Was this proof that the early church didn't consider the primacy of the pope on declaring ecumenical councils?


I was reading some of the replies on Shameless Popery, and one really stood out to me.


“This is most clearly seen with the so-called Robber Council, “Second Ephesus” in 449. Formally, it looks like an Ecumenical Council, but it was rejected with a single word by the papal legate (contradicitur!). As a result, it was never accepted as a Council. ”

Not quite: the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon had to be called to nullify it, as its Acts make clear (see for instance the ratification of the elevation of Jerusalem back to a Patriarchate and the division between it and Antioch-contrary to the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium). It convened when called by the Emperor, not the archbishop of Old Rome (who had been demanding one for two years by then), was held in the East, not the West (as Old Rome wanted) and not only issued its own Definition instead of adopting the Tome of the archbishop of Old Rome (as he wanted), but subjected said Tome to scrutiny to a committee of Fathers to be examined for Orthodoxy-i.e. that it was issued ex cathedra Romae didn’t validate its contents. Which brings me to your prior assertion in the same paragraph:

“papal acceptance was a crucial component in a Council being an accepted (and therefore, authoritative and binding) Council.”

And so the claim that the Second Ecumenical Council-presided over by St. Meletius of Antioch and not the rival supported by Old Rome, Paulinus (whose line died out, and isn’t claimed even by the “patriarchates”-all 4 o them-the Vatican has claimed for Antioch)-didn’t become Ecumenical until Chalcedon. This presents the problem that Eutyches was condemned for denying the Creed as the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council set their seal on it. If Constantinople II lacks Ecumenical character, then Pope Dioscoros and his Ephesus II stood in the right. However, the legate of Old Rome
“Paschasinus the most devout bishop said: ‘Look, in accordance with the will of God [and the Second Ecumenical Council, canon III] we give first place to the lord [Archbishop St.] Anatolius [of Constantinople, New Rome]. But they [Pope Dioscoros and the council of Ephesus II] put the blessed [Archbishop St.] Flavian [of Constantinople, New Rome] fifth.


Per Catholic Encyclopedia:

Meanwhile St. Leo had received the appeals of Theodoret and Flavian (of whose death he was unaware), and had written to them and to the emperor and empress that all the Acts of the council were null. He excommunicated all who had taken part in it, and absolved all whom it had condemned, with the exception of Domnus of Antioch, who seems to have had no wish to resume his see and retired into the monastic life which he had left many years before with regret.

Chapman, J. (1909). Robber Council of Ephesus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05495a.htm


You are falling into a common error of mixing distinct notions.

The primacy of the pope and the absolute authority of the pope are completely different issues.

AFAIK, noone outside Mt. Athos and the fringes of the MP dispute primacy.

Primacy, however, is consistent with limits on authority and the need for councils.

Also, not that the word “ecumenical” specifically means the byzantine emperor, although it is commonly use for a variety of interfaith matters these days. There hasn’t been such an emperor to call for a council for a few hundred years now . . .



Short answer: No.

Why search for reasons to question or leave the faith? There are currently 1.2 billion reasons to leave: Us! Focus on Christ. Go to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Edify your faith rather than testing it yourself. Leave the testing to God.


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