Catholic ecumenical councils

Catholic ecumenical councils include 21 councils over a period of some 1900 years. While definitions changed throughout history, in today's Roman Catholic understanding ecumenical councils are assemblies of Patriarchs, Cardinals, residing Bishops, Abbots, male heads of religious orders and other juridical persons, nominated by the Pope. The purpose of an ecumenical council is to define doctrine, reaffirm truths of the Faith, and extirpate heresy. Council decisions, to be valid, are approved by the popes.[1] Participation is limited to these persons, who cannot delegate their voting rights.

Ecumenical councils are different from provincial councils, where bishops of a Church province or region meet. Episcopal conferences and plenary councils are other bodies, meetings of bishops of one country, nation, or region, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This article does not include councils of a lower order or regional councils. Ecumenical in the Catholic view does not mean that all bishops attended the councils, which was not even the case in Vatican II. Nor does ecumenical imply the participation of or acceptance by all Christian communities and Churches. Ecumenical refers to "a solemn congregations of the Catholic bishops of the world at the invitation of the Pope to decide on matters of the Church with him".[2] The ecumenical character of the councils of the first millennium was not determined by the intention of those who issued the invitations. The papal approval of the early councils did not have a formal character, which was characteristic in later councils. The Catholic Church did not officially declare these councils to be ecumenical. This became theological practice.[3] Different evaluations existed between and within Christian communities. Today 21 councils are accepted in the Catholic church as ecumenical councils.[4][5]

Not all of the twenty-one councils were always accepted as ecumenical within the Catholic Church. For example, the inclusion of the First Lateran Council and the Council of Basel were disputed. A 1539 book on ecumenical councils by Cardinal Dominicus Jacobazzi excluded them as did other scholars.[6] The first few centuries did not know large-scale ecumenical meetings; they were only feasible after the Church had gained freedom from persecution through Emperor Constantine.

Council Trent
A session of the Council of Trent, from an engraving.

Ecumenical council of the New Testament period

There is a sole meeting of the early Christian Church the New Testament period which has been generally regarded as a council and which is included in the traditional Catholic reckoning as the first of the ecumenical councils, whereas other denominations usually count the First Council of Nicaea as such.

Council of Jerusalem

The Council of Jerusalem or Apostolic Council was held in Jerusalem around AD 50. It is unique among the ancient pre-ecumenical councils in that it is considered by Catholics to be the first ecumenical council and by Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later ecumenical councils. Both Catholics and Orthodox regard it as expressing a key part of Christian doctrine and moral teaching. The Council decided that Gentile converts to Christianity were not obligated to keep most of the Law of Moses, including the rules concerning circumcision of males. The Council did, however, arguably retain prohibitions on eating meat sacrificed in pagan rites, on fornication and on idolatry. These decisions are sometimes referred to as the Apostolic Decree.

The prime account of the Council is found in Acts of the Apostles chapter 15.

Ecumenical councils of Antiquity

These comprised the hierarchs of the undivided Church (i.e. both East and West), and, excepting the Fourth Council of Constantinople, are recognised as ecumenical councils also by the modern Eastern Orthodox Church.

First Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicaea (May 20 – July 25?, 325) formulated the original Nicene Creed. Most importantly, the Council defined the equality of God the Father and Christ, his son. It taught that Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father and not just merely similar.[7] By defining the nature of the divinity of Jesus, the Council did not solely rely on the Bible but jointly gave it a binding interpretation. The Council issued 20 canons[8] and repudiated Arianism.

First Council of Constantinople

Council of Constantinople 381 BnF MS Gr510 fol355
Early manuscript illustration of I Constantinople
Homilies of Gregory Nazianzus, Bibliothèque nationale de France (879-882)

The First Council of Constantinople defined in four canons the Nicene Creed, which is still used in the Catholic Church. Most importantly, it defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit, which is derived but not defined in the Bible. Thus the Council built on the Apostolic Tradition. The Council met from May until July 381 during the pontificate of Pope Damasus I and issued four canons.

Council of Ephesus

The Council of Ephesus proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (Greek Η Θεοτόκος, "Mother of God"). The Council met in seven sessions during the pontificate of Pope Celestine I from June 22 until July 17, 431. It rejected Nestorianism.

