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A Manual Of Councils Of The Holy Catholic Church -Rev. Edward H. Landon. M.A.

FERRARA (1438). [Concilium Ferrariense.] Eugene IV. having published a bull for the transfer of the Council of Basle to Ferrara, a few bishops and abbots assembled on the 8th of January 1438, viz., Cardinal Julian, who presided, five archbishops, eighteen bishops, ten abbots, and some general of the monastic orders; of these bishops only four had left the Council of Basle, which continued its sitting, justly regarding the pope’s bull as illegal.

On the 10th of January the first sitting was held, in which the translation of the council from Basle was pronounced to be canonical, and therefore the œcumenical Council of Ferrara lawfully assembled.

Pope Eugene presided in the second session, March 15, at the head of seventy-two bishops, and promulgated a decree against the fathers at Basle. Whilst these matters were being transacted, the Greek emperor, John Manuel Paleologus, and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Joseph II., arrived, on the 9th of February, at Venice, and were received with great pomp, together with Mark, Archbishop of Ephesus; twenty-one other prelates (amongst whom were Isidore, Metropolitan of Russia, and Bessarion of Nicea), and other ecclesiastics, amounting in all to seven hundred persons.

Before holding the first session with the Greeks, a scheme was drawn up of the different questions to be debated:

1. The procession of the Holy Spirit.

2. The addition “Filioque” to the creed.

3. Purgatory and the intermediate state.

4. The use of unleavened bread in the holy eucharist.

5. The authority of the Roman see and the primacy of the pope.

In the first meeting, where the Greeks were present, it was publicly proclaimed that the œcumenical council was then sitting at Ferrara, and four months were allowed for those who had been called to it to come. However, neither the invitations nor the style of œcumenical, which Eugene gave to his council, nor the four months’ delay, had much influence, seeing that no one else arrived at the council; that of Basle in the meanwhile continued its sitting, attended by the ambassadors of the emperor and other princes, especially those of France and Spain. Charles VII., indeed, forbad any of his subjects to attend the Council of Ferrara.

At last the first session of Greeks and Latins was held, October 8, and the opinion of the Latin Church upon the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit debated.

The second session, October 11, was entirely occupied by a long discourse of the Archbishop of Rhodes upon the advantages of peace, which seems to have caused the decision of the council, forbidding speeches of any considerable length in their future deliberations. The rule was, however, disregarded.

In the third session, October 14, 15, Andrew, Latin Archbishop of Rhodes, speaking on behalf of the Latins, besought the Greeks, if perchance a seemingly hard word should fall from them in the heat of discussion, to attribute it rather to the matter in dispute than to any personal feeling. The fourth session was consumed in desultory discourse between Mark of Ephesus and Andrew of Rhodes.

In the fifth session, October 15, the faith, as settled by the fathers at Nicea, was set forth, and their creed read; then the definitions of faith made at Chalcedon, and the first and second œcumenical Councils of Constantinople; after which the Latins produced a manuscript, which they declared to be very ancient, of the second Council of Nicea, asserting that in it would be found stated the procession of the Holy Spirit not only from the Father, but from the Son also.

Andrew of Rhodes endeavoured in the sixth session, October 20, in a long discourse, to show that what the Greeks persisted in regarding as an addition, was in reality neither an addition nor an alteration, but simply an explication of the original meaning of the creed, and a necessary consequence from it; in proof of this he brought forward various quotations from the Greek fathers, and especially from St Chrysostom, who says that the Son possesseth all that the Father hath, except the paternity, according to St John 16.

In the seventh session, October 25, he continued his discourse upon the same subject, and replied to the authorities alleged by Mark of Ephesus, explaining how, when the Church forbids the giving any other than the Nicene Creed to converts to Christianity, she does not intend but that the creed may be expounded to them, and taught them more clearly in other words; and he showed that the second œcumenical Council at Constantinople had, in fact, enlarged the creed of Nicea, in order to express more clearly certain Christian verities, in opposition to the heretics who contravened them.

In the two following sessions, November 1, 4, Bessarion of Nicea spoke on the Greek side of the question, and insisted, that although it was no where forbidden to explain the creed, it was, nevertheless, forbidden by the third œcumenical council (that of Ephesus) to insert those explanations in the creed, however true they might be.

In the tenth session, November 8, John, Bishop of Forti, spoke in answer to the observation of Bessarion concerning the prohibition made in the third œcumenical council, declaring that the real question to be considered was whether or not the dogma of the Latins upon the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit was true; for that if true, it was lawful to insert it in the creed, to meet the attacks of those who denied that truth. He maintained that no law could deprive the Church of the power of adding to the creed, when she should see fit to do so; and that the law of Ephesus applied only to the case of private persons, who presumed to make additions without authority.

