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IN 381.


Convocation and Opening of the Council; its Members and Presidents.


SINCE the death of the Emperor Constantius, Arianism in the West had more and more declined; but in the Eastern Empire, especially under the Emperor Valens, it had constantly increased in strength, and at the same time in intolerance. The capital, Constantinople, formed a true picture of the state of the Eastern Church. Here the Episcopal See had been for forty years in the hands of the Arians, and this sect was so powerful and predominant that the Catholics no longer possessed a single one of the many churches in the city. Their attempt, in 370, again to choose another bishop for themselves failed, for the Emperor Valens drove away their nominee, Evagrius (in 370), by force of arms. Thus the number of the orthodox in the capital, being without bishop, churches, or services, almost daily became smaller. At the death of the Emperor Valens in 378, the East also came under the rule of Gratian, whose edict of toleration, in 379, rendered it possible again to give the Catholics of Constantinople a representative of their own (not a bishop, but a diocesan administrator) in the person of one of the greatest Fathers of the Church of that time, S. Gregory of Nazianzus. In order to be able to hold divine service for the Catholics of the city who had remained faithful, Gregory converted the house of one of his relatives into a church, to which he gave the significant name of Anastasia, for it was in truth a resurrection of the orthodox community of Constantinople, and the poor chapel grew afterwards into the famous church of the Resurrection. But the more that Gregory, by his splendid sermons and his great activity, established and spread the Nicene faith, so much the more did he become the object of the hatred of the heretics, who not only overwhelmed him with scorn and abuse, chiefly on account of his poverty, and what they considered the rusticity of his manners, but made repeated attempts on his life, and once even broke by force into the chapel of the Resurrection at midnight when he was holding service. The altar was desecrated, the sacred wine mingled with blood, and all kinds of barbarities committed. Gregory's false friend, Maximus, occasioned him no less sorrow. He was by birth an Alexandrian, and professed to have been a confessor in a time of persecution; he arrived in Constantinople almost at the same time as Gregory, and there played the part of an ascetic, and (cynic) philosopher. As he also pretended to great zeal for the Nicene faith, Gregory received him into his house and at his table, reposing in him such unbounded confidence that he even pronounced a public panegyric upon him. But after a short time he discovered him to be an intriguer, a hypocrite, and a liar, who, with the help of a party in Constantinople, and of Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, strove to make himself bishop of Constantinople, and did in fact contrive to be secretly consecrated to that office. He was indeed obliged by the people to leave the city; but Gregory, who was deeply grieved and shaken in health by these events, was anxious to resign his office, and only the constant entreaties of his flock, and more especially the exclamation of a citizen, — “With yourself you banish also the Trinity (the orthodox faith concerning the Trinity) from Constantinople”, — induced him to promise to remain until another bishop should be appointed.

About the same time that Gregory was summoned to Constantinople, the Emperor Gratian conferred upon his former general, Theodosius, the dignity of joint Emperor, with the government of the East. From his own inner conviction, as well as from political reasons, Theodosius made it one of his chief duties to secure the religious unity of the kingdom upon the basis of the Nicene faith, and immediately upon his accession required of all his subjects the confession of the orthodox faith. When in the autumn of 380 he came to Constantinople, the Arians of that city were obliged to restore to the orthodox all the churches and the whole of the Church property; and their former Bishop Demophilus, whom, as bishop of Beroea in Thrace, we have before repeatedly seen among the Arian leaders, was obliged to leave the place, because, disregarding the Imperial command, he would not consent to the Nicene Creed.

In order to arrange the affairs of the Church once more in the capital, and above all to secure the triumph of the Nicene faith in the East also over Arianism, together with its Pneumatomachian offshoot, Theodosius summoned a large Synod to meet at Constantinople, which assembled in May 381, under the Consuls Eucharius and Evagrius, and subsequently ranked as the second Ecumenical Council. Theodoret remarks that Theodosius only summoned the bishops belonging to his division of the Empire; and this is indeed confirmed by the fact that only Orientals were present. Hence it is probable that Pope Damasus, as belonging to Gratian’s division of the Empire, was never invited to the Synod, — as he was neither present in person nor represented, — and that Theodosius only intended to have a General Council for the East, and not an Ecumenical Council. Baronius and others have tried to prove that Pope Damasus really summoned this Synod, since its members had themselves said : “they had assembled in Constantinople in accordance with a letter from Damasus to the Emperor Theodosius the Great”. We do indeed find this in a Synodal Letter in Theodoret, which, however, does not emanate from this, but from a second Constantinopolitan Synod of 382, as have been already observed, and as we shall see further on. Baronius refers also to a statement of the sixth General Council, that “when Macedonius spread the heresy concerning the Holy Ghost, Theodosius and (Pope) Damasus at once withstood him, and Gregory of Nazianzus, and Nectarius his successor, then assembled a Synod in this royal city”. This passage is, however, too vague and uncertain to permit the conclusion that this Synod was organized by Pope Damasus; nay, the words, “Gregory and Nectarius assembled a Synod”, contain an historical error, as the Synod was called neither by the one nor the other, certainly not by both together. It is only true that both presided at Constantinople, and even this not from the beginning; and possibly the sixth General Council means no more than this.

