Leo the Great…

…judges Francis’ idea on Judas being a poor, penitent man

  • The perfidious Judas reached the gibbet; Peter washed away his guilt by his tears

The perfidious Judas, inebriated with this venom [of avarice], reached the gibbet in the thirst of his greed. And he was so foolishly impious, that he came to the point of selling his Lord and Master for thirty coins. But while the Son of God offered himself to endure an iniquitous trial, the blessed apostle Peter, whose faith burned with such devotion that he was willing to suffer and to die with his Lord, let himself be intimidated by the calumny of a maid servant of the high priest and, out of weakness, fell when placed in danger of denying. It was, it seemed, a hesitation permitted so that the remedy of penitence might be founded in the head of the Church, and so that no one might dare trust in his own strength, when Saint Peter himself had not been able to escape the danger of inconstancy. But the Lord, whose sole body was in the midst of the congregation of the high priests, saw his disciple’s perturbation, outside, with his divine gaze. After looking upon him, he made the one who had trembled take heart, and incited in him the tears of repentance. Blessed are your tears, holy apostle, which, to wash away the guilt of your denial, had the power of holy baptism! (Leo I, the Great. Homily 9, 4; Migne 60, BAC 291, 249-250)

  • Judas refused to understand Jesus’ mercy; he took measures against himself in the madness of perdition; and in dying increased the amount of sin which condemned him

To this forgiveness the traitor Judas could not attain: for he, the son of perdition, at whose right the devil stood (Ps 108:6), gave himself up to despair before Christ accomplished the mystery of universal redemption. For in that the Lord died for sinners, perchance even he might have found salvation if he had not hastened to hang himself. But that evil heart, which was now given up to thievish frauds, and now busied with treacherous designs, had never entertained aught of the proofs of the Saviour’s mercy. Those wicked ears had heard the Lord’s words, when He said, ‘I same not to call the righteous but sinners,’ and ‘The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost’, but they conveyed not to his understanding the clemency of Christ, which not only healed bodily infirmities, but also cured the wounds of sick souls, saying to the paralytic man, ‘Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee saying also to the adulteress that was brought to Him, ‘neither will I condemn thee; go and sin no more,’ to show in all His works that He had come as the Saviour, not the Judge of the world. But the wicked traitor refused to understand this, and took measures against himself, not in the self-condemnation of repentance, but in the madness of perdition, and thus he who had sold the Author of life to His murderers, even in dying increased the amount of sin which condemned him. (Saint Leo I, the Great. Sermon LXII, On the Passion, XI, [PL 54])

  • Judas persisted in his treachery, and did not believe Jesus to be the Son of God

When he says, ‘I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood,’ he persists in his wicked treachery, seeing that amid the last struggles of death he believed not Jesus to be the Son of God, but merely man of our rank; for had he not thus denied His omnipotence, he would have obtained His mercy. (Leo I, the Great quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea on Mt 27:1–5)

…judges Francis’ idea that it is no longer necessary to declare one’s sins to a confessor to be pardoned

  • In accusing ourselves in our confessions we stir up the enmity of the author of sin, but secure indestructible peace with God

For accusing ourselves in our confessions and refusing the spirit’s consent to our fleshly lusts, we stir up against us the enmity of him who is the author of sin, but secure a peace with God that nothing can destroy, by accepting His gracious service. (Leo I the Great. Homily XXVI on the Nativity of Our Lord, no. VI, 4)

…judges Francis’ idea that Christ was stained by sin

  • Jesus assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching the human without diminishing the divine

‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (Jn 1:14), that is, in the flesh that he took from a human being and which he animated with the spirit of rational life. The uniqueness of each nature being preserved and combined in one person […] an inviolable nature was joined to a passible nature […] Therefore, the true God was born in the complete and perfect nature of true man, complete in his nature and complete in ours […] He assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching the human without diminishing the divine, because that self-emptying, through which the invisible rendered himself visible…, was an inclination of mercy not a defect of power. The Son of God, therefore, descending from his heavenly throne, enters into the infirmities of this world; and, not leaving the Father’s glory, he is generated in a new order and a new birth. (Denzinger-Hünermann 292–294. Saint Leo I, the Great, Dogmatic epistle Lectis dilectionis tua, to Bishop Flavian of Constantinople, June 13, 449)

…judges Francis’ idea on conversion of the papacy

  • Christ wants his Church built on the strong foundation: that of Peter

You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation. And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith. The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them. (Saint Leo I, the Great. Sermon 4, 2-3)

  • While the election of them all was equal, it was one who took the lead of the rest

And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. (Leo I the Great. Letter 14, XII: PL 54, 676)

…judges Francis’ idea on Ecumenical dialogue

  • Flee from those who don’t wish to correct themselves, avoid conversation with them