Council of Chalcedon

The Council of Chalcedon defined the two natures (divine and human) of Jesus Christ. “We teach unanimously that the one son, our lord Jesus Christ to be fully God and fully human."[9] It met in 17 sessions from October 8 until November 451 during the pontificate of Pope Leo the Great. It issued 28 canons, the last one defining equality of the bishops of Rome and Constantinople, which was rejected by the papal delegates and Pope Leo the Great, and therefore not binding for the Catholic Church.[9]

Second Council of Constantinople

The Council again dealt with the issue of the two natures of Christ, as monophysitism had spread through Christianity despite the decisions of Chalcedon. The Council met from May 5 until June 2, 553, in eight sessions during the pontificate of Pope Vigilius, who was imprisoned during the Council by the emperor.[10] It condemned "Three Chapters" of Nestorian writings. Several Catholic provinces refused to accept the Second Council of Constantinople because of the political pressures.[10]

Third Council of Constantinople

The Council repudiated Monothelitism, and reaffirmed that Christ, being both human and divine, had both human and divine wills. It met in sixteen sessions from November 7, 680, until September 16, 681. The Council was held during the pontificates of Pope Agatho and Pope Leo II. It also discussed the views of Honorius.

Second Council of Nicaea

In 730, the emperor outlawed pictorial presentations of Christ and the saints and created thus the first iconoclasm. The Pope argued against it and convened in 731 a local council in Rome to no avail.[11] The Council discussed and restored the veneration of icons using the Bible and tradition of the Church as arguments. Pictures of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints were used to stimulate piety and imitation. The Council met in eight sessions from September 24, 787, until October 23, 787, during the pontificate of Pope Hadrian I. It issued twenty canons.[11] This was the last ecumenical council to be accepted by both Eastern and Western churches.

Fourth Council of Constantinople

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.[12] Pope Nicholas I had refused to recognize Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople, who in turn had 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.[13] The Council met in ten sessions from October 869 to February 870 and issued 27 canons.

Papal councils during the Middle Ages

First Council of the Lateran

Successors of Charlemagne insisted increasingly on the right to appoint bishops on their own, which led to the Investiture Controversy with the popes. The Concordat of Worms signed by Pope Calixtus II included a compromise between the two parties, by which the pope alone appoints bishops as spiritual head while the emperor maintains a right to give secular offices and honors. Pope Calixtus invoked the Council to ratify this historic agreement.[14] There are few documents and protocols left from the sessions and 25 canons approved. The Council met from March 18 to April 5, 1123.

Second Council of the Lateran

B Innozenz II
Pope Innocent II

After the death of Pope Honorius II (1124–1130), two popes were elected by two groups of cardinals. Sixteen cardinals elected Pope Innocent II, while others elected Antipope Anacletus II who was called the Pope of the Ghetto, in light of his Jewish origins.[15] The Council deposed the antipope and his followers. In important decisions regarding the celibacy of Catholic priests, clerical marriages of priests and monks, which up to 1139 were considered illegal, were defined and declared as non-existing and invalid. The Council met under Pope Innocent II in April 1139 and issued 30 canons.

Third Council of the Lateran

The Council established the two-third majority necessary for the election of a pope. This two-third majority existed until Pope John Paul II. His change was reverted to the old two-third majority by Pope Benedict XVI in his Moto Proprio, De Aliquibus Mutationibus, from June 11, 2007. Still valid today are the regulations that outlawed simony, and the elevation to Episcopal offices for anyone under thirty. The Council also ruled it illegal to sell arms or goods which could assist armaments to Muslim powers. Saracens and Jews were forbidden from keeping Christian slaves.[16] All cathedrals were to appoint teachers for indigent and low-income children. Catharism was condemned as a heresy. This Council is well documented: Reports include the saga of an Irish bishop whose income consisted in the milk from three cows. If one of the cows would stop giving milk, the faithful were obliged to donate another animal.[17] The Council met in March 1179 in three sessions and issued 27 chapters, which were all approved by Pope Alexander III.

Fourth Council of the Lateran

The Council mandated every Christian in serious sin is to go at least once a year on Easter to confession and to receive the Holy Eucharist.[18] The Council formally repeated Catholic teaching, that Christ is present in the Eucharist and thus clarified transubstantiation. It dealt with several heresies without naming names but intended to include the Catharists and several individual Catholic theologians. It made several political rulings as well.[19] It met in only three sessions in November 1215 under Pope Innocent III and issued 70 chapters.