As at first there seemed hope that the Macedonians or Pneumatomachians might be again won over to the Church, the Emperor invited their bishops also to the Synod, and thirty-six appeared, the greater number from the countries on the Hellespont. Of these the most famous were Eleusius of Cyzicus, often before mentioned, and Marcianus of Lampsacus. One hundred and fifty bishops of the orthodox side were present, those from Egypt and Macedonia arriving somewhat later than the rest. Of these the most famous were Bishop Meletius of Antioch, who had arrived at Constantinople some time before to appoint S. Gregory of Nazianzus bishop of that city, Timotheus of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, his nephew Gelasius of Caesarea in Palestine, Ascholius of Thessalonica, whom the Emperor Theodosius had shortly before baptized when he was ill, Helladius of Caesarea, the successor of S. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, S. Basil's youngest brother, S. Peter of Sebaste, Amphilochius of Iconium, Optimus of Antioch in Pisidia, Diodorus of Tarsus in Cilicia, S. Pelagius of Laodicea, S. Eulogius of Edessa, Acacius of Beroea in Syria, Isidore of Cyrus in Syria, and others.

Meletius of Antioch at first presided, and after his death Gregory of Nazianzus, and after he had resigned, his successor Nectarius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Sozomen differs from this, in stating that Timotheus of Alexandria held the presidency with Meletius and Cyril of Jerusalem; and this would have been correct, as the Patriarch of Alexandria ranked before the Patriarch of Antioch. But Timotheus was not present at the commencement of the Synod, and therefore the right of Meletius to rank first was undisputed. If, however, even after the arrival of the Patriarch of Alexandria, he did not preside, but the Bishop of Constantinople, this took place by the decision of the Synod itself, as in its third canon it ranked the Bishop of new Rome immediately after the Bishop of old Rome.

The Emperor was present at the opening of the Synod, and loaded Meletius with especial honors. While still a general of Gratian’s, he had dreamed that Meletius of Antioch presented him with the Imperial throne and mantle, and not long afterwards he really became Emperor. Now, when the bishops assembled for the Synod visited the Emperor, he gave express orders that Meletius should not be presented to him, as he wished to see whether he should recognise the man whom he had seen in his dream. He knew him at once, and approaching him with great reverence, he kissed his eyes, his breast, his head, and his hands, and related to him the wonderful vision. He also treated the other bishops with all respect, and prayed them to give their fatherly consideration to the subjects brought before them.


First Act of the Council.


The first necessary act was to provide a bishop for the Church of Constantinople. The ordination of the Cynic Maximus was therefore investigated, and as it proved to be uncanonical and irregular, the Council declared that Maximus had never been a bishop, and that consequently all the ordinations performed by him were invalid. This was also expressly declared in the fourth canon. They, however, did not deem it necessary or fitting to pronounce any sentence against the deceased patriarch, Peter of Alexandria, who had appointed Maximus. Gregory of Nazianzus was forthwith besieged by the Emperor and many bishops of the Council with earnest entreaties that he would now accept the See of Constantinople; but it was only after long hesitation and many refusals, and in the view of being able, as bishop of the capital, the more easily to do away with the Meletian schism and the consequent breach between the East and the West, — always one of his greatest desires, — that he was persuaded to yield. Gregory was now solemnly installed in the See of Constantinople by Meletius and the other members of the Synod, as it was thought expedient for the greater benefit of the Church to make an exception to the rule that no bishop (Gregory had been Bishop of Sasime) should be transferred to another See.

Soon afterwards S. Meletius died, shortly after the beginning of the Synod, and exceptional honors were showered upon him even in his death; for instance, Gregory of Nyssa, in his funeral oration (of which many were held), spoke of him as a saint. It had already been agreed during the lifetime of Meletius, that when either of the two orthodox Bishops of Antioch, Meletius or Paul, died, no new bishop should be elected in his place, but the survivor should be universally acknowledged. Notwithstanding this, some members of the Council demanded that a successor to Meletius should be elected, while Gregory of Nazianzus, who was now president, did all in his power to procure the carrying out of the agreement. The younger bishops of the Synod, however, violently opposed him, being of opinion that the recognition of Paul would be too great a concession to the Latins; they succeeded in carrying away with them older bishops also, and thus it came to pass that Flavian, hitherto a priest, was chosen as the successor of Meletius by the bishops of the dioceses (=patriarchates) of Antioch and Asia, and was confirmed by the Synod, whereby the Meletian schism was perpetuated.

This grieved Gregory so much that he would no longer be present at the meetings of the Council, and quitted the episcopal residence, and made his intention of resigning more and more plain every day. Many of the most influential men prayed and conjured him to remain; but as about the same time the Egyptian bishops, who had then just arrived, declared themselves, professedly on canonical grounds, dissatisfied with the promotion of Gregory to the See of Constantinople, he one day appeared before the Synod, and announced his resignation of the See, as for the sake of peace he would gladly, like Jonas, be cast out. The majority of the Synod accepted his resignation, many of the bishops even gladly, — the Emperor, on the contrary, most unwillingly; and on the proposal of the bishops, Nectarius, formerly praetor of Constantinople, a very worthy and illustrious man, who, however, had never been baptized, was now raised by the Emperor, with the consent of the people, to the See of Constantinople.