Therefore, dear ones, from those [heretics of] which we are speaking, flee from them as a deadly poison, condemn them, withdraw from them and, if adverted by you, they don’t wish to correct themselves, avoid conversation with them because as it is written. ‘…their talk will eat its way like gangrene’ (2Tim 2:17). (Leo I, the Great. Homily 96 against the heresy of Eutyches, 3)

…judges Francis’ idea on Jesus asking forgiveness from his parents

  • Jesus, God and man, assumed the form of a servant, without the defilement of sin

‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (Jn 1:14), that is, in the flesh that he took from a human being and which he animated with the spirit of rational life. The character of each nature, therefore, being preserved an united in one person […] the inviolable nature was united to a nature subject to suffering […] Therefore, the true God was born in the complete and perfect nature of true man, complete in his nature and complete in ours […] He assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching the human without diminishing the divine, because that self-emptying, through which the invisible rendered himself visible…, was an inclination of mercy not a defect of power. Consequently, the Son of God entered into these lowly conditions of the world, after descending from His celestial throne, and though He did not withdraw from the glory of the Father, He was generated in a new order and in a new nativity. (Denzinger-Hünermann 292-294. Leo I, letter Lexis directions tube to Bishop Fluvial of Constantinople, June 13, 449)

…judges Francis’ idea on the ‘Bread of Life’

  • You ought to be partakers at the Holy Table with no doubt whatever concerning the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood

Dearly-beloved, utter this confession with all your heart and reject the wicked lies of heretics, that your fasting and almsgiving may not be polluted by any contagion with error: for then is our offering of the sacrifice clean and our gifts of mercy holy, when those who perform them understand that which they do. For when the Lord says, ‘unless you have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man, and drunk His blood, you will not have life in you (Jn 6:53),’ you ought so to be partakers at the Holy Table, as to have no doubt whatever concerning the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood. (Saint Leo the Great. Sermon XCI: On the Fast of the Seventh Month, VI, III)

…judges Francis’ idea that Christians and Muslims share the same faith

  • A stained life can never contemplate God

Rightly is this blessedness promised to purity of heart. For the brightness of the true light will not be able to be seen by the unclean sight: and that which will be happiness to minds that are bright and clean, will be a punishment to those that are stained. (Leo I the Great. Sermon XCV, A Homily on the Beatitudes, no. VIII)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • The Son of God, descending from his heavenly throne enters into the infirmities of this world without leaving the Father’s glory

‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (Jn 1:14), that is, in the flesh that he took from a human being and which he animated with the spirit of rational life. The character of each nature, therefore, being preserved and United in one person […] the inviolable nature was United to a nature subject to suffering. […] Therefore, the true God was born in the complete and perfect nature of true man, complete in his nature and complete in ours […]. He assumed the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, enriching the human without diminishing the divine, because that self-emptying, through which the invisible rendered himself visible…was an inclination of mercy, not a defect of power. The Son of God, therefore, descending from his heavenly throne, enters into the infirmities of this world; and, not leaving the Father’s glory, he is generated in a new order and a new birth. (Denzinger-Hünermann 292-294. Pope Leo I, Letter Lectis dilectionis tuae to Bishop Flavian of Constantinople (Tomus I Leonis), June 13, 449)

…judges Francis’ idea on sects forming part of the Church

  • Head over all things

For that virgin is the Church, the spouse of one husband Christ, who suffers herself to be corrupted by no error, so that through the whole world we have one entire and pure communion. (Leo I the Great. Letter 80, To Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople, PL 54, 913)

  • The birth of Christ is also the birth of the Church

For the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body. Although every individual that is called has his own order, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time, yet as the entire body of the faithful being born in the font of baptism is crucified with Christ in His passion, raised again in His resurrection, and placed at the Father’s right hand in His ascension, so with Him are they born in this nativity. For any believer in whatever part of the world that is re-born in Christ, quits the old paths of his original nature and passes into a new man by being re-born; and no longer is he reckoned of his earthly father’s stock but among the seed of the Saviour, Who became the Son of man in order that we might have the power to be the sons of God. (Leo I the Great. Sermon 26, II, On the Feast of the Nativity, PL 54, 213)

  • Against the errors of the Priscillianists

[The impiety of the Priscillianists] has sunk even into the darkness of paganism, with the result that, through the profane and secret practices of the magical arts and the hollow deceptions of astrologers, they base religious faith and moral laws upon the power of demons and the influence of the stars. But if it were permitted for this to be believed and taught, no reward would be owed to virtues or punishment to vices, and all rules not only of human laws but also of divine ordinances would be dissolved; for it would be impossible for there to be any judgment in regard either to good acts or to bad ones if a fated necessity compelled the movement of the mind in the two directions and if whatever is done by men comes, not from men, but from the stars…With good reason our fathers… took decisive action, so that (this) impious delusion might be driven from the whole Church. (Denzinger-Hünermann 283. Leo I, the Great. Letter Quam laudabiliter to Bishop Turribius of Astorga, July 21, 447)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • The Son of God became man without withdrawing from the glory of the Father

