Martin Jugie, The Palamite Controversy (continued).
V. Palamism after 1354. The synod and tome against Prochoros Kydones (1368).
Patriarch Kallistos, who had made himself conspicuous by his zeal for pursuing the Antipalamites, was deposed at the start of 1354 for having refused to crown Matthew, the son of John Kantakouzenos, as emperor. As his successor, the accommodating Philotheos Kokkinos, one of Palamas’s fervent disciples, was handpicked in February. In the presence of his father and the patriarchal synod, Matthew made official profession of Palamism by signing the tome of 1351, which he placed upon the altar of Hagia Sophia with his own hands. See his declaration, PG 151, 754.
In December of the same year, 1354, John V Palaiologos, who had once again fallen at odds with John Kantakouzenos, triumphed over him and forced him to abdicate (1355). At the same time, Philotheos was deposed and Kallistos recalled. At that point, things began to take a bad turn for the Palamites. John V did not cherish such tender feelings towards them as did Kantakouzenos and his son; instead, he saw their doctrines as an obstacle to the union of the Churches which he envisaged as a way of obtaining help from the Pope and Western rulers against the Turks. Thus, the persecuting measures that had been taken against the Antipalamites after the synod of Blachernae of 1351 were rescinded, and Nikephoros Gregoras was able to come and go freely from his cloister. In the course of the year 1355, the emperor called him to hold a public disputation with Gregory Palamas, in his own presence and that of the papal legate, Paul of Smyrna. We already have spoken, in the preceding article (col. 1740), concerning the outcome of this conflicting debate, on which Gregoras has left us two books of his Byzantine History (books XXX and XXXI; PG 149, 233-330). In the ensuing years, the imperial government refused to involve itself, in a practical way, in the intestine quarrel that still divided minds; but the patriarch and the episcopate were henceforth wedded to the new dogmas, and sanctions of a religious nature continued to be leveled against anyone who showed hostility to them. One of these sanctions was the deprivation of church burial.
Patriarch Kallistos, who died in August, 1363, had as his successor his predecessor Philotheos (February 12, 1364), who had been reconciled with John V Palaiologos through the good offices of Demetrios Kydones, who had converted to Catholicism. It had been agreed at the time of this reconciliation that Philotheos was to allow those who did not subscribe to the Palamite doctrine to live in peace. But this fervent disciple of Palamas did not keep his promise for long, and, in 1368, he moved to crack down on Demetrios Kydones’ own brother Prochoros, a monk and priest at Mount Athos. It is true that Prochoros was a formidable adversary to the Palamites. Possessing a good knowledge of Latin, very well versed in Augustinian and Thomistic theology, and practiced in Aristotelian dialectic, he demolished the theses of the hesychast theologian with astonishing ease and clarity. It is to him, and not to Akindynos, that one must ascribe the work De essentia et operatione, in six books, of which only the first and the beginning of the second have been published (cf. PG 151, 1191-1242). It gives a true summary of Thomistic theology; Barlaam himself never wrote anything as plain and forceful. Kydones composed other treatises and shorter works (on the light of Tabor, on the synodal tome of 1351, etc.), and turned many Athonites away from Palamism. Accused before the patriarch and called to adhere to the official orthodoxy, he continued to argue against Palamism and to throw his opponents into inextricable quandaries. Finally, Philotheos gathered a synod against him, in April 1368. In spite of the delicate handling he received and the delays that were employed to bring him back to his senses, he remained unshakable in his convictions, and appeared a number of times more or less openly to mock his judges. In the end, they pronounced against him in his absence — for he did not show up at the final session — a sentence of excommunication and of perpetual suspension from the priesthood. A long tome was put together on that occasion; its contents are very curious, and it concludes with a decree declaring the canonization of Gregory Palamas. (Text in PG 151, 693-716, following the edition of Dositheus in the Τόμος ἀγάπης, Bucharest 1698, Prolegomena, pp. 93-114.)
The tome of 1368 brings to an end the series of Palamite councils, and the canonization of Palamas, with the establishment of the second Sunday of Lent as his feast, confirmed once more the triumph of his doctrine in the Greek Church. This doctrine nevertheless met with redoubtable adversaries, even during the latter part of the fourteenth century. Contrary to Byzantine tradition, the reigning emperor, John V Palaiologos, become completely indifferent to it and even openly abandoned it by making profession in 1369 of the Catholic faith.