According to Socrates, the negotiations with the Macedonians had begun earlier than this, before the election of Nectarius, and the Emperor did all in his power to win them over to the unity of the Church. He reminded them that they themselves had before, in 366, of their own accord offered to unite their faith with that of the Western Church, and therefore had sent Eustathius of Sebaste and other deputies to Rome, that they had also accepted the Homousian confession of faith, and thereupon entered into communion with Pope Liberius and the Sicilian bishops. He preached, however, to deaf ears; for, as Socrates expresses it, the Macedonians “preferred to acknowledge the Arian rather than to agree to the Homousian doctrine”. Socrates forgets to mention that with the Macedonians it was not now a question merely of the omooúsios of the Son, but also of the omooúsios of the Holy Ghost.


The Tome and the Creed.


Socrates further relates that the Macedonian bishops had then left Constantinople, and everywhere addressed letters to their adherents, warning them against the acceptance of the Nicene faith; but that the one hundred and fifty orthodox bishops who remained at Constantinople had confirmed the Nicene faith. Sozomen and Theodoret express themselves as briefly. The Synod of Constantinople of the following year, 382, however, relates that the Council had put forth a Tome of its own, i.e. a special and particular treatise on the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, and it may be conjectured that the Constantinopolitan Creed, which is still received, was no more than a part of this Tome, its quintessence, as also that the present first canon containing the anathema against heretics belonged to the Tome. From the following statement of the fourth General Council at Chalcedon, in an address to the Emperor, — “the bishops who at Constantinople detected the taint of Apollinarianism, communicated to the Westerns their decision in the matter”, — Tillemont, not without reason, concludes that this Tome also treated of the heresy of Apollinaris, and (at least in one copy) was addressed to the Latin bishops.

Nicephorus Callisti maintains that Gregory of Nyssa was the author of the creed of this Council; but Marcus Eugenius, at the Council of Florence in 1439, maintained that it was the work of Gregory of Nazianzus. Both statements are, however, so uncertain, and so little to be relied upon, that Tillemont, as it seems to me rightly, thought himself justified in propounding quite another hypothesis. He starts from the fact that Epiphanius, in his Ancoratus, adopted a similar creed, remarking that it was everywhere in use, and must be learned by heart by all catechumens. But his Ancoratus had already been written as early as 374, as is expressly stated in several passages; consequently the creed in question must have been in use in the Church at least ten years before the second General Council, and it is probable that this Council did not actually draw up a new creed, but only copied, and in some places altered, one already in use, shortening it, as a comparison of the text in Epiphanius with the actual creed of this Synod proves. It runs thus :

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all times (ages), Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten, not created, of the same substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man; who was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Life-giver, who proceedeth from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. We look for a resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen”.

It is somewhat remarkable, and probably only to be accounted for by the peculiar relation of Gregory of Nazianzus to this Synod, that this Father of the Church, in writing to Cledonius shortly after the close of the Synod of Constantinople concerning the rule of faith, only mentioned the Nicene Creed and not that of Constantinople, although he admitted the former to be incomplete with regard to the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. Neither was this creed mentioned at the third General Council at Ephesus; but the fourth General Council at Chalcedon had it twice recited, and twice received it into its acts, thus solemnly approving it. It was also repeated and accepted at the sixth General Council in 680. It is printed among the acts of the first Council of Constantinople in all collections of Councils. There are Latin translations of it in the collection of Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore.


The Canons of the Second General Council.


Besides the decree of faith, the Synod of Constantinople also drew up a few canons, to which in the old Greek codices the following heading is prefixed : “Canons of the one hundred and fifty holy Fathers who assembled at Constantinople under the Consulate of those illustrious men, Flavius Eucherius and Flavius Evagrius, on the 7th of the Ides of July” — that is, the 9th of July. From this we may conclude that this Synod, which, according to Socrates, begun in May 381, lasted until July of that year.

The number of canons drawn up by the Synod is doubtful. The old Greek codices and the Greek commentators of the Middle Ages, Zonaras and Balsamon, enumerate seven; but the old Latin translations — viz. the Prisca, those by Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore, as well as the Codex of Luna — only recognise the four first canons of the Greek text, and the fact that they agree in this point is the more important as they are wholly independent of each other, and divide and arrange those canons of Constantinople which they do acknowledge quite differently.

Because, however, in the Prisca the canons of Constantinople are only placed after those of the fourth General Council, the Ballerini brothers conclude that they were not contained at all in the oldest Greek collections of canons, and were inserted after the Council of Chalcedon. But it was at this very Council of Chalcedon that the three first canons of Constantinople were read out word for word. As, however, they were not separately numbered, but were there read under the general title of Synodicon Synodi Secundae, Fuchs concluded that they were not originally in the form in which we now possess them, but, without being divided into numbers, formed a larger and unbroken decree, the contents of which were divided by later copyists and translators into several different canons. And hence the very different divisions of these canons in the Prisca, Dionysius, and Isidore may be explained.

