First Council of Constantinople

First Council of Constantinople

Overview

The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council
First seven Ecumenical Councils
In the history of Christianity, the first seven Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea to the Second Council of Nicaea , represent an attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of the Roman Empire...

 held in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and was called by Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 in 381. The council confirmed the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 and dealt with other matters such as the Arian controversy
Arian controversy
The Arian controversy describes several controversies between the Christian Church fathers Arius and Athanasius related to Christology which divided the Christian church from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 to after the Council of Constantinople in 381...

 as it met in the church of Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene , often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.-Church:The...

 from May to July 381.

Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

 either was not invited or declined to attend, so this council is sometimes called the "unecumenical" council.
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The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council
First seven Ecumenical Councils
In the history of Christianity, the first seven Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea to the Second Council of Nicaea , represent an attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of the Roman Empire...

 held in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and was called by Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 in 381. The council confirmed the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 and dealt with other matters such as the Arian controversy
Arian controversy
The Arian controversy describes several controversies between the Christian Church fathers Arius and Athanasius related to Christology which divided the Christian church from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 to after the Council of Constantinople in 381...

 as it met in the church of Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene , often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.-Church:The...

 from May to July 381.

Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

 either was not invited or declined to attend, so this council is sometimes called the "unecumenical" council. However, it was affirmed as ecumenical at the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451.

Background


When Theodosius ascended to the imperial throne in 380, he embarked on a campaign to bring the Eastern Church back to Nicene Christianity. Theodosius wanted to further unify the entire empire behind the orthodox position and decided to convene a church council to resolve matters of faith and discipline. Gregory Nazianzus was of similar mind, wishing to unify Christianity. In the spring of 381 they convened the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople.

Theological context


The Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in 325 had not ended the Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 controversy which it had been called to clarify. By 327, Emperor Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 had begun to regret the decisions that had been made at the Nicene Council. He granted amnesty to the Arian leaders and exiled Athanasius because of Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia was the man who baptised Constantine. He was a bishop of Berytus in Phoenicia, then of Nicomedia where the imperial court resided in Bithynia, and finally of Constantinople from 338 up to his death....

. Even during numerous exiles, Athanasius continued to be a vigorous defender of Nicene Christianity against Arianism. Athanasius famously said "Athanasius against the world". The Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 also took up the torch; their Trinitarian discourse was influential in the council at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

.

The Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 had been recognized at the Council of Nicea, but debate about exactly what it meant continued. A rival to the more common belief that Jesus Christ had two natures was monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 ("one nature"), the doctrine that Christ had only one nature. Apollinarism
Apollinarism
Apollinarism or Apollinarianism was a view proposed by Apollinaris of Laodicea that Jesus could not have had a human mind; rather, that Jesus had a human body and lower soul but a divine mind....

 and Eutychianism
Eutychianism
Eutychianism refers to a set of Christian theological doctrines derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople . Eutychianism is a specific understanding of how the human and divine relate within the person of Jesus Christ .At various times, Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ was...

 were two forms of monophysitism. Apollinaris'
Apollinaris of Laodicea
Apollinaris "the Younger" was a bishop of Laodicea in Syria. He collaborated with his father Apollinaris the Elder in reproducing the Old Testament in the form of Homeric and Pindaric poetry, and the New Testament after the fashion of Platonic dialogues, when the emperor Julian had forbidden...

 rejection of Christ having a human mind was considered an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was not divine.

Theodoret
Theodoret
Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

 charged Apollinaris with confounding the persons of the Godhead
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

, and with giving into the heretical ways of Sabellius
Sabellius
Sabellius was a third century priest and theologian who most likely taught in Rome, but may have been an African from Libya. Basil and others call him a Libyan from Pentapolis, but this seems to rest on the fact that Pentapolis was a place where the teachings of Sabellius thrived, according to...

. Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea
Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor . He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian...

 accused him of abandoning the literal sense of the scripture, and taking up wholly with the allegorical sense. His views were condemned in a 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...

 at Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, under Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

, in 362, and later subdivided into several different heresies, the main ones of which were the Polemians and the Antidicomarianite
Antidicomarianite
The term Antidicomarianites literally means "opponents of Mary", from ἀντίδικ-ος adversary + Μαρία Mary.The Antidicomarianites were an ancient Eastern Christian sect which flourished in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries. The Ebionites were the first who maintained that Jesus was the son of Joseph...

s.

