General Councils of the Church

Jerusalem (Acts 15:2)

When and where
49.
Crisis or controversy
Gentile converts must follow Mosaic Law; "Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved." Acts 15:1
Attendees
"Apostles and presbyters" Acts 15:6, and the following notables:
Paul and Barnabas,
Peter, James (Acts 15:6-22)
Decrees and resolutions
"It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities." Acts 15:28

Nicea I

When and where
325. (Now Iznik, Turkey, 70 miles from Constantinople on the Asiatic shore of the Bosporus)
Crisis or controversy
Christ was a pure creature; made out of nothing; liable to fall; the Son of God by adoption, not by nature: Arianism.
Attendees
318 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Constantine I, Emperor;
Eusebius of Caesarea, historian;
St. Athanasius, theologian;
Ratified: Silvester I, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
The Nicene Creed;
The Consubstaniality of the Word: homousion with the Father;
Solved how the date of Easter should be calculated.

Constantinople I

When and where
381. (Now Istanbul, Turkey)
Crisis or controversy
The need to insist on homousion;
Demonstrate to the world that Christians of the East are not Arians;
Apollinaris was teaching that Christ was not true man.
Attendees
186 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Theodosius I, Emperor;
St. Basil the Great;
St. Gregory of Nyssa;
St. Gregory of Naz., theologians;
Ratified: Damasus, Pope
Decrees and resolutions
Renewed the work of Nicaea;
Condemned the heresy of the Macedonians (the Holy Spirit was not really God);
Condemned the heresy of Apollinaris (that Christ was not really a man).

Ephesus

When and where
431.
Crisis or controversy
Nestorius was teaching that Mary was not the mother of God;
Proponents of Nestorius began claiming that Christ was actually two separate persons, human and divine.
Attendees
250 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Theodosius II, Emperor;
St. Cyril of Alexandria;
St. John Chrysostom;
Ratified: Celestinus I, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned Nestorius;
Decreed that Mary was also Theotokos, mother of God;
Declared that Christ is true God and true man, that he has two natures (human and divine) joined in one person.

Chalcedon

When and where
451. (Ancient seaport of Bithynia on the sea of Marmara)
Crisis or controversy
Monophysites were teaching that Christ had a single divine nature and no human nature.
Attendees
600 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Marcianus, Emperor;
Ratified: Leo I, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned Monophysitism;
Declared that Christ had two distinct natures and was both true God and true man;
Promulgated canons of church discipline.

Constantinople II

When and where
553.
Crisis or controversy
Emperor Justinian I wanted the Church to consider the orthodoxy of three Greek theologians: Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Ebas of Edessa.
Attendees
150 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Justinian I, Emperor;
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned the writings of theologians as having been infested with Nestorianism.

Constantinople III

When and where
680.
Crisis or controversy
Monothelism was teaching that Christ did not possess a human will.
Attendees
174 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Constantine IV, Emperor;
Ratified: Leo II, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned Monothelism;
Declared that Christ has two wills, human and divine.

Nicaea II

When and where
787.
Crisis or controversy
Iconoclasts taught that using sacred images was idolatry.
Attendees
390 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Irene, Empress;
Ratified: Adrian I, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned Iconoclasts;
Declared that sacred images may be honored without idolatry.
Promulgated canons of church discipline.

Constantinople IV

When and where
870.
Crisis or controversy
Needed to decide the right of Patriarch Photius or the restoration of Ignatius.
Attendees
102 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Basil, Emperor;
Ratified: Adrian II, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Photius was condemned in 27 canons.

Lateran I

When and where
1123. (Basilica in Rome, Italy)
Crisis or controversy
Needed to face the social and religious problems of the day;
First ecumenical council in the West.
Attendees
300 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Callistus II, Pope;
Ratified: Callistus
Decrees and resolutions
Promulgated canons of mixed matters.

Lateran II

When and where
1139.
Crisis or controversy
A double papal election and ensuing schism when two rivals claiming to be pope divided the church.
Attendees
1000 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Innocent II, Pope;
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Ratified: Innocent II.
Decrees and resolutions
Took measures against schism of antipope Anacletis II;
Promulgated canons of church discipline

Lateran III

When and where
1179.
Crisis or controversy
Reorganization had to be faced; there was the ever-needed pressure to reform; restraint of abuses.
Attendees
More than 300 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Alexander III, Pope;
Ratified: Alexander III, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Decreed that papal elections required two-thirds majority of cardinals at the conclave;
Promulgated numerous disciplinary canons.

