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  1. First Council of Nicaea (325)
  2. First Council of Constantinople (381)
  3. Council of Ephesus (431)
  4. Council of Chalcedon (451)
  5. Second Council of Constantinople (553)
  6. Third Council of Constantinople (680-681)
  7. Second Council of Nicaea (787)
  8. Fourth Council of Constantinople (869)
  9. First Lateran Council (1123)
  10. Second Lateran Council (1139)
  11. Third Lateran Council (1179)
  12. Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
  13. First Council of Lyons (1245)
  14. Second Council of Lyons (1274)
  15. Council of Vienne (1311-1313)
  16. Council of Constance (1414-1418)
  17. Council of Basle/Ferrara/Florence (1431-1439, and then schismatic until 1449)
  18. Fifth LateranCouncil (1512-1517)
  19. Council of Trent (1545-1563)
  20. First Vatican Council (1869-1870)
  21. Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)





The First Council of Nicaea (325)


Summary from:

The Council of Nicaea lasted two months and twelve days. Three hundred and eighteen bishops were present. Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, assisted as legate of Pope Sylvester. The Emperor Constantine was also present. To this council we owe The Creed (Symbolum) of Nicaea, defining against Arius the true Divinity of the Son of God (homoousios), and the fixing of the date for keeping Easter (against the Quartodecimans).

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First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in 325 on the occasion of the heresy of Arius (Arianism). As early as 320 or 321 St. Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, convoked a council at Alexandria at which more than one hundred bishops from Egypt and Libya anathematized Arius. The latter continued to officiate in his church and to recruit followers. Being finally driven out, he went to Palestine and from there to Nicomedia. During this time St. Alexander published his "Epistola encyclica", to which Arius replied; but henceforth it was evident that the quarrel had gone beyond the possibility of human control. Sozomen even speaks of a Council of Bithynia which addressed an encyclical to all the bishops asking them to receive the Arians into the communion of the Church. This discord, and the war which soon broke out between Constantine and Licinius, added to the disorder and partly explains the progress of the religious conflict during the years 322-3. Finally Constantine, having conquered Licinius and become sole emperor, concerned himself with the re-establishment of religious peace as well as of civil order. He addressed letters to St. Alexander and to Arius deprecating these heated controversies regarding questions of no practical importance, and advising the adversaries to agree without delay. It was evident that the emperor did not then grasp the significance of the Arian controversy. Hosius of Cordova, his counsellor in religious matters, bore the imperial letter to Alexandria, but failed in his conciliatory mission. Seeing this, the emperor, perhaps advised by Hosius, judged no remedy more apt to restore peace in the Church than the convocation of an ecumenical council.

The emperor himself, in very respectful letters, begged the bishops of every country to come promptly to Nicaea. Several bishops from outside the Roman Empire (e.g., from Persia) came to the Council. It is not historically known whether the emperor in convoking the Council acted solely in his own name or in concert with the pope; however, it is probable that Constantine and Sylvester came to an agreement (see POPE ST. SYLVESTER I). In order to expedite the assembling of the Council, the emperor placed at the disposal of the bishops the public conveyances and posts of the empire; moreover, while the Council lasted he provided abundantly for the maintenance of the members. The choice of Nicaea was favourable to the assembling of a large number of bishops. It was easily accessible to the bishops of nearly all the provinces, but especially to those of Asia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace. The sessions were held in the principal church, and in the central hall of the imperial palace. A large place was indeed necessary to receive such an assembly, though the exact number is not known with certainty. Eusebius speaks of more than 250 bishops, and later Arabic manuscripts raise the figure to 2000 - an evident exaggeration in which, however, it is impossible to discover the approximate total number of bishops, as well as of the priests, deacons, and acolytes, of whom it is said that a great number were also present. St. Athanasius, a member of the council speaks of 300, and in his letter "Ad Afros" he says explicitly 318. This figure is almost universally adopted, and there seems to be no good reason for rejecting it. Most of the bishops present were Greeks; among the Latins we know only Hosius of Cordova, Cecilian of Carthage, Mark of Calabria, Nicasius of Dijon, Donnus of Stridon in Pannonia, and the two Roman priests, Victor and Vincentius, representing the pope. The assembly numbered among its most famous members St. Alexander of Alexandria, Eustathius of Antioch, Macarius of Jerusalem, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Nicholas of Myra. Some had suffered during the last persecution; others were poorly enough acquainted with Christian theology. Among the members was a young deacon, Athanasius of Alexandria, for whom this Council was to be the prelude to a life of conflict and of glory (see ST. ATHANASIUS).

The year 325 is accepted without hesitation as that of the First Council of Nicaea. There is less agreement among our early authorities as to the month and day of the opening. In order to reconcile the indications furnished by Socrates and by the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, this date may, perhaps, be taken as 20 May, and that of the drawing up of the symbol as 19 June. It may be assumed without too great hardihood that the synod, having been convoked for 20 May, in the absence of the emperor held meetings of a less solemn character until 14 June, when after the emperor's arrival, the sessions properly so called began, the symbol being formulated on 19 June, after which various matters - the paschal controversy, etc. - were dealt with, and the sessions came to an end 25 August. The Council was opened by Constantine with the greatest solemnity. The emperor waited until all the bishops had taken their seats before making his entry. He was clad in gold and covered with precious stones in the fashion of an Oriental sovereign. A chair of gold had been made ready for him, and when he had taken his place the bishops seated themselves. After he had been addressed in a hurried allocution, the emperor made an address in Latin, expressing his will that religious peace should be re-established. He had opened the session as honorary president, and he had assisted at the subsequent sessions, but the direction of the theological discussions was abandoned, as was fitting, to the ecclesiastical leaders of the council. The actual president seems to have been Hosius of Cordova, assisted by the pope's legates, Victor and Vincentius.

The emperor began by making the bishops understand that they had a greater and better business in hand than personal quarrels and interminable recriminations. Nevertheless, he had to submit to the infliction of hearing the last words of debates which had been going on previous to his arrival. Eusebius of Caesarea and his two abbreviators, Socrates and Sozomen, as well as Rufinus and Gelasius of Cyzicus, report no details of the theological discussions. Rufinus tells us only that daily sessions were held and that Arius was often summoned before the assembly; his opinions were seriously discussed and the opposing arguments attentively considered. The majority, especially those who were confessors of the Faith, energetically declared themselves against the impious doctrines of Arius. (For the part played by the Eusebian third party, see EUSEBIUS OF NICOMEDIA. For the Creed of Eusebius, see EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA.) St. Athanasius assures us that the activities of the Council were nowise hampered by Constantine's presence. The emperor had by this time escaped from the influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia, and was under that of Hosius, to whom, as well as to St. Athanasius, may be attributed a preponderant influence in the formulation of the symbol of the First Ecumenical Council, of which the following is a literal translation:

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made out of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes.

The adhesion was general and enthusiastic. All the bishops save five declared themselves ready to subscribe to this formula, convince that it contained the ancient faith of the Apostolic Church. The opponents were soon reduced to two, Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais, who were exiled and anathematized. Arius and his writings were also branded with anathema, his books were cast into the fire, and he was exiled to Illyria. The lists of the signers have reached us in a mutilated condition, disfigured by faults of the copyists. Nevertheless, these lists may be regarded as authentic. Their study is a problem which has been repeatedly dealt with in modern times, in Germany and England, in the critical editions of H. Gelzer, H. Hilgenfeld, and O. Contz on the one hand, and C.H. Turner on the other. The lists thus constructed give respectively 220 and 218 names. With information derived from one source or another, a list of 232 or 237 fathers known to have been present may be constructed.

Other matters dealt with by this council were the controversy as to the time of celebrating Easter and the Meletian schism. The former of these two will be found treated under EASTER CONTROVERSY; the latter under MELETIUS OF LYCOPOLIS.

Of all the Acts of this Council, which, it has been maintained, were numerous, only three fragments have reached us: the creed, or symbol, given above (see also NICENE CREED); the canons; the synodal decree. In reality there never were any official acts besides these. But the accounts of Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Rufinus may be considered as very important sources of historical information, as well as some data preserved by St. Athanasius, and a history of the Council of Nicaea written in Greek in the fifth century by Gelasius of Cyzicus. There has long existed a dispute as to the number of the canons of First Nicaea. All the collections of canons, whether in Latin or Greek, composed in the fourth and fifth centuries agree in attributing to this Council only the twenty canons, which we possess today. Of these the following is a brief résumé:

The business of the Council having been finished Constantine celebrated the twentieth anniversary of his accession to the empire, and invited the bishops to a splendid repast, at the end of which each of them received rich presents. Several days later the emperor commanded that a final session should be held, at which he assisted in order to exhort the bishops to work for the maintenance of peace; he commended himself to their prayers, and authorized the fathers to return to their dioceses. The greater number hastened to take advantage of this and to bring the resolutions of the council to the knowledge of their provinces.





First Council of Constantinople (381)


Summary from:

The First General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Damasus and the Emperor Theodosius I, was attended by 150 bishops. It was directed against the followers of Macedonius, who impugned the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. To the above-mentioned Nicene Creed it added the clauses referring to the Holy Ghost (qui simul adoratur) and all that follows to the end.

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This council was called in May, 381, by Emperor Theodosius, to provide for a Catholic succession in the patriarchal See of Constantinople, to confirm the Nicene Faith, to reconcile the semi-Arians with the Church, and to put an end to the Macedonian heresy.

Originally it was only a council of the Orient; the arguments of Baronius (ad an. 381, nos. 19, 20) to prove that it was called by Pope Damasus are invalid (Hefele-Leclercq, Hist. des Conciles, Paris, 1908, II, 4). It was attended by 150 Catholic and 36 heretical (Semi-Arian, Macedonian) bishops, and was presided over by Meletius of Antioch; after his death, by the successive Patriarchs of Constantinople, St. Gregory Nazianzen and Nectarius.

Its first measure was to confirm St. Gregory Nazianzen as Bishop of Constantinople. The Acts of the council have almost entirely disappeared, and its proceedings are known chiefly through the accounts of the ecclesiastical historians Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. There is good reason to believe that it drew up a formal treatise (tomos) on the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, also against Apollinarianism; this important document has been lost, with the exception of the first canon of the council and its famous creed (Nicæano-Constantinopolitanum). The latter is traditionally held to be an enlargement of the Nicene Creed, with emphasis on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. It seems, however, to be of earlier origin, and was probably composed (369-73) by St. Cyril of Jerusalem as an expression of the faith of that Church (Bois), though its adoption by this council gave it special authority, both as a baptismal creed and as a theological formula. Recently Harnack (Realencyklopadie fur prot. Theol. und Kirche, 3rd ed., XI, 12-28) has maintained, on apparently inconclusive grounds, that not till after the Council of Chalcedon (451) was this creed (a Jerusalem formula with Nicene additions) attributed to the Fathers of this council. At Chalcedon, indeed, it was twice recited and appears twice in the Acts of that council; it was also read and accepted at the Sixth General Council, held at Constantinople in 680. The very ancient Latin version of its text (Mansi, Coll. Conc., III, 567) is by Dionysius Exiguus.

The Greeks recognize seven canons, but the oldest Latin versions have only four; the other three are very probably (Hefele) later additions.

At the close of this council Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree (30 July) declaring that the churches should be restored to those bishops who confessed the equal Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who held communion with Nectarius of Constantinople and other important Oriental prelates whom he named. The ecumenical character of this council seems to date, among the Greeks, from the Council of Chalcedon (451). According to Photius (Mansi, III, 596) Pope Damasus approved it, but if any part of the council were approved by this pope it could have been only the aforesaid creed. In the latter half of the fifth century the successors of Leo the Great are silent as to this council. Its mention in the so-called "Decretum Gelasii", towards the end of the fifth century, is not original but a later insertion in that text (Hefele). Gregory the Great, following the example of Vigilius and Pelagius II, recognized it as one of the four general councils, but only in its dogmatic utterances (P.G., LXXVII, 468, 893).






Council of Ephesus (431)



Summary from:

The Council of Ephesus, of more than 200 bishops, presided over by St. Cyril of Alexandria representing Pope Celestine I, defined the true personal unity of Christ, declared Mary the Mother of God (theotokos) against Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, and renewed the condemnation of Pelagius.

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The occasion and preparation for the council

The idea of this great council seems to have been due to Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople. St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, had accused him to Pope St. Celestine of heresy, and the pope had replied on 11 August, 430, by charging St. Cyril to assume his authority and give notice in his name to Nestorius that, unless he recanted within ten days of receiving this ultimatum, he was to consider himself excommunicated and deposed. The summons was served on Nestorius on a Sunday, 30 November, or 7 December, by four bishops sent by Cyril. But Nestorius was evidently well informed of what he was to expect. He regarded himself as having been calumniated to the pope, and he did not choose to be given over into the hands of Cyril. The latter was, in his opinion, not merely a personal enemy, but a dangerous theologian, who was reviving to some extent the errors of Apollinarius. Nestorius had influence over the Emperor of the East, Theodosius II, whom he induced to summon a general council to judge of the difference between the Patriarch of Alexandria and himself, and he worked so well that the letters of convocation were issued by the emperor to all metropolitans on 19 November, some days before the messengers of Cyril arrived. The emperor was able to take this course without seeming to favour Nestorius too much, because the monks of the capital, whom Nestorius had excommunicated for their opposition to his heretical teaching, had also appealed to him to call together a council. Nestorius, therefore, paid no attention to the pope's ultimatum, and refused to be guided by the advice to submit which his friend John, the Patriarch of Antioch, volunteered.

The pope was pleased that the whole East should be united to condemn the new heresy. He sent two bishops, Arcadius and Projectus, to represent himself and his Roman council, and the Roman priest, Philip, as his personal representative. Philip, therefore, takes the first place, though, not being a bishop, he could not preside. It was probably a matter of course that the Patriarch of Alexandria should be president. The legates were directed not to take part in the discussions, but to give judgment on them. It seems that Chalcedon, twenty years later, set the precedent that the papal legates should always be technically presidents at an ecumenical council, and this was henceforth looked upon as a matter of course, and Greek historians assumed that it must have been the case at Nicaea.

The emperor was anxious for the presence of the most venerated prelate of the whole world, Augustine, and sent a special messenger to that great man with a letter in honourable terms. But the saint had died during the siege of Hippo in the preceding August, though the troubles of Africa had prevented news from reaching Constantinople.

Theodosius wrote an angry letter to Cyril, and a temperate one to the council. The tone of the latter epistle and of the instructions given to the imperial commander, Count Candidian, to be absolutely impartial, are ascribed by the Coptic Acts to the influence exercised on the emperor by the Abbot Victor, who had been sent to Constantinople by Cyril to act as his agent at the Court on account of the veneration and friendship which Theodosius was known to feel for the holy man.

Arrival of the participants at Ephesus

Nestorius, with sixteen bishops, and Cyril, with fifty, arrived before Pentecost at Ephesus. The Coptic tells us that the two parties arrived on the same day, and that in the evening Nestorius proposed that all should join in the Vesper service together. The other bishops refused. Memnon, Bishop of Ephesus, was afraid of violence, and sent his clergy only to the church. The mention of a Flavian, who seems to be the Bishop of Philippi, casts some doubt on this story, for that bishop did not arrive till later. Memnon of Ephesus had forty suffragans present, not counting twelve from Pamphylia (whom John of Antioch calls heretics). Juvenal of Jerusalem, with the neighbouring bishops whom he looked upon as his suffragans, and Flavian of Philippi, with a contingent from the countries which looked to Thessalonica as their metropolis, arrived soon after Pentecost. The Patriarch of Antioch, John, an old friend of Nestorius, wrote to explain that his suffragans had not been able to start till after the Octave of Easter. (The Coptic Acts say that there was a famine at Antioch.) The journey of thirty days had been lengthened by the death of some horses; he would accomplish the last five or six stages at leisure. But he did not arrive, and it was said that he was loitering because he did not wish to join in condemning Nestorius. Meanwhile the heat was great. Many bishops were ill. Two or three died. Two of John's metropolitans, those of Apamea and Hierapolis, arrived and declared that John did not wish the opening of the council to be deferred on account of his delay. However, these two bishops and Theodoret of Cyrus, with sixty-five others, wrote a memorial addressed to St. Cyril and Juvenal of Jerusalem, begging that the arrival of John should be awaited. Count Candidian arrived, with the imperial decree, and he took the same view.

The council itself

But Cyril and the majority determined to open the council on 22 June, sixteen days having passed since John had announced his arrival in five or six. It was clear to the majority that this delay was intentional, and they were probably right. Yet it is regrettable that all possible allowance was not made, especially as no news had yet come from Rome. For Cyril had written to the pope with regard to an important question of procedure. Nestorius had not recanted within the ten days fixed by the pope, and he was consequently treated as excommunicate by the majority of the bishops. Was he to be allowed a fresh trial, although the pope had already condemned him? Or, on the other hand, was he to be merely given the opportunity of explaining or excusing his contumacy? One might have presumed that Pope Celestine, in approving of the council, intended that Nestorius should have a full trial, and in fact this was declared in his letter which was still on the way. But as no reply had come to Cyril, that saint considered that he had no right to treat the pope's sentence as a matter for further discussion, and no doubt he had not much wish to do so.

First session (June 22)

The council assembled on 22 June, and St. Cyril assumed the presidency both as Patriarch of Alexandria and "as filling the place of the most holy and blessed Archbishop of the Roman Church, Celestine", in order to carry out his original commission, which he considered, in the absence of any reply from Rome, to be still in force.

In the morning 160 bishops were present, and by evening 198 had assembled. The session began by a justification of the decision to delay no longer. Nestorius had been on the previous day invited to attend. He had replied that he would come if he chose. To a second summons, which was now dispatched, he sent a message from his house, which was surrounded with armed men, that he would appear when all the bishops had come together. Indeed only some twenty of the sixty-eight who had demanded a delay had rallied to Cyril, and Nestorius's own suffragans had also stayed away. To a third summons he gave no answer. This attitude corresponds with his original attitude to the ultimatum sent by Cyril. He would not acknowledge Cyril as a judge, and he looked upon the opening of the council before the arrival of his friends from Antioch as a flagrant injustice.

The session proceeded. The Nicene Creed was read, and then the second letter of Cyril to Nestorius, on which the bishops at Cyril's desire, severally gave their judgment that it was in accordance with the Nicene faith, 126 speaking in turn. Next the reply of Nestorius was read. All then cried Anathema to Nestorius. Then Pope Celestine's letter to St. Cyril was read, and after it the third letter of Cyril to Nestorius, with the anathematisms which the heretic was to accept. The bishops who had served this ultimatum on Nestorius deposed that they had given him the letter. He had promised his answer on the morrow, but had not given any, and did not even admit them.

Then two friends of Nestorius, Theodotus of Ancyra and Acacius of Mitylene, were invited by Cyril to give an account of their conversations at Ephesus with Nestorius. Acacius said that Nestorius had repeatedly declared dimeniaion e trimeniaion me dein legesthai Theon. Nestorius's own account of this conversation in his "Apology" (Bethune-Baker, p. 71) shows that this phrase is to be translated thus: "We must not say that God is two or three months old." This is not so shocking as the meaning which has usually been ascribed to the words in modern as well as ancient times (e.g. by Socrates, VII, xxxiv): "A baby of two or three months old ought not to be called God." The former sense agrees with the accusation of Acacius that Nestorius declared "one must either deny the Godhead (theotes) of the Only-begotten to have become man, or else admit the same of the Father and of the Holy Ghost." (Nestorius means that the Divine Nature is numerically one; and if Nestorius really said theotes, and not hypostasis, he was right, and Acacius was wrong.)

Acacius further accused him of uttering the heresy that the Son who died is to be distinguished from the Word of God. A series of extracts from the holy Fathers was then read, Peter I and Athanasius of Alexandria, Julius and Felix of Rome (but these papal letters were Apollinarian forgeries), Theophilus, Cyril's uncle, Cyprian, Ambrose, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Atticus, Amphilochius. After these, contrasted passages from the writings of Nestorius were read. These were of course pièces justificatives brought forward by Cyril, and necessary to inform the council as to the question at issue. Hefele has wrongly understood that the bishops were examining the doctrine of Nestorius afresh, without accepting the condemnation of the pope as necessarily correct. A fine letter from Capreolus, Bishop of Carthage, and primate of a greater number of bishops than any of the Eastern patriarchs, was next produced. He writes in the midst of the devastation of Africa by the Vandals, and naturally could neither hold any synod nor send any bishops. No discussion followed (and Hefele is wrong in suggesting an omission in the Acts, which are already of extraordinary length for a single day), but the bishops accepted with acclamation the words of Capreolus against novelty and in praise of ancient faith, and all proceeded to sign the sentence against Nestorius. As the excommunication by St. Celestine was still in force, and as Nestorius had contumaciously refused to answer the threefold summons enjoined by the canons, the sentence was worded as follows:

The holy synod said: "Since in addition to the rest the most impious Nestorius has neither been willing to obey our citation, nor to receive the most holy and god-fearing bishops whom we sent to him, we have necessarily betaken ourselves to the examination of his impieties; and, having apprehended from his letters and from his writings, and from his recent sayings in this metropolis which have been reported, that his opinions and teachings are impious, we being necessarily impelled thereto both by the canons [for his contumacy] and by the letter [to Cyril] of our most holy father and colleague Celestine, Bishop of the Roman Church, with many tears have arrived at the following grievous sentence against him: Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Who has been blasphemed by him, has defined by this holy synod that the same Nestorius is excluded from all episcopal dignity and from every assembly of bishops.

This sentence received 198 signatures, and some more were afterwards added. A brief notification addressed to "the new Judas" was sent to Nestorius. The Coptic Acts tell us that, as he would not receive it, it was affixed to his door. The whole business had been concluded in a single long session, and it was evening when the result was known. The people of Ephesus, full of rejoicing, escorted the fathers to their houses with torches and incense. Count Candidian, on the other hand, had the notices of the deposition torn down, and silenced the cries in the streets. The council wrote at once to the emperor and to the people and clergy of Constantinople, though the Acts had not yet been written out in full. In a letter to the Egyptian bishops in the same city and to the Abbot Dalmatius (the Coptic substitutes Abbot Victor), Cyril asks for their vigilance, as Candidian was sending false reports. Sermons were preached by Cyril and his friends, and the people of Ephesus were much excited. Even before this, Nestorius, writing, with ten bishops, to the emperor to complain that the council was to begin without waiting for the Antiochenes and the Westerns, had spoken of the violence of the people, egged on by their bishop Memnon who (so the heretic said) had shut the churches to him and threatened him with death.

Arrival of John of Antioch (June 27)

Five days after the first session John of Antioch arrived. The party of Cyril sent a deputation to meet him honourably, but John was surrounded by soldiers, and complained that the bishops were creating a disturbance. Before he would speak to them, he held an assembly which he designated "the holy synod". Candidian deposed that he had disapproved of the assembling of the bishops before John's arrival; he had attended the session and read the emperor's letter (of this not a word in the Acts, so Candidian was apparently lying). John accused Memnon of violence, and Cyril of Arian, Apollinarian, and Eunomian heresy. These two were deposed by forty-three bishops present; the members of the council were to be forgiven, provided they would condemn the twelve anathematisms of Cyril. This was absurd, for most of these could not be understood in anything but a Catholic sense. But John, who was not a bad man, was in a bad temper. It is noticeable that not a word was said in favour of Nestorius at this assembly. The party of Cyril was now complaining of Count Candidian and his soldiers, as the other side did of Memnon and the populace. Both parties sent their report to Rome. The emperor was much distressed at the division, and wrote that a collective session must be held, and the matter begun afresh. The official named Palladius who brought this epistle took back with him many letters from both sides. Cyril proposed that the emperor should send for him and five bishops, to render an exact account.

Second session (10 July)

At last on 10 July the papal envoys arrived. The second session assembled in the episcopal residence. The legate Philip opened the proceedings by saying that the former letter of St. Celestine had been already read, in which he had decided the present question; the pope had now sent another letter. This was read. It contained a general exhortation to the council, and concluded by saying that the legates had instructions to carry out what the pope had formerly decided; doubtless the council would agree. The Fathers then cried:

This is a just judgment. To Celestine the new Paul! To the new Paul Cyril! To Celestine, the guardian of the Faith! To Celestine agreeing to the Synod! The Synod gives thanks to Cyril. One Celestine, one Cyril!

The legate Projectus then says that the letter enjoins on the council, though they need no instruction, to carry into effect the sentence which the pope had pronounced. Hefele wrongly interprets this: "That is, that all the bishops should accede to the Papal sentence" (vol. III, 136). Firmus, the Exarch of Caesarea in Cappadocia, replies that the pope, by the letter which he sent to the Bishops of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Thessalonica, Constantinople, and Antioch, had long since given his sentence and decision; and the synod — the ten days having passed, and also a much longer period — having waited beyond the day of opening fixed by the emperor, had followed the course indicated by the pope, and, as Nestorius did not appear, had executed upon him the papal sentence, having inflicted the canonical and Apostolic judgment upon him. This was a reply to Projectus, declaring that what the pope required had been done, and it is an accurate account of the work of the first session and of the sentence; canonical refers to the words of the sentence, "necessarily obliged by the canons", and Apostolic to the words "and by the letter of the bishop of Rome". The legate Arcadius expressed his regret for the late arrival of his party, on account of storms, and asked to see the decrees of the council. Philip, the pope's personal legate, then thanked the bishops for adhering by their acclamations as holy members to their holy head — "For your blessedness is not unaware that the Apostle Peter is the head of the Faith and of the Apostles." The Metropolitan of Ancyra declared that God had shown the justice of the synod's sentence by the coming of St. Celestine's letter and of the legates. The session closed with the reading of the pope's letter to the emperor.

Third session (July 11)

On the following day, 11 July, the third session took place. The legates had read the Acts of the first session and now demanded only that the condemnation of Nestorius should be formally read in their presence. When this had been done, the three legates severally pronounced a confirmation in the pope's name. The exordium of the speech of Philip is celebrated:

It is doubtful to none, nay it has been known to all ages, that holy and blessed Peter, the prince and head of the Apostles, the column of the Faith, the foundation of the Catholic Church, received from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, the keys of the Kingdom, and that to him was given the power of binding and loosing sins, who until this day and for ever lives and judges in his successors. His successor in order and his representative, our holy and most blessed Pope Celestine. . .

It was with words such as these before their eyes that Greek Fathers and councils spoke of the Council of Ephesus as celebrated "by Celestine and Cyril". A translation of these speeches was read, for Cyril then rose and said that the synod had understood them clearly; and now the Acts of all three sessions must be presented to the legates for their signature. Arcadius replied that they were of course willing. The synod ordered that the Acts should be set before them, and they signed them. A letter was sent to the emperor, telling him how St. Celestine had held a synod at Rome and had sent his legates, representing himself and the whole of the West. The whole world has therefore agreed; Theodosius should allow the bishops to go home, for many suffered from being at Ephesus, and their dioceses also must suffer. Only a few friends of Nestorius held out against the world's judgment. A new bishop must be appointed for Constantinople.

Fourth session (July 16)

On 16 July a more solemn session was held, like the first, in the cathedral of the Theotokos. Cyril and Memnon presented a written protest against the conciliabulum of John of Antioch. He was cited to appear, but would not even admit the envoys.

Fifth session (July 17)

Next day the fifth session was held in the same church. John had set up a placard in the city accusing the synod of the Apollinarian heresy. He is again cited, and this is counted as the third canonical summons. He would pay no attention. In consequence the council suspended and excommunicated him, together with thirty-four bishops of his party, but refrained from deposing them. Some of John's party had already deserted him, and he had gained only a few. In the letters to the emperor and the pope which were then dispatched, the synod described itself as now consisting of 210 bishops. The long letter to Celestine give a full account of the council, and mentions that the pope's decrees against the Pelagians had been read and confirmed.

Sixth session

At the end of the sixth session, which dealt only with the case of two Nestorianizing priests, was made the famous declaration that no one must produce or compose any other creed than (para, proeter, "beyond" — "contrary to"?) the Nicene, and that anyone who should propose any such to pagans, Jews, or heretics, who wished to be converted, should be deposed if a bishop or cleric, or anathematized if a layman. This decision became later a fruitful source of objections to the decrees of later synods and to the addition of the filioque to the so-called Constantinopolitan Creed; but that creed itself would be abolished by this decree if it is taken too literally. We know of several matters connected with Pamphylia and Thrace which were treated by the council, which are not found in the Acts. St. Leo tells us that Cyril reported to the pope the intrigues by which Juvenal of Jerusalem tried at Ephesus to carve himself a patriarchate out of that of Antioch, in which his see lay. He was to succeed in this twenty years later, at Chalcedon.

Seventh session (July 31)

In the seventh and last session on 31 July (it seems) the bishops of Cyprus persuaded the council to approve their claim of having been anciently and rightly exempt from the jurisdiction of Antioch. Six canons were also passed against the adherents and supporters of Nestorius.

Imperial and papal confirmation of the council

The history of the intrigues by which both parties tried to get the emperor on their side need not be detailed here. The orthodox were triumphant at Ephesus by their numbers and by the agreement of the papal legates. The population of Ephesus was on their side. The people of Constantinople rejoiced at the deposition of their heretical bishop. But Count Candidian and his troops were on the side of Nestorius, whose friend, Count Irenaeus, was also at Ephesus, working for him. The emperor had always championed Nestorius, but had been somewhat shaken by the reports of the council. Communication with Constantinople was impeded both by the friends of Nestorius there and by Candidian at Ephesus. A letter was taken to Constantinople at last in a hollow cane, by a messenger disguised as a beggar, in which the miserable condition of the bishops at Ephesus was described, scarce a day passing without a funeral, and entreaty was made that they might be allowed to send representatives to the emperor. The holy abbot, St. Dalmatius, to whom the letter was addressed, as well as to the emperor, clergy, and people of Constantinople, left his monastery in obedience to a Divine voice and, at the head of the many thousand monks of the city, all chanting and carrying tapers, made his way through enthusiastic crowds to the palace. They passed back right through the city, after the abbot Dalmatius had interviewed the emperor, and the letter was read to the people in the church of St. Mocius. All shouted "Anathema to Nestorius!"

