Vatican II

Dispersion of the Fathers, Second Vatican Council, by Lothar Wolleh

Considered by the Holy See an ecumenical council, Vatican II (A.D. 1962-65), was summoned by Pope John XXIII and begins a new phase in the development of the Church. The Council sought to initiate the adaptation of the Church to the modern world – presenting Christ as the relevant Truth even in the present age. Image above links to the Vatican translations of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

First Vatican Council

The Vatican, Rome, Italy; ca. 1890 - 1900

Summoned by Pope Pius IX, Vatican I (A.D. 1869-70) condemned, as erroneous, philosophical naturalism, pantheism, materialism, and atheism. It also affirmed each successor to the chair of the St. Peter obtains the primacy of Peter: as Vicar of Christ and sovereign head of the Church militant. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent, Pasquale Cati Da Iesi, 1588

Events in Western Christendom, beginning on 31 October 1517, led to widespread revolt against and abandonment of the Roman Catholic Church. Finally in 1545, Pope Paul III was able to convoke a council in Trent (A.D. 1545-63) in order to form a definitive response to the assertions of the Protestants and to effect a general reform of the Church. The Council of Trent is regarded as ecumenical by the Holy See and the initiation of the Counter-Reformation. Image above links to Buckley translation of the Council’s canons and decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Fifth Lateran Council

Pope Julius II, Raphael, 1511-12

Summoned by Pope Julius II in opposition to a quasi-council assembled in Pisa under the support and protection of King Louis XII of France and the Emperor Maximilian, the general council, Lateran V (A.D. 1512-17), succeeded in quashing the Pisan assembly and attaining the revocation and annulment of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Council of Basel/Ferrara/Florence/Rome

Basilius Bessarion, metropolitan of Nicea and member of the Greek delegation to the Council, read the act of union between the Roman and Greek Churches in Florence and was later created a Cardinal of the Roman Church.

The Council of Constance called for frequent and regular holding of general councils as a pre-eminent means of cultivating the Lord’s vineyard. Under this principle, the Council of Basel first assembled (A.D. 1431). However, neither Pope Martin V nor Eugene IV demonstrated a strict observance of the Council of Constance’s dictates in regard to the holding of councils. Further, in its struggle to extinguish the Western Schism, the Council of Constance had declared that even the Pope was subject to the authority of a general council. Such a statement is no doubt true when it is unclear whom the true Pope is but otherwise seems a contradiction of Boniface VIII’s Bull Unam Sanctam and of Tradition. Thus, at Basel, a struggle soon ensued between those who espoused conciliar primacy and those who maintained papal predominance. In order to accommodate the participation of the Greeks, Eugene IV ordered the Council be transferred to Ferrara. Nevertheless, apparently, the two thirds majority assent needed (as per the Council of Constance) for such a transfer to take place was not attained. Hence, those opposed to the Pope remained at Basel and those loyal removed to Ferrara. At Ferrara and later at Florence, discussions and negotiations with the Greeks finally led to a decree of union between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. Subsequently in Florence and later in Rome, decrees of union with the Armenian and Coptic Churches and with the Bosnians, Syrians, Chaldeans, and Maronites of Cypress were approved. Nonetheless, the decrees of union bore little fruit and were generally not embraced by the clergy and peoples of the various non-Latin communities involved. Those who remained in Basel went on to elect an antipope but were later reconciled to Rome during the pontificate of Nicholas V in 1449. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council’s decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Council of Constance

Martin elected pope at Council of Constance

The Council of Constance (A.D. 1414-18) was assembled for the eradication of the Western Schism, elimination of errors and heresies, and reform of the Church. During the Council, articles of John Wyclif and John Hus were condemned and it was decreed John Hus be relinquished to secular court for judgment. Also, Martin V (Oddone Colonna) was unanimously elected Pope – thus ending the schism. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Council of Vienne

Immolation of the Templars. Anonymous chronicle "From the creation of the World until 1384". MS 677, folio 75 recto, Bibliotheque Municipale, Besancon, France

The Crusades began in 1095 with the call, by the Church of Rome, to the use of force in aid of the eastern Christians against the Turks and to recapture those lands and Churches of the eastern Empire under Muslim control. By 1231, use of deadly force against heretics within Christendom was monitored and allowed by the Holy See. By 1307, when King Philip IV of France seized the Knights Templar of his realm and commanded they be rigorously examined by the Inquisitors, use of force (torture) to obtain information was considered legitimate and expedient in Renaissance Europe. Under pressure of King Philip, Pope Clement V approved a general inquisitorial investigation of the Order of Templars. In the French realm, a large group of Templars, who recanted their forced confessions, were burned alive. The issue of the Knights Templar was the primary concern of the Council of Vienne (A.D. 1311-12). After much deliberation among the bishops but with no final decision, a papal bull suppressing the Order of Templars was, at length, delivered to the Council for approval. The bull was approved and the immense wealth of the Order redistributed. At a sentencing following the Council, the Grand Master of the Order, Jacques de Molay, and one of his associates abjured their coerced confessions. They were thus ordered by King Philip to be burned at the stake. It is said that Jacques de Molay, in the midst of the flames, summoned both Philip and Clement to appear, in the course of the year, before the Tribunal of GOD. Philip and Clement both died soon thereafter. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2. See also Appendix I, Memory and Reconciliation, for a reflection upon historic grave violations of charity by representatives of the Catholic community.

Second Council of Lyons

Virgin Mary, 13th-century Deësis Mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

The Second Council of Lyons (A.D. 1274) was convoked by Pope Gregory X for the sake of union with the Greeks, the crusade, and reform of the Church. Representatives of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus and the Greek Orthodox Church participated. In the fourth session, union between the Greek and Latin Churches was agreed upon and defined. The union, however, soon dissolved. Image above links to Tanner translation of the decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

First Council of Lyons

Council of Leon & accompanying text, Novellae of Pope Innocent IV, glossed by Bernardus Compostellanus Junior, MS 1. Syracuse University Library, Department of Special Collections.

The First Council of Lyons (A.D. 1245) was convoked by Pope Innocent IV “that the Church, through the salutary counsel of the faithful and their fruitful help, may have the dignity of its proper position; that assistance may speedily be brought to the unhappy crisis in the Holy Land and the sufferings of the Eastern Empire; that a remedy may be found against the Tartars and other enemies of the faith and persecutors of the Christian people; further, for the issue between the Church and the Emperor”. During this Council, Innocent IV formally pronounced Frederick II as deprived of kingdom and empire. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2

Fourth Lateran Council

Innocent III: contemporary fresco portrait (early 1200s) by Magister Conxolus, Sacro Speco - near Subiaco

The Fourth Lateran Council (A.D. 1215) was convoked by Pope Innocent III “to eradicate vices and to plant virtues, to correct faults and to reform morals, to remove heresies and to strengthen faith, to settle discords and to establish peace, to get rid of oppression and to foster liberty, to induce princes and Christian people to come to the aid and succour of the Holy Land”. The Constitutions present a dogmatic formulation on Transubstantiation. Image above links to Tanner translation of the Council decrees. ISBN recommendation: 0-87840-490-2