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Author Topic: How many "Ecumenical Councils" in Catholicism?  (Read 5785 times) Average Rating: 0
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Eugenio
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« on: May 31, 2007, 12:58:37 AM »

Over at a poll on Catholicism, there's an ongoing discussion of what would have to occur if reunion were to take place between the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy. One writer wrote, "It (the Roman Catholic Church) would have to be acknowledge that Nicea II (787) was the last Ecumenical Council.

Which raises the question in my mind: How many Ecumenical Councils does the RCC church believe took place?
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2007, 01:09:11 AM »

21, http://www.piar.hu/councils/
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2007, 08:56:32 AM »

Which raises the question in my mind: How many Ecumenical Councils does the RCC church believe took place?

The short answer is 21; but it's important to note that the Catholic Church does not require anyone to believe there have been that many councils. Hence, a Catholic is free to believe that there have been only 7 ecumenical councils (or only 3 ecumenical councils, for that matter).

What is required is for every Catholic to agree with all the dogmas of the Catholic Church. (In the same way, a Catholic is free to believe that the 1854 declaration on the Immaculate Conception was not an ex cathedra statement, but must agree with the IC dogma.)

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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2007, 12:01:48 PM »

(In the same way, a Catholic is free to believe that the 1854 declaration on the Immaculate Conception was not an ex cathedra statement, but must agree with the IC dogma.)

So a Roman Catholic is free to believe that people don't have to believe in the 1854 declaration so long as he believes in it himself?

What then is the point in being permitted to believe that people don't have to believe in it if one is required to believe it?

This seems somewhat contradictory to me  Huh

Did not Rome originally acknowledge the Eastern Orthodox Church's so-called Eighth Ecumenical Counsel as well?

Would love to meet a Roman Catholic who only acknowledges three!
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2007, 01:45:43 PM »

So a Roman Catholic is free to believe that people don't have to believe in the 1854 declaration so long as he believes in it himself?

What then is the point in being permitted to believe that people don't have to believe in it if one is required to believe it?

This seems somewhat contradictory to me  Huh

Did not Rome originally acknowledge the Eastern Orthodox Church's so-called Eighth Ecumenical Counsel as well?

Would love to meet a Roman Catholic who only acknowledges three!

I think what's being said here is that you must believe in the IC, but you don't have to accept the council that claimed it as dogma.  Just as one can believe in genetics, not necessarily Mendel.
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2007, 10:27:58 PM »

So a Roman Catholic is free to believe that people don't have to believe in the 1854 declaration so long as he believes in it himself?

What then is the point in being permitted to believe that people don't have to believe in it if one is required to believe it?

This seems somewhat contradictory to me  Huh

I think we're talking about two different things.  What I said was that no Catholic is required to believe that it was an ex cathedra statement.

The question you're raising is whether or not a Catholic is required to believe that it is, in fact, a dogma. That's a good question, but not necessarily one to which I can give an answer.
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007, 10:32:28 PM »

Here's an analogy that may help: Suppose that the Catholic Church dogmatically defined that every ecumenical council is infallible (which she hasn't). Would that mean that, for example, every Catholic would be required to believe that the First Vatican Council was infallible? No, not really, no. The hypothetical dogma only says that every ecumenical council is infallible; it does not say that Vatican I was an ecumenical council. It would only be a problem if a Catholic said "Vatican I was an ecumenical council, but was not infallible."

Moving from the hypothetical to the actual, in like manner the Catholic dogma of "Papal Infallibility" says that every papal ex cathedra is infallible; but it does not say that the 1854 declaration on the Immaculate Conception was an ex cathedra statement, and hence it does not require Catholic to believe that that 1854 declaration was infallible. (Of course, if a Catholic said "the 1854 declaration on the Immaculate Conception was an ex cathedra statement but was not infallible", that would be a problem because said Catholic would be contradicting the dogma of Papal Infallibility.)

Does that make sense?
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2007, 11:29:51 PM »

That makes sense..but...