Up until about 360, theological debates mainly dealt with the divinity of the Son, the second person of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

. However, because the Council of Nicaea had not clarified the divinity of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, the third person of the Trinity, it became a topic of debate. The Macedonians
Macedonians (religious group)
The Macedonians were a Christian sect of the 4th century, named after Bishop Macedonius I of Constantinople. They professed a belief similar to that of Arianism, but apparently denying the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and regarding the substance of Jesus Christ as being the same in kind as that of...

 denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. This was also known as Pneumatomachianism.

Geopolitical context


Theodosius' strong commitment to Nicene Christianity involved a calculated risk because Constantinople, the imperial capital of the Eastern Empire, was solidly Arian. To complicate matters, the two leading factions of Nicene Christianity in the East, the Alexandrians and the supporters of Meletius in Antioch, were "bitterly divided ... almost to the point of complete animosity."

The bishops of Alexandria and Rome had worked over a number of years to keep the see of Constantinople from stabilizing. Thus, when Gregory was selected as a candidate for the bishopric of Constantinople, both Alexandria and Rome opposed him because of his Antiochene background.

See of Constantinople


The incumbent bishop of Constantinople was Demophilus, a Homoian
Homoiousia
Homoiousia is the theological doctrine that Jesus the Son of God and God the Father are of similar but not the same substance, a position held by the Semi-Arians in the 4th century. It contrasts with homoousia and heteroousia ....

 Arian. On his accession to the imperial throne, Theodosius offered to confirm Demophilus as bishop of the imperial city on the condition of accepting the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

; however, Demophilus refused to abandon his Arian beliefs, and was immediately ordered to give up his churches and leave Constantinople. After forty years under the control of Arian bishops, the churches of Constantinople were now restored to those who subscribed to the Nicene Creed; Arians were also ejected from the churches of other cities in the Eastern Roman Empire thus re-establishing Christian orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 in the East.

There ensued a contest to control the newly recovered see. A group led by Maximus the Cynic gained the support of Patriarch Peter of Alexandria by playing on his jealousy of the newly-created see of Constantinople. They conceived a plan to install a cleric subservient to Peter as bishop of Constantinople so that Alexandria would retain the leadership of the Eastern Churches. Many commentators characterize Maximus as having been proud, arrogant and ambitious. However, it is not clear the extent to which Maximus sought this position due to his own ambition or if he was merely a pawn in the power struggle. In any event, the plot was set into motion when, on a night when Gregory was confined by illness, the conspirators burst into the cathedral and commenced the consecration of Maximus as bishop of Constantinople. They had seated Maximus on the archiepiscopal throne and had just begun shearing away his long curls when the day dawned. The news of what was transpiring quickly spread and everybody rushed to the church. The magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

s appeared with their officers; Maximus and his consecrators were driven from the cathedral, and ultimately completed the tonsure in the tenement of a flute-player.

The news of the brazen attempt to usurp the episcopal throne aroused the anger of the local populace among whom Gregory was popular. Maximus withdrew to Thessalonica to lay his cause before the emperor but met with a cold reception there. Theodosius committed the matter to Ascholius, the much respected bishop of Thessalonica, charging him to seek the counsel of Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

.

Pope Damasus' response


Damasus' response repudiated Maximus summarily and advised Theodosius to summon a Council of Bishops for the purpose of settling various Church issues such as the schism in Antioch and the consecration of a proper bishop for the see of Constantinople. Damasus condemned the translation of bishops from one see to another and urged Theodosius to "take care that a bishop who is above reproach is chosen for that see."

The proceedings


Thirty-six Pneumatomachi
Pneumatomachi
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century...

ans arrived but were denied admission to the council when they refused to accept the Nicene creed.