Eventually the pious and well-meaning emperor arrived at the extraordinary decision that he should ratify the depositions decreed by both councils. He therefore declared that Cyril, Memnon, and John were all deposed. Memnon and Cyril were kept in close confinement. But in spite of all the exertions of the Antiochan party, the representatives of the envoys whom the council was eventually allowed to send, with the legate Philip, to the Court, persuaded the emperor to accept the great council as the true one. Nestorius anticipated his fate by requesting permission to retire to his former monastery. The synod was dissolved about the beginning of October, and Cyril arrived amid much joy at Alexandria on 30 October. St. Celestine was now dead, but his successor, St. Sixtus III, confirmed the council.





Council of Chalcedon (451)




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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.

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The Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in 451, from 8 October until 1 November inclusive, at Chalcedon, a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Its principal purpose was to assert the orthodox Catholic doctrine against the heresy of Eutyches and the Monophysites, although ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction also occupied the council's attention.

Scarcely had the heresy of Nestorius concerning the two persons in Christ been condemned by the Council of Ephesus, in 431, when the opposite error of the Nestorian heresy arose. Since Nestorius so fully divided the Divine and the human in Christ that he taught a double personality or a twofold being in Christ, it became incumbent on his opponents to emphasize the unity in Christ and to exhibit the God-man, not as two beings but as one. Some of these opponents in their efforts to maintain a physical unity in Christ held that the two natures in Christ, the Divine and the human, were so intimately united that they became physically one, inasmuch as the human nature was completely absorbed by the Divine. Thus resulted one Christ not only with one personality but also with one nature. After the Incarnation, they said, no distinction could be made in Christ between the Divine and the human. The principal representatives of this teaching were Dioscurus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Eutyches, an archimandrite or president of a monastery outside Constantinople. The Monophysitic error, as the new error was called (Gr. mone physis, one nature), claimed the authority of St. Cyril, but only through a misinterpretation of some expressions of the great Alexandrine teacher.

The error of Eutyches was first detected by Domnus, Patriarch of Antioch. A formal accusation was preferred against the former by Eusebius, Bishop of Dorylaeum (Phrygia), at a synod of Constantinople in November of that year. This synod declared it a matter of faith that after the Incarnation, Christ consisted of two natures (united) in one hypostasis or person; hence there was one Christ, one Son, one Lord. Eutyches, who appeared before this synod, protested, on the contrary, that before the Incarnation there were two natures, but after the union there was only one nature in Christ; and the humanity of Christ was not of the same essence as ours. These statements were found contrary to Christian orthodoxy; Eutyches was deposed, excommunicated, and deprived of his station in the monastery. He protested, and appealed for redress to Pope Leo I (440-61), to other distinguished bishops, and also to Theodosius II. Bishop Flavian of Constantinople informed Pope Leo and other bishops of what had occurred in his city. Eutyches won the sympathy of the emperor; through the monk's representations and those of Dioscurus, Patriarch of Alexandria, the emperor was induced to invoke a new council, to be held at Ephesus. Pope Leo, Dioscurus, and a number of bishops and monks were invited to attend and investigate anew the orthodoxy of Eutyches. The pope was unable to go, but sent three delegates as his representatives and bearers of letters to prominent personages of the East and to the impending synod. Among these letters, all of which bear the date of 13 June, 449, is one known as the "Epistola Dogmatica", or dogmatic letter, of Leo I, in which the pope explains the mystery of the Incarnation with special reference to the questions raised by Eutyches. Thus, he declares that after the Incarnation what was proper to each nature and substance in Christ remained intact and both were united in one person, but so that each nature acted according to its own qualities and characteristics. As to Eutyches himself, the pope did not hesitate to condemn him. The council was held at Ephesus, in August, 449. Only the friends and partisans of Dioscurus and Eutyches were allowed to have a voice. The Alexandrine patriarch presided; he ignored the papal delegates, would not permit the letters of Pope Leo, including the "Epistola Dogmatica", to be read in the assembly. Eutyches was declared orthodox and reinstated in his priestly and monastic office. On the other hand, Flavian of Constantinople and Eusebius of Dorylaeum were deposed. The former was banished, and died shortly afterwards in consequence of ill-treatment; he was succeeded by the deacon Anatolius, a partisan of Dioscurus. Owing to the gross violence of Dioscurus and his partisans, this assembly was called by Leo I the "Latrocinium", or Robber Council, of Ephesus, a name that has since clung to it.

Theodosius II, who sympathized with Eutyches, approved these violent deeds; Leo I, on the other hand, when fully informed of the occurrences at Ephesus, condemned, in a Roman synod and in several letters, all the Acts of the so-called council. He refused also to recognize Anatolius as lawful Bishop of Constantinople, at least until the latter would give satisfaction concerning his belief. At the same time he requested the emperor to order the holding of a new council in Italy, to right the wrongs committed at Ephesus. As a special reason for the opportuneness, and even necessity, of the new council, he alleged the appeal of the deposed Flavian of Constantinople. Theodosius, however, positively declined to meet the wishes of the pope. At this stage the sudden death of the emperor (28 July, 450) changed at once the religious situation in the East. Theodosius was succeeded by his sister, Pulcheria, who offered her hand, and with it the imperial throne, to a brave general named Marcian (450-57). Both Marcian and Pulcheria were opposed to the new teaching of Dioscurus and Eutyches; and Marcian at once informed Leo I of his willingness to call a new council according to the previous desire of the pope. In the meantime conditions had changed. Anatolius of Constantinople, and with him many other bishops, condemned the teaching of Eutyches and accepted the dogmatic epistle of Pope Leo. Any new discussions concerning the Christian Faith seemed therefore superfluous. Western Europe, moreover, was in a state of turmoil owing to the invasion of the Huns under Attila, for which reason most of the Western bishops could not attend a council to be held in the East. Leo I therefore protested repeatedly against a council and wrote in this sense to the Emperor Marcian, the Empress Pulcheria, Anatolius of Constantinople, and Julian of Cos; all these letters bear the date of 9 June, 451. Meanwhile, 17 May, 451, a decree was issued by Marcian — in the name also of the Western Emperor Valentinian III (425-55) — ordering all metropolitan bishops with a number of their suffragan bishops to assemble the following September at Nicaea in Bithynia, there to hold a general council for the purpose of settling the questions of faith recently called in doubt.

Though displeased with this action, the pope nevertheless agreed to send his representatives to Nicaea. He appointed as legates Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum (Marsala) in Sicily, Lucentius, also a bishop, Julian, Bishop of Cos, and two priests, Boniface and Basil; Paschasinus was to preside over the coming council in the pope's place. On 24 and 26 June, 451, Leo I wrote letters to the Emperor Marcian, to his legate Paschasinus, to Anatolius of Constantinople, to Julian of Cos, and to the synod itself, in which he expressed the desire that the decrees of the synod should be in conformity with his teaching as contained in the aforesaid dogmatic epistle. A detailed instruction was also given to the papal legates, which contained directions for their guidance in the council; this document, however, has perished, with the exception of two fragments preserved in the Acts of the council. In July the papal legates departed for their destination. Many bishops arrived at Nicaea during the summer, but the opening of the council was postponed owing to the emperor's inability to be present. Finally, at the complaint of the bishops, who grew weary of waiting, Marcian requested them to come to Chalcedon, in the near vicinity of Constantinople. This was done, and the council opened at Chalcedon on 8 October.

In all likelihood an official record of the proceedings was made either during the council itself or shortly afterwards. The assembled bishops informed the pope that a copy of all the "Acta" would be transmitted to him; in March, 453, Pope Leo commissioned Julian of Cos, then at Constantinople, to make a collection of all the Acts and translate them into Latin. Very ancient versions of the Acts, both in Greek and Latin, are still extant. Most of the documents, chiefly the minutes of the sessions, were written in Greek; others, e.g. the imperial letters, were issued in both languages; others, again, e.g. the papal letters, were written in Latin. Eventually nearly all of them were translated into both languages. The Latin version, known as the "versio antiqua", was probably made about 500, perhaps by Dionysius Exiguus. About the middle of the sixth century the Roman deacon Rusticus then in Constantinople with Pope Vigilius (537-55), made numerous corrections in the "versio antiqua", after comparison with Greek manuscripts of the Acts, chiefly with those of the "Acoemetae" monastery either at Constantinople or at Chalcedon. As to the number of sessions held by the Council of Chalcedon there is a great discrepancy in the various texts of the Acts, also in the ancient historians of the council. Either the respective manuscripts must have been incomplete; or the historians passed over in silence several sessions held for secondary purposes. According to the deacon Rusticus, there were in all sixteen sessions; this division is commonly accepted by scholars, including Bishop Hefele, the learned historian of the councils. If all the separate meetings were counted, there would be twenty-one sessions; several of these meetings, however, are considered as supplementary to preceding sessions. all the sessions were held in the church of St. Euphemia, Martyr, outside the city and directly opposite Constantinople. The exact number of bishops present is not known. The synod itself, in a letter to Pope Leo, speaks of 520, while Pope Leo says there were 600; according to the general estimate there were 630, including the representatives of absent bishops. No previous council could boast of so large a gathering of bishops, while the attendance at later councils seldom surpassed or even equalled that number. The council, however, was not equally representative as to the countries whence came so many bishops. Apart from the papal legates and two African bishops, practically all the bishops belonged to the Eastern Church. This, however, was well represented; the two great civil divisions (prefectures), of the Orient and of Illyricum, comprising Egypt, the Orient (including Palestine), Pontus, Asia, Thrace, Dacia, and Macedonia, sent their contingents. The more prominent among the Eastern bishops were Anatolius of Constantinople, Maximus of Antioch, Dioscurus of Alexandria, Juvenal of Jerusalem, Thalassius of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Stephen of Ephesus, Quintillus of Heraclea, and Peter of Corinth. The honour of presiding over this venerable assembly was reserved to Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum, the first of the papal legates, according to the intention of Pope Leo I, expressed in his letter to Emperor Marcian (24 June, 451). Shortly after the council, writing to the bishops of Gaul, he mentions that his legates presided in his stead over the Eastern synod. Moreover, Paschasinus proclaimed openly in presence of the council that he was presiding over it in the name and in the place of pope Leo. The members of the council recognized this prerogative of the papal legates. When writing to the pope they professed that, through his representatives, he presided over them in the council. In the interest of order and a regular procedure the Emperor Marcian appointed a number of commissioners, men of high rank, who received the place of honour in the council. Their jurisdiction, however, did not cover the ecclesiastical or religious questions under discussion. The commissioners simply directed the order of business during the sessions; they opened the meetings, laid before the council the matters to be discussed, demanded the votes of the bishops on the various subjects, and closed the sessions. Besides these there were present several members of the Senate, who shared the place of honour with the imperial commissioners.

At the very beginning of the first session, the papal legates, Paschasinus at their head, protested against the presence of Dioscurus of Alexandria. Formal accusations of heresy and of unjust actions committed in the Robber Council of Ephesus were preferred against him by Eusebius of Dorylaeum; and at the suggestion of the imperial commissioners he was removed from his seat among the bishops and deprived of his vote. In order to make a full investigation of his case the Acts of the Robber Council, with those of the synod held in 448 by Flavian of Constantinople, were read in full; this occupied the whole first session. At the end the imperial commissioners declared that since Flavian of Constantinople and other bishops had been unjustly deposed by the Robber Council it would be just that Dioscurus and the leaders in that synod should now suffer the same punishment. A number of bishops agreed, but finally all declared themselves satisfied with the deposition of Dioscurus alone.

The second session (10 October) was occupied with the reading of testimonia bearing on questions of faith, chiefly those under discussion. Among them were the symbols or creeds of the Councils of Nicaea (325) and of Constantinople (381); two letters of St. Cyril of Alexandria, viz. his second letter to Nestorius and the letter written to the Antiochene bishops in 433 after his reconciliation with them; finally the dogmatic epistle of Pope Leo I. All these documents were approved by the council. When the pope's famous epistle was read the members of the council exclaimed that the faith contained therein was the faith of the Fathers and of the Apostles; that through Leo, Peter had spoken.

The third session was held 13 October; the imperial commissioners and a number of bishops were absent. Eusebius of Dorylaeum presented a new accusation against Dioscurus of Alexandria in which the charges of heresy and of injustice committed in the Robber Council of Ephesus were repeated. Three ecclesiastics and a layman from Alexandria likewise presented accusations against their bishop; he was declared guilty of many acts of injustice and of personal misconduct. At the end of the session the papal legates declared that Dioscurus should be deprived of his bishopric and of all ecclesiastical dignities for having supported the heretic Eutyches, for having excommunicated Pope Leo, and for having refused to answer the charges made against him. All the members present agreed to this proposition; and the decree of deposition was communicated to Dioscurus himself, to the Alexandrine ecclesiastics with him at Chalcedon, to the Emperors Marcian and Valentinian III, and to the Empress Pulcheria.

The fourth session, which comprised two meetings, was held on 17 and 20 October. At the request of the imperial commissioners the bishops again approved the dogmatic epistle of Pope Leo I; Juvenal of Jerusalem, Thalassius of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Eusebius of Ancyra, Eustathius of Berytus, and Basil of Seleucia in Cicilia, former partisans of Dioscurus in the Robber Council of Ephesus, were pardoned and admitted to the sessions; an investigation was made into the orthodoxy of a number of bishops from Egypt, and of a number of monks and archimandrites suspected of Eutychianism; finally a dispute between Photius of Tyre and Eustathius of Berytus concerning the territorial extent of their respective jurisdiction was adjudicated.

The most important of all the sessions was the fifth, held 22 October; in this the bishops published a decree concerning the Christian Faith, which must be considered as the specific dogmatic decree of the Fourth General Council. A special commission, consisting of the papal legates, of Anatolius of Constantinople, Maximus of Antioch, Juvenal of Jerusalem, and several others, was appointed to draw up this creed or symbol. After again approving the decrees and symbols of the Councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), and Ephesus (431), as well as the teaching of St. Cyril against Nestorius and the dogmatic epistle of Pope Leo I, the document in question declares:

We teach . . . one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, known in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.

After the recitation of the decree all the bishops exclaimed that such was the true faith, and that all should at once sign their names to it. The imperial commissioners announced that they would communicate to the emperor the decree as approved by all the bishops.

The sixth session (25 October) was celebrated with special solemnities; Marcian and Pulcheria were present with a great attendance, with all the imperial commissioners and the Senate. The emperor made an appropriate address; the decree of faith made in the preceding session was read again and approved by the emperor; and with joyful acclamations to the emperor and to the empress, in which they were compared to Constantine and Helena, the proceedings were closed.

The object of the council was attained in the sixth session, and only secondary matters were transacted in the remaining sessions. The seventh and eighth sessions were both held 26 October.

In the seventh an agreement between Maximus of Antioch and Juvenal of Jerusalem was approved, according to which the territory of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was restricted to the three provinces of Palestine.

In the eighth session Theodoret of Cyrus, a former partisan of Nestorius, was compelled to condemn the name of his friend under threats of expulsion from the council. He was then reinstated in his bishopric.

The ninth and tenth sessions (27 and 28 October) dealt with the case of Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, who had been deposed on charges made by some of his ecclesiastics. The accusation proved to be unfounded and Ibas was reinstated in his office. A decision was also given to the effect that a pension should be paid by Maximus of Antioch to his deposed predecessor Domnus.

The eleventh and twelfth sessions (29 and 30 October) dealt with a conflict between Bassianus and Stephen, both raised successively but irregularly to the See of Ephesus. The council declared that a new bishop should be chosen for Ephesus, but the two aforesaid should retain their episcopal dignity and receive a pension from the church revenues of Ephesus.

The thirteenth session (30 October) decided a case of conflicting jurisdiction. Eunomius of Nicomedia and Anastasius of Nicaea both claimed metropolitan rights, at least for a part of Bithynia. The council decreed that in a province there could be only one metropolitan bishop, and in favour of the Bishop of Nicomedia.

The fourteenth session (31 October) decided the rival claims of Sabinian and Athanasius to the See of Perrha in Syria. Sabinian had been chosen in place of Athanasius deposed by an Antiochene synod in 445; later Athanasius was reinstated by the Robber Council of Ephesus. The council decreed that further investigation should be made into the charges against Athanasius, Sabinian meanwhile holding the see. If the charges should prove untrue, Athanasius should be reinstated and Sabinian receive a pension from the diocese. In the same session a letter of Pope Leo was read, and the council approved the decisions in regard to Maximus of Antioch in his conflict with Juvenal of Jerusalem, and his obligation of providing for his predecessor Domnus.

In the fifteenth session (31 October) the council adopted and approved twenty-eight disciplinary canons. The papal legates, however, as well as the imperial commissioners departed at the beginning of the session, probably foreseeing that the hierarchical status of the Bishop of Constantinople would be defined, as really occurred in canon 28.

This last canon provoked another session of the council, the sixteenth, held on 1 November. The papal legates protested therein against this canon, alleging that they had special instructions from Pope Leo on that subject, that the canon violated the prerogatives of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and was contrary to the canons (vi, vii) of the Council of Nicaea. Their protests, however, were not listened to; and the council persisted in retaining this canon in its Acts. With this incident the Council of Chalcedon was closed.

At the closing of the sessions the council wrote a letter to Pope Leo I, in which the Fathers informed him of what had been done; thanked him for the exposition of Christian Faith contained in his dogmatic epistle; spoke of his legates as having presided over them in his name; and asked for the ratification of the disciplinary matters enacted, particularly canon 28. This letter was handed to the papal legates, who departed for Rome soon after the last session of the council. Similar letters were written to Pope Leo in December by Emperor Marcian and Anatolius of Constantinople. In reply Pope Leo protested most energetically against canon xxviii and declared it null and void as being against the prerogatives of Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, and against the decrees of the Council of Nicaea. Like protests were contained in the letters written 22 May, 452, to Emperor Marcian, Empress Pulcheria, and Anatolius of Constantinople. Otherwise the pope ratified the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, but only inasmuch as they referred to matters of faith. This approval was contained in letters written 21 March, 453, to the bishops who took part in the council; hence the Council of Chalcedon, at least as to the first six sessions, became an ecumenical synod, and was considered as such by all Christians, both in the time of Poe Leo and after him. The Emperor Marcian issued several edicts (7 February, 13 March, and 28 July, 452) in which he approved the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon, forbade all discussions on questions of faith, forbade the Eutychians to have priests, to live in monasteries, to hold meetings, to inherit anything, to bequeath anything to their partisans, or to join the army. The clerics among the followers of Eutyches, hitherto orthodox, and the monks of his monastery, were to be expelled from Roman territory, as once the Manichæans were. The writings of the Eutychians were to be burned; their authors, or those who spread them, were to be punished with confiscation and banishment. Finally Eutyches and Dioscurus were both banished. The former died about that time, while the latter lived to the year 454 in Gangra in Paphlagonia.

The Council of Chalcedon with its dogmatic definition did not put an end to the controversy concerning the natures of Christ and their relation to each other. Many people in the East disliked the term person used by the council to signify the union of, or the means of uniting, the two natures in Christ. They believed that Nestorianism was thereby renewed; or at least they thought the definition less satisfactory than St. Cyril's concept of the union of the two natures in Christ (Bardenhewer, Patrologie, 2nd ed., 321-22). In Palestine, Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and other countries, many monks and ecclesiastics refused to accept the definition of Chalcedon; and Monophysites are found there to this day. (See DIOSCURUS; EUTYCHIANISM; MONOPHYSITISM.)







Second Council of Constantinople (553)




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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.


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This council was held at Constantinople (5 May-2 June, 553), having been called by Emperor Justinian. It was attended mostly by Oriental bishops; only six Western (African) bishops were present. The president was Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople. This assembly was in reality only the last phase of the long and violent conflict inaugurated by the edict of Justinian in 543 against Origenism (P.G., LXXXVI, 945-90). The emperor was persuaded that Nestorianism continued to draw its strength from the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428), Theodoret of Cyrus (d. 457), and Ibas of Edessa (d. 457), also from the personal esteem in which the first two of these ecclesiastical writers were yet held by many. The events which led to this council will be narrated more fully in the articles POPE VIGILIUS and in THREE CHAPTERS; only a brief account will be given here.

From 25 January, 547, Pope Vigilius was forcibly detained in the royal city; he had originally refused to participate in the condemnation of the Three Chapters (i.e. a brief statement of anathema upon Theodore of Mopsuestia and his writings, upon Theodoret of Cyrus and his writings, against St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Council of Ephesus, and upon the letter written by Ibas of Edessa to Maris, Bishop of Hardaschir in Persia). Later (by his "Judicatum", 11 April, 548) Vigilius had condemned the Three Chapters (the doctrine in question being really censurable), but he expressly maintained the authority of the Council of Chalcedon (451) wherein Theodoret and Ibas- but after the condemnation of Nestorius- had been restored to their places; in the West much discontent was called forth by this step which seemed a weakening before the civil power in purely ecclesiastical matters and an injustice to men long dead and judged by God; it was all the more objectionable as the Western mind had no accurate knowledge of the theological situation among the Greeks of that day. In consequence of this Vigilius had persuaded Justinian to return the aforesaid papal document and to proclaim a truce on all sides until a general council could be called to decide these controversies. Both the emperor and the Greek bishops violated this promise of neutrality; the former, in particular, publishing (551) his famous edict, Homologia tes pisteos, condemning anew the Three Chapters, and refusing to withdraw the same.

For his dignified protest Vigilius thereupon suffered various personal indignities at the hands of the civil authority and nearly lost his life; he retired finally to Chalcedon, in the very church of St. Euphemia where the great council had been held, whence he informed the Christian world of the state of affairs. Soon the Oriental bishops sought reconciliation with him, induced him to return to the city, and withdrew all that had hitherto been done against the Three Chapters; the new patriarch, Eutychius, successor to Mennas, whose weakness and subserviency were the immediate cause of all this violence and confusion, presented (6 Jan., 5530 his professor of faith to Vigilius and, in union with other Oriental bishops, urged the calling of a general council under the presidency of the pope. Vigilius was willing, but proposed that it should be held either in Italy or in Sicily, in order to secure the attendance of Western bishops. To this Justinian would not agree, but proposed, instead, a kind of commission made up of delegates from each of the great patriarchates; Vigilius suggested that an equal number be chosen from the East and the West; but this was not acceptable to the emperor, who thereupon opened the council by his own authority on the date and in the manner mentioned above. Vigilius refused to participate, not only on account of the overwhelming proportion of Oriental bishops, but also from fear of violence; moreover, none of his predecessors had ever taken part personally in an Oriental council. To this decision he was faithful, though he expressed his willingness to give an independent judgment on the matters at issue. Eight sessions were held, the result of which was the final condemnation of the Three Chapters by the 165 bishops present at the last session (2 June, 553), in fourteen anathematisms similar to the thirteen previously issued by Justinian.

In the meantime Vigilius had sent to the emperor (14 May) a document known as the first "Constitutum" (Mansi, IX, 61-106), signed by himself and sixteen, mostly Western, bishops, in which sixteen heretical propositions of Theodore of Mopsuestia were condemned, and, in five anathematisms, his Christological teachings repudiated; it was forbidden, however, to condemn his person, or to proceed further in condemnation of the writings or the person of Theodoret, or of the letter of Ibas. It seemed indeed, under the circumstances, no easy task to denounce fittingly the certain errors of the great Antiochene theologian and his followers and yet uphold the reputation and authority of the Council of Chalcedon, which had been content with obtaining the essentials of submission from all sympathizers with Nestorius, but for that very reason had never been forgiven by the Monophysite opponents of Nestorius and his heresy, who were now in league with the numerous enemies of Origen, and until the death (548) of Theodora had enjoyed the support of that influential empress.

The decisions of the council were executed with a violence in keeping with its conduct, though the ardently hoped-for reconciliation of the Monophysites did not follow. Vigilius, together with other opponents of the imperial will, as registered by the subservient court-prelates, seems to have been banished (Hefele, II, 905), together with the faithful bishops and ecclesiastics of his suite, either to Upper Egypt or to an island in the Propontis. Already in the seventh session of the council Justinian caused the name of Vigilius to be stricken from the diptychs, without prejudice, however, it was said, to communion with the Apostolic See. Soon the Roman clergy and people, now freed by Narses from the Gothic yoke, requested the emperor to permit the return of the pope, which Justinian agreed to on condition that Vigilius would recognize the late council. This Vigilius finally agreed to do, and in two documents (a letter to Eutychius of Constantinople, 8 Dec., 553, and a second "Constitutum" of 23 Feb., 554, probably addressed to the Western episcopate) condemned, at last, the Three Chapters (Mansi, IX, 424-20, 457-88; cf. Hefele, II, 905-11), independently, however, and without mention of the council. His opposition had never been based on doctrinal grounds but on the decency and opportuneness of the measures proposed, the wrongful imperial violence, and a delicate fear of injury to the authority of the Council of Chalcedon, especially in the West. Here, indeed, despite the additional recognition of it by Pelagius I (555-60), the Fifth General Council only gradually acquired in public opinion an ecumenical character. In Northern Italy the ecclesiastical provinces of Milan and Aquileia broke off communion with the Apostolic See; the former yielding only towards the end of the sixth century, whereas the latter (Aquileia-Grado) protracted its resistance to about 700 (Hefele, op. cit., II, 911-27). (For an equitable appreciation of the conduct of Vigilius see, besides the article VIGILIUS, the judgment of Bois, in Dict. de théol. cath., II, 1238-39.) The pope was always correct as to the doctrine involved, and yielded, for the sake of peace, only when he was satisfied that there was no fear for the authority of Chalcedon, which he at first, with the entire West, deemed in peril from the machinations of the Monophysites.

The original Greek Acts of the council are lost, but there is extant a very old Latin version, probably contemporary and made for the use of Vigilius, certainly quoted by his successor Pelagius I. The Baluze edition is reprinted in Mansi, "Coll. Conc.", IX, 163 sqq. In the next General Council of Constantinople (680) it was found that the original Acts of the Fifth Council had been tampered with (Hefele, op. cit., II, 855-58) in favour of Monothelitism; nor is it certain that in their present shape we have them in their original completeness (ibid., pp. 859-60). This has a bearing on the much disputed question concerning the condemnation of Origenism at this council. Hefele, moved by the antiquity and persistency of the reports of Origen's condemnation, maintains (p. 861) with Cardinal Noris, that in it Origen was condemned, but only en passant, and that his name in the eleventh anathema is not an interpolation.




Third Council of Constantinople (680-681)




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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.


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The Sixth General Council was summoned in 678 by Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, with a view of restoring between East and West the religious harmony that had been troubled by the Monothelistic controversies, and particularly by the violence of his predecessor Constans II, whose imperial edict, known as the "Typus" (648-49) was a practical suppression of the orthodox truth. Owing to the desire of Pope Agatho to obtain the adhesion of his Western brethren, the papal legates did not arrive at Constantinople until late in 680. The council, attended in the beginning by 100 bishops, later by 174, was opened 7 Nov., 680, in a domed hall (trullus) of the imperial palace and was presided over by the (three) papal legates who brought to the council a long dogmatic letter of Pope Agatho and another of similar import from a Roman synod held in the spring of 680. They were read in the second session. Both letters, the pope's in particular, insist on the faith of the Apostolic See as the living and stainless tradition of the Apostles of Christ, assured by the promises of Christ, witnessed by all the popes in their capacity of successors to the Petrine privilege of confirming the brethren, and therefore finally authoritative for the Universal Church.

The greater part of the eighteen sessions was devoted to an examination of the Scriptural and patristic passages bearing on the question of one or two wills, one or two operations, in Christ. George, Patriarch of Constantinople, soon yielded to the evidence of the orthodox teaching concerning the two wills and two operations in Christ, but Macarius of Antioch, "almost the only certain representative of Monothelism since the nine propositions of Cyrus of Alexandria" (Chapman), resisted to the end, and was finally anathematized and deposed for "not consenting to the tenor of the orthodox letters sent by Agatho the most holy pope of Rome", i.e., that in each of the two natures (human and Divine) of Christ there is a perfect operation and a perfect will, against which the Monothelites had taught that there was but one operation and one will (mia energeia theandrike) quite in consonance with the Monophysite confusion of the two natures in Christ. In the thirteenth session (28 March, 681) after anathematizing the chief Monothelitic heretics mentioned in the aforesaid letter of Pope Agatho, i.e. Sergius of Constantinople, Cyrus of Alexandria, Pyrrhus, Paul, and Peter of Constantinople, and Theodore of Pharan, the council added: "And in addition to these we decide that Honorius also, who was Pope of Elder Rome, be with them cast out of the Holy Church of God, and be anathematized with them, because we have found by his letter to Sergius that he followed his opinion in all things and confirmed his wicked dogmas." A similar condemnation of Pope Honorius occurs in the dogmatic decree of the final session (16 Sept., 681), which was signed by the legates and the emperor. Reference is here made to the famous letter of Honorius to Sergius of Constantinople about 634, around which has arisen (especially before and during the Vatican Council) so large a controversial literature. It had been invoked three times in previous sessions of the council in question by the stubborn Monothelite Macarius of Antioch, and had been publicly read in the twelfth session together with the letter of Sergius to which it replied. On that occasion a second letter of Honorius to Sergius was also read, of which only a fragment has survived. (For the question of this pope's orthodoxy, see HONORIUS I; INFALLIBILITY; MONOTHELITES.)

