The Third General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Agatho and the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, was attended by the Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Antioch, 174 bishops, and the emperor. It put an end to Monothelitism by defining two wills in Christ, the Divine and the human, as two distinct principles of operation. It anathematized Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Macarius, and all their followers.Preview This Lesson
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We last left the papal delegates on their way to Constantinople in 680. Once they arrived in the great city, they were received with great honor by Emperor Constantine IV and allowed to live in the Placidia Palace. The Emperor immediately wrote to Patriarch George of Constantinople and Patriarch Macarius of Antioch requesting that they invite the metropolitans and bishops of their respective jurisdictions to a Council. The Emperor did not mention the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem, but this was probably due to the fact that their lands were ruled by Islamic rulers at the time, rather than any wish to exclude them from the debate. Both Patriarchs were able to send delegates to attend the Council, however. 174 Bishops attended the last session.
The Council opened on November 7, 680 and lasted until September 16, 681. There were 18 sessions during this 11 month period. Emperor Constantine IV was President of the Council until the 12th session when the press of imperial business forced his absence until the last session. He did not interfere with the religious work of the Council, allowing the papal legates to preside over the meetings.
The first session began with a question. How, the papal legates asked, had the belief in the one will of Christ begun in Constantinople? The Patriarchs replied:
We have not invented these new expressions, but have only taught what we have received by tradition from the Holy Ecumenical Synods, the holy Fathers, from Sergius and his successors, and from Pope Honorius and from Cyrus of Alexandria, in regard to the will and the energy, and we are ready to prove this.
from A History of the Councils of the Church from the Original Documents by Charles Joseph Hefele; translated from the German and edited by William R. Clark, pg. 152
The Patriarchs then requested that the decrees of the Councils be read and the remainder of the first session was spent in reading the decrees of the Third Ecumenical Council but no passages could be found to support the contention that Jesus Christ had only one will. In the second and third sessions the Fourth and Fifth Ecumenical Councils were read and again no proofs were provided. The letters from Pope Agatho and the Roman Synod were read in the fourth session.
The fifth and sixth and seventh sessions of the Council provided a more dramatic turn of events. The Patriarch Macarius and others brought forward three volumes from the writings of the early Fathers of the Church which they said proved Monothel... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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