I've never seen anything list other than the 21 councils as Ecumenical according to the Roman Catholic Church (Vatican I & II included.) As I understood it, Rome has considered every council it has held since Lateran I on as being 'Ecumenical' due to their dogmas on Papal universal and immediate jurisdiction?

Are there Roman sources with an alternate view?
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2007, 10:17:49 AM »

That makes sense..but...

I've never seen anything list other than the 21 councils as Ecumenical according to the Roman Catholic Church (Vatican I & II included.) As I understood it, Rome has considered every council it has held since Lateran I on as being 'Ecumenical' due to their dogmas on Papal universal and immediate jurisdiction?

Are there Roman sources with an alternate view?

I won't lie to you, Aristibule: I don't think I have an absolutely iron-clad case to make here. My opinion that there can be differing opinions within Catholicism on the number of ecumenical councils is based in part on numerous conversations I have read on the byzcath forum.

I also think it is telling that the web site of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton contains this:

Quote
8 How many Ecumenical Councils were held?
          a. Seven Ecumenical Councils

9 Was the Vatican council an ecumenical council? Why?, why not?
          a. The Vatican council was not an ecumenical council – no participation from the Orthodox

I am a little more confident in saying that Catholics can have differing opinions about many ex cathedra statements (if any) have been made. In fact, whereas one can argue about whether the list of 21 ecumenical councils is official or quasi-official, it really wouldn't even make sense to speak of "the list" of ex cathedra statements, because even conservative Roman-rite Roman Catholics don't agree among themselves about how many there have been.

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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2007, 10:36:37 AM »

it really wouldn't even make sense to speak of "the list" of ex cathedra statements, because even conservative Roman-rite Roman Catholics don't agree among themselves about how many there have been.

See, for example,

http://www.hannity.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-2085.html

http://www.catholicintl.com/qa/2004/qa-aug-04.htm

http://www.cs.rutgers.edu/pub/soc.religion.christian/faq/infallibility

(Note: Those site aren't necessarily the best examples out there. In fact, I haven't read any of those webpages in their entirety. I just glanced at them long enough to see that they were relevant.)
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2007, 04:47:02 AM »

Thank you for clarifying that.
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« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2007, 04:54:53 PM »

That makes sense..but...

I've never seen anything list other than the 21 councils as Ecumenical according to the Roman Catholic Church (Vatican I & II included.) As I understood it, Rome has considered every council it has held since Lateran I on as being 'Ecumenical' due to their dogmas on Papal universal and immediate jurisdiction?

Are there Roman sources with an alternate view?
This can be seen as a problem. But it must be understood that Catholics must believe everything that the Church has proposed for belief whether it has been infallibly defined or not. That being said, the Church has always had a general sense and assumption that there are 21 ecumenical councils and thus we should believe that there are 21 ecumenical councils.
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2007, 05:59:57 PM »

This can be seen as a problem. But it must be understood that Catholics must believe everything that the Church has proposed for belief whether it has been infallibly defined or not. That being said, the Church has always had a general sense and assumption that there are 21 ecumenical councils and thus we should believe that there are 21 ecumenical councils.

So are Melkites not Catholic, then?
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2007, 06:45:45 PM »

So are Melkites not Catholic, then?
Good question. I don't really have a good answer either. It is my understanding that in order to really be Catholic, communion with the Pope is not enough. One must have right teaching. I don't want to draw any dangerous conclusions but I think that the Vatican should address this problem and do so soon.
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« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2007, 07:04:14 PM »

Good question. I don't really have a good answer either. It is my understanding that in order to really be Catholic, communion with the Pope is not enough. One must have right teaching. I don't want to draw any dangerous conclusions but I think that the Vatican should address this problem and do so soon.

Oh well I guess they don't call you "Papist" for nothing.

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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2007, 07:19:10 PM »

So, is the proper response then:

"The Melkites are Catholics because they are in communion with the Pope as well as have the right teaching that there are not 21 Ecumenical Councils in Catholicism, despite past statements by the Catholics that they have 21 Councils"; or

"The Melkites are not Catholic despite being in communion with the Pope because they do not have the right teaching regarding the number of Ecumenical Councils as well as the potential contents of these Councils".

