Athanasius Contra Neminem
Athanasius is a pious Bishop in the time of the Arian heresy. The controversy is raging, and our Athanasius is deeply afflicted by it.
He would like for this to stop. Alas, it seems that even the Pope is on the wrong side. Certainly, the vast majority of his peers are. Some say, ninety percent.
What is a pious bishop to do? Denounce the heresy and go against the Pope?
He would be excommunicated, don’t you know? He would be forced to go into exile. He might even be killed!
And the schism, the schism! The Church would be torn asunder! And for what? There is obviously no chance of prevailing. An open conflict would only consolidate the heresy, make it even more official!
The numbers are just not there, says the good, pious bishop to himself. It will never work. He would only be doing the work of the devil.
And then there is the matter of the disobedience. He would be disobeying the Pope! How can a Bishop disobey the Pope? This can’t be right, surely? Surely?
And so our good, pious Bishop Athanasius kept praying, and did nothing. Well, he uttered here and there some words about this or that issue; but in the essentials, he did nothing. The unity of Mother Church must be preserved, you see.
Let us put everything in the hands of the Lord.
He will sort it out.
Say it again?
Are you sure?
You are saying that Athanasius did, in fact, exactly the contrary of what I have stated?
Openly fighting heresy, not fearing excommunication, exile, threats to his life? Appointing his own Bishops? Not looking at all at how many were on his side, because Christ was on his side? Not caring one bit whether the fight between right and wrong would cause a schism, because it is infinitely preferable that the Church is right than that the Church is united in heresy?
Are you sure?
Oh well, I suppose the book I have just read, History of Arianism, Francispress, 2019, foreword by Cardinal Cupich, must have been somewhat inaccurate….