has not read every piece of scholarship on this question, let alone counted them to know whether most scholars or not take such a view. This is dishonest.

2. This is a logical fallacy, as it is an appeal to authority. Why does Ybarra repeatedly employ logical fallacies? Isn’t that disconcerting?

“Pope Hadrian responds to the Libri Carolini and its claim that 2nd Nicaea and Rome were in the wrong, the Pope explains that the Apostolic See of Rome has, a priori, always upheld the true faith without blemish, and refers to an inscription that on an old Roman aspe which says ‘iustitiae sedes, fidei domus, aula pudoris’.”

This statement does not really make a point. When two people disagree, of course each side is going to affirm their own veracity and the falsehood of the other. 

Response to Objection 2…it is perceptively observed by some that, even so, the court theology of Charlemagne likewise speaks highly of the power and authority of the Apostolic See, but nevertheless because they dissented from the Pope on icon veneration and the 2nd Council of Nicaea, this effectively shows that such high claims of Petrine supremacy still amount to having ‘no application in reality’ and are ‘effectively meaningless’…[T]he proof against this so far as the Pope himself was concerned provided above appears to me as conclusive.”

Erick somewhat charitably frames my position that we have people, like the Carolinigians, who opposed any actual notion of Papal Infallibility due to the fact that they opposed the Pope in detail over doctrinal matters. His response to it is merely his aforementioned arguments which I have already debunked. In short, it is a poor response which ignores the salient fact that we have a Latin source treating these Papal claims as hollow honorifics. 

Erick then quotes who he presumes to be the author of the heretical Caroline Books, “Saint” Alcuin of York, making some milquetoast statements about how one needs to be in communion with the Roman Church. “Alcuin puts communion with the Roman Church as indispensable for salvation,” Ybarra writes. He offers no context, as what was the alternative at this time for not being in communion with Rome in the frontiers of Western Europe? And, if Alcuin thought Rome to be in heresy over Nicea II and able to be rejected, then how subservient is the historian to interpret words such as his? Again, as honorifics. Ybarra fails to make his point, though it is honestly not clear that he is trying that hard as his argument would fail to be convincing to anyone other than someone desperate to be convinced.

“Rome, in St. [sic] Alcuin’s mind, is more than just another Church that has supreme canonical privilege.”

This is a bizarre reading of Alcuin, as nowhere in what Ybarra quoted from him spoke of “supreme canonical privilege,” or delineated the difference between this over and against the divine establishment of the Papacy. Ybarra then quotes some odds and ends surrounding a Synod in Rome in 800, where the Pope was tried, and people said “we cannot judge the Pope.” (What were the results of these synods? Has Erick read the minutes to contextualize these statements? How about future synods that judged the Pope, like the Cadaver Synod? How about Session VII of the Fifth Ecumenical Council?)

The fact that Ybarra is reaching so deep and coming out empty reveals how damaging the quote from Book 1, Chap 6 of the Caroline Books apparently is to his whole argument. And so, I avail the reader to my initial article in the second last section if they would like to see this discussed in more detail.

To be fair to Ybarra, he gives an interesting read of Book 1, Chap 6; that being the Caroline Books were attempting to pit the Pope against previous Popes. And, without carefully considering the matter, I happily concede this must have been amongst their motivations as to anyone who has read the Caroline Books, they throw everything and the kitchen sink at Pope Adrian I concerning Nicea II. Its style is very similar to this article. It is very tit for tat, citing any source relevant to the issue at hand. So, if my memory serves me right, the Caroline Books did in fact quote other Popes as authorities. But, they quoted a lot of authorities. So, Erick’s point that the whole pretext behind the Caroline Books is solely the authority of a pre-existing Papal magesterium which they hold Pope Adrian on accountable to, is unsubstantiated. 

Rather, what one sees is how they can contextualize such claims of Roman authority as being amongst other authorities (Scriptural, traditional, conciliar, etcetera) which are holistically understood as being the Catholic faith. And so, consistent with later Carolinigian statements such as “the privilege of Peter does not persist when judgment is not passed with equity,” (Tavard, p. 616) what one sees is the tacit acceptance of an authority, but contextualized so that it is not supreme but amongst other authorities. After all, how does one judge the Pope as now losing the privilege of Peter if he cannot be judged? Who determines his judgement’s equity? How? Ultimately, Ybarra’s lens for history (which, as we already established, is extremely vague and eisegetical because he is merely looking for tidbits which can serve as premises to a developed idea that fits a preconceived notion of Papal Supremacy) cannot make sense of such words.

