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How We Got Here


When the Church sees the need with special solemnity and unanimity to clarify certain dogmas of the faith and to defend them against false teachers or to eliminate abuses and raise the decayed ecclesiastical decency, it often resorts to convening a Council. The councils are local (regional) and universal. Here we will talk only about the latter.

By the name of the Ecumenical Council is meant a meeting at a specific place of bishops representing the whole Church, in order to solemnly resolve important issues of faith, morality or church government. In order for a council to be considered ecumenical, the approval of its decisions by the Ecumenical Bishop, the Bishop of Rome, was always necessary. The dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and therefore every Christian is unconditionally obliged to obey them; otherwise he is excluded from the bosom of the Church.

In addition to the Council of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, there are twenty Ecumenical Councils.

The first, Nicaea , in 325 proclaimed the oneness of the Word with God the Father and condemned the heresy of Arius.

The second, Constantinople , in 381, revealed, against the false teachings of the Macedonians and Apollinarians, the Christian dogma of the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

The third, Ephesus , in 431 condemned the heresy of Nestorius and explained that the Blessed Virgin should be worshiped as the Mother of God.

The fourth, Chalcedon , in 451 condemned Eutychius and revealed the Church's teaching on the two natures and one Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The fifth, Constantinople II , in 553, condemned theological currents that favored the preliminary condemnation of heresies.

The sixth, Constantinople III , in 680 anathematized the Monothelites, who acknowledge only one will in Jesus Christ.

The seventh, Nicaea II , in 787, was held against the iconoclasts.

The eighth, Constantinople IV , took place in 869; Patriarch Photius, a zealous defender of the apostasy of the East from the Catholic Church in favor of secular power, was also condemned and overthrown at this Council.

The ninth, Lateran I , was held in 1123 at the Lateran Palace in Rome and dealt mainly with the affairs of the ecclesiastical deanery.

The tenth, Lateran II , in 1139 fought against various heresies and the abuse of the sacraments.

The eleventh, Lateran III , in 1179 established canons concerning the election of the Roman High Priest and condemned the Albigensians.

The twelfth, Lateran IV , in 1215 condemned a number of heresies in the teachings on the Sacraments and established the church commandment, by virtue of which every Catholic is obliged to confess and partake of the Holy Sacraments at least once a year.

The thirteenth, Lyons I , in 1245, perfected some of the church canons.

The fourteenth, Lyons II , took place in 1274; at this Council the Greeks renounced their delusions and signed the Catholic Confession of Faith.

The fifteenth, Viennese , in 1311 fought against heresies at the time.

The sixteenth, Constance , in 1414 put an end to the schism caused by the antipopes, that is, by those who sought illegally to benefit from papal dignity; he condemns the heresy of Huss.

The seventeenth, the Florentine , took place in 1439, at which the Greek hierarchs and the Russian Metropolitan Isidore recognized the Catholic Church as the only true Church of Christ.

The eighteenth, Lateran V , in 1512 rejected the false teachings that challenged the immortality of the human soul.

The nineteenth, at Trent , in 1545; he condemned the Protestant heresies of Luther, Calvin, and their disciples.

The twentieth, the Vatican , in 1870, gave a precise definition of the ancient doctrine of supremacy in the visible Church of the successor of the Apostle Peter.

The calling of bishops from all over the world to an Ecumenical Council is always fraught with great external difficulties, which is why the Church resorts to it only in rare cases, when special publicity is desired, when it condemns dangerous delusions. In other cases, the Pope, seeing the head of the Church after learning the views of bishops scattered throughout the world and consulting with his permanent advisers, himself gives a universally binding interpretation of the tradition.


The constant and inevitable appearance of endless false doctrines proves that there must be a permanent God-ordained supreme authority in the Church, which with its judgment must resolve all misunderstandings and doubts of Christians on matters of faith: otherwise the light of faith would be dimmed by the darkness of delusion. .


Even the Holy Scriptures, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can be used by misinterpretations in defense of lies and deception. Heretics contradict themselves to the extreme and at the same time quote in support of all their false teachings numerous passages from the Holy Scriptures, interpreting them in an arbitrary and sometimes most absurd way. But there must also be differences of opinion between you, so that you may be able (1 Cor. XI; 19) to stand out among you; to gladly accept the interpretation of the Tradition emanating from the teaching Church.


Note also that each bishop in his diocese is the guardian of Revelation, but individual hierarchs are not infallible in their doctrine; infallibility in dogmatic matters is given only to the Universal Visible Head of the Church and to the Ecumenical Councils headed by him.


candle. S. Tyszkiewicz CATHOLIC CATECHISM





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