Fifth Council of Constantinople

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Fifth Council of Constantinople is a name given to a series of six patriarchal councils held in the Byzantine capital Constantinople between 1341 and 1351, to deal with a dispute concerning the mystical doctrine of Hesychasm. These are referred to also as the Hesychast councils or the Palamite councils, since they discussed the theology of Gregory Palamas, whom Barlaam of Seminara opposed in the first of the series, and others in the succeeding five councils. The result of these councils is accepted as having the authority of an ecumenical council by Eastern Orthodox Christians, [1] who sometimes call it the Ninth Ecumenical Council. Principal supporters of the view that this series of councils comprises the Ninth Ecumenical Council include Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, Fr. John S. Romanides, and Fr. George Metallinos.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical exonyms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Hesychast controversy

The Hesychast controversy was a theological dispute in the Byzantine Empire during the 14th century between supporters and opponents of Gregory Palamas. While not a primary driver of the Byzantine Civil War, it influenced and was influenced by the political forces in play during that war. The dispute concluded with the victory of the Palamists and the inclusion of Palamite doctrine as part of the dogma of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the canonization of Palamas.

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As it became clear that the dispute between Barlaam and Palamas was irreconcilable and would require the judgment of an episcopal council. A series of six patriarchal councils was held in Constantinople on 10 June 1341, August 1341, 4 November 1344, 1 February 1347, 8 February 1347, and 28 May 1351 to consider the issues. [2] Collectively, these councils are accepted as having ecumenical status by Orthodox Christians, [3] some of whom call them the Fifth Council of Constantinople and the Ninth Ecumenical Council.

The dispute over Hesychasm came before a synod held at Constantinople in May 1341 and presided over by the emperor Andronicus III Palaeologus. The assembly, influenced by the veneration in which the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius were held in the Eastern Church, condemned Barlaam, who recanted.

Andronikos III Palaiologos Byzantine emperor/1328-1341

Andronikos III Palaiologos, commonly Latinized as Andronicus III Palaeologus, was Byzantine emperor from 1328 to 1341. Born Andronikos Doukas Angelos Komnenos Palaiologos, he was the son of Michael IX Palaiologos and Rita of Armenia. He was proclaimed co-emperor in his youth, before 1313, and in April 1321 he rebelled in opposition to his grandfather, Andronikos II Palaiologos. He was formally crowned co-emperor in February 1325, before ousting his grandfather outright and becoming sole emperor on 24 May 1328.

Barlaam's primary supporter Emperor Andronicus III died just five days after the synod ended. Although Barlaam initially hoped for a second chance to present his case against Palamas, he soon realised the futility of pursuing his cause, and left for Calabria where he converted to the Roman Church and was appointed Bishop of Gerace. [4]

Roman Catholic Diocese of Locri-Gerace diocese of the Catholic Church

The Italian Catholic Diocese of Locri-Gerace is in Calabria. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova.

After Barlaam's departure, Gregory Akindynos became the chief critic of Palamas. A second council held in Constantinople in August 1341 condemned Akindynos and affirmed to findings of the earlier council. Akindynos and his supporters gained a brief victory at the third synod held in 1344 which excommunicated Palamas and one of his disciples, Isidore Buchiras. [5] Palamas and Buchiras recanted.

Gregory Akindynos was a Byzantine theologian of Bulgarian origin. A native of Prilep, he moved from Pelagonia to Thessaloniki and studied under Thomas Magistros and Gregory Bryennios. He became an admirer of Nikephoros Gregoras after he was shown an astronomical treatise of that scholar by his friend Balsamon in 1332, writing him a letter in which he calls him a "sea of wisdom". From Thessaloniki, he intended to move on to Mount Athos, but for reasons unknown, he was refused.

In 1347, however, after a vicious civil war, their protector, John Cantacuzenus, entered Constantinople and forced his opponents to crown him co-emperor. In February 1347, a fourth synod was held which deposed the patriarch, John XIV, and excommunicated Akindynos. Isidore Buchiras, who had been excommunicated by the third synod, was now made patriarch. In the same month, the Barlaamite party held a competing synod which refused to acknowledge Isidore and excommunicated Palamas. Akindynos having died in 1348, Nicephorus Gregoras became the chief opponent of Hesychasm.

The Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347, sometimes referred to as the Second Palaiologan Civil War, was a conflict that broke out in the Byzantine Empire after the death of Andronikos III Palaiologos over the guardianship of his nine-year-old son and heir, John V Palaiologos. It pitted on the one hand Andronikos III's chief minister, John VI Kantakouzenos, and on the other a regency headed by the Empress-Dowager Anna of Savoy, the Patriarch of Constantinople John XIV Kalekas, and the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos. The war polarized Byzantine society along class lines, with the aristocracy backing Kantakouzenos and the lower and middle classes supporting the regency. To a lesser extent, the conflict acquired religious overtones; Byzantium was embroiled in the Hesychast controversy, and adherence to the mystical doctrine of Hesychasm was often equated with support for Kantakouzenos.

John VI Kantakouzenos Byzantine emperor

John VI Kantakouzenos, Cantacuzenus, or Cantacuzene was a Greek nobleman, statesman, and general. He served as Grand Domestic under Andronikos III Palaiologos and regent for John V Palaiologos before reigning as Byzantine emperor in his own right from 1347 to 1354. Usurped by his former ward, he retired to a monastery under the name Joasaph Christodoulos and spent the remainder of his life as a monk and historian.

Nicephorus Gregoras was a Byzantine astronomer, historian, and theologian.

In May 1351, a patriarchal council conclusively exonerated Palamas and condemned his opponents. [4] This synod ordered that the metropolitans of Ephesus and Ganos be defrocked and jailed. All those who were unwilling to submit to the orthodox view were to be excommunicated and kept under surveillance at their residences. A series of anathemas were pronounced against Barlaam, Akindynos and their followers; at the same time, a series of acclamations were also declared in favor of Gregory Palamas and the adherents of his doctrine. [6]

Gregoras refused to submit to the dictates of the synod and was effectively imprisoned in a monastery until the Palaeologi triumphed in 1354 and deposed Cantacuzenus.

See also

Notes

  1. Bebis, George S. (2002). "Tradition in the Orthodox Church". New York, NY: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Archived from the original on 10 August 2002. Retrieved 10 March 2019. These councils are accepted as having ecumenical status.
  2. Gregory Palamas: Historical Timeline Archived 2012-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Tradition in the Orthodox Church" . Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  4. 1 2 "Gregory Palamas: An Historical Overview". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  5. Fortescue, Adrian (1910), Hesychasm, VII, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2008-02-03
  6. Jugie, Martin. "The Palamite Controversy" . Retrieved 2010-12-28.


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