How do the Melkites not know if they are Catholic or not? Don't Melkites bishops show up at the Vatican occaisonally and receive the Eucharist while there from time to time? If they are not considered to be Catholic, then why are they allowed to receive while there?

The interesting thing is that I often hear from Catholic apologists that a strength of their system is that they have one person to rally around as a visible head of their church. However, it is clear that this alleged strength is illusory, since a possibility exists for one to be in communion with the visible head of their church and yet apparently not be fully Catholic.

Or, sufficiently Catholic to receive the Eucharist, but not sufficiently Catholic to be considered Catholic by others?

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« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2007, 08:42:16 PM »

Well, to be fair to Papist, even he didn't go so far as to deny that Melkites are Catholic (although he may perhaps have missed the fact that my question "So are Melkites not Catholic, then?" was purely rhetorical -- of course Melkites are Catholic).

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« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2007, 09:50:26 PM »

So, is the proper response then:

"The Melkites are Catholics because they are in communion with the Pope as well as have the right teaching that there are not 21 Ecumenical Councils in Catholicism, despite past statements by the Catholics that they have 21 Councils"; or

"The Melkites are not Catholic despite being in communion with the Pope because they do not have the right teaching regarding the number of Ecumenical Councils as well as the potential contents of these Councils".

How do the Melkites not know if they are Catholic or not? Don't Melkites bishops show up at the Vatican occaisonally and receive the Eucharist while there from time to time? If they are not considered to be Catholic, then why are they allowed to receive while there?

The interesting thing is that I often hear from Catholic apologists that a strength of their system is that they have one person to rally around as a visible head of their church. However, it is clear that this alleged strength is illusory, since a possibility exists for one to be in communion with the visible head of their church and yet apparently not be fully Catholic.

Or, sufficiently Catholic to receive the Eucharist, but not sufficiently Catholic to be considered Catholic by others?


Fr. Chris, I am just pointing out that the Western and Eastern Catholic Churches are in a very complicated relationship right now and there are issues that have not yet been resolved. I hope to see them resolved at some point.
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2007, 09:56:11 PM »

Good question. I don't really have a good answer either. It is my understanding that in order to really be Catholic, communion with the Pope is not enough. One must have right teaching. I don't want to draw any dangerous conclusions but I think that the Vatican should address this problem and do so soon.

That's OK, Papist. Don't bother the busy pope. We'll accept the Melkites back  Wink
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« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2007, 09:03:06 AM »

We'll accept the Melkites back  Wink

You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?
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« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2007, 09:12:31 AM »

Which Councils are Ecumenical?
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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2007, 09:15:33 AM »

You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?

No, they would.
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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2007, 08:51:01 PM »

Well, to me, for the Catholic Church to say that all Catholics must believe that, e.g., Vatican I was an ecumenical council, would be a bit too ultra-montanist (or if you will, a little too "papist" Wink) for my taste.

But, but, to keep it in perspective, that would really not be nearly as bad as if the Catholic Church were to say that all Catholics must believe that, e.g., Ineffabilis Deus (the 1854 declaration that Mary was immaculately conceived) was an ex cathedra statement.

"Wherein" the astute reader may well ask, "lies so great a difference in these two cases?"

The difference, the big difference, quite simply, is that the Catholic Church has never dogmatically defined that ecumenical councils are infallible, but has dogmatically defined that ex cathedra statements by the pope are infallible. In other words, if the Catholic Church were to say "All Catholics must believe that Ineffabilis Deus was an ex cathedra statement", it would immediately follow that all Catholics would be required to believe that Pope Pius IX exercised infallibility on December 8, 1854.
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2007, 02:04:31 PM »

Oops! Didn't mean to kill the discussion.

{insert emoticon with red cheeks}
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« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2007, 03:23:03 PM »

Oops! Didn't mean to kill the discussion.

{insert emoticon with red cheeks}
Nah!  I don't blame you.  Discussions kinda die on their own quite often.  I don't think you had anything to do with this.
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