Since Peter, the bishop of Alexandria, was not present, the presidency over the Council was given to Meletius
Meletius of Antioch
Saint Meletius of Antioch was a Christian bishop, or Patriarch of Antioch, from 360 until his death. There were contrasting view about his theological position: on the one hand, he was exiled three times under Arian emperors; on the other, he was strongly opposed by those faithful to the memory...

 as bishop of Antioch. The first order of business before the Council was to declare the clandestine consecration of Maximus invalid, and to confirm Theodosius' installation of Gregory Nazianzus as Bishop of Constantinople. When Meletius died shortly after the opening of the council, Gregory was selected to lead the Council.

The Egyptian and Macedonian bishops who had supported Maximus's ordination arrived late for the Council. Once there, they refused to recognise Gregory's position as head of the church of Constantinople, arguing that his transfer from the See of Sasima was canonically illegitimate because one of the canons of the Council of Nicaea had forbidden bishops to transfer from their sees.

McGuckin describes Gregory as physically exhausted and worried that he was losing the confidence of the bishops and the emperor. Ayres goes further and asserts that Gregory quickly made himself unpopular among the bishops by supporting the losing candidate for the bishopric of Antioch and vehemently opposing any compromise with the Homoiousians.

Rather than press his case and risk further division, Gregory decided to resign his office: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was responsible for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Seize me and throw me... I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it." He shocked the Council with his surprise resignation and then delivered a dramatic speech to Theodosius asking to be released from his offices. The emperor, moved by his words, applauded, commended his labor, and granted his resignation. The Council asked him to appear once more for a farewell ritual and celebratory orations. Gregory used this occasion to deliver a final address (Or. 42) and then departed.

Nectarius
Archbishop Nectarius of Constantinople
Nectarius was the archbishop of Constantinople from AD 381 until his death, the successor to Saint Gregory Nazianzus.-Background:When Gregory resigned, Nectarius was praetor of Constantinople...

, an unbaptized civil official, was chosen to succeed Gregory as president of the council.

Canons


Seven canon
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

s, four of these doctrinal canons and three disciplinary canons, are attributed to the Council and accepted by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

; the Roman Catholic Church accepts only the first four.

The first canon is an important dogmatic condemnation of all shades of Arianism, and also of Macedonianism and Apollinarianism.

The second canon renewed the Nicene legislation imposing upon the bishops the observance of diocesan and patriarchal limits.

The famous third canon reads:
The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 is New Rome
New Rome
The term "New Rome" has been used in the following contexts:* "Nova Roma" is traditionally reported to be the Latin name given by emperor Constantine the Great to the new imperial capital he founded in 324 at the city on the European coast of the Bosporus strait, known as Byzantium until then and...

.


The fourth canon decreed the consecration of Maximus as Bishop of Constantinople to be invalid, declaring "that [Maximus] neither was nor is a bishop, nor are they who have been ordained by him in any rank of the clergy". This canon was directed not only against Maximus, but also against the Egyptian bishops who had conspired to consecrate him clandestinely at Constantinople, and against any subordinate ecclesiastics that he might have ordained in Egypt.

The fifth canon might actually have been passed the next year, 382, and is in regard to a Tome of the Western bishops, perhaps that of Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

.

The sixth canon might belong to the year 382 as well and was subsequently passed at the Quinisext Council
Quinisext Council
The Quinisext Council was a church council held in 692 at Constantinople under Justinian II. It is often known as the Council in Trullo, because it was held in the same domed hall where the Sixth Ecumenical Council had met...

 as canon 95. It limits the ability to accuse bishops of wrongdoing.

The seventh canon regards procedures for receiving certain heretics into the church.

Dispute concerning the third canon


The third canon was a first step in the rising importance of the new imperial capital, just fifty years old, and was notable in that it demoted the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. Jerusalem, as the site of the first Church, retained its place of honor.