There has been in the past, owing to Gallicanism and the opponents of papal infallibility, much controversy concerning the proper sense of this council's condemnation of Pope Honorius, the theory (Baronius, Damberger) of a falsification of the Acts being now quite abandoned (Hefele, III, 299-313). Some have maintained, with Pennacchi, that he was indeed condemned as a heretic, but that the Oriental bishops of the council misunderstood the thoroughly orthodox (and dogmatic) letter of Honorius; others, with Hefele, that the council condemned the heretically sounding expressions of the pope (though his doctrine was really orthodox); others finally, with Chapman (see below), that he was condemned

because he did not, as he should have done, declare authoritatively the Petrine tradition of the Roman Church. To that tradition he had made no appeal but had merely approved and enlarged upon the half-hearted compromise of Sergius. . . Neither the pope nor the council consider that Honorius had compromised the purity of the Roman tradition, for he had never claimed to represent it. Therefore, just as today we judge the letters of Pope Honorius by the Vatican definition and deny them to be ex cathedra, because they do not define any doctrine and impose it upon the whole Church, so the Christians of the seventh century judged the same letters by the custom of their day, and saw that they did not claim what papal letters were wont to claim, viz., to speak with the mouth of Peter in the name of Roman tradition. (Chapman)

The letter of the council to Pope Leo, asking, after the traditional manner, for confirmation of its Acts, while including again the name of Honorius among the condemned Monothelites, lay a remarkable stress on the magisterial office of the Roman Church, as, in general, the documents of the Sixth General Council favour strongly the inerrancy of the See of Peter. "The Council", says Dom Chapman, "accepts the letter in which the Pope defined the faith. It deposes those who refused to accept it. It asks [the pope] to confirm its decisions. The Bishops and Emperor declare that they have seen the letter to contain the doctrine of the Fathers. Agatho speaks with the voice of Peter himself; from Rome the law had gone forth as out of Sion; Peter had kept the faith unaltered." Pope Agatho died during the Council and was succeeded by Leo II, who confirmed (683) the decrees against Monothelism, and expressed himself even more harshly than the council towards the memory of Honorius (Hefele, Chapman), though he laid stress chiefly on the neglect of that pope to set forth the traditional teaching of the Apostolic See, whose spotless faith he treasonably tried to overthrow (or, as the Greek may be translated, permitted to be overthrown).





Second Council of Nicaea (787)


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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.

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Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in 787. (For an account of the controversies which occasioned this council and the circumstances in which it was convoked, see ICONOCLASM, Sections I and II.) An attempt to hold a council at Constantinople, to deal with Iconoclasm, having been frustrated by the violence of the Iconoclastic soldiery, the papal legates left that city. When, however, they had reached Sicily on their way back to Rome, they were recalled by the Empress Irene. She replaced the mutinous troops at Constantinople with troops commanded by officers in whom she had every confidence. This accomplished, in May, 787, a new council was convoked at Nicaea in Bithynia. The pope's letters to the empress and to the patriarch (see ICONOCLASM, II) prove superabundantly that the Holy See approved the convocation of the Council. The pope afterwards wrote to Charlemagne: "Et sic synodum istam, secundum nostram ordinationem, fecerunt" (Thus they have held the synod in accordance with our directions).

The empress-regent and her son did not assist in person at the sessions, but they were represented there by two high officials: the patrician and former consul, Petronius, and the imperial chamberlain and logothete John, with whom was associated as secretary the former patriarch, Nicephorus. The acts represent as constantly at the head of the ecclesiastical members the two Roman legates, the archpriest Peter and the abbot Peter; after them come Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and then two Oriental monks and priests, John and Thomas, representatives of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The operations of the council show that Tarasius, properly speaking, conducted the sessions. The monks John and Thomas professed to represent the Oriental patriarchs, though these did not know that the council had been convoked. However, there was no fraud on their part: they had been sent, not by the patriarchs, but by the monks and priests of superior rank acting sedibus impeditis, in the stead and place of the patriarchs who were prevented from acting for themselves. Necessity was their excuse. Moreover, John and Thomas did not subscribe at the Council as vicars of the patriarchs, but simply in the name of the Apostolic sees of the Orient. With the exception of these monks and the Roman legates, all the members of the Council were subjects of the Byzantine Empire. Their number, bishops as well as representatives of bishops, varies in the ancient historians between 330 and 367; Nicephorus makes a manifest mistake in speaking of only 150 members: the Acts of the Council which we still possess show not fewer than 308 bishops or representatives of bishops. To these may be added a certain number of monks, archimandrites, imperial secretaries, and clerics of Constantinople who had not the right to vote.

The first session opened in the church of St. Sophia, 24 September, 787. Tarasius opened the council with a short discourse: "Last year, in the beginning of the month of August, it was desired to hold, under my presidency, a council in the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople; but through the fault of several bishops whom it would be easy to count, and whose names I prefer not to mention, since everybody knows them, that council was made impossible. The sovereigns have deigned to convoke another at Nicaea, and Christ will certainly reward them for it. It is this Lord and Saviour whom the bishops must also invoke in order to pronounce subsequently an equitable judgment in a just and impartial manner." The members then proceeded to the reading of various official documents, after which three Iconoclastic bishops who had retracted were permitted to take their seats. Seven others who had plotted to make the Council miscarry in the preceding year presented themselves and declared themselves ready to profess the Faith of the Fathers, but the assembly thereupon engaged in a long discussion concerning the admission of heretics and postponed their case to another session. On 26 September, the second session was held, during which the pope's letters to the empress and the Patriarch Tarasius were read. Tarasius declared himself in full agreement with the doctrine set forth in these letters. On 28, or 29, September, in the third session, some bishops who had retracted their errors were allowed to take their seats, after which various documents were read. The fourth session was held on 1 October. In it the secretaries of the council read a long series of citations from the Bible and the Fathers in favour of the veneration of images. Afterwards the dogmatic decree was presented, and was signed by all the members present, by the archimandrites of the monasteries, and by some monks; the papal legates added a declaration to the effect that they were ready to receive all who had abandoned the Iconoclastic heresy. In the fifth session on 4 October, passages form the Fathers were read which declared, or seemed to declare, against the worship of images, but the reading was not continued to the end, and the council decided in favour of the restoration and veneration of images. On 6 October, in the sixth session, the doctrines of the conciliabulum of 753 were refuted. The discussion was endless, but in the course of it several noteworthy things were said. The next session, that of 13 October, was especially important; at it was read the horos, or dogmatic decision, of the council [see VENERATION OF IMAGES (6)]. The last (eighth) was held in the Magnaura Palace, at Constantinople, in presence of the empress and her son, on 23 October. It was spent in discourses, signing of names, and acclamations.

The council promulgated twenty-two canons relating to points of discipline, which may be summarized as follows:






Fourth Council of Constantinople (869)




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The Fourth General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Adrian II and Emperor Basil numbering 102 bishops, 3 papal legates, and 4 patriarchs, consigned to the flames the Acts of an irregular council (conciliabulum) brought together by Photius against Pope Nicholas and Ignatius the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople; it condemned Photius who had unlawfully seized the patriarchal dignity. The Photian Schism, however, triumphed in the Greek Church, and no other general council took place in the East.


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The Eighth General Council was opened, 5 October, 869, in the Cathedral of Saint Sophia, under the presidency of the legates of Adrian II. During the preceding decade grave irregularities had occurred at Constantinople, among them the deposition of the Patriarch Ignatius and the intrusion of Photius, whose violent measures against the Roman Church culminated in the attempted deposition (867) of Nicholas I. The accession that year of a new emperor, Basil the Macedonian, changed the situation, political and ecclesiastical. Photius was interned in a monastery; Ignatius was recalled, and friendly relations were resumed with the Apostolic See. Both Ignatius and Basil sent representatives to Rome asking for a general council. After holding a Roman synod (June, 869) in which Photius was again condemned, the pope sent to Constantinople three legates to preside in his name over the council. Besides the Patriarch of Constantinople there were present the representatives of the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem and, towards the end, also the representatives of the Patriarch of Alexandria. The attendance of Ignatian bishops was small enough in the beginning; indeed there were never more than 102 bishops present.

The legates were asked to exhibit their commission, which they did; then they presented to the members of the council the famous formula (libellus) of Pope Hormisdas (514-23), binding its signatories "to follow in everything the Apostolic See of Rome and teach all its laws . . . in which communion is the whole, real, and perfect solidity of the Christian religion". The Fathers of the council were required to sign this document, which had originally been drawn up to close the Acacian schism. The earlier sessions were occupied with the reading of important documents, the reconciliation of Ignatian bishops who had fallen away to Photius, the exclusion of some Photian prelates, and the refutation of the false statements of two former envoys of Photius to Rome. In the fifth session Photius himself unwillingly appeared, but when questioned observed a deep silence or answered only in a few brief words, pretending blasphemously to imitate the attitude and speech of Christ before Caiphas and Pilate. Through his representatives he was given another hearing in the next session; they appealed to the canons as above the pope. In the seventh session he appeared again, this time with his consecrator George Asbestas. They appealed, as before, to the ancient canons, refused to recognize the presence or authority of the Roman legates, and rejected the authority of the Roman Church, though they offered to render an account to the emperor. As Photius would not renounce his usurped claim and recognize the rightful patriarch Ignatius, the former Roman excommunications of him were renewed by the council, and he was banished to a monastery on the Bosporus, whence he did not cease to denounce the council as a triumph of lying and impiety, and by a very active correspondence kept up the courage of his followers, until in 877 the death of Ignatius opened the way for his return to power. Iconoclasm, in its last remnants, and the interference of the civil authority in ecclesiastical affairs were denounced by the council. The tenth and last session was held in the presence of the emperor, his son Constantine, the Bulgarian king, Michael, and the ambassadors of Emperor Louis II.

The twenty-seven canons of this council deal partly with the situation created by Photius and partly with general points of discipline or abuses. The decrees of Nicholas I and Adrian II against Photius and in favour of Ignatius were read and confirmed, the Photian clerics deposed, and those ordained by Photius reduced to lay communion. The council issued an Encyclical to all the faithful, and wrote to the pope requesting his confirmation of its Acts. The papal legates signed its decrees, but with reservation of the papal action. Here, for the first time, Rome recognized the ancient claim of Constantinople to the second place among the five great patriarchates. Greek pride, however, was offended by the compulsory signature of the aforesaid Roman formulary of reconciliation, and in a subsequent conference of Greek ecclesiastical and civil authorities the newly-converted Bulgarians were declared subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and not to Rome. Though restored by the Apostolic See, Ignatius proved ungrateful, and in this important matter sided with the other Eastern patriarchs in consummating, for political reasons, a notable injustice; the territory henceforth known as Bulgaria was in reality part of the ancient Illyria that had always belonged to the Roman patriarchate until the Iconoclast Leo III (718-41) violently withdrew it and made it subject to Constantinople. Ignatius very soon consecrated an archbishop for the Bulgarians and sent thither many Greek missionaries, whereupon the Latin bishops and priests were obliged to retire. On their way home the papal legates were plundered and imprisoned; they had, however, given to the care of Anastasius, Librarian of the Roman Church (present as a member of the Frankish embassy) most of the submission-signatures of the Greek bishops. We owe to him the Latin version of these documents and a copy of the Greek Acts of the council which he also translated and to which is due most of our documentary knowledge of the proceedings. It was in vain that Adrian II and his successor threatened Ignatius with severe penalties if he did not withdraw from Bulgaria his Greek bishops and priests. The Roman Church never regained the vast regions she then lost. (See PHOTIUS; IGNATIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE; NICHOLAS I.)





First Lateran Council (1123)


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The First Lateran Council, the first held at Rome, met under Pope Callistus II in 1123. About 900 bishops and abbots assisted. It abolished the right claimed by lay princes, of investiture with ring and crosier to ecclesiastical benefices and dealt with church discipline and the recovery of the Holy Land from the infidels.

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The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of ecumenical councils. It had been convoked in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms, which agreement between pope and emperor had caused general satisfaction in the Church. It put a stop to the arbitrary conferring of ecclesiastical benefices by laymen, reestablished freedom of episcopal and abbatial elections, separated spiritual from temporal affairs, and ratified the principle that spiritual authority can emanate only from the Church; lastly it tacitly abolished the exorbitant claim of the emperors to interfere in papal elections. So deep was the emotion caused by this concordat, the first ever signed, that in many documents of the time, the year 1122 is mentioned as the beginning of a new era. For its more solemn confirmation and in conformity with the earnest desire of the Archbishop of Mainz, Callistus II convoked a council to which all the archbishops and bishops of the West were invited. Three hundred bishops and more than six hundred abbots assembled at Rome in March, 1123; Callistus II presided in person. Both originals (instrumenta) of the Concordat of Worms were read and ratified, and twenty-two disciplinary canons were promulgated, most of them reinforcements of previous conciliary decrees.


Gregory VIII (Antipope)


Antipope. He was Mauritius Burdinus (Bordinho, Bourdin), who was placed upon the papal chair by Emperor Henry V, 8 March, 1118. Bourdin was a Frenchman, born probably at Limoges. He received a good education at Cluny, and followed his fellow-Benedictine, Bernard, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, beyond the Pyrenees. At a time when Cluny stood for learning and reform, his advancement was assured. In 1098, he was made Bishop of Coimbra (Gams); in 1111, he was raised to the Metropolitan See of Braga. Three years later, in consequence of a quarrel with the primate, he was suspended by Paschal II. Coming later to Rome, he so ingratiated himself with the pontiff, who was also a Cluiac, that he was retained at court and employed on weighty affairs. In 1117, when Henry came to Rome to force his terms upon the pope, Paschal, safe in Benevento, sent Bourdin with some cardinals to negotiate with the emperor. This mission proved to be the downfall of Bourdin. Seduced from his Gregorian principles, he openly espoused the cause of Henry, and, to emphasize his apostasy, placed the crown upon the emperor on Easter Day. He was promptly excommunicated; but was marked out for the supreme dignity by his new associates. A few months later, when Henry, learning of Paschal's death, hastened to Rome, surrounded by jurists, only to find that he had been outwitted by the vigilance of the cardinals, failing to capture Gelasius, he declared the latter's election null, and, after a discourse by the learned Irnerius of Bologna on imperial rights, induced a bribed assembly of Romans to proclaim Bourdin pope, who with unconscious irony took the name of Gregory. The honours of the papacy turned to ashes in his hands. Repeatedly excommunicated and finally delivered as a prisoner into the hands of Callistus II, he was detained in several monasteries until his death about 1137. Thus ended the career of a prelate "whom", says William of Malmesbury (Gesta Regum Angl., V, 434), "everyone would have been obliged to venerate and all but adore on account of his prodigious industry, had he not preferred to seek glory by so notorious a crime". One of the canons of the Ninth General Council, 1123, declares all ordinations made by him after his condemnation, or by any bishop by him consecrated, to be irritoe.





Second Lateran Council (1139)




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The Second Lateran Council was held at Rome under Pope Innocent II, with an attendance of about 1000 prelates and the Emperor Conrad. Its object was to put an end to the errors of Arnold of Brescia.



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The death of Pope Honorius II (February, 1130) was followed by a schism. Petrus Leonis (Pierleoni), under the name of Anacletus II, for a long time held in check the legitimate pope, Innocent II, who was supported by St. Bernard and St. Norbert. In 1135 Innocent II celebrated a Council at Pisa, and his cause gained steadily until, in January, 1138, the death of Anacletus helped largely to solve the difficulty. Nevertheless, to efface the last vestiges of the schism, to condemn various errors and reform abuses among clergy and people Innocent, in the month of April, 1139, convoked, at the Lateran, the tenth ecumenical council. Nearly a thousand prelates, from most of the Christian nations, assisted. The pope opened the council with a discourse, and deposed from their offices those who had been ordained and instituted by the antipope and by his chief partisans, Ægidius of Tusculum and Gerard of Angoulême. As Roger, King of Sicily, a partisan of Anacletus who had been reconciled with Innocent, persisted in maintaining in Southern Italy his schismatical attitude, he was excommunicated. The council likewise condemned the errors of the Petrobrusians and the Henricians, the followers of two active and dangerous heretics, Peter of Bruys and Arnold of Brescia. The council promulgated against these heretics its twenty-third canon, a repetition of the third canon of the Council of Toulouse (1119) against the Manichæans. Finally, the council drew up measures for the amendment of ecclesiastical morals and discipline that had grown lax during the schism. Twenty-eight canons pertinent to these matters reproduced in great part the decrees of the Council of Reims, in 1131, and the Council of Clermont, in 1130, whose enactments, frequently cited since then under the name of the Lateran Council, acquired thereby increase of authority.





Third Lateran Council (1179)


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The Third Lateran Council took place under Pope Alexander III IN 1179, Frederick I being emperor. There were 302 bishops present. It condemned the Albigenses and Waldenses and issued numerous decrees for the reformation of morals.

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The reign of Alexander III was one of the most laborious pontificates of the Middle Ages. Then, as in 1139, the object was to repair the evils caused by the schism of an antipope. Shortly after returning to Rome (12 March, 1178) and receiving from its inhabitants their oath of fidelity and certain indispensable guarantees, Alexander had the satisfaction of receiving the submission of the antipope Callistus III (John de Struma). The latter, besieged at Viterbo by Christian of Mainz, eventually yielded and, at Tusculum, made his submission to Pope Alexander (29 August, 1178), who received him with kindness and appointed him Governor of Beneventum. Some of his obstinate partisans sought to substitute a new antipope, and chose one Lando Sitino, under the name of Innocent III. For lack of support he soon gave up the struggle and was relegated to the monastery of La Cava. In September, 1178, the pope in agreement with an article of the Peace of Venice, convoked an ecumenical council at the Lateran for Lent of the following year and, with that object, sent legates to different countries. This was the eleventh of the ecumenical councils. It met in March, 1179. The pope presided, seated upon an elevated throne, surrounded by the cardinals, and by the prefects, senators, and consuls of Rome. The gathering numbered three hundred and two bishops, among them several Latin prelates of Eastern sees. There were in all nearly one thousand members. Nectarius, abbot of the Cabules, represented the Greeks. The East was represented by Archbishops William of Tyre and Heraclius of Caesarea, Prior Peter of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Bishop of Bethlehem. Spain sent nineteen bishops; Ireland, six; Scotland, only one- England, seven; France, fifty nine; Germany, seventeen- Denmark and Hungary, one each. The bishops of Ireland had at their head St. Laurence, Archbishop of Dublin. The pope consecrated, in the presence of the council, two English bishops, and two Scottish, one of whom had come to Rome with only one horse the other on foot. There was also present an Icelandic bishop who had no other revenue than the milk of three cows, and when one of these went dry his diocese furnished him with another.

Besides exterminating the remains of the schism the council undertook the condemnation of the Waldensian heresy and the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline, which had been much relaxed. Three sessions were held, on 5, 14, and 19 March, in which twenty-seven canons were promulgated, the most important of which may be summarized as follows:



Fourth Lateran Council (1215)


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The Fourth Lateran Council was held under Innocent III. There were present the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem, 71 archbishops, 412 bishops, and 800 abbots the Primate of the Maronites, and St. Dominic. It issued an enlarged creed (symbol) against the Albigenses (Firmiter credimus), condemned the Trinitarian errors of Abbot Joachim, and published 70 important reformatory decrees. This is the most important council of the Middle Ages, and it marks the culminating point of ecclesiastical life and papal power.

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From the commencement of his reign Innocent III had purposed to assemble an ecumenical council, but only towards the end of his pontificate could he realize this project, by the Bull of 19 April, 1213. The assembly was to take place in November, 1215. The council did in fact meet on 11 November, and its sessions were prolonged until the end of the month. The long interval between the convocation and the opening of the council as well as the prestige of the reigning pontiff, were responsible for the very large number of bishops who attended it, it is commonly cited in canon law as "the General Council of Lateran", without further qualification, or again, as "the Great Council". Innocent III found himself on this occasion surrounded by seventy-one patriarchs and metropolitans, including the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Jerusalem, four hundred and twelve bishops, and nine hundred abbots and priors. The Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria were represented by delegates. Envoys appeared from Emperor Frederick II, from Henry Latin Emperor of Constantinople, from the Kings of France, England, Aragon, Hungary, Cyprus, and Jerusalem, and from other princes. The pope himself opened the council with an allocution the lofty views of which surpassed the orator's power of expression. He had desired, said the pope, to celebrate this Pasch before he died. He declared himself ready to drink the chalice of the Passion for the defence of the Catholic Faith, for the succour of the Holy Land, and to establish the liberty of the Church. After this discourse, followed by moral exhortation, the pope presented to the council seventy decrees or canons, already formulated, on the most important points of dogmatic and moral theology. Dogmas were defined points of discipline were decided, measures were drawn up against heretics, and, finally, the conditions of the next crusade were regulated.

The fathers of the council did little more than approve the seventy decrees presented to them; this approbation, nevertheless, sufficed to impart to the acts thus formulated and promulgated the value of ecumenical decrees. Most of them are somewhat lengthy and are divided into chapters. The following are the most important:

The council, moreover, made rules for the projected crusade, imposed a four years' peace on all Christian peoples and princes published indulgences, and enjoined the bishops to reconcile all enemies, The council confirmed the elevation of Frederick II to the German throne and took other important measures Its decrees were widely published in many provincial councils.




First Council of Lyons (1245)


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The First General Council of Lyons was presided over by Innocent IV; the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Aquileia (Venice), 140 bishops, Baldwin II, Emperor of the East, and St. Louis, King of France, assisted. It excommunicated and deposed Emperor Frederick II and directed a new crusade, under the command of St. Louis, against the Saracens and Mongols.

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Innocent IV, threatened by Emperor Frederick II, arrived at Lyons 2 December, 1244, and early in 1245 summoned the bishops and princes to the council. The chronicle of St. Peter of Erfurt states that two hundred and fifty prelates responded; the annalist Mencon speaks of three patriarchs, three hundred bishops, and numerous prelates. The Abbé Martin without deciding between these figures has succeeded in recovering to a certainty the names of one hundred assistants, prelates or lords, of whom thirty-eight were from France, thirty from Italy, eleven from Germany or the countries of the North, eight from England, five from Spain, five from the Latin Orient. Baldwin II, Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, Raymond Bérenger IV, Count of Provence, Albert Rezats, Latin Patriarch of Antioch, Berthold, Patriarch of Aquileia, Nicholas, Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, came to the council, which opened 28 June at St-Jean. After the "Veni Creator" and the litanies, Innocent IV preached his famous sermon on the five wounds of the Church from the text "Secundum multitudinem dolorum meorum in corde meo, consolationes tuae laetificaverunt animam meam". He enumerated his five sorrows: (1) the bad conduct of prelates and faithful; (2) the insolence of the Saracens; (3) the Greek Schism; (4) the cruelties of the Tatars in Hungary; (5) the persecution of the Emperor Frederick; and he caused to be read the privilege granted to Pope Honorious III by Frederick when the latter was as yet only King of the Romans. Thaddeus of Suessa, Frederick's ambassador, arose, attempted to make excuses for the emperor, and cited numerous plots against the emperor which, he said, had been instigated by the Church. On 29 June at the request of the procurators of the Kings of France and England, Innocent IV granted Thaddeus a delay of ten days for the arrival of the emperor.

At the second session (July 5) the bishop of Calvi and a Spanish archbishop attacked the emperor's manner of life and his plots against the Church; again Thaddeus spoke on his behalf and asked a delay for his arrival. Despite the advice of numerous prelates Innocent (9 July) decided to postpone the third session until the seventeenth. On the seventeenth Frederick had not come. Baldwin II, Raymond VII, and Berthold, Patriarch of Aquileia, interceded in vain for him; Thaddeus in his master's name appealed to a future pope and a more general council; Innocent pronounced the deposition of Frederick, caused it to be signed by one hundred and fifty bishops and charged the Dominicans and Franciscans with its publication everywhere. But the pope lacked the material means to execute this decree; the Count of Savoy refused to allow an army sent by the pope against the emperor to pass through his territory, and for a time it was feared that Frederick would attack Innocent at Lyons. The Council of Lyons took several other purely religious measures; it obliged the Cistercians to pay tithes, approved the Rule of the Order of Grandmont, decided the institution of the octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, prescribed that henceforth cardinals should wear a red hat, and lastly prepared thirty-eight constitutions which were later inserted by Boniface VIII in his Decretals, the most important of which, received with protests by the envoys of the English clergy, decreed a levy of a twentieth on every benefice for three years for the relief of the Holy Land (Constitution "Afflicti corde") and a levy for the benefit of the Latin Empire of Constantinople of half the revenue of benefices whose titulars did not reside therein for at least six months of the year (Constitution "Arduis mens occupata negotiis").



Second Council of Lyons (1274)


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The Second General Council of Lyons was held by Pope Gregory X, the Patriarchs of Antioch and Constantinople, 15 cardinals, 500 bishops, and more than 1000 other dignitaries. It effected a temporary reunion of the Greek Church with Rome. The word filioque was added to the symbol of Constantinople and means were sought for recovering Palestine from the Turks. It also laid down the rules for papal elections.

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The Second Council of Lyons was one of the most largely attended of conciliar assemblies, there being present five hundred bishops, sixty abbots, more than a thousand prelates or procurators. Gregory X, who presided, had been a canon of Lyons; Peter of Tarentaise, who assisted as Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, had been Archbishop of Lyons. It opened 7 May, 1274, in the church of St. John. There were five other sessions (18 May, 7 June, 6 July, 16 July, 17 July). At the second session Gregory X owing to the excessive numbers rejected the proxies of chapters, abbots, and unmitred priors, except those who had been summoned by name. Among those who attended the council were James I, King of Aragon, the ambassadors of the Kings of France and England, the ambassadors of the Emperor Michael Palaeologus and the Greek clergy, the ambassadors of the Khan of the Tatars. The conquest of the Holy Land and the union of the Churches were the two ideas for the realization of which Gregory X had convoked the council.

The Crusade

Despite the protest of Richard of Mapham, dean of Lincoln, he obtained that during the six years for the benefit of the crusade a tithe of all the benefices of Christendom should go to the pope, but when James I, King of Aragon, wished to organize the expedition at once the representatives of the Templars opposed the project, and a decision was postponed. Ambassadors of the Khan of Tatary arrived at Lyons, 4 July, to treat with Gregory X, who desired that during the war against Islam the Tatars should leave the Christians in peace. Two of the ambassadors were solemnly baptized 16 July.

Union of the Churches

Gregory X had prepared for the union by sending in 1273 an embassy to Constantinople to Michael Palaeologus, and by inducing Charles, King of Sicily, and Philip, Latin Emperor of Constantinople, to moderate their political ambitions. On 24 June, 1274, there arrived at Lyons as representatives of Palaeologus, Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Theophanes, Bishop of Nicæa, Georgius Acropolita, senator and great logothete, Nicholas Panaretus, president of the ward-robe, Berrhoeota, chief interpreter, and Georgius Zinuchi. The letter from Palaeologus which they presented had been written in the name of fifty archbishops and five hundred bishops or synods. On 29 June, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Gregory X celebrated Mass in the church of St. John, the Epistle, Gospel and Creed were read or sung in Latin and Greek, the article "qui a patre filioque procedit" was sung three times by the Greeks. On 6 July, after a sermon by Peter of Tarentaise and the public reading of the letter of Palaeologus, Georgius Acropolita and the other ambassadors promised fidelity to the Latin Church, abjured twenty-six propositions which it denied, and promised the protection of the emperor to the Christians of the Holy Land. Gregory X intoned the "Te "Deum", spoke on the text "Desiderio desideravi hoc pascha manducare vobiscum", and on 28 July wrote joyful letters to Michael, to his son Andronicus, and forty-one metropolitans. Three letters dated February, 1274, written to the pope by Michael and Andronicus, in which they recognized his supremacy, exist as proofs of the emperor's good faith, despite the efforts to throw doubt on it by means of a letter of Innocent V (1276) which seems to point to the conclusion that Georgius Acropolita, who at the council had promised fidelity to the Roman Church, had not been expressly authorized by the emperor.

The Council of Lyons dealt also with the reform of the Church, in view of which Gregory X in 1273 had addressed questions to the bishops and asked of Hubert de Romans, the former general of the Friars Preachers, a certain programme for discussion and of John of Vercelli, the new general of the order, a draft of formal constitutions. Henri of Gölder, Bishop of Liège, Frederick, Abbot of St. Paul without the Walls, the Bishops of Rhodes and of Würzburg were deposed for unworthiness, and certain mendicant orders were suppressed. The council warmly approved the two orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis. Fearing the opposition of the King of Spain who had in his kingdom three religious military orders, the idea was abandoned of forming all military orders into one. Gregory X, to avoid a repetition of the too lengthy vacancies of the papal see, caused it to be decided that the cardinals should not leave the conclave till the pope had been elected. This constitution which inflicted certain material privations on the cardinals if the election was too long delayed, was suspended in 1276 by Adrian V, and a few months later revoked by John XXI, but was re-established later in many of its articles, and is even yet the basis of legislation on the conclaves. Lastly the Council of Lyons dealt with the vacancy of the imperial throne. James I of Aragon pretended to it; Gregory X removed him and on 6 June Rudolph I was proclaimed King of the Romans and future emperor. Such was the work of the council during which died the two greatest doctors of the Middle Ages. St. Thomas Aquinas, summoned by the pope, died at Frosinone (7 March, 1274) on his way to Lyons. St. Bonaventure, after important interviews at the Council with the Greek ambassadors, died 15 July, at Lyons, and was praised by Peter of Tarentaise, the future Innocent V, in a touching funeral sermon.





Council of Vienne (1311-12)




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The Council of Vienne was held in that town in France by order of Clement V, the first of the Avignon popes. The Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria, 300 bishops (114 according to some authorities), and 3 kings — Philip IV of France, Edward II of England, and James II of Aragon — were present. The synod dealt with the crimes and errors imputed to the Knights Templars, the Fraticelli, the Beghards, and the Beguines, with projects of a new crusade, the reformation of the clergy, and the teaching of Oriental languages in the universities.

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Pope Clement V, by the Bull "Regnans in coelis" of 12 Aug., 1308, called a general council to meet on 1 Oct., 1310, at Vienne in France for the purpose "of making provision in regard to the Order of Knights Templar, both the individual members and its lands, and in regard to other things in reference to the Catholic Faith, the Holy Land, and the improvement of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons". The Bull was sent to the kings of the respective Christian countries and to the archbishops of the various church provinces. The archbishops of every church province with two or three bishops, as designated in the individual Bulls, were to appear in person at the council, the bishops remaining at home were to transfer their rights to their colleagues who had been personally called. The bishops and prelates of all kinds were also to bring to the council proposals and motions in writing concerning the points to be improved in church life. A special Bull of 8 Aug., 1308, directed the Order of Knights Templar to send suitable defensores to the council, before which the grand master and the other chief officials had been commanded to appear in person. The council, however, could not open at the appointed time, on account of the trials of the Templars which were begun in the various countries, and the process respecting Boniface VIII which Clement V had undertaken at the appeal of the French king Philip the Fair. The Bull "Alma mater" of 4 April, 1310, postponed the opening of the council until 1 Oct., 1311, on account of the investigation of the Templars that was not yet finished. In September the pope went to Vienne with the cardinals and on 16 Oct., 1311, the first formal session of the council was held in the cathedral there. This was the Fifteenth Ecumenical Council. In his opening address the pope again designated the three following points as the main tasks of the council: the matter of the Templars; the assistance to be given the Holy Land; and the reform of the clerical order and of morals.

