Thursday, January 6, 2011

*BEST OF DTB #46* The Catholic Defender: The Major Councils of the Church

The first Council is recorded in the book of Acts Chapter 15-29 and Galatians 2:1-10. This Council would be the model for all the following Councils.

Acts 15:28 states, "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell".

The Council of Jerusalem set the Catholic Church on the course of grace. We are no longer bound by the law of circumcision and the Law of Moses. Gentiles would be received into the Church through the Sacraments. This is huge. We do not do away with the Old Testament, but we are anchored in the New Testament for which fulfills the Old. This is the New Covenant Jeremiah foretold (Jeremiah 31:31-34) and Jesus initiates (Matthew 26:28). This took place in 49 A.D. This was taken from "Daily Catholic" except for Vatican II. The following are Councils of the Church that are for all Christians as sheep to follow (Luke 10:16):

1. The First Council of Nicaea 325 A.D.

Though the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15 and Galatians 2) was the first Church Council, attended by the Apostles, the first Ecumenical (world-wide) Council was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great with Pope Saint Sylvester I sitting on the Throne of Peter as the 33rd successor of Christ's appointed Apostle. The site was the city of Nicaea, just south of Constantinople in Asia Minor. The greatest periti was the Bishop of Alexandria, Saint Athanasius who, amidst his struggles with the Arians, argued convincingly for condemning Arius and, as a deacon, St. Athanasius was at the forefront in defining the Consubstantiality of the Son with the Heavenly Father.

2. The First Council Constantinople 381 A.D.

Fifty-six years after Nicaea, the Roman Emperor of the East Theodosius I convened the second General Council. Because of friction between the emperor who was headquartered in Constantinople and Pope Saint Damasus I, located in Rome, neither the Holy Father or his papal legates attended. Already the split between East and West was manifesting itself. 186 bishops did attend. Most notable were Doctors of the Church Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, who with the Council Fathers, reaffirmed the First Council of Nicaea and defined the Consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, thereby condeming the heresy of Macedonius.

3. Council of Ephesus 431 A.D.

Fifty years after the First Council of Constantinople, Theodosius' son Theodosius II ruled as emperor. He was much more inclined to hear the Church, influenced by his saintly sister Saint Pulcheria and, in harmony with Pope Saint Celestine I, a third General Council was called in Ephesus in the southern tip of Asia Minor. Over 200 bishops attended, declaring the Divine Maternity Dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Also, led by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the Council defined that Christ has two natures - Divine and human, but only one Person which is Divine. This affirmation condemned Nestorianism and deposed Nestorius, who was the bishop of Constantinople. The Council also affirmed the Council of Carthage held for the local Church in 416, thus condemning Pelagius and his teachings.

4. The Council of Chalcedon 451 A.D.

Twenty years after Ephesus, Saint Pulcheria played a key role in the fourth General Council; this time influencing her husband Marcian, then the Roman Emperor of the East, to coordinate with Pope Saint Leo the Great in convening it at Chalcedon in Thessalonica just northwest of Constantinople. Once again a false teaching was at the heart of the meeting. This time Monophysitism (the false teaching that Christ had only one nature) was at the forefront of controversy. It was taught by the Abbot Eutyches who also sought discord, causing confusion so that the Council asserted that Constantinople should be on an equal basis with Rome ecclesiastically. Vigorously opposing this and Eutyches, Pope Leo determined in his Dogmatic Epistle of October 10, 451 that the See of Peter in Rome is and always shall be the Seat of Primacy with no equal and that Eutyches was a heretic. Leo was proclaimed the 'Soul of Chalcedon' and the Council agreed unanimously that through Leo, Peter had spoken and Eutyches was condemned.

5. Second Council of Constantinople 553 A.D.

Just over a century after Chalcedon, heresy was running rampant and the Roman Emperor in Constantinople Justinian I decided it was time for another General Council. The Second Council in Constantinople condemned the "Three Chapters" which was a collection of statements by three deceased disciples of the deposed Nestorius. The Council determined that the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa were soundly condemned. This Council also affirmed the condemnations declared at the Council of Carthage in 416 and previous condemnations by Popes of heresies.

6. Third Council of Constantinople 681 A.D.

117 years after the Second Council of Constantinople, the Emperor Constantine IV decided it was time to call another General Council, especially in light of the growing threat of Islamism. In agreement with Pope Saint Agatho, the Council was convened with again over 200 bishops. The heresy of the time was Monothelitesism which falsely taught that Christ only had a Divine will, rather than a Divine and human will. It denied the perfect harmony of the two wills within the one Divine Person. Pope Agatho died during this Council and his successor Pope Saint Leo II continued it, approving the decrees of past Councils and taking to task one of his predecessors Pope Honorius I for not keeping the heresy of Monothelites in check, specifically not challenging the Patriarch of Constantinople Sergius who was spreading the heresy. St. Leo's actions set a precedence for calling into question error by previous Pontiffs and confirmed that a Pope can be in error when not speaking from the Chair of Peter - ex cathedra.