Baronius asserted that the third canon was not authentic, not in fact decreed by the council. Some medieval Greeks maintained that it did not declare supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, but the primacy; "the first among equals," similar to how they today view the Bishop of Constantinople. Throughout the next several centuries, the Western Church
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 asserted that the Bishop of Rome had supreme authority, and by the time of the Great Schism
East–West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 based its claim to supremacy on the succession
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...

 of St. Peter. When the First Council of Constantinople was approved, Rome protested the diminished honor to be afforded the bishops of Antioch and Alexandria. The status of these Eastern patriarchs would be brought up again by the Papal Legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

s at the Council of Chalcedon. Pope Leo the Great, declared that this canon had never been submitted to Rome and that their lessened honor was a violation of the Nicene order. At the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869), the Roman legates asserted the place of the bishop of Rome's honor over the bishop of Constantinople's.
After the Great Schism
East–West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 of 1054, in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, Roman supremacy over the whole world was formally claimed by the new Latin patriarch. The Roman correctores of Gratian, insert the words: "canon hic ex iis est quos apostolica Romana sedes a principio et longo post tempore non recipit" ("this canon is one of those that the Apostolic See of Rome has not accepted from the beginning and ever since").

Aftermath


It has been asserted by many that a synod was held by Pope Damasus I
Pope Damasus I
Pope Saint Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from 366 to 384.He was born around 305, probably near the city of Idanha-a-Velha , in what is present-day Portugal, then part of the Western Roman Empire...

 in the following year (382) which opposed the disciplinary canons of the Council of Constantinople, especially the third canon which placed Constantinople above Alexandria and Antioch. The synod protested against this raising of the bishop of the new imperial capital, just fifty years old, to a status higher than that of the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, and stated that the primacy of the Roman see had not been established by a gathering of bishops but rather by Christ himself. Thomas Shahan says that, according to Photius too, Pope Damasus approved the council, but he adds that, if any part of the council were approved by this pope, it could have been only its revision of the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, as was the case also when Gregory the Great recognized it as one of the four general councils, but only in its dogmatic utterances.

Christology


This council condemned Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 which began to die out with further condemnations at a council of Aquileia
Council of Aquileia, 381
The Council of Aquileia in 381 AD was a church synod which was part of the struggle between Arian and orthodox ideas in Christianity. It was one of five councils of Aquileia....

 by Ambrose of Milan in 381. With the discussion of Trinitarian doctrine now developed and well under agreement to orthodox and biblical understanding, the focus of discussion changed to Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

, which would be the topic of the Council of Ephesus of 431 and the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 of 451.

Nicene Creed


At the Council of Chalcedon (451) a new version of the Nicene Creed was produced and attributed to this council of 381. However, earlier sources show no awareness of this, and attribute to the council simply a confirmation of the original version of the Creed, issued at Nicaea in 325. The origin of the new text and its relation to the council of 381 are still subjects of debate. The general consensus of modern scholarship is that the new text originated at the time of the council and must have played some role in its proceedings, but that the council is unlikely to have approved it formally. In any case, it would be an error to call it a 'different' creed from the Nicene, since at this period any creed could be called 'Nicene' on condition it contained Nicaea's essential clauses. The version that became attributed to the council of 381 added an explicit statement of the Father's generation of the Son 'before all ages', a mention of the Virgin Mary, and a full article on the Holy Spirit, describing Him as "the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and Who spoke through the prophets". The statement of proceeding from the Father is seen as significant because it established that the Holy Spirit must be of the same being (ousia
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

) as God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

. This gave explicit expression to the concept of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

.

Shift of influence from Rome to Constantinople


David Eastman cites the First Council of Constantinople as another example of the waning influence of Rome over the East. He notes that all three of the presiding bishops came from the East. Damasus had considered both Meletius and Gregory to be illegitimate bishops of their respective sees and yet, as Eastman and others point out, the Eastern bishops paid no heed to his opinions in this regard.

The First Council of Constantinople (381) was the first appearance of the term 'New Rome' in connection to Constantinople. The term was employed as the grounds for giving the relatively young church of Constantinople should have precedence over Alexandria and Antioch 'because it is the New Rome'.

Commemoration


The 150 individuals at the council are commemorated in the Calendar of saints
Calendar of Saints (Armenian Apostolic Church)
-January:* 1 Third Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 2 Fourth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 3 Fifth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 4 Sixth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 5 Eve of the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

on February 17.

Further reading

  • Giuseppe Alberigo, ed., Conciliorum Oecumenicoum Generaliumque Decreta, vol. 1 (Turnhout, 2006), pp. 35-70.

External links