First Council of Lyon

The Council continued the political rulings of the previous council by deposing Frederick II, as German king and as emperor. Frederick was accused of heresy, treason and arresting a ship with about 100 prelates willing to attend a meeting with the Pope. Frederick outlawed attendance at the Council and blocked access to Lyon from Germany. Therefore, the majority of Council fathers originated from Spain, France and Italy. The Council met in three sessions from June 28, 1245, and issued 22 chapters all approved by Pope Innocent IV.

Second Council of Lyon

Pope Gregory X defined three aims for the Council: aid to Jerusalem, union with the Greek Orthodox Church and reform of the Catholic Church. The Council achieved a short-lived unity with the Greek representatives, who were denounced for this back home by the hierarchy and the emperor. Papal conclaves were regulated in Ubi periculum, which specified that electors must be locked up during the conclave and, if they could not agree on a pope after eight days, would receive water and bread only. Franciscan, Dominican, and other orders had become controversial in light of their increasing popularity. The Council confirmed their privileges. Pope Gregory X approved all 31 chapters, after modifying some of them, thus clearly indicating papal prerogatives. The Council met in six sessions from May 7 to July 17, 1274, under his leadership.

Council of Vienne

Richental Konzilssitzung Muenster
Bishops debating with the pope at the Council of Constance

Pope Clement V solemnly opened the Council with a liturgy, which has been repeated since in all Catholic ecumenical councils. He entered the Cathedral in liturgical vestments with a small procession and took his place on the papal throne. Patriarchs, followed by cardinals, archbishops and bishops, were the next in rank. The Pope gave a blessing to the choir, which intoned the Veni Sancte Spiritus.[20] The Pope issued a prayer to the Holy Spirit, the litany of saints was recited and only after additional prayer did the Pope actually address the Council and open it formally. He mentioned four topics, the Order of Knights Templar, the regaining of the Holy Land, a reform of public morality and freedom for the Church. Pope Clement had asked the bishops to list all their problems with the order. The Templars had become an obstacle to many bishops because they could act independently of them in such vital areas as filling parishes and other positions. Many accusations against the order were not accepted as the Pope ruled that confessions under torture were inadmissible. He withdrew canonical support for the order but refused to turn over its properties to the French king.[21] The Council fathers discussed another crusade, but were convinced instead by Raimundus Lullus that knowledge of foreign languages is the only way to Christianize Muslims and Jews. He successfully proposed the teaching of Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic languages in Catholic universities.[22] With this the Council is considered to have begun modern missionary policies. In the three sessions, the Council discussed further Franciscan poverty ideals. It met from October 1311 until May 1312.


Tomb of Antipope John XXIII.

The following councils in Constance, Basel, Ferrara, Florence witnessed an ongoing debate regarding the superiority of the papacy over ecumenical councils.

Council of Constance

At the beginning of the Council there was the great schism, with three popes, each claiming legitimacy. One of them, John XXIII, called for the Council to take place in Konstance, Germany, hoping to get additional legitimation from the Council. When public opinion moved against him in March 1415, he fled to Schaffhausen[23] and went into hiding in several Black Forest villages such as Saig. After his flight, the Council issued the famous declaration Sacrosancta, which declared that any pope is below, not above, an ecumenical council. The Council deposed all three popes and installed Pope Martin V,[24] who made his peace with John XXIII by installing him as a cardinal.

Reforms did not materialize as hoped for, because the reformers disagreed among themselves. John Hus, a Bohemian reformer, was issued an imperial guarantee for safe conduct forth and back. The Church did not revoke its suspension to say Mass and preach in public. When Hus did just that, he was arrested and tried for heresy. Turned over to State authorities, he was burned at the stake in 1415.[25] The Council of Constance was one of the longest lasting in Church history. The influx of 15,000 to 20,000 persons into the medieval city of 10,000 created inflation of unknown proportions. The German poet Oswald von Wolkenstein wrote: Just thinking of Constance, my purse begins to hurt.[25] The Council addressed the future councils to be held and signed five concordats with the major participating nations. The Council met in 45 sessions from November 4, 1414, until April 22, 1418.