7. Second Council of Nicaea 787 A.D.

Just over a century after the Third Council of Constantinople, a 7th General Council was necessary in 787 to deal with the heresy of Iconoclasm. The Council was called by the Empress Irene - the widow of the late Emperor Leo IV and mother of the Emperor Constantine IV - to head off the growing unrest with the Eastern Bishops who were spreading the heresy of Iconoclasm fostered by Emperor Leo III. The latter had been fiercely condemned by Pope Hadrian I, as well as his predecessors Popes Gregory II and Pope Gregory III. A great Doctor of the Church Saint John Damascene had also defended images as a means of reverence. At the core was the growing split and resentment between East and West.

8. Fourth Council of Constantinople 869-70 A.D.

The issue of declaring Photius a heretic was paramount for the Fourth Council of Constantinople which was called jointly by the Emperor Basil and Pope Hadrian II in 869. Photius had openly criticized clerical celibacy, challenged Pope Saint Leo III's crowning of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas of 800, and questioned the Filioque of the Creed. Photius was condemned by the Council. 200 years later the Great Eastern Schism became official when Michael Cerularius closed the Latin churches in Constantinople and was excommunicated by Pope Saint Leo IV in 1054. Also of concern at the Council was the growing Saracen threat.

9. First Lateran Council 1123 A.D.

The first General Council after the Great Eastern Schism was held in Rome for the first time at the Lateran Basilica in 1123 and convened by Pope Callistus II. At issue was the Lay Investiture controversy between secular power and ecclesial power. The Council confirmed the Concordat of Worms that had been signed the year before between Emperor Henry V and Pope Callistus II. This assured all elections of prelates and abbots would be made by ecclesial authorities solely with the Emperor having approval only in Germany. The Council declared priests in the Latin rite must remain celibate.

10. Second Lateran Council 1139 A.D.

It was necessary to call a second General Council just 16 years later because of the Papal schism in which Pope Innocent II declared null and void all acts and decrees by the deceased antipope Anicletus II. The Council also condemned the heresies of Peter Bruys and Arnold of Brescia as well as enacting reforms suggested by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who also preached a crusade against the threat of the Crescent Moon of Islam.

11. Third Lateran Council 1179 A.D.

Pope Alexander III called the third Council at the Lateran Basilica because once again a General Council had to be called to undo the damage done by antipopes Victor IV and others. The Council also set the election of the Roman Pontiff must be by two-thirds of the majority of cardinals voting, establishing the Sacred Conclave as the voting body. The Council condemned the heresies of Albigenses and Waldenses.

12. Fourth Lateran Council 1215 A.D.

In 1215 Pope Innocent III called the Fourth Lateran Council 36 years after Lateran III had closed. This Council was the most absolute and most impacting of all ecumenical councils to date. Nearly 500 prelates, as well as the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem, and close to a thousand abbots including Saint Dominic attended. Here Innocent, trying to recover from the immense sadness three years earlier of the failed Children's Crusade (5th Crusade) , successfully regained his power. It marked the pinnacle of papal power in medieval times. It was Innocent who defined ex cathedra - from the chair of Peter and who declared in that position that "There is but one Universal Church, outside of which there is no salvation." The Council officially set in stone the term 'Transubstantiation' for the mystery of the bread and wine confected into the body and blood of Jesus Christ and reformed disciplines of ecclesiastical life, as well as directing all Catholics to partake in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist no less than once a year. Lateran IV also condemned as anathema once more the heresies of Albigensianism, which taught marriage and the sacraments were not needed, and Waldensianism, which taught that the laity could perform the same duties as a priest when said priest was in mortal sin.

13. First Council of Lyons 1245 A.D.

30-years after Lateran IV, Pope Innocent IV called the First Council of Lyons in 1245, having been forced to flee Rome for the refuge of Lyons France at the invitation of the holy French Monarch King Saint Louis IX. The latter was designated to lead the Seventh Crusade against the infidel Saracens. Though only 140 bishops were at Lyons, it had the support of the Patriarchs of Antioch, Constantinople, Venice and the Emperor of the East. The Council reinforced the excommunication Pope Gregory IX had imposed on Frederick II, the slacker emperor who had betrayed the trust placed in him. He was deposed. Great concern was also given to the Mongol hordes invading Europe and the loss of Jerusalem to the infidel, as well as problems with lax clergy.

14. Second Council of Lyons 1274 A.D.

In 1274 Blessed Pope Gregory X called the Second Council of Lyons, which teemed with 15 cardinals, 500 prelates and well over a thousand clerics and dignitaries including Saint Bonaventure. Another great Doctor of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas passed to his Heavenly reward enroute to the Council. This Council's main docket was the attempt to reunite with the Eastern Church, but it was only temporary and the schism grew wider after the solidification of the Dogmatic Filioque in which it was reaffirmed emphatically that the Holy Ghost proceeds from both the Father and the Son. Also addressed were regulations for Papal election and how to recover Palestine from the Turks.

