Conciliarity

Conciliarity

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Conciliarity refers to the adherence of various Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 communities to the authority of ecumenical councils and to synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

al church government
Ecclesiastical polity
Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of the church and the authority relationships between churches...

. It is not to be confused with conciliarism
Conciliarism
Conciliarism, or the conciliar movement, was a reform movement in the 14th, 15th and 16th century Roman Catholic Church which held that final authority in spiritual matters resided with the Roman Church as a corporation of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not with the pope...

, which refers to a particular historical movement within the Catholic Church. Different churches interpret conciliarity different ways.

Conciliarity in the Catholic Church


The government of the Catholic Church is essentially monarchical, both on a papal and episcopal
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 level. Catholic doctrine does regard ecumenical councils as legitimate but extraordinary sources of authority. They can only be called by a pope. A pope can prorogue a council (as Pius IX prorogued the First Vatican Council
First Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This twentieth ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned...

 in 1871.) If a pope dies in the middle of a council the council immediately loses its source of authority. His successor must renew the council, as happened when Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 succeeded Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 in 1963, when the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

 was sitting.

The decisions of an ecumenical council do not become authoritative until approved by the pope. Popes are not bound by the decisions of ecumenical councils, nor by the mandate to implement a council's decisions. However, since the decrees of an ecumenical council are regarded as expressing the mind of the Church and of Jesus Christ, a pope would not normally ignore a council. The decisions of ecumenical councils, approved by the pope, are binding upon all the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 and laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

, subject to papal regulation.

Lesser councils also play a part in the governance of the Catholic Church. The Synod of Bishops is an assembly of bishops which advise the pope in the government of the Church. On a national level, there is the episcopal conference
Episcopal Conference
In the Roman Catholic Church, an Episcopal Conference, Conference of Bishops, or National Conference of Bishops is an official assembly of all the bishops of a given territory...

, regulating national issues. These conferences do not, however, exercise authority over particular dioceses.

Conciliarity in the Eastern (Apostolic, Non-Catholic) churches


Churches of the Eastern Orthodox Communion
Communion (Christian)
The term communion is derived from Latin communio . The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is often translated as "fellowship". In Christianity, the basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with...

, and other apostolic
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 churches, view ecumenical councils as the supreme norm of government.

Conciliarity in the Protestant churches


Protestant communities tend to deny or downplay the authority of ecumenical councils, though many do adhere to synodal government.

See also

  • Conciliarism
    Conciliarism
    Conciliarism, or the conciliar movement, was a reform movement in the 14th, 15th and 16th century Roman Catholic Church which held that final authority in spiritual matters resided with the Roman Church as a corporation of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not with the pope...

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

  • Synod
    Synod
    A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

  • Episcopal conference
    Episcopal Conference
    In the Roman Catholic Church, an Episcopal Conference, Conference of Bishops, or National Conference of Bishops is an official assembly of all the bishops of a given territory...

  • College of bishops
    College of Bishops
    The term "College of Bishops" is used in Catholic theology to denote the bishops in communion with the Pope as a body, not as individuals...

  • Apostolicity
  • Episcopal polity
    Episcopal polity
    Episcopal polity is a form of church governance that is hierarchical in structure with the chief authority over a local Christian church resting in a bishop...