Jan Hus-Council of Constance
Painting of Jan Hus in Council of Constance by Václav Brožík

Councils of Basel, Ferrara and Florence

The Council continued debate on conciliarism. The papal delegate opened the Council in Basel on July 23, 1431, without a single bishop present. When he tried to close it later, bishops insisted on citing the pope to the Council, which he refused. The Council continued on its own and issued several decrees on Church reform. Most of the participants were theologians; bishops made only ten percent of the eligible voters. The Pope moved the Council to Ferrara, where he achieved a major success, when the Greek Orthodox Church agreed to unity with Rome. But conciliarism continued to be the politically correct trend, as “reform” and “council” were seen as inseparable.[26] Formally, the Council of Basel was never closed. The Council decreed in 1439 (a short-lived) union with Greek, Armenian, and Jacobite Churches (1442). The Council had 25 sessions from July 1431 until April 1442. It met under Pope Eugene IV in Basel, Germany, and Ferrara and Florence Italy. It was moved to Rome in 1442.

Fifth Council of the Lateran

The Fifth Council of the Lateran opened under the leadership of the Pope in Rome. It taught that the soul of a human being lives forever (but see the current understanding of eternal life[27]). As previous councils, it condemned heresies stating the opposite without mentioning names. The opening sermon included the sentence: "People must be transformed by holiness not holiness by the people."[28] The issue was reform and numerous small reforms were approved by the Council, such as selection of bishops, taxation issues, religious education, training of priests, improved sermons, etc., but the larger issues were not covered and Pope Leo X was not particularly reform-minded. The Council condemned as illegal a previous meeting in Pisa.[28] The Council met from 1512–1517 in twelve sessions under Pope Julius II and his successor Pope Leo X.[29]

Council of Trent

Tizian 083b
Pope Paul III convoked the Council of Trent

The Council issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies and it defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist in Holy Mass and the veneration of saints. It issued numerous reform decrees.[30] By specifying Catholic doctrine on salvation, the sacraments, and the Biblical canon, the Council was answering Protestant disputes.[31] The Council entrusted to the Pope the implementation of its work, as a result of which Pope Pius V issued in 1566 the Roman Catechism, in 1568 a revised Roman Breviary, and in 1570 a revised Roman Missal, thus initiating the Tridentine Mass (from Trent's Latin name Tridentum), and Pope Clement VIII issued in 1592 a revised edition of the Vulgate.

The Council of Trent is considered one of the most successful councils in the history of the Catholic Church, firming up Catholic belief as understood at the time, leading to the introduction of catechisms to strengthen this belief. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563, in twenty-five sessions for three periods. Council Fathers met for the 1st–8th sessions in Trent (1545–1547) and for the 9th–11th sessions in Bologna (1547) during the pontificate of Pope Paul III.[30] Under Pope Julius III, the Council met in Trent (1551–1552) for the 12th–16th sessions. Under Pope Pius IV the 17th–25th sessions took place in Trent (1559–1565).

First Vatican Council

The Council was convened by Pope Pius IX in 1869 and had to be prematurely interrupted in 1870 because of advancing Italian troops. In the short time, it issued definitions of the Catholic faith, the papacy and papal infallibility. Many issues remained incomplete, such as a definition of the Church and the authority of the bishops. Many French Catholics desired the dogmatization of and the assumption of Mary in the ecumenical council.[32] During Vatican One, nine mariological petitions favoured a possible assumption dogma, which however was strongly opposed by some council fathers, especially from Germany. On May 8, the fathers rejected a dogmatization at that time, a rejection shared by Pope Pius IX. The concept of co-redemptrix was also discussed but left open. In its support, Council fathers highlighted the divine motherhood of Mary and called her the mother of all graces.[33] But by the time of Vatican II it was passed over for reasons given[34] and later avoided because of its ambiguity.[35] The Council met in four sessions from December 8, 1869, to July 18, 1870.[36]

Second Vatican Council

The Second Vatican Council was invoked by Pope John XXIII. It met from 1962 to 1965. Unlike most previous councils, this one did not discuss heresy, as its orientation was mainly pastoral; The Council issued "constitutions" on restoration of liturgical ritual "according to the pristine norm of the Fathers",[37] on the nature of the Church[38] and also on its relation to the modern world,[39] and on promotion of Scripture and Biblical studies.[40] It issued "declarations" on education,[41] on non-Christian religions,[42] and its most contentious decree on religious liberty.[43][44] Nine additional "decrees" covered the topics of the mission activity of he church,[45] the ministry and life of priests[46] and priestly training,[47] the apostolate of the laity,[48] the renewal of religious life,[49] the pastoral office of bishops,[50] ecumenism,[51] Catholic churches of the Eastern Rite,[52] and media and social communications.[53]