The Acts of the council have disappeared, with the exception of a fragment which Father Ehrle, S.J., found in a manuscript in the National Library at Paris (see below). Consequently there is no positive certainty as to the course of the synod. The number of its members is also variously stated by the authorities. Villiani ("Chron.", IX, XXII, ed. Muratori, "Script", XIII, 454) enumerates 300 bishops, while other authorities whose testimony is more probable give 114 bishops, to which should be added a number of abbots and proxies. The best known proceedings of the council are those respecting the Templars. A commission was appointed to examine the official records concerning the order, in which commission the various classes of participants in the council and the different countries were represented. From the members of this commission was formed a smaller committee of archbishops and bishops presided over by the Archbishop of Aquileia, which was to examine exhaustively the official records and the abstracts of these. The pope and the cardinals negotiated with the members of this commission respecting the matter. The majority of the cardinals and nearly all the members of the commission were of the opinion that the Order of Knights Templar should be granted the right to defend itself, and that no proof collected up to then was sufficient to condemn the order of the heresy of which it was accused without straining the law. As early as the beginning of December, 1311, the cardinals and commission had voted to this effect. The pope was in a difficult position, on account of the insistence of the powerful French king. In February, 1312, the king himself appeared with a great retinue before the gates of the city of Vienne, and vehemently demanded the suppression of the Templars in a letter of 2 March, addressed to the pope. Clement now adopted the expedient of suppressing the Order of Knights Templar, not be legal method (de jure), but on the plea of solicitude for the Church and by Apostolic ordinance (per modum provisionis sen ordinationis apostolicae). The pope announced this decision in an assembly of the cardinals, on 22 March, 1312. On 3 April the second formal session of the council was held; the French king and his three sons were present, and the decision respecting the suppression of the Templars was promulgated. The Bull of Suppression "Vox clamantis" is dated 22 March, 1312. The pope had retained for himself the decision as to the persons and the lands of the Templars; two further Bulls were issued to cover these points on 2 and 6 May. During the council, apparently at this second session, Boniface VIII was declared to have been a lawful pope, and absolved from the accusations brought against him. Nevertheless, an earlier Decree issued by Clement V was renewed, whereby the King of France was absolved from all responsibility for what he had done against Boniface and the Church.

The synod also took up the question of the Holy Land. In the third formal session, held 6 May, a letter from the King of France was read aloud, in which he promised to take the cross, together with his sons and large numbers of the nobility, and to begin the Crusade within six years. If he should die before this time his eldest son would undertake the expedition. Upon this, it was decided to lay a church tithe for six years for this purpose, which was to be raised throughout Christendom for the Holy Land. Concerning the raising of this tithe, cf. Kirsch, "Die papstlichen Killektorien in Deutschland" (Paderborn, 1894), 18. In France the revenues drawn from the tithe for six years were given to the king, who used the money for the war against Flanders. The Crusade never took place, although both the Kings of England and of Navarre had agreed to it at the council.

As already mentioned, the bishops were directed before the meeting of the council to bring with them written suggestions as to the reform of the Church. The pope renewed this demand at the opening of the council. Only three of the proposals sent in are known up to now, namely the treatise of William Durandus, Bishop of Mende, on the holding of the council ("De modo celebrandi generalis concilii"), that of Major, Bishop of Angers [in "Collection des documents inedits sur l'hist. de France. Melanges historiques"; II (1877), 471 sqq.], and that of James Dueze, later Pope John XXII [published by Verlaque, "Jean XXII" (Paris, 1883), 522 sqq.]. This material was divided into two parts for discussion by the council: improvement of morals and protection of the independence of the Church. The countless complaints, opinions, and suggestions that were handed in by prelates as well as by secular nobles were systematically arranged and treated. Still it is not known what decrees on these questions resulted from the discussions of the council itself and were promulgated in the third and last session. All that is certain is that a number of decrees on these subjects were proclaimed. These were issued later on 25 October, 1317, by John XXII, together with other decrees of Clement V, which the latter had been prevented by death from promulgating. John published them as the collection of the laws of the Church, the Clementines, "Corpus Juris Canonici". The decrees passed at the council which are found in this collection refer to the disputes concerning the Franciscan Spirituals (condemnation of the three propositions attributed to Petrus Johannes Olivi), the dispute about poverty among the Minorites, the mendicants, the visitation of convents by the bishops, the Beguines, the observance of the ecclesiastical hours, administration of religious foundations, matters relating to benefices, the founding of professorships for the Oriental languages at the Curia and at the four chief universities, the management of the Inquisition, and various ordinances respecting the clergy. The council closed with the third formal session, 6 May, 1312.



Council of Constance (1414-1418)


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The Council of Constance was held during the great Schism of the West, with the object of ending the divisions in the Church. It became legitimate only when Gregory XI had formally convoked it. Owing to this circumstance it succeeded in putting an end to the schism by the election of Pope Martin V, which the Council of Pisa (1403) had failed to accomplish on account of its illegality. The rightful pope confirmed the former decrees of the synod against Wyclif and Hus. This council is thus ecumenical only in its last sessions (XLII-XLV inclusive) and with respect to the decrees of earlier sessions approved by Martin V.

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A (partly) ecumenical council held at Constance, now in the Grand Duchy of Baden, from 5 Nov., 1414, to 22 April, 1418. Its forty-five general sessions were devoted to three chief purposes:

(I) The Extinction of the So-Called Western Schism;
(II) The Reformation of Ecclesiastical Government and Life;
(III) The Repression of Heresy.
The article will also take up:
(IV) Attendance at the Council; General Considerations.

The extinction of the so-called Western Schism

In its attempt to restore to the Church her immemorial unity of headship the Council of Pisa in 1409 had only added to the confusion and scandal that afflicted all Christendom since 1378 (see WESTERN SCHISM). There were now three popes, the two deposed by the council (Gregory XII and Benedict XIII) and its own creation, Alexander V; the latter soon died (3 May, 1410) and was succeeded by Cardinal Baldassare Cossa as John XXIII. Obedient to a decree of the Council of Pisa that ordered a general council every three years, this pope convoked such an assembly at Rome for April, 1412, but with so little success that it was prorogued and again convoked for the beginning of 1413; its only important decree was a condemnation of the writings of Wyclif. In the meantime the treachery and violence of Ladislaus of Naples made John XXIII quite dependent politically on the new Emperor-elect Sigismund whose anxiety for a general council on German territory was finally satisfied by the pope, then an exile from Rome. He convoked it from Lodi, 9 December, 1413, for 1 November, 1414, at Constance, a free city of the empire, on Lake Constance. It was solemnly opened 5 November in the cathedral of Constance, where all the public sessions were held. The first public session took place 16 November under the presidency of John XXIII, and for a while it considered itself a continuation of the Council of Pisa, and John XXIII the sole legitimate pope. It was soon evident, however, that many members of the new assembly (comparatively few bishops, many doctors of theology and of canon and civil law, procurators of bishops, deputies of universities, cathedral chapters, provosts, etc., agents and representatives of princes, etc.) favoured strongly the voluntary abdication of all three popes. This was also the idea of Emperor Sigismund (q. v;) present since Christmas Eve, 1414, and destined to exercise a profound and continuous influence on the course of the council in his character of imperial protector of the Church; The French deputies especially urged this solution of the intolerable crisis, under the leadership of Pierre d'Ailly (Cardinal and Bishop of Cambrai), Guillaume Fillastre (Cardinal and Bishop of San Marco), and Jean Charlier de Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, representative of the French king, and known with d'Ailly, as "the soul of the council". The Italian bishops who had accompanied John XXIII in large numbers and stood for his legitimacy were soon rendered helpless by new methods of discussion and voting. Early in January, 1415, envoys of Benedict XIII appeared, but only to propose a personal meeting at Nice of their pope and the emperor. Towards the end of the month Gregory XII (Angelo Corrario) offered, through his representatives, to resign, on condition that the other popes did the same. The execution of this project, henceforth the main object of the council, was long delayed for reasons that will appear below. Pressure was at once brought to bear on John XXIII by Emperor Sigismund and by the non-Italian members. His resistance was finally broken by the resolution of the members to vote by "nations" and not by persons. The legality of this measure, an imitation of the "nations" of the universities, was more than questionable, but during February, 1415, it was carried through and thenceforth accepted in practice, though never authorized by any formal decree of the council (Finke, Forschungen, 31-33) and opposed by d'Ailly and Fillastre, who wanted, indeed, a considerable enlargement of the voting body, by the inclusion of professors (doctors) of theology, parish priests, etc., but not the abandonment of the traditional individual vote; the former was willing to compromise on a vote according to ecclesiastical provinces. The vote by nations was in great measure the work of the English, German, and French members, but the Italians did not long resist, and on this basis the council's work was organized and executed as follows: By each of the four nations represented at the council, i.e. Germans (with whom were counted the few Poles, Hungarians, Danes, and Scandinavians), English, French, and Italians, several deputies, ecclesiastical and lay, were appointed to represent the entire membership of the nation present at Constance. These national deputies met separately under a president of their own choice, but changed from month to month. Their decisions were reached by a majority vote, and were then communicated to the General Congregation of all four nations in which the vote of a majority (three) was decisive; There seems also to have been (Finke, Forschungen, 36-37) an important general committee appointed by the nations to prepare the subjects of discussion for the individual nations, and to act generally as intermediary. At the seventh session (2 May, 1415) the right to vote apart was withdrawn from the cardinals; henceforth they could only vote like other individuai deputies in the meetings of their respective nations. The Roman Church, therefore, was not represented as such, while the small English nation (20 deputies, 3 bishops) was equal in influence to the entire Italian representation, as individuals about one-half the council. The decisions of the general congregations were presented at the public sessions of the council and there promulgated, unanimously, as conciliar decrees.

While these measures were being taken John XXIII grew daily more suspicious of the council. Nevertheless, and partly in consequence of a fierce anonymous attack, from an Italian source, on his life and character, he promised under oath (2 March, 1415) to resign. On 20 March, however, he secretly fled from Constance and took refuge at Schaffhausen on territory of his friend Frederick, Duke of Austria-Tyrol. This step filled the council with consternation, for it threatened both its existence and its authority. Emperor Sigismund, however, held together the wavering assembly. Then followed the public sessions (third to fifth) of 26 and 30 March and 5 April out of which came the famous decrees "Articles of Constance", long a chief argument of Gallicanism. As finally adopted in the fifth session they were five in number and declared that the council, legitimately called in the Holy Spirit, is a general council, represents the whole Church Militant, has its authority directly from God; and that in all that pertains to faith, the extinction of the schism and reformation in head and members, every Christian, even the pope, is bound to obey it; that in case of refusal to obey the council all recalcitrant Christians (even the pope) are subject to ecclesiastical punishment and in case of necessity to other (civil) sanctions; that without the consent of the council Pope John cannot call away from Constance the Roman Curia and its officials, whose absence might compel the closing of the council or hinder its work; that all censures inflicted since his departure by the pope on members and supporters of the council are void, and that Pope John and the members of the council have hitherto enjoyed full liberty. In the meantime (29 March, 1415) the English, German, and French nations had agreed to four articles, in the first two of which was expressed the complete supremacy of the council over the pope; these two were incorporated in the aforesaid articles of the fifth session. It has been maintained that these decrees were meant only for the extraordinary situation which then faced the council; they express, nevertheless, the well-known persuasion of the majority of the peculiar ecclesiastical representation at Constance that the council, independently of the pope, was the final depository of supreme ecclesiastical authority; indeed, by virtue of these decrees they proceeded at once to judge and depose John XXIII, hitherto for them the legitimate pope. It is to be noted that of the twelve cardinals present at Constance only seven or eight assisted at the fifth session, and they solely to avoid scandal (among the absent was d'Ailly). Nor would any cardinal announce these decrees; that office fell to a bishop, Andrew of Posen. The emperor was present at their promulgation, also 200 members, mostly doctors, etc. These decrees it must be remembered, though adopted at Basle and often quoted by the disciples of Gallicanism and other opponents of papal supremacy, were formulated and accepted at Constance amid quite unusual circumstances, in much haste, and in quasi despair at the threatened failure of the long-desired general council; they ran counter to the immemorial praxis of the Church, and substituted for its Divine constitution the will of the multitude or at best a kind of theological parliamentarism. They were never approved by the Apostolic See (Funk, Kirchengeschichtliche Studien, Paderborn, 1897, I, 489-98) and were almost at once implicitly rejected by Martin V (Mansi, Coll. Conc., XXVIII, 200). The rest of March, and the months of April and May were consumed in a tragic conflict of the council with John XXIII. He did not withdraw his resignation, but posited conditions that the council refused; he called away from Constance several cardinals and members of the Curia, who were soon, however, obliged to return; put forth a plea of lack of liberty; complained to the King of France concerning the method of voting, as well as his treatment by the council and the emperor; and finally fled from Schaffhausen to Lauenburg, giving the council reason to fear either his final escape from imperial reach or the withdrawal of the Italian representatives. The pope soon fled again, this time to Freiburg in the Breisgau, and thence to Breisach on the Rhine, but was soon compelled to return to Freiburg, whence eventually (17 May) he was brought by deputies of the council to the vicinity of Constance, and there held prisoner, while the council proceeded to his trial. He had exhausted all means of resistance, and was morally vanquished. Unwilling to undergo the ordeal of the impending trial he renounced all right of defence and threw himself on the mercy of the council. He was deposed in the twelfth session (29 Mar, 1415), not for heresy but for notorious simony, abetting of schism, and scandalous life, having already been suspended by the council in the tenth session (14 May). Two days later he ratified under oath the action of the council and was condemned to indefinite imprisonment in the custody of the emperor. He was held successively in the castles of Gottlieben, Heidelberg, and Mannheim, but was eventually released, for a heavy ransom, with the help of Martin V, and in 1419 died at Florence as Cardinal-Bishop of Tusculum. (For a fuller treatment of the charges against him, see JOHN XXIII.) The promised resignation of Gregory XII was now in order, and was accomplished with the dignity to be expected from the pope usually considered by Catholic historians the legitimate occupant of the See of Peter, though at this time his obedience had practically vanished, being confined to Rimini and a few German dioceses. Through his protector and plenipotentiary, Carlo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, he posited as conditions that the council should be reconvoked by himself, and that in the session which accepted his resignation neither Baldassare Cossa nor any representative of him should preside. The council agreed to these conditions. The fourteenth session (4 July, 1415) had, therefore, for its president the Emperor Sigismund, whereby it appeared, as the supporters of Gregory wished it to appear, that hitherto the council was an assembly convoked by the civil authority. The famous Dominican Cardinal John of Ragusa (Johannes Dominici), friend and adviser of Gregory XII, and since 19 Dec., 1414, the pope's representative at Constance, convoked anew the council in the pope's name and authorized its future acts. The reunion of both obediences (Gregory XII and John XXIII) was then proclaimed, whereupon the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia (Viviers) assumed the presidency, and Malatesta pronounced, in the name of Gregory, the latter's abdication of all right whatsoever to the papacy. Gregory confirmed these acts in the seventeenth session (14 July) and was himself confirmed as Cardinal-Bishop of Porto, Dean of the Sacred College and perpetual Legate of Ancona, in which position he died (18 Oct., 1417) at Recanati, in his ninetieth year in the odour of sanctity. From the fourteenth session, in which he convoked the council, it is considered by many with Phillips (Kirchenrecht, I, 256) a legitimate general council.

There remained now to obtain the resignation of Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna). For this purpose, and because he insisted on personal dealings with himself, Emperor Sigismund and deputies of the council went to Perpignan, then Spanish territory, to confer with him, but the stubborn old man, despite his pretended willingness to resign, was not to be moved (Sept.-Oct., 1415) from the claims he had so persistently and amid so great vicissitudes defended. Soon, however, he was abandoned by the Rings of Aragon, Castile, and Navarre, hitherto his chief supporters. By the Treaty of Narbonne (13 Dec., 1415), they bound themselves to co-operate with the Council of Constance for the deposition of Benedict and the election of a new pope. St. Vincent Ferrer hitherto the main support of Benedict, and his confessor, now gave him up as a perjurer; the council confirmed (4 Feb., 1416) the articles of Narbonne, the immediate execution of which was retarded, among other causes, by the flight of Benedict (13 Nov., 1415) from the fortress of Perpignan to the inaccessible rock of Peñiscola on the sea-coast near Valencia, where he died in 1423, maintaining to the end his good right (see PEDRO DE LUNA).

Various causes, as just said, held back the appearance of the Spanish deputies at the council. Finally they arrived at Constance for the twenty-first session (15 Oct., 1416) and were thenceforth counted as the fifth nation (Fromme, Die spanische Nation und das Konzil von Konstanz, Münster, 1896). The next eight months were largely taken up with complicated canonical procedure destined to compel the abdication or justify the deposition of Benedict XIII, who in the meantime had excommunicated solemnly his former royal adherents and with a courage worthy of a better cause maintained that Holy Church, the Ark of Noah, was now on the wave-worn peak of Peñiscola, in the little group of a few thousand souls who yet clung to his shadowy authority, and not at Constance. He was finally deposed in the thirty-seventh session (26 July, 1417) as guilty of perjury, a schismatic, and a heretic; his private life and priestly character, unlike those of John XXIII, were never assailed. The Western Schism was thus at an end, after nearly forty years of disastrous life; one pope (Gregory XII) had voluntarily abdicated; another (John XXIII) had been suspended and then deposed, but had submitted in canonical form; the third claimant (Benedict XIII) was cut off from the body of the Church, "a pope without a Church, a shepherd without a flock" (Hergenröther-Kirsch). It had come about that, whichever of the three claimants of the papacy was the legitimate successor of Peter, there reigned throughout the Church a universal uncertainty and an intolerable confusion, so that saints and scholars and upright souls were to be found in all three obediences. On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.

The canonical irregularities of the council seem less blameworthy when to this practical vacancy of the papal chair we add the universal disgust and weariness at the continuance of the so-called schism, despite all imaginable efforts to restore to the Church its unity of headship, the justified fear of new complications, the imminent peril of Catholic doctrine and discipline amid the temporary wreckage of the traditional authority of the Apostolic See, and the rapid growth of false teachings equally ruinous to Church and State.

Election of Martin V

Under the circumstances the usual form of papal election by the cardinals alone (see CONCLAVE) was impossible, if only for the strongly inimical feeling of the majority of the council, which held them responsible not only for the horrors of the schism, but also for many of the administrative abuses of the Roman Curia (see below), the immediate correction of which seemed to not a few of no less importance, to say the least, than the election of a pope. This object was not obscured by minor dissensions, e.g. concerning the rightful rank of the Spanish nation, the number of votes of the Aragonese and Castilians, respectively, the right of the English to constitute a nation, etc. The French, Spanish, and Italian nations desired an immediate papal election; a Church without a head was a monstrosity, said d'Ailly. Under Bishop Robert of Salisbury the English held stoutly for the reforms that seemed imperative in the administration of the papacy and the Curia; Emperor Sigismund was foremost among the Germans for the same cause, and was ready to take violent measures in its interest. But Robert of Salisbury died, and curiously enough, it was by another English bishop, Henry of Winchester, then on his way to Palestine, and a near relative of the King of England, that the antagonistic measures of papal election and curial reform were reconciled in favour of the priority of the former, but with satisfactory assurance, among other points, that the new pope would at once undertake a serious reform of all abuses; that those reforms would be at once proclaimed by the council on which all the nations agreed; and that the manner of the imminent papal election should be left to a special commission. Among the five reform decrees passed at once by the council in its thirty-ninth session (9 Oct., 1417) was the famous "Frequens" which provided for a general council every ten years; the next two, however, were to be convoked by the pope after five and seven years respectively, the first of them at Pavia.

In the fortieth session finally (30 Oct.) was discussed the manner of the new papal election. The council decreed that for this occasion to the twenty-three cardinals should be added thirty deputies of the council (six from each nation) making a body of fifty-three electors. Another decree of this session provided for the immediate and serious attention of the new pope to eighteen points concerning reformatio in capite et Curia Romana. The forty-first session (8 Nov.) provided for the details of the election and for this purpose had the Bull of Clement VI (6 Dec., 1351) read. That afternoon the electors assembled in conclave and after three days chose for the pope the Roman Cardinal Odo Colonna, who took the name of Martin V. He was only a subdeacon, and so was successively made deacon, priest, and bishop (Fromme, "Die Wahl Martins V.", in "Röm. Quartalschrift", 1896). His coronation took place 21 November, 1417. At its forty-fifth session he solemnly closed the council (22 April, 1418), whereupon, declining invitations to Avignon or to some German city, he returned to Italy and after a short stay in Florence, entered Rome, 28 Sept., 1420, and took up his residence in the Vatican, thereby restoring to the See of Peter its ancient rights and prestige in Christendom.

Reformation of ecclesiastical government and life

The long absence of the popes from Rome in the fourteenth century, entailing the economical and political ruin of the ancient Patrimony of Peter; the many grave abuses directly or indirectly connected with the administration of French popes at Avignon; the general civil disorders of the time (Hundred Years War, Condottieri, etc.), and other causes, had created, long before the Council of Constance, an earnest demand for a reformation of ecclesiastical conditions. The writings of theologians and canonists and the utterances of several popular saints (St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Catherine of Siena) are alone enough to show how well justified was this universal demand (Rocquain). In the minds of many members of the council this reformation, as already stated, was of equal importance with the closing of the schism; and to some, especially to the Germans, it seemed to overshadow even the need of a head for the Church. It was precisely the pope and the cardinals, they argued, whose administration most needed reform, and now, when both were weakest and for the first time in their history had felt the mastery of the theologians and canonists, seemed to this party the psychological moment to write these reforms into the common ecclesiastical law, whence they could not easily be expunged. Since July, 1415, there had been a reform commission of thirty-five members; a new one of twenty-five members had been appointed after the entry of the Spanish nation in October, 1416. During its long career many memorials were presented to the council concerning every imaginable abuse. In its general congregations and sessions bitter reproaches were often uttered on the same themes. The academic equality of many of the members, the prostrate condition of ecclesiastical headship, the peculiar freedom of discussion in the "nation" meetings, and other causes made this council a unique forum for the discussion of all points and methods of reformation. More would certainly have been accomplished had the learned men and the zealous preachers been able to reach some degree of unanimity as to the importance and order of the reforms called for, and had there been more general anxiety for personal reformation and less passion in denouncing the past abuses of papal and curial administration. The Germans (Avisamenta nationis germanicæ) and the English were ardent for a reformation of the Roman Curia, so that a new, holy, and just pope would find his way made straight before him. The former asserted that for 150 years the popes had ceased to govern with that justice which for twelve centuries had characterized them. The cardinals, they said, had loved riches too much, and ecclesiastical synods had been neglected. These were the true causes, according to them, of the corruption of the clergy, the decay of good studies, the ruin of churches and abbeys. Reforms had been promised at Pisa, but what had become of these promises? As a matter of fact, however, the reforms most loudly called for meant the restoration to the bishops of their ancient freedom in the collation of benefices, also a notable diminution in the various dues and assessments payable to Rome from the ecclesiastical properties and revenues of the various nations, which for several reasons had been growing in number and size during the previous century, and were not always unjustified or inequitable. We have already seen that it was much against their will that the Germans agreed to a papal election before receiving full satisfaction in the matter of the aforesaid reforms. The day after his coronation Martin V appointed a (third) reform commission, but its members showed no more unanimity than their predecessors in the same office. The new pope declared that he was ready to accept any propositions that were unanimously agreed on. Eventually, after much discussion and various suggestions seven points were agreed to in the forty-third session (21 March, 1418). All exemptions granted during the synod were withdrawn, and in the future should be granted with difficulty; unions and incorporations of benefices were likewise to be diminished; the pope agreed to renounce the revenues of vacant benefices; all simony was forbidden, likewise the custom of dispensing beneficed persons from the obligation of taking orders; the papal right to impose tithes on clergy and churches was sensibly restricted; ecclesiastics must henceforth wear the dress of their order (Mansi, Conc., XXVII, 1114-77). Other reforms were left to the initiative of each nation which provided for them by special concordats, a term said to have been here used for the first time. The German Concordat (including Poland, Hungary, and Scandinavia) and that with France, Spain, and Italy, ran for five years; the English Concordat was indefinite (for the details see Mansi, op. cit., XXVII, 1189 sqq., and Hübler, Die Konstanzer Reform und die Konkordate von 1418, Leipzig, 1867). The number of cardinals was fixed at twenty-four, and they were to be taken proportionately from the great nations. Stricter regulation was also agreed on for papal reservations, annates, commendams, Indulgences, etc. Nevertheless, in a papal consistory (10 March, 1418), Martin V rejected any right of appeal from the Apostolic See to a future council, and asserted the supreme authority of the Roman pontiff as Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth in all questions of Catholic Faith (Nulli fas est a supremo judice, videlicet Apostolicâ sede seu Rom. Pontif. Jesu Christi vicario in terris appellare aut illius judicium in causis fidei, quæ tamquam majores ad ipsum et sedem Apostolicam deferendæ sunt, declinare, Mansi, Conc., XXVIII, 200). Von Funk has shown (op. cit., 489 sqq.), that the oft-maintained confirmation of the decrees of Constance by Martin V, in the last session of the council (omnia et singula determinata et decreta in materiis fldei per præsens concilium conciliariter et non aliter nec alio modo) must be understood only of a specific case (Falkenberg, see below), and not of any notable part of, much less of all, the decrees of Constance. It is true that in the Bull "Inter Cunctas", 22 Feb., 1418, apropos of the Wycliffites and Hussites, he calls for a formal approval of the decrees of Constance in favorem fidet a salutem animarum, but these words are easily understood of the council's action against the aforesaid heresies and its efforts to restore to the Church a certain head. In particular the famous five articles of the fifth session, establishing the supremacy of the council, never received papal confirmation (Hergenröther-Kirsch, II, 862, and Baudrillart, in Dict. de théol. cath., II, 1219-23). For a refutation of the Gallican claim that these decrees possess a dogmatic character, see GALLICANISM. Nevertheless, the Council of Constance is usually reckoned the Sixteenth General Council; some, as stated above, acknowledge it as such after the fourteenth session (reconvocation by Gregory XII); others again (Salembier) after the thirty-fifth session (adherence of the Spanish nation); Hefele only in the final sessions (forty-second to forty-fifth) under Martin V. No papal approbation of it was ever meant to confirm its anti-papal acts; thus Eugene IV (22 July, 1446) approved the council, with due reserve of the rights, dignity, and supremacy of the Apostolic See (absque tamen præjudicio juris dignitatis et præeminentiæ Sedis Apostolicæ). See Bouix, "De papa, ubi et de concilio oecumenico" (Paris, 1869), and Salembier (below), 313-23.

The repression of heresy

At various times the council dealt with current heresies, among them those of John Wyclif and John Hus.

Condemnation of forty-five Wycliffite propositions

In the eighth session it was question of Wyclif, whose writings had already been condemned at the Council of Rome (1412-13) under John XXIII. In this session forty-five propositions of Wyclif, already condemned by the universities of Paris and Prague, were censured as heretical, and in a later session another long list of 260 errors. All his writings were ordered to be burned and his body was condemned to be dug up and cast out of consecrated ground (this was not done until 1428 under Bishop Robert Fleming of Lincoln). In 1418 Martin V, by the aforesaid Bull "Inter Cunctas", approved the action of the council (Mansi, op. cit., XXVII, 1210 sq.; see WYCLIFFITES).