15. Council of Vienne 1311-12 A.D.

Six years into the 'Avignon Exile' (1305-1377), the Council of Vienne lasted two years. It was called in 1311 by the first of the Avignon Popes Pope Clement V in the city of Vienne just south of Lyons. Though the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria joined the Pope, it was a noticable difference from the last Council for far fewer bishops and dignitaries attended. Nevertheless, the council suppressed the Knights Templars and Jacques de Molay, the one who laid the satanic seeds of Freemasonry. They had abused their privileges after the Crusades. Politics also played a huge role in this council with King Philip IV ruler of France being reinstituted in the Church after his legendary excommunication battle with Clement's predecessor Pope Boniface VIII who had issued his famous ex cathedra bull Unam Sanctam. The Council also condemned various heresies.

16Council of Constance 1414-18 A.D.

Just over a century after the Council of Vienne the 16th Ecumenical Council was called in the French area of Switzerland in 1414. Because of the Great Western Schism the legitimate Pope Gregory XII abdicated the Papal throne during the Council at the Emperor Sigismund's request for the sake of unity so that the Council could sort out the mess and end the Schism amid the confusion of the multi-popes which included the anti-popes of Avignon - Benedict XIII and John XXIII. The latter had called a Council in Pisa in 1403 which was not recognized because of its illegality. The Council took control and elected Pope Martin V to the seat of Peter in 1417, three years after the Council was opened. It brought to an end the Great Schism and opened a whole new can of worms with the struggle between papal power and conciliar power. Condemned were the heresies of John Wycliffe and John Hus, the tip of the iceberg that would erupt a century later.

17.Council of Florence 1431-45 A.D.

Though it is called the Council of Florence, it began in Basel, Switzerland, called by Pope Martin V. But Martin V did not live to open it. Instead his successor Blessed Pope Eugene IV opened it and met open resistance from many of the bishops. Therefore he dissolved the Council, moving to Ferrara, Italy in 1438 because of the schismatic bishops who elected the antipope Felix V. In 1439 the bubonic plague forced the entire Council to move again, this time to Florence where it was closed eight years later in 1447 by the Eugene IV. Though the Greek Church agreed to accept Filioque, it was shortlived for the infidels conquered Constantinople six years after the Council closed and, demoralized, the Eastern Church stuck to their stubborn agenda. The most stunning aspect of this Council was that Papal Authority triumphed over conciliar authority. Pope Eugene IV, backed by the Council proclaimed infallible the dogma of no salvation for anyone outside the Church in his noted Papal Bull Cantate Domino.

18. Fifth Lateran Council 1512-1517 A.D.

Despite Blessed Pope Eugene IV's Papal Bull Cantate Domino problems abounded less than a century later. Thus Pope Julius II, trying to recoup the scandals caused by previous pontiffs - specifically the Borgia Pope Alexander VI - called the 18th Ecumenical Council, returning to the Lateran for the Fifth Synod in 1512. When Julius died, his successor Pope Leo X carried on the Council. No doctrine was proclaimed with all decrees primarily disciplinary in trying to stem the tide of Martin Luther and others who were outwardly rebelling against the Church. Though the idea of a Crusade against the Turks was brought up, the problems with the growing Protestant Reformation occupied the agenda. The Council reaffirmed the superiority of the Pope over conciliar powers.

19. Council of Trent 1545-63

The greatest and longest of all the major ecumenical councils was convened by Pope Paul III on December 13, 1545 in the mouintain village of Trent in northern Italy. There were 25 major sessions that spanned eighteen years under five popes - Pope Julius III, Marcellus II, Paul IV and Pope Pius IV who closed the last session on December 4, 1563 with Pius IV issuing a Papal Bull on February 7, 1564 confirming all that was declared at Trent. Pope Saint Pius V completed the commission of Trent, reforming the Roman Missal with his De Defectibus and Quo Primum writing the Catechism of Trent based on all the decrees of Trent and also set up a commission to issue a more exact edition of the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Council issued the most dogmatic and reformatory decrees ever, specifically on the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments plus reinstating traditions always held 'Catholic.' Trent was the ideal Counter-Reformation to the Protestant Reformation where Protestantism was condemned as anathema along with Martin Luther and other reformers who had bolted the Church. Moral discipline was emphasized and reinforced in order that Holy Mother Church regain the respect and authority intended for the Church Christ founded and passed down through His infallible, perennial Magisterium of the Church, preserving the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church in the Sacred Deposit of the Faith.

20. First Vatican Council 1869-70 A.D.

Many consider the First Vatican Council as the longest ever because, in truth, it has never been closed. Convened by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1869 with 803 of the hierarchy present from the universal Church, it only had four sessions, all reaffirming the course of Trent. In the 4th Session on July 18, 1870 the Council affirmed the dogma of infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff.

21. Second Vatican Council 1962-65 A.D.

From Wikipedia: 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 8 December 1965. Of those that took part in the council's opening session, four have become pontiffs to date: Cardinal Giovanni Battista 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.
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."

(Editors Note) "Daily Catholic" are in Schism with the Catholic Church as demonstrated on their perspective of the Second Vatican Council. I took liberty with the first 20 Councils as I do like the format, easy to read. Please pray that all schisms cease and that the whole Church is reunited in accordance to Catholic Teaching. This is the will of the Lord as demonstrated in Scripture.

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