The general sessions of the Council were held in the autumns of four successive years (in four periods) 1962 through 1965. During the other parts of the year special commissions met to review and collate the work of the bishops and to prepare for the next session. Sessions were held in Latin in St. Peter's Basilica, with secrecy kept as to discussions held and opinions expressed. Speeches (called interventions) were limited to ten minutes. Much of the work of the Council, though, went on in a variety of other commission meetings (which could be held in other languages), as well as diverse informal meetings and social contacts outside of the Council proper.

Two-thousand nine-hundred and eight (2,908) men (referred to as Council Fathers) were entitled to seats at the Council. These included all bishops from around the world, as well as many superiors of male religious orders. In the opening session 2,540 took part, making it the largest gathering in any council in church history. (This contrasts with Vatican I where 737 attended, mostly from Europe.)[54] Attendance varied in later sessions from 2,100 to over 2,300. In addition, a varying number of periti (Latin for "experts") were available for theological consultation—a group that turned out to have a major influence as the Council went forward. Seventeen Orthodox Churches and Protestant denominations sent observers.[55] More than three dozen representatives of other Christian communities were present at the opening session, and the number grew to nearly a hundred by the end of the 4th Council Session.

See also


  1. ^ Hubert Jedin, Kleine Konziliengeschichte, Freiburg, Herder, 1960, 9
  2. ^ Jedin, 14
  3. ^ Jedin 10
  4. ^ "The 21 Ecumenical Councils". Catholic Answers. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  5. ^ "CATHOLIC LIBRARY: The 21 Ecumenical Councils". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  6. ^ Jedin 11
  7. ^ Jedin 136
  8. ^ Jedin,136
  9. ^ a b Jedin 29
  10. ^ a b Jedin 31
  11. ^ a b Jedin 34
  12. ^ Jedin 36
  13. ^ Jedin 37
  14. ^ Jedin 45
  15. ^ Jedin 43
  16. ^ Jedin 46
  17. ^ Jedin 47
  18. ^ canonlawmadeeasy (2009-04-02). "Is Confession Still an Easter Duty?". Canon Law Made Easy. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  19. ^ Jedin 49
  20. ^ Jedin 57
  21. ^ Jedin 59
  22. ^ Jedin 60
  23. ^ Jedin 66
  24. ^ Jedin 69
  25. ^ a b Jedin 71
  26. ^ Jedin 77
  27. ^ "CCC Search Result - Paragraph # 1472". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  28. ^ a b Jedin 79
  29. ^ Jedin, 79
  30. ^ a b Jedin, 138
  31. ^ Wetterau, Bruce. World history. New York: Henry Holt and company. 1994.
  32. ^ Civilta Catolica February 6, 1869.
  33. ^ Bäumer Marienlexikon, Eos St.Ottilien 1988 566
  34. ^ Lumen Gentium, 60, 62.
  36. ^ Jedin 138
  37. ^ "Sacrosanctum concilium". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  38. ^ "Lumen gentium". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  39. ^ "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word-Gaudium et Spes". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  40. ^ "Dei verbum". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  41. ^ "Gravissimum educationis". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  42. ^ "Nostra aetate". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  43. ^ "Dignitatis humanae". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  44. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI and Religious Liberty. Separating Fact from Fiction, Introvigne". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  45. ^ "Ad gentes". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  46. ^ "Presbyterorum ordinis". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  47. ^ "Optatam totius". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  48. ^ "Apostolicam actuositatem". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  49. ^ "Perfectae caritatis". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  50. ^ "Christus dominus". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  51. ^ "Unitatis redintegratio". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  52. ^ "Orientalium ecclesiarium". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  53. ^ "Inter mirifica". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  54. ^ Sullivan 2002, p.21
  55. ^ "Vatican Council II", New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIV, p. 563

External links


Aggiornamento (Italian pronunciation: [addʒornaˈmento], plural: aggiornamenti), "bringing up to date", was one of the key words used during the Second Vatican Council both by bishops and the clergy attending the sessions, and by the media and Vaticanologists covering it. It was used to mean throwing open the doors of the Church in a desire to dialogue with the outside world. It was the name given to the pontifical program of John XXIII in a speech he gave on January 25, 1959.