Condemnation and execution of John Hus

Since 1408 John Hus, an eloquent preacher of Prague, had openly taught the Wycliffite heresies. By his ardent zeal for ecclesiastical reforms on the basis of Wyclif's teachings, his patriotic insistence on the purity of Bohemian faith and his assertion of Bohemian nationalism, he had gone rapidly to the front as a leader of his nation, then deeply embittered against the Germans dominant in the political and academic life of Bohemia. Since 1412 he had been banished from Prague, but was only the more dangerous, by his fiery discourse and his writings, among the highly excited Bohemians, who mostly saw in him the flower of their national genius, and were otherwise embittered against a clergy which then offered too many elements of weakness to the attacks of such reformers as John Hus and his friend and admirer Jerome (Hieronymus) of Prague. The errors of Hus concerned chiefly the nature of the Church (only the predestined), the papal headship, the rugof faith (Scripture and the law of Christ), Communion under both kinds (q.v. also HUSSITES), auricular confession (unnecessary), civil authority (dependent among Christians on state of grace). More than once (e.g. 1411) Hus had appealed to a general council, and when at the opening of the Council of Constance Emperor Sigismund and King Wenceslaus of Bohemia urged him to present himself, he was not unwilling; it was made up, he knew, of ardent reformers, and he could hope by his eloquence to convert them to his own intense faith in the ideas of Wyclif. He left Prague, 11 October, 1414, in the company of three Bohemian nobles and assured of a safe-conduct (salvus conductus) from Emperor Sigismund. They entered Constance 3 November, where Hus took up his residence in a private house, and where (5 November) the safe-conduct was delivered to him. The day after his arrival he appeared before John XXIII, who treated him courteously, removed the censures of excommunication and interdict, but forbade him to say Mass or to preach, also to appear at public ecclesiastical functions (his thoroughly heretical and even revolutionary doctrines were long notorious and, as said above, had already been condemned at Rome). He appeared again before the pope and the cardinals, 28 November, declared himself innocent of a single error, and said he was ready to retract and do penance if convicted of any. He had continued, however, to violate the papal prohibition, said Mass daily and preached to the people present. Consequently he was the same day arrested, by order of the Bishop of Constance, and a little later (6 December) placed in the Dominican convent. On complaining of the unsanitary condition of his place of confinement he was transferred to the castle of Gottlieben, and later to the Franciscan convent at Constance (June, 1415). His examination went on during April and May, and was conducted by d'Ailly and Fillastre; in the meantime he carried on an extensive correspondence, wrote various treatises, and replied to the charges of his opponents. His Bohemian friends protested against the arrest of Hus, and exhibited the emperor's safe-conduct (but only after the arrest). Sigismund was at first wroth over the arrest, but later (1 Jan., 1415) declared that he would not prevent the council from dealing according to law with persons accused of heresy. The aforesaid condemnation (4 May) of the forty-five propositions of Wyclif fore-shadowed the fate of Hus, despite the protests of Bohemians and Poles against his severe incarceration, the slanders against Bohemian faith, the delay of justice, secrecy of the proceedings, and the violation of the imperial safe-conduct (Raynaldus, ad an. 1414, no. 10). The public trial took place on 5, 7, and 8 June, 1415; extracts from his works were read, witnesses were heard. He denied some of the teachings attributed to him, defended others, notably opinions of Wyclif, declared that no Bohemian was a heretic, etc. He refused all formulæ of submission, again declared himself conscious of no error, nor, as he said, had any been proved against him from the Scriptures. He declared that he would not condemn the truth, nor perjure himself. His books were burned by order of the council (24 June). New efforts to obtain a retractation proved fruitless. He was brought for final sentence before the fifteenth session (6 July, 1415), at which the emperor assisted, and on which occasion thirty propositions, taken mostly from the work of Hus "On the Church" (De Ecclesiâ), were read publicly. He refused to retract anything and so was condemned as a heretic, deposed, and degraded, and handed over to the secular arm, which in turn condemned him to perish at the stake, at that time the usual legal punishment of convicted heretics. He suffered that cruel death with self-possession and courage and when about to expire cried out, it is said: "Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us!" His ashes were thrown into the Rhine. Owing largely to the dramatic circumstances of his death, he became at once the hero of Bohemian patriotism and the martyr-saint of multitudes in Bohemia and elsewhere who shared his demagogic and revolutionary principles. They were surely incompatible with either the ecclesiastical or the civil order of the time, and would at any period have bred both religious and civil anarchy, had they been put into practice. As to the safe-conduct of the emperor, we must distinguish, says Dr. von Funk (Kirchengeschichte, 3d ed., Freiburg, 1902, p. 495, and the more recent literature there quoted; also "Der Katholik", 1898, LXXVIII, 186-90, and K. Müller, non-Catholic, in the "Hist. Vierteljahrschrift", 1898, 41-86) between the arrest of Hus at Constance and his execution. The former act was always accounted in Bohemia a violation of the safe-conduct and a breach of faith on the emperor's part; on the other hand they knew well, and so did Hus, that the safe-conduct was only a guarantee against illegal violence and could not protect him from the sentence of his legitimate judges. (On the death penalty for heresy, see Ficker, "Die gesetzliche Einführung der Todestrafe für Häresie" in "Mittheil. d. Inst. f. oest. Geschichtsforschung", 1888, 177 sqq., and Havet, "L'hérésie et le bras séculier au moyen âge jusqu'au XIIIe siècle", Paris, 1881; see also Gosselin, "Temporal Power of the Pope in the Middle Ages", I, 85-89). In the medieval German codes known as the Sachsenspiegel (about 1225) and the Schwabenspiegel (about 1275), heresy is already punishable with the stake. It is not true that the council declared that no faith should be kept with a heretic (see Pallavicino, "Hist. Conc. Trid.", XII, 15, 8; Höfler in "Hist. polit. Blätter", IV, 421, and Hefele, "Conciliengesch.", VII, 227, also Baudrillart, op. cit., II, 1217). In the following year Jerome (Hieronymus) of Prague, the friend of Hus, suffered the same fate at Constance. He had come voluntarily to the council in April, 1415, but soon fled the city; afterwards, mindful of the fate of Hus, he obtained from the council a safe-conduct to return for his defence. He did not appear, however, and was soon seized in Bavaria and brought in chains to Constance. In September, 1415, he abjured the forty-five propositions of Wyclif and the thirty of Hus, but did not regain his freedom, as his sincerity was suspected, and new charges were made against him. Finally, he was brought before the council, 23 May, 1416, one year after his arrest. This time he solemnly withdrew his abjuration as a sinful act and compelled by fear, and proclaimed Hus a holy and upright man. He was forthwith condemned as a heretic in the twenty-first session (30 May, 1416) and perished at the stake with no less courage than Hus. The humanist Poggio was an eyewitness of his death, and his letter to Leonardo of Arezzo, describing the scene, may be seen in Hefele, "Conciliengesch.", VII, 280 sqq. The death of both Hus and Jerome of Prague affected strongly other humanists of the time; Æneas Sylvius (later Pius II) said that they went to their deaths as men invited to a banquet. The immediate consequences were grave enough, i.e. the long Utraquist wars. For an equitable criticism of the defects in the trials of both Hus and Jerome see Baudrillart in "Dict. de théol. cath.", II, 1216-17. (See also HUSSITES.)

Jean Petit (Johannes Parvus) and Johann von Folkenberg

The question of the licity of tyrannicide occupied the attention of the council. The Franciscan Jean Petit (Parvus) had publicly defended (in nine theses) the Duke of Burgundy for his share in the murder of Louis d'Orléans (23 Nov., 1407), on the ground that any subject might kill or cause to be killed a tyrannical ruler (Kervyn de Lettenhove, Jean sans peur et l'apologie du tyrannicide, Brussels, 1861). After several years of discussion this thesis was condemned at Paris in 1414 by the bishop, the inquisitor, and the university. The Duke of Burgundy appealed to the Roman See. At Constance the matter was discussed in the fifteenth session (6 July, 1415); many French doctors were eager for the formal condemnation of Petit and his theses, but his Franciscan brethren defended him in a common memorial; the council finally was content with condemning in a general way the proposition that, regardless of his oath and without awaiting a judicial sentence, any vassal or subject might licitly kill, or cause to be killed, a tyrant. Quite similar was the case of Johann von Falkenberg, a German Dominican, who had maintained in a violent work against the King of Poland that it was allowed to kill him and all other Poles (Mansi, Conc., XXVII, 765). Many demanded with much earnestness the condemnation of Falkenberg, but no definite sentence was pronounced, despite the ardent discussions (see TYRANNICIDE), not even in the forty-fifth (last) session when the Poles urged it on Martin V; he declared that in matters of faith he would approve only what had been decided by the holy general council conciliariter, i.e. by the whole council and not by one or more nations. As noted above, these words of the pope refer only to the particular (Falkenberg) matter before him and not to all the decrees of the council, even in matters of faith.

Attendance at the council; general considerations

Owing to its long duration the attendance at the council varied much. The highest figures reached were: 29 cardinals, 3 patriarchs, 33 archbishops, 150 bishops, 100 abbots, 50 provosts, 300 doctors (mostly of theology). It was calculated that some 5000 monks and friars were present and in all about 18,000 ecclesiastics. The visitors are variously reckoned from 50,000 to 100,000 or more. Many European sovereigns and princes were present, invited by the emperor, among them (besides Emperor Sigismund and his suite) the Electors Ludwig von der Pfalz and Rudolph of Saxony, the Dukes of Bavaria, Austria, Saxony, Schleswig, Mecklenburg, Lorraine, and Teck, the Margrave of Brandenburg, also the ambassadors of the Kings of France, England, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, Naples, and the Spanish kingdoms. Towards the end the Greek emperor, Michael Palæologus, was also present (19 Feb., 1418, with 19 Greek bishops). In some respects the council resembled more a modern Catholic congress than a traditional ecclesiastical synod. The numerous princes and nobles by their tournaments and splendid amusements; the merchants by their rich and curious wares; the travellers by their number and importance; the fringe of fakirs and mountebanks found at all popular gatherings, made Constance for the time the cynosure of all Europe and even of the Greek world. There is, of course, no reason to wonder that in so motley a throng, suddenly gathered from all quarters, moral disorders and loose living should have manifested themselves. Quite apart from the reliability or animus of some gossipy chroniclers, the council was directly responsible only for its own acts and not for the life of the city of Constance. It must also be remembered that in one way or another unforeseen events and situations protracted the council beyond all ordinary prevision. Among these were: the flight of John XXIII; the lengthy process of Benedict XIII; the general jealousy and dislike of the cardinals, and in turn, the natural efforts of the latter to save the ecclesiastical constitution from thorough ruin at the unhappiest moment for the papal authority, hitherto its corner-stone; the passionate longing for a public canonical purification of Catholicism from its acknowledged abuses and excrescences (in the head and in the Roman Curia). We need not wonder that at the end of his remarkable diary of the council, Cardinal Guillaume Fillastre wrote as follows (Finke ed., Forschungen und Quellen, p. 242): "Hoc Constantiense concilium ... omnibus quæ precesserunt generalibus conciliis fuit in congregando difficilius, in progressu singularius, mirabilius et periculosius, et tempore diuturnius", i.e. no previous council was gotten together with so much difficulty, or ran a career so unique, marvellous and perilous, or lasted so long. From an ecclesiastical point of view, the Council of Constance may truly be said to close the medieval and to open the modern period. It was an anti-climax for the all-dominant medieval papacy, while in Sigismund (Emperor-elect, King of Hungary, heir of Bohemia, etc.) for the last time appears a pale image of the ideal office of the medieval empire. The language of its orators and its "Acta" exhibits a certain dawn of Humanism (Finke) while there for the first time modern nationalism, quite different from its medieval prototype, comes to the front, dominates the entire situation, menaces even the immemorial unity of the Church, and begins its long career of discordant relations with the central administration of Catholicism (see GALLICANISM; JOHANN HONTHEIM). Not a few elements of the later ecclesiastical revolution under Luther are already visibly present at Constance. The German nation in particular remained grievously discontented with the local results of the second of the great reform councils (Pisa, Constance, Basle), and throughout the fifteenth century sought variously, but with little success, to realize the demands put forth at the Council of Constance. [See EUGENE IV; MARTIN V; EMPEROR SIGISMUND; F. Rocquain, "La cour de Rome et l'esprit de réforme avant Luther" (Paris, 1900), also Pastor (see below), and Janssen, "Hist. of the German People", etc. POPE; PRIMACY; REFORMATION; CHURCH; COUNCIL OF TRENT; COUNCIL OF THE VATICAN.]



Council of Basle/Ferrara/Florence (1431-1439)


Important Notes
The Council of Basle was transferred to Ferrara in 1438,
and then to Florence in 1439.  The Council continued in
schismatic form beyond 1439 as a schismatic council.  Its
dissolution occurred on April 25, 1449, in Lausanne.

Summary from:

The Council of Basle met first in that town, Eugene IV being pope, and Sigismund Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Its object was the religious pacification of Bohemia. Quarrels with the pope having arisen, the council was transferred first to Ferrara (1438), then to Florence (1439), where a short-lived union with the Greek Church was effected, the Greeks accepting the council's definition of controverted points. The Council of Basle is only ecumenical till the end of the twenty-fifth session, and of its decrees Eugene IV approved only such as dealt with the extirpation of heresy, the peace of Christendom, and the reform of the Church, and which at the same time did not derogate from the rights of the Holy See. (See also the Council of Florence.)

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Convoked by Pope Martin V in 1431, closed at Lausanne in 1449. The position of the pope as the common Father of the Christian world had been seriously compromised by the transfer of the papal court to Avignon, and by the subsequent identification of the interests of the Church with those of a particular race. Men began to regard the papacy more as a national than a universal institution, and their feeling of religious loyalty was often nearly balanced by the promptings of national jealousy. Nor was the papacy likely to be strengthened by the events of the Great Western Schism (1378-1417), when rival claimants were seen contending for the throne of St. Peter and for the allegiance of the Christian nations. Such a spectacle was well calculated to shake men's belief in the monarchical form of government and to drive them to seek elsewhere a remedy for the evils which then afflicted the Church. It was not strange that the advocates of a general council as the final arbitrator, the ultimate court of appeal to which all, even the pope, must yield, should have secured a ready attention. The success of the Council of Constance (1414-18) in securing the withdrawal or deposition of the three rival popes had supplied a strong argument in favour of the conciliar theory. It is clear both from the speeches of some of the Fathers of Constance as well as from its decrees that such a feeling was rapidly gaining ground, and that many people had come to regard the government of the Church by general councils, convoked at regular intervals, as the one most in harmony with the needs of the time. As a result, in the 39th session of the Council of Constance (9 October, 1417) we find it decreed: that general councils should be held frequently; that the next should be convoked within five years; the following seven years later, and after this, a council should be held every ten years; that the place of convocation should be determined by the council itself, and could not be changed even by the pope unless in case of war or pestilence, and then only with the consent of at least two-thirds of the cardinals. It was in accordance with this decree that Martin V convoked the Council of Basle, and it is only by understanding the feeling underlying this decree that we can grasp the significance of the dispute waged between Eugene IV and the council. Which was to govern the Church? Was it to be the pope or the council? That was the issue really at stake.

Whether Basle is to be regarded as a general council, and if so, in what sense, has been often warmly discussed. The extreme Gallicans (e.g. Edmund Richer, Hist. Concil. Gen., III, vii) contend that it should be reckoned as cumenical from its beginning (1431) till its end in Lausanne (1449); while the moderate writers of the Gallican school (e.g. Nat. Alexander, IX, pp. 433-599) admit that after the appearance of the Bull of Eugene IV (18 September, 1437) transferring the council to Ferrara, the proceedings at Basle can be regarded only as the work of a schismatical conventicle. On the other hand, writers like Bellarmine (De Concil., I, vii), Roncaglia, and Holstein absolutely refuse to number Basle among the general councils of the Church on account of the small number of bishops in attendance at the beginning, and the subsequent rebellious attitude in face of the papal decrees of dissolution. The true opinion seems to be that put forward by Hefele (Conciliengesch., 2d ed., I, 63-99) that the assembly at Basle may be regarded as cumenical from the beginning until the Bull "Doctoris Gentium" (18 September, 1437) transferred its sessions to Ferrera, and that the decrees passed during that period regarding the extirpation of heresy, the establishment of peace among Christian nations, and the reform of the Church, if they are not prejudicial to the Apostolic See, may be considered as the decrees of a general council. In accordance with the above-mentioned decree of Constance, the Council of Pavia had been convoked by Martin V (1423), and on the appearance of the plague in that city its sessions were transferred to Sienna. Very little was done except to determine the place where the next council should be held. An Italian city was looked upon with disfavour, as likely to be too friendly to the papacy; the French bishops and the Paris University were anxious that some place in France should be selected; but finally, owing mainly to the representations of Emperor Sigismund, Basle was agreed upon by all, and this choice having been made, the council was dissolved (7 March, 1424). As the time approached for the assembling of the council Martin V was urged from all sides to place no obstacle in the way, and though knowing the tendency at the time, and fearing that the council would lead to revolution rather than reform, he finally gave his consent and appointed Cardinal Giuliano Cæsarini as president (1 February, 1431).

The principal purpose of the council was to be the reformation of the Church in its "head and members," the settlement of the Hussite wars, the establishment of peace among the nations of Europe, and finally the reunion of the Western and Eastern Churches. The demands of the Roman Curia, its constant interference in the bestowal of benefices, the right of appeal on all matters to the prejudice of the local authorities, the financial burdens involved in such institutions as annates, expectancies, and reservations, not to speak of the direct papal taxation, only too common since the thirteenth century, had given just grounds for complaint to the clergy and secular powers of the different nations. These papal taxes and encroachments on the rights of the local authorities, both ecclesiastical and civil, had long been bitterly resented, especially in England and Germany, and it was because a remedy for these abuses was hoped for only from a general council that people regarded sympathetically the assembly at Basle, even at times when they did not agree with its methods. In addition to these, the question of simony, of concubinage among the clergy, or reorganization of diocesan and provincial synods, of the abuse of censures, especially of interdict, called for some reform in the discipline of the Church. But besides these disciplinary matters the teaching of Wyclif and Hus had found sympathetic supporters in England and Bohemia, and notwithstanding the condemnation at Constance the Hussites were still a powerful party in the latter country. Though the death of their leader Ziska (1424) had proved a serious loss, the different sections still continued the struggle, and Emperor Sigismund was naturally anxious that an end should be put to the war which had already taxed his resources to the uttermost. Furthermore, the growing power of the Turks was a menace not alone to the existence of the Eastern Empire but to the whole of Europe, and made it imperative upon the Christian princes to abandon their internecine strife and unite with the Greeks in defence of their common Christianity agains the power of Islam. The movement in favour of reunion had been specially favoured by Martin V and by the Emperor John VII Palæologus (1425-48).

The president of the council, Cardinal Giuliano Cæsarini, appointed by Martin V and confirmed by Eugene IV, presided at the first public session, but retired immediately upon the receipt of the papal Bull dissolving the council (December, 1431). The members then nominated Bishop Philibert of Constance as president. Later on, probably at the seventh general session (6 November, 1432), Cæsarini resumed the presidency and continued the guiding spirit in opposition to the pope till the extreme element under Cardinal d'Allemand of Arles began to gain the upper hand. In the general assembly (6 December, 1436) he refused to agree to the wishes of the majority that Basle, Avignon, or some city of Savoy should be selected as the meeting place of the council to be held for the reunion of the Greeks with the Western Church, but he continued to act as president till the 31st of July, 1437, when a decree was passed summoning Pope Eugene IV to appear at Basle within sixty days to answer for his disobedience. Cæsarini finally left Basle after the appearance of the Bull, "Doctoris Gentium" (18 September, 1437) transferring the council to Ferrara, and joined the adherents of the pope. After his withdrawal, Cardinal d'Allemand played the leading part and on the election of the antipope, Felix V, was nominated by him as president of the assembly. The nomination however, was disregarded by the members who thereupon elected the Archbishop of Tarentaise. The other members of the council who took a prominent part in the proceedings were Capranica who had been appointed cardinal by Martin, but who as his appointment had not been published was not admitted to the conclave on the death of Martin nor recognized by Eugene; Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini, afterwards Pope Pius II; the renowned scholar Nicholas of Cusa; Cardinal Louis d'Allemand; John of Antioch; John of Ragusa, and the two canonists, Nicholas, Archbishop of Palermo, and Louis Pontanus.

Eugene IV confirmed his predecessor's appointment of Cæsarini as president ont he very day of his coronation (12 March), but with certain reservations which were dictated by Eugene's desire of holding a council in some city more convenient for the representatives of the Greeks. There was present at Basle on the day on which the council should have been opened (4 March) only one delegate, but by the beginning of April, three representatives arrived from the University of Paris, together with the Bishop of Châlons and the Abbot of Cîteaux. These six came together (11 April) and issued pressing letters of invitation to the cardinals, bishops, and princes of Europe. Cæsarini, who up to this time had been engaged in the crusade organized against the Hussites, endeavoured to reassure the delegates and to restrain their eagerness, while the influence of Sigismund was employed in the same direction. The pope wrote to Cæsarini (31 May) requesting him to settle the affair of the Hussites as quickly as possible and then to proceed to Basle for the opening of the council. On the reception of this letter the legate determined, after consultation with Sigismund, to remain with the military forces, but at the same time to dispatch two of his companions, John of Palomar and John of Ragusa, to act as his representatives at Basle. These arrived there on 19 July and held an assembly (23 July) in the Cathedral of Basle at which the documents of authorization were read, and the council declared formally opened. Though there were not a dozen members present the assembly immediately arrogated itself the title of a general council, and began to act as if its authority were secured.

Cæsarini, after the failure of his crusade against the Hussites, arrived in Basle on the 11th of September and a few days later (17 September), in accordance with instructions received from Eugene, dispatched John Beaup re to Rome, in the capacity of delegate, to inform the pope of the proceedings. The delegate who was unfavourable to the continuance of the council represented to the pope that very few prelates had attended, that there was little hope of an increased number owing to the war between Burgundy and Austria and the general unsafety of the roads, and that even the city of Basle itself was in danger and its people unfriendly to the clergy. On the receipt of this news Eugene issued (12 November) a commission to Cæsarini, signed by twelve cardinals, empowering him to dissolve the council, if he should deem it advisable, and to convoke another to meet at Bologna eighteen months after the dissolution. Meanwhile the assembly at Basle had entered into communication with the Hussites, requesting them to send representatives to the council, and, in case they complied, granting letters of safe-conduct. This was understood at Rome as indicating a desire to reopen for discussion questions of doctrine already settled at Constance and at Sienna, and as a result Eugene IV issued (18 December) a Bull dissolving the council and convoking another to meet at Bologna. th

Before the arrival of this Bull Cæsarini had already (14 December) held the first public session, at which were present three bishops, fourteen abbots, and a considerable body of doctors and priests. Naturally enough, the Bull of dissolution, though not entirely unexpected, gave great offense, to those present, and on the 3rd of January, 1432, when it was to have been read, the members absented themselves from the sitting to prevent its publication. Cæsarini forwarded to Rome a strongly worded protest against the dissolution, in which he pointed out the evil consequences which would result from such a step, but at the same time in obedience to the papal Bull he resigned his position as president of the council. Sigismund, who had already appointed Duke William of Bavaria protector of the council, was also opposed to the action of Eugene IV, as he had great hopes that through this council the Hussite controversy might be terminated; on the other hand, he wished to stand well with the pope, from whom he expected the imperial crown. Hence it is that while sympathizing generally with the council, he played the role of mediator rather than that of defender. Delegates were dispatched from Basle to secure the withdrawal of the Bull.

Many of the princes of Europe who had hoped for useful reforms from the labours of the council expressed their disapproval of the papal action, and more especially the Duke of Milan who was personally hostile to Eugene IV. Relying on this support the second public session was held (15 February, 1432) at which were renewed the decrees of Constance declaring that a general council had its authority directly from Christ and that all, even the pope, are bound to obey it. Besides, it was decreed that the "General Council" now in session could not be transferred, prorogued, or dissolved without its own consent. Everything seemed just then to favour the council. Sigismund had a powerful army in Northern Italy; an Assembly of the French Clergy at Bourges (February, 1432) declared for the continuation of the council at Basle and resolved to send representatives; the Duke of Burgundy wrote that he would send the bishops of his own nation and would use his influence with the King of England to induce him to do likewise; the Dukes of Milan and Savoy were equally sympathetic, while the Paris University declared that the devil alone could have inspired the pope to adopt such a course. Thus encouraged the council held its third public session (29 April, 1432) in which the pope was commanded to withdraw the Bull of dissolution and to appear at Basle either personally or by proxy within three months. A similar summons was addressed to the cardinals, and both pope and cardinals were threatened with judicial proceedings unless they complied. In the fourth public session (20 June, 1432) it was decreed that in case the papal throne should become vacant during the time of the council, the conclave could be held only at its place of session; that in the meantime Eugene IV should appoint no cardinals except at the council, nor should he hinder any person from attending, and that all censures pronounced against it by him were null and void. They even went so far as to appoint a governor for the territory of Avignon and to forbid any papal embassy to approach Basle unless letters of safe-conduct had been previously requested and granted.

Sigismund was in constant communication with the pope and urged him to make some concessions. In the beginning Eugene IV agreed to allow a national council to be held in some German city for the reform of the abuses in the Church of Germany and for the settlement of the Hussite controversy. Later on, he was willing to permit the council at Basle to continue its discussions on church reform, the Hussite controversy, and the establishment of peace among Christian nations, provided that its decisions were subject to the papal confirmation, and provided, too, that a council should be held in Bologna, or some Italian city for the reunion of the Eastern Church. Sigismund forwarded this letter to Basle (27 July) and exhorted the delegates to moderation. On the 22d of August, the plenipotentiaries of the pope were received at Basle and addressed the council at length, pointing out that the monarchical form of government was the one established by Christ, that the pope was the supreme judge in ecclesiastical affairs, and that the Bull of dissolution was not due to the pope's jealousy of a general council as such. They ended by declaring that the assembly at Basle, if it persisted in its opposition to Eugene, could be regarded only as a schismatical conventicle, and was certain to lead, not to reform, but to still greater abuses. In the name of the pope they made an offer of Bologna or some city in the Papal States as the place for the future council, the pope to resign his sovereign rights over the city selected, so long as the assembly should be in session. The council replied to this communication (3 September) by reasserting the superiority of a general council over the pope in all matters appertaining to faith, discipline, or the extirpation of schism, and by an absolute rejection of the offers made by the penipotentiaries.

In the sixth public session (6 September), at which were present four cardinals (Cæsarini, Branda, Castiglione, and Albergati) and thirty-two bishops, it was proposed to declare Eugene and his eighteen cardinals contumacious, but this proposal was postponed, owing, mainly, to the representations of Sigismund. In October, the standing orders for the transaction of the business of the council were drawn up. Without reference to their ecclesiastical rank the members were divided into four committees, on which the four nations attending the council should be equally represented. The votes of the cardinals or bishops were of no more importance than thos of the professors, canons, or parish priests; in this way it was secured tha tthe inferior clergy should have the controlling voice in the decisions of the council. Each committee was to carry on its sittings in a separate hall and to communicate its decisions to the others, and it was only when practical unanimity had been secured among the committees tha tthe matter was introduced at a public session of the whole body. This arrangement, whereby the irresponsible members had gained the upper hand, tended to bring affairs to a crisis. In the seventh public session (6 November) it was arranged that in case of Eugene's death the cardinals should appear at the council within 60 days for the holding of the conclave. Shortly afterwards, at the eighth public session (18 December), the pope was allowed a further term of sixty days to withdraw the Bull of dissolution, under threat of canonical proceedings in case he failed to comply, and, finally, at the tenth public session (19 February, 1433) this threat was enforced, and in the presence of five cardinals and forty-six bishops the pope was declared contumacious and canonical proceedings were instituted against him.

Eugene IV, afflicted with bodily suffering, deserted by many of his cardinals, and hard pressed by Italian rebels, endeavoured by every means in his power, together with the support of Philip, Duke of Milan, to bring about a settlement. He proposed (14 December, 1432) an Italian town as the place for the council, allowing the assembly at Basle four months to settle up the Hussite controversy; on the rejection of this, he agreed that it should be held in a German city provided twelve impartial bishops and the ambassadors of the different countries so wished it. Later still (1 February, 1433) he accepted a German town unconditionally, and even went so far as to agree to accept (14 February, 1433) Basle itself in case the decrees against the papal power were withdrawn, his own legate allowed to preside, and the number of bishops present at least seventy-five. These offers were rejected by the council (March, 1433), the decree about the superiority of a general council renewed (27 April), and it was with difficulty that Duke William of Bavaria prevented the opening of the process against the pope in the twelfth general session (13 July). Meanwhile Sigismund had made peace with Eugene and had received the imperial crown in Rome (31 may, 1433). He requested the council not to proceed further against the pope until he himself should be present, and on the other hand he pressed the pope to make some further concession. In response to this appeal Eugene issued (1 August, 1433) a Bull in which he declared that he was willing and content that the council should be recognized as lawfully constituted from the beginning and continued as if nothing had happened, and that he himself would assist its deliberations by every means in his power, provided, however, that his legates were admitted as real presidents, and that all decrees against himself or his cardinals were withdrawn. This declaration coincided exactly with the formula sent by Cæsarini to the emperor (18 June) except that the pope had inserted "we are willing and content" (volumus et contentamur) in place of the words "we decree and declare" (decernimus et declaramus). This change was displeasing to the council, implying, as it did, mere toleration and not the approbation which they desired; so relying upon Eugene's troubles in Italy with the Colonnas, the Duke of Milan, and others, they refused to accept even this concession. Finally, on the 15th of December, 1433, Eugene issued a Bull in which he accepted the formula "we decree and declare" by which he withdrew all his previous manifestos against the Council of Basle.

Thus peace was established between the two parties, but the reconciliation was more apparent than real. The papal legates were indeed admitted as presidents, but their jurisdiction was denied, their powers limited by the will of the council, they were even forced to accept the decrees of Constance which they did in their own name but not in the name of the pope (24 April, 1434), and finally when in the eighteenth public session (26 June) the Constance decrees were solemnly renewed they refused to attend. In spite of their efforts the council continued in its opposition to the pope, claiming jurisdiction in all affairs, political and religious, and entering into negotiations with the Greeks about the reunion of the Churches. At the twentieth public session (22 January, 1435) the reform of the church discipline was begun. Decrees were passed against concubinage of the clergy and the abuse of excommunications and interdicts. On the 9th of June, 1435, annates and all the customary papal taxes were abolished, although no steps were taken to provide for the financial status of the papacy. Later still the papal collectors were ordered to appear in Basle to render an account of their work and all outstanding debts due to the pope were to be paid at Basle. The papal delegates, especially Traversari and Anton de Vito, defended the rights of Eugene, but the moderate element was gradually losing control in the assembly, and the extreme party, gathered around Cardinal Louis d'Allemand, could no longer be restrained. No legislation had any chance of being passed unless directed against the Holy See. At last, after the papal deputies, Cardinals Albergati and Cervantes, had been received very badly at Basle (25 March, 1436), and after decrees had been passed regarding the future conclave, the papal oath, the number of cardinals, etc., Eugene IV realized that conciliation was no longer possible, and addressed a Note to the princes of Europe in which he summed up the injuries inflicted on the papacy by the council and requested the different rulers to withdraw their bishops from Basle and assist in the preparation for another general council from the deliberations of which something better might be awaited.

The council had previously opened communication with the Greeks (September, 1434) to determine where the assembly for reunion should be held. In December, 1436, it was proposed that the council should be held either at Basle itself, at Avignon, or in Savoy. Cardinal Cæsarini refused to put this proposal to the meeting, but on the motion of Cardinal d'Allemand it was passed. The pope refused to consent, and the deputies of the Greek Emperor protested against it (23 February, 1437), whereupon a new embassy was dispatched to Constantinople. The Greeks refused to come either to Basle or Savoy, and the people of Avignon had shown no desire that the council should be held there. A strong minority, including the papal legates, and most of the bishops present, wished that some Italian city should be selected; the majority, led by Cardinal d'Allemand and composed mainly of the inferior clergy, were opposed to this proposal, and after a disorderly session (7 May, 1437), at which both parties published their decrees, Eugene IV confirmed that of the minority, and the Greek ambassador declared it to be the once acceptable to the emperor. The revolutionary party now completely controlled the council. Against the wishes of Cæsarini, Cervantes, and Sigismund, the pope was commanded (31 July, 1437) to appear before the council to answer for his disobedience, and on the 1st of October he was declared contumacious. Eugene IV replied to these excesses by the publication of the Bull "Doctoris gentium" (18 September), in which it was stated that unless the delegates abandoned their methods and confined themselves for a limited number of days only to the Bohemian affair the council would be transferred to Ferrara. The reply was a reassertion of the superiority of a general council (19 October). Cardinal Cæsarini made one final effort to effect a reconciliation, but failed, and then, accompanied by all the cardinals except d'Allemand and by most of the bishops, he left Basle and joined the pope at Ferrara, to which place the council had been definitely transferred by a Bull of Eugene IV (30 December).