Lateran IV

When and where
1215.
Crisis or controversy
Albigensian heresy: two supreme beings, Evil and Good; Christ did not die; all material things must.
Attendees
412 bishops; 388 priests, and the following notables:
Convened: Innocent III, Pope;
Ratified: Innocent III, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Declaration of Canon Law: the law of the Church;
Decrees against Albegensians and Waldensians.

Lyons I

When and where
1245. (City in E. France)
Crisis or controversy
The difficult and heretical behavior of Emperor Frederick II;
The persecution of religion.
Attendees
140 bishops; more than 300 in toto, and the following notables:
Convened: Innocent IV, Pope;
Ratified: Innocent IV, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Excommunication and deposition of Frederick II.

Lyons II

When and where
1274.
Crisis or controversy
A marked decline of the detachment of the popes from the things of the world;
Chronic restiveness of the Greeks toward Roman primacy.
Attendees
500 bishops; 570 priests, and the following notables:
Convened: Gregory X, Pope;
St. Thomas Aquinas,
St. Bonaventure;
Ratified: Gregory X, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
General reformation of the morals of clergy and bishops;
Dogmatic constitution of filioque;
Profession of faith of Greek Emperor Michael VIII.

Vienne

When and where
1312. (City in E. France near Lyons)
Crisis or controversy
Problems with the religious order of Knights Templars.
Attendees
122 bishops; 300 abbots, and the following notables:
Convened: Clemens V, Pope;
Ratified: Clemens V, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Templars were suppressed;
Canon Law enacted;
Three definition of dogmas;
Disciplinary decrees written.

Constance

When and where
1414 - 1418. (City in Germany on Swiss border)
Crisis or controversy
The Great Western Schism: two sets of popes.
Attendees
32 Cardinals; 183 bishops; 100 abbots; 350 priests, and the following notables:
Convened: Segismund, Emperor;
Ratified: Martin V, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Reformation of the Church;
Material organization of religion.

Florence

When and where
1438. (City of N. Italy)
Crisis or controversy
East/West reunion;
Constantinople was being threatened by Mohammedans.
Attendees
more than 150 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Eugene IV, Pope;
Ratified: Eugene IV, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Reunion of oriental churches.

Lateran V

When and where
1512 - 1517.
Crisis or controversy
Needed reform in church administration;
Rise of atheistic philosophy;
Friction between bishops and orders of friars.
Attendees
115 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Julius II, Pope;
Cajetan;
Ratified: Leo X, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Condemned the Averroes philosophy: the soul of man is not immortal;
Promulgated reform decrees;
Established principles of book censorship;
Rights of bishops defined.

Trent

When and where
1545 - 1563. (in Hapsburg's Germany; now N. Italy)
Crisis or controversy
Martin Luther;
Revolt against the Pope;
Widespread heresy.
Attendees
70 - 252 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Paul III, Pope;
Ratified: Pius IV, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Doctrinal decrees: restatement of belief in opposition to the new theologies;
The Catholic Reformation: the reformation of Catholic life.

Vatican I

When and where
1870. (St. Peter's Bascilica)
Crisis or controversy
A return to life of the Catholic Church: needed a revival of religious life
General restoration and restatement of the faith was needed;
Christian marriages and education needed safeguarding.
Attendees
747 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: Pius IX, Pope;
Ratified: Pius IX, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Promulgated decrees on the Catholic Faith and on the Church;
Condemned the Rationalists and Semirationalists;
Defined the charism of infallibility.

Vatican II

When and where
1962 - 1965.
Crisis or controversy
Constant need for reform and revival;
Needed translation of faith into modern era: communication media;
Christians and Jews; religious freedom, etc.
Attendees
2908 bishops, and the following notables:
Convened: John XXIII, Pope;
Ratified: Paul VI, Pope.
Decrees and resolutions
Issued 16 documents:
On Divine Revelation;
The Pastoral Constitution;
On The Church in the Modern World;
On The Church




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By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-1997, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

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