- [ED.] By consenting to this, the synod indirectly acknowledged that its previous sessions had not possessed an ecumenical character, and also that Gregory's predecessors, up to Urban VI., had been legitimate popes.
Its principal work was the adoption of fifteen disciplinary canons, which were subsequently accepted as ecumenical by the Council of Chalcedon, 451, and of which the most important are the following: i.
The fourth Lateran council (twelfth ecumenical), convened by Pope Innocent III.
Convoked an ecumenical council at Ephesus, to which Celestine sent his legates.
This doctrine, rather political than theological, was a survival of the errors which had come into being after the Great Schism, and especially at the council of Constance; its object was to put the Church above its head, as the council of Constance had put the ecumenical council above the pope, as though the council could be ecumenical without its head.
The minority, among whom were prominent Ca" "pals Rauscher and Schwarzenberg, Hefele, bishop of Rotterdam (the historian of the councils) Cardinal Mathieu, Mgr Dupanloup, Mgr Maret, &c., &c., did not pretend to deny the papal infallibility; they pleaded the inopportuneness of the definition and brought forward difficulties mainly of an historical order, in particular the famous condemn ion of Pope Honorius by the 6th ecumenical council of Const: ntinople in 680.
Among these numerous synods the most prominent are those which the tradition of the Roman Catholic church has classed as ecumenical councils.
The first Lateran council (the ninth ecumenical) was opened by Pope Calixtus II.
The second Lateran, and tenth ecumenical, council was held by Pope Innocent II.
At the third Lateran council (eleventh ecumenical), which met in March 1179 under Pope Alexander III., the clergy present again numbered about one thousand.
The fifth Lateran council (eighteenth ecumenical) was convened by Pope Julius II.
In order to restore peace in the church, Constantine summoned an ecumenical council (the sixth) at Constantinople, which held its sittings from the 7th of November 680 to the 16th of September 681.
Meanwhile the emperor Theodosius died, and Pulcheria and Marcian who succeeded summoned, in October 451, a council (the fourth ecumenical) which met at Chalcedon.
The Greek Church rejects as heretical, because contrary to the teaching of the first seven ecumenical councils, the Roman dogmas of the papacy, of the double procession of the Holy Ghost, the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, and the infallibility of the Pope.
This gradually led to the idea of " An Ecumenical Council of Congregational Churches," broached in 1874, and first realized in 1891, in the London International Council under the presidency of Dr R.
The struggle between these two systems continued well into the 10th century; and, though episcopalism was not infrequently proscribed by the curia, it still survived, and till the year 1870 could boast that no ecumenical council had ventured to condemn it.
In 325 the first general or ecumenical council, representing theoretically the entire Christian Church, was held at Nicaea.
Other councils of the first period now recognized as ecumenical by the Church both East and West are Constantinople I.
As a result the ecumenical council came into existence especially for the purpose of settling disputed questions of doctrine, and giving to the collective episcopate the opportunity to express its voice in a final and official way.
At the council of Nicaea, and at the ecumenical councils which followed, the idea of an infallible episcopate giving authoritative and permanent utterance to apostolic and therefore divine truth, found clear expression, and has been handed down as a part of the faith of the Catholic Church both East and West.
Under the Empire the ecumenical council had been looked upon as the highest representative organ of the Catholic Church; but the earlier centuries of the middle ages witnessed the convocation of no ecumenical councils.
A compromise was arranged by Sigismund, who had been crowned emperor at Rome on the 31st of May 1433, by which the pope recalled the bull of dissolution, and, reserving the rights of the Holy See, acknowledged the council as ecumenical (15th of December 1 433).
The council declared that it was canonically convened, ecumenical, and representative of the whole Catholic Church; then proceeded immediately to the trial and deposition of Benedict XIII.
All eyes were consequently turned to the energetic German king, Sigismund, who was inspired by the best motives, and who succeeded in surmounting the formidable obstacles which barred the way to an ecumenical council.
Thus, in the third, fourth and fifth general sessions it was enacted, with characteristic precipitation, that an ecumenical council could not be dissolved or set aside by the pope, without its consent: the corollary to which was, that the present council, notwithstanding the flight of John XXIII., continued to exist in the full possession of its powers, and that, in matters pertaining to belief and the eradication of schism, all men - even the pope - were bound to obey the general council, whose authority extended over all Christians, including the pope himself.
But these declarations as to the superiority of an ecumenical council never attained legal validity, in spite of their defence by Pierre d'Ailly and Gerson.
Emanating from an assembly without a head, which could not possibly be an ecumenical council without the assent of one of the popes (of whom one was necessarily the legitimate pope) - enacted, in opposition to the cardinals, by a majority of persons for the most part unqualified, and in a fashion which was thus distinctly different from that of the old of John councils - they can only be regarded as a coup de XXIII.
It was an impressive moment, when, on the 4th of December 1563, the great ecumenical synod of the Church came to a close.
The " Ecumenical Missionary Conference," held at New York in April 1900, was an astonishing revelation to the American public of the greatness of missions generally and of the missions of their own churches in particular.
In his controversies with the bishops of Ravenna concerning the use of the pallium, with Maximus the "usurping" bishop of Salona, and with the patriarchs of Constantinople in respect of the title "ecumenical bishops"), contributed greatly to build up the system of papal absolutism.
The conference of Anglican bishops from all parts of the world, instituted by Archbishop Longley in 1867, and known as the Lambeth Conferences, though even for the Anglican communion they have not the authority of an ecumenical synod, and their decisions are rather of the nature of counsels than commands, have done much to promote the harmony and co-operation of the various branches of the Church.
SOURCES.-"Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council held in Nicaea, 787," in Mansi's Concilia, vols.
The council was generally received as ecumenical, even by the Antiochenes, and the differences between Cyril and John were adjusted (433) by a "Union Creed," which, however, did not prevent a recrudescence of theological controversy.
ST, OF NYSSA GREGORY (c. 331 - c. 396), one of the four great fathers of the Eastern Church, designated by one of the later ecumenical councils as "a father of fathers," was a younger brother of Basil (the Great), bishop of Caesarea, and was born (probably) at Neocaesarea about A.D.
At the great ecumenical council held at Constantinople in 381, he was a conspicuous champion of the orthodox faith; according to Nicephorus, indeed, the additions made to the Nicene creed were entirely due to his suggestion, but this statement is of doubtful authority.
The 1234, and notably the decrees of the two ecumenical Liber Sextus."
The legislative power is powerfully centralized in the hands of the pope: since the reforming decrees of the council of Trent it is the pontifical constitutions alone which have made the common law; the ecumenical council, doubtless, has not lost its power, but none were held until that of the Vatican (1870), and this latter was unable to occupy itself with matters of discipline.
It is then to the episcopate, assembled in ecumenical council, and to its chief, that the function of legislating for the whole Church belongs; the inferior authorities, local councils or isolated bishops and prelates, can only make special laws or statutes, valid only for that part of the Church under their jurisdiction.
With the addition of the twenty-two canons of the ecumenical council of Nicaea (787), this will give us the whole contents of the official collection of the Greek Church; since then it has remained unchanged.
COUNCIL OF VIENNE, an ecclesiastical council, which in the Roman Catholic Church ranks as the fifteenth ecumenical synod.
Scholars like Langenstein, Gerson and Zabarella, evolved a new theory as to ecumenical councils, which from the point of view of Roman Catholic principles must be described as revolutionary.
As an ecclesiastical title it was used to imply, not universal (ecumenical), but a great and widespread jurisdiction.