Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox)

Last updated
Fourth Council of Constantinople (879–880)
Date879–880
Accepted by Eastern Orthodoxy
Convoked byEmperor Basil I
Attendance383 bishops
Topics Photius' patriarchate
Documents and statements
Restoration of Photius, protection of Nicene creed
Chronological list of ecumenical councils

The Fourth Council of Constantinople was held in 879–880. It confirmed the reinstatement of Photius as Patriarch of Constantinople.

Photios I of Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

Photios I, , also spelled Photius or Fotios, was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886; He is recognized in the Eastern Orthodox Church as Saint Photios the Great.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

Contents

The result of this council is accepted as having the authority of an ecumenical council by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who sometimes call it the Eighth Ecumenical Council. [1]

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Background

The Council settled the dispute that had broken out after the deposition of Ignatius as Patriarch of Constantinople in 858. Ignatius, himself appointed to his office in an uncanonical manner, opposed Caesar Bardas, who had deposed the regent Theodora. In response, Bardas' nephew, the youthful Emperor Michael III engineered Ignatius's deposition and confinement on the charge of treason. The patriarchal throne was filled with Photius, a renowned scholar and kinsman of Bardas. The deposition of Ignatius without a formal ecclesiastical trial and the sudden promotion of Photios caused scandal in the church. Pope Nicholas I and the western bishops took up the cause of Ignatios and condemned Photios's election as uncanonical. In 863, at a synod in Rome the pope deposed Photios, and reappointed Ignatius as the rightful patriarch. However, Photius enjoined the support of the Emperor and responded by calling a Council and excommunicating the pope.

Ignatios of Constantinople Patriarch of Constantinople

St. Ignatius or Ignatios, was a Patriarch of Constantinople from July 4, 847, to October 23, 858, and from November 23, 867, to his death on October 23, 877. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, he is regarded as a saint, with a feast day of October 23.

Bardas was a Byzantine noble and high-ranking minister. As the brother of Empress Theodora, he rose to high office under Theophilos. Although sidelined after Theophilos's death by Theodora and Theoktistos, in 855 he engineered Theoktistos's murder and became the de facto regent for his nephew, Michael III. Rising to the rank of Caesar, he was the effective ruler of the Byzantine Empire for ten years, a period which saw military success, renewed diplomatic and missionary activity, and an intellectual revival that heralded the Macedonian Renaissance. He was assassinated in 866 at the instigation of Michael III's new favourite, Basil the Macedonian, who a year later would usurp the throne for himself and install his own dynasty on the Byzantine throne.

Theodora (wife of Theophilos) Byzantine empress

Theodora was a Byzantine Empress as the spouse of the Byzantine emperor Theophilos, and regent of her son, Michael III, from Theophilos' death in 842 to 855. For her restoration of the veneration of icons, which ended the Byzantine Iconoclasm, she is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church; her Feast Day is February 11. Several churches hold her as their patron saint.

This state of affairs changed when Photius's patrons, Bardas and Emperor Michael III, were murdered in 866 and 867, respectively, by Basil the Macedonian, who now usurped the throne. Photios was deposed as patriarch, not so much because he was a protégé of Bardas and Michael, but because Basil was seeking an alliance with the Pope and the western emperor. Photios was removed from his office and banished about the end of September 867, and Ignatios was reinstated on 23 November. Photios was condemned by a Council held at Constantinople from 5 October 869 to 28 February 870. Photius was deposed and barred from the patriarchal office, while Ignatius was reinstated.

Basil I Byzantine emperor

Basil I, called the Macedonian was a Byzantine Emperor who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the theme of Macedonia, he rose in the Imperial court. He entered into the service of Theophilitzes, a relative of Emperor Michael III, and was given a fortune by the wealthy Danielis. He gained the favour of Michael III, whose mistress he married on the emperor's orders, and was proclaimed co-emperor in 866. He ordered the assassination of Michael the next year. Despite his humble origins, he showed great ability in running the affairs of state. He was the founder of the Macedonian dynasty. He was succeeded upon his death by his son Leo VI.

The Council of 879–880

After the death of Ignatius in 877, the Emperor made Photius again Patriarch of Constantinople. [2] Another Council was convened in 879, held at Constantinople, comprising the representatives of all the five patriarchates, including that of Rome (all in all 383 bishops). Anthony Edward Siecienski writes: "In 879 the emperor called for another council to meet in Constantinople in the hopes that the new pope, John VIII (872-882) would recognize the validity of Photius's claim upon the patriarchate. This council, sometimes called the eighth ecumenical in the East was attended by the papal legates (who had brought with them a gift from the pope—a pallium for Photius) and by over 400 bishops, and who immediately confirmed Photius as rightful patriarch." [1] The granting of a pallium is a sign of papal approval and the pope's legates "immediately" confirmed Photius without awaiting a decision of the council.

Pope John VIII pope of catholic church from 872 until 882

Pope John VIII was Pope from 14 December 872 to his death in 882. He is often considered one of the ablest pontiffs of the 9th century.