Bologna School (history)

The Bologna School is a historical school of ecclesiastical history, specializing in the history of the Second Vatican Council, and largely supportive of the so-called hermeneutic of rupture, creating a pre-Conciliar and post-Conciliar period. The leading minds of this historical school have been Alberto Melloni and Giuseppe Alberigo.

Catholic–Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965

The Catholic–Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965 was read out on 7 December 1965 simultaneously at a public meeting of the Second Vatican Council in Rome and at a special ceremony in Istanbul. It withdrew the exchange of excommunications between prominent ecclesiastics in the Holy See and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, commonly known as the Great Schism of 1054. It did not end the schism but showed a desire for greater reconciliation between the two churches, represented by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I. The document and accompanying texts are also referred to as 'Tomos Agapes' ('Document of Love')

Central Preparatory Commission

The Central Preparatory Commission was the body that co-ordinated the preparation of the schemas for the Second Vatican Council. It was established by Pope John XXIII on June 5, 1960. It had 120 members, including cardinals and bishops, amongst them was Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and Cardinal Ottaviani who chaired the Commission.

Christus Dominus

Christus Dominus (abbreviation "CD") is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops. It was approved by a vote of 2,319 to 2 of the assembled bishops and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 28 October 1965. The title in Latin means "Christ the Lord" and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary for Roman Catholic documents. Christus Dominus calls for strong episcopal conferences of bishops, to set the standard for the church in their region, while fully supporting the Vatican and the Pope. (The full text in English is available from the Holy See's website.)

CD describes how bishops exercise their office at three levels: in the universal church (chapter one), in their own "particular church" or diocese (chapter two), and at the regional or national level (chapter three).

Coetus Internationalis Patrum

The Coetus Internationalis Patrum (Latin: International Group of Fathers) was the most important and influential interest group of the "conservative" or "traditionalist" minority at the Second Vatican Council.


A council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. A council may function as a legislature, especially at a town, city or county/shire level, but most legislative bodies at the state or national level are not considered councils. At such levels, there may be no separate executive branch, and the council may effectively represent the entire government. A board of directors might also be denoted as a council. A committee might also be denoted as a council, though a committee is generally a subordinate body composed of members of a larger body, while a council may not be. Because many schools have a student council, the council is the form of governance with which many people are likely to have their first experience as electors or participants.

A member of a council may be referred to as a councillor or councilperson, or by the gender-specific titles of councilman and councilwoman.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

These seven events represented an attempt by Church leaders to reach an orthodox consensus, restore peace and develop a unified Christendom. Eastern Orthodox Christians, Oriental Orthodox Christians, the Church of the East, Anglican, Old Catholic, and Roman Catholics, all trace the legitimacy of their clergy by apostolic succession back to this period and beyond, to the earlier period referred to as Early Christianity.

This era begins with the First Council of Nicaea, which enunciated the Nicene Creed that in its original form and as modified by the First Council of Constantinople of 381 was seen by all later councils as the touchstone of orthodoxy on the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church accept all seven of these councils as legitimate ecumenical councils. The Oriental Orthodox Churches accept only the first three, while the Church of the East accepts only the first two. There is also one additional council (the Quinisext Council), which was held between the sixth and seventh ecumenical councils (in AD 692), and which issued organizational, liturgical and canonical rules but did not discuss theology. It is accepted as ecumenical by the Eastern Orthodox Church alone, however the Eastern Orthodox do not give it a number, but rather count it as a continuation of the sixth council. The Catholic Church does not accept the Quinisext Council, but both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church consider that there have been more ecumenical councils after the first seven (see: Eighth ecumenical council, Ninth ecumenical council, and Catholic ecumenical councils).

Gaudet Mater Ecclesia

Gaudet Mater Ecclesia (Latin for "Mother Church Rejoices") is the opening declaration of the Second Vatican Council.

Pope John opened the Council on October 11, 1962, in a public session before the Council Fathers as well as representatives of 86 governments and international bodies. Following a Mass, the Pope read the opening declaration.

