Ecumenical Council Question

From The Councils of the Church: A Short History by Norman Tanner, page 20, bold added:

The question remains whether approval by the bishop of Rome was regarded as necessary. On the one hand, his explicit approval was not invariably expected or even sought, at least immediately. The very important creed of Constantinople I, for example, appears to have received no formal papal approval until after it was accepted by the Council of Chalcedon seventy years later in 451. Popes opposed the summoning of Chalcedon and took time before approving Constantiople II and Nicaea II. On the other hand, the approval of the bishop of Rome was sought as early as Nicaea I, and his sanction gradually came to be accepted as necessary for the decrees of an ecumenical council. But the approval of the other major sees, particularly Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, was also regarded as necessary, so that Rome’s consent must be see within the context of the principle of unanimity, mentioned earlier, rather than as some isolated fiat.

From an above post, I think you all dismissed this quote too lightly. And, I see the quote as more authoritive then the replies given to it.

Dear brother TWF,

To repeat, if a Patriarch is orthodox, his ratification is just as necessary as the Pope’s because he then shares in the collegial infallibility that is the same as the Pope’s unique infallibility. But you have brought up a very interesting issue of the canons. If the canon has a doctrinal basis, my answer would be the same. On the other hand, not all canons are doctrinal, but merely disciplinary. So the question devolves to: would a canon on discipline enacted at an ecumenical council require the ratification of any other Patriarch aside from the Pope.

In my personal opinion, from my studies of the procedures of ecumenical councils, the Pope normally does not attend an ecumenical council personally, but through legates. Everyone at an ecumenical council works on what is to be agreed upon. Thus, Patriarchs who are present at ecumenical councils have a direct hand in deciding what the canons are. The fact is, by the time the acts of Councils, including canons, are sent to the Pope of Rome for ratification, all the other Patriarchs have ALREADY ratified the acts, including the canons. This has always been the normal procedure. So even with regards to canons, I do not see how the ratification of all the other Patriarchs can be avoided, for the ratificiation of the the other Patriarchs are in fact ALREADY required BEFORE the acts/canons are sent to the Patriarch of the West for ratification.


mardukm: Greetings in Christ. Thanks again. I think I now understand your position (and accept it). I apologize for being so slow ;).

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