Monothelitism was the teaching that Jesus had both human and Divine natures but only one Divine will. This is in opposition to the Catholic position that Jesus had both human and Divine wills. Monothelitism had been a thorn in the Church’s side for nearly two hundred years. The last one hundred years had seen it nearly cause a schism between the western and eastern Churches. Enough was enough. Constantinople emperor Constantine IV wanted Christian unity on the issue and wrote a letter to Rome asking for an olive branch. The letter was originally addressed to Pope Donus,] but with mail being what it was thirteen hundred years ago,he was dead by the time it reached him. The new Pope,Agatho,was sympathetic to the emperor and both now worked together to help bridge the two Churches. The Third Council of Constantinople was called and after months of debates and meetings,Monothelitism was finally officially condemned as heresy and all of its followers were condemned as well…….including earlier Pope Honorius. Although he never proclaimed it,he never objected to it,so this got him thrown under the heretical bus with the others. The Council had healed the schism and also confirmed that Rome would officially be home to the one true faith. This was incredible news and I’m sure Pope Agatho would’ve been overjoyed but he was dead by the time word got to him. Again with the slow mail service!!! Anyways,for his work in bringing the two Churches together,Pope Agatho is venerated as a Saint in both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths. His feast day is celebrated on January 10th.
Pope Donus’s…..Donus’…?….Papacy lasted one year,five months and ten days. Nothing of much consequence happened during his reign. Donus was active in renovating St.Peter’s basilica and other Roman Churches. The only exciting thing that appears to have happened to him is that a group of Syrian Nestorian monks were discovered secretly living in a Roman monastery. Nestorians believed,and still believe,that Jesus had dueling natures,like he was either human or either divine at any given time,but not both at the same time. This is not what the Catholic Church teaches us about his nature and so Pope Donus sent these monks on their way to wherever and gave the monastery to Roman monks. “Donus” is a unique name for a Pope,and the only one to date. We’ve settled into a pattern of various Popes named Benedict,Leo and Pius,but I doubt we’ll ever see another Donus.
Adeodatus II was born in Rome and before becoming Pope he was a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. The Benedictines were known as the Black Monks because of the color of their habits. He was an elderly man when he was elected to the Papacy,and little is actually known of him. We do know that he was a kind man,he was generous to the poor and he helped set up rules for different monasteries. Wikipedia describes his Papacy as not contributing a large amount to society. Ouch. That’s pretty harsh Wikipedia. I’m really not sure what else to write……..the “Black Monk” seems like a cool nickname so he’s got that going for him.
It had been pretty rough going for the last several Popes. Monothelitism was the major conflict between the western and eastern Churches. This was the belief that Jesus only had a Divine nature and this was in opposition to the belief in Rome that Jesus had both a human and a Divine nature. Emperor Constans II of Constantinople favored monothelitism and made frequent attempts to bend Rome to his way of thinking,including the exile and murder of Pope Martin I. Pope Vitalian tread lightly with the emperor but always held firm to the truth. He even hosted Constans in Rome and watched as the emperor helped himself to several statues and other valuable artifacts making a complete nuisance of himself. Contans moved on to other parts of Italy and sometime during his non-goodwill tour,he was murdered in his bathtub. Oh well. That’s a shame. Without the immediate threat of Contans or monothelitism to worry about,Pope Vitalian had a fairly routine Papacy. He is most famous for being the first Pope to introduce organ music into the Mass. Whether or not this is accurate is up for debate as the organ wasn’t in widespread use in Church until around the 12th century. At the very least Pope Vitalian may have introduced it in just a few Churches to test the liturgical waters. Post Reformation,music in Church has been a bone of contention between the different Protestant denominations but the Catholic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy has this to say,”In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.”