In the following session, November 11, Cardinal Julian spoke upon the subject, and said that it was the false creed of the Nestorians which had given rise to the prohibition in question; that the council had forbidden not only every addition to the creed, but also every new exposition of the faith; and that, consequently, if this rule were to be applied to the Church, it would follow that the Church herself could not thenceforth frame any new exposition of the faith.

The debate upon the subject was continued through the four following sessions, November 15 to December 8. The Latins persisting in their demand, that the question should be examined to the very foundation; and that if it appeared evident that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the person of the Son as well as from that of the Father, the addition of the word Filioque to the creed should be allowed to stand; but on the contrary, if that doctrine should prove to be unfounded, they declared their willingness that the words should be expunged. The Greeks, however, obstinately insisted that the words should be first expunged before any further steps were taken, and thus the contending parties came to no conclusion.

In the following session, March 5, it was proposed to transfer the council from Ferrara to Florence, and this being agreed to, publication was made of the change.—Tom. xiii. Conc. pp. 1–222, 825–1031.

FIMES (881). [Concilium apud St Macram.] Held in the Church of St Macra, April 2, 1881, by Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, in which eight articles were published. The most important of these is the fourth, which orders that all monasteries, nunneries, and other religious houses shall be visited by the bishop, and by the king’s commissioners, and a report drawn up of their state.—Tom. ix. Conc. p. 337.

FINCHALL (799). [Concilium Finchalense.] Held about 799, by Eambald, Archbishop of York, for the restoration of discipline. Five œcumenical councils were acknowledged, and the proper time for the celebration of Easter laid down.—Tom. vii. Conc. p. 1148.—Wilkins’ Conc. vol. i. p. 161.

FLEURY (1107). [Conventus Floriacensis.] Held in 1107, in which the body of St Benedict was taken up in the presence of King Louis, and placed under the altar erected to his honour.—Tom. x. Conc. p. 753.

FLORENCE (1055). [Concilium Florentinum.] Held about Whitsuntide, A.D. 1055, by Victor II., in the presence of the Emperor, Henry III., against the errors of Berenger, and the alienation of Church property.—Tom. ix. Conc. p. 1079.

FLORENCE (1106). Held in 1106, by Paschal II., against the errors of Raynerius, Bishop of Florence, who maintained that Antichrist was born. The wickedness of the times, the prodigies, and the wars which raged on all sides made him come to the conclusion that the world was drawing to its close, and that the reign of Antichrist had commenced. Ughellus, t. iii. p. 77. art. xxviii. Three hundred and forty bishops are said to have attended. The council came to no conclusion, owing to the tumult made by the people, who flocked to Florence, attracted by the dispute.—Mansi, Supp. to Labbe, Tom. ii. col. 221, 222.

FLORENCE (1439). Held in 1439. This council was nothing more than a continuation of that assembled by Pope Eugene at Ferrara, which, owing to the plague having broken out at the latter place, he transferred to Florence. The pope himself was present, with John Paleologus, the Greek emperor, Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople, and many Greek prelates.

In the first session, February 26, the Patriarch of Constantinople being ill was unable to attend, and the discussion was chiefly carried on between the emperor, who is reported to have been a man of learning and ability, and Cardinal Julian. The conclusion arrived at was, that both parties should strive to facilitate a reunion, and that the Greeks should in private discuss the question how the union could be best effected, and report their opinion in the next session; nothing, however, could be thus arranged, and they subsequently returned to their public discussion.

The question concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit was continued, March 2, 5. John, the provincial of the Dominicans in Lombardy, proved, from Scripture and tradition, that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son. He explained what is meant by the word “procession;” and said, that to “proceed,” meant to receive existence from. To this Mark of Ephesus agreed. And John, proceeding with his argument, said, that from whichever of the persons in the blessed Trinity the Holy Spirit received existence, from that same person he proceeded; but He received existence from the Son, therefore He proceeded from the Son, in the proper acceptation of the term. To this Mark answered, by denying that the Holy Spirit received existence from the Son; and John then proceeded to adduce proofs to that effect.

In the following session, March 7, John continued his argument, adducing a passage from the third book of St Basil against Eunomius, to prove that this holy doctor had taught in distinct terms the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son as well as from the Father. John had brought with him from Constantinople several copies of the works of St Basil.