Response to Objection 3” 

This section is dedicated to discussion the real debate latent in the Latin versions of JE 2448 and 2449, which is, jurisdiction in the Balkans and southern Italy. Now, if Papal Supremacy historically actually existed, there would be no debate. In fact, it would be unthinkable that an ecumenical council would have ignored this issue, as it would have been an ecclesastical heresy to usurp the Pope’s jurisdiction and not repent. However, the Church appeared woefully unconcerned about this issue, not even addressing it at the council, evidently omitting any mention of it from the Greek translation of Pope Adrian’s letters.

To this, Ybarra replies that, “the Pope never ratified the Council ‘as Ecumenical’ because of the lack of co-operation of the Emperor to satisfy his request of the confiscated territories.” Now, there may be more context to his letter that can show that this is the case, but from what he quoted it does not state that Adrian did not accept the council. The fact the Papacy translated the Council from Greek to Latin (according to Wallach) and sent it to Charlemagne betrays its acceptance, as does Anastasius’ ghostwritten letters in the 860s which cite original documents from the council as binding. So, I am very skeptical of what Ybarra posits here without more proof.  In any event, the actual criteria for an ecumenical council does not require Papal ratification, as set forth by Nicea II itself. So much for that.

“Some Orthodox might press the matter that if the Pope had universal jurisdiction, he would not have to ask for something that already belongs to him. However, this stance ignores the difference between the Patriarchal supervision that Rome had over unique lands and the universal Petrine commission which worked through the mode of appellate procedure.”

This mode of appellate procedure, according to Ybarra himself, is a fantasy that always ends with a recourse back to Rome as a default. And so, if such a fantasy had any semblance of reality, one can hardly imagine Pope Adrian stewing as he does in his letter to Charlemagne over his demands concerning local jurisdiction being ignored. He would have just settled it right then and there over and against the council. However, this would have been inconceivable because, in reality, no one was able to press the honorific far enough that the Pope can operate above canons or councils. Likely, Canon 38 of Trullo was understood as giving the civil governance the ability to shift Rome’s jurisdiction. So, the Pope was not in fact supreme, the chief judicial function of the Church was in fact the Ecumenical Council and everyone knew it. Hence, while Ybarra imagines some parsing between local and supreme jurisdiction, such a parsing is not mentioned in any contemporary source because no one contemplated supreme Roman jurisdiction. It’s an anachronism. After all, that’s why the idea had to evolve over time in the Post-Traditionalist view, the view that Ybarra expounds.

“…let’s admit that this shows that they didn’t hold the Pope had universal immediate jurisdiction. What actions are proven in its place? Is it the Eastern Orthodox policy of sobornost conciliarity that takes the place of Papal supremacy? No. What is there is Imperial supremacy.”

The binary thinking of Ybarra is back at it. In short, jurisdiction was treated as a political football and it was tossed around based upon getting concessions for other things. So, Pope John VIII conceded these jurisdictions for a political alliance against the Arabs. To think that Photius may not concede the jurisdictions for some element of necessary gain (perhaps his recognition as a Bishop) and simply blame the Emperor for “not being able to do more” and actually go through with it would be a pretty basic interpretation of events. One may not like the politicking, but this is standard diplomacy. If online Papal lawyers were professional diplomats, they would regularly misunderstand what other diplomats are saying and doing.

As for the issue of Caesero-Papism, state manipulation of the Church was a real issue for Rome and probably today they are puppets of NATO’s. Likewise, the idea that local Orthodox Churches are not subservient to their local governments, is also a real issue. It was no different in the past. I suppose, if corruption and state machinations are too much for one to handle, there always remains the option of abandoning an Apostolic Church and opting for Pastor Jim’s Bible Church, providing Jim kept his doors open during the Covid quarantine.

Response to Objection 4

In short, Ybarra’s argument is that Matt 16:18 must be about the Roman Church because the Roman Catechism says so. That argument is pretty poor, especially in light of how Nicea II exegetes the passage:

I would they have had taken into consideration the word which the Lord said to Peter, the chief of the Apostles, ‘Thou art Peter and on this rock will I build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ But having no part with the erection of this building, they bubble out things worthy of derision defining thus…[quotes Hiera’s depositions of clergy]…Having slandered the whole Church of God and not satisfied with this or as yet satiated with impiety, contrary to all law and justice, they go on to determine that no one after this shall dare to make any image whatever” (Sixth Session, p. 406 in Mendham’s translation)

Response to Objection 5…The belief at the time that all the Patriarchs needed to be involved in a Council for it to be truly ‘great and Ecumenical’ was a belief simply driven by the rule that the whole Church should be joining in one voice to proclaim the Apostolic faith…However, during a Council, the Apostolic See of Rome has ‘chief place’ in the primacy and legitimacy of a valid Council representing the universal Church.”

