Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: An Historical Survey

Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: An Historical Survey

Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: An Historical Survey

Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: An Historical Survey

Excerpt

The eight ecumenical councils convened by the Roman, and later on by the Byzantine emperors, which were held in the eastern half of the empire, at Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon, differ so profoundly from all those that came after them and which were called by the Popes, that we are justified in treating them as an historical unit, in spite of the fact that chronologically they overlap into the early Middle Ages and that the first four of them -- the "ancient councils" in the strict sense of the word -- differ markedly, by reason of their significance, from those that followed.

On account of their authority Pope Gregory the Great compared the first four councils to the four gospels, because they formulated the basic dogmas of the Church -- the Trinity and the Incarnation. By comparison with this supremely important task all the other questions discussed in these assemblies were of secondary importance. If we mention some of them our only purpose is to illuminate the close connection of the councils with the contemporary situation of the Church.

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