Archive for June, 2010

Seventh Ecumenical Council: Nicaea II (787)

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

In order to provide some background material for the Orientale Lumen Conferences in 2010, with the help of Father Michael Hayduk, I prepared a summary of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils that I post here.

SITE: Nicaea
YEAR: A.D. 787
POPE: Hadrian I, 772 – 795
EMPERORS: Constantine VI, 780 – 797 and Empress Irene (797 – 802)
ACTION: This council, called by Empress Irene (widow of Emperor Leo IV and regent for her son Constantine VI), with its doctrinal decree ratified by Pope Hadrian I, condemned ICONOCLASM. The Pope’s epistle here, just as with Pope St.Leo I at Chalcedon, set the tone of the council.
NOTE: Brewing beneath the surface at this time, however, was a rejection of papal authority. The Eastern Bishops, cut off from Rome and receptive to heresy under persecution, were held suspect by Rome.
NOTE: Iconoclasm had been fostered by Emperor Leo III (717 – 741), who was opposed by Popes Gregory II (715 – 731) and Gregory III (731 – 741) and by St. John Damascene (d.749), priest and Doctor of the Church, who published three discourses in defense of images.
HERESY: ICONOCLASM.

The Second Council of Nicaea was convoked by Emperor Constantine VI and his mother Irene, under Pope Adrian I, and was presided over by the legates of Pope Adrian; it regulated the veneration of holy images. Between 300 and 367 bishops assisted.

Sixth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople III (680-681)

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

In order to provide some background material for the Orientale Lumen Conferences in 2010, with the help of Father Michael Hayduk, I prepared a summary of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils that I post here.

SITE: Constantinople
YEARS: A.D. 680 – 681
POPES: St. Agatho, 678 – 681, and St. Leo II, 682 – 683
EMPEROR: Constantine IV, 668 – 685
ACTION: Called by Emperor Constantine IV, and its calling authorized by Pope St. Agatho, this council condemned the heresy of the Monothelites (Mono-one thelema-will), which attributed only one will, to Christ (the divine), instead of two wills (divine and human), which two are in perfect accord within the one divine person, Jesus. Constantinople III also reconfirmed Chalcedon. Pope St. Leo II, 682 – 683, approved the decrees of Constantinople III, Pope St. Agatho having died (Jan. 10) before the council’s end.
NOTE: Pope St. Leo II also condemned Pope Honorius I (625 – 638) for negligence of duty in the face of heresy, in that he should have ascertained that Sergius was teaching not a mere harmony (oneness) of wills in Christ but literally one will in Christ, the divine will. Honorius had not spoken ex cathedra, so infallibility had not been involved.
HERESY/HERESIARCH: MONOTHELITISM originated by SERGIUS (patriarch of Constantinople, 610 A.D.).

The Third General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Agatho and the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, was attended by the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Antioch, 174 bishops, and the emperor. It put an end to Monothelitism by defining two wills in Christ, the Divine and the human, as two distinct principles of operation. It anathematized Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Macarius, and all their followers.

Fifth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople II (553)

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

In order to provide some background material for the Orientale Lumen Conferences in 2010, with the help of Father Michael Hayduk, I prepared a summary of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils that I post here.

SITE: Constantinople
YEAR: A.D. 553
POPE: Vigilius, 537 – 555
EMPEROR: Justinian I, 527 – 565
ACTION: Effectively called by Justinian I and eventually ratified by Pope Vigilius, Constantinople II condemned a collection of statements known as the “Three Chapters”: 1) the person and the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Master of Nestorius, originator of that heresy; 2) the writings of Theodoret of Cyrrhus; 3) the writings of Ibas of Edessa. The last two friends of Nestorius had been restored to their sees by Chalcedon when they no longer opposed the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) and of Ephesus. Chalcedon was not discredited here (as the Monophysites had hoped) since it had been concerned with men. Constantinople II was concerned with their writings, although a hundred years after they had died.
NOTE: Two important local councils condemning heresies: Carthage (416) solemnly approved by Pope Innocent II, (401 – 417), and then in 418 by Pope Zosimus (417 – 418), condemned Pelagianism (Pelagius, a British Monk), which heresy denied original sin calling it only “bad example.” Orange (429) France, solemnly approved by Pope Boniface II (530 – 532), condemned Semi-Pelagianism (an over-reaction to St. Augustine on grace), which claimed man needed grace only after his first supernatural act. St. Augustine made it clear that God’s grace is first.
NOTE: Council referred much to St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church (d. 444).
HERESIARCH: THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA (“3 Chapters”).

The Second General Council of Constantinople, of 165 bishops under Pope Vigilius and Emperor Justinian I, condemned the errors of Origen and certain writings (The Three Chapters) of Theodoret, of Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia and of Ibas, Bishop of Edessa; it further confirmed the first four general councils, especially that of Chalcedon whose authority was contested by some heretics.

Fourth Ecumenical Council: Chalcedon (451)

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

In order to provide some background material for the Orientale Lumen Conferences in 2010, with the help of Father Michael Hayduk, I prepared a summary of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils that I post here.

SITE: Chalcedon, (north of Constatinople)
YEAR: A.D. 451
POPE: St. Leo I, the Great, 440 – 461
EMPEROR: Marcian, 450 – 457
ACTION: Called by Emperor Marcian, spouse of the chaste and noble St. Pulcheria, and ratified by Pope St. Leo the Great, the council condemned the heresy of the Abbot Eutyches, MONOPHYSITISM, which claimed that there existed only “one nature” (the divine) in Christ from the Incarnation onward. Though the council had approved the assertion that Constantinople should be ranked first after Rome ecclesiastically, Pope St. Leo did not. The primacy of the See of Rome was due to it’s possession of the Chair of Peter, not to any political power. In his “Dogmatic Epistle,” read by his legates at the end of the second session of the council (Oct. 10, 451), Pope St. Leo I also declared invalid all that had been done at the “Robber Synod of Ephesus” (a false Ephesus II): ” ….we see no Council, but a den of thieves (Latrocinium).” In the greatest testimony of the Eastern Council to the primacy of the Pope, the bishops cried out: “Behold the faith of the fathers, the faith of the Apostles; thus through Leo has Peter spoken!” Eutyches was excommunicated.
NOTE: Pope St. Leo I, Doctor of the Church (d. 461), was called the “Soul” of Chalcedon.
HERESIARCH / HERETICS: EUTYCHES – MONOPHYSITES.

The Council of Chalcedon — 150 bishops under Pope Leo the Great and the Emperor Marcian — defined the two natures (Divine and human) in Christ against Eutyches, who was excommunicated.