Pallium an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church: a narrow band, seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y and decorated with six black crosses

The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by him on metropolitans and primates as a symbol of the jurisdiction delegated to them by the Holy See. In that context, it has remained connected to the papacy.

The council also implicitly condemned the addition of the Filioque to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, an addition rejected at that time in Rome: "The Creed (without the filioque) was read out and a condemnation pronounced against those who 'impose on it their own invented phrases [ἰδίας εὑρεσιολογίαις] and put this forth as a common lesson to the faithful or to those who return from som kind of heresy and display the audacity to falsify completely [κατακιβδηλεῦσαι άποθρασυνθείη] the antiquity of this sacred and venerable Horos [Rule] with illegitimate words, or additions, or subtractions'." [3] Eastern Orthodox Christians argue that thereby the council condemned not only the addition of the Filioque clause to the creed but also denounced the clause as heretical (a view strongly espoused by Photius in his polemics against Rome), while Roman Catholics separate the two and insist on the theological orthodoxy of the clause. According to non-Catholic Philip Schaff, "To the Greek acts was afterwards added a (pretended) letter of Pope John VIII. to Photius, declaring the Filioque to be an addition which is rejected by the church of Rome, and a blasphemy which must be abolished calmly and by degrees." [4]

Filioque is a Latin term added to the original Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and which has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern and Western Christianity. The Latin term Filioque describes the Holy Spirit as proceeding from both the Father and the Son,. In the Nicene Creed it is translated by the English phrase "and [from] the Son":

Nicene Creed Statement of belief adopted at the First Ecumenical Council in 325

The Nicene Creed is a statement of belief widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because it was originally adopted in the city of Nicaea by the First Council of Nicaea in 325. In 381, it was amended at the First Council of Constantinople, and the amended form is referred to as the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Confirmation and further reception

Whether and how far the council was confirmed by Pope John VIII is also a matter of dispute: The council was held in the presence of papal legates, who approved of the proceedings, Roman Catholic historian Fr. Francis Dvornik argues that Pope accepted the acts of the council and annulled those of the Council of 869–870. Other Catholic historians, such as Warren Carroll, dispute this view, arguing that the pope rejected the council. Siecienski says that the Pope gave only a qualified assent to the acts of the council. [3] Philip Schaff opines that the Pope, deceived by his legates about the actual proceedings, first applauded the Emperor but later denounced the council. [4] In any case, the Pope had already accepted the reinstatement of Photius as Patriarch. [1] However, later, in the wake of further conflicts between East and West in the 11th century, the council was repudiated.

On 8 March 870, three days after the end of the council, the Papal and Eastern delegates met with the Bulgarian ambassadors led by the kavhan Peter to decide the status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Since the Bulgarians were not satisfied with the positions of the Pope after prolonged negotiations, they reached favorable agreement with the Byzantines and the decision was taken that the Bulgarian Church should become Eastern Orthodox. [5]

The Photian Schism (863–867) that led to the councils of 869 and 879 represents a break between East and West. While the previous seven ecumenical councils are recognized as ecumenical and authoritative by both East and West, many Eastern Orthodox Christians recognize the council of 879 as the Eighth Ecumenical Council, [1] arguing that it annulled the earlier one. This council is referred to as Ecumenical in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1848. [6] The Roman Catholic Church, however, recognizes the council of 869 as the Eighth Ecumenical Council and does not place the later council among Ecumenical Councils. At the time that these councils were being held, this division was not entirely apparent.

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In 9th-century Christianity, Charlemagne was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor, which continued the Photian schism.

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The Council of Constantinople of 867 was a major Church Council, convened by Emperor Michael III of Byzantium and Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople in order to address several ecclesiastical issues, including the question of Papal supremacy in the Church, and the use of Filioque clause in the Creed.

The Council of Constantinople of 861, also known as Protodeutera, was a major Church Council, convened upon the initiative of Emperor Michael III of Byzantium and Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople, and attended by legates of Pope Nicholas I. The Council confirmed the deposition of former Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople, and his replacement by Photios. Several dogmatic, ecclesiological and liturgical questions were also discussed, and seventeen canons were produced. Decisions of the Council were initially approved by papal legates, but their approval was later annulled by the Pope. In spite of that, the Council is considered as valid by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Theodosius of Jerusalem was Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Church of Jerusalem from 864 to 879.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Siecienski 2010, p. 103.
  2. "Photius." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005. Quote: "It was only after Ignatius' death (877) that Photius, by order of the Emperor, once more became Patriarch."
  3. 1 2 Siecienski 2010, p. 104.
  4. 1 2 Philip Schaff, Conflict of the Eastern and Western Churches
  5. Zlatarski, History of the Bulgarian State during the Middle Ages, vol. 1, ch. 2, Sofia, 1971, p. 159
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20051109101828/http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_1848.aspx

Bibliography