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A Brief History Of The Ecumenical Councils Of The Catholic Church




  1. First Council of Nicaea (325) repudiated Arianism, declared that Christ is "homoousios with the Father" (of the same substance as the Father), and adopted the original Nicene Creed, fixed Easter date; recognized primacy of the sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch and granted the See of Jerusalem a position of honor.

  2. First Council of Constantinople (381) repudiated Arianism and Macedonianism, declared that Christ is "born of the Father before all time", revised the Nicene Creed in regard to the Holy Spirit

  3. Council of Ephesus (431) repudiated Nestorianism, proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos ("Birth-giver to God", "God-bearer", "Mother of God"), repudiated Pelagianism, and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. This and all the following councils in this list are not recognized by the Assyrian Church of the East.

    • Second Council of Ephesus (449) declared Eutyches orthodox and attacked his opponents. Though originally convened as an ecumenical council, this council is not recognized as ecumenical and denounced as a Robber Council by the Chalcedonians (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants).

  4. Council of Chalcedon (451) repudiated the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, adopted the Chalcedonian Creed, which described the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, human and divine. Reinstated those deposed in 449 and deposed Dioscorus of Alexandria. Elevation of the bishoprics of Constantinople and Jerusalem to the status of patriarchates. This is also the last council explicitly recognised by the Anglican Communion. This and all the following councils in this list are rejected by the Oriental Orthodoxy.

  5. Second Council of Constantinople (553) repudiated the Three Chapters as Nestorian, condemned Origen of Alexandria, decreed the Theopaschite Formula.

  6. Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) repudiated Monothelitism and Monoenergism.

    • Quinisext Council, also called Council in Trullo (692) addressed matters of discipline (in amendment to the 5th and 6th councils). The Ecumenical status of this council was repudiated by the western churches.

  7. Second Council of Nicaea (787) restored the veneration of icons (condemned at the Council of Hieria, 754) and repudiated iconoclasm. This council is rejected by some Protestant denominations, which condemn the veneration of icons.

  8. Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870) deposed Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople as an usurper and reinstated his predecessor Saint Ignatius. Photius had already been declared deposed by the Pope, an act which the Church of Constantinople accepted at this council.

  9. First Council of the Lateran (1123) addressed investment of bishops and the Holy Roman Emperor's role therein.

  10. Second Council of the Lateran (1139) reaffirmed Lateran I and addressed clerical discipline (dress, marriages).

  11. Third Council of the Lateran (1179) restricted papal election to the cardinals, condemned simony, and introduced minimum ages for ordination (thirty for bishops).

  12. Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) defined transubstantiation, addressed papal primacy and clerical discipline.

  13. First Council of Lyon (1245) deposed Emperor Frederick II and instituted a levy to support the Holy Land.

  14. Second Council of Lyon (1274) attempted reunion with the Eastern churches, approved Franciscan and Dominican orders, a tithe to support crusades, and conclave procedures.

  15. Council of Vienne (1311–1312) disbanded the Knights Templar.

    • Council of Pisa (1409) attempted to solve the Great Western Schism. The council is not numbered because it was not convened by a pope and its outcome was repudiated at Constance.

  16. Council of Constance (1414–1418) resolved the Great Western Schism and condemned John Hus. Also began conciliarism.

    • Council of Siena (1423–1424) addressed church reform. Not numbered as it was swiftly disbanded.

  17. Council of Basel, Ferrara and Florence (1431–1445) addressed church reform and reunion with the Eastern Churches, but split into two parties. The fathers remaining at Basel became the apogee of conciliarism. The fathers at Florence achieved union with various Eastern Churches and temporarily with the Eastern Orthodox Church.

  18. Fifth Council of the Lateran (1512–1514) addressed church reform.

  19. Council of Trent (1545–1563, with interruptions) addressed church reform and repudiated Protestantism, defined the role and canon of Scripture and the seven sacraments, and strengthened clerical discipline and education. Temporarily attended by Lutheran delegates .

  20. First Council of the Vatican (1870; officially, 1870–1960) defined pope's primacy in church governance and his infallibility, repudiated rationalism, materialism and atheism, addressed revelation, interpretation of scripture and the relationship of faith and reason.

  21. Second Council of the Vatican (1962–1965) addressed pastoral and disciplinary issues dealing with the Church and its relation to the modern world, including liturgy and ecumenism.
























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