Actually, Rome has a secondary role according to the explicit verbiage of what constitutes an Ecumenical Council. I deal with this issue in detail here.

“In other words, whatever handicap the absence of the 3 Eastern Patriarchs and their under-bishops might surface to discredit the Council, the co-operation and agreement of the apostolic see of Peter is a sufficient weight to make their absence negligible to actually discredit the Council.”

Ybarra cites an interesting letter in the third session of Nicea II, but if one reads it, it does not claim what Ybarra dreams up in the above. It simply expresses joy that the Bishop of Rome agreed with Taurisius’ letter (which was, according to the same letter, “directed by divine inspiration,” p. 215 of Price’s Nicea II), and that the Pope’s faith should likewise be “proclaimed in the whole world.” (Ibid., p. 220) Ybarra appears authentically bad at discerning a plain honorific, especially considering it is stated as an after thought after extolling Constantinople. In any event, Session 6’s criteria delineated Rome’s secondary role during an ecumenical council, and the reception of these oriental Patriarchs and their synods after the council, something that took embarrassingly long in many respects (though “officially” they all accepted Nicea II at Constantinople IV, 879-880), was still necessary. Their tardy reception is all the more confusing given Ybarra’s wooden reading of events. It was likely that the council hoped that the synodical letter of Theodore of Jerusalem to Alexandria and Antioch would have sufficed to show the actual Bishops’ pre-emptive acceptance of the council, but this and the vague letter preceding it that Ybarra speaks of above, would prove to be insufficient by Nicea II’s own standards.

Ybarra then quotes an interesting snippet from St. Nikiphoros. He chortles, “Could it be any clearer?” But, from a snippet, it is hard for me to draw exactly what is being communicated (because if taken literally, it is crassly inaccurate, as Rome did not in fact “preside over” Nicea II). My inkling would be that Nikiphoros is presenting Nicea II as superior to Hiera because of its reception from the Roman See. This would be consistent with Nicea II’s explanation of ecumenicity linked to above. And so, without more context, I would not see the need to reconceptualize this statement as expounding a whole other view of ecumenicity.

“[T]he Byzantine Orthodox Churches…have lost the means to do precisely what St. Nikiphoros here states would be impossible without the Pope of Rome according to divine prescription.”

And Rome has lost the means to do what Nicea II says is impossible without the remaining Pentarchy and their synods. Are we all heading to Pastor Jim’s?

Response to Objection 6…the Greek version that came to be in possession of the East of Hadrian’s letter to the Emperors is that real authentic conciliar text…even if this were the case, it is just as powerful, perhaps even more, than the Latin original of the same letter.”

The moment someone says “perhaps even more” when earlier in his reply he is arguing the removal of the Latin sections was designed to tone down Papal claims, should make one suspicious of dishonesty. An argument is laid out depending upon Ybarra’s rendering of the Greek. A sophistic case is made that Rome alone inherits the thrones of Peter and Paul, but this is eviscerated by words plainly repeated in one of his block quotes:

For the holy and chief Apostles themselves, who set up the Catholic and orthodox Faith, have laid it down as a written law that all who after them are to be successors of their seats (θρόνων / thrones), should hold their Faith and remain in it to the end.

Obviously, the admonishment to hold the faith of the apostles was made to the whole Church. This was Adrian’s point. He wanted other bishops to follow him in following the right faith of these Apostles. Ybarra’s reading, that this is somehow not an admonishment to exhibit right faith when it is clearly designed to be, shows his wrangling over words and parsing of Greek to be of no effect.

Response to Objection 7…One can see, therefore, that there is no substantially different message between the Papal claims of the letters sent by Hadrian to 2nd Nicaea [between the Latin and Greek of JE 2448].”

I agree. There is no substantially different message, as my argument is that the Latin dealt with honorifics which had a certain traction within the West, but not so in the east (where they would have been somewhat bizarre, as Roman prerogatives were seen as the result of canons and a dual inheritance from Peter and Paul, consistent with Nikiphoros’ letter above.) And so, what Adrian was actually trying to communicate likely was not at all different between the two, in my own estimation. The difference, would be, in the subtleties: one rendering clearly builds Rome up more and, as the longer ending of Latin JE 2448 explicitly delineates, an implicit denial of the need for canonical acceptance of such prerogatives. And so, it is the inference one can draw in the Latin which is faulty. Its exact historical motives for composition are unknown, as I have carefully considered these, and so for those who want to weigh the speculations they have recourse to my previous article.

