John Chrysostom
Question from Ann on 10-30-2002:

Thank you for your time.

I would like to know if John Chrysostom said that "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops. Such is the number of faithless bishops."

Is it true that Most of the bishops in the Church in his timer were heretics that hounded him out of his rightful See and tried to murder him? Thank you, Ann

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 10-31-2002:

The quote is not exact. St. John made the comment that “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests” (this is, of course, a translation from the original Greek). He did not mean it as an attack upon all priests but as a reference to the spiritual life. He attempted to impress upon his audience of the time that simply receiving Holy Orders is not a guarantee of holiness. He also wished to urge personal and spiritual reform upon everyone – priests and lay people alike. It would not be true to say that most of the bishops of the time were heretics. In truth, St. John suffered persecution from the political establishment in Constantinople, especially in the imperial court of the Byzantine Empire. While the Byzantine masses adored his moral exhortations and calls for reform, the aristocracy greeted him with suspicion, most notably Empress Eudoxia, who viewed his sermons as personal attacks. One bishop who was opposed to him was Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria. A friend of the empress, Theophilus had a hand in securing John’s exile in 403. Reconciled a year later, John was soon banished again in June 404, exiled to Isauria, in the Taurus Mountains. There he died from exposure to the cold.