Henceforth the assembly at Basle could be regarded only as schismatical. Most of the Christian world stood loyal to the pope and to the Council of Ferrara. Englad, Castile and Aragon, Milan, and Bavaria disavowed the assembly at Basle, while, on the other hand, France and Germany, though recognizing Eugene IV, endeavoured to maintain a neutral position. In a meeting of the French Clergy at Bourges (May, 1438), at which were present delegates from the pope and from Basle, it was determined to remain loyal to Eugene, while at the same time many of the reforms of Basle were accepted with certain modifications. It was on this basis that the twenty-three articles of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges were drawn up (7 July, 1438). In Germany, after the death of Sigismund (9 December, 1437), delegates of both parties attended at Frankfurt (1438) to seek the assistance of the princes, but they declared for neutrality until a king had been elected, and even after the election of Albrecht II the attitude of neutrality was maintained till at last, in Mainz (March, 1439), they followed the example of France and declared for Eugene IV as lawful pope while they accepted many of the reforms of Basle.

In Basle itself it was resolved to depose the pope and in order to prepare the way for deposition three articles were drawn up, namely:

Cardinal d'Allemand was the leading spirit in this undertaking. Against the wishes of the bishops and most of the ambassadors present, these decrees were passed (16 may, 1439), and Eugene IV was deposed as a heretic and schismatic (25 June). Immediately steps were taken to elect his successor. Cardinal Louis d'Allemand, eleven bishops, five theologians, and nine jurists and canonists formed the conclave, and on the 30th of October, 1439, Amadeus, ex-Duke of Savory, was elected and took the name of Felix V. Since his retirement he had been living with a body of knights, which he organized as the Order of St. Maurice, on the banks of the Lake of Geneva. He was closely connected with many of the princes of Europe, and the council stood in bad need of the wealth which he was reputed to possess. He named Cardinal d'Allemand president, but the conventicle resented this act of authority and elected instead the Archbishop of Tarentaise (26 February, 1440). Steps were also taken to levy taxes on ecclesiastical benefices to provide revenue for Felix V (4 August, 1440). But the election of an antipope alienated the sympathy of the world from Basle. Henceforth they could rely only upon Switzerland and Savoy.

Disputes soon broke out between Felix V and the conventicle at Basle. It refused to allow his name to precede that of the council in the promulgation of its decrees, and he was unwilling to undergo the expense of supporting nuncios in the different countries. The sessions became less frequent, the relations between Felix V and the council were strained until, at last, in defiance of its wishes, he left Basle and took up his residence at Lausanne (December, 1442). Disappointed in the hope of securing the support of Sforza, Aragon, or Milan, the council held its last session at Basle (16 May, 1443), and decreed that a general council should be held in Lyons after three years; that until the opening of this the Council of Basle should continue its work, and in case the city of Basle should become unsafe that it should be transferred to Lausanne. No decrees of general interest were passed after this session. But it was some time before the princes of Germany could be induced to abandon the attitude of neutrality. At different diets, Nuremberg (1438), Mainz (1441), Frankfort (1442), Nuremberg (1443, 1444), Frankfort (1445), it was proposed that a new general council should be held to settle the disputes between Basle and Eugene IV. A sentence of deposition issued by Eugene IV against the Prince-Electors of Cologne and Trier who favoured Basle roused all the princes of Germany against him, and at the Diet of Frankfort (1446) it was resolved to send an embassy to Rome to demand the convocation of a new council, and, in the meantime, the recognition of the reforms effected in Basle; else they would withdraw from their allegiance. The Emperor Frederick III dissented from this decision and sent his secretary, Æneas Sylvius, to confer with the pope. At last, after long negotiation in Rome and Frankfort, an agreement was arrived at (February, 1447) known as the Concordat of the Princes. On their side they agreed to abandon the attitude of neutrality, while the pope restored the deposed princes and accepted with modifications certain of the reforms of Basle. In accordance with this agreement the Vienna Concordat was drawn up between the successor of Eugene IV and the Emperor Frederick III. The pope's rights in the appointment to benefices were clearly defined, and the sources of revenue to take the place of the annates, then abolished, were agreed upon. Once this had been concluded, Frederick III forbade the city of Basle to harbour any longer the schismatical assembly, and in June, 1448, they were obliged to retire to Lausanne. Finally, after a few sessions at Lausanne, Felix V resigned and submitted to the lawful pope, Nicholas V. The members of the assembly also elected Nicholas as pope and then decreed the dissolution of the council (25 April, 1449).

It only remains to deal with the negotiations between the Council of Basle and the Hussites. The latter were invited, as we have seen, at the very beginning of the council, but it was only in the fourth session (20 June, 1432) that the conditions proposed by the Hussites were accepted, and prayers ordered for their return to the Church. About the beginning of January, 1433, nearly three hundred of the Calixtine party arrived, and after repeated negotiations in Prague and Basle, the four articles demanded by the Hussites were agreed upon with certain modifications. These were Communion under both kinds, though their priests were to teach that Communion under one kind was equally valid; free preaching of the word of God, but subject to ecclesiatical authority; the punishment of mortal sin, but only by a lawful tribunal; the retention of their temporalities by the clerics, who were however, bound to bestow their superfluous wealth according to the canons. These formed the Compact of Prague, agreed upon the 30th of November, 1433. Many of the more extreme sects, such as the Taborites, refused to accept this treaty, but after their defeat (Lippau, 1434) a better feeling set in, and a similar compact was proclaimed at Iglau in July, 1436, and enforced byt he Council of Basle (15 January, 1437).

The Council of Basle might have done much to secure reforms, then so badly needed, and to restore confidence in ecclesiastical authority. From all sides it was assured of sympathy and support as the one remedy for the abuses which existed. But under the influence of extreme theories and theorists it allowed itself to be hurried into an inglorious struggle with the pope, and the valuable time and energy which should have been given up to useful legislation were spent in useless discussions. It succeeded in fixing the eyes of the world upon the abuses, but without the pope it had not sufficient authority to carry through the necessary reforms, and as a consequence the secular rulers undertook what the ecclesiastical authority had shamefully failed to set right. It struck a terrible blow at the rights of the Holy See and shook men's faith in the pope's spiritual power at a time when his temporal sovereignty was in imminent danger. In this way it led directly in France, through the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, to the establishment of Gallicanism as a definite formula, while in Germany, through the long intervals of neutrality, people were prepared for the complete severance from the Holy See which was afterwards effected in the Reformation.



Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517)


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The Fifth Lateran Council sat from 1512 to 1517 under Popes Julius II and Leo X, the emperor being Maximilian I. Fifteen cardinals and about eighty archbishops and bishops took part in it. Its decrees are chiefly disciplinary. A new crusade against the Turks was also planned, but came to naught, owing to the religious upheaval in Germany caused by Luther.

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When elected pope, Julius II promised under oath that he would soon convoke a general council. Time passed, however, and this promise was not fulfilled. Consequently, certain dissatisfied cardinals, urged, also, by Emperor Maximilian and Louis XII, convoked a council at Pisa and fixed 1 September, 1511, for its opening This event was delayed until 1 October. Four cardinals then met at Pisa provided with proxies from three absent cardinals. Several bishops and abbots were also there, as well as ambassadors from the King of France. Seven or eight sessions were held, in the last of which Pope Julius II was suspended, whereupon the prelates withdrew to Lyons. The pope hastened to oppose to this conciliabulum a more numerously attended council, which he convoked, by the Bull of 18 July, 1511, to assemble 19 April, 1512, in the church of St. John Lateran. The Bull was at once a canonical and a polemical document. In it the pope refuted in detail the reasons alleged by the cardinals for their Pisa conciliabulum. He declared that his conduct before his elevation to the pontificate was a pledge of his sincere desire for the celebration of the council; that since his elevation he had always sought opportunities for assembling it; that for this reason he had sought to reestablish peace among Christian princes; that the wars which had arisen against his will had no other object than the reestablishment of pontifical authority in the States of the Church. He then reproached the rebel cardinals with the irregularity of their conduct and the unseemliness of convoking the Universal Church independently of its head. He pointed out to them that the three months accorded by them for the assembly of all bishops at Pisa was too short, and that said city presented none of the advantages requisite for an assembly of such importance. Finally, he declared that no one should attach any significance to the act of the cardinals. The Bull was signed by twenty-one cardinals. The French victory of Ravenna (11 April, 1512) hindered the opening of the council before 3 May, on which day the fathers met in the Lateran Basilica. There were present fifteen cardinals, the Latin Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, ten archbishops, fifty-six bishops, some abbots and generals of religious orders, the ambassadors of Kings Ferdinand, and those of Venice and of Florence. Convoked by Julius II, the assembly survived him, was continued by Leo X, and held its twelfth, and last, session on 16 March, 1417. In the third session Matthew Lang, who had represented Maximilian at the Council of Tours, read an act by which that emperor repudiated all that had been done at Tours and at Pisa. In the fourth session the advocate of the council demanded the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. In the eighth (17 December, 1513), an act of King Louis XII was read, disavowing the Council of Pisa and adhering to the Lateran Council. In the next session (5 March, 1514) the pope published four decrees:




Council of Trent (1545-1563)


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The Council of Trent lasted eighteen years (1545-1563) under five popes: Paul III, Julius III, Marcellus II, Paul IV and Pius IV, and under the Emperors Charles V and Ferdinand. There were present 5 cardinal legates of the Holy See, 3 patriarchs, 33 archbishops, 235 bishops, 7 abbots, 7 generals of monastic orders, and 160 doctors of divinity. It was convoked to examine and condemn the errors promulgated by Luther and other Reformers, and to reform the discipline of the Church. Of all councils it lasted longest, issued the largest number of dogmatic and reformatory decrees, and produced the most beneficial results.

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The nineteenth ecumenical council opened at Trent on 13 December, 1545, and closed there on 4 December, 1563. Its main object was the definitive determination of the doctrines of the Church in answer to the heresies of the Protestants; a further object was the execution of a thorough reform of the inner life of the Church by removing the numerous abuses that had developed in it.

Convocation and opening

On 28 November, 1518, Luther had appealed from the pope to a general council because he was convinced that he would be condemned at Rome for his heretical doctrines. The Diet held at Nuremberg in 1523 demanded a "free Christian council" on German soil, and at the Diet held in the same city in 1524 a demand was made for a German national council to regulate temporarily the questions in dispute, and for a general council to settle definitely the accusations against Rome, and the religious disputes. Owing to the feeling prevalent in Germany the demand was very dangerous. Rome positively rejected the German national council, but did not absolutely object to holding a general council. Emperor Charles V forbade the national council, but notified Clement VII through his ambassadors that he considered the calling of a general council expedient and proposed the city of Trent as the place of assembly. In the years directly succeeding this, the unfortunate dispute between emperor and pope prevented any further negotiations concerning a council. Nothing was done until 1529 when the papal ambassador, Pico della Mirandola, declared at the Diet of Speyer that the pope was ready to aid the Germans in the struggle against the Turks, to urge the restoration of peace among Christian rulers, and to convoke a general council to meet the following summer. Charles and Clement VII met at Bologna in 1530, and the pope agreed to call a council, if necessary. The cardinal legate, Lorenzo Campeggio, opposed a council, convinced that the Protestants were not honest in demanding it. Still the Catholic princes of Germany, especially the dukes of Bavaria, favoured a council as the best means of overcoming the evils from which the Church was suffering; Charles never wavered in his determination to have the council held as soon as there was a period of general peace in Christendom.

The matter was also discussed at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, when Campegio again opposed a council, while the emperor declared himself in favour of one provided the Protestants were willing to restore earlier conditions until the decision of the council. Charles's proposition met the approval of the Catholic princes, who, however, wished the assembly to meet in Germany. The emperor's letters to his ambassadors at Rome on the subject led to the discussion of the matter twice in the congregation of cardinals appointed especially for German affairs. Although opinions differed, the pope wrote to the emperor that Charles could promise the convoking of a council with his consent, provided the Protestants returned to the obedience of the Church. He proposed an Italian city, preferably Rome, as the place of assembly. The emperor, however, distrusted the pope, believing that Clement did not really desire a council. Meantime, the Protestant princes did not agree to abandon their doctrines. Clement constantly raised difficulties in regard to a council, although Charles, in accord with most of the cardinals, especially Farnese, del Monte, and Canisio, repeatedly urged upon him the calling of one as the sole means of composing the religious disputes. Meanwhile the Protestant princes refused to withdraw from the position they had taken up. Francis I, of France, sought to frustrate the convoking of the council by making impossible conditions. It was mainly his fault that the council was not held during the reign of Clement VII, for on 28 Nov., 1531, it had been unanimously agreed in a consistory that a council should be called. At Bologna in 1532, the emperor and the pope discussed the question of a council again and decided that it should meet as soon as the approval of all Christian princes had been obtained for the plan. Suitable Briefs addressed to the rulers were drawn up and legates were commissioned to go to Germany, France, and England. The answer of the French king was unsatisfactory. Both he and Henry VIII of England avoided a definitive reply, and the German Protestants rejected the conditions proposed by the pope.

The next pope, Paul III (1534-49), as Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, had always strongly favoured the convening of a council, and had, during the conclave, urged the calling of one. When, after his election, he first met the cardinals, 17 October, 1534, he spoke of the necessity of a general council, and repeated this opinion at the first consistory (13 November). He summoned distinguished prelates to Rome to discuss the matter with them. Representatives of Charles V and Ferdinand I also laboured to hasten the council. The majority of the cardinals, however, opposed the immediate calling of a council, and it was resolved to notify the princes of the papal decision to hold a church assembly. Nuncios were sent for this purpose to France, Spain, and the German king, Ferdinand. Vergerio, nuncio to Ferdinand, was also to apprise the German electors and the most distinguished of the remaining ruling princes personally of the impending proclamation of the council. He executed his commission with zeal, although he frequently met with reserve and distrust. The selection of the place of meeting was a source of much difficulty, as Rome insisted that the council should meet in an Italian city. The Protestant rulers, meeting at Smalkald in December, 1535, rejected the proposed council. In this they were supported by Kings Henry VIII and Francis I. At the same time the latter sent assurances to Rome that he considered the council as very serviceable for the extermination of heresy, carrying on, as regards the holding of a council, the double intrigue he always pursued in reference to German Protestantism. The visit of Charles V to Rome in 1536 led to a complete agreement between him and the pope concerning the council. On 2 June, Paul III published the Bull calling all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, and abbots to assemble at Mantua on 23 May, 1537, for a general council. Cardinal legates were sent with an invitation to the council to the emperor, the King of the Romans, the King of France, while a number of other nuncios carried the invitation to the other Christian countries. The Netherlander Peter van der Vorst was sent to Germany to persuade the German ruling princes to take part. The Protestant rulers received the ambassador most ungraciously; at Smalkald they refused the invitation curtly, although in 1530 they had demanded a council. Francis I took advantage of the war that had broken out between himself and Charles in 1536 to declare the journey of the French bishops to the council impossible.

Meanwhile preparations were carried on with zeal at Rome. The commission of reform, appointed in July, 1536, drew up a report as the basis for the correction of the abuses in ecclesiastical life; the pope began preparations for the journey to Mantua. The Duke of Mantua now raised objections against the holding of the assembly in his city and made conditions which it was not possible to accept at Rome. The opening of the council, therefore, was put off to 1 November; later it was decided to open it at Vicenza on 1 May, 1538. The course of affairs, however, was continually obstructed by Francis I. Nevertheless the legates who were to preside at the council went to Vicenza. Only six bishops were present. The French king and the pope met at Nice, and it was decided to prorogue until Easter, 1539. Soon after this the emperor also desired to postpone the council, as he hoped to restore religious unity in Germany by conferences with the Protestants. After further unsuccessful negotiations both with Charles V and Francis I the council was indefinitely prorogued at the consistory of 21 May, 1539, to reassemble at the pope's discretion. When Paul III and Charles V met at Lucca in September, 1541, the former again raised the question of the council. The emperor now consented that it should meet at Vicenza, but Venice would not agree, whereupon the emperor proposed Trent, and later Cardinal Contarini suggested Mantua, but nothing was decided. The emperor and Francis I were invited later to send the cardinals of their countries to Rome, so that the question of the council could be discussed by the college of cardinals. Morone worked in Germany as legate for the council, and the pope agreed to hold it at Trent. After further consultations at Rome, Paul III convoked on 22 May, 1542, an ecumenical council to meet at Trent on 1 Nov. of the same year. The Protestants made violent attacks on the council, and Francis I opposed it energetically, not even permitting the Bull of convocation to be published in his kingdom.

The German Catholic princes and King Sigismund of Poland consented to the convocation. Charles V, enraged at the neutral position of the pope in the war that was threatening between himself and Francis I, as well as with the wording of the Bull, wrote a reproachful letter to Paul III. Nevertheless, preparations were made for the council at Trent, by special papal commissioners, and three cardinals were appointed later as conciliary legates. The conduct, however, of Francis I and of the emperor again prevented the opening of the council. A few Italian and German bishops appeared at Trent. The pope went to Bologna in March 1543, and to a conference with Charles V at Busseto in June, yet matters were not advanced. The strained relations which appeared anew between pope and emperor, and the war between Charles V and Francis I, led to another prorogation (6 July, 1543). After the Peace of Crespy (17 Sept., 1544) a reconciliation was effected between Paul III and Charles V. Francis I had abandoned his opposition and declared himself in favour of Trent as the place of meeting, as did the emperor. On 19 Nov., 1544, the Bull "Laetare Hierusalem" was issued, by which the council was again convoked to meet at Trent on 15 March, 1545. Cardinals Giovanni del Monte, Marcello Cervini, and Reginald Pole were appointed in February, 1545, as the papal legates to preside at the council. As in March only a few bishops had come to Trent, the date of opening had to be deferred again. The emperor, however, desired a speedy opening, consequently 13 December, 1545, was appointed as the date of the first formal session. This was held in the choir of the cathedral of Trent after the first president of the council, Cardinal del Monte, had celebrated the Mass of the Holy Ghost. When the Bull of convocation and the Bull appointing the conciliary legates were read, Cardinal del Monte declared the ecumenical council opened, and appointed 7 January as the date of the second session. Besides the three presiding legates there were present: Cardinal Madruzzi, Bishop of Trent, four archbishops, twenty-one bishops, five generals of orders. The council was attended, in addition, by the legates of the King of Germany, Ferdinand, and by forty-two theologians, and nine canonists, who had been summoned as consultors.

Order of business

In the work of accomplishing its great task the council had to contend with many difficulties. The first weeks were occupied mainly with settling the order of business of the assembly. After long discussion it was agreed that the matters to be taken into consideration by the members of the council were to be proposed by the cardinal legates; after they had been drawn up by a commission of consultors (congregatio theologorum minorum) they were to be discussed thoroughly in preparatory sessions of special congregations of prelates for dogmatic questions, and similar congregations for legal questions (congregatio proelatorum theologorum and congregatio proelatorum canonistarum). Originally the fathers of the council were divided into three congregations for discussion of subjects, but this was soon done away with as too cumbersome. After all the preliminary discussions the matter thus made ready was debated in detail in the general congregation (congregatio generalis) and the final form of the decrees was settled on. These general congregations were composed of all bishops, generals of orders, and abbots who were entitled to a vote, the proxies of absent members entitled to a vote, and the representatives (oratores) of the secular rulers. The decrees resulting from such exhaustive debates were then brought forward in the formal sessions and votes were taken upon them. On 18 December the legates laid seventeen articles before the general congregations as regards the order of procedure in the subjects to be discussed. This led to a number of difficulties. The main one was whether dogmatic questions or the reform of church life should be discussed first. It was finally decided that both subjects should be debated simultaneously. Thus after the promulgation in the sessions of the decrees concerning the dogmas of the Church followed a similar promulgation of those on discipline and Church reform. The question was also raised whether the generals of orders and abbots were members of the council entitled to a vote. Opinions varied greatly on this point. Still, after long discussion the decision was reached that one vote for the entire order belonged to each general of an order, and that the three Benedictine abbots sent by the pope to represent the entire order were entitled to only one vote.

Violent differences of opinion appeared during the preparatory discussion of the decree to be laid before the second session determining the title to be given the council; the question was whether there should be added to the title "Holy Council of Trent" (Sacrosancta tridentina synodus) the words "representing the Church universal" (universalem ecclesiam reproesentans). According to the Bishop of Fiesole, Braccio Martello, a number of the members of the council desired the latter form. However, such a title, although justified in itself, appeared dangerous to the legates and other members of the council on account of its bearing on the Councils of Constance and Basle, as it might be taken to express the superiority of the ecumenical council over the pope. Therefore instead of this formula the additional phrase "oecumenica et generalis" was proposed and accepted by nearly all the bishops. Only three bishops who raised the question unsuccessfully several times later persisted in wanting the formula "universalem ecclesiam reproesentans". A further point was in reference to the proxies of absent bishops, namely, whether these were entitled to a vote or not. Originally the proxies were not allowed a vote; Paul III granted to those German bishops who could not leave their dioceses on account of religious troubles, and to them alone, representation by proxies. In 1562, when the council met again, Pius IV withdrew this permission. Other regulations were also passed, in regard to the right of the members to draw the revenues of their dioceses during the session of the council, and concerning the mode of life of the members. At a later date, during the third period of the council, various modifications were made in these decisions. Thus the theologians of the council, who had grown in the meantime into a large body, were divided into six classes, each of which received a number of drafts of decrees for discussion. Special deputations also were often appointed for special questions. The entire regulation of the debates was a very prudent one, and offered every guarantee for an absolutely objective and exhaustive discussion in all their bearings of the questions brought up for debate. A regular courier service was maintained between Rome and Trent, so that the pope was kept fully informed in regard to the debates of the council.

The work and sessions

First period at Trent

Among the fathers of the council and the theologians who had been summoned to Trent were a number of important men. The legates who presided at the council were equal to their difficult task; Paceco of Jaén, Campeggio of Feltre, and the Bishop of Fiesole already mentioned were especially conspicuous among the bishops who were present at the early sessions. Girolamo Seripando, General of the Augustinian Hermits, was the most prominent of the heads of the orders; of the theologians, the two learned Dominicans, Ambrogio Catarino and Domenico Soto, should be mentioned. After the formal opening session (13 December, 1545), the various questions pertaining to the order of business were debated; neither in the second session (7 January, 1546) nor in the third (4 February, 1546) were any matters touching faith or discipline brought forward. It was only after the third session, when the preliminary questions and the order of business had been essentially settled, that the real work of the council began. The emperor's representative, Francisco de Toledo, did not reach Trent until 15 March, and a further personal representative, Mendoza, arrived on 25 May. The first subject of discussion which was laid before the general congregation by the legates on 8 February was the Scriptures as the source of Divine revelation. After exhaustive preliminary discussions in the various congregations, two decrees were ready for debate at the fourth session (8 April, 1546), and were adopted by the fathers. In treating the canon of Scripture they declare at the same time that in matters of faith and morals the tradition of the Church is, together with the Bible, the standard of supernatural revelation; then taking up the text and the use of the sacred Books they declare the Vulgate to be the authentic text for sermons and disputations, although this did not exclude textual emendations. It was also determined that the Bible should be interpreted according to the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and never misused for superstitious purposes. Nothing was decided in regard to the translation of the Bible in the vernaculars.

In the meantime earnest discussions concerning the question of church reform had been carried on between the pope and the legates, and a number of items had been suggested by the latter. These had special reference to the Roman Curia and its administration, to the bishops, the ecclesiastical benefices and tithes, the orders, and the training of the clergy. Charles V wished the discussion of the dogmatic questions to be postponed, but the council and the pope could not agree to that, and the council debated dogmas simultaneously with decrees concerning discipline. On 24 May the general congregation took up the discussion of original sin, its nature, consequences, and cancellation by baptism. At the same time the question of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin was brought forward, but the majority of the members finally decided not to give any definite dogmatic decision on this point. The reforms debated concerned the establishment of theological professorships, preaching, and episcopal obligation of residence. In reference to the latter the Spanish bishop, Paceco, raised the point whether this obligation was of Divine origin, or whether it was merely an ecclesiastical ordinance of human origin, a question which led later to long and violent discussions. In the fifth session (17 June, 1546) the decree on the dogma of original sin was promulgated with five canons (anathemas) against the corresponding erroneous doctrines; and the first decree on reform (de reformatione) was also promulgated. This treats (in two chapters) of professorships of the Scriptures, and of secular learning (artes liberales), of those who preach the Divine word, and of the collectors of alms.

For the following session, which was originally set for 29 July, the matters proposed for general debate were the dogma of justification as the dogmatic question and the obligation of residence as regards bishops as the disciplinary decree; the treatment of these questions was proposed to the general congregation by the legates on 21 June. The dogma of justification brought up for debate one of the fundamental questions which had to be discussed with reference to the heretics of the sixteenth century, and which in itself presented great difficulties. The imperial party sought to block the discussion of the entire matter, some of the fathers were anxious on account of the approaching war of Charles V against the Protestant princes, and there was fresh dissension between the emperor and the pope. However, the debates on the question were prosecuted with the greatest zeal; animated, at times even stormy, discussions took place; the debate of the next general session had to be postponed. No less than sixty-one general congregations and forty-four other congregations were held for the debate of the important subjects of justification and the obligation of residence, before the matters were ready for the final decision. At the sixth regular session on 13 January, 1547, was promulgated the masterly decree on justification (de justificatione), which consisted of a prooemium or preface and sixteen chapters with thirty-three canons in condemnation of the opposing heresies. The decree on reform of this session was one in five chapters respecting the obligation of residence of bishops and of the occupants of ecclesiastical benefices or offices. These decrees make the sixth session one of the most important and decisive of the entire council.

The legates proposed to the general congregation as the subject-matter for the following session, the doctrine of the Church as to the sacraments, and for the disciplinary question a series of ordinances respecting both the appointment and official activities of bishops, and on ecclesiastical benefices. When the questions had been debated, in the seventh session (3 March, 1547), a dogmatic decree with suitable canons was promulgated on the sacraments in general (thirteen canons), on baptism (fourteen canons), and on confirmation (three canons); a decree on reform (in fifteen chapters) was also enacted in regard to bishops and ecclesiastical benefices, in particular as to pluralities, visitations, and exemptions, concerning the founding of infirmaries, and as to the legal affairs of the clergy. Before this session was held the question of the prorogation of the council or its transfer to another city had been discussed. The relations between pope and emperor had grown even more strained; the Smalkaldic War had begun in Germany; and now an infectious disease broke out in Trent, carrying off the general of the Franciscans and others. The cardinal legates, therefore, in the eighth session (11 March, 1547) proposed the transfer of the council to another city, supporting themselves in this action by a Brief which had been given them by the pope some time before. The majority of the fathers voted to transfer the council to Bologna, and on the following day (12 March) the legates went there. By the ninth session the number of participants had risen to four cardinals, nine archbishops, forty-nine bishops, two proxies, two abbots, three generals of orders, and fifty theologians.

Period at Bologna

The majority of the fathers of the council went with the cardinal legates from Trent to Bologna; but fourteen bishops who belonged to the party of Charles V remained at Trent and would not recognize the transfer. The sudden change of place without any special consultation beforehand with the pope did not please Paul III, who probably foresaw that this would lead to further severe difficulties between himself and the emperor. As a matter of fact Charles V was very indignant at the change, and through his ambassador Vaga protested against it, vigorously urging a return to Trent. The emperor's defeat of the Smalkaldic League increased his power. Influential cardinals sought to mediate between the emperor and the pope, but the negotiations failed. The emperor protested formally against the transfer to Bologna, and, refusing to permit the Spanish bishops who had remained at Trent to leave that city, began negotiations again with the German Protestants on his own responsibility. Consequently at the ninth session of the council held at Bologna on 21 April, 1547, the only decree issued was one proroguing the session. The same action was all that was taken in the tenth session on 2 June, 1547, although there had been exhaustive debates on various subjects in congregations. The tension between the emperor and the pope had increased despite the efforts of Cardinals Sfondrato and Madruzzo. All negotiations were fruitless. The bishops who had remained at Trent had held no sessions, but when the pope called to Rome four of the bishops at Bologna and four of those at Trent, the latter said in excuse that they could not obey the call. Paul III had now to expect extreme opposition from the emperor. Therefore, on 13 September, he proclaimed the suspension of the council and commanded the cardinal legate del Monte to dismiss the members of the council assembled at Bologna; this was done on 17 September. The bishops were called to Rome, where they were to prepare decrees for disciplinary reforms. This closed the first period of the council. On 10 Nov., 1549, the pope died.

Second period at Trent

The successor of Paul III was Julius III (1550-55), Giovanni del Monte, first cardinal legate of the council. He at once began negotiations with the emperor to reopen the council. On 14 Nov., 1550, he issued the Bull "Quum ad tollenda," in which the reassembling at Trent was arranged. As presidents he appointed Cardinal Marcellus Crescentius, Archbishop Sebastian Pighinus of Siponto, and Bishop Aloysius Lipomanni of Verona. The cardinal legate reached Trent on 29 April, 1551, where, besides the bishop of the city, fourteen bishops from the countries ruled by the emperor were in attendance; several bishops came from Rome, where they had been staying, and on 1 May, 1551, the eleventh session was held. In this the resumption of the council was decreed, and 1 September was appointed as the date of the next session. The Sacrament of the Eucharist and drafts of further disciplinary decrees were discussed in the congregations of the theologians and also in several general congregations. Among the theologians were Lainez and Salmeron, who had been sent by the pope, and Johannes Arza, who represented the emperor. Ambassadors of the emperor, King Ferdinand, and Henry II of France were present. The King of France, however, was unwilling to allow any French bishop to go to the council. In the twelfth session (1 Sept., 1551) the only decision was the prorogation until 11 October. This was due to the expectation of the arrival of other German bishops, besides the Archbishops of Mainz and Trier who were already in attendance. The thirteenth session was held on 11 Oct., 1551; it promulgated a comprehensive decree on the Sacrament of the Eucharist (in eight chapters and eleven canons) and also a decree on reform (in eight chapters) in regard to the supervision to be exercised by bishops, and on episcopal jurisdiction. Another decree deferred until the next session the discussion of four articles concerning the Eucharist, namely, Communion under the two species of bread and wine and the Communion of children; a safe-conduct was also issued for Protestants who desired to come to the council. An ambassador of Joachim II of Brandenburg had already reached Trent.