The fact, however, that the old Latin translations all agree in only giving the four first canons of the Greek text, seems to show that the oldest Greek manuscripts, from which those translations were made, did not contain the fifth, sixth, and seventh, and that these last did not properly belong to this Synod, but were later additions. To this must be added that the old Greek Church historians, in speaking of the affairs of the second General Council, only mention those points which are contained in the first four canons, and say nothing of what, according to the fifth, sixth, and seventh canons, had also been decided at Constantinople. At the very least, the seventh canon cannot have emanated from this Council, since in the sixth century John Scholasticus did not receive it into his collection, although he adopted the fifth and sixth. It is also missing in many other collections; and in treating specially of this canon further on, we shall endeavor to show the time and manner of its origin. But the fifth and sixth canons probably belong to the Synod of Constantinople of the following year, as Beveridge, the Ballerini, and others conjectured. The Greek scholiasts, Zonaras and Balsamon, and later on, Tillemont, Beveridge, Van Espen and Herbst, have given more or less detailed commentaries on all these canons.

The canons are as follows : —

Can. 1. “The confession of faith of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers, who were assembled at Nicaea in Bithynia, shall not be abolished, but shall remain, and every heresy shall be anathematized, especially that of the Eunomians or Anomoeans, the Arians or Eudoxians, the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachians, the Sabellians, Marcellians, Photinians, and Apollinarians”.

We have already remarked that what is here introduced as the first canon most likely belonged to the Tome of the Council, especially as in ancient times the term "canons" was understood to mean rules of discipline, and not anathemas. That the Council of Constantinople also rejected the Apollinarian heresy, Socrates and Sozomen do not indeed expressly say; but Rufinus and the fourth General Council assert it, and it is confirmed by this canon. Theodoret also says that the Council of Constantinople deposed the false Bishop Maximus of Constantinople, “because he took part in the folly of the Apollinarians”. Theodoret, however, is probably mistaken with regard to Maximus; and the Synod itself, in its fourth canon, in which it declares his deposition, does not give the smallest indication of his having been an Apollinarian. By the Eudoxians, whom this canon identifies with the Arians, is meant that faction who, in contradistinction to the strict Arians or Anomoeans on one side, and the Semi-Arians on the other side, followed the leadership of the Court Bishop Eudoxius (Bishop of Constantinople under the Emperor Valens), and without being entirely Anomoean, yet very decidedly inclined to the left of the Arian party — probably claiming to represent the old and original Arianism. But this canon makes the Semi-Arians identical with the Pneumatomachians, and so far rightly, that the latter sprang from the Semi-Arian party, and applied the Arian principle to their doctrine of the Holy Ghost. Lastly, by the Marcellians are meant those pupils of Marcellus of Ancyra who remained in the errors formerly propounded by him, while afterwards others, and indeed he himself, once more acknowledged the truth.


Can. 2. “The bishops of another diocese shall not pass over to foreign churches, and introduce confusion among them; but, in accordance with the canons, the bishop of Alexandria shall govern the affairs of Egypt only, and the Eastern bishops shall have charge of the affairs of the East only, while the rights of the Antiochian Church, as declared in the sixth canon of Nicaea, shall be preserved, and the bishops of the dioceses of Asia (Ephesus) shall only have jurisdiction over Asia, those of the dioceses of Pontus over Pontus, and those of the dioceses of Thrace over Thrace. Unless summoned, the bishops shall not go beyond their own dioceses for the purpose of ordination, or any other ecclesiastical function. While, however, the existing canon with regard to the dioceses is observed, it is clear that in each eparchy (province) the Provincial Synod must rule in accordance with the decisions of Nicaea. But the Churches of God among the barbarous nations shall be governed according to the custom prevailing from the times of the Fathers”.

It is highly probable that the manner in which the deceased patriarch Peter of Alexandria, who had had the Cynic Maximus consecrated bishop of Constantinople, outstepped his power, was the immediate occasion of this canon, which is in fact a renewal of the sixth, and part of the fifth Nicene canons. It orders :

(a) That the bishops of a (civil) diocese — that is, those large districts of the Empire, in accordance with which the ecclesiastical division was formed into patriarchates and exarchates — shall not interfere with the affairs of foreign Churches. This prohibition, of course, applied first to the chief bishop of each such large diocese, the chief metropolitan, or, as he was afterwards called, patriarch or exarch; but, equally of course, it included the other bishops under him, who were likewise forbidden to interfere in another patriarchate.

(b) Among the number of such large dioceses are mentioned, Egypt, with the metropolitan city of Alexandria; the East, with the metropolitan city of Antioch; Asia (Asia Proconsularis), with the metropolitan city of Ephesus; Pontus, with the metropolitan city of Caesarea in Cappadocia; and Thrace, of which the ecclesiastical capital formerly was Heraclea, but is now Constantinople.

(c) This canon further orders that in each ecclesiastical province the Provincial Synod shall govern, and therefore that in those provinces into which the patriarchate is divided, the patriarch or chief metropolitan was not to exercise entire power. This the Synod of Nicaea had already tried to prevent. Thereby, too, the appeal to Rome was excluded.

(d) An exception to the rule against interference in other patriarchates was made with regard to those Churches newly founded amongst barbarous nations (not belonging to the Roman Empire), as these were of course obliged to receive their first bishops from strange patriarchates, and remained afterwards too few in number to form patriarchates of their own, and were therefore governed as belonging to other patriarchates, as, for instance, Abyssinia by the patriarchate of Alexandria.

Can. 3. “The Bishop of Constantinople shall hold the first rank after the Bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is New Rome”.