The passage adduced from St Basil was discussed in the three following sessions.

In the eighth and ninth sessions, March 21–25, Mark of Ephesus absented himself, but John continued to speak, and endeavoured to show that of all the Greek fathers who have spoken upon the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit, many have said, either in direct or in equivalent terms, that He proceedeth from the Father and the Son; and that those who state that He proceedeth from the Father, have never so spoken as to exclude the Son. After some further discourse, he handed in an analysis of his speech.

After this no other session was held before the departure of the Greeks, who were much divided upon the subject of the addition to the creed. Several meetings were held amongst themselves: at one of which, held at the residence of their patriarch, they were plainly told that they must arrange some means of union between the two Churches upon this subject, or find their own way back to their country as best they could. One of them declared that he would never be guilty of betraying the faith of his Church, for the sake of being sent home again at the expense of the pope; adding, “Mori malo, quam unquam latinizare.” Many, however, amongst whom were the emperor and Bessarion, were for union; others, headed by Mark of Ephesus, were opposed to it. The discussion was again opened, the discourse of John was examined, and Mark of Ephesus charged it with heresy. Bessarion defended it, loudly declaring that they should give glory to God, and confess the Latin doctrine to be true, and agreeable to that of the old fathers of the Greek Church. Subsequently, in a long discourse in defence of the Latin doctrine, he urged his brethren to union; in which he was seconded by George Scholarius, a Greek theologian; afterwards he became a strong opponent of the Latins, and (after 1453) Patriarch of Constantinople. His monastic name was Gennadius. As there seemed little chance of any decision being come to, the emperor and the pope, in concert, proposed that a certain number of persons should be named on both sides, who might deliberate upon the best means of effecting the union of the Churches. After many unsuccessful endeavours, they drew up a profession of faith upon the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit, in which they declared as follows:—“That the Holy Spirit is from all eternity from the Father and of the Son; that He from all eternity proceedeth from both, as from one only principle, and by one only spiration; that by this way of speaking, it is signified that the Son also is, as the Greeks express it, the cause, or, as the Latins, the principle of the subsistence of the Holy Spirit equally with the Father. Also we declare, that what some of the holy fathers have said of the procession of the Holy Spirit from (ex) the Father by (per) the Son, is to be taken in such a sense as, that the Son is as well as the Father, and conjointly with him, the cause or principle of the Holy Spirit; and since all that the Father hath He hath, in begetting Him, communicated to His only begotten Son, the paternity alone excepted; so it is from the Father from all eternity that the Son hath received this also, that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Son as well as from the Father.”

In the same decree the council declared that it was lawful to consecrate unleavened bread as well as that which had been leavened; and upon the subject of purgatory, that the souls of those who die truly penitent in the love of God, before bringing forth fruit meet for repentance, are purified after death by the pains of purgatory, and that they derive comfort in those pains from the prayers of the faithful on earth, as also by the sacrifice of the mass, alms, and other works of piety.

Concerning the primacy of the pope, they confessed the pope to be the sovereign pontiff and vicar of Jesus Christ, the head of the whole Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians, and the governor of the Church of God, according to the sacred canons and acts of the Œcumenical Councils, saving the privileges and rights of the Eastern patriarchs.

After various conferences, the decree of union was drawn up in due order, in Greek and in Latin; it was then read and signed by the pope, and by eighteen cardinals, by the Latin patriarchs of Jerusalem and Grenada, and the two episcopal ambassadors of the Duke of Burgundy, eight archbishops, forty-seven bishops (who were almost all Italians), four generals of monastic orders, and forty-one abbots. On the Greek side, it was signed by the Emperor John Paleologus, by the vicars of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem (the patriarch of Constantinople had lately died), and by several metropolitans. This decree was published on the 6th of July 1439, after which the Greeks, to the number of thirty, left Florence, and arrived at Constantinople, February 1, 1440.