The presidents laid before the general congregation of 15 October drafts of definitions of the Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction for discussion. These subjects occupied the congregations of theologians, among whom Gropper, Nausea, Tapper, and Hessels were especially prominent, and also the general congregations during the months of October and November. At the fourteenth session, held on 25 November, the dogmatic decree promulgated contained nine chapters on the dogma of the Church respecting the Sacrament of Penance and three chapters on extreme unction. To the chapters on penance were added fifteen canons condemning heretical teachings on this point, and four canons condemning heresies to the chapters on unction. The decree on reform treated the discipline of the clergy and various matters respecting ecclesiastical benefices. In the meantime, ambassadors from several Protestant princes and cities reached Trent. They made various demands, as: that the earlier decisions which were contrary to the Augsburg Confession should be recalled; that debates on questions in dispute between Catholics and Protestants should be deferred; that the subordination of the pope to an ecumenical council should be defined; and other propositions which the council could not accept. Since the close of the last session both the theologians and the general congregations had been occupied in numerous assemblies with the dogma of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the ordination of priests, as well as with plans for new reformatory decrees. At the fifteenth session (25 January, 1552), in order to make some advances to the ambassadors of the Protestants, the decisions in regard to the subjects under consideration were postponed and a new safe-conduct, such as they had desired, was drawn up for them. Besides the three papal legates and Cardinal Madruzzo, there were present at Trent ten archbishops and fifty-four bishops, most of them from the countries ruled by the emperor. On account of the treacherous attack made by Maurice of Saxony on Charles V, the city of Trent and the members of the council were placed in danger; consequently, at the sixteenth session (23 April, 1552) a decree suspending the council for two years was promulgated. However, a considerably longer period of time elapsed before it could resume its sessions.

Third period at Trent

Julius III did not live to call the council together again. He was followed by Marcellus II (1555), a former cardinal legate at Trent, Marcello Cervino; Marcellus died twenty-two days after his election. His successor, the austere Paul IV (1555-9), energetically carried out internal reforms both in Rome and in the other parts of the Church; but he did not seriously consider reconvening the council. Pius IV (1559-65) announced to the cardinals shortly after his election his intention of reopening the council. Indeed, he had found the right man, his nephew, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo, to complete the important work and to bring its decisions into customary usage in the Church. Great difficulties were raised once more on various sides. The Emperor Ferdinand desired the council, but wished it to be held in some German city, and not at Trent; moreover he desired it to meet not as a continuation of the earlier assembly but as a new council. The King of France also desired the assembling of a new council, but he did not wish it at Trent. The Protestants of Germany worked in every way against the assembling of the Council. After long negotiations Ferdinand, the Kings of Spain and Portugal, Catholic Switzerland, and Venice left the matter to the pope. On 29 Nov., 1560, the Bull "Ad ecclesiae regimen," by which the council was ordered to meet again at Trent at Easter, 1561, was published. Notwithstanding all the efforts of the papal nuncios, Delfino and Commendone, the German Protestants persisted in their opposition. Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga was appointed president of the council; he was to be assisted by the cardinal legates Stanislaus Hosius, Jacobus Puteus (du Puy), Hieronymus Seripando, Luigi Simonetta, and Marcus Siticus of Altemps. As the bishops made their appearance very slowly, the opening of the council was delayed. Finally on 18 Jan., 1562, the seventeenth session was held; it proclaimed the revocation of the suspension of the council and appointed the date for the next session. There were present, besides the four cardinal legates, one cardinal, three patriarchs, eleven archbishops, forty bishops, four abbots, and four generals of orders; in addition thirty-four theologians were in attendance. The ambassadors of the princes were a source of much trouble to the presidents of the council and made demands which were in part impossible. The Protestants continued to calumniate the assembly. Emperor Ferdinand wished to have the discussion of dogmatic questions deferred.

At the eighteenth session (25 Feb., 1562) the only matters decided were the publication of a decree concerning the drawing up of a list of forbidden books and an agreement as to a safe-conduct for Protestants. At the next two sessions, the nineteenth on 14 May, and the twentieth on 4 June, 1562, only decrees proroguing the council were issued. The number of members had, it is true, increased, and various ambassadors of Catholic rulers had arrived at Trent, but some princes continued to raise obstacles both as to the character of the council and the place of meeting. Emperor Ferdinand sent an exhaustive plan of church reform which contained many articles impossible to accept. The legates, however, continued the work of the assembly, and presented the draft of the decree on Holy Communion, which treated especially the question of Communion under both species, as well as drafts of several disciplinary decrees. These questions were subjected to the usual discussions. At the twenty-first session (16 July, 1562) the decree on Communion under both species and on the Communion of children was promulgated in four chapters and four canons. A decree upon reformation in nine chapters was also promulgated; it treated ordination to the priesthood, the revenues of canons, the founding of new parishes, and the collectors of alms. Articles on the Sacrifice of the Mass were now laid before the congregations for discussion; in the following months there were long and animated debates over the dogma. At the twenty-second session, which was not held until 17 Sept., 1562, four decrees were promulgated: the first contained the dogma of the Church on the Sacrifice of the Mass (in nine chapters and nine canons); the second directed the suppression of abuses in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice; a third (in eleven chapters) treated reform, especially in regard to the morals of the clergy, the requirements necessary before ecclesiastical offices could be assumed, wills, the administration of religious foundations; the fourth treated the granting of the cup to the laity at Communion, which was left to the discretion of the pope.

The council had hardly ever been in as difficult a position as that in which it now found itself. The secular rulers made contradictory and, in part, impossible demands. At the same time warm debates were held by the fathers on the questions of the duty of residence and the relations of the bishops to the pope. The French bishops who arrived on 13 November made several dubious propositions. Cardinals Gonzaga and Seripando, who were of the number of cardinal legates, died. The two new legates and presidents, Morone and Navagero, gradually mastered the difficulties. The various points of the dogma concerning the ordination of priests were discussed both in the congregations of the eighty-four theologians, among whom Salmeron, Soto, and Lainez were the most prominent, and in the general congregations. Finally, on 15 July, 1563, the twenty-third session was held. It promulgated the decree on the Sacrament of Orders and on the ecclesiastical hierarchy (in four chapters and eight canons), and a decree on reform (in eighteen chapters). This disciplinary decree treated the obligation of residence, the conferring of the different grades of ordination, and the education of young clerics (seminarists). The decrees which were proclaimed to the Church at this session were the result of long and arduous debates, in which 235 members entitled to a vote took part. Disputes now arose once more as to whether the council should be speedily terminated or should be carried on longer. In the meantime the congregations debated the draft of the decree on the Sacrament of Matrimony, and at the twenty-fourth session (11 Nov., 1563) there were promulgated a dogmatic decree (with twelve canons) on marriage as a sacrament and a reformatory decree (in ten chapters), which treated the various conditions requisite for contracting of a valid marriage. A general decree on reform (in twenty-one chapters) was also published which treated the various questions connected with the administration of ecclesiastical offices.

The desire for the closing of the council grew stronger among all connected with it, and it was decided to close it as speedily as possible. A number of questions had been discussed preliminarily and were now ready for final definition. Consequently in the twenty-fifth and final session, which occupied two days (3-4 December, 1563), the following decrees were approved and promulgated: on 3 December a dogmatic decree on the veneration and invocation of the saints, and on the relics and images of the same; a decree on reform (in twenty-two chapters) concerning monks and nuns; a decree on reform, treating of the mode of life of cardinals and bishops, certificates of fitness for ecclesiastics, legacies for Masses, the administration of ecclesiastical benefices, the suppression of concubinage among the clergy, and the life of the clergy in general. On 4 December the following were promulgated: a dogmatic decree on indulgences; a decree on fasts and feast days; a further decree on the preparation by the pope of editions of the Missal, the Breviary, and a catechism, and of a list of forbidden books. It was also declared that no secular power had been placed at a disadvantage by the rank accorded to its ambassadors, and the secular rulers were called upon to accept the decisions of the council and to execute them. Finally, the decrees passed by the council during the pontificates of Paul III and Julius III were read and proclaimed to be binding. After the fathers had agreed to lay the decisions before the pope for confirmation, the president, Cardinal Morone, declared the council to be closed. The decrees were subscribed by two hundred and fifteen fathers of the council, consisting of four cardinal legates, two cardinals, three patriarchs, twenty-five archbishops, one hundred and sixty-seven bishops, seven abbots, seven generals of orders, and also by nineteen proxies for thirty-three absent prelates. The decrees were confirmed on 26 Jan., 1564, by Pius IV in the Bull "Benedictus Deus," and were accepted by Catholic countries, by some with reservations.

The Ecumenical Council of Trent has proved to be of the greatest importance for the development of the inner life of the Church. No council has ever had to accomplish its task under more serious difficulties, none has had so many questions of the greatest importance to decide. The assembly proved to the world that notwithstanding repeated apostasy in church life there still existed in it an abundance of religious force and of loyal championship of the unchanging principles of Christianity. Although unfortunately the council, through no fault of the fathers assembled, was not able to heal the religious differences of western Europe, yet the infallible Divine truth was clearly proclaimed in opposition to the false doctrines of the day, and in this way a firm foundation was laid for the overthrow of heresy and the carrying out of genuine internal reform in the Church.




First Vatican Council (1869-1870)


Summary from:

The Vatican Council was summoned by Pius IX. It met 8 December, 1869, and lasted till 18 July, 1870, when it was adjourned; it is still (1908) unfinished. There were present 6 archbishop-princes, 49 cardinals, 11 patriarchs, 680 archbishops and bishops, 28 abbots, 29 generals of orders, in all 803. Besides important canons relating to the Faith and the constitution of the Church, the council decreed the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra, i.e. when as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.

Main article from:

The Vatican Council, the twentieth and up to now [1912] the last ecumenical council, opened on 8 December, 1869, and adjourned on 20 October, 1870. It met three hundred years after the Council of Trent.

Introductory history

Previous to the official convocation

On 6 December, 1864, two days before the publication of the Syllabus, Pius IX announced, at a session of the Congregation of Rites, his intention to call a general council. He commissioned the cardinals residing at Rome to express in writing their views as to the opportuneness of the scheme, and also to name the subjects which, in their opinion, should be laid before the council for discussion. Of the twenty-one reports sent in, only one, that of Cardinal Pentini, expressed the opinion that there was no occasion for the holding of an ecumenical council. The others affirmed the relative necessity of such an assembly, although five did not consider the time suitable. Nearly all sent lists of questions that seemed to need conciliar discussion. Early in March, 1865, the pope appointed a commission of five cardinals to discuss preliminary questions in regard to the council. This was the important "Congregazione speziale direttrice per gli affari del futuro concilio generale", generally called the directing preparatory commission, or the central commission. Four more cardinals were added to the number of its members, and besides a secretary it was given eight consultors. It held numerous meetings in the interval between 9 March, 1865, and Dec., 1869. Its first motion was that bishops of various countries should also be called upon for suggestions as to matters for discussion, and on 27 March, 1865, the pope commanded thirty-six bishops of the Latin Rite designated by him to express their views under pledge of silence. Early in 1866 he also designated several bishops of the Oriental Rite under the same conditions. It was now necessary to form commissions for the more thorough discussion of the subjects to be debated at the council. Accordingly, theologians and canonists, belonging to the secular and regular clergy, were summoned to Rome from the various countries to co-operate in the work. As early as 1865 the nuncios were asked to suggest names of suitable people for these preliminary commissions. The war between Austria and Italy in 1866 and the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome on 11 Dec. of the same year caused an unwelcome interruption of the preparatory labours. They also made the original plan, which was to open the council on the eighteenth centenary festiva of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles, 29 June, 1867, impossible. However, the pope made use of the presence at Rome of nearly five hundred bishops, who had come to attend the centennial celebration, to make the first public announcement of the council at a consistory held on 26 June, 1867. The bishops expressed their agreement with joy in an address dated 1 July. After the return of the French army of protection on 30 Oct., 1867, the continuance of the preparations and the holding of the council itself seemed again possible. The preparatory commission now debated exhaustively the question who should be invited to attend the council. That the cardinals and diocesan bishops should be summoned was self-evident. It was also decided that the titular bishops had the right to be called, and that of the heads of the orders an invitation should be given to the abbots nullius, the abbots general of congregations formed from several monasteries, and lastly, to the generals of the religious orders. It was considered wiser, on account of the state of affairs at the time, not to send an actual invitation to Catholic princes, yet it was intended to grant admission to them or their representatives on demand. In this sense, therefore, the Bull of Convocation, "Æterni Patris", was promulgated, 29 June, 1868; it appointed 8 Dec., 1869, as the date for the opening of the council. The objects of the council were to be the correction of modern errors and a seasonable revision of the legislation of the Church. A special Brief, "Arcano divinæ providentiæ", of 8 Sept., 1868 invited non-Uniate Orientals to appear. A third Brief, "Jam vos omnes", of 13 Sept., 1868, notified Protestants also of the convoking of the council, and exhorted them to use the occasion to reflect on the return to the one household of faith.

Reception of the promulgation

Although the Bull convoking the council was received with joy by the bulk of the Catholic masses, it aroused much discontent in many places, especially in Germany, France, and England. In these countries it was feared that the council would promulgate an exact determination of the primatial prerogatives of the papacy and the definition of papal infallibility. The dean of the theological faculty of Paris, Bishop Maret, wrote in opposition to these doctrines the work "Du concile générale et de la paix religieuse" (2 vols., Paris 1869). Bishop Dupanloup of Orléans published the work "Observations sur la controverse soulevée relativement à la définition de l infaillibilité au prochain concile" (Paris, Nov., 1869). Maret's work was answered by several French bishops and by Archbishop Manning. Archbishop Dechamps of Mechlin, Belgium, who had written a work in favour of the definition entitled "L infaillibilité et le concile générale" (Paris, 1869), became involved in a controversy with Dupanloup. In England a book entitled "The Condemnation of Pope Honorius" (London, 1868), written by the convert, Le Page Renouf, aroused animated discussions in newspapers and periodicals. Renouf's publication was refuted by Father Botalla, S.J., in "Honorius Reconsidered with Reference to Recent Apologies" (London, 1869). Letters from French correspondents in the first number for Feb., 1869, of the "Civiltà Cattolica", which stated that the majority of French Catholics desired the declaration of infallibility, added fresh fuel to the flames. In particular, it led to the appearance in the discussion of Ignaz Döllinger, provost of St. Cajetan and professor of church history at Munich. From now onwards Döllinger was the leading spirit of the movement in Germany hostile to the council. He disputed most passionately the Syllabus and the doctrine of papal infallibility in five anonymous articles that were published in March, 1869, in the "Allgemeine Zeitung" of Augsburg. A large number of Catholic scholars opposed him vigorously, especially after he published his articles in book form under the pseudonym of "Janus", "Der Papst und das Konzil" (Leipzig, 1869). Among these was Professor Joseph Hergenröther of Würzburg, who issued in reply "Anti-Janus" (Freiburg, 1870). Still the excitement over the matter grew in such measure that fourteen of the twenty-two German bishops who met at Fulda early in Sept., 1869, felt themselves constrained to call the attention of the Holy Father to it in a special address, stating that on account of the excitement the time was not opportune for defining papal infallibility. The papal notifications addressed to the schismatic Orientals and the Protestants did not produce the desired effect. The European Governments received from Prince Hohenlohe, president of the Bavarian ministry, a circular letter drawn up by Döllinger, designed to prejudice the different Courts against the coming council; but they decided to remain neutral for the time being. Russia alone forbade its Catholic bishops to attend the council.

Preparatory details

In the meantime zealous work had been done at Rome in preparation for the council. Besides the general direction that it exercised, the preparatory commission had to draw up an exhaustive order of procedure for the debates of the council. Five special committees, each presided over by a cardinal and having together eighty-eight consultors, prepared the plan (schemata) to be laid before the council. These committees were appointed to consider respectively:

It may justly be doubted whether the preliminary preparations for any council had ever been made more thoroughly, or more clearly directed to the aim to be attained. As the day of its opening approached, the following drafts were ready for discussion:

In addition a large number of subjects for discussion had been sent by the bishops of various countries. Thus, for instance, the bishops of the church provinces of Quebec and Halifax demanded the lessening of the impediments to marriage, revision of the Breviary, and, above all, the reform and codification of the entire canon law. The petition of Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore treated, among other things, the relations between Church and State religious indifference, secret societies, and the infallibility of the pope. The definition of this last was demanded by various bishops. Others desired a revision of the index of forbidden books. No less than nine petitions bearing nearly two hundred signatures demanded the definition of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Over three hundred fathers of the council requested the elevation of St. Joseph as patron saint of the Universal Church.

Proceedings of the council

Presiding officers, order of procedure, number of members

On 2 Dec., 1869, the pope held a preliminary session in the Sistine Chapel, which was attended by about five hundred bishops. At this assembly the officials of the council were announced and the conciliar procedure was made known. The council received five presidents. The Chief presiding officer was to have been Cardinal Reisach, but as he died on 22 Dec., Cardinal Filippo de Angelis took his place, 3 Jan., 1870. The other presiding officers were Cardinals Antonio de Luca, Andrea Bizarri, Aloisio Bilio, and Annibale Capalti. Bishop Joseph Fessler of Sankt Pölten, Lower Austria, was secretary to the council, and Monsignor Luigi Jacobi under-secretary. The Constitution "Multiplices inter" announcing the conciliar procedure contained ten paragraphs. According to this the sessions of the council were to be of two kinds: private sessions for discussing the drafts and motions, under the presidency of a cardinal president, and public sessions, presided over by the pope himself for the promulgation of the decrees of the council. The first drafts of decrees debated were to be the dogmatic and disciplinary ones laid before the assembly by the pope. Proposals offered by members of the council were to be sent to a congregation of petitions; these petitions or postulates were to be examined by the committee and then recommended to the pope for admission or not. If the draft of a decree was found by the general congregation to need amendments, it was sent with the proposed amendments to the respective sub-committee or deputatio, either to the one for dogmas or for discipline, or religious orders, or for Oriental Rites. Each of these four sub-committees or deputations was to consist of twenty-four persons selected from the members of the council, and a cardinal president appointed by the pope. The deputation examined the proposed amendments, altered the draft as seemed best, and presented to the general congregation a printed report on its work that was to be orally explained by a member of the deputation. This procedure was to continue until the draft met with the approval of the majority.

The voting in the congregation was by placet, placet juxta modum (with the corresponding amendments), and non placet. Secrecy was to be observed in regard to the proceedings of the council. In the public sessions the voting could only be by placet or non placet. The Decrees promulgated by the pope were to bear the title, "Pius Episcopus, servus servorum Dei: sacro approbante Concilio ad perpetuam rei memoriam". The northern right transept of St. Peter's was arranged as the hall of sessions. Between 8 Dec., 1869, and 1 Sept., 1870, four public sessions and eighty-nine general congregations were held here. There were in the entire world approximately one thousand and fifty prelates entitled to take part in the council, and of these no less than seven hundred and seventy-four appeared during the course of the proceedings. In attendance at the first public session were 47 cardinals, 9 patriarchs, 7 primates, 117 archbishops, 479 bishops, 5 abbots nullius, 9 abbots general, and 25 generals of orders, making a total of 698. At the third public session votes were cast by 47 cardinals, 9 patriarchs, 8 primates, 107 archbishops, 456 bishops, 1 administrator Apostolic, 20 abbots, and 20 generals of orders, a total of 667. There was an attendance at the council from the United States of America of all of the 7 archbishops of that time, 37 of the 47 bishops, and in addition 2 vicars Apostolic. The oldest member of the council was Archbishop MacHale, of Tuam, Ireland; the youngest, Bishop (now Cardinal) Gibbons.

From the formal opening to the definition of the constitution on the Catholic faith in the third public session

(1) The First Debates

After the formal opening of the council by the pope at the first public session on 8 Dec., 1869, the meetings of the general congregation began on 10 Dec. Their sessions were generally held between the hours of nine and one. The afternoons were reserved for the sessions of the deputations or sub-committees. First, the names of the members of the congregation of petitions were communicated; this was followed by the elections to the four deputations. The first matter brought up for debate was the dogmatic draft of Catholic doctrine against the manifold errors due to Rationalism, "De doctrina catholica contra multiplices errores ex rationalismo derivatos". The discussion of it was taken up on 28 Dec. in the fourth general congregation. After a debate lasting seven days, during which thirty-five members spoke, it was sent by the tenth general congregation held on 10 Jan., 1870, to the deputation on faith for revision. There had been held in the meantime on 6 Jan. the second public session. This had been previously determined upon, on 26 Oct., 1869, by the central commission for the making of the confession of faith by the members of the council. The subjects discussed from the tenth to the twenty-ninth meeting of the general congregation (on 22 Feb.) were the drafts of four disciplinary decrees, namely, on bishops, on vacant episcopal sees, on the morals of ecclesiastics, and on the smaller Catechism. Finally they were all sent for further revision to the deputation on discipline.

(2) The Parties

Such slow progress of the work had probably not been expected. The reason of the disagreeable delay was to be found in the question of infallibility, which had called forth much excitement even before the council. Directly after the opening of the session its influence was evident in the election of the deputations. It divided the fathers of the council into two, it might almost be said hostile camps; on all occasions the decisions and modes of action of each of these parties were determined by its attitude to this question. On account of the violent disputes which had been carried on everywhere for the past year over the question of papal infallibility the overwhelming majority considered the conciliar discussion and decision of the question to be imperatively necessary. On the other hand the minority, comprising about one-fifth of the total number, feared the worst from the definition, the apostasy of many wavering Catholics, an increased estrangement of those separated from the Church, and interference with the affairs of the Church by the Governments of the different countries. The minority, therefore, allowed itself to be guided by opportunist considerations. Only a few bishops appear to have had doubts as to the dogma itself. Both parties sought to gain the victory for their opinions. As however the minority was soon obliged to recognize its powerlessness, it endeavoured by protracting the discussions of the council at least to delay, or even to prevent, a decision as long as possible. Most of the German and Austro-Hungarian members of the council were against the definition, as well as nearly half of the American and about one-third of the French fathers. About 7 of the Italian bishops, 2 each of the English and Irish bishops, 3 bishops from British North America, and 1 Swiss bishop, Greith, belonged to the minority. While only a few Armenian bishops opposed the definition, most of the Chaldean and Greek Melchites sided with the minority. It had no opponents among the bishops from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, and Central and South America. The most prominent members of the minority from the United States were Archbishops Kenrick of St. Louis and Purcell of Cincinnati, and Bishop Vérot of St. Augustine; these were joined by Archbishop Connolly of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prominent members of the majority were Archbishop Spalding of Baltimore, Bishops Williams of Boston, Wood of Philadelphia, and Conroy of Albany.

Conspicuous members of the council from other countries were: France: among the minority, Archbishops Darboy of Paris, Ginoulhiac of Lyons, Bishops Dupanloup of Orléans, and David of Saint-Brieuc; among the majority, Archbishop Guibert of Tours, Bishops Pie of Poitiers, Freppel of Angers, Plantier of Nîmes, Raess of Strasburg. Germany: minority Bishops Hefele of Rottenburg, Ketteler of Mainz, Dinkel of Augsburg; majority, Bishops Martin of Paderborn, Senestréy of Ratisbon, Stahl of Würzburg. Austria Hungary: minority, Archbishops Cardinal Rauscher of Vienna, Cardinal Schwarzenberg of Prague, Haynald of Kalocsa, and Bishop Strossmayer of Diakovár; majority, Bishops Gasser of Brixen, Fessler of Sankt Pölten, Riccabona of Trent, Zwerger of Seckau. Italy: minority, Archbishop Nazari di Calabiana of Milan, Bishops Moreno of Ivrea, Losanna of Biella; majority, Valerga, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishops Gastaldi of Saluzzo, Gandolfi of Loreto. England: minority, Bishop Clifford of Clifton; majority, Archbishop Manning of Westminster. Ireland: minority, Archbishop MacHale of Tuam; majority, Archbishops Cullen of Dublin and Leahy of Cashel. The East: minority, Jussef, Greek-Melchite Patriarch of Antioch; majority, Hassun, Patriarch of the Armenians. Switzerland: minority, Bishop Greith of St-Gall; majority, Bishop Mermillod of Geneva. Important champions of the definition from the countries which sent no members of the minority were Archbishop Dechamps of Mechlin, Belgium, and Bishop Payà y Rico of Cuenca, Spain.

(3) Change of Procedure: the Hall of Assembly Reduced in Size

Various memorials were now sent the Holy Father petitioning for new rules of debate for the sake of a corresponding progress in the proceedings of the council. Consequently, the conciliar procedure was more exactly defined by the Decree "Apostolicis litteris", issued on 20 Feb., 1870. According to this Decree, any member of the council who wished to raise an objection to the draft under discussion was to send in his proposed amendments in writing, in order that they might be thoroughly considered by the respective deputation. In the general congregation the discussion of a draft as a whole was always to precede the discussion of the individual parts of the draft of a decree. The members of a deputation received the right to speak in explanation or correction when not on the list of speakers. Speakers who wandered from the subject were to be called back to it. If a subject had been sufficiently debated the president, on the motion of at least ten members of the council, could put the question whether the council desired to continue the discussion or not, and then close the debate at the wish of the majority. Although these rules made for an evident improvement, still the minority was not satisfied with them, especially in so far as they contemplated a possible shortening of the debates. They expressed their dissatisfaction in several petitions which, however, had no success. On the other hand, every effort was made to satisfy another complaint which had reference to the bad acoustics of the council hail. Between 22 Feb. and 18 March, that is between the twenty-ninth and thirtieth sessions of the general congregation, the council hall was reduced about one-third in size for the use of the general congregations, so that the fathers who were thus brought closer together could understand the speakers better. The hall was restored to its original size for each of the public sessions.

(4) Completion of the First Constitution

The interruption thus caused was used by the deputation on Faith to revise the draft of the Decree "De doctrina catholica" in accordance with the wishes of the general congregation. On 1 March, Bishop Martin of Paderborn laid before the deputation the first part of the revision, the work of Father Joseph Kleutgen, S.J.* It consisted of an introduction and four chapters with the corresponding canons. After an exhaustive discussion in the deputation, it was ready to be distributed to the fathers of the council on 14 March as the actual "Constitutio de fide catholica". A report in writing was also added by the deputation. Archbishop Simor of Gran gave the oral report on 18 March in the thirtieth general congregation. The debate began on the same day, and was closed after seventeen sessions on 19 April, in the forty-sixth general congregation. Over three hundred proposed amendments were brought up and discussed. Although many objections were made by both sides, yet the new rules of procedure made possible a relatively smooth course to the debates. The only disturbing incident was the passionate speech of Bishop Strossmayer of Diakovár on 22 March in the thirty-first general congregation; it called forth a storm of indignation from the majority, which finally forced the speaker to leave the tribune. On 24 April, the first Constitution, "De fide catholica", was unanimously adopted in the third public session by the 667 fathers present, and was formally confirmed and promulgated by the pope.

The question of papal infallibility

(1) Motions calling for and opposing Definition

The opponents of infallibility constantly assert that the pope convoked the council of the Vatican solely to have papal infallibility proclaimed. Everything else was merely an excuse and for the sake of appearances. This assertion contradicts the actual facts. Not a single one of the numerous drafts drawn up by the preparatory commission bore on papal infallibility. Only two of the twenty-one opinions sent in by the Roman cardinals mentioned it. It is true that a large number of the episcopal memorials recommended the definition, but these were not taken into consideration in the preparations for the council. It was not until the contest over papal infallibility outside of the council grew constantly more violent that various groups of members of the council began to urge conciliar discussion of the question of infallibility. The first motion for the definition was made on Christmas, 1869, by Archbishop Dechamps of Mechlin. He was supported by all the other Belgian bishops, who presented a formal opinion of the University of Louvain, which culminated in a petition for the definition. The actual petition for the definition was first circulated among the fathers of the council on New Year's Day, 1870. Several petitions from smaller groups also appeared, and the petitions soon received altogether five hundred signatures, although quite a number of the friends of the definition were not among the number of subscribers. Five opposing memorials circulated by the minority finally obtained 136 names. Upon this, early in Feb., the congregation for petitions unanimously, with exception of Cardinal Rauscher, requested the pope to consider the petition for definition. Pius IX was also in favour of the definition. Therefore on 6 March, the draft of the Decree on the Church of Christ, which had been distributed among the fathers on 21 Jan., was given a new twelfth chapter entitled "Romanum Pontificem in rebus fidei et morum definiendis errare non posse" (The Roman Pontiff cannot err in defining matters of faith and morals). With this the matter dropped again in the council.

(2) The Agitation Outside the Council

The petitions concerning infallibility called forth once more outside the council a large number of pamphlets and innumerable articles in the daily papers and periodicals. About this time the French Oratorian Gratry and Archbishop Dechamps of Mechlin opposed each other in controversial pamphlets. A letter published by Count Montalembert on 27 Feb., 1870, in which he spoke of an idol which had been erected in the Vatican, attracted much attention. In England, Newman gave anxious expression of his fears as to the bad results of the declaration of infallibility in a letter written in March, 1870, to his bishop, Ullathorne of Birmingham. The most extreme opponent was Professor Döllinger of Bavaria. In his "Römische Briefe vom Konzil", published in the "Allgemeine Zeitung" and issued in book form (Munich, 1870), under the pseudonym of "Quirinus", he used information sent him from Rome by his pupils, Johann Friedrich and Lord Acton. In these letters he did everything he could by distorting and casting doubts upon facts, by scorn and ridicule, to turn the public against the council. This was especially so in an article of 19 Jan., 1870, in which he attacked so severely the address on infallibility, which had just become known, that even Bishop Ketteler of Mainz, an old pupil of Döllinger's and a member of the minority, protested publicly against it. The Governments of the different countries also took measures on the subject of infallibility. As soon as the original draft of the decree "De ecclesia" with its canons was published in the "Allgemeine Zeitung", Count von Beust, Chancellor of Austria, sent a protest against it to Rome on 10 Feb., 1870, which said that the Austrian Government would forbid and punish the publication of all decrees that were contrary to the laws of the State. The French minister of foreign affairs, Daru, also sent a threatening memorandum on 20 Feb. He demanded the admission of an envoy to the council, and notified the other Governments of his steps in Rome. Austria, Bavaria, England, Spain and Portugal declared their agreement with the memorandum. The president of the Prussian ministry, Bismarck, would not change his attitude of reserve, notwithstanding the urgency of von Arnim, the ambassador at Rome. On 18 April, the leader of the agitation, Count Daru, retired from his post in the ministry. The president of the French ministry, Ollivier, assumed charge of foreign affairs; he was determined to leave the council free.