Baronius took pains to discredit the genuineness of this canon; but he is certainly wrong, as it is not only given in the old collections of canons, but also by Socrates and Sozomen, who testify that this Council published such a decree. On the other hand, many Greeks have explained this canon as deciding that the Bishop of Constantinople holds precisely equal rank with the Bishop of Rome, and that the preposition “after” contained in it only indicated posteriority of time; but the Greek commentator Zonaras, preferring the truth, has combated this opinion, and added that the Emperor Justinian, in the 130th novel, in the 5th book, title III of his Imperial Constitutions, acknowledged a subjection of the See of Constantinople to that of Rome.

This canon, as far as its wording goes, only bestows upon the Bishop of Constantinople a primacy of honor, and accordingly the famous Peter de Marca has undertaken to prove in a comprehensive dissertation, “that the patriarchal right, i.e. the jurisdiction of a patriarch, was first assigned to the Bishop of Constantinople by the fourth General Council (of Chalcedon)”. Hergenrother, too, has recently adopted this view. It appears to me, however, more probable that the canon assigned to the Bishop of Constantinople, together with the primacy of honor, jurisdiction over the diocese of Thrace, at the head of which Heraclea stood. Socrates says that the Synod also appointed patriarchs, as it divided the eparchies (provinces). At this division, Nectarius of Constantinople received the Imperial city and the provinces of Thrace, etc. Theodoret affirms the same, namely, that the Fathers at Constantinople “separated the dioceses (i.e. patriarchates) from one another”. And Hergenrother is obliged himself to confess that thenceforward “the presidency of the Thracian district no longer appertained to the bishop of Heraclea, but to the bishop of Constantinople”. This is equivalent to saying that the latter from this time exercised jurisdiction over the diocese of Thrace.

If we inquire the reason why this Council tried to change the order of rank of the great Sees, which had been established in the sixth Nicene canon, we must first take into consideration that, since the elevation of Constantinople to the Imperial residence, as New Rome, the bishops as well as the Emperors naturally wished to see the new imperial residence, New Rome, placed immediately after Old Rome in ecclesiastical rank also; the rather, as with the Greeks it was the rule for the ecclesiastical rank of a See to follow the civil rank of the city. The Synod of Antioch in 341, in its ninth canon, had plainly declared this, and subsequently the fourth General Council, in its seventeenth canon, spoke in the same sense. But how these principles were protested against on the side of Rome, we shall see further on in the history of the fourth General Council, in the 200th section, where we shall have again to notice this Council. For the present, it may suffice to add that the aversion to Alexandria, which, by favouring Maximus, had exercised such a disturbing influence on Church affairs in Constantinople, may well have helped to effect the elevation of the See of Constantinople over that of Alexandria. Moreover, for many centuries Rome did not recognise this change of the old ecclesiastical order. In the sixteenth session of the fourth General Council, the Papal Legate, Lucentius, expressly declared this. In like manner the Popes Leo the Great and Gregory the Great pronounced against it. It was only when, after the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins, a Latin patriarchate was founded there in 1204, that Pope Innocent II, and the twelfth General Council, in 1215, allowed this patriarch the first rank after the Roman; and the same recognition was expressly awarded to the Greek Patriarch at the Florentine Union in 1439.

Can. 4. “With regard to the Cynic Maximus, and the disorder occasioned by him in Constantinople, (it is declared) that Maximus never became a bishop, and is not one now, neither are any of those ordained by him to any grade whatsoever of the clerical office really ordained, as everything performed about him (viz. his consecration) and by him is pronounced invalid”.

Maximus has been already repeatedly spoken of, and the manner of his consecration as bishop explained, according to which the Synod was perfectly right in pronouncing his deposition. The distinction between invalid and irregular ordination or consecration had not then been accurately defined. What was canonically invalid and practically unrecognised was simply designated invalid, while the later canon law distinguished accurately sacramental and canonical invalidity.

Neither would Pope Damasus at first sanction the elevation of Maximus, as we have seen from his two letters to Acholius, bishop of Thessalonica. But a different view was taken soon after by many Latins, among whom was S. Ambrose; and at their Synod which took place in the autumn of the same year, they pronounced decidedly in favour of Maximus, and his claims to the See of Constantinople, while they refused to recognise either Gregory of Nazianzus or Nectarius. They therefore proposed a common Synod for the Easterns and Westerns, where the question of the See of Constantinople should be definitively decided. In the following year, however, the Greek bishops, at a fresh Synod at Constantinople, again set forth the legitimacy of the election of Nectarius, and the Emperor Theodosius sent commissaries to Rome in support of their statements. The consequence was that the Pope also now declared for Nectarius, as Boniface I testified a generation later.

Can. 5.  “With regard to the treatise (Tome) of the Westerns, we also recognised the Antiochians, who acknowledge the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost”.

As has been already mentioned, this canon probably does not belong to the second General Council, but to the Synod held in the following year at Constantinople consisting of nearly the same bishops.

