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Fourth Council of Constantinople (Roman Catholic)

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For the Eastern Orthodox synod, see Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox) (879-880)
Part of a series on the
Catholic Ecumenical Councils
Council Trent
Antiquity

Nicaea I • Constantinople I
Ephesus  • Chalcedon
Constantinople II
Constantinople III •Nicaea II
Constantinople IV

Middle Ages

Lateran I  • Lateran II
Lateran III  • Lateran IV
Lyon I  • Lyon II  • Vienne

Councilarism

Constance  • Basel • Lateran V

Modern

Trent • Vatican I •Vatican II

046CupolaSPietro Catholicism Portal

Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870)
Date 869-870
Accepted by Roman Catholicism
Previous council Second Council of Nicaea
Next council Roman Catholic: First Council of the Lateran
Convoked by Emperor Basil I and Pope Adrian II
Presided by papal legates
Attendance 20-25 (first session 869), 102 (last session 870)
Topics of discussion Photius' patriarchate
Documents and statements Deposition of Photius, 27 canons
Chronological list of Ecumenical councils



The Fourth Council of Constantinople (Roman Catholic) was the 8th Catholic Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople from October 5, 869 to February 28, 870. The Council met in 10 sessions from October 869 to February 870 and issued 27 canons. The council was called by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II.[1] It deposed Photios, a layman who had been appointed as Patriarch of Constantinople, and reinstated his predecessor Ignatius.

A later council, the Greek Fourth Council of Constantinople, was held after Photios had been reinstated on order of the Emperor, and it annulled the earlier one.[2] Today, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the council in 869-870 as "Constantinople IV", while the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize the councils in 879-880 as "Constantinople IV" and revere Photios as a saint. At the time that these councils were being held, this division was not yet clear.

These two councils represent a break between East and West. The previous seven ecumenical councils are recognized as ecumenical and authoritative by both Greek-literate Eastern Christians and Latin-literate Western Christians. This division led eventually to the East-West Schism of 1054.

Background

With the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800, his new title as Patricius Romanorum, and the handing over of the keys to the Tomb of Saint Peter, the papacy had acquired a new protector in the West. This freed the pontiffs to some degree from the power of the emperor in Constantinople but it also led to a schism, because the emperors and patriarchs of Constantinople interpreted themselves as the true descendants of the Roman Empire dating back to the beginnings of the Church.[3]

After the Byzantine emperor summarily dismissed St Ignatius of Constantinople as patriarch of that city, Pope Nicholas I refused to recognize his successor Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople. Photius, in turn, attacked the pope as a heretic, because he kept the filioque in the creed, which referred to the Holy Spirit emanating from God the Father and the Son. The Council condemned Photius, who questioned the legality of the papal delegates presiding over the Council and ended the schism.[3]

Photius

Photios had been appointed Patriarch of Constantinople but deposed.[4] The second, held after Photios had been reinstated on order of the Emperor, annulled the first.[4] Today, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the council in 869-870, while the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize the councils in 879-880 and revere Photios as a saint. At the time that these councils were being held, this division was not yet clear.

In 858, Photius, a noble layman from a local family, was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople[4], a position of authority rivaling that of Rome. Emperor Michael III had deposed the previous patriarch, Ignatius.[4] Ignatius refused to abdicate, setting up a power struggle between the Emperor and Pope Nicholas I.[4] In 867, a council in Constantinople purported to depose Nicholas, declared him anathema, and excommunicated him.[4] In addition his claims of primacy, his contacts to Bulgaria, and the Filioque clause were condemned.

The Council

The 869 Council was called by Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and Pope Adrian II. It condemned Photius and deposed him as patriarch and reinstated his predecessor Ignatius. It also ranked Constantinople before the other three Eastern patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and anathematized the teaching, supposedly held by Photius, that there are two human souls, one spiritual and immortal, one earthly and mortal.

Notes

  1. "Photius." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  2. "Photius." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jedin,p. 36f.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Oxford dictionary of the Christian church, "Photius".

References

  • Cross, F. L. (ed.). The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press (2005).

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