(3) The Debates in the Council

In the meantime the bishops of the minority in the council had constantly sought to block the matter, and especially to exert influence to this end on Cardinal Bilio, the president of the deputation on faith. If the members of the majority had not urged the fulfilment with the same perseverance, papal infallibility would never have reached debate. Finally, on 29 April, during the forty-seventh general congregation, the president interrupted the second debate on the smaller Catechism by the announcement that as soon as possible the fathers should receive for examination the draft of a Constitution, "De Romano Pontifice" which would contain the dogma of the primacy and of the infallibility of the pope. For this purpose the deputation on faith had altered the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the old draft of the Constitution "De ecclesia". On 9 May it was distributed among the fathers in printed form as the "Constitutio prima de ecclesia", consisting of 4 chapters and 3 canons. For a full month (13 May 13 June) the general debate over the draft as a whole was carried on in fourteen general congregations, and sixty-four, mostly very long, speeches were delivered. The following special debates over the separate chapters and canons lasted more than a month. Not less than a hundred speakers took part in the discussions, which were carried on from 6 June to 13 July, in 22 congregations. Most of the speeches were on the fourth chapter, which treated papal infallibility. The most prominent speakers of the minority were: French; Darboy, Ginoulhiac, Maret; German; Hefele, Ketteler, Dinkel; Austrian; Raucher, Schwarzenberg, Strossmayer; United States of America and Canada; Vérot and Connolly. Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis, who lost his opportunity to speak by the closing of the general debate, published in pamphlet form his "Concio in concilio habenda, at non habita". On the other hand the conciliar speech published under the name of Bishop Strossmayer is a forgery perpetrated by an apostate Augustinian monk from Mexico, José Agostino de Escudero, who was then in Italy (cf. Granderath-Kirch III, 189). The majority were chiefly represented by the French members of the council; Pie and Freppel; the Belgian member, Dechamps; the English member, Manning; the Irish, Cullen; the Italian members, Gastaldi and Valerga; the Spanish member, Paya y Rico; the Austrian, Gasser; the German members, Martin and Senestrey; the American member, Spalding. Several members of the minority as Kenrick, Bauseher, Hefele, Schwarzenberg, and Ketteler, discussed the question of infallibility in pamphlets that they individually issued, to which naturally the majority were not slow to reply. The most important of these answers was the "Animadversiones of the conciliar theologian, W. Wilmers, S.J., in which the writings of the last four of the antagonists just mentioned were, in succession, thoroughly confuted. Scarcely in any parliament have important matters ever been subjected to as much discussion as was the question of papal infallibility in the Vatican Council in the course of two months all the reasons pro and con had been again and again discussed, and only what had been already often said could now be repeated. Consequently in the eighty-second general congregation held on 4 July, most of those who still had the right to speak, not only of the majority, but also of the minority, renounced the privilege, and the cardinal president was able, amid general applause, to close the debates.

(4) Final Voting and Definition

The time of the eighty-third, eighty-fourth, and eighty-fifth general congregations was almost entirely occupied with the reports of the deputation on faith concerning the last two chapters. The report of Prince Bishop Gasser on the fourth chapter was a very notable one. In the eighty-fifth general congregation held on 13 July a general vote was taken on the entire draft. There were present 601 fathers. Of these 451 voted placet, 62 placet juxta modum (conditional affirmative), 88 non placet. Of the North American bishops only 7 voted non placet; these were Kenrick, Vérot, Domenec, Fitzgerald, MacQuaid, MacCloskey, and Mrac. Bishop Fitzgerald still voted non placet in the fourth public session, while on this occasion Bishop Domenec voted placet. The other five did not attend this session. In the eighty-sixth general congregation the fathers condemned, on the motion of the president, two anonymous pamphlets which calumniated the council in the coarsest manner. One, entitled "Ce qui se passe au Concile", culminated in the assertion that there was no freedom of discussion at the council. The other, "La dernière heure du Concile", repeated all the accusations that the enemies of the council had raised against it, and exhorted the bishops of the minority to stand firm and courageously vote non placet in the public session. On account of the war which threatened to break out between Germany and France, a number of fathers of both opinions had returned home. Shortly before the fourth public session a large number of the bishops of the minority left Rome with the permission of the directing officers of the council. They did not oppose the dogma of papal infallibility itself, but were against its definition as inopportune. On Monday, 18 July, 1870, one day before the outbreak of the Franco-German War, 435 fathers of the council assembled at St. Peter's under the presidency of Pope Pius IX. The last vote was now taken; 433 fathers voted placet, and only two, Bishop Aloisio Riccio of Cajazzo, Italy, and Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas, voted non placet. During the proceedings a thunderstorm broke over the Vatican, and amid thunder and lightning the pope promulgated the new dogma, like a Moses promulgating the law on Mount Sinai.

The Council from the fourth public session until the prorogation

At the close of the eighty-fifth general congregation a "Monitum" was read which announced that the council would be continued without interruption after the fourth public session. Still, the members received a general permission to leave Rome for some months. They had only to notify the secretary in writing of their departure. By 11 Nov., St. Martin's day, all were to be back again. So many of the fathers made use of this permission that only a few more than 100 remained at Rome. Naturally these could not take up any new questions. Consequently the draft of the decree on vacant episcopal sees, which had been amended in the meantime by the deputation of discipline, was again brought forward, and debated in three further general congregations. The eighty-ninth, which was also to be the last, was held on 1 Sept. On 8 Sept. the Piedmontese troops entered the States of the Church at several points; on Tuesday, 20 Sept., a little before eight o'clock in the morning, the enemy entered Rome through the Porta Pia. The pope was a prisoner in the Vatican. He waited a month longer. He then issued on 20 Oct. the Bull, "Postquam Dei munere", which prorogued the council indefinitely. This day was the day after a Piedmontese decree had been issued organizing the Patrimony of Peter as a Roman province. A circular letter issued by the Italian minister, Visconti Venosta, on 22 Oct., to assure the council of the freedom of meeting, naturally met with no credence. A very remarkable letter was sent from London on the same day by Archbishop Spalding to Cardinal Barnabo, prefect of the Propaganda at Rome. In this letter he made the proposition, which met the approval of Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop Manning, and Archbishop Dechamps, to continue the council in the Belgian city of Mechlin, and gave ten reasons why this city seemed suitable for such sessions. Unfortunately the general condition of affairs was such that a continuation of the council even at the most suitable place could not be thought of.

Acceptance of the decrees of the council

After the council had made its decision everyone naturally looked with interest to those members of the minority who had maintained their opposition to the definition of infallibility up to the last moment. Would they recognize the decision of the council, or, as the enemies of the council desired would they persist in their opposition? As a matter of fact, not a single one of them was disloyal to his sacred duties. As long as the discussions lasted they expressed their views freely and without molestation, and sought to carry them into effect. After the decision, without exception, they came over to it, The two bishops who on 18 July had voted non placet advanced to the papal throne at the same session and acknowledged their acceptance of the truth thus defined. The Bishop of Little Rock said simply and with true greatness, "Holy Father, now I believe." It is not possible in this brief space to mention the accession of each member of the minority. As concerns the members from North America who are of special interest here, Bishop Vérot of St. Augustine gave his adhesion to the dogma while still at Rome in a letter addressed on 25 July to the secretary of the council. Bishop Mrac of Sault-Saint-Marie sent his declaration of adherence at the latest by Jan., 1872. A year later Bishop Domenec of Pittsburgh did the same. In 1875 Bishop MacQuaid of Rochester, if not earlier, announced his adherence to the dogma by its formal and public promulgation. When Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis returned to his diocese on 30 Dec., 1870, he made an address at the reception given him, in which he first gave the reasons that had decided his position at the council as long, as the question was open to discussion, and then closed with the declaration that, now the council had decided, he submitted unconditionally to its decree. He expressed himself similarly in a letter of 13 Jan., 1871, to the prefect of the Propaganda. When Lord Acton questioned the archbishop in regard to his submission, the latter replied by a long letter dated 29 March, 1871, which shows, it may be, a certain discontent, but which clearly confirmed his belief in the infallibility of the pope. In the same way the distinguished Frenchmen and Englishmen who, outside of the council, had expressed opinions antagonistic to the promulgation of infallibility, e.g. Gratry, Newman, Montalembert, and finally, as it appears, Acton, also submitted after the decision had been made. On the other hand, in Germany a number of Professor Döllinger's adherents apostatised from the Church and formed the sect of Old Catholics. Döllinger also apostatized, without, however, connecting himself with any other denomination. In Switzerland the opponents of the council united in a sect called Christian Catholics. Outside of these, however the Catholics of the entire world, both clergy and laity, accepted the decision of the council with great joy and readiness. After the close of the Franco-German War the German Government made the dogma of infallibility the excuse for what is called the Kulturkampf. Yet the bishops and priests were ready to bear loss of property, imprisonment, and exile rather than be disloyal to any part of their ecclesiastical duties. The Austrian Government took the opportunity offered by the definition to relieve itself from uncomfortable obligations, and declared that, as the other contracting party had changed, the Concordat with the Roman See was annulled. Excepting in a few Swiss cantons, the promulgation of the decision of the council did not encounter any actual difficulties elsewhere.

The results

In comparison with the large scope of the preparations for the council, and with the great amount of material laid before it for discussion in the numerous drafts and proposals, the immediate result of its labours must be called small. But the council was only in its beginnings when the outbreak of war brought it to a sudden close. It is also true as is known, that reasons within the council prevented a larger result from its sessions. Thus it was that in the end only two not very large Constitutions could be promulgated. If, however, the contents of these two constitutions be examined their great importance is unmistakable. The contents meet in a striking manner the needs of the times.

A. The dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith defends the fundamental principles of Christianity against the errors of modern Rationalism, Materialism, and atheism. In the first chapter it maintains the doctrine of the existence of a personal God, Who of His own free volition for the revelation of His perfection, has created all things out of nothing, Who foresees all things, even the future free actions of reasonable creatures, and Who through His Providence leads all things to the intended end. The second chapter treats the natural and supernatural knowledge of God. It then declares that God, the beginning and end of all things can also be known with certainty by the natural light of reason. It then treats the actuality and necessity of a supernatural revelation, of the two sources of Revelation, Scripture and tradition, of the inspiration and interpretation of the Holy Scripture. The third chapter treats the supernatural virtue of faith, its reasonableness supernaturalness, and necessity, the possibility and actuality of miracles as a confirmation of Divine Revelation; and lastly, the founding of the Catholic Church by Jesus Christ as the Guardian and Herald of revealed truth. The fourth chapter contains the doctrine, especially important today, on the connection between faith and reason. The mysteries of faith cannot, indeed, be fully grasped by natural reason, but revealed truth can never contradict the positive results of the investigation of reason. Contrariwise, however, every assertion is false that contradicts the truth of enlightened faith. Faith and true learning are not in hostile opposition; they rather support each other in many ways. Yet faith is not the same as a philosophical system of teaching that has been worked out and then turned over to the human mind to be further developed, but it has been entrusted as a Divine deposit to the Church for protection and infallible interpretation. When, therefore, the Church explains the meaning of a dogma this interpretation is to be maintained in all future time, and it can never be deviated from under pretence of a more profound investigation. At the close of the Constitution the opposing heresies are rejected in eighteen canons.

B. The other dogmatic Constitution is of equal, if not greater, importance; it is the first on the Church of Christ, or, as it is also called in reference to its contents, on the Pope of Rome. "The introduction to the Constitution says that the primacy of the Roman pontiff, on which the unity, strength, and stability of the entire Church rests, has always been, and is especially now, the object of violent attacks by the enemies of the Church. Therefore the doctrine of its origin, constant permanence, and nature must be clearly set forth and established, above all on account of the opposing errors. Thus the first chapter treats of the establishment of the Apostolic primacy in the popes of Rome. Each chapter closes with a canon against the opposing dogmatic opinion. The most important matter of the Constitution is the last two chapters. In the third chapter the meaning and nature of the primacy are set forth in clear words. The primacy of the Pope of Rome is no mere precedence of honour. On the contrary, the pope possesses the primacy of regularly constituted power over all other Churches, and the true, direct, episcopal power of jurisdiction, in respect to which the clergy and faithful of every rite and rank are bound to true obedience. The immediate power of jurisdiction of the individual bishops in their dioceses, therefore, is not impaired by the primacy, but only strengthened and defended. By virtue of his primacy the pope has the right to have direct and free relations with the clergy and laity of the entire Church. No one is permitted to interfere with this intercourse. It is false and to be rejected to say that the decrees issued by the pope for the guidance of the Church are not valid unless confirmed by the placet of the secular power. The pope is also the supreme judge of all the faithful, to whose decision all matters under examination by the Church can be appealed. On the other hand, no further appeal, not even to an ecumenical council, can be made from the supreme decision of the pope. Consequently the canon appended to the third chapter says: "When, therefore, anyone says that the Pope of Rome has only the office of supervision or of guidance, and not the complete and highest power of jurisdiction over the entire Church not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in matters which concern the discipline and administration of the Church throughout the entire world, or that the pope has only the chief share, but not the entire fullness of this highest power, or that this his power is not actual and immediate either over all and individual Churches, or over all and individual clergy and faithful, let him be anathema."

The fourth chapter, lastly, contains the definition of papal infallibility. First, all the corresponding decrees of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, 680 (Sixth Ecumenical), of the Second Council of Lyons, 1274 (Fourteenth Ecumenical) and of the Council of Florence, 1439 (Seventeenth Ecumenical), are repeated and confirmed. It is pointed out, further, that at all times the popes, in the consciousness of their infallibility in matters of faith for the preservation of the purity of the Apostolic tradition, have acted as the court of last instance and have been called upon as such. Then follows the important tenet that the successors of St. Peter have been promised the Holy Ghost, not for the promulgation of new doctrines, but only for the preservation and interpretation of the Revelation delivered by the Apostles. The Constitution closes with the following words: "Faithfully adhering, therefore, to the tradition inherited from the beginning of the Christian Faith, we, with the approbation of the sacred council, for the glory of God our Saviour, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, teach and define, as a Divinely revealed dogma, that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith or morals is to be held by the entire Church he possesses, in consequence of the Divine aid promised him in St. Peter, that infallibility with which the Divine Saviour wished to have His Church furnished for the definition of doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not in consequence of the Church's consent, irreformable."

What is given above is essentially the contents of the two Constitutions of the Vatican Council. Their import may be briefly expressed thus: in opposition to the Rationalism and Free-thinking of the present day the first Constitution gives authoritative and clear expression of the fundamental principles of natural and supernatural understanding of right and true faith, their possibility, necessity, their sources, and of their relations to each other. Thus it offers to all of honest intention a guide and a firm foothold, both in solving the great question of life and in all the investigations of learning. The second Constitution settles finally a question which had kept the minds of men disturbed from the time of the Great Schism, and the Council of Constance, and more especially from the appearance of the four Gallican articles of 1682, the question of the relation between the pope and the Church. According to the dogmatic decision of the Vatican Council, the papacy founded by Christ is the crown and centre of the entire constitution of the Catholic Church. The papacy includes in itself the entire fullness of the power of administration and teaching bestowed by Christ upon His Church. Thus ecclesiastical particularism and the theory of national Churches are forever overthrown. On the other hand, it is extravagant and unjust to say that by the definition of the primacy of jurisdiction and of the infallibility of the pope the ecumenical councils have lost their essential importance. The ecumenical councils have never been absolutely necessary. Even before the Vatican Council their decrees obtained general currency only through the approval of the pope. The increasing difficulty of their convocation as time went on is shown by the interval of three hundred years between the nineteenth and twentieth ecumenical councils. The definitions of the last council have, therefore, brought about the alleviation that was desirable and the necessary legal certainty. Apart from this, however, the hierarchy united with the pope in a general council is, now as formerly, the most complete representation of the Catholic Church.

Lastly, as regards the drafts and proposition which were left unsettled by the Vatican Council, a number of these were revived and brought to completion by Pius IX and his two successors. To mention a few: Pius IX made St. Joseph the patron saint of the Universal Church on 8 Dec., 1870, the same year as the council. Moral and religious problems, which it was intended to lay before the council for discussion, are treated in the encyclicals of Leo XIII on the origin of the civil power (1881), on Freemasonry (1884), on human freedom (1888), on Christian marriage (1880), etc. Leo XIII also issued in 1900 new regulations regarding the index of forbidden books. From the beginning of his administration Pius X seems to have had in view in his legislative labours the completion of the great tasks left by the Vatican Council. The most striking proofs of this are: the reform of the Italian diocesan seminaries, the regulation of the philosophical and theological studies of candidates for the priesthood, the introduction of one catechism for the Roman church province, the laws concerning the form of ritual for betrothal and marriage, the revision of the prayers of the Breviary, and, above all, the codification of the whole of modern canon law.



Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Second Vatican Council



Previous council

First Vatican Council

Convoked by

Pope John XXIII

Presided by

Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI


up to 2540

Topics of discussion

The Church in itself, in relation to ecumenism and other religions, in relation to the modern world, renewal, liturgy, etc.

Documents and statements

4 Constitutions:

9 decrees:

3 declarations:

Chronological list of Ecumenical councils

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October, 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 21 November, 1965. At least four future pontiffs took part in the council's opening session: Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, who on succeeding Pope John XXIII took the name of Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Father Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI.[1][2]




Throughout the 1950s, theological and biblical studies of the Catholic Church had begun to sway away from the neo-scholasticism and biblical literalism that the reaction to the Modernism had enforced since the First Vatican Council. This shift could be seen in theologians such as Karl Rahner S.J., Michael Herbert, and John Courtney Murray S.J. who looked to integrate modern human experience with Christian dogma, as well as others such as Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger and Henri de Lubac who looked to what they saw as a more accurate understanding of scripture and the early Church Fathers as a source of renewal ("ressourcement").

At the same time the world's bishops faced tremendous challenges driven by political, social, economic, and technological change. Some of these bishops sought new ways of addressing those challenges. The First Vatican Council had been held nearly a century before but had been cut short when the Italian Army entered the city of Rome at the end of Italian unification. As a result, only deliberations on the role of the Papacy were completed, with examination of pastoral and dogmatic issues concerning the whole Church left undone.[3][4]

Pope John XXIII, however, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958.[5] This sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and largely positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church,[6] and the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis on 25 December 1961.[7][8] In various discussions before the Council actually convened, Pope John often said that it was time to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.[9] He invited other Christians outside of the Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Protestant denominations and Eastern Orthodox churches.[10]



Preparations for the Council took more than two years, and included work from 10 specialised commissions, people for mass media and Christian Unity, and a Central Commission for overall coordination. These groups, composed mostly of members of the Roman Curia, produced 987 proposed constituting sessions, making it the largest gathering in any council in church history. (This compares to Vatican I, where 737 attended, mostly from Europe.)[11] Attendance varied in later sessions from 2,100 to over 2,300. In addition, a varying number of periti (Latin: "experts") were available for theological consultation — a group that turned out to have a major influence as the council went forward. Seventeen Orthodox Churches and Protestant denominations sent observers.[1] More than three dozen representatives of other Christian communities were present at the opening session, and the number grew to nearly 100 by the end of the 4th Council Period.

First Period (Autumn 1962)


Pope John opened the Council on 11 October, 1962 in a public session and read the declaration Gaudet Mater Ecclesia before the Council Fathers.

13 October, 1962 marked the initial working session of the Council. That day's agenda included the election for members of the ten conciliar commissions. Each would have sixteen elected and eight appointed members, and were expected to do most of the work of the Council.[12] It had been expected that the members of the preparatory commissions, where the Curia was heavily represented, would be confirmed as the majorities on the conciliar commissions.[13][14] Senior French Achille Cardinal Liénart addressed the Council, saying that the bishops could not intelligently vote for strangers. He asked that the vote be postponed to give all the bishops a chance to draw up their own lists. German Josef Cardinal Frings seconded that proposal, and the vote was postponed.[14] The very first meeting of the Council adjourned after only fifteen minutes.[15]


The bishops met to discuss the membership of the commissions, along with other issues, both in national and regional groups, as well as in more informal gatherings. The schematas from the preparatory sessions were thrown out, and new ones were created.[1] When the council met on October 16, 1962, a new slate of commission members was presented and approved by the Council.[13] One important change was a significant increase in membership from Central and Northern Europe, instead of countries such as Spain or Italy. More than 100 bishops from Africa, Asia, and Latin America were Dutch or Belgian and tended to associate with the bishops from those countries. These groups were led by Jan Cardinal Alfrink of the Netherlands and Leo Cardinal Suenens of Belgium.[16]


Issues considered during the sessions included liturgy, mass communications, the Eastern Catholic churches, and the nature of revelation. Most notably, the schema on revelation was rejected by a majority of bishops, and Pope John intervened to require its rewriting.[17]

After adjournment on 8 December, work began on preparations for the sessions scheduled for 1963. These preparations, however, were halted upon the death of Pope John XXIII on 3 June, 1963. Pope Paul VI was elected on 21 June, 1963 and immediately announced that the Council would continue.[18]

Second Period (Autumn 1963)

In the months prior to the second period, Pope Paul VI worked to correct some of the problems of organization and procedure that had been discovered during the first period. This included inviting additional lay Catholic and non-Catholic observers, reducing the number of proposed schemata to seventeen (which were made more general, in keeping with the pastoral nature of the council) and later eliminating the requirement of secrecy surrounding general sessions.[18]

Pope Paul's opening address on 29 September, 1963 stressed the pastoral nature of the council, and set out four purposes for it:

During this period, the bishops approved the constitution on the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) and the decree on the media of social communication (Inter Mirifica). Work went forward with the schemata on the Church, bishops and dioceses, and ecumenism. On 8 November, 1963, Joseph Cardinal Frings criticized the Holy Office, and drew an articulate and impassioned defense by its Secretary, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani. This exchange is often considered the most dramatic of the council. (Cardinal Frings's theological advisor was the young Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who would later, as Cardinal, head the same department of the Holy See.) The second period ended on 4 December.

Third Period (Autumn 1964)

In the time between the second and third periods, the proposed schemata were further revised on the basis of comments from the council fathers. A number of topics were reduced to statements of fundamental propositions that could gain approval during the third period, with postconciliar commissions handling implementation of these measures. Eight religious and seven lay women observers were invited to the sessions of the third period, along with additional male lay observers.

During this period, which began on 14 September, 1964, the Council Fathers worked through a large volume of proposals. Schemata on ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), the Eastern Rite churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum), and the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium) were approved and promulgated by the Pope.

A votum or statement concerning the sacrament of marriage was submitted for the guidance of the commission revising the Code of Canon Law regarding a wide variety of juridicial, ceremonial, and pastoral issues. The bishops submitted this schema with a request for speedy approval, but the Pope did not act during the council. Pope Paul also instructed the bishops to defer the topic of contraception, which had arisen in part because of the advent of effective oral contraceptives, to a commission of clerical and lay experts that he had appointed.

Schemata on the life and ministry of priests and the missionary activity of the Church were rejected and sent back to commissions for complete rewriting. Work continued on the remaining schemata, in particular those on the Church in the modern world and religious freedom. There was controversy over revisions of the decree on religious freedom and the failure to vote on it during the third period, but Pope Paul promised that this schema would be the first to be reviewed in the next period.

Pope Paul closed the third period on November 21 by announcing a change in the Eucharistic fast and formally reaffirming Mary as "Mother of the Church".[19]

Fourth Period (Autumn 1965)

Eleven schemata remained unfinished at the end of the third period, and commissions worked to give them their final form. Schema 13, on the Church in the modern world, was revised by a commission that worked with the assistance of laymen.

Pope Paul VI opened the last period of the Council on 14 September, 1965 with the establishment of a Synod of Bishops. This more permanent structure was intended to preserve close cooperation of the bishops with the Pope after the council.

The first business of the fourth period was the consideration of the decree on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, one of the more controversial of the conciliar documents. The vote was 1,997 for to 224 against, a margin that widened even farther by the time the bishop's final signing of the decree. The principal work of the rest of the period was work on three documents, all of which were approved by the council fathers. The lengthened and revised pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes, was followed by decrees on missionary activity, Ad Gentes and the ministry and life of priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis.

The council also gave final approval to other documents that had been considered in earlier sessions. This included decrees on the pastoral office of bishops (Christus Dominus), the life of persons in religious orders (expanded and modified from earlier sessions, finally titled Perfectæ Caritatis), education for the priesthood (Optatam Totius), Christian education (Gravissimum Educationis), and the role of the laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem).

One of the more controversial documents was Nostra Aetate, which stated that the Jews of the time of Christ, taken indiscriminately, and all Jews today are no more responsible for the death of Christ than Christians.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ. Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.[20]

A major event of the final days of the council was the act of Pope Paul and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of a joint expression of regret for many of the past actions that had led up to the Great Schism between the western and eastern churches.

"The old story of the Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the council" (Paul VI., address, Dec. 7): On 8 December, the Council was formally closed, with the bishops professing their obedience to the Council's decrees. To help carry forward the work of the Council, Pope Paul:



Perhaps the most famous and most influential product of the council is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.

In its first chapter, titled "The Mystery of the Church," is the famous statement that "the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as 'the pillar and mainstay of the truth.' This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" (Lumen Gentium, 8). The document immediately adds: "Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines."

Sacred Liturgy

Main article: Sacrosanctum Concilium

One of the first issues considered by the council, and the matter that had the most immediate effect on the lives of individual Catholics, was the revision of the liturgy. The central idea was that there ought to be greater lay participation in the liturgy.

Scripture and Divine Revelation

Main article: Dei Verbum

The council sought to revive the central role of Scripture in the theological and devotional life of the Church, building upon the work of earlier popes in crafting a modern approach to Scriptural analysis and interpretation. A new approach to interpretation was approved by the bishops. The Church was to continue to provide versions of the Bible in the "mother tongues" of the faithful, and both clergy and laity were to continue to make Bible study a central part of their lives. This affirmed the importance of Sacred Scripture as attested by Providentissimus Deus by Pope Leo XIII and the writings of the Saints, Doctors, and Popes throughout Church history but also approved historically conditioned interpretation of Scripture as presented in Pius XII's 1943 encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu.

The Bishops

The role of the bishops of the Church was brought into renewed prominence, especially when seen collectively, as a college that has succeeded to that of the Apostles in teaching and governing the Church. This college does not exist without its head, the successor of St. Peter.


Main article: Spirit of Vatican II

By the spirit of Vatican II is meant the teaching and intentions of the Second Vatican Council interpreted in a way that is not limited to a literal reading of its documents, or even interpreted in a way that contradicts the "letter" of the Council[22][23] (cf. Saint Paul's phrase, "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life").[24]

The spirit of Vatican II is invoked for a great variety of ideas and attitudes. Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong used it with regard merely to an openness to dialogue with others, saying: "We are guided by the spirit of Vatican II: only dialogue and negotiation can solve conflicts."[25] Michael Novak described it instead as a spirit that "sometimes soared far beyond the actual, hard-won documents and decisions of Vatican II. ... It was as though the world (or at least the history of the Church) were now to be divided into only two periods, pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II. Everything 'pre' was then pretty much dismissed, so far as its authority mattered. For the most extreme, to be a Catholic now meant to believe more or less anything one wished to believe, or at least in the sense in which one personally interpreted it. One could be a Catholic 'in spirit'. One could take Catholic to mean the 'culture' in which one was born, rather than to mean a creed making objective and rigorous demands. One could imagine Rome as a distant and irrelevant anachronism, embarrassment, even adversary. Rome as 'them'."[26] This view of the Second Vatican Council was condemned by the Church's hierarchy, and the works of theologians espousing such a view (such as Hans Küng) have often been censured.


  1. a b c Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV (1 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 563. OCLC 34184550. 
  2. Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 69. ISBN 1570756384. 
  3. Bokenkotter, Thomas (2005). A Concise History of the Catholic Church. New York: Image. pp. 337. ISBN 0385516134. 
  4. Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 44. ISBN 0867165529. 
  5. Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 1. ISBN 1570756384. 
  6. Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 4–7. ISBN 1570756384. 
  7. "Vatican II: 40 years later". National Catholic Register. 
  8. "1961". 
  9. Sullivan, Maureen (2002). 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 17. ISBN 0809141337. 
  10. Sullivan, Maureen (2002). 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 21. ISBN 0809141337.  There has been speculation that the Vatican somehow assured the Russian Orthodox Church that Communism and the Soviet State were topics that would not be raised at the Council. However, in chapter IV, The External Climate (Albiergo, The History of Vatican II, Vol. 1, p. 404), J.O. Beozzo states that the real issue was the desire of the Russian Orthodox to be invited directly, instead of through the Ecumenical Patriarch in Turkey.
  11. Sullivan, Maureen (2002). 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 21. ISBN 0809141337. 
  12. Bokenkotter, Thomas (2005). A Concise History of the Catholic Church. New York: Image. pp. 413. ISBN 0385516134. 
  13. a b Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 24. ISBN 1570756384. 
  14. a b Sullivan, Maureen (2002). 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 27. ISBN 0809141337. 
  15. Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 4. ISBN 0867165529. 
  16. Sullivan, Maureen (2002). 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 28. ISBN 0809141337. 
  17. Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 564–565. OCLC 34184550. 
  18. a b Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 565–566. OCLC 34184550. 
  19. Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 566–567. OCLC 34184550. 
  20. Pope Paul VI (1965-10-28). Declaration on the relation of the church to non-christian religions - Nostra Aetate. Holy See. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  21. Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 567–568. OCLC 34184550. 
  22. James Hitchcock, The History of Vatican II, Lecture 6: The Effects of Council Part II
  23. Avery Dulles, Vatican II: The Myth and the Reality
  24. 2 Corinthians 3:6
  25. Gianni Criveller, Bishop John Tong of Hong Kong, "man of dialogue," but with "non-negotiable principles"
  26. Introduction to The Open Church (Millennium Edition)

Further reading

External links

Vatican texts