It is certain that by the Tomos ton Ditikon a dogmatic work of the Western bishops is to be understood, and the only question is which Tome of the Westerns is here meant. Several — for instance, the Greek commentators, Balsamon and Zonaras, and the spokesman of the Latins at the Synod of Florence in 1439 (Archbishop Andrew of Rhodes) — understood by it the decrees of the Synod of Sardica; but it seems to me that this canon undoubtedly indicates that the Tome of the Westerns also mentioned the condition of the Antiochian Church, and the division into two parties of the orthodox of that place — the Meletian schism. Now, as this was not mentioned, nay, could not have been, at the Synod of Sardica, — for this schism at Antioch only broke out seventeen years later, — some other document of the Latins must certainly be meant. But we know that Pope Damasus, and the Synod assembled by him in 369, addressed a Tome to the Orientals, of which fragments are still preserved, and that nine years later, in 379, a great Synod at Antioch of one hundred and forty-six orthodox Oriental bishops, under Meletius, accepted and signed this Tome, and at the same time sought to put a stop to the Meletian schism. Soon afterwards, in 380, Pope Damasus and his fourth Roman Synod again sent a treatise on the faith, of which we still possess a portion, containing anathemas, to the Orientals, especially to Bishop Paul of Antioch, head of the Eustathians of that city.

Under these circumstances, we are justified in referring the expression Tomos ton Ditikon either to the Roman treatise of 369 or to that of 380, and I am disposed to give the preference to the former, for the following reasons : —

(1.) As has been already observed, this canon belongs to the Synod held at Constantinople in 382.

(2.) We still possess in Theodoret a Synodal Letter to the Latins from this later Synod.

(3.) The canon in question, as proceeding from the same source, is, of course to a certain extent, connected with this letter.

(4.) In this Synodal Letter, the Eastern bishops, in order to convince the Latins of their orthodoxy, appeal to two documents, the one a tomos of an Antiochian Synod, and the other a tomos of the (Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 381.

(5.) By the Antiochian Synod here mentioned, I understand the great Synod of 378, and, as a necessary consequence, believe the tomos there produced to be none other than the Roman Tome of 369, which was then accepted at Antioch.

(6.) It is quite certain that the Synod of Antioch sent a copy of this Tome, with the declaration of its acceptance and the signatures of the members, back to Rome, as a supplement to its Synodal Letter; and hence Lucas Holstenius was still able to find fragments of it in Rome.

(7.) The Synod of Constantinople of 382 might well call this Tome, sent back to Rome with the acceptance and signatures of the Easterns, a “Tome established at Antioch”, although it was really drawn up at Rome.

(8.) If, however, the Synod of Constantinople in its Synodal Letter speaks of this Tome, we are justified in supposing that the one mentioned in its canon is the same.

(9.) That which still remains of the Roman Tome of 369, treats expressly of the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and such were the contents of the Tome according to this canon.

(10.) It is true that the fragments still preserved of this Tome contain no passage directly referring to the Antiochian schism; but, in the first place, very little remains of it, and there is the more reason to suppose that the Meletian schism was spoken of in the portion which has been lost, as it was the same Antiochian Synod that accepted the Tome which urged the putting an end to that schism. It is still more to the purpose that the Italian bishops, in their letter to the Easterns in 381, expressly say that they had already long before (dudum) written to the Orientals in order to put an end to the division between the orthodox at Antioch. By this dudum I conclude that they refer to the Roman Tome of 36 ; and if the Westerners in their letter to the Easterners in 381 pointed to this Tome, it was natural that the Synod of Constantinople of 382 should also have referred to it, for it was that very letter of the Latins which occasioned and called the Synod into being.

Lastly, for the full understanding of this canon, it is necessary to observe that the Latins, in their letter just mentioned of 381, say that "they had already in their earlier missive (i.e., as we suppose, in the Tome of 369) spoken to the effect that both parties at Antioch, one as much as the other, were orthodox. Agreeing with this remark of the Westerns, repeated in their letter of 381, the Easterns in this canon say, "We also recognise all Antiochians as orthodox who acknowledge the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost".

Beveridge and Van Espen attach a different sense to this canon. In their opinion, it means: "With regard to the Tome of the Westerns, we agree with the Antiochians (that is, the Antiochian Synod of 378) who (accepted it and) acknowledged the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost"


Can. 6. "Seeing that many, in order to disturb and destroy the order of the Church, invidiously and wantonly invent accusations against the orthodox bishops who govern the Church, for the sole purpose of injuring the reputation of the priests, and bringing disquiet among the peaceable people, the Holy Synod of the bishops assembled at Constantinople has decided that in future no accuser shall be received without examination, that neither shall all be allowed, nor all forbidden to bring accusations against the governors of the Church. But, in the case of any one bringing a private complaint against the bishop, as having been defrauded by him, or in any other way unjustly treated, neither the person nor the religion of the accuser shall be considered, for the conscience of the bishop should be perfectly clear, and he who affirms that he has been injured, of whatever religion he may be, must receive justice. If, however, the complaint brought against the bishop is of an ecclesiastical offence, then the persons of the accusers must be inquired into, so that, in the first place, heretics may not be allowed to raise complaints concerning ecclesiastical matters against orthodox bishops. And we designate as heretics both those who have been formerly shut out from the Church, and those who have afterwards been anathematized by us; and, in addition to them, those who indeed profess to acknowledge the sound faith, but who separate themselves from the orthodox bishops and hold assemblies of their own. In the next place, members of the Church, who for certain reasons have been condemned or excommunicated, and have been deprived of communion, whether of the clergy or laity, shall not be allowed to bring an accusation against a bishop, until they have first cleared themselves of the charge laid against them. In like manner, those who are already under accusation shall not be allowed to bring a charge against the bishop or any of the clergy, until they have cleared themselves from the charges brought against them. If, however, persons who are neither heretics nor excommunicated, nor condemned, nor accused of offences, bring a charge in ecclesiastical matters against the bishop, the Holy Synod orders that such shall first bring their complaints before the assembled bishops of the province, and prove their charge before them. If, however, the comprovincials are not in a position to punish the bishop for the offences with which he is charged, they (the accusers) shall have recourse to the larger Synod of the bishops of the diocese (patriarchate), who must be summoned for the purpose, and they shall not bring forward their complaint until they have promised in writing to undergo the same punishment (which would be incurred by the accused bishop), if, on investigation, they are convicted of having brought a false charge. If, however, any one, in contempt of what is here prescribed, presumes either to importune the ears of the Emperor, or to trouble the secular law courts, or an (Ecumenical Synod, and thus dishonours the bishops of the diocese (patriarchate), his charge shall most certainly not be received, because he has contemned the canons and violated the order of the Church."

