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He was a priest there; in 348, Bishop Maximus died and Cyril was ordained bishop by the Eusebians Acacius of Caesarea and Patrophilus of Scythopolis, instead of the priest Heraclius whom the dying Maximus seems to have designated as his successor. Having quarrelled with Acacius, for doctrinal reasons but mainly because Cyril sought to establish his see’s independence of the metropolitan see of Caesarea, he was deposed at a council held at Jerusalem in 357. Switzerland Metro Map When the Eusebians split 357 358 into several groups, Cyril supported the homoiousians, who reinstated him at the Council of Seleucia 359. But in 360 the Council of Constantinople, which saw the triumph of Acacius and the homoians, deposed him again. Returning to his see when Constantius died 362, he was exiled again as a result of Valens’s pro-Arian policy, either in 367 or some years later. He returned in 378 and took part in the Councils of Constantinople of 381 and 382, the latter of which confirmed the validity of his episcopal ordination, which had been questioned. He died probably 18 March 387.
Cyril left a series of 24 catecheses, preached either when he was still a priest or immediately after his election as bishop. The first is introductory procatechesis; the next 18 2-19 are addressed to the photizomenoi, i.e., those to be baptized the coming Easter, and turn mainly on the detailed interpretation of the baptismal creed used at Jerusalem. Nos. 20-24, called Mystagogical Catecheses, are addressed to the newly baptized and explain the meaning of the sacraments they have just received baptism, confirmation, Eucharist and of the liturgy of the Mass. These last catecheses are attributed by MSS either to Cyril or to his successor John, or to both together; modern scholars fail to agree on this question. The series of catecheses gives us much important information on the catechumenate and on the liturgy in use at Jerusalem. Of Cyril we also have a homily on Jn 5:5 healing of the paralytic and a letter to Emperor Constantius, describing the appearance of a luminous cross in the sky over Jerusalem on 7 May 351.
Cyril’s reputation suffered much from his election promoted by the Eusebians and from subsequent events Ruf., HE I, 23; Jer., Chron. s.a. 348, and he was considered a pro-Arian who only gradually passed over to the orthodox camp Socr., HE V, 8; Soz., HE VII, 7. In fact, in the variegated Eusebian coalition of ca. 350, he represented the tendency closest to Nicene orthodoxy, though he avoided using homoousios either out of prudence or, more probably, because he considered it open to Sabellianism. In fact Cyril did not confine himself to refuting the radical Arian position that derived the Son from nothing but stated clearly that Christ is the real Son of God, by nature and not by adoption, really generated from the Father and like him in all things. Alone in the Eusebian group, he explicitly stated that the Son is coeternal aidios with the Father.
In polemic with the Sabellians and with Marcellus of Ancyra, Cyril has a clear idea of the personal subsistence of the Son, who with the Holy Spirit partakes of the Father’s divinity. He confirms God’s unity on the basis of the classical passages of Jn 10:30 and 14:9-10, and sees it dynamically, in the manner of the Easterners, as unity of will and as harmony. He also affirms the Holy Spirit’s personal distinctness from the Father and the Son, and his full divinity. So there are only a few traces of traditional ante-Nicene subordinationism in Cyril. This doctrinal approach, not Nicene but very far from true Arianism, explains why he adhered at first to the homoiousian movement and later crossed over, with many homoiousians, to the Nicene ranks on the basis of the interpretation of homoousios provided by the Council of Antioch of 363 which he did not attend and subsequently by Basil of Caesarea.