After their departure, the council continued its sittings; and in the next session, held September 4th, the fathers at Basle were declared to be heretics and schismatics. In the second, November 22nd, a very long decree was made upon the subject of the union of the Armenians with the Roman Church. This decree runs in the name of the pope only. Besides the true faith concerning the blessed Trinity and the incarnation, as set forth by the councils pointed out in it, it contains the form and matter of each sacrament set forth in a manner different from that to which the Greeks were accustomed. In the third, March 23rd, 1440, Pope Felix V (Amadeus), whom the fathers at Basle had elected, was declared to be a heretic and schismatic, and all his followers guilty of high treason; a promise of pardon being held out to those who should submit within fifty days. In the fourth session, 4th of February 1441, a decree for the reunion of the Jacobites (or Copts) of Ethiopia with the Roman Church was published, signed by the pope and eight cardinals. Andrew, the deputy of John II., the Jacobite patriarch of Alexandria, received it in the name of the Ethiopian Jacobites. In the fifth session, 26th of April 1442, the pope’s proposal to transfer the council to Rome was agreed to; but only two sessions were held there, in which decrees were drawn up concerning the proposed union of the Syrians, Chaldeans, and Maronites with the Church of Rome.—Tom. xiii. Conc. pp. 223 and 1034.

FLORENCE (1573). Held in 1573, for the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent.

Four sessions were held, in which sixty-three articles were published, most of which contain several chapters.

Art. 1. After reciting the Nicene Creed, decrees that no interpretation of Holy Scripture be received, unless confirmed by the tradition of the Church; it also recognises seven sacraments; receives the doctrine of Trent upon original sin and justification; maintains the doctrine of transubstantiation and the offering of Jesus Christ, both for the living and the dead; also the sufficiency of the holy sacrament under one kind, the reality of purgatory, and the utility of prayer for the dead; approves of the worship of saints, and of honours paid to the images of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and other saints; also it asserts the utility of indulgences, and the power of the Church in that respect; the primacy of the Church of Rome, as well as that of him who presides over it; in short, it approves of all the acts of the Council of Trent, and rejects every thing which is contrary to them; requiring them to be sincerely believed and held by all who shall be admitted to any office in the Church.

2. Treats of the permission necessary for reading forbidden books, and the punishment of those who read them without permission.

3. Treats of the manner in which relics are to be preserved; forbids the least appearance of cupidity in showing them to the faithful.

4. Treats of the respect due to images; desires that none be set up without the bishop’s sanction; directs that they shall never be exposed in indecent situations.

5. Forbids every sort of scenic representation, even of sacred subjects, by the clergy, without the bishop’s written permission.

6. Treats of the publication of miracles.

7. Treats of the punishment due to those who consult conjurers, &c., and to the clergy who practise exorcism without permission.

8. Enjoins that Jews shall abstain from business on festival days, and keep themselves at home during the three days preceding Easter; it likewise forbids all familiar intercourse between Jews and Christians.

9. Forbids lay persons to argue with heretics, and requires bishops to use every precaution to drive away suspected persons from their flock.

11. Treats of the celebration of festivals.

12. Treats of the respect due to churches.

13. Treats of the immunities of churches.

14. Treats of the repair of churches, and the union of two or more.

15. Treats of the government of a cathedral church, when vacant.

16. Treats of the enquiries, &c., to be made concerning any one about to be elevated to the episcopate.

17. Treats of the duties of canons.

18. Treats of the due celebration of mass.

19. Relates to preachers.

20. Treats of the charge of the theologist [one of the canons in a chapter, whose duty it is to teach theology, and preach occasionally].

21. Treats of catechisms.

22. Of seminaries.

23, 24, 25, 26. Of collations to benefices; of the election to cures of souls; of pluralities, and residence.

27. Episcopal visitations.

28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35. The administration of the sacraments.

36 and 37. Treat of the conduct, &c., of bishops and clergy.

38. Of the punishment of adulterers.

39. Of the punishment of usurers.

41, 42, 43. Of simony, fasting, and tithes.

45. Of indulgences.

46. Of processions.

47. Of funerals.

48. Of burials.

49. Of the care to be taken of infants by nurses.

51. Of fraternities.

52. Contains various regulations for nunneries.

53. Requires medical men to warn sick persons to attend to their spiritual affairs, and that not later than the third visit.

54. Treats of the duties of notaries.

55, 56, 57. Relate to proceedings in the case of ecclesiastics.

58. Recommends great caution in the fulmination of censures.

59, 60, 61, 62. Relate to the right use of them.

These acts are subscribed by Antonio Altovita, metropolitan and president, by four bishops, and the procurators of two bishops absent.—Mansi, Tom. v. p. 915.

FLORENCE (1787). An assembly of bishops was held here in 1787, under the Archbishop Ant. Martini.

FRANCE (1002). Several councils were held in the year 1002, in different parts of France; it was declared, first, that the practice of fasting from Ascension day to Whitsunday, as practised by many of the faithful, was a thing indifferent; secondly, that the monks should continue to observe their custom of chanting “Te Deum” on the three (or four) Sundays preceding Christmas and during Lent, contrary to the Roman custom; thirdly, that the festival of the annunciation should be celebrated on the 25th of March.—Tom. ix. Conc. p. 782.

