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Author Topic: The Quinisext Council is Ecumenical?  (Read 702 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 13, 2011, 10:25:42 AM »

Why do the Eastern Orthodox consider the Quninsext (Fifth-Sixth) Council, also called the Council of Trullo, a part of the Ecumenical Councils?

It looks like, at the time of their office, the West was not only unrepresented, but a fake representative was present. After which, the councils were again not ratified by the Latin church, and the East even attempted to force the case.

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...
It is true that it claimed at the time an ecumenical character, and styled itself such in several of its canons, it is true that in the mind of the Emperor Justinian II., who summoned it, it was intended to have been ecumenical.  It is true that the Greeks at first declared it to be a continuation of the Sixth Synod and that by this name they frequently denominate and quote its canons.  But it is also true that the West was not really represented at it at all (as we shall see presently); that when the Emperor afterwards sent the canons to the Pope to receive his signature, he absolutely refused to have anything to do with them; and it is further true that they were never practically observed by the West at all, and that even in the East their authority was rather theoretical than real.
...
Pope Sergius refused to sign the decrees when they were sent to him, rejected them as “lacking authority” (invalidi) and described them as containing “novel errors.”  With the efforts to extort his signature we have no concern further than to state that they signally failed.  Later on, in the time of Pope Constantine, a middle course seems to have been adopted, a course subsequently in the ninth century thus expressed by Pope John VIII., “he accepted all those canons which did not contradict the true faith, good morals, and the decrees of Rome,” a truly notable statement!  Nearly a century later Pope Hadrian I. distinctly recognizes all the Trullan decrees in his letter to Tenasius of Constantinople and attributes them to the Sixth Synod.  “All the holy six synods I receive with all their canons, which rightly and divinely were promulgated by them, among which is contained that in which reference is made to a Lamb being pointed to by the Precursor as being found in certain of the venerable images.”  Here the reference is unmistakably to the Trullan Canon LXXXII.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xiv.ii.html


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This particular council of Constantinople, held in 692 under Justinian II, is generally known as the Council in Trullo, because it was held in the same domed hall where the Sixth General Council had met (see above). Both the Fifth and the Sixth General Councils had omitted to draw up disciplinary canons, and as this council was intended to complete both in this respect, it also took the name of Quinisext (Concilium Quinisextum, Eunodos penthekte), i.e. Fifth-Sixth. It was attended by 215 bishops, all Orientals. Basil of Gortyna in Illyria, however, belonged to the Roman patriarchate and called himself papal legate, though no evidence is extant of his right to use a title that in the East served to clothe the decrees with Roman authority. In fact, the West never recognized the 102 disciplinary canons of this council, in large measure reaffirmations of earlier canons. Most of the new canons exhibit an inimical attitude towards Churches not in disciplinary accord with Constantinople, especially the Western Churches. Their customs are anathematized and "every little detail of difference is remembered to be condemned" (Fortescue). Canon iii of Constantinople (381) and canon xxviii of Chalcedon (451) are renewed, the heresy of Honorius is again condemned (can. i), and marriage with a heretic is invalid because Rome says it is merely unlawful; Rome had recognized fifty of the Apostolic Canons, therefore the other thirty-five obtain recognition from this council, and as inspired teaching (see APOSTOLIC CANONS).

In the matter of celibacy the Greek prelates are not content to let the Roman Church follow its own discipline, but insist on making a rule (for the whole Church) that all clerics except bishops may continue in wedlock, while they excommunicate anyone who tries to separate a priest or deacon from his wife, and any cleric who leaves his wife because he is ordained (can. iii, vi, xii, xiii, xlviii).

The Eastern Orthodox churches holds this council an ecumenical one, and adds its canons to the decrees of the Fifth and Sixth Councils. in the West St. Bede calls it (De sexta mundi aetate) a "reprobate" synod, and Paul the Deacon (Hist. Lang., VI, p. 11) an "erratic" one. Dr. Fortescue rightly says (op. cit. below, p. 96) that intolerance of all other customs with the wish to make the whole Christian world conform to its own local practices has always been and still is a characteristic note of the Byzantine Church. For the attitude of the popes, substantially identical, in face of the various attempts to obtain their approval of these canons, see Hefele, "Conciliengesch." (III, 345-48).
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04311b.htm


On two sources I found, it looks like the Latin church never fully accepted the disciplinary canons the council tried to impose. Being an attempt, it seems, to conform the western churches , and make them more 'eastern', is a complaint against the Roman Catholics that doesn't appear to be limited to the Latins.

