Spirituality for Today – September 2012 – Volume 17, Issue 2

The 73rd Pope
Pope Theodore I

An image of Pope Theodore I, the 73rd PopePope Theodore I, the 73rd Pope

Pope Theodore I (642-649) – Born in Jerusalem, Theodore was of Greek heritage and that fact probably led to his rapid affirmation by the Byzantine emperor. His emigration from Jerusalem to Rome may have been occasioned by the Arab threat to Jerusalem. Pope Theodore would spend his entire pontificate engaged in the struggle against Monothelitism (heresy claiming that Jesus had a divine will, but not a human will). The first issue on his plate was the document known as the Ecthesis written by the late emperor Heraclius. The Ecthesis was favorable toward Monothelitism and, although its author renounced it before his death, it had not been suppressed in the East.

His next concern was not a document but a person. The ex-patriarch, Pyrrhus I, now in exile, promoted the Ecthesis, but later refuted his stand, and later on returned to his heretical position. Pope Theodore excommunicated him. The current emperor, Constans II finally concluded that the political tension surrounding this debate was a threat to domestic tranquility. Thus, he issued a decree called the Typos (Greek for Rule) which stopped all further discussion of the Ecthesis and supported all the teachings of the first five ecumenical councils – it was the sixth, the Third Council of Constantinople, that declared the Ecthesis heretical. Politics are politics in every age. The papal nuncio refuses to sign it and he is arrested by the emperor. Pope Theodore dies before he could respond to the Typos.

Pope Theodore I was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Habemus papam