FRANCFORT (794). [Concilium Francofordiense.] Held at Francfort on the Maine, about the month of June 794; composed of the Bishops of Germany, Gaul, and Aquitaine. Bishops also attended from Spain, Italy, and England, and two delegates, the Bishops Theophylast and Stephen, from Pope Hadrian. The whole number amounted to upwards of three hundred.

The heresy of Elipandus, Archbishop of Toledo, and Felix, Bishop of Urgel, for the third time was condemned, and fifty-six canons were published, the second of which is the memorable canon which condemns the worship of images, as decreed by the second Council of Nicea, in 787. It appears that after the termination of the Council of Nicea, the pope forwarded an authentic copy of the acts of the council to France, to be approved by the Gallican bishop, which, however, they entirely refused to do, and declared, “Dum nos nihil in imaginibus spernamus præter adorationem … non ad adorandum, sed ad memoriam rerum gestarum et venustatem parietum habere permittimus.” Lib. Car. l. iii. c. 16. The pope composed a reply to their view of the matter; but their opinion remained unshaken; and in 792, Charlemagne transmitted to England an authentic copy of the acts of Nicea, which he had received from Constantinople, for the opinion of the English bishops, who sent deputies to attend this council, to testify to their opposition to the acts of Nicea.

Canon 1. Condemns Felix and Elipandus.

2. Condemns the second Council of Nicea, and all worship of images.

6. Orders that bishops shall see justice done to the clergy of their diocese; if the clergy are not satisfied with their judgment, they may appeal to the metropolitan in synod.

7. Forbids bishops to live out of their dioceses, and priests to leave their benefices.

8. Enacts that the See of Arles shall have pre-eminence over nine suffragan sees. This was done on account of the disputes between the Archbishops of Arles and Vienne.

11. Orders all monks to abstain from business and all secular employments.

15. Orders that in monasteries containing the remains of departed saints, a chapel be built, in which the holy office shall be said both by day and night.

16. Forbids to take money for the ordination of monks.

17. Directs that no abbot be elected without the consent of the bishop of the diocese.

18. Forbids the mutilation of a monk for neglect of his rule.

19. Forbids the clergy and monks to frequent taverns to drink.

21. Orders that the observance of Sunday shall commence at vespers on the preceding day.

30. Constitutes the bishop, conjointly with the magistrates of the place, judge in every cause between a layman and ecclesiastic.

38. Forbids the clergy of the king’s chapel to communicate with those of the clergy who have quarrelled with their bishop.

41. Forbids bishops to leave their dioceses for a longer space than three weeks.

42. “Ut nulli novi Sancti colantur aut invocentur, nec memoriæ eorum per vias erigantur, sed hi soli in Ecclesiâ venerandi sint qui ex auctoritate passionum et vitæ merito electi sunt.”

47. Charges the bishop to overlook the conduct of abbesses, and to report any ill-behaviour to the king, that they may be deposed.

48. Orders the bishops to distribute the oblations made in the churches.—Tom. vii. Conc. p. 1013.

FREISINGHEN (1440). [Concilium Frisingense.] Held at Freisinghen, in the archbishopric of Saltzburg, in 1440, by Nicodemus de Scala, bishop of the place. Twenty-six regulations were published.

5. Renews the decree of Basle against the concubinage of the clergy.

10. Deprives of Christian burial persons killed at tournaments and spectacles; also those who die suddenly, not having made confession during the previous year.

16. Forbids to say mass without lights, and to elevate the host before consecration, lest the people thereby be led to commit idolatry.

25. Forbids to excommunicate either layman or clerk without a previous canonical monition.—Tom. xiii. Conc. p. 1283.

FRIULI (CITTA DA) (796). [Concilium Forojuliense.] Held in 796, by Paulinus, or Paulus, Patriarch of Aquileia, and his suffragans. The errors of Elipandus, Archbishop of Toledo, &c., who maintained that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father only, and of those who declared that the Son of God made man, was only the adopted Son of God, were condemned.

A definition of faith was published, and fourteen canons were made. 1. Condemns simony. The others relate to the lives and conversation of the clergy, marriage, &c. Canon 13 relates to the proper observance of Sunday; bids all Christians to commence the observance of it from vespers on Saturday, by abstaining from all evil, and every carnal work, and by giving themselves to prayer, and going to Church.—Tom. vii. Conc. p. 991.

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