And so ends my reply to Ybarra’s article. One can only lament how frank I had to be dealing with the omissions and lawyerly aspects of his style. It is my sincere hope that he does not take these corrections personally, but rather, conducts a self-assessment and radically changes course. Perhaps, there is a sincere lover of truth in him after all and how much glory to God would it bring if the great Post-Traditionalist Papal lawyer cast the sophistry aside and embraced an authentic Christian tradition, delineated in the fathers and the Scriptures, not as an inferred development, but an organic reality.  There are many who hate Erick, but hatred is no replacement for the Gospel, where there is more rejoicing over a single sinner who repents than 99 without need of repentance. His repentance and acceptance of the Orthodox faith would go far in attaining his salvation, and it his salvation that we must truly yearn for just as we must yearn for our own. May God have mercy on all of us.


Response to Ybarra’s Second Response. It is extremely difficult to reply in such a fashion which is edifying to the reader (and not simply feeding into some feud which the unholy amongst us find entertaining). The reason is, Ybarra has been taking a bizarre, personal interest in a debate I had with someone else and an article I wrote about someone else. In his multiple video and written responses to myself, Ybarra has increasingly exhibited dishonesty and sophistry, as laid out above. He has taken an extreme offense to these charges, but I am not sure how to more delicately state the truth and weed out useful content that may be interspersed in his writings on this topic.

The prayer for his repentance must have been incredibly insulting to him, though it was written in sincerity. It is sad he does not recognize his own dishonest tact which clouds “content” which he poses in his multiple rebuttals. He needs these prayers as would anyone obfuscating the way he does.

Speaking of obfuscation, I did not even name every example of his dishonesty he has employed in addressing the issue of Nicea II. For example, he claimed in a September article, “Dr. Erich Lamberz…has contributed irrefutable arguments,” but Ybarra has admittedly never read Lamberz, who is only in German. Ybarra admits, “I reached out to Lamberz himself, he referred to the english literature provided by Fr. Richard Price as summarizing his arguments and convictions. However, if the reader is fluent in German, here are the articles…” How could he attest to something he has never read being “irrefutable?” How can such a statement not be dishonest? Ybarra regularly does not see the irony in examples such as these.

Despite lauding how kind and loving the article I responded to above allegedly was, he regularly sniped at myself, asserting that I was dishonest. For example, it was “misleading” for me “to think that the Council of Bishops simply ignored the Pope’s demand” over jurisdiction. “Misleading” is an obvious accusation that I am deceiving people. Ironically (according to Fr Richard Price), those at the council were “ignoring” the “demands that were less welcome, notably for a return to the Roman see of the patrimonies and jurisdiction.” (Nicea 2, Paperback, p. 30) Erick cannot even call someone else a liar without mistakenly exposing how he makes accusations contradicted by the actual scholarship.

My response explicitly pointed out multiple examples of his sophistic way of framing issuees, though it actually ignored the above example. Instead of acknowledging things like the preceding, which shows my assessment of Ybarra’s writings on this topic has been fundamentally accurate, Ybarra instead doubled down and wrote two replies that attacked me personally, stating: “you have not learned lessons” (you’re supposed to be teaching me a lesson?), “you need to learn how to respect others before you can be a decent human being, let alone a worthy Christian,” “you’re uncharitable,” “you better be humbling himself” (another threat), and a “demonic spirit…has taken over you.” In his second response, available as a pdf file, he complains of my “rude antics” and calls me “an angry lady waiting in line for more flour,” an odd insult if there ever was one. Yet, Ybarra claims that he made both of these replies “without insulting” me (not that its a big deal to me, though his own replies reflect very negatively about himself). Ybarra, sadly, is exhibiting delusion.

As for the content of his second response, it is hard to respond to it seriously considering the preceding. Its content reads as a litany of self-justifications for his own behavior and condemnations of my own. There are certain passing statements which are absurd, such as the claim that the 16th session of Chalcedon did not reject the Roman rendering of a canon which stated “let Rome have the primacy,” which makes one question whether after all this time Ybarra actually read the entirety of the 16th session (it is not long). There is one point which may appear good (in one of Pope Nicholas’ early letters he admitted that Roman primacy was a matter of the canons), but it ignores the fact that this statement was written a full 40 letters before Anastasius’ ghostwritten corpus (written in Pope Nicholas’ name) was sent to the Greeks, which contained a very different rationale as to the source of Roman primacy. As for going tit for tat through the rest of it, I am not going to bother because there is not a lot of content and again it would require me to delineate where Ybarra is being deceptive, something he obviously takes immense personal offense to (and due to his repeated threats above, it’s best not to poke the bear needlessly.) Plus, I honestly do not think anyone is carefully following this enough outside what they perceive to be an entertaining personal feud. And so, if someone wants a response to an actual specific point, feel free to leave a comment here. Otherwise, I do not want to waste any more time on this.