"Which leads me to wonder how third century Christians would have reacted to the saints we commemorate today, St. Pontian, (pope) and St. Hippolytus (anti-pope!).
You heard me right. While Pontian (and two of his predecssors) reigned, Hippolytus was leader of a rigorist faction that believed the faith was not being adequately defended and maintained in its original purity by current leadership. His followers in the clergy elected him as a rival pope. Pontian, on the other hand, humbly offered to step down in favor of any legitimately elected successor if that would help resolve the schism.
This was back in the days when Christianity was still frowned upon by the Roman empire. In the year 235, the Emperor Maximus launched a persecution that swept up both Pontian and Hippolytus and sent them to a gulag on the isle of Sardinia. Pontian and Hippolytus supported each other during their last days on earth, which included torture and hard labor in salt mines. Hippolytus repented and reconciled with the Church. They died there and were acclaimed as both martyrs and saints. Hippolytus was the first anti-pope, and the only one honored with sainthood.
Did critics have a field day over these two? Were conservatives appalled that a schismatic like Hippolytus could be canonized? Or perhaps the liberals were: Hippolytus was a rigorist who felt that notorious sinners could never be readmitted to communion--how could a man so lacking in mercy be canonized? Or maybe some felt Pontian was wrong to make overtures to the Hippolytus faction by offering to resign rather than taking a more hardline approach. Who knows? But it's fun to speculate."
Saturday, 13 August 2016
Coffee and Canticles: They're Canonizing Him?