Consequently, the Son of God entered into these lowly conditions of the world, after descending from His celestial throne, and though He did not withdraw from the glory of the Father, He was generated in a new order and in a new nativity. In a new order, because invisible in His own, He was made visible in ours; incomprehensible [in His own], He wished to be comprehended; permanent before times, He began to be in time; the Lord of the universe assumed the form of a slave […] For He who is true God, is likewise true man, and there is no falsehood in this unity. (Denzinger-Hünermann 294. Leo I, the Great. Epistle Lectis dilectionis tua to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, June 13, 449)

…judges Francis’ prayer in the ecumenical and interreligious Meeting in Sarajevo

  • The promises made to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ

To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He says not and to seeds, as if in many, but as it in one, and to your seed which is Christ (Gal 3:16)’ (Leo the Great. To Flavian regarding Eutyches, Letter 28, II, 451 AD)

…judges Francis’ idea on a horizontal Church

  • Among the apostles it was given to one of them to be preeminent over the rest

Even among the most blessed apostles, there was a certain distinction of power along with a similarity of honor; and although the selection of them all was the same, nevertheless, it was given to one of them to be preeminent over the rest. (Denzinger-Hünermann 282. Leo I (the Great), Letter Quanta fraternitati, to Bishop Anastasius of Thessalonica, c. 11, 446 AD)

…judges Francis’ words in his first appearance

  • Even among the blessed Apostles, it was given only to Peter to lead the rest

The connexion of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connexion requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. (Leo the Great. Letter XIV, no. 12, PL 54:149-150)

  • Peter governs all of those who are principally governed by Christ

From the midst of the entire world, Peter alone is chosen, who is placed in front of all of the nations called, of all of the apostles, of all of the Fathers of the Church: in such a way that, even though there be among the people of God many priests and many pastors, Peter specifically governs all of those who are principally governed by Christ. (Leo the Great, Sermon IV, c. 2 – PL 54:149-150)

…judges Francis’ idea on the immortality of the soul

  • The question is for what a man dies or lives: for the devil or for God

For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning. But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions. We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness.(Saint Leo the Great. Sermon LXXI, On the Lord’s Resurrection, I, 1)

…judges Francis’ idea on religious liberty

  • Flee from heretics as from a deadly poison

Therefore, dear ones, from those [heretics of] which we are speaking, flee from them as a deadly poison, condemn them, withdraw from them and, if adverted by you, they don’t wish to correct themselves, avoid conversation with them because as it is written. ‘…their talk will eat its way like gangrene’ (2Tim 2:17). (Saint Leo the Great, Sermones in praecipuis totius anni festivitatibus ad romanum plebem habiti, Pars 2: Sermo XCVI – Sive tractatus contra heresim Eutychis; habitus Romae in Basilica Sanctae Anastasiae, cap. 3)

…judges the act of seeking blessings from heretics and schismatics

  • The strength of the Holy Spirit is received only from Catholic ministers, not from heretics

In effect, those who have received the baptism of the heretics, having never been baptized before, should be confirmed only with an invocation of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands, since they have received merely the form of baptism without the strength of sanctification. […] The ablution should not be profaned with any repetition, but rather, as we have said, one should only invoke the sanctification of the Holy Spirit: so that that which no one receives from the heretics may be received from Catholic priests. (Denzinger-Hünermann 316. Saint Leo the Great. Letter Regressus ad nos to Nicetas, Bishop of Aquileia, c.7, March 21, 458)

…judges Francis’ idea on Ascetism and silence in the Spiritual Exercises

  •  Penance liberates from concupiscence of the flesh and favors meditation

For by daily experience, beloved, it is proved that the mind’s edge is blunted by over-indulgence of the flesh, and the heart’s vigor is dulled by excess of food, so that the delights of eating are even opposed to the health of the body, unless reasonable moderation withstands the temptation and the consideration of future discomfort keep from the pleasure. For although the flesh desires nothing without the soul, and receives its sensations from the same source as it receives its motions also, yet it is the function of the same soul to deny certain things to the body which is subject to it, and by its inner judgment to restrain the outer parts from things unseasonable, in order that it may be the oftener free from bodily lusts, and have leisure for Divine wisdom in the palace of the mind, where, away from all the noise of earthly cares, it may in silence enjoy holy meditations and eternal delights. (Saint Leo the Great, Sermon 19: De jejunio decimi mensis, no. 1)

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