That this canon probably did not emanate from the second Ecumenical Council, but from the subsequent Synod of the year 382, has been already mentioned, and I will only add that Pope Nicholas I says of it, in his letter to the Greek Emperor Michael, that "it is not found in the Roman copies.


Can. 7. "Those who turn to orthodoxy, and from heretics to the number of those who are being saved, we receive in the following manner. We receive the Arians and Macedonians, the Sabbatians and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari and Aristeori, also the Tetradites (Quartodecimans) and Apollinarians, on their anathematizing in writing every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, and, being first sealed or anointed with the holy oil on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears. And in sealing them we say, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost". But the Eunomians, who only baptize with one immersion, and the Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach the doctrine of the Fatherhood of the Son or err grievously in other ways, and all other heretics — of whom there are many here, especially those who come from Galatia, — all of those who are willing to turn from these heresies to the orthodox faith, we receive (only) as heathen; on the first day we make them Christians, on the second catechumens, on the third we exorcise them by three times breathing on them on the face and on the ears; thus we instruct them and make them frequent the Church for a long time, and listen to the Holy Scriptures, and then we baptize them”.

While the two preceding canons, though not belonging to the second General Council, still are contained in the old collection of John Scholasticus or Antiochenus, the seventh canon is wanting there also, nor is it to be found in the old Latin translations, and therefore it could not have been in the oldest Greek collections. It is also wanting in the Arabic paraphrase of these canons, and in the epitome of Simeon Logotheta. To this it must be added that it really orders nothing, and, moreover, has not the form of a canon, but only relates what was the practice of the Church with regard to the reception of heretics. Now, as we possess a letter from the Church at Constantinople in the middle of the fifth century to Bishop Martyrius of Antioch, in which the same subject is referred to in a precisely similar way, Beveridge was probably right in conjecturing that the canon was only an extract from this letter to Martyrius; therefore in no way a decree of the second General Council, nor even of the Synod of 382, but at least eighty years later than the latter. This canon, with an addition, was afterwards adopted by the Quinisext Synod as its ninety-fifth, without, however, giving its origin.

Touching the sense of the last lines of this canon, Mayer rightly combats the notion that three classes of catechumens are here meant. He only admits two classes of catechumens. He says that these heretics were certainly not received among the third class so soon as the third day after their return; certainly they were not. One finds elsewhere (in the case of those converted from heathenism) the exorcisms always belonging to the last grade of the catechumens, while with those who came over from the ranks of heresy, on the contrary, the exorcisms most likely took place immediately upon their conversion.


The Second General Council receives the Imperial Confirmation.


Having so far considered the creed and the canons of the second Ecumenical Council, there yet remains for our consideration one document belonging to it, i.e. the short letter which the Synod at its close addressed to the Emperor Theodosius the Great, in which it thanks God and the Emperor, and gives the latter a summary of its proceedings. “In obedience to your letters”, say the bishops, “we met together at Constantinople, and, having first restored union among ourselves, we then made short definitions confirming the faith of the Fathers of Nicaea, and condemning the heresies which have risen in opposition to it. We have also, for the sake of ecclesiastical order, drawn up certain canons : and all this we append to our letter. We pray you now, of your goodness, to confirm by a letter of your piety the decision of the Synod, that, as you have honoured the Church by your letters of convocation, you would thus seal the decisions”, etc.

The Emperor Theodosius granted the wish here expressed, and from Heraclea, on the 30 th of July 381, he issued the command that “all the churches were at once to be surrendered to the bishops who believed in the oneness of the God-head of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and were in communion with Nectarius of Constantinople, in Egypt with Timotheus of Alexandria, in the East with Pelagius of Laodicea and Diodorus of Tarsus, in proconsular Asia and the Asiatic diocese with Amphilochius of Iconium and Optimus of Antioch (in Pisidia), in the diocese of Pontus with Helladius of Caesarea, Otreius of Melitene, and Gregory of Nyssa, lastly (in Moesia and Scythia) with Terentius, the Bishop of Scythia (Tomi), and with Martyrius, Bishop of Marcianople (now Preslaw in Bulgaria). All who were not in communion witli the above-named, should, as avowed heretics, be driven from the Church”.

Sozomen gives just the same account, but Socrates has misrepresented the matter, and thereby occasioned many errors. First, according to his account, it was not the Emperor but the Synod which gave the above-mentioned bishops special prerogatives; and, secondly, these bishops were thereby raised to the dignity of patriarchs, whereas it was plainly only on account of their personal worth, not on account of the dignity of their Sees, that they were regarded as models of orthodoxy. It could certainly never have entered any one's head to raise the little town of Nyssa into a patriarchate, and yet Gregory of Nyssa is mentioned in the above list. On the other hand, the name of Meletius of Antioch is wanting, although the special prerogatives of Antioch had already been recognised at Nicaea, and had never during the course of centuries been questioned. Most assuredly, if there had been any question of patriarchates, Antioch would not have been passed over. On the other hand, it could not possibly have been mentioned for the purpose intended by the Emperor in the above command, because at that moment two orthodox parties in Antioch were disputing the possession of the See.


The Authority of the Second General Council.


Lastly, to turn to the question of the authority of this Council, it appears, first of all, that immediately after its close, in the same year, 381, several of its acts were censured by a Council of Latins, namely, the prolongation of the Meletian schism (by the elevation of Flavian), and the choice of Nectarius as Bishop of Constantinople, while, as is known, the Westerns held the (Cynic) Maximus to be the rightful bishop of that city.

In consequence of this, the new Synod assembled in the following year, 382, at Constantinople, sent the Latins a copy of the decrees of faith composed the year before, expressly calling this Synod ecumenical, and at the same time seeking to justify it in those points which had been censured. Photius maintains that soon afterwards Pope Damasus confirmed this Synod; but, as the following will show, this confirmation could only have referred to the creed and not to the canons. As late as about the middle of the fifth century, Pope Leo I spoke in a very depreciatory manner of these canons, especially of the third, which concerned the ecclesiastical rank of Constantinople, remarking that it was never sent to the See of Rome.

Thus, as late as the year 600, only the creed, but not the canons of the Synod of Constantinople were accepted at Rome; but on account of its creed, Gregory the Great reckons it as one of the four Ecumenical Councils, which he compares to the four Gospels. So also before him the Popes Vigilius and Pelagius II reckoned this Synod among the Ecumenical Councils.

The question is, from what date the Council of Constantinople was considered oecumenical by the Latins as well as by the Greeks. We will begin with the latter. Although, as we have seen, the Synod of 382 had already designated this Council as oecumenical, yet it could not for a long time obtain an equal rank with the Council of Nicaea, for which reason the General Council of Ephesus mentions that of Niaea and its creed with the greatest respect, but is totally silent as to this Synod. Soon afterwards, the so-called Robber-Synod in 449 spoke of two (General) Councils, at Nicaea and Ephesus, and designated the latter as the Second Synod, as a plain token that it did not ascribe such a high rank to the assembly at Constantinople. It might perhaps be objected that only the Monophysites, who notoriously ruled the Robber-Synod, used this language; but the most determined opponent of the Monophysites, their accuser, Bishop Eusebius of Doylaeum, in like manner also brought forward only the two Synods of Nicaea and Ephesus, and declared that “he held to the faith of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers assembled at Nicaea, and to all that was done at the great and Holy Synod at Ephesus”.

The creed of Constantinople appears for the first time to have been highly honoured at the fourth General Council, which had it recited after that of Nicaea, and thus solemnly approved it. Since then this Synod has been universally honoured as ecumenical by the Greeks, and was mentioned by the Emperor Justinian with the Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, as of equal rank. But in the West, and especially in Rome, however satisfied people were with the decree of faith enacted by this Synod, and its completion of the creed, yet its third canon, respecting the rank of Constantinople, for a long time proved a hindrance to its acknowledgment. This was especially shown at the Council of Chalcedon, and during the time immediately following. When at that Council the creed of Constantinople was praised, repeated, and confirmed, the Papal Legates fully concurred; but when the Council also renewed and confirmed the third canon of Constantinople, the Legates left the assembly, lodged a protest against it on the following day, and declared that the rules of the hundred and fifty bishops at Constantinople were never inserted among the Synodal canons (which were recognised at Rome). The same was maintained by Pope Leo himself, who, immediately after the close of the Council of Chalcedon, wrote to Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople : “that document of certain bishops (i.e. the third canon of Constantinople) was never brought by your predecessors to the knowledge of the Apostolic See”. Leo also, in his 105th letter to the Empress Pulcheria, speaks just as depreciatingly of this Council of Constantinople; and Quesnel is entirely wrong in maintaining that the Papal Legates at the Synod of Chalcedon at first practically acknowledged the validity of the third canon of Constantinople. Bishop Eusebius of Doylaeum was equally mistaken in maintaining at Chalcedon itself, that the third canon had been sanctioned by the Pope; and we shall have occasion further on, in the history of the Council of Chalcedon, to show the untenable character of both statements.

Pope Felix III took the same view as Pope Leo, when, in his letter to the monks at Constantinople and Bithynia in 485, he only spoke of three General Councils at Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon; neither did his successor Gelasius (492-496) in his genuine decree, De libris recipiendis, mention this Synod. It may certainly be said, on the other hand, that in the sixth century its ecumenical character had come to be most distinctly acknowledged in the Latin Church also, and, as we have seen above, had been expressly affirmed by the Popes Vigilius, Pelagius II, and Gregory the Great. But this acknowledgment, even when it is not expressly stated, only referred to the decrees on faith of the Council of Constantinople, and not to its canons, as we have already observed in reference to the third and sixth of them.