In the speech, he rejected the thoughts of "prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster" in the world and in the future of the Church. Pope John stressed the pastoral, not doctrinal, nature of the Council: The Church did not need to repeat or reformulate existing doctrines and dogma but rather had to teach Christ's message in light of the modern world's ever-changing trends.

He exhorted the Council Fathers "to use the medicine of mercy rather than the weapons of severity" in the documents they would produce.

Gravissimum educationis

Gravissimum educationis is the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Christian Education. It was promulgated on 28 October 1965 by Pope Paul VI, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,290 to 35.

Optatam Totius

Optatam totius, the Decree on Priestly Training, is a document which was produced by the Second Vatican Council. Approved by a vote of 2,318 to 3 of the bishops assembled at the council, the decree was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965. The Latin title means "desired renewal of the whole [church]".

Orientalium Ecclesiarum

Orientalium Ecclesiarum is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches. One of the shortest conciliar documents, it was approved by a vote of 2,110 to 39 and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964. "Orientalium Ecclesiarum" is Latin for "of [the] Eastern Churches," and is taken from the first line of the decree, as is customary with Roman Catholic official documents. The decree recognizes the right of Eastern Catholics to keep their own distinct liturgical practices while remaining in full communion with the Holy See. The decree exhorts Eastern Catholics to "take steps to return to their ancestral traditions." This aspect of the decree was directed against Latinisation.The document specifies some of the autonomous powers of the Eastern Churches. In particular, the Patriarch (or where applicable, major archbishop) and synod have the power to establish eparchies, to nominate bishops within their patriarchate, to legislate the rights and obligations of the minor orders (including subdiaconate), and to determine the date for celebrating Easter within their rite. It furthermore recognized the ancient practice in the East regarding the sacrament of confirmation (Chrismation), stating that all Eastern priests have the power to administer this sacrament using chrism blessed by a bishop. One of the implications of this is the further practice of infant communion was formally recognized.

Outline of the Catholic Church

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:

Catholicism – largest denomination of Christianity. Catholicism encompasses the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.

Outline of the Catholic ecumenical councils

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Ecumenical Councils.

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice.

Catholic Ecumenical Councils

Presbyterorum Ordinis

Presbyterorum ordinis, subtitled the "Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests", is one of the documents produced by the Second Vatican Council. On 7 December 1965, the document was promulgated by Pope Paul VI, after an approval vote of 2,390 to 4 among the assembled bishops. The title means "Order of Priests" in Latin. As is customary for such documents in the Catholic Church, it is taken from the first line of the decree (its incipit).

Sign of the times (Catholic Church)

Sign of the times is a phrase strongly associated with the Catholic Church in the era of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. It was taken to mean that the church should listen to, and learn from, the world around it. In other words, it should learn to read the 'sign(s) of the times'. This phrase, comes from Matthew 16:3, Luke 12:56 and was used by Pope John XXIII when he convoked the council, in the statement Humanae Salutis (1961) and also in Pacem in Terris (1963). It came to signify a new understanding that the Church needed to attend more closely to the world if it was to remain faithful to its calling, and marked a significant shift in theological method. The phrase "sign of the times" was used four times in the Vatican II documents:

Unitatis redintegratio §4

Dignitatis humanae §15

Presbyterorum ordinis §9 (including invitation to cooperate with laity in recognizing the signs of the times)

Gaudium et spes §4The phrase has continued to be used in papal encyclicals and the Catechism of the Catholic Church since then.

St. Peter Claver Catholic parish, Belize

St. Peter Claver Catholic parish is located in Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize.

Unitatis redintegratio

Unitatis redintegratio (Latin for "Restoration of unity") is the Second Vatican Council's decree on ecumenism. It was passed by a vote of 2,137 to 11 of the bishops assembled, and was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964. Its title is taken from the opening words of the Latin text. The opening of the document's English translation is: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council."


Wreckovation is a portmanteau term coined by some Catholics to describe the style of renovations which historic Catholic cathedrals, churches, and oratories have undergone since the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and which they oppose.

As seen by these opponents, some post Vatican II renovations of older churches are similar in nature to the iconoclastic modifications of churches that took place in Northern Europe during the Reformation in the 16th Century or the Byzantine Iconoclasm in the 7th Century.

First seven ecumenical councils
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