I also found the claim on wiki, with a reference I do not have:
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Pope Sergius I protested the council, and refused to sign the canons. At Sergius's refusal, Justinian dispatched a military delegation to Rome to induce Sergius to sign; the imperial army at Ravenna, however, composed mainly of native Italians, rallied to support the Roman Pontiff, marching on Rome.
Collins, Roger. The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–97. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1989.

The East is as guilty to coercion? That's not the usual picture.
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2011, 02:17:01 PM »

As I recall there are several threads, one fairly recent, that addresses this question already. 

But basically, Trullo is recognized as part of the 6th Ecumenical Council because the 7th Ecumenical Council says so.

Canon 1:  The 7th council decress that we "press to our bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth by the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or by the Six Ecumenical Councils, or by Councils locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or by our holy Fathers."

It does not say the canons of "the first 4 Ecumenical Councils" but the 6 Ecumenical Council. 

Lest we doubt this, it is reaffirmed in Canon 6 of the 7th Ecumenical Council, where Canon 8 of Trullo is expressly recognized as being a canon issued by the 6th Ecumenical Council.   In the Acts of the 7th Council, we see that when St. Tarasios recognizes the canons of Trullo as being canons of the 6th, there is no objection from anyone.   
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2011, 03:48:36 PM »

Trying to understand the two opposing opinions, I found an essay concerning the RC opinion to the council. This selection help show the differences in modern reception of the council.


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Canonical Status of the Council

Since the ecumenicity of the Quinisext Council has been a matter of dispute, we should review how ecumenical councils had been constituted prior to this synod. The Emperor convoked each ecumenical council, declaring its time, place, and purpose, and invited all the bishops of the Empire. After the partition of the Empire and the barbarian invasions, the Emperor only had jurisdiction over the East. In order for the bishops of the West to be represented, the Emperor would send an invitation to the Pope, who had patriarchal authority over all Latin bishops, and could act on their behalf. If a doctrine of the faith was in dispute, the Pope would prepare a definition of the faith, either on his own initiative or in consultation with the Latin bishops. Ecumenical councils took place in or near the imperial city of Constantinople, so it was generally feasible only for the bishops of that patriarchate to attend. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem attended in person or by proxy. The Pope never attended in person, but sent his legates with specific instructions on doctrinal matters.

Once an ecumenical council was convened, the papal legates presided over the synod on behalf of the Pope. The issues at hand were discussed among the bishops, and the pope's definition of faith was read to the assembly. The council would then give its assent to the definition, and use it as a basis for constructing its dogmatic constitutions, which define the faith, determine which persons or writings have fallen into heresy, and prescribe ecclesiastical penalties. The bishops could also issue disciplinary canons. At the close of a general council, the constitutions and canons were submitted to the Emperor so he could promulgate them throughout the Empire, while storing the original documents in the imperial archive. In this way the Emperor acts as guardian of the faith. Since the Pope did not attend in person, and he only authorized his legates to proclaim his definition of the faith, any further acts of the council needed papal ratification. After the council closed, the constitutions and canons were sent to the Pope for his signature. Only with papal approval could the acts be binding in the West, thereby giving the council true ecumenical status. The Pope sometimes elected to exclude or qualify some of the constitutions or canons in his ratification. Any decree or canon excluded by the Pope would not have ecumenical authority, but would at most be binding in the ecclesial jurisdictions of the East.

Since the Council in Trullo did not involve dogmatic matters, but only disciplinary canons, it is understandable why the Greek bishops might not see the need for prior papal approval. Nonetheless, it was highly irregular for an ecumenical council not to be presided by papal legates. The Greeks were evidently aware of this, so Archbishop Basil of Gortyna (in Crete) added to his signature, "Holding the place of the Holy Church of Rome in every synod," just as he had done at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680, though there is no evidence he received a perpetual commission from the Pope. The idea that the Trullan council was a continuation of the sixth general synod does not reflect historical reality. As Hefele proved, this council was convened more than a decade later, in 691 or 692. The list of signatories further shows that the Quinisext Council was not constituted of the same bishops who had attended the Sixth Ecumenical Council. This was really a new council, especially since the ecumenical council had long ago been formally closed and ratified.

The Council in Trullo was not ecumenical in its origin, since it was convoked and presided independently of papal authority or any other real participation by the patriarchate of the West, with which the East was not in schism. The claim that this was a continuation of the Sixth Ecumenical Council is untenable, since the general council had been canonically closed and confirmed by the bishops, the Emperor, and the Pope. There is no precedent in Church history, before or since, of reopening such a council, and even if it were possible, this would have to be executed by the same authority that closed the council, and here the authority of the Pope was absent. Therefore, in its origin, the Council in Trullo was a regional synod of the East, notwithstanding its pretensions.

Nonetheless, there is precedent for a regional synod attaining ecumenical status by post facto ratification by the Pope. This was the case with the First Council of Constantinople (381), a synod of Greek bishops that was later ratified by Pope Damasus. Yet in this case the synod was indirectly convoked by the Pope, who urged that the bishops should meet in Rome. Since the Greeks were unable to make the long journey, some of them convened in Constantinople in a parallel synod. At the close of their council, they sent three bishops with a letter to the Pope, "to show that our intentions are peaceful and have unity as their goal."

Such peaceful intentions can hardly be ascribed to some of the Trullan canons, which are overtly hostile to Latin customs. Interestingly, the council's grievances with the West had nothing to do with the authority of the Pope, the filioque, or any of the other major complaints common to later Greek Orthodoxy. The Greeks objected to Latin customs such as priestly celibacy and fasting on Saturday. They did not presume to do away with all non-Greek customs, but only those believed to be in direct conflict with apostolic tradition. Indeed, only about a half dozen of the 102 canons are overtly hostile to Latin customs. In determining apostolic tradition, the Greeks perhaps relied too heavily on the so-called Apostolic Canons, which were mostly written in the fourth century or later. Since these canons were written in the East, they lent credence to the erroneous view that certain Greek liturgical customs were of apostolic origin. Even if these Eastern customs could be traced back to the Apostles, it would not follow that equally ancient customs could not have been established elsewhere in Christendom. The council is marked by an excessive zeal for canonical uniformity, and the modern reader must remember that the distinction between orthodoxy in faith and purely disciplinary matters was not always clearly perceived at this time.

Since we now fully recognize that disciplinary canons are not immutable or irrevocable, the question of the ecumenicity of this council loses some importance. An ecumenical council's grace of infallibility does not properly apply to disciplinary canons, except that they may not incidentally contain anything contrary to divine faith or natural law. Papal ratification of the canons after the fact might raise the canons to ecumenical status in a more ordinary sense, namely that they apply to every jurisdiction in the Church, not that the Council in Trullo is properly ecumenical. Even here the question is somewhat moot, since many of the Trullan canons have fallen into disuse in both the East and the West.

All the patriarchs except the Pope ratified the council. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem did not attend the Council in Trullo, but they signed its decrees afterward. The permanent legates who served as papal ambassadors in Constantinople were also induced to sign the decrees, though they had no commission to represent the Pope in a general synod, nor did they attend the council. The place for the Pope's signature, just below that of the Emperor, remained conspicuously blank. Pope Sergius steadfastly refused to sign the acts of the council, claiming he would rather die than endorse its errors. The council was therefore in opposition to the head of the Church, and cannot be considered ecumenical, nor can we invoke the example of the First Council of Constantinople, since no such opposition existed between that council and the Pope. Still, the question remains as to which canons of this local council were ever approved by later popes.

Emperor Justinian later asked Pope John VII (705-07) to ratify the Trullan canons, beseeching the pontiff to convene a Roman synod that would nullify any objectionable canons and confirm the rest. The Pope declined to confirm or condemn any of the canons. His successor, Pope Constantine (708-15), met with the emperor and arrived at some sort of compromise, the terms of which have not been recorded. The fact that the Latins did not change their liturgical customs is sufficient evidence that the Pope did not agree to any of the blatantly objectionable canons, though we cannot be certain regarding what sort of endorsement he may have given to the rest.

The Greeks at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) explicitly recognized the Trullan canons as pertaining to the sixth general synod, but this declaration was never ratified by Rome. However, Pope Adrian I (772-795) says he approved the canons of all six councils that were lawfully promulgated, including the canon forbidding depictions of the Precursor (John the Baptist) with the Lamb (as Christ), which is the eighty-second Trullan canon. It seems that Pope Adrian believed that the canons of Trullo pertained to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, yet his approval of the canons was qualified: quae jure ac divinitus ab ipsis promulgatae sunt ("those alone which were lawfully and divinely promulgated"). While the Pope did not challenge the Greek claim that the Trullan canons belonged to the sixth general council, this acquiescence to a historical claim hardly suffices to elevate the council to ecumenical status. Indeed, a century later, Pope John VIII (872-882) referred to the Trullan canons as those which the Greeks "maintain" (perhibent) to be from the sixth general synod, so the question of the council's ecumenicity was by no means considered decided. The Greek claim was based on the belief that the same bishops of the Sixth Ecumenical Council issued the Trullan canons just five years later, but we have seen that this belief is historically inaccurate.

The last definitive papal stance on the Council in Trullo was expressed by the aforementioned John VIII, who accepted from that council "all those canons which did not contradict the true faith, good morals, and decrees of Rome." In particular, the Apostolic See now accepted all eighty-five of the so-called Apostolic Canons, whereas previously it had only accepted the first fifty. Apparently, even at this late date, the Romans had not generally accepted the Trullan canons, which could hardly be the case if Adrian I or any other pope had truly declared the council to be ecumenical.

Relatively few of the Trullan canons were explicitly identified as approved by the Pope. Only the eighty-five Apostolic Canons (mentioned in the second canon of Trullo) are known to have been approved by John VIII, while Adrian I approved at least the eighty-second canon of Trullo. For the remainder of the canons, we are left to apply John VIII's principle of consistency with "the true faith, good morals, and decrees of Rome."

Several canons from the Council in Trullo are included in Gratian's Decretum, but this canonical compilation never had the status of an official code of ecclesiastical law, and we cannot necessarily infer papal approval of a canon from its inclusion in this collection. Nonetheless, the Decretum was a highly influential source of canon law, so it is worth mentioning the canons it cites, as these would not have been considered contrary to the decrees of Rome. Gratian cites the following Trullan canons: the second, fourth, sixth, eleventh, thirteenth, seventeenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth, thirty-sixth, and ninety-third. The thirteenth canon is indicated as being of local application, while many of the other canons are cited only partially or in an oblique paraphrase. Needless to say, nearly all of the Trullan canons were practically ignored in the West.

The Greeks, by contrast, have consistently regarded the Quinisext Council as ecumenical, though even they allowed most of its canons to fall into disuse. In particular, the canons opposed to Latin customs were never used to impose restrictions on Latin liturgy in the East, nor was communion with the Latin Church denied on account of failure to adopt the Trullan canons. Since the schism of 1054, the Orthodox have had little regard for the pronouncements of the Roman Church. However, in the seventh century the Church of the East did not pretend to be the entire Church, and the Greeks recognized the necessity of papal ratification to make a council's acts ecumenical. Thus, even by eastern ecclesiology, the Council in Trullo should not be regarded as ecumenical.
http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/catholic/councils/comment06q.htm

Thoughts?
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 06:03:29 PM »

Why do the Eastern Orthodox consider the Quninsext (Fifth-Sixth) Council, also called the Council of Trullo, a part of the Ecumenical Councils?

Because that has always been the tradition in the East, and, in the West, Trullo has enjoyed similar or close-to-similar recognition at various times. For example, according to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope Constantine I provisionally accepted the canons of Trullo in 710; and near the end of the same century, Hadrian I referred to canon 82 of Trullo as a canon of the "sexta sancta Synodo." Then, of course, there is Hadrian's famous letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, in which Hadrian accepts all of Trullo's canons as belonging to the Sixth council.

Much later on, Cardinal Humbert, ever irascible, claimed the Trullan canons were never and would never be accepted in the West, but, not long thereafter, Gratian included a good number of them in his collection, and the original, official, Roman Catholic printing of the decrees of the Sixth Holy Council, published in Paris in 1540, include Trullo's canons.

I could go on. In particular, in the last 30 years, there have been many official Papal documents, e.g. even an Apostolic Constitution, that recognize the ecumenicity of Trullo.  As Pope John Paul II wrote in Sacri Canones, Canon 2 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council demands that all Christians recognize Trullo's canons. Incidentally, logic kind of demanded that he and the Roman church recognize this fact, since they were promulgating an Eastern Code of Canon Law that depended in parts directly on Trullo.

It looks like, at the time of their office, the West was not only unrepresented, but a fake representative was present.

Not so. I think you are confused because you are depending on the Internet. Here's the problem with Schaff (editor of the source you originally quoted): While his work is widely available online since it is no longer under copyright, that means it is outdated -- in his case, by well over a century! In addition to age, it also suffers from some pervasive biases, comes from a polemical era, and contains no small number of straight-out errors.

The East is as guilty to coercion? That's not the usual picture.

You're thinking like a modern here. Justinian II promulgated the Trullan canons as part of the Empire's official legal corpus, binding in East and West. So, any resistance to Trullo was really just a footnote in a much larger, political  battle between the Roman Emperor in Constantinople and the various "barbarian" Kings and nobles in Italy.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 06:06:07 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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