Answer: It is not true that Pope Liberius gave in to the Arians, signed any Arian formula, or even excommunicated St. Athanasius. Pope Liberius was a staunch defender of the truth during the Arian crisis, but his return from exile gave some the idea that he had compromised, when, in fact, he had not. We quote Pope Pius IX.
Pope Pius IX, Quartus Supra (# 16), January 6, 1873, On False Accusations:
“And previously the Arians falsely accused Liberius, also Our predecessor, to the Emperor Constantine, because Liberius refused to condemn St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and refused to support their heresy.”
Pope Benedict XV, Principi Apostolorum Petro (# 3), Oct. 5, 1920:
“Indeed, lest they should prove faithless from their duty, some went fearlessly into exile, as did Liberius and Silverius and Martinus.”
According to Pope Pius IX and Pope Benedict XV, Pope Liberius didn’t falter in any way during the Arian crisis, and was falsely accused by the Church’s enemies for standing firm. Pope St. Anastasius I bears witness to this as well.
Pope St. Anastasius I, epistle Dat mihi plurimum, about 400 AD:
“For at this time when Constantius of holy memory held the world as victor, the heretical African faction was not able by any deception to introduce its baseness because, as we believe, our God provided that the holy and untarnished faith be not contaminated through any vicious blasphemy of slanderous men… For this faith those who were then esteemed as holy bishops gladly endured exile, that is Dionysius, thus a servant of God, prepared by divine instruction, or those following his example of holy recollection, LIBERIUS bishop of the Roman Church, Eusebius also of Vercelli, Hilary of the Gauls, to say nothing of many, on whose decision the choice could rest to be fastened to the cross rather than blaspheme God Christ, which the Arian heresy compelled, or call the Son of God, God Christ, a creature of the Lord.”
It was not Pope Liberius, but the pseudo-bishop Ischyras, who, before he usurped the See of Alexandria, ejected St. Athanasius from his See.
Pope Pius VI, Charitas (# 14), April 13, 1791:
“Perhaps in appreciation of these actions, the bishop of Lidda, Jean Joseph Gobel, was elected Archbishop of Paris, while the archbishop was still living. He is following the example of Ischyras, who was proclaimed bishop of Alexandria at the Council of Tyre as payment for his sinful service in accusing